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The Ballad of a Band Named Tsunami Tsurprise

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Tsunami Tsurprise — comprised of James Sprecker and Cameron Bunch on guitars, Meg Munro on vocals, Griffin Jones on bass, and Matt Hencinski on drums — will be playing June 9 at Town Ballroom in support of Stress Dolls. Also on the bill is Cooler and Starjuice. Recently, we sat down with Meg and Cam for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on everything from the band's unique sound and upcoming show, to phallic-laden lyrics and the pitfalls of wearing cheap latex. It was a fun talk. Check it out below. —Photo Credit: Brett Ballachino.)

1120 Press: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. So, to start with: We know you guys get asked this a lot so we’re going to attempt to approach this topic a little differently. Whenever we read anything about the band, it is always compared to the B-52s. We get where that comparison comes from, but to us it also seems pretty limiting because there’s much more to your sound. Yes, your music is surf, and has that B-movie aesthetic, but there’s also elements of Psychobilly & The Cramps, and hardcore, and Bat Cave, and, of course, Dick Dale. Where does the inspiration come from that drives this kind of sound… this blend? Is that approach planned or is it just organic?

CAM: So, I met James and Matt through a mutual friend when we started going to (SUNY) Fredonia. And I just really liked surf music. But we all had a mutual like for punk and classic rock, and we all love Black Sabbath and surf. So, that was the shared influence we had when we started. Then, over time, all of our songs ended up sounding like that.

1120: So, the sound is organic? CAM: At first it was. But now we’re actually kind of struggling … Now we’re in the position of trying to write one new song and it’s really hard (laughs)… because we’re trying to figure out if we should stray away from how we’ve sounded in the past. But we also don’t want to think about it too hard.

MEG: I feel like it’s also difficult because all of our songs, the lyrical parts, are pretty goofy and they’re all stories about Sci-Fi type stuff. So, we’ve been feeling kind of pigeonholed and we’re trying not to be. How many songs can you write about monsters? (laughs)

CAM: We’ve written about zombies. We’ve written about Frankenhooker. We’ve written about cowboys and aliens. We’ve written about sea monsters. And we’ve written about interstellar cop chases.

MEG: Right, so it feels like we need some kind of a refresher. The song that we’re working on now, we keep joking it’s the “bop” of the summer because it’s upbeat. The kind of songs that James writes are very riff heavy and with this song he was like, ‘I think I’m just going to kind of make a song. It doesn’t need to be this whole ordeal.’

1120: Still, when you listen to your music, the surf sound is there, but then you guys will veer mid-song toward hardcore or some other style. The vocals in ‘Creature from the Black Rangoon,’ for instance, catches you off guard the first time you hear it.

CAM: I don’t really listen to any hardcore music. I’ve only just recently started getting into that genre. But James is also the guitar player in (the local hardcore band) Pale Hell .

MEG: I feel like the hardcore just comes out vocally. It just kind of happens that way. They had me fill in before I officially became the new singer and they had me sing ‘Creature from the Black Rangoon’ and at the end I just screamed.

CAM: The rest of us in the band we’re like, ‘Whoa!’

MEG: I didn’t even know I could do that.

1120: We’re getting a little off track here, but what’s meant by the word ‘derogatory’ after the word ‘Surf’ on all your music and promotional material? We notice you guys always use that word. Do you guys resent the “surf” label?

CAM: No. It’s just a joke. I think we’re more true to the term than other bands, but defining your own sound is really weird.

1120: So, it’s self-deprecation?

CAM: Yes! That’s the perfect term.

MEG: It also just feels really difficult to say you’re just surf punk when you have one song that’s country western and another one that’s hardcore, etc…

CAM: It’s tough to have your music categorized or labeled.

1120: So you guys started at SUNY Fredonia. There’s a handful of bands around Buffalo whose origins reach back there. It almost seems like a feeder to the scene here.

CAM: There’s a lot. There’s a lot of crossover between Fredonia and Buffalo.

