The Power of East Coast Surf


Featured Band for 

August 2005   

The Clams


Band Name: The Clams... we don’t sing (AKA The Clams)

Genre: Surf Instrumental

Geographical Area: based in Hartford CT; play in CT/NYC primarily

Interview with Dano Clam by email on 7-24-05 (with additional comments from the "shellfish gallery")


1. What is the current line-up of your band?

The core band is Jimbo Clam (Jim Barnard) on bass; Brain Clammage (Brian Lashley) on drums; Dano Clam (Dan Surkis) on guitar. On occasion we are fortunate enough to be joined by the two of the best go-go dancers anywhere... The Clamdiggers: Wanda Clam (Wanda Stone) and Sandy Clam (Sandy Brooks aka Oceana of 9th Wave)


2. How and when did you get started with your band?

May 2002 was my big 40th birthday bash. One of my favorite bands (9th Wave) wasn’t sure they could make the party – so I figured I had to cover the music. I gave my guitar playing buddy Jim a bass and told him to learn Pipeline and Mr. Moto. Then we made his teenage kid Kevin play drums for us (I’m sure it was worse than mowing the lawn for him). Then we played at my party and Mike Rosado, Ed Schorr and Jim Nichols showed up anyway. It was a blast and we never stopped playing.

3. What bands or music have influenced you most?

Dan: I always liked surf music, but it wasn’t until Pulp Fiction came out that I even knew what it was. I am real partial to interesting rock, uncomplicated jazz and soundtracks. Some of my faves in recent years are the Mermen, Los Straitjackets and the Nebulas.
Jim: Ramones and Grateful Dead

Wanda: Tijuana Brass, Polkas and stuff my Dad played.

Brian: Hard stuff, punk rock, underground hard core.

Sandy: Brahms, Alanis Morrissette, 9th Wave

4. What is the break down of cover vs. original material in your live shows and/or recordings?

The originals come along slowly, we have about a ˝ dozen now. We cover surf classics mercilessly. We also like surfing up interesting covers like "Underdog" or "KKK Took My Baby Away".

5. What recording have you done?

Our first recording was a business card CD with 2 tracks. Some folks thought the business card CD was the coolest thing they ever saw. Most folks could not understand that you were supposed to put this little rectangle in your CD player no matter how much you explained it. Then we recorded 6 Clams in 2003. We started on a Saturday morning and had CDs to sell at the club we were playing that night! We recorded Surfin' the Tube in 2004. We did this in my living room on my laptop. It has 14 songs and most of our originals. It has a bit of soundtrack theme to it. We did a new demo called Book ‘em Dano last spring too. It’s the only piece we have done with Brian so far – can’t wait to do more!

6. What kind of gear do you use?

Dan: I’m a tone nut and very into the gear. The gear is a big part of the fun for me.

Brian uses a White zebra striped 5 piece 1984 Pearl drum kit with 2 crash, 1 ride and pair of hats. For small / volume limited gigs, we also use a cocktail (stand up) kit. It has real snappy 10” side snare – lots of fun!

Jim uses a great looking (and sounding!) Fender Jazz bass (sunburst with tortoise pick guard). I put a set of Fender vintage noiseless pickups in it. Great tone and Jim is one of the very few bassists who doesn’t hum while standing next to the neon sign transformer at the Kirkland. Jim also uses an Ampeg B100R. That is a 100W x 15” combo amp. Not a ton of low low end, but super vintage tone.

I play a Fender Jaguar with lots of set up tweaking. I use .011 to .050 strings, a buzz stop and graph-tech saddles to keep it rocking without the usual Jaguar bridge problems. My Fender Deluxe Reverb amp is the biggest contributor to my tone. It is a 1995 special blonde edition. I have fiddled with the tube selection and the reverb tank. The big difference is the speaker though. I found a vintage JBL K120. This speaker is simply the best for bright clean surf sound – and it plays way louder too! I just plug strait into the amp and crank the reverb to 10. I also hate totin’ stuff around – thus no P.A., full size surf boards or Fender dual Showmen!

Wanda: As much as we can get away with, without Dan yelling at us for carrying too much stuff. (note - Clam Diggers whip out also saxophones and tambourines on rare occasions)

7. What is your band's favorite food/beverage?

Dan: Jim and Wanda are never far from a top shelf martini. Brian and I are beer guys (we both home brew too). Lately though, I have been enjoying the Tiki drinks quite a bit. I have a portable tiki bar so I can whip up a Blue Hawaiian or a Mai-Tai at a moment’s notice. Pizza and sushi show up a practice quite a bit. I think Jim doesn’t eat vegetables on ethical grounds though...
Sandy: When anyone buys me a drink, they know it should be a shot of Jagermeister...

8. How do you get gigs?

Dan: Getting and promoting gigs is the toughest part of the band activities. Working with NESMA has been a huge help to us in this area. We are always in touch with other NESMA folks, splitting shows when we get them and getting likewise offers from other bands. We still have to beat the bushes for clubs, restaurants and events. We dump tons of promo CDs on folks, keep in touch with lots of bands and clubs. Then we read all of Unsteady Freddie's emails and look for gigs there.

Jim: We prostitute ourselves.

9. What are the difficulties you find playing your kind of music in your area?


Dan: We have a real tough time getting gigs in Hartford (CT). We just have not found (or adjusted) the venue that wants what we do in Hartford. The clubs here seem to want cover bands or jazz in general. We play a ton in NY, Boston and New London – but no good home base bar yet.

Jim: Nobody wants us

Wanda: Folks only want people from someplace else.

10. What positive attributes does your band have that sets you apart from other bands (of any genre)?

Dan: One word – volume. I make a real crabby face at Jim and Brian when they play too loud.  Then we get good restaurant gigs! Actually I think we do a great job delivering the easy-to-enjoy, wide-appeal surf tunes that make a connection with a lot of people. Every show there are a handful of folks that are so happy because we brought back the Ventures album they wore out as a kid, or they discovered the inner go-go dancer, or they made some kind of happy, emotional connection with what we do.

Wanda: Clam Diggers – no one else has Clam Diggers!

Dan: yeah – Clam Diggers are our best thing!

11. What have you found to be the single most effective promotional tool you've used to further your band's musical path?

Dan: NESMA! NESMA has been great. It still only makes up a small piece of the pie. I don’t think there is single big tool for promotion. It’s lots of networking in and out of NESMA, lots of promo material, lots of sitting at bars waiting to talk to the booking guy.....

Jim: Go-Go dancer pictures, and never say no unless Jim has the date blacked out.

12. What's the most interesting performance experience you've had?

Dan: It’s hard to pin that one down – there are so many! I’m going to go with the East Farms school, end of year picnic. It was my daughter's K – 4th grade elementary school. We could have been the Beatles as far as those kids were concerned! They were dancing and screaming and lining up for autographs! What a blast!

Jim: Playing on top of the Buffet bus or when the submarine drove behind while playing on the pier in New London.

13. What do you hope to get out of being a NESMA member?

Dan: We hope and do get to play more, learn more, meet cool folks and travel to exotic locations around New England. NESMA is a big part of why I enjoy being in a band.;

Wanda: Email, lots of emails


14. Anything else? 

Sandy:  Dan is just finishing up a project for NESMA which is a live NESMA compilation CD, 17 tracks, called "NESMAlive". It's being pressed right now, and will soon be available for sale on the NESMA site - look for it! It was Dan's idea, and his contribution to NESMA, to raise money for more NESMA stuff, like mailings, stickers, website support, etc. 

Jim: We have a side project called the Death Clams. The Death Clams are a venture in the darker world of punk rock where we get to sing (in any key we want).

Dan: We have a real busy summer gig-wise. Do check our website and come visit us at Bank St Cafe, Rich's Drive-In or NY city! The Clams are also included on the new live NESMA compilation CD that I have been working on with NESMA HQ and lots of contributions from NESMA bands. This is an exciting project so start chanting for NESMAlive! in front of your local record store now!

Dan: It was a pleasure filling out your NESMA questionnaire. (aren’t you supposed to pick us all up in a limo and give us booze while you interview us? note: this is one of the many things the NESMAlive CD can support financially - buy LOTS of copies!) I really do want give great thanks to you, Mike Rosado (NESMA founder) and NESMA for all the positive energy you guys infuse into the music scene we live in!


Clam on!




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