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Behind The Masks Of The California GO! Sound Of The Phantom Surfers

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 30, 2019 08:35pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


"I have always wanted to travel to Antarctica, to see the giant tent in the middle of the frozen wasteland. There, inside this tent is a single banquet table; on the table is a single silver platter; and on the platter is a human head...or so I have read."
~ Michael "Daddy Love" Lucas, bass

Of all the bands I have seen over my existence, there are perhaps none more witnessed onstage than The Phantom Surfers. When I find out they are playing near me, I gain the same inner childhood excitement as receiving an "All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp" coupon from Sizzler in the mailbox. With album themes from slot car racing to x-rated parties, this band has truly taken instrumental music one step beyond, far into the the deep unknown (much like a Japanese bank or canned coffee commercial starring Tommy Lee Jones) .

But who are these masked men of reverb, you ask yourself?

Maz, a Gemini and lover of all vegetables, has been playing drums for the band since he was a young lad of 20. Learning to play the trumpet is still a dream for Maz, a man with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing a romantic sunrise while we sold our hoardings together at the swap meet. If a miniature toy train with sushi on board was going around a Japanese restaurant, Maz will always pick the Saba (mackerel) first, however his favorite meal is still a Pollo Asada Torta with extra jalapeños at El Farolito (which I still call I Fart-A-Lot-O). I will never forget the bizarre show in Ventura where The Phantom Surfers played with Fugazi (perhaps the strangest yin to yang I have seen), and afterwards going to the Hong Kong Inn for some scorpion bowls and watching Maz do the hula on stage with their Polynesian revue.


Johnny "Big Hand" Bartlett's musical weapon of choice is his trusty 1962 Fender Jazzmaster. A man of many talents on stage and in the kitchen, Johnny prides himself on the paella he creates with wonder on his Weber grill. His favorite paella is the traditional rabbit and chicken. When I ask him which album he has listened to a zillion times and could listen to a gazillion times more, he told me, "Mickey Baker's The Wildest Guitar. That platter is flawless!" Johnny still dreams of visiting the state of Maine, the land of blueberries and lobster.

Although Russell is often blowing a tin sandwich on his lips, his favorite meal is actually huaraches de maiz azules con frijoles y al pastor. When he is not digging in his garage for a warped copy of Billy and the Kids' "Say You Love Me," he is out in the wild, searching like Allan Quatermain, for the one record he still does not yet posses...Jimmy White With The Relations' "Diamond-Coasted Banana Bush."



After a psychedelic journey in his Spinemelter 2000, Mel "Frostbite" Bergman often relaxes reading about Napoleonic Naval history in it. A disbeliever in the Chinese zodiac, it is a little known fact that Mel dreads most forms of travel and the future option of time travel as well. But let it be known to all, he does love the cheese tacos at Tito's Tacos in Culver City! (Perhaps the best hard-shell tacos in existence on this Earthly realm, and my Aunt Grace and Auntie Diane's favorite too.)

Not only have I watched Michael "Daddy Love" Lucas fall through a suspension bridge into the frozen underground river of the Shoshone Ice Caves, I have extracted a fried cricket leg from the roof of his mouth in Mexico City and slurped the barbecue drippings off the warm oval plates of Dr. Hogly Wogly's with him. Michael's dream pizza? No question, a Meatball from John's on Bleecker St. in New York. Preferring green apples to red, Michael also believes Los Incas Modernos (who were also the first rock band in Peru to put out an LP) are one of the most underrated surf bands of all time.



It is a little known fact that Mike's bass playing is crucial in creating the California Go! sound. Here is Mel explaining the importance of this fine four-stringed instrument and how to play their song "Pleasure Point" using it.



Be sure to see The Phantom Surfers on stage Saturday, July 6th at the Burger Boogaloo in Oakland. If I'm back from my jungle safari in time, I'll be there! (More on Burger Boogaloo HERE!)

Relevant Tags

Kai Wada Roath (37), Surf Music (6), The Phantom Surfers (5), Burger Boogaloo (14), Fugazi (11), El Farolito (1), Oakland (87), Hong Kong Inn (1), Mickey Baker (1), Allan Quatermain (1), Tito's Tacos (1), Dr. Hogly Wogly (1), Los Incas Modernos (1)