The drifting story began last millennium (March 23, 1993 to be precise) when two surfer dudes, Surfer Spud and original surf guitarist Surfer John, were hangin' out on a beach in San Francisco. The surf was raw, the sky was foggy and there were seagulls overhead checkin' out the scene. After Spud remarked that he wished he could fly too, John noted that birds can fly but they can't surf. Spud said that someone should write a song about that and mmediately sat down and wrote the notes and chords that became the band's first song Birds Can't Surf.
Meanwhile, on another sea outing in Half Moon Bay, Surfer John noticed that sharks often travel in pairs and arranged the surf guitar riffs that would make up the song Shark! Shark! After Spud added his signature sax solo via Korg M-1 keyboard, the song was complete. Around this same time on a coastal drive down Highway 1, Surfer Spud saw a road sign that simply said DRIFTING SAND and named the band Drifting Sand. "I like the idea that beach sand drifts away from the beach," said Spud. "It's symbolic of the beach spreading itself into our lives no matter where you go."
Drifting Sand then recorded their first single, the double A-side Birds Can't Surf and Shark! Shark! with San Francisco's own Lester Temple and released the single on their own label Pina Colada Records. "We didn't have time to find a label so we created our own," said Spud. "Plus we really like pina coladas," added John. The single received rave reviews from KFJC surf radio authority Phil Dirt as well as surf fanzines Surf Music USA, Pipeline and New Gandy Dancer and received airplay on KFJC, KALX and KCRH in the San Francisco Bay Area. Plus, radio's legendary Doctor Demento commented that Birds Can't Surf was neat!
A few summers passed and the members of Drifting Sand spent most of their time in the water and searching for girls and treasure on the beaches between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. A drummer named Don Patrol was also recruited but in the process, Surfer John decided that he wanted to take the band in a golf direction and Spud wanted to keep the surf theme going. So John left and a dude named Dana Point joined the band on surf guitar...a '57 reissue Stratocaster to be exact. Don's brother Jon (aka Diver Jon) joined on beachin' bass and Drifting Sand were now a foursome and played their first gig at a gnarly neighborhood dive called Playland in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Surfer Spud collected all the songs he had made up in his head in between surf sets and once again employed the production skills of Lester Temple. The band recorded their debut album SURFPOP in the summer of 1998 and it included songs like Perfect Wave, First Time Surfin', Sand Is Your Friend, What Kind Of Surfboard Is That? and At The Mercy Of The Wave, along with new versions of Birds Can't Surf and Shark! Shark! Local radio associates Captain Pat McNally, Web Fingors, Joanna Banana and a cast of kids made special appearances on the album and Surfer John made a brief comeback with "He's a hodad" on Birds Can't Surf. Plus, to relax everybody, the album contained nearly fifty minutes of soothing surf sounds that told the fate of two local surfers.
Songs from SURFPOP received airplay on KROQ (Rodney On The Roq), KFJC (Surf's Up!), KCR (A Day At The Beach), various other college stations around the country and in Japan, Brazil, Spain and Belgium. Plus, At The Mercy Of The Wave became the surf report theme song on KITS during the Howard Stern show. But as the tides change, so did the members of Drifting Sand and for reasons known and somewhat unknown, everybody except for Surfer Spud drifted away. Meanwhile, Surfer John rejoined the band along with his guitar buddy Longboard Bill, a drummer who worshipped Duran Duran named Surfer Guert and an old library co-worker who used to run down shopping carts in his jeep named Mountain Bike Mike.
The new version of Drifting Sand played a variety of events, mostly for Radio Disney's local affiliate KMKY 1310AM before deciding to stage their own Battle of the Surf Bands at Slim's nighclub in San Francisco. The battle was between Drifting Sand and their hillbilly cousins Hayness Surf (who played mostly surf covers) and the show also featured a viewing of the 60's classic beach party movie Ride The Wild Surf. Drifting Sand opened up their set with a mini movie that featured music from Star Wars to commemorate the opening of Star Wars-Episode I that same night and the band also played their Proclaimers-tribute 500 Waves for the first time.
The drifting lineup then mutated again, with Surfer John and Longboard Bill leaving ship and a dude named Surfer Joe from Redwood City taking over the lead guitar role. This version of the band, including Surfer Guert on drums and Mountain Bike Mike on bass, played many shows including benefits for the Surfrider Foundation, Radio Disney beach parties at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Club Cocodrie, the Cactus Club (opening for the Red Elvises), Bottom of the Hill, CD Land in Palo Alto, the San Francisco Zoo and the San Jose Convention Center for Noon Year's Eve, another Radio Disney concert. The band also made their first television appearance by performing Sand Is Your Friend on a local show called The Show hosted by local comedian Johnny Steele.
This version of the band also recorded a cover of the Beach Boys classic summer song All Summer Long for an Italian surf tribute to the American Graffiti soundtrack. The song was produced again by Lester Temple at Tiki Kouch Studios in San Francisco and received airplay on Rodney's show on KROQ. Some called Surfer Joe's arrangement a masterpiece and the best thing Drifting Sand ever recorded...thanks Mom!
