The origins of Satanic surf-rock band Lusurfer are hazy at best. Over a round of PBRs at a local watering hole, I try to coax a narrative out of the four metal-heads-turned-surf-rock enthusiasts seated around me, but the details are implausible, sketchy, and at times ridiculous.
"The official story is that the three of us were created in Hell by Satan," says a blond young man who insists that his real name is Moloch the Manipulator. He gestures to his left and right, pointing to his drummer, Asmoday the Tormentor, and bassist, Dagon the Blasphemer. "And then we came to the earth and abducted an insurance salesman, who we enslaved as our keyboard player, Gary the Insurance Salesman. Technically, this is our only purpose: to play Satanic surf rock."
The rest of the group nods solemnly. Judging by his bandmates' reactions, it would appear that Moloch is telling the truth. Suddenly, the interview questions I had brought along for our meeting seem laughable. Who knew that my lunchtime date with a local band would give me the opportunity to dig up dirt on Satan himself?
"Satan loves surf rock," Dagon dishes, "despite what everybody thinks. He doesn't really like metal. He loves surf rock. Everybody else has it wrong."
"One of the greatest activities in Hell is surfing on the pits of molten lava," adds Asmoday.
"It's the perfect soundtrack," Dagon agrees.
When I nod to their glasses of beer and ask if they have Pabst Blue Ribbon in Hell, they nod their heads and assure me that the underworld is actually quite pleasant. "We have everything you could possibly want," Dagon insists. "That's why we're trying to spread the word of Satan and show people that Heaven is not where you want to be. Hell is where you can let loose."
"All they have in Heaven is Natty Lite," Moloch chimes in.
"Why would you want to go be bored in Heaven and have to adhere to all these rules when you could go to Hell and see all your friends and do drugs and gamble?" Dagon says. He makes a good point.
While we may never know the real back story on Lusurfer (who needs all those boring who-went-to-high-school-with-whom details, anyway?), one thing's for certain: The songs that fill their debut album, Vulgar Display of Reverb, showcase some surprisingly serious chops. A glance over the song titles on the back of the CD, which include gems like "Surf Bloody Surf," "Hang 10 People," and a cover of Slayer's "Die by the Sword," would suggest that the listener is in for a disc full of metal. But in reality, the mostly instrumental songs are made for surf-rock fans. Moloch the Manipulator's Dick Dale-inspired guitar riffs drive most of the tracks, while Gary the Insurance Salesman's organ parts sound like something out of the theme song for The Munsters mixed with old songs by bands like the Ventures.
When they perform live, the band's appearance aligns with their mission from Satan: They wear Hawaiian shirts, paint their faces with ghoulish makeup, toss black-and-white beach balls into the crowd, and invite attendees to confess their sins onstage in exchange for prizes. The crowds at their shows feature an eclectic mix, ranging from surf-rock and rockabilly fans to metal kids hoping to catch a few of their quirky covers to curious bystanders looking to discover something new and unusual.
Whatever their real identities may be, these possessed surfers make the Minneapolis music scene a more interesting place. As our interview is wrapping up, only one question remains: After they were forged in the bowels of Hell, what made them choose Minnesota as the epicenter of their Satanic mission?
"It reminded us of Hell," Moloch says.
"It's the worst place to live," Dagon agrees. "It reminds us of home."
After a pause, Asmoday speaks up. "And the Jucy Lucys."
LUSURFER play a free CD-release show with the Terrordactyls and Speshul K on FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, at the UPTOWN BAR; 612.823.4719