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Brook Hoover plays guitar in The Surf Zombies, an Iowa based surf/instrumental/garage band. The interview was conducted by David Lilly.
David Lilly: What was it that led you to playing guitar? Do you play other instruments?
Brook Hoover: I received an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was 14 and took lessons from a local guitar teacher. Sight-reading was going pretty slow, but I found I could match pitch from records, tapes and tv shows and that led to jamming with my friends in the basement and a life-long love of music. I play drums and bass in order to produce demos and song ideas. I also like to sing.
David: Keith Richards strongly encourages starting with acoustic. I understand what you’re saying about sight reading. Once I learned a song on clarinet, I didn’t need sheet music. I’ve rented electric guitar, electric bass and tried harmonica over the years. I’ve never stayed with anything though. I suspect that’s due to not having anyone to jam with. Do you enjoy playing by yourself just for the sake of playing and it being fun for you?
Brook: I live to explore and practice the most basic fundamental aspects of guitar playing. The hardware is pretty interesting too. I am especially fond of Fender amps. Just locating the notes on the fretboard and understanding the patterns is pretty therapeutic for me. I really think it is healing to listen to music as well as play notes. I study more complex excerpts of songs but can't remember much. I live to improvise and write.
David: What kinds of music do you like to play the most? Also, what or who do you like to listen to?
Brook: I love to dig in and play blues chords and try to fashion melodies, riffs and chords to fit chord progressions. Also studying basic jazz chords and progressions. Improvising and creating new music is probably my favorite thing to do. I also enjoy designing lessons for beginning-level students.
I listen to Iowa Public Radio (https://www.iowapublicradio.org/ ) for a variety of new and classic music that is under-represented by commercial radio. Also I have many old favorites that are the usual suspects of rock and blues pioneers. Anything from the 20's-current is something I'd listen to. I am fascinated by Jeff Beck. I spent the last few years obsessing over Los Straitjackets and The Damned. A lot of British stuff. Hard rock, Bowie, Iggy Pop and always The Ramones. Obscure local releases by my friends and colleagues in Iowa takes up a good amount of listening time. And then I have to review a lot of my own mixes and demos to try to remember them to finish them or perform them live is probably the bulk of what I listen to. Also IPR.
Article by Ric Holmquest
Surf’s up and Brook Hoover is shredding the wave. Hoover’s band, the Surf Zombies are set to release “Return of the Skeleton” this month, their fifth studio album. The Surf Zombies were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. The band was recently honored with their own signature beverage Surf Zombies IPA by the Cedar Rapids based Iowa Brewing Company, where they frequently perform.
The seeds were planted when Brook and his friends discovered a scratchy 45 rpm record of the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”. The journey to unlock the secret of surf guitar had begun. Brook shares “I grew up in Fort Dodge, which turns out to be a hotbed of creative, sarcastic, eccentric musicians. I picked up the guitar at age 14, learning to play with my neighborhood friends who engaged in extended improvised jams with drums, electric bass and guitars.”
After years of friends and fans suggesting he start an instrumental surf group, the Surf Zombies were born in 2006 with Hoover and Doug Roberson on guitar, Jim Viner on drums, and long-time collaborator and childhood friend Joel McDowell on bass. Hoover informs “We released a debut album that sold very well and received many decent reviews and continues to be pretty popular for that genre.”
The Surf Zombies have opened for legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale, performed each year at Iowa’s Vintage Torquefest and had their music featured on TV shows including MTV’s Ridiculousness and A&E’s Bad Ink. The current Surf Zombies lineup includes; Ian Williams and Brook Hoover on guitar, Trevor Treiber on bass, with Luke Ferguson on drums.
The Surf Zombies have chemistry, high energy and enjoy performing together. Hoover remarks “It’s rare to find a band with three experienced songwriters who share a dedication to the music and enjoy each other’s company. There are plenty of songs left in the vault and a steady stream of new material being written. The band loves to collaborate with one another and continues to make plans for spreading the fun of surf instrumentals throughout the world.”
Hoover’s guitar has taken him on a musical journey, both domestic and international. While living and performing in Minneapolis, Brook was called in for a recording session at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios. He performed at The Cavern Club in Liverpool England in 2002 for the Pop International Overthrow Festival with Chicago power-pop band Swinger and performed a solo show in Japan in 2015 at Rocks in Oyama.
Hoover is a busy full time musician, also performing with the Flamin’ Camaros. The Camaros are an extension of his popular eastern Iowa rock band Meerkats. Flamin’ Camaros feature Trevor Treiber’s guitar and vocals, Matt Brooks’ bass and vocals, Brook Hoover’s guitar and vocals, with Jon Wilson on drums. Brook performs solo, co-hosts the Parlor City Jam twice monthly and often sits in with Dennis McMurrin there on Thursday nights.
