Nada Surf perform in The Current studio

Nada Surf perform "Friend Hospital" off You Know Who You Are live in The Current studio. (MPR)
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Nada Surf perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • Nada Surf perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 22:18
  • Nada Surf - Friend Hospital (live on 89.3 The Current) 04:54
  • Nada Surf - Out of the Dark (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:21
  • Nada Surf - Animal (live on 89.3 The Current) 04:51

Nada Surf's music has often been associated with the idea of comfort, and frontman Matthew Caws is totally fine with that. "I think it's just a personal need, that chord progressions that are pleasing and that you can repeat a lot are like comfort food for me," he says. "But I think the beauty of pop music is that even if some of the forms have been repeated a lot, there's always some little twist that can give you the right that it's all different and that each song is its own little universe. … Mostly comfort and a little adventure is probably a nice ratio."

That ratio has served Nada Surf well; formed in the early 1990s, the band released their seventh studio album, You Know Who You Are, in March of this year. Touring in support of the new album, Nada Surf stopped into The Current's studio for a conversation with Mac Wilson ahead of their show at the Fine Line in Minneapolis.

When it came to writing songs for the new album, one of Matthew Caws's collaborators (besides his Nada Surf bandmates) was none other than acclaimed songwriter, Dan Wilson. Continuing the comfort theme, Caws describes the easygoing atmosphere Wilson creates to encourage creativity. "Writing with other people [can be] kind of embarrassing; you have to try a lot of stuff that doesn't work to get something that does work," Caws explains. "But Dan made me so comfortable that I could just freestyle in front of him. So I was just trying to go for it, trying to write something really on the spot."

Although the members of Nada Surf call many different places home, their chemistry remains strong, and it's been augmented by the permanent addition of Doug Gillard to the lineup. That said, Caws explains the timing has to be right before all the band members will gather in studio. "We kind of wait until there's enough material before pushing the button on all those plane tickets," Caws says. "I miss having a practice space and I miss all living in Brooklyn … but since you have one life, you may as well have as many versions as possible. And this version, we wait until there's some songs in the air and then get together in Brooklyn."

You Know Who You Are was recorded at longtime Nada Surf collaborator Tom Beaujour's studio in Hoboken, N.J.; Beaujour also produced the album — the first time Beaujour has produced a Nada Surf album, but certainly a decision with which all the band members were comfortable.

Listen to the complete interview to hear more from Nada Surf, including Matthew Caws's description of Dan Wilson's iPhone encouragement, and about the band's feelings as they look ahead to being among the first artists to perform at the Bataclan in Paris when it reopens.

Songs Performed


"Animal"
"Out of the Dark"
"Friend Hospital"

All songs from Nada Surf's 2016 album, You Know Who You Are, available on Barsuk Records.

Hosted by Mac Wilson
Produced by Anna Reed and Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Erik Stromstad
Visuals by Leah Garaas
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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5 Photos

  • Nada Surf
    Nada Surf's Matthew Caws performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Leah Garaas)
  • Nada Surf
    Nada Surf's Doug Gillard, Daniel Brummel and Matthew Caws performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Leah Garaas)
  • Nada Surf
    Nada Surf's Doug Gillard performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Leah Garaas)
  • Nada Surf
    Nada Surf's Ira Elliot performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Leah Garaas)
  • Nada Surf
    Nada Surf's Ira Elliot performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Leah Garaas)

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