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.
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
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."