Jump to content

Surf Curse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Surf Curse
In concert, 2022
Background information
OriginReno, Nevada, U.S.
Years active2012 (2012)–present
MembersJacob Rubeck
Nick Rattigan
Noah Kohll
Henry Dillon

Surf Curse is an American indie surf rock band formed in 2012 in Reno, Nevada, and now based out of Los Angeles.[1][2] The band was originally formed by Nick Rattigan (lead vocals and drums) and Jacob Rubeck (guitars), and now also includes Henry Dillon and Noah Kholl. The band achieved mainstream success after their song "Freaks", written in 2011 and first released in 2013, became popular on the short-form video platform TikTok in 2020.[3][4]


Nick Rattigan (right) and Jacob Rubeck (left) created Surf Curse in 2012.

Surf Curse was formed in 2012 by Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubeck in Reno, Nevada, initially under several other names including "Buffalo 66" in reference to the film of the same name.[5] The band soon moved to Los Angeles, where they played at The Smell, a club that welcomed bands with similar sounds to that of Surf Curse's punk-surf rock. There, they became a part of the local all-ages punk scene.[6] Simultaneously, Rattigan continued working on his solo project, performing as Current Joys.[7] Also in 2013, the band independently released both the EP Sad Boys and their debut album Buds.[8] The latter featured the song "Freaks", written in 2011 when Rattigan and Rubeck were both aged 18.[7]

The band established a growing Los Angeles fanbase, allowing them to play at the October 2016 Beach Goth Festival before an audience that included non-local attendees. Their second album, Nothing Yet, was released in January 2017 through Danger Collective. Rattigan and Rubeck described Nothing Yet as reflecting their lifelong influence by movies, saying that the song "The Strange and the Kind" could fit on the soundtrack of a modern Dazed and Confused.[6] The band remained somewhat successful, albeit underground, through the 2019 release of their third album, Heaven Surrounds You.[7] This third album was praised for Rattigan's vocals and its lead track "Disco", with its fast pace compared favorably to Vampire Weekend's debut, but criticized for reliance on clichés within its lyrics.[9] The lyrics of the album's final song "Jamie" and its repeated line of "I love the people in my life, all my friends keep me alive" have been identified as particularly moving.[9][8]

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns in 2020, Surf Curse were unable to continue performing live. However, in 2020, the song "Freaks" began drawing attention on the short-form video platform TikTok. The song's angsty lyrics, particularly "I am just a freak", made it compatible with TikTok meme formats that played it in the background. "Freaks" has been described as a "soundtrack [for] whatever you're cringing about",[7] though its second life on TikTok has been distinguished from other songs that saw a resurgence on the app. Generally, songs that received renewed interest through TikTok were recently featured in movies of television shows, unlike the rather obscurity that "Freaks" had previously enjoyed. Rattigan said he would have also been happy with the song gaining traction had it been featured on the soundtrack to the then-upcoming film Avatar: The Way of Water; Rubeck joked that the unusual variety of videos featuring the song—including gardening tutorials and thirst traps—meant they "had to just stop watching them".[3] The two said that they neither understood nor used TikTok.[7]

The popularity of "Freaks" came almost simultaneously with accusations that both Rattigan and Rubeck engaged in sexual misconduct with fans. Danger Collective severed ties with Surf Curse at the time of the allegations.[7] An anonymous allegation against Rubeck was retracted and two against Rattigan were similarly deleted; both band members denied the allegations. In August 2020, Rubeck stated: "There hasn't been a moment in my life that even comes close to what was described in that post."[7] The allegations were made around the same time that Burger Records, which had organized the 2016 Goth Beach Festival, folded during a wave of similar allegations in the Southern California punk scene.[7]

After being rereleased as a single in May 2021 following the band signing with Atlantic Records, "Freaks" reached number 64 on the UK Singles Chart and number 17 on Billboard's Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, eight years after it first appeared on Buds.[10][7] The song is RIAA certified Platinum and, as of April 2024, has more than 1 billion streams.[11] Billboard recognized Surf Curse as the second-ranked artists of 2021 in their category New Rock Artists.[12]

