“Cemetery Surf” Video + Interview
photo + video + interview by Kayla Smith
Cathedral Bells is the dream pop/shoegaze project of Matthew Messore. Joined by David Carey live, the duo have been working on home recordings since August 2018 and put out their debut self-titled EP on February 1st through Good Eye Records. I’ve been hooked on their dreamy vibes from the moment I first heard “Cemetery Surf” a few months back on David Dean Burkhart’s legendary playlist, “Compact Cassette”. Bringing it all full circle, I had the pleasure of creating the music video for “Cemetery Surf” a few months later. Upon completion of the video, Matt and I talked about the process, ghosts, and what’s next for Cathedral Bells.
Read the interview + watch the music video below:
KS: What are the origins of "Cemetery Surf"?
MM: “Cemetery Surf” is actually a cover originally written by a bedroom dream pop artist (Niklas Pedersen) located in Denmark, playing under the name Teen Beams. I discovered his early music on Bandcamp and that song hit me. The song title and it’s ghostly melodies just stuck with me and I reached out to him about covering Cemetery Surf. The song is beautiful and I tried to keep it similar to the original. My version is a bit faster paced & post punk.
KS: My favorite part about Cemetery Surf is the blend of the morbid lyrics with the upbeat tempo. How much of those elements did you want incorporated in the video?
MM: I think it’s an interesting blend between the lyrics and the upbeat tempo I decided to use. With our version being a bit more fast paced, I feel it’s waking up spirits for a brief moment as the video trails through the cemetery. My favorite lyrics are the first two lines- “dying here / stupefied”
KS: What are you hoping people take away from this video?
MM: I’m hoping it gives them a nostalgic feeling and maybe get a little spooked out.
KS: I definitely received my fair share of dirty looks when I was running around the cemetery filming this. What’s one thing you’ve done in public where you’ve received some dirty looks?
MM: I’m not sure if I get dirty looks for this, but when I see stray cats I like to call for them and give them a little pet on the head. I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to say hi to a cat!
KS: Do you believe in ghosts?
MM: Yes, although I’ve never seen a ghost. I believe there are spirits in our world.
KS: What are your favorite topics to write about?
MM: I like to write about change, and whatever I’m going through during the writing process.
KS: What are some of your favorite films?
MM: I can’t pick just one, but a few of my favorites are Jaws, Taxi Driver, and Eraserhead.
KS: What’s next for Cathedral Bells?
MM: We’re about to do a west coast tour with the band Foliage from April 12th - April 26th. New single is coming out soon, and playing more shows.
MM: What’s the history on this cemetery in New Jersey?
KS: The original church was built in 1745 and was used as a hospital for some soldiers from George Washington's army during the Revolutionary War. When a few of them took ill with smallpox, they were sent there and those that perished were buried in the cemetery. Many graves in this cemetery date back to the 1700's.
MM: You have ancestors buried in this cemetery?
KS: Yes! How spooky? A few of my ancestors, the Clarks, helped to settle the town of Mendham back in the 1700's. My super cool aunt is really into history, did a lot of research, and took my family to see the tombstones (still standing today after hundreds of years) a few years ago. When thinking about locations I wanted to use to film this video in, I immediately thought of this place because of the history and my personal connection. I think the history is fascinating and it is amazing how well most of the tombstones have held up over time!
MM: Do you think it’s haunted?
KS: 100%. It's such an old, historic place; how could it not be haunted? I said a few prayers out of respect for the departed before I began filming.
MM: What’s your favorite thing to film?
KS: People will forever be the most fascinating thing to capture. It was a fun challenge making this video because apart from the footage (captured by Elizabeth Littler) you provided me with of you guys performing, it was just me, alone in the cemetery with no actors, shooting!
MM: What was your favorite thing about filming the video for Cemetery Surf?
KS: I really enjoyed reading all of the inscriptions on the tombstones. Some of them were so detailed that they contained the exact cause of death,very morbid!
Cathedral Bells West Coast Tour Dates w/Foliage
4/12 - San Diego, CA - Good Friday
4/13 - San Bernardino, CA - Serious cartoon records
4/14 - Pomona, CA - DBA 256
4/15 - Fresno, CA - Strummers
4/16 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom Of The Hill
4/17 - Santa Cruz, CA - The Crepe Place
4/18 - Reno, NV - The Holland Project
4/20 - Portland, OR - Firkin Tavern
4/21 - Seattle, WA - Vera Project
4/22 - Provo, UT - Third Space Studios
4/24 - Phoenix, AZ - Lunchbox
4/25 - Pomona, CA - Fox Rooftop
4/26 - Garden Grove, CA - The Locker Room