Instrumental surf music is inseparable from Southern California. Popular 1950s rock and roll in Los Angeles adopted jazz elements, as well as Mexican street-music features. Dick Dale experimented with reverberation to give his Fender Stratocaster an echo and what he described as a “wet” sound, trying to re-create the music he heard in his head while surfing. Dale incorporated quick staccato picking, a hot-rod-tough sensibility, and Middle Eastern scales from his ancestral home of Lebanon.
Secret Samurai plays it as well as any other band. They carry on all the genre’s defining traditions: the lightning-quick riffs, clean rhythms, and reverb.
The band was founded in 2005 by Ryan Ruiz and Steve Van Wyk when their instrumental surf quartet Surf Report split after 12 years together. The original Samurais were a four-piece, including Craig Yarnold (Buck-O-Nine) on saxophone and ex-Surf Report drummer Eric Lustig on drums. The current lineup is a guitar-heavy, no-frills trio consisting of Ryan Ruiz on lead guitar, Steve Van Wyk (aka Steve-O) on bass, and Mark Kelley on skins.