Following their signing to Atlantic Records, Surf Curse added bassist Henry Dillon and guitarist Noah Kholl to their lineup. Both Dillon and Kholl had toured with the band pre-pandemic; Rattigan said of adding them: "I think the sort of the connection that me and Jacob felt with each other when we started the band, we also felt with Noah and Henry."[3] As a now four-member band, Surf Curse released Magic Hour in 2022. As with their other album covers that featured the band members, all four are featured on the cover art of the album.[13] The album's release had been preceded by the band performing at Coachella in Wizard of Oz–themed attire and the launch of the album's lead single "Sugar". The band began their North America tour for Magic Hour with a concert in Las Vegas on October 30, 2022, where each band member was dressed as a different iteration of Elvis Presley.[14] Magic Hour was received positively by critics, who identified its lyrics as more creative and a positive evolution of the band's sound and talent.[13][3][11]

Musical style[edit]

Surf Curse's music has been described as surf rock,[15] lo-fi,[16] garage pop,[17] surf punk,[18] post-punk,[9] surf pop,[19] indie rock,[20] indie pop,[21] and jangle pop.[17] The band's live performances have been characterized as "bedlam" and "bonkers", with Rattigan saying that a particularly energetic set at Pappy & Harriet's resulted in the venue banning the band.[22][23] Jaan Uhelszki, co-founder of Creem magazine, approvingly described Surf Curse as having a "party-tastic kind of music".[24]


  • Jacob Rubeck – guitars, occasional lead vocals
  • Nick Rattigan – lead vocals, drums, percussion
  • Noah Kohll – guitars
  • Henry Dillon – bass


Studio albums[edit]

List of long plays with details
Title Details
  • Released: June 21, 2013
  • Label: Big Joy, Danger Collective
  • Format: LP, cassette, digital download, streaming
Nothing Yet
  • Released: January 13, 2017
  • Label: Danger Collective
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette, digital download, streaming
Heaven Surrounds You
  • Released: September 13, 2019
  • Label: Danger Collective
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette, digital download, streaming
Magic Hour
  • Released: October 7, 2022
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette, digital download, streaming


List of extended plays with details
Title Details
Sad Boys
  • Released: October 30, 2013
  • Label: Big Joy
  • Format: LP, cassette, digital download, streaming
  • 6 songs, 17 min 4 sec
Surf Curse on Audiotree Live
  • Released: September 20, 2017
  • Label: Audiotree
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
  • 6 songs, 15 min 52 sec
Freaks (Remixes)
  • Released: November 5, 2021
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
  • 3 songs, 8 min 52 sec


List of singles, showing year released and album title
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


"Disco"[35] 2019 Heaven Surrounds You
"Midnight Cowboy"[36]
"Hour of the Wolf"[37]
"Freaks"[A] 2021 17 10 95 47 45 60 112 45 64 136 Buds
"Sugar"[40] 2022 Magic Hour
"Lost Honor"
"Self Portrait"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ "Freaks" appeared on Buds in 2013, but was not released as a single until 2021.


