Scrimshaw recently got a chance to chat with Donavon Frankenreiter, a man who embodies all things creative. Discussing and shooting the breeze on everything from surfing to music to favorite breakfast foods, Donavon solidified himself as effervescently cool. Between his newest album "The Heart", which is at the focus of his upcoming Solo tour, to his collaborative project, Jamtown Band, Donavon's music and style is an ode to what he finds true and dear in this world. Ahead of his upcoming shows at the Belly Up on June 19th & 20th for his solo tour, as well as his Jamtown performances, we encourage you to read along, turn up his tunes, and see the depth and fluidity to Donavon's music and surf style.
Scrimshaw (Bold): Trying to get a sense of where it all started for you, where did you grow up and how did you get involved in the music and surfing scene?
Donavon: So I grew up in Southern California, surfing and living the San Clemente and San Diego scenes. I was just kind of everywhere in Socal and watching all the surfers always inspired me. Watching them all do their thing in the water just incredible.
Yea, the talent in the water was probably insane.
It really was and it was such a cool thing to be a part of.
So between surfing and your music it seems like you always have these creative collaborative projects. Recently you have been working on Jamtown Band. Can you explain what that project is and how it started?
It’s funny, for the past 15 years I have been talking to G. Love about making this acoustic BBQ-esque record. Two of us, sitting around one mic and create something amazing that fits our vibe. So we started this idea, working with Cisco Adler, and he was like, how about you just make all new songs and see how that sounds. Fast forward to recent months and within 10 days, the whole record was done with 10 new songs and Cisco ended up producing as well as playing on it. We ended with this album and were like…shit, we should make a band with this. Through this happenstance it just became a beautiful coincidence. Never truly planned; just natural.
That’s so awesome, so creating new music, especially in a collaborative place…do you have a preference of recording in a studio or playing the live experience? Where do you find you get your creativity flowing best?
I really just like to keep it fresh. Creativity flows when you play live. But on the other side, I feel like a song that you write was never really written until you record it. You have the birth of these songs but they never become anything until you actually put them down and record them. There are just so many processes and so many different ways to make a record and each one is different and unique and can generate something so beautiful. But, when you play live, you adapt to what you did in the studio, so they really build off each other. But this is a great question because to me, they both are forever changing. Like I can never go into a studio or a concert and be like…yup I’ve done everything I can do here. That’s what I love about music.
Yea it's so true! Your music is held near and dear to us (Wes and Will || Scrimshaw Co-Founders) because some of your original tracks from your first record are on our first surf mix CD (Summer Surf Jamzzz), which I still have in my car!
Haha that’s so great!
Ha but between then and your most recent solo album, the Heart, how has your inspiration and how you write music, changed?
Every record is completely different. That’s just the thing, you are always just growing as a person, a musician and a songwriter. The songwriting process is just such a beautiful mystery. It’s like this unknown letter that you receive and when you open it, you never know what it’s going to say. In music, you never get to a place, or never want to get to a place, where you feel like you’ve arrived. You just keep evolving in music. You never really master the instrument to a point where you can’t learn anymore. It’s the same with surfing, no matter what age you are, you are always learning something about boards and fins and waves. It’s an exciting thing, and I never get bored with it. If it wasn’t for that element or factor, I don’t know if I would as enthralled with this process as I am with surfing and music. But because they have that factor, I am addicted. It truly is an addiction. They are just forever changing fueled by your emotion and feeling.
As a listener, we are always interested in seeing what's next in people’s style and production so we can hear the “new”. It goes for surfing also, you feel like you never know what to expect. Some days are rad and some days you feel a little worse, but its exciting to experience an unknown in something that is consistent in your life.
So true, it’s amazing! You can get one good wave and it keeps you coming back for more. It’s just like a great song. When you make that one song that like totally clicks, you are like…I need more of that. It seems like it can be an easy thing, thinking to yourself, all I need to do is write 10 songs and I can make a record? But the process is never easy. You look at the prolific songwriters and it’s like where the fuck did it all come from? Sometimes you get this spark where it just keeps coming out of you and coming out of you. But, when you don’t have those moments, there is this real complexity in your craft. To me, it’s like looking at a piece of art. Like a Jackson Pollock and you hear someone go “Oh, it just looks like splattered paint on a canvas” and that’s CRAZY to me because I want to say, well, why don’t YOU go try. You hear and see things that seem simple but when you really try and dial in and hone your craft its like, holy shit. You learn to love and really appreciate the process.
Well said man. As we come to a close here we have to know...in this world of uncertainty, we all know for certain that breakfast is always incredible. But, for breakfast what would you rather have…a breakfast burrito or an acai bowl?
Ha, that depends on what happened the night before! If I could do it…I would be healthy and have that acai bowl every single day. But, some days you have to be like, screw it, I need a breakfast burrito. But if I’m anywhere in San Diego… a breakfast burrito is a must.
Rad!! Keep a look out for our upcoming photo gallery on Donavon's Belly Up Concert on June 19th and 20th! Get your tickets for his solo shows (here) and Jamtown shows (here). We promise that you will be jamming with a smile on your face all night long!