Donavon Frankenreiter

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Donavon Frankenreiter

Having arrived in the country just hours before, I caught up with muso and sufer Donavon Frankenreiter ahead of his big Byron Bay Bluesfest performances and 21 date Aussie Tour. “It’s been a while since I have been down here with the full band. I came over in October and I played here in Byron at the surf festival, then about eight months before that, me and my buddy opened up for Xavier Rudd – we just did some acoustic stuff,” Donavon says.
“But this is the first time in a while that I have my band so we can do a bit more electric and more variety of stuff.”
Donavon is no stranger to our lands having played many times before at Byron. As both a musician and surfer he loves making the trip out to Australia, especially when he also gets the opportunity to catch up with other friends from the industry.
“It’s amazing because this is the first year we’ve been booked two days in a row, usually they only get you for the one show, then you’re straight outta there. We’re on a tight schedule in that we have gigs pretty well almost every night, so it’s going to be cool to be at Byron for at least two days. It’s the kind of festival you love to play at then run around and watch all your other friends’ bands,” he says.
“Just being a part of that, there’s a great energy. It’s a cool festival with a cool vibe and I’m really looking forward to getting back up there.”
His latest album, Start Livin’ was released back in 2012 and explores his family life in Kauai, Hawaii with his wife and two sons, who have unfortunately not made the trip out with him this time as he and the band have a whopping 21 shows in just 23 days.
“It was written about seizing the moment, you know? A lot of it was about my family and living in Hawaii. It’s about not sweating the small things and trying to laugh in life as much as you can,” he smiles.
“My life is really blessed, I Iove playing music and touring the world and surfing, but there’s kind of this downfall when you have children and a family. I’ve never been home for a birthday or wedding anniversary, I miss all that stuff. You take the good and the bad, but you have to enjoy the journey – otherwise there’s no point in it all.”
Donavon himself has been professionally making music as a solo act for well over a decade now, catching his big break back in 2004 through good friend, Jack Johnson’s label Bushfire Records. He has also had an impressive pro-surfing career and was even signed to Australian label Billabong for a number of years. The Barwon Heads Hotel show just so happens to be on the eve of the Bell’s Beach Rip Curl Pro, something that he was so pleased about, once I explained how Barwon Heads was just a 25 minute drive from Bells.
“Oh really is it? No way, is it really close to Bell’s? That’s epic!” he laughed.
“Wow! That really excites me, that’s gonna be great. I wasn’t sure one of my concerts would line up with one of the events. I love Bells and that whole area! That would be a highlight if I got to watch a final and see some of my friends surf in one of their heats, that would be huge! It’s going to be a big night then for sure!”
There will be no rest for the band after the tour, with the studio all booked for their return. The recording process will be a little different this time with fans having the opportunity to watch the creative process, with the help of a very special sponsor.
“We’re going into the studio right after this tour in the first two weeks of May. What’s really cool about this is Sanuk Sandals have financed the making of this album. If you log on to their website in the first two weeks of May, they have this amazing sound and video capabilities and you will actually be able to stream the making of our record live, it’s going to be like an event. For eight hours a day, 10 days in a row we will be recording a song a day – I can’t wait!”
When & Where: Barwon Heads Hotel, Barwon Heads – April 11
Written by Abbey King