Nada Surf

Nada Surf is an American alternative rock band which currently consists of Matthew Caws (guitar, vocals), Ira Elliot (drums), Daniel Lorca (bass, backing vocals), Louie Lino (keyboards) and Doug Gillard (guitar). Based in New York City and formed in the 1990s, Nada Surf continues to tour. Their ninth album, Never Not Together, will be released on February 7th, 2020.

Nada Surf
Matthew Caws from Nada Surf
Background information
OriginNew York City, New York, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock, indie rock, power pop
Years active1990present
Heavenly (UK)
City Slang (GER)
MembersMatthew Caws
Daniel Lorca
Ira Elliot
Doug Gillard
Louie Lino
Past membersAaron Conte



In 1992, the band was formed by Matthew Caws and Daniel Lorca. The original band name was Helicopter but later changed to Nada Surf, which Caws said is “actually referring to something much more existential, it's just surfing on nothing. Being lost in your head or in your imagination but you know, whenever I listen to music I always find myself off somewhere. Somewhere in space. You know, in mental space and it's a reference to that."[1] They met in the Lycée Français de New York; both spent some of their childhood in France and Belgium, and played in many bands, including The Cost of Living and Because Because Because. Their first drummer, Dan (later alluded to in the song "The Plan" from the album High/Low), was replaced by Aaron Conte, with whom the band recorded its first 7", The Plan/Telescope (1994/Stickboy), as well as the demo tape Tafkans, the raw version of High/Low. Those raw versions were later released on their second 7", Deeper Well/Pressure Free (1995/Deep Elm Records), on the Karmic EP and on North 6th Street.

In 1995, Conte left the band and was replaced by Ira Elliot, former drummer of the Fuzztones, a very active band from the eighties New York scene, and of whom both Caws and Lorca were fans. After a Blonde Redhead show at the Knitting Factory, Nada Surf met former Cars frontman and Weezer producer Ric Ocasek.[2] With little hope, they presented him with a copy of Tafkans. Three weeks later, Ocasek called back with news of his intention to produce the band's album.[3] Soon after, the band was finalizing a contract with Elektra Records, through an executive, Josh Deutsch.

In spring 1996, the band released High/Low, their debut album which was recorded and mastered within a 19-day period. Prior to this, the band released the EP {Karmic} on No. 6 Records, a label run by Elektra A&R head Terry Tolkin. That summer, as Nada Surf toured the United States with Superdrag, their song "Popular" became a summer anthem, and the band toured overseas.

In 1998, the band released The Proximity Effect, their follow-up album, in Europe. Produced by Fred Maher, the album gained little commercial success in the US. Their record label, thinking the album lacked a hit like "Popular", had the band record several covers, including "Black & White" (The dBs) and "Why Are You So Mean To Me?" (Vitreous Humor), to use as singles. Tired of the requirements of the A&R director, the band judged the album was perfect as-is (even though Elektra suggested the inclusion of an acoustic version of "Popular"), and broke their contract. As a consequence, Elektra did not release the album in the US and dropped the band while they were on a promotional tour in Europe. Despite these events, this album was critically acclaimed in France, where the band made a 30-show tour the following year.[4]


In 2000, the band released The Proximity Effect in the United States on their own label, MarDev (named after Caws' maternal grandmother, Margaret Devereux Lippitt, daughter of the painter Margaret Walthour Lippitt), after being dropped by Elektra. Following the album's release, the band performed at their record release party at Luna Lounge in New York City and toured intensively for several months to rebuild their North American fan base.

From 1999 to 2002, the band took regular day jobs: Caws worked at a Brooklyn record store called Earwax,[5] Lorca worked on some computer projects and Elliot did drum and guitar session work for other artists. Caws later referred to these times as a period of luxury, and the record store job as his "favorite job ever."[6]

In 2002, the band released Let Go, a critically acclaimed album[7] which included the successful single "Inside of Love", and toured for this album for several months, including many European festivals in the summer of 2003. Mostly recorded the year before, the album was produced by their friends Louie Lino and Chris Fudurich, who had engineered The Proximity Effect; the band paid them with $1 and $5 bills, the money earned from tour merchandise sales.

In 2005, the band released The Weight Is a Gift on Barsuk Records, an album produced by Chris Walla (among others), and finished touring for this album in October of the following year.[8] The record was made during a month spent at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco.[9]

In 2008, the band released Lucky, an album with producer John Goodmanson in the Robert Lang Studios in Seattle, from material recorded the year before. That same year, the band's song "No Quick Fix" was featured as the Spinner MP3 of the Day, and they were featured on the cover of Beyond Race Magazine for the publication's winter issue.