MEG: Fredonia is so small, so the scene is really small. So I think a lot of bands from there will just come to Buffalo to play. Also, because Fredonia is so close, you have a lot of kids who are musicians from Buffalo going to school there.

CAM: A lot of my favorite local bands are bands that I’ve seen in Fredonia, like ‘Johnny and the Man Kids.’ And James and our bass player Griffin are in a band ‘Skulking Ghost’ which started there. Early Worm is a half-Fredonia band.

MEG: And there’s ‘The Weather Might Say Otherwise,’ too…

1120: You guys started with a male at vocals, and now Meg is the band’s singer. How did that change impact the band? Did going from a male to female present different opportunities for what you could do, or did it change the way you write songs? The band sounded great with a male singer, the band sounds great with Meg, but there is a difference.

CAM: I could go through our Instagram feed and every post that I post in which the first photo is Meg, it will have way more likes than anything I post in which the first picture is not Meg; no matter what it is: a different band member, a flyer… if Meg is the first thing on the post, it gets more engagement. (laughs)

1120: But you’ve talked about rewriting lyrics to songs when you guys went from a male singer to a female singer. One of the songs that stands out is the song ‘Ballad of William the Child.' When you hear Meg sing the line ‘…and my dick don’t work,’ it adds something totally different than if a male was singing that.

MEG: Yeah, we wanted that. The song ‘Turbodrive’ is, like, all about dicks. It just adds an extra silly element to hear me singing about that. We just thought it would be funny since I’m a girl.

CAM: And that’s a positive impact, going back to your question. If we had a male singer singing that it would probably be like, ‘Ok, that’s creepy.’

MEG: Sometimes James will throw these lyric ideas at me and I’m like: ‘I am not singing that!’ (laughs) They’re always way over the top, but he knows we could get away with it because I’m a girl.

1120: On June 9 you have a show supporting Stress Dolls with Cooler and Starjuice at Town Ballroom. What are your thoughts going into it?

CAM: I’m very happy with all the bands we are getting to play with. I’m just really grateful that Chelsea picked us to play. (Chelsea O. of Stress Dolls and another SUNY Fred alum)

MEG: She’s been really great to us. She keeps getting us awesome venues.

CAM: The first time she asked us to play was at the 9th Ward under Babeville.

MEG: There was like a Green Room there! It was awesome!

CAM: Yeah, we had never sat down in a room before a show where people were like: ‘Here’s a fridge full of beers and White Claws. Hang out here until you’re ready to go on.’

MEG: That was crazy! And then to have her ask us to play Town Ballroom...

CAM: Yeah, I never thought I’d play there. So yeah, it’s really exciting. She’s awesome and her band is awesome and we’re really thankful.

1120 PRESS: So what’s next for you guys going forward?

CAM: We have three gig offers right now that we’re trying to figure out if we can take (due to members’ schedules).

MEG: The ‘Song of Summer’ is basically written instrumentally, but now I just have to put my brain to work and write some lyrics.

CAM: But otherwise we just kind of want to bunker down, write new songs… Basically the plan is to write new music, record them and release it, and then maybe try to get some gigs out of town.

1120: Before we end, the video for ‘Creature from the Black Rangoon’ is so fun to watch. Can you tell us about how that came together?

CAM: It was definitely a group effort. We all had ideas of what would be funny. We don’t take ourselves that seriously. So our idea was: B-Horror movie. Cheap costumes. But we got to work with Brett Ballachino who did all the camera work, did the blue-screen for us, all the on-location shots. We could not have done that video with him.

MEG: He did such a good job. I will say I was the character-assigner. It was my idea to be the creature and for James to be the female love interest. The creature mask and gloves smelled so bad. It was just latex. Shitty, cheap latex. My hair stunk for a full day afterwards.

CAM: And Meg is allergic to latex.

MEG: Yeah, I ended up with hives. (laughs)


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