Drifting Sand also began to add newly-written songs to their setlist, including Seastar, Mavericks, Drifting Sand and Surfer Spud's call-to-surf with mega-teen pop star Britney Spears Surfin' With Britney. The latter became a minor hit, going Top 5 on Rodney Bingenheimer's show on KROQ and getting played on Radio Disney (broadcast to over 60 markets) and even caused Spud's girlfriend at the time to freak out ("You wrote a song for F#$%ing Britney Spears instead of me?!!"). As the band began to work on their second album, more lineup changes followed. Bassist Mountain Bike Mike left because he couldn't handle any more on-stage references to monkeys and chickens and Surfer Joe packed his gear to head north to Seattle, though some thought that he went back to Doheny where the surfers all go. Remaining members Surfer Spud and Surfer Guert then recruited Seaborn the Sharkbiter on guitar and Goofyfoot Greg on bass and the foursome played one show at CD Land before a very strange thing happened.
Surfer Guert, long known for his admiration of monkeys, donkeys and chickens, completely lost it. Guert quit Drifting Sand so he could embark on a jungle safari adventure in search of porkchops and saguaros and hasn't been heard from since. Surfer Spud has said that he still saves a prayer till the morning after for Guert and wishes him all the best. Goofyfoot Greg also bailed so he could surf around the world with his dog Ulu and a dude named Rider joined on bass. The trio of Spud, Seaborn and Rider recorded a Christmas song called Surfing At Night for a Spanish surf compilation that never materialized and Spud and Seaborn recorded Web's Cave, a theme song heard on the Web Fingors show on Radio Disney.
Meanwhile, Surfer Spud continued working on the new album, which included songs like Seastar, Surf With Me, Dream Summer Day, Leanna, Strawberry Blonde (the latter two written by Diver Jon and Spud back in the SURFPOP days) and Drifting Sand's epic tribute to the Beach Boys, the 60 track-plus California Myth. The album was released on Brian Wilson's birthday in the summer of 2003 and shortly thereafter, a dude named Snorkl joined the band on drums and the new foursome played one of Drifting Sand's most exciting shows ever, opening up for Dick Dale, King of the Surf Guitar, at Slim's. Members of Dick Dale's band told Drifting Sand they rocked and Spud was stoked that he got to meet the Beast (Dick's Stratocaster) in person...er, in guitar.
Then, after numerous wardrobe and cover song arguments, Seaborn and Rider quit the band. A dude named Flipper joined on bass and a songwriter/man of many instruments Stevo also joined, playing drums, keyboards and guitar before finally settling on bass guitar, which made perfect sense since Stevo bore a slight resemblance to Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson. Producer Rock Serling also drifted in and adopted the name Riptide and this new lineup played some really fun gigs that included Paramount's Great America, Mix 106.5's Concert for the Homeless (with Fastball and Butterfly Boucher) on the 4th of July and opening up for Nancy Sinatra at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. The latter two shows showcased the dancing and singing talents of Niki and Nanette, the Drifting Sand Beach Bettys.
A new single California Myth was released in the summer of 2004 and it included a cool electroclashy version of Brian Wilson's classic SMiLE track Surf's Up. Meanwhile, Surfer Spud and Surfer John (still friends despite their musical differences) met Beach Boy Al Jardine who said that Surfin' With Britney was a nice song and even put a Drifting Sand sticker on his car. Drifting Sand ended the year as Drifting Snow, their alter-ego edgy snowboarding counterpart, at a Surfrider Foundation benefit in Pacifica and then released a Drifting Snow EP that was sent out to drifting fans for Christmas. After Riptide and Stevo left for astrological reasons, former bassist Goofyfoot Greg, new guitarist Check and new drummer Wookie joined and played one gig as Psychedelic Psand and then became Drifting Snow, which slowly melted…
Meanwhile, Drifting Sand started anew again with a lineup that featured former member Diver Jon back on bass and new guitarist Rockaway Rob on surf guitar. Snorkl became Bam Bam and played surf drums before new drummer Wookie drifted in, shifting Bam Bam over to rhythm guitar as Driftwood. After performing a killer gig at Slim's (opening again for The Red Elvises), Diver Jon bailed so he could be Jon Solo and Driftwood drifted over to beachin' bass. This version of the band played many gigs, including shows aboard the Sierra Railroad, Great America, Bubba Gump Restaurant, Treasure Island, the Bamboo Hut and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for Comcast Spring Break Week. After almost opening up for the Beach Boys (for the second time!), Rockaway Rob bailed so he could drift on in a different direction.
Surfer Jim, a local legend from San Jose who once fronted a band called the Surf Dwellers, joined the lineup in 2007 but then bailed in late 2008 so he could surf where the gremmies and the hodads never go (never go!). Rockaway Rob rejoined in 2009 but then bailed so he could surf the big ones at Rockaway Beach in 2010. Surfer Jim rejoined for a couple of gigs and a dude named Captain Mike filled in on beachin' bass along with Bruce from The Reefriders on surf guitar as well as original drummer Don Patrol. Band members kept drifting in and out like the tide and even Riptide, Undertow (formerly Stevo) and Rider rejoined for a gig or two. Then everyone left except for Wookie and Surfer Spud, who are currently working on the new album with a secret wrecking crew in an ever-evolving tiki studio just a few miles from the western edge of the United States of America. How do all these lineup changes affect Surfer Spud? "Actually it keeps my toes on the nose wondering whether I’ll shoot the curl or wipe out," remarked Spud. "But as long as I don't break up with myself and keep catching that next wave, there will be a Drifting Sand surfing band. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hang ten so I can come up with some new song ideas for the next album!"
The drifting saga continues...