In 2010, the band released If I Had a Hi-Fi, an album of covers including songs by the likes of Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Spoon, and The Go-Betweens.[10] Milwaukee noise rock band IfIHadAHiFi reciprocally titled their next album Nada Surf EP+3.[11]

In 2012, the band released The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, an album which included the single "Waiting for Something" and introduced former Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard as fourth band member.[12][13]

In 2012, Caws, who had moved to England, recorded acoustic versions of five of the songs from The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy as B-sides in collaboration with record producer Lee Russell. The material was released as The Dulcitone Files EP. The group released a compilation of rarities called B-Sides in 2014.[14]

Nada Surf's eighth studio album, You Know Who You Are, with an official release date of March 4, 2016, was released for streaming in late February 2016.[15]

In 2018, for the 15th anniversary of Let Go, the charity cover album Standing At The Gates: The Songs Of Nada Surf’s Let Go was released, benefiting ACLU and The Pablove Foundation. The album features artists such as The Long Winters, Ed Harcourt and Aimee Mann.

In November 2019, Nada Surf announced their ninth studio album and first in four years, Never Not Together, would be released via Barsuk Records (USA) and City Slang (UK) on 15 February 2020. The album is preceded with the release of a new single and lyric video, "Something I Should Do". According to the band, their experience while celebrating the 15th anniversary of Let Go in 2017 pushed them into a different creative mindset. They made vast demos before thinning down the selection in an effort to find focus. The new album is the result and from the title down, it's a salute to communal unity.[16] The band also announced a major world tour to celebrate the album's release, starting on Valentine's Day in Seattle before moving throughout the USA and also encompassing dates in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.[17]


Studio albums

Band members

Current members
Touring members
Former members
  • Aaron Conte – drums (1993–1995)


  • The Hyperspace-Perspective in the Lyrics of Nada Surf, by Christian Auinger. Doctorate in Anglo-American language study, University of Vienna - 2005[20]


  1. "Nada Surf Interview". July 2005. Archived from the original (Audio interview) on June 4, 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  2. Caws, Matthew. "The Time Ric Ocasek Helped My Band Make Its First Record". Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  3. Lindsay, Cam. "Rank Your Records: Matthew Caws Orders Nada Surf's Records". Noisey. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  4. Freedman, Pete (November 19, 2008). "Q&A: Nada Surf's Matthew Caws Wishes His Band Was Spinal Tap. Also: Another Giveaway!". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  5. Jayasuriya, Sahan (December 6, 2012). "Still "Popular": An Interview with Nada Surf's Matthew Caws". Third Coast Daily. Milwaukee. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  6. MacIntyre, Dave (April 12, 2012). "Nada Surf - 4 April 2012 - Toronto". Pop Matters. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  7. R, C (February 8, 2003). "Let Go". Billboard.
  8. McMahan, Tim (February 22, 2006). "Nada Surf: Back to the Van". The Omaha Reader. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  9. Rubin, Joey (September 29, 2005). "Finally Professional: A Conversation with Nada Surf at Ten Years Old". Pop Matters. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  10. "Nada Surf, Vienna Sessions". They Shoot Music. June 27, 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  11. Chugg, A (March 16, 2010). "Nada Surf announce covers record If I Had a Hi-Fi, tour; Milwaukee band IfIHadAHiFi very pleased". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  12. Fusilli, Jim (January 28, 2012). "Weekend Conversations: Nada Surf" (Video interview). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  13. Miller IV, Warren A. (July 10, 2012). "Beyond "Popular": An Interview with Nada Surf's Ira Elliot". Pop Matters. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  14. "B-Sides". Nada Surf (official website). Archived from the original on 2015-09-13.
  15. Heller, Jason (February 24, 2016). "Nada Surf, 'You Know Who You Are'". First Listen. NPR. Archived from the original on 2016-02-25.
  16. "Nada Surf Detail New Album 'Never Not Together'". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  17. "Nada Surf | Tour Dates". Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  18. Vanderbilt, Mike (July 28, 2016). "Doug Gillard talks about his Guided By Voices return in an exclusive Q&A". AVClub.
  19. Kreuser, Molli (June 2, 2016). "Nada Surf at the Great American Music Hall". Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  20. Sutherland, Sam (January 16, 2008). "Nada Surf: A Real Interview" (Audio interview). Retrieved 31 October 2013.
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