Big Wave by Donavon Frankenreiter

Donavon Frankenreiter

From the first strum to the last note, Donavan Frankenreiter had me as a lifetime fan. I might even say that “Big Wave was my favourite song of all time. Once you try this man’s tune on, you may become hooked and learn that he’s been cranking out great music for over two decades.

The back-story on Donovan is that he’s a California born surfer that moved to Hawaii to become a Pro and along the way met Jack Johnson on Hawaii’s North Shore and began developing his unique style from the heart of the Big Wave culture. It’s no wonder that he’d spawn a huge hit about a Big Wave.

The article below was rescued from the Wayback Machine and is of an interview of Donovan by Free Surf Magazine, way back in 2010 after the release of his album “Glow”. He provides some excellent insight.

Flows and Beats: Talking Story with Donavon Frankenreiter

Donavon Frankenreiter has melded a successful surfing career with an equally fruitful music career. With the release of his new album, “Glow”,
Donavon set us wise to what role surfing has played in his music, what bands offer the most inspiration, and what we can expect from his latest record.

Freesurf: Having come from the surfing world, was it a difficult transition to the music industry and the music–business lifestyle?

Donavon Frankenreiter: It’s definitely two different worlds, but I’ve been lucky enough to start my own label, Liquid Tambourine Records, and release my music that way, which has been a totally different feeling and has given me a little bit more freedom and control.

Fs: Your first album had a folk-like vibe and you’ve continued to create music with a positive, buoyant sound. Will there be any surprises or new directions on your new album, “Glow”?

DF: I think that positive feeling I always have shines through on this record, but sonically, this record is like nothing I’ve ever done before. Mark Weinberg, the producer, really helped me take the original acoustic demos and reshape them into completely different songs—different textures, different keyboard sounds, lots of echo and delay on the electric guitars. I’m really, really happy with how it turned out.

Fs: In the past, you’ve collaborated with artists like Ben Harper and G. Love. How has collaboration inspired you?

DF: Collaboration is such a great catalyst for creativity. On this record, like I said, I worked with Mark Weinberg. I showed up at his house to do a co-writing session and within 30 minutes we’d written the second song on the album, “Keeping Me Away From You.” Mark went, “Wow, that was quick!” and I asked “does that usually happen?” I asked him to produce the record, we recorded it over three days at Pulse Studios in LA, and I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out. It’s completely different than any record I’ve released.

Fs: Is there anyone you want to collaborate with?

DF: The Black Keys, Wilco, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty.

Fs: Who are your major inspirations, music-wise and surf-wise?

DF: Musically, definitely Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Surf-wise, Tom Curren, Occy, and Kelly Slater, and of course the most influential surfer and my all–time favorite is Andy Irons.

Fs: Would you say surfing or music is your more creative outlet?

DF: Both. I’m addicted to both and they are both beautiful outlets.

Fs: You recently released “Revisited” where you put a Hawaiian spin on your first album. In what ways has living in Hawaii influenced your music?

DF: The Hawaiian instruments inspired me—I kept hearing them on the island everywhere I went and they were just so beautiful. Every time I was away from home and I heard a slack-key guitar, ukulele, or lap–steel guitar, it reminded me of home. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my music, so I thought it’d be fun to revisit these songs I did seven years ago and put a Hawaiian twist on them to reflect my new home and my new love for the Hawaiian sound. Those instruments even made it onto some of the songs on “Glow”, too!

Fs: How does the surf culture influence your music?

DF: It influences everything I do, in a way. It’s my life and everything that I have learned or obtained has been through surfing and it’s culture.

Donavon Frankenreiter Discography

With Sunchild

  • Mr Jesus (1994)
  • Barefoot & Live (1997)
  • California Honey (2000)
  • The Galaxy Session (2009)


With Jack Johnson and G.Love

  • Some Live Songs EP (2005)

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