The Madeira: between the coasts, surf rock lives on

The Madeira - from left, Ivan Pongracic, Todd Fortier, Dane Carter and Patrick O'Connor — float in the ocean deep.


Pongracic, lead guitarist of The Madeira, is such an expert on surf music, he

can school a neophyte to the genre in minutes.

"Everybody's heard of it, you just might not know what it is," he says. "Think Pulp



think Dick Dale's "Miserlou," perhaps the surf rock classic, and the soundtrack to

Travolta and Thurman's dance at Jack Rabbit Slim's. It's all about Dale's "wet"

guitar, for Pongracic: "The reverb guitar is a very specific sound. It's that

washed-out, bottom-of-a-well sound."

Pongracic and the rest of the four-piece, Indianapolis-based surf band The

Madeira will headline "Indiana Surf Explosion!" at the Melody Inn this Friday.

Also on the bill are The Troubadours, Destination: Earth!, and The Space

Cossacks. Pongracic plays lead guitar for three of the groups: The

Troubadours, a tribute band to the British pop group The Shadows ("Apache"),

The Space Cossacks, his first surf band to play originals and The Madeira.

Pongracic admits that "it's completely insane to play in three bands in one

night," but he'll have help from the rest of The Madeira: Patrick O'Connor on rhythm guitar, Dane Carter on drums and Todd

Fortier on bass.

The Madeira most recently toured in California and Italy, where they headlined

the Surfer Joe Festival in Livorno, Italy. Pongracic explains: "Surf music's

roots are in California, but it's really worldwide at this point."

He says the Surfer Joe Festival in Italy, now a major surf music festival, was

started inconspicuously by a guy who loved surf music and decided he wanted to

put together a festival.

"It's the

way anything happens with surf music," Pongracic says. "A handful of

individuals who are passionate and make things happen. It's a highly

underground genre, but people who are into it are really into it."

After Friday's show, The Madeira will head to Dayton, Ohio, for another

festival, Surf Ohio FesTiki, where they'll be playing along with several other

bands, including The Space Cossacks.

All of The Madeira live in Indianapolis but Pongracic, who commutes from

Michigan for practices. "We're definitely an Indy-based band," says Pongracic.

"The only problem can be the frequency of our practicing, but we've been able

to make it work."

Since Pongracic started The Madeira in 2004, the band has released three albums

(two full lengths and one EP), all recorded at the Pop Machine in Broad Ripple.

Their most recent album, "Carpe Noctem," was named Album of the Year by the

British rock instrumental magazine Pipeline in 2008. According to Alan

Taylor's review from Pipeline, it's "an album that will delight for many

years to come with its scintillating lead work and oh-so-effective real rhythm

guitar throughout."

Other audio-visual projects are in the works: The Madeira are featured in an

upcoming surf rock documentary, "Sound of the Surf," and are working on a new

album. Pongracic says they performed a handful of songs for the documentary,

which has been in the works for about two years.

And as for

the new album, O'Connor says, "I don't want to say too much, but it's a jungle


This Friday's show will be a family affair for Pongracic, whose dad plays

rhythm guitar for The Troubadours, the Shadows tribute band. "I got into this

music because of my dad," Pongracic says. "The Shadows were huge in Europe, and

everywhere else really but the U.S."

The Shadows' music is one of Pongracic's earliest influences and music loves.

He describes it as "haunting, aggressive, high energy rock and roll."

"Being able to share this with my dad has been a blast," he says. Although

there are Shadows tribute bands everywhere, he says, The Troubadours actually

got to play in front of a couple of the original Shadows' members in the early

2000's. "It was a great thrill."