Minnesota-based surf rock group Alec John and The Sky Surfers punctuates reverb guitar with lead vocalist Alec John Maerten’s semi-sweet voice. Listening to their demo, “Sweet Tears,” sounds like a lemon drop — sweet and tinged with sour but satisfying with a delicate sound wall contrasting introspective lyrics.
Playing at this year’s Watercade Beach Party from 5-9 p.m. Friday, The four-piece band will open for Southbound. Lead singer Alec John Maerten, lead guitarist Aaron Hernandez, drummer Andrew Peterson and Litchfield native Jacob Ross, bassist for the band, will bring surf rock vibes to the shores of Lake Ripley.
Maerten said his love for surf rock, despite living in Minnesota, came from a love of classics such as Dick Dale, Roy Orbinson and Chuck Berry. The sound he found for his surf rock group came after experimenting.
“It stems from the band I had before, it was kind of indie-folk rock,” Maerten said. “They started writing songs in this vain — oldies, jazz chords, seventh chords. It sounded really nice.”
After the band broke up, Maerten said he carried that sound with him to form a solo project, Alec John. But he decided he wanted a fuller sound.
“Playing acoustic by yourself gets old,” Maerten said. “I really wanted to have a backing band.”
From there, after talking to his professors at Minnesota State University in Mankato and cultivating the sound, Maerten formed Alec John and The Sky Surfers. The final band lineup cemented in December 2018. The addition of “Sky Surfers” came from a name written across the guitarist’s reverb pedal. Ross, who participated in band at LHS, said the band formed from connections at MSU.
“All of us go to university together except one member, who was a childhood friend of the lead singer,” Ross said. “They were the core of the group, and members have sort of changed up since they formed the band. I joined my sophomore year when Alec asked if I wanted to play bass.”
Ross’s first experience playing bass started with the Litchfield High School Jazz Band, wanting to experiment with a new instrument.
“They didn’t have a bassist for the Jazz Band and (Dave) Ceasar asked if anybody wanted to play bass,” Ross said. “I joined and really started to like bass.”
Ross knew that Litchfield hosted Watercade each year and asked Maerten if he would be interested in having the Sky Surfers play. Ross said his father helped him in touch with KLFD to set up the show. Maerten said Watercade fit the atmosphere of where he wanted the band to play.
“I was thinking that I wanted the band to play at marinas or docks, and Ross came up to me and said ‘My town does this thing called Watercade each year, and its on the lake,’” Maerten said. “It seemed like the perfect place to play.”
The band’s surfy vibes match the tone and cadence of popular artist Mac Demarco. Currently the band is recording an EP, “Surf Mania,” which they expect to be out soon and hopefully in time for Watercade, Ross said.
“I’m hoping we will have it available by the time we play,” Ross said. “I’m looking forward to the experience of playing for some people I know and already support us.”
As far as feeling nervous, Ross said he just wants to have a good time and enjoy playing the show.
“It’s fun to let it go and just not worry about it all,” Ross said.