Brook affirms “I love to play all kinds of melodic guitar including rockabilly, punk rock, surf, pop or country, mixed with a bit of classical and psychedelic sounds. Playing music is incredibly soothing and restores a part of me I never want to lose touch with. Playing music has introduced me to thousands of people. I am so grateful for the friendships I have enjoyed with my fellow band mates and jam partners.”
Upcoming performances include;
Oct 9 Brook at Parlor City Blues Jam 7-10
Oct 19 Surf Zombies at DG’s Tap House in Ames 9-12
Oct 20 Surf Zombies at Whiskey House in Ankeny 8-12
Oct 21 Brook at Rumors Jam / Tribute for Kyle Oyloe 4-7
Oct 23 Brook at Parlor City Blues Jam 7-10
Oct 26 Surf Zombies at Peace Tree in Knoxville - Halloween Party 8-10
Oct 27 Surf Zombies at the Yacht Club in Iowa City 9-12
Oct 28 Surf Zombies at CSPS with Twins - CD Release Party 7-10 (free CD with admission)
Oct 31 Surf Zombies at the Des Moines Social Club –
Iowa Public Radio live performance 7-9
Nov 9 Surf Zombies at Octopus in Cedar Falls 9-1
Nov 16 Flamin. Camaros at J&A Tap in North Liberty 9:30-1:30
The gig is at The Iowa City Yacht Club. Here is a Facebook link:
Surf Zombies will be at Iowa Brewing Company playing 7-10 PM. We'll be ripping through songs from our 5 studio albums. Come and sample some Surf Zombies IPA. It's good for you! Iowa Brewing Company is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Wanted to say hi and let you know we are playing in Omaha at the Laka Lono Tiki Bar Thursday Sept. 6. Very cool surf and tiki themed venue with great drinks. Outrageous decor!
ROCK THE BOAT Surf Cruise with THE REVOMATICS and THE SURF ZOMBIES! Two hour nighttime concert cruise aboard The Vista King along Milwaukee's beautiful lakefront. Tickets are $19.99 and can be purchased here.
Saturday July 16, 2016.
The Surf Zombies are riding high on our new cd It's a....THING! It is currently available on cd with Deep Eddy Records and downloads. It was very fun to record. We spent a few months running through the material and playing it live before we gathered at Ian Williams studio and laid it down live to tape. We used only 7 channels to keep it as minimal as possible and it was a great experience. We have a new bass player named Trevor Treiber and he plays a Dano through an Ampeg. He really rocks! He mixes super hard hitting Ramones style with wicked odd riffs and brings his A game to every gig plus he is extremely prolific with writing new songs. He also plays in a band called The Blendours.
The Surf Zombies are working towards releasing It's a ...THING! on vinyl.
Check out our sampler video too!
Fun summer show alert!
We finally completed our 3rd cd recently and will be performing it in it's entirely plus songs off our first and 2nd records next Saturday at CSPS which is a fantastic venue in Cedar Rapids. We'll be doing two sets total with songs off our first two cds also. The new CD is called Lust for Rust is getting a nice string of positive reviews and good airplay. We do all original hot rod surfin' summer time anthems. The new tunes were recorded with Tyler Russell on the drums, Ian Williams on guitar, Joel McDowell on bass and me (Brook) on guitar. Here is a link with address and ticket info:
Please join us and help us celebrate the creation of some all original home grown Iowa rock n' roll! Let me know if you have any questions about the show.
CSPS is located near Parlor City at:
1103 Third St. SE Cedar Rapids, IA 319-364-1580
The Surf Zombies are playing the International Pop Overthrow at The Redline Tap in Chicago Sat. April 21 at midnight. Usually this fest is focused on power pop acts, but David Bash decided to ask The Surf Zombies after hearing their new cd "Lust for Rust". SZ guitarist Brook Hoover will also be sitting in with Chicago band Swinger for a few songs, re-uniting this group of friends who played together at IPO in Liverpool in 2004 at The Cavern Club. Chicago surf guitar fans should stop in an meet these guys. Ian Williams is the other guitarist of the group and he plays a USA Jazzmaster while Hoover plays a Japanese Jaguar with a recently installed Mastery Bridge. Drummer Tyler Russel and bassist Joel McDowell round out the band. "Playing with this line up has been thrilling. These guys know their stuff, are young and full of energy. Total music nerds, my kind of guys" remarks Hoover who started The Surf Zombies in 2004.