As the 60’s ended and the 70’s started the Australian music scene was burgeoning. The beach scene was becoming more popular and there was a change in the style of music that the surfers liked to listen to. They still liked the acoustic sounds of the Deltones and other surfer sounds but, the harder guitar sound of electric guitar was more popular with the surfer set.
Many local pubs had young local bands play on the weekend, and as a result many new bands sprang up during this era.The Sunday afternoon live band in the beergarden, in beachside areas had become a national institution. In particular there were more pubs by the beach that had live music than further inland, especially in the cities.
Because in this era Australia was at the forefront of surfing, many surf makers and associated promotions, came from Australia. As a result it was also interesting for me to note that it had a knock on effect to the surfer population of Brazil. A few of Australian surf bands like Australian Crawl, Gangajang, Spy vs Spy and Hoodoo Gurus were popular there.
Australian Crawl at the time were the epitome of the Australian surf band. Blonde, tanned and surfers, from beachside Melbourne. They sang about beachside themes, themes close to their heart. Saving money to go to Surfers Paradise, Daughters of the Northern Coast- one of their most beach lifestyle inspired songs, or “let me tell you bout 2 young lovers that lived down the coast- “Oh No Not You Again”. Richard Clapton sang about jewels of sunlight shimmering on ocean, and wishing the citysiders would go away from the Palm Beach Road- Sydney’s northern beaches, and return to town. Gangajang sang about canefields in the north, northern humidty, the arrival of the evening swell, and the Australian suburban dream, with their 80’s Australian anthem “Sounds of Then-This is Australia”
Surf rock can be distinguished from the sound associated with Dick Dale, the Atalantics and the Deltones, as music that surfers like to listen to rather than music people associate with a day on the beach. Surf music or the music listened to by surfers was also becoming popular by the choices for songs made by surf film makers. How many of us can remember the songs of Gangajang in the movie “Mad Wax” or aboriginal band “Yothu Yindi” in “Bunyip Dreaming”.
What exactly do the surfers listen to? Soft acoustic guitar like that of Dick Dale, that flowed on to current acts like Jack Johnson, Donovan Frankenreiter, and Australian acts like the Beautiful Girls and Pete Murray are popular with the oldstyle crew. Sitting in the middle are bands like Gangajang, Australian Crawl, Hoodoo Gurus, and newer stuff like Eskimo Joe. And the harder edge from punk bands like Radio Birdman, Celibate Rifles, Cosmic Psychos, the Meanies and Tumbleweed.
While some of the bands weren’t exactly from beachside areas, some were effected by the common trends in music in that time, others like INXS were from nearby and had crossover music styles and then drifted into other musical genres.
List of Australian Surf Rock Bands
- Australian Crawl
- Hoodoo Gurus
- Mondo Rock- Come Said the Boy
- Midnight Oil- Surfing with a Spoon, Weddingcake Island
- Richard Clapton
- Mental as Anything
- Cruel Sea
- You Am I
- Radio Birdman
- Eskimo Joe
- The Beautiful Girls
- The Meanies
- Cosmic Psychos
- Celibate Rifles
Got any further suggestions? Feel free to send us some Australian Surf Rock Bands
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