Surrogate Brains

Surrogate Brains continues playing live shows after its 2016 return from a twenty-seven-year hiatus.

Founded during what is commonly referred to as the “Dark Ages” of Punk Rock, after first wave punk bands of the late 70’s early 80’s and before the second wave punk bands of the mid 90’s, Surrogate Brains were a unique mix of the diversity that reflected Stockton at the time. With a unique mix of backgrounds - band members hail from East, North, Central, and South Stockton – the band developed a unique sound that one reviewer called;

“Edgy punk out of Stockton, CA that's half nightmare and half TV sitcom. It's funny, disturbing, and very catchy”

The band followed in the footsteps of early Stockton bands like Authorities, Young Pioneers, Straw Dogs and Hot Spit Dancers, growing up going to shows at local venues like the Jester’s Club or Lincoln Jr. High School Gym.   Members came together through their affiliations with another Stockton band, Last Communion, and in the spring of 1986 Surrogate Brains were formed.

For its first year, the band played at local high school homecomings and parties.  On New Year’s Day 1987 the team behind Maximum Rock N Roll, a fanzine and Bay Area radio show, opened a volunteer run concert venue in Berkeley, CA.  Surrogate Brains booked their first concert at this new venue known as 924 Gilman St on September 5th, 1987.

Surrogate Brains became one of the regular house bands at 924 Gilman playing there once or twice a month.  The Gilman Street community quickly extended beyond the east bay, to the central valley with bands like Sewer Trout in Sacramento regularly hosting shows.  Surrogate Brains began booking shows in Stockton at a teen dance club on West Lane.

In early 1988 Surrogate Brains was approached by a band from Norwalk, CA to do a split seven-inch record.   With the help of local studio owner and musician Gary Young, the band released the Surrogate Brains/ I am the Hamster record in May of 1988 and a compilation record titled “We Got Your Shorts” in the fall of 1988.  The band was approached by David Hayes one of the founders of Lookout Records to record a song for “The Thing That Ate Floyd” double 12 inch released in fall of 1988.

By the end of 1988 Lookout Records asked Surrogate Brains to record a 7-inch record for the label, again the band worked with Gary Young to record Surrogate Serenades LR13 released in April of 1989.   On May 28, 1989, Surrogate Brains were asked to play Operations Ivy’s last show. Opening the show that night was a new band called Green Day.  This would also turn out to be Surrogate Brains last show at 924 Gilman as life’s responsibilities began to pull members in different directions.

That is, until the fall of 2016 when Alex Botkin, a young volunteer at 924 Gilman, began planning the 30th anniversary of both the venue and Lookout Records. Alex wanted to see all those early bands that helped start the Gilman Street Project, so he approached Surrogate Brains about playing again.  The show was to be a benefit to help raise money to support 924 Gilman, making sure the doors stayed open for young bands to keep playing.  Like the Blues Brothers raising money to pay the orphanage property tax bill, everyone in the band agreed it was the right thing to do.

Now, buoyed by renewed passion and fan clamor, Surrogate Brains blazes anew, ready to storm stages and studios once more. For booking and updates, hit them up at—because legends never truly fade.