Donavon Frankenreiter is celebrating not only the release of his new album Glow, but his new record label, Liquid Tambourine, as well. Having just finished one phone interview, Frankenreiter graciously granted Glideanother one from his home in Kauai while driving in his truck, getting ready to do some yard work.
You just got back from Japan a few days ago.
Yeah, it’s strange that I’ve been to Japan three times in the past two months. The first time was for Fuji Rock, a huge festival. The second time I went to climb Mount Fuji for the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which is an amazing cancer awareness and support organization.
Was it a challenging climb?
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The most challenging thing for me about that mountain was coming down—it was steep, we were walking on powdery volcanic rocks and dust, sliding everywhere, and using those muscles on the front of your legs for six hours straight. Everybody was sore and couldn’t walk for three days. Despite that, it was an emotional climb and great being a part of that journey: meeting family members, hearing their stories, and playing music all the way up. It’s a beautiful organization and they do a lot of great things for people who need it.
The most recent trip was for the release of Glow because the record came out in Japan two weeks before the rest of the world.
Congratulations on the release of Glow and your new record label, Liquid Tambourine.
Thanks. It’s a sign of the times I guess, to start your own record label and do distribution deals around the world. I’m really excited about Glow. It’s a very positive, fun record with a lot of new sounds: string arrangements, keyboards, percussion, hand claps, background vocals, different guitar tones. The producer, Mark Weinberg, took my songs to a place I never imagined any of my music could go. There were no stressful meltdowns or sitting on a song too long, wondering why it’s not working. It was a lot of fun. We had an amazing band and recorded it in Los Angeles in only three days. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a studio.
The title song “Glow” has such a positive, well-wishing message.
Yeah, I think the world needs that right now. I love playing positive, fun songs. “Glow” was actually written by Matt Nathanson and almost ended up on his album. This was the first time I had a song offered to me that was already written. I had to really understand that song for myself. I really wanted to make that song my own. Once I started playing it and once I recorded it, “Glow” became the theme of the album.
I like the female vocal in “Keeping Me Away from You.” She’s got the same lovely little rasp in her voice that you do.
Her name is MoZella. She’s phenomenal. She’s got a unique, beautiful voice.
The songs “Home” and “Three” are obviously about missing your loved ones. Do you have any advice for musicians who have to be on the road a lot?
It’s a balancing act. I surf professionally and I play music. They are the ways that I make a living. It’s like a double-edged sword. I love being out on the road and doing what I do, but it really rips me apart being away from my family. I try to be out for three weeks and go home for two weeks, but that doesn’t always work. It’s also hard to say: no. Someone will call and say: you’ve got this gig in Japan and then they want you to go to Australia—you’ve got to weigh it financially with what happens emotionally.
The record was going to be called “Home” at one time. The encompassing theme of the record is me missing the things that I love so much at home. The songs “Three”, “Home”, “Keeping Me Away from You”, “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”, and “The Ones in Your Dreams” all relate back to either wanting to be home with my family or what it feels like when I am home. It’s the vibe of this album.
You have a marketing page like none I’ve seen before, Donavonhasawebstore.com. Tell me about the Street Team.
It’s hard to actually sell the product that I’m making. It’s not like it was back in the old days when you could hide out and be elusive about a record, and the only place to get a vinyl record was at a music store. If you liked what your friend had, you went out and bought it.
With the Street Team I just try to involve as many people as possible to get it out there as much as possible. I get the help of fans, all of my surf sponsors and endorsements—everybody that I’m involved with. I can say, “Hey, can you guys jump on board here and help me out.” I can let everybody in your world know that Glow is coming out and see if we can make something all work and have a great time together with it.
What about the package deals? Particularly the house concