The Wools Surf Club is keeping plenty busy. When I met up with the band for coffee, they were still reeling from a gig two nights prior, a late, long, and slightly drunk set at Muddy Waters Café in support of Portland trio BRAINSTORM. A few hours after our meeting, they were headed to The Press Room to soundcheck for a buddy’s art opening. “We’re still such babies at this,” laughed frontman Johnny Troyna in response to the number of shows the band’s been playing of late. “We still forget songs.”
Young as they may be — the trio officially started jamming together earlier this year — the Wools are quickly making a name for themselves around town. Troyna, together with drummer Peter Latta and bassist Jason Stoops, plays a curious brand of Kinks-inspired indie rock that fluctuates between jangly pop and dark, moody guitar music. Ask the band, and they’ll cite everyone from Nick Cave and John Lennon to Wu-Tang Clan and Joy Division as influences. As for the songs, they stem mostly from Troyna, whose storytelling has become something of a Wools staple. “They’re definitely based on real scenarios,” he said. “He’s had this really colored life,” added Latta.
While it might not present itself as obviously, the band also draws a great deal of inspiration from life outside the practice studio: mainly skating and surfing together in and around Santa Barbara. “I’ve been skating so much more since Johnny and I first started playing together,” insisted Latta. So much so, in fact, that they’ve self-labeled themselves “dirt wave,” a genre they invented in part because of bassist Stoops’s surfer past. As Troyna put it, “[Johnny’s] the Buster Posey of the Wools.”
Not surprisingly, the band’s live shows are an impressively dynamic mix of catchy hooks and self-deprecating banter. Even the band’s name, derived from Troyna’s mush-mouthed deliveries, serves as something of an inside joke. “We ride a funny line of being really goofy and really serious,” Latta noted. “We goof around and act like we don’t really care, but we do care a lot.” Lucky for us, it seems like other folks are starting to care right along with them. Visit facebook.com//pages/The-Wools-Surf-Club/.