  1. ^ "Episode 11: Surf Curse | All Independent Reno Podcast". allindependentreno.com. September 15, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Smith, Sarah; Kiviat, Steve; Padua, Pat; Kennedy, Colleen; Goldstone, Simone (December 8, 2022). "Pierre Kwenders, Batman Returns, and More Best Bets for Dec. 8–14". Washington City Paper. Washington, D.C. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Sommerfield, Seth (November 10, 2022). "Surf Curse unexpectedly blew up on TikTok, but the band's sonic evolution suggests it's no flash in the pan". Inlander. Spokane, WA. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  4. ^ Benitev-Eves, Tina (2021). "Surf Curse Continue Connecting to "Freaks" 10 Years Later". American Songwriter. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  5. ^ "Surf Curse". Sacks and Co. 2022. Archived from the original on December 22, 2022. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Chabrow, Shayna (February 7, 2017). "Surf Curse Run Through Life Dazed and Confused on "The Strange and the Kind"". Atwood Magazine. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brown, August (July 19, 2021). "These indie-rock lifers went from obscurity to scandal to a major-label deal in 10 months". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Dynes, Sam (October 2, 2019). "Album Review: Heaven Surrounds You by Surf Curse". The Mancunion. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Jones, Abby (September 23, 2019). "Surf Curse: Heaven Surrounds You". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  10. ^ Masterton, James (May 14, 2021). "Charts analysis: Body's sales up for Tion Wayne & Russ Millions". Music Week. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Surf Curse Take Us Into Epic Adventure With New Album 'Magic Hour'". October 10, 2022. Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  12. ^ "Year-End Charts: Top New Rock & Alternative Artists: 2021". Billboard. 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Wood, Landry (October 18, 2022). "Review: Surf Curse abrasively experiments with smoothness on 'Magic Hour'". The Rice Thresher. Houston, Texas. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  14. ^ Mateos, Evelyn (November 2, 2022). "Surf Curse's Vegas Show Was All About Belonging, Costumes and Elvis". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  15. ^ Thompson, Stephen (March 1, 2018). "The Austin 100: Current Joys". NPR. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  16. ^ Martin, Brittany (May 22, 2017). "MOCA's newest free summer concert series includes Zola Jesus, Tacocat, Peaking Lights and more". Time Out Los Angeles. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Ham, Robert (July 23, 2014). "10 Nevada Bands You Should Listen To Now". Paste. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  18. ^ Ventura, Leslie (August 24, 2016). "Local Music News: Sabriel Drops an EP, Moonboots Calls It Quits and More". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  19. ^ Kohn, Stephanie; Milan, Cameron (January 29, 2017). "Vibe: Tired of the Top 40? Give these bands a listen". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  20. ^ Ainsley, Helen (May 11, 2021). "Coldplay's Higher Power rockets to Trending Chart top spot". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  21. ^ Quinlan, Keely (June 12, 2019). "Surf Curse – "Disco" Video". Stereogum. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  22. ^ King, Matt (April 5, 2022). "Viral Upward Spiral: Surf Curse Arrives at Coachella With TikTok Fame and an Intense Live Show". Coachella Valley Independent. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  23. ^ Seaman, Britt (November 14, 2022). "Toner and Surf Curse Bring the Heat to Warehouse Live". Coog Radio. University of Houston. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  24. ^ Ok-Soon Richards, Kathleen (March 23, 2023). "Creem Queen: Jaan Uhelszki's hard rock life". Alta. Retrieved April 4, 2023.
  25. ^ "Surf Curse – Chart History: Bubbling Under Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  26. ^ "Surf Curse – Chart History: Hot Rock & Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing 2 August 2021". The ARIA Report. No. 1639. Australian Recording Industry Association. August 2, 2021. p. 4.
  28. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). IFPI Czech Republic. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  29. ^ "IFPI Charts Digital Singles Chart (International) Week 35 2021". IFPI Greece. Archived from the original on September 13, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  30. ^ "Discography Surf Curse". irishcharts.com. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  31. ^ "Discografy Surf Curse". portuguesecharts.com. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  32. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  33. ^ "Surf Curse – Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  34. ^ "Surf Curse – Chart History: Billboard Global 200". Billboard. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  35. ^ "Disco – Single by Surf Curse on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  36. ^ "Midnight Cowboy – Single by Surf Curse on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  37. ^ "Hour of the Wolf – Single by Surf Curse on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  38. ^ "American certifications – Surf Curse". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  39. ^ "British certifications – Surf Curse". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 15, 2023. Type Surf Curse in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  40. ^ "Sugar – Single by Surf Curse on Spotify". Spotify. March 30, 2022. Retrieved March 30, 2022.