THE SUMMER HITS Interview by David Donahue Illustration by Matt Adams
[Ed. Note: OC surfer visionary Rex Thompson—a.k.a. Tartarex, of course—was the heart and soul of the Summer Hits, singing and playing bass with future Beachwood Sparks/Further/The Tyde members as the 90s peaked—lysergically and otherwise—in a band that was basically the Velvet Underground for the Allah Las-et al of today. You know the story: not many heard the Velvet Underground, but everyone who did … started a band. He lived a life and a half and kept the true spirit of psychedelia alive til his passing in September 2016. L.A. RECORD is proud to present this historic interview.] What follows is an interview with Rex, conducted on a sunny autumn afternoon after a long hot California summer. We were forced outside as Rex was staying with an old mate and his family—naturally, some conversation would not be child friendly and some libations would be consumed. After a walking tour past areas of his misspent youth, we found a clearing in an open field with a few natural distractions, not limited to uni chicks in hot pants flinging frisbees and a slightly faulty cassette recorder. Enjoy. The name The Summer Hits—was this a working title or recording project you already had before meeting Josh and Darren? Rex Thompson: We called ourselves the Summer Hits cuz I wrote a lame thud lame called ‘Summer Hits’ which wasn’t particularly good—plus we seemed to always record on melting days passing a pipe around and incessantly saying, ‘Hit, hit, wanna hit?’ It’s perfect—the name flowed with the music. A definite classic. Well, thanks David—shoot! Wavey Davey dug it, huh? Yeah, I was living on the beach, riding waves—it was my life for many years. Summers meant everything, diggin’ the sand and bonking chicks. Dug body surfing myself ... board surfing is what what too many hondos did from the point north. Yeah, living on the Island I’d just get out of bed, barefoot and shorts, and ferry over... No fins? Surely. Kept ‘em at a mate’s place at 6th, and if 6th wasn’t firing, Balboa pier, or M street INTERVIEW
or Cylinders cuz she sometimes had more meat to ride than you could shake a stick at. Yeah, just a beach cat in the sand by day and ingesting lotsa LSD by night, mostly. Always night time? Ever daytime? Ever during the surf? During the day, too! Yeah, I loved riding at night. I could ride at night if the moon was there. I remember once, man—where was I? It was towards the point anyway and it was big! It was really macking, these behemoths came from New Zealand or something. It was just steaming! It was just so huge all the time. You had to make it. ‘OK, I have to suffocate here for awhile. OK, pass. Pass. Pass—ah, go!’ But you’re gonna get drilled, you know what I mean? You have to make it. I started thinking of a spiderman technique: “OK, I’ve gotta stick—I really have to stick even.’ Cuz they’re like these cascading monoliths … they’re macking fifteen feet and they’re fat! There’s so much steam behind them, right? The moon was out so you could see what was happening. These mountainous things are coming and
you can almost feel it. You don’t go out there to go swimming, man. If you wanna swim, go to the YMCA. I remember I lost ... I like Duck Feet. A lot of cats, they liked Vipers—Fred Simpson was a very sweet man. I think he’s still alive—dunno? They liked that weight at the back so they could really dig in but I liked the light guys. Duck Feet worked for me but anyway they were just ripped from my feet! In the middle of the night? Both fins? Yeah, both. I was feeling around and I’m like, ‘Well, I’m not gonna lose these.’ Those babies are sweet, you know. I hung out in there—in that soup forever—just getting drilled. And sure enough, I found one. Put it on in the dark. I’m feeling around everywhere. It must have taken me an hour! I found the next one and I kept riding. One occasion in February, man. It was cold— like 9AM, I was out there at the Point or it may have been 10th street. These big bulging masses of water … it was gnarly! I was thinking, ‘I’m out here alone and my friends won’t see me die.’ But you just
do it anyway cuz it’s so flippin’ fun. You’re not doing it so your friends can say, ‘Oh wow! Oh wow!’ It’s nice when you make it and your friends say, ‘Oh man—that was beautiful.’ This kid I knew from the island, this little grommet—little surfer toe head, days later he said ‘Man, that was beautiful, man! That was really, really fucking ballsy. I saw you—I was there on the promenade. You were the only one there and it was so big and beautiful.’ The Summer Hits—it’s a beach trip but [drummer] Josh [Schwartz] was an inland dude. Just beautifully cool and he was all about the canyons, you know. There were some canyons behind his pad that we explored. He was like a flippin’ mountain goat that would take you to some waterfalls back there. So anyway—the name was just about smoking hashish and grass all the time, passing the pipe around. How did you first meet up with the guys from Further? I met [guitarist] Darren [Rademaker] at a nightclub—he was wearing a Gumball T-shirt. Who I thought were mediocre. 35
Published on Dec 1, 2016
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