Spotlight: Alec John and The Sky Surfers

Local Mankato band brings surf rock to the land of 10,000 lakes

Mark Reynolds
Staff Writer

Any music fans looking for a breath of fresh air in the industry need look no further. Alec John and The Sky Surfers are bringing their unique take on indie rock to Mankato with their surf-inspired sounds.

Alec John Maertens, the lead singer of the band, is a music industry major at Minnesota State University, Mankato. While he started out as a solo artist, when Maertens started playing with a backing band in preparation for his upcoming tour, the group quickly bonded and decided to be a band.

The band consists of Maertens on guitar and lead vocals, Aaron Hernandez on lead guitar and vocals, Andrew Peterson on drums, and Jacob Ross, known as “Chief,” on bass. Together, Alec John and The Sky Surfers deliver feel-good, easy-listening music that you can’t help but jam along to.

 “Things that you’ll know you’re listening to an ‘Alec John and The Sky Surfers’ song: you’ll hear tasty lead licks from Aaron, generally with a lot of reverb, lot of complex rhythms that come from the drum and the bass section, and then me trying my best to sing,” said Maertens. 

“I’d say we’re an indie rock band that’s rooted in surf. So, you get a lot of – what’s the word – syncopation,” he added.

The Mankato native’s decision to become a professional musician was fairly recent. Originally studying communications, he realized he wanted more from life.

“It was just like, I don’t know, I could do this, and I could probably get a job, but it’s like, I might as well do something I enjoy,” he said. “What’s the adage? ‘If you do something you love, you won’t work a day in your life’ or some stupid quasi thing like that.”

But he still didn’t know he wanted to be a professional artist until about a year ago when he decided he wanted to go on tour. He disregarded thoughts of being not good enough to play and decided to follow his passion. The band has been playing like crazy ever since.

“From our inception, we’ve probably already played close to 20 or 25 shows since the summer, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it feels like a lot,” said Maertens.

Growing up, Maertens had limited musical exposure, with his main influences being “Jars of Clay” and “The Avett Brothers” which lead to him listening to as many types of music as he could as he got older. 

But the most interesting influence behind his music is surf. His exposure to surf started at a record store in Tacoma, Washington, where he heard a surf album playing over the store’s speakers.

“So, I was looking for this Fleetwood Mac album and I couldn’t find it,” Maertens said. “And another song came on, it was from the same album, and I was like, ‘okay, now I have to ask this guy what this is. God, I need to know.’ So, I walk up, and I was like, ‘what is this?’ And it was Dick Dale, who’s like the king of surf. One of his limited release albums. But just from that, that just really stuck with me.”

Alec John and the Sky Surfers are currently working on an EP which will be released around February 2019. A demo of their song “Sweet Tears”, which will be on the album, is available on SoundCloud. 

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