Nada Surf emerged in 1996 when alternative rock ruled the airwaves with the ironic ode to high school, “Popular.” The band found a modest hit in the song, but trends changed a few years later, and Nada Surf lost favor alongside power-pop counterparts like Fastball and Superdrag.
However, the trio endured, releasing four albums since its Elektra Records debut, “High/Low.” Upon putting the finishing touches on its second album, 1998’s “Proximity Effect,” the group was dropped from its major label, but found a home in 2003 with indie-rock outfit Barsuk Records.
With its latest and fifth release, “Lucky,” the New York City band proves itself as a rock group still worthy of recognition. The band’s lineup includes vocalist/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot.
“We don’t feel like an oldies act,” Elliott said. “The beauty of the (band) “¦ is that we feel relevant.”
Elliot said the group is equally capable of cranking out both pop and rock songs, a “rare thing” among bands.
“We have a lot of ideas, like ways we can still turn,” he said. “We can make a pounding, smashing rock record that sounds like arena rock, or we can make something quiet and small.
“Actually, we get to do both those things, which is kind of the strength of the band.”
Recent songs like “See These Bones,” “Whose Authority” and “Weightless” ” the first single from “Lucky” ” display the deftness of the band’s craft. The act’s dedication to music-making was part of the reason Elliot joined the group. When Caws and Lorca lost their first drummer in the early 1990s, the pair remembered Elliot, an acquaintance at the time, and tried to recruit him with a demo tape.
“It was like getting a tape of a really good band and suddenly, you get to be the drummer,” Elliot said.
Once he started playing with Caws and Lorca, Elliot said he noticed a palpable chemistry with the trio ” a camaraderie he said the members recall every time they take the stage.
“We look to (that) moment as one of release,” he said. “For me, it’s slightly physical, and it’s also emotional. It’s a certain connection with the audience “¦ a combination of wanting to play these songs and making them sound beautiful or powerful, and also engaging the audience in a way in that hoping they are responding.”
Elliot said focusing on making music makes each member happy and keeps Nada Surf going.
There’s one thing the drummer has learned from being in a band: knowing when to quit. Monday’s 7 p.m. show at Bricktown Live might be the last chance local audiences get to see Nada Surf … at least for the foreseeable future. Elliot admits that after almost a year of touring, the act is not far from reaching a stopping point.
“I think we’re just going to, maybe, be a little quieter next year. We’re not going to do as much touring,” he said. “We have to recharge our batteries. We will kill each other if we go out for another year or try to start making a new record right away.” “Bryan Mangieri