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Nada worry: ‘Popular’ band returns to Williamsburg

Every boy in the whole world can be yours!: The band Nada Surf, which had a huge hit in 1996 with “Popular” has been quietly putting out excellent albums for the last 20 years.
Bernie Dechant

Nada Surf is still ‘Popular’ — in Europe, at least.

The rock band that dominated the airwaves of 1996 with the teenage anthem “Popular” has since become a critics’ darling, releasing seven beloved but little-heard albums since its big break. But Nada Surf, who will play the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sept. 17, is in the top-tier of rock bands across the Atlantic, says drummer Ira Elliott.

“We’ve worked really hard to cultivate various parts of Europe,” said Elliott. “France took to us immediately; the French really love American indie rock. The fact that [guitarist] Matthew [Caws] and [bassist] Daniel [Lorca] speak French didn’t hurt at all.”

The group’s success there, as well as in Austria and Switzerland, has often sustained them when things were slow closer to their home.

“At times when we couldn’t get arrested in the States, we could go to France and play a 22-city tour,” he said. “And that’s the kind of thing that they don’t forget.”

Back in the United States, the band has come to terms with its more modest kind of success.

“I think Nada Surf should be much bigger,” says Elliott. “I’m biased, of course. But honestly, I don’t lose sleep over it.”

The group’s latest album, “You Know Who You Are,” he said, is another chance for people to discover the band.

“Whenever you start making a record, in a sense you’re starting from zero,” said Elliot. “You put the past behind you, and here you are in the present.”

He says that he and his band mates are proud of their body of work — from their big hit to their latest album.

“It’s amazing to us that we’ve been able to survive this long,” he said. “We’re a 20-year-old ‘new’ band. And we’re trying to get people to like us!”

The show on Sept. 17 is a sort of homecoming, said Elliott — when the New York band formed in 1992, it held a number of practices in the basement of what is now Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Nada Surf at Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. Sixth St. between Wythe and Kent avenues in Williamsburg, www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com). Sept. 17 at 8 pm. $8.

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