Something imaginary has come to life.
Chillingsworth Surfingham, www.chillingsworthsurfingham.com, is a stuffed bear and the alter ego of John Ashfield. John is an elementary school music teacher and has been band leader of the San Francisco indie pop staple The Bobbleheads ( www.thebobbleheads.com) since 2002. As an inspiration to his students, Chillingsworth the stuffed bear oversees John’s classroom. He was imagined to be cool for school. He shows the kids how to rock and roll, but with child-like wonder. While there’s nothing adult about Chillingsworth, it’s adult music
The eponymous first album is 14 “surfstrumental” songs with a side of TIki that convey
14 locations, anywhere but stuck at home. Energetic and melodic, the songs branch across all
waves of surf rock, not just the 60's heyday. Influences from Dick Dale to Shadowy Men on A Shadowy
Planet to Daikaiju are shaken, not stirred into the Chillingsworth Surfingham concoction. As a one
time surfer, John, and Chillingsworth, know the surf and the scene. This ethos is reflected in the
music. Chillingsworth plays guitar, bass and everything not drums, with Percy Surfingham ( Rob
Jacobs, also of The Bobbleheads) on drums and other percussion.
Chillingsworth and Percy are brothers from different mothers. They share a deep musical bond based on a disparate but unified upbringing. Chillingsworth grew up surfing the New Jersey Shore in the summer and playing in beach bar bands at night. Guitar is in his DNA. Surf rock is in his DNA. Percy hails from Southern California, the home of surf and music. The two met in The Bobbleheads, putting out several indie pop albums together.
Guitar heavy with drums right behind, the album was recorded as a longing to get back to the outdoors, back to nature, back to the surf. Nine different guitars were utilized over 7 months of recording, they are the foundation of the songwriting and voice of Chillingsworth. It’s the melodic shredding that elevates this from typical surf-inspired music.
The standout tracks include the opener, Coronado, a Dick Dale influenced piece with a noir tango feel. In Surfer’s Ennui, you can hear the longing to get back to the beach, back to the music. 8-Track Camaro takes a cinematic turn down blind alleys. It’s dangerous, but you’re the one driving. Tiki Crazy is smooth, like sipping a Mai Tai in a dark Tiki Lounge. In true surf music fashion, the instrumental album sports just one lyric in Cowboy a Go-Go, the song title, ala Tequila! The final track I Was There is a crescendo mix of synth and guitar that sidewalk surfs you into 1985, doing a frontside 180 kickflip on your hoverboard.
This is not average surf music, Chillingsworth is the next wave of it.