Chapter Five

NOT A SURF BAND”

Although the original line-up never released any official recordings (they did, however, record a four-song demo, current whereabouts unknown), their concerts were met with such enthusiasm that they generated a lot of press in the various NYC music publications. Since they played only instrumentals, the Raybeats soon found themselves being labeled as a “surf” band, a moniker they took as a personal affront.

“The Ventures had been a big influence on the instrumental scene, and since they were often referred to as a surf band, I think it was just an easy way for the journalists to pigeonhole an instrumental band,” Irwin said. “But, it would make us all bristle when they would call us a surf band – it seemed to diminish what we were doing instead of describe it.”

Original line-up, l-r: Jody Harris, Pat Irwin, Don Christensen, George Scott

Harris and Christensen also disfavored the comparison. In a 2001 interview with Mohair Sweets, Jody Harris commented on the music he made with the Raybeats: “There was a strong pull at the time for us [. . .] to just be a surf band, but we didn’t wanna do that. We were artsters!”

And Christensen, although a big fan of the surf music era, didn’t view the Raybeats as a continuation of it; instead, he saw them as musical trailblazers trying to take instrumental music somewhere it hadn’t been yet.

“I was always interested in that next step,” Christensen said. “We liked ‘Wipeout’ and ‘Pipeline’ and traditional instrumentals like that, but we were trying to do something different. We were trying to take instrumental music to that next level.”

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