Interview: Surfaces Talk “Sunday Best,” New Music & Spreading Positivity
Surfaces caught lightning in a bottle with their impossibly feel-good single, “Sunday Best,” went viral on Spotify and started shooting up the Billboard Hot 100. (It’s currently at number 44 with a bullet). However, the Texas duo — comprised of Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki — is not an overnight success. The guys have been honing their sound since dropping the independently-released Surf in 2017, which lay the blueprint for subsequent albums Where The Light Is and Horizons.
I recently spoke with Surfaces about landing their breakthrough hit in the middle of a global pandemic and the slow march of “Sunday Best” to the top of the charts. Forrest and Colin also opened up about new music (they have been very productive during quarantine) and their mission to spread their love and positivity via sunny, sing-along tunes. Other topics of conversation include the moment it dawned on them that “Sunday Best” was a phenomenon and the duo’s next single. Get to know Surfaces a little better in our Q&A below.
What is it like to be having your breakthrough hit in the middle of a global pandemic?
Forrest: We’re nothing but thankful. I don’t think that the fact that we’re in a weird time changes that. We made the song in a bedroom before we ever thought that this could actually be a profession. To see the world latch on to it a year and a half later, or maybe two years, feels really good. It finally confirmed that this is something that we can do. It’s so cool.
Did you think it would be a life-changing song when you wrote it?
Colin: We never thought it would be life-changing, but we definitely knew that it was a special song. Forrest literally recorded the vocals in my bedroom closet. I mean, we wrote this song in about 20 minutes, right? It was super fluid.
Forrest: Yes. It literally just came out.
Colin: It was super fluid, super easy, it was just natural. We never forced anything. As soon as we were done writing and recording it, we just took it outside on a little Bluetooth speaker and started listening to it. We were just like, “Hey man, we have a pretty good song. I think it might do well.” We didn’t even know the spectrum of how well it could do.
The song took a little while to catch on. What has that journey been like?
Forrest: It has been slow. I mean, from the outside, people use terms like “blowing up.” Which, recently as it has started to take off, it kind of does feel like “Sunday Best” us blowing up. I feel like since we started making music, there have been a lot of little victories. For example, when a YouTuber with a million subscribers would use our song in a video. We’re calling each other like, “What’s happening?” Even getting on a bottom tier Spotify Playlist, early on those things were insane. The whole journey has just been really fun.
Was there a particular moment when it dawned on you that the song was going to be massive?
Colin: Maybe when it was added to Spotify’s Top Hits playlist? That was a really huge moment. I remember that for sure.
Forrest: Yes, definitely.
Colin: Yeah, when they put us on there, me and Forrest were literally looking at each other like, “What is going on?”
Forrest: We have a record of [streaming numbers] on a computer. So on December 5, 2018 we were doing 38,000 streams a day total catalogue — and then on December 6 we jumped from 38,000 streams a day to 207,000 streams a day. The number multiplied by five or six overnight. I specifically remember that one moment and thought “this could be something.” I think it was a total catalog boost. I don’t think “Sunday Best” was blowing up yet.
Colin: “Sunday Best” wasn’t even out yet.
Colin: That just makes it all the more crazy.
It must be so exciting to see all that hard work pay off in real-time.
Colin: Yes. We take a lot of pride in it, but we didn’t take any shortcuts. We never approached a song hoping it would go viral. Our process has always been pretty natural. I think that makes the journey that much more enjoyable and humbling.
Occasionally, I speak with artists and they admit that they get a little tired of performing the same song for years. Any chance that will happen with “Sunday Best”?
Colin: Not really. That song is a blast to perform at shows.
Forrest: Some songs are like a certain dish or food, I don’t know… like spaghetti, and you don’t want to eat spaghetti all the time. But “Sunday Best” is a whole cuisine. It’s really tasty and has a bit of everything. Performing it live takes us back to the original thrill of seeing all the fans go crazy and how excited they get.
How would you describe your progression between albums?
Colin: We recorded our first album in 2017 in Seattle in Forrest’s house. Forrest still had a job and I was about to take a job. It was right out of college and we didn’t know what we were doing. We had been working with each other for a while, but we never set out to make it happen. We just slowly made an album and we were like, “Yes, it sounds like it’s an actual group of songs that make sense together.” Then we just put it out and hoped for the best.
Forrest: That was the first one, and then on the second one, Where the Light Is, we honed in on our sound. It was like, “This is us. This is our artwork. These are our color palettes, this is the font that we use.” We had a brand coming together. On our third album, Horizons… I feel like it was even more honed in. I feel like no song was random. We tried to make it all pretty cohesive.
Colin: Like Forrest said, Where The Light Is was that defining moment of, “Hey, this is one hundred percent us. This is the direction we want to go forward with for the rest of our careers.” Then, on Horizons, we tried to make it even more cohesive.
Have you guys already started thinking about your next single?
Colin: Yes, we have a song that we just finished and we actually have a mixing session for it today. We’re going to try to put it out pretty soon. We’re both really excited about it.
Forrest: The way that we refer to it is a song putting its hand up. “Sunday Best” has its hand up right now. If another song from Horizons puts its hand up, we will see where that goes. You never really know. A song could blow up on TikTok, it could go in a movie or it could go in a commercial. You don’t know what’s going to make a song break. For now, we’re focusing our creativity on just making more music.
Your music is so upbeat. I know spreading love and positivity is your mission statement. Is that hard to pursue given the current state of the world?
Colin: I think it’s more important now than ever, because everyone’s down. Obviously this is not a good state of the world right now and people are inside, people are isolated, people are feeling down on themselves. They’re not interacting with people as much. We always want to push music that will bring people out of that funk. This age doesn’t have to define us. Positive thinking is more important now than ever.
Forrest: Yes, and I think on top of that, you’re either rooted or you’re not, and if you’re not rooted then circumstances are going to pull you in whichever direction and every day you’re going to be a different person or go through a different thing. I think it’s really important just to be rooted in who you are and your identity. It’s important to figure that out.
You mentioned that you’re mixing a new song today. What inspired that track?
Colin: Funnily, it relates to your previous question. I went over to Forrest’s house and we were like, “We should try to make a song that will really, really affect people in these times that we’re in right now. That will really speak to people about what’s happening in the world.” It’s definitely a song that says, “Hey, if you’re feeling down, if you’re feeling alone, if you’re feeling on edge, listen to this song and it will lift you up and remind you that we’re all in this together.” It’s perfect for now. We’re really excited to put it out soon.
Your music makes so many people happy. Which artists do you listen to if you need a burst of feel-good energy?
Forrest: There’s this band called Housefires. It’s really, really positive. It’s just this group of people that get together and jam out and that’s probably the most positive music that I have.
Colin: I like Housefires too, and then Jack Johnson has always been my go-to. It always reminds me of childhood, when I used to listen to him at the lake with my family and friends. All that acoustic music that he makes really puts a smile on my face no matter where I’m at.
Thanks for your time. I can’t wait to see where “Sunday Best” takes you.
Forrest: Thank you so much.
Colin: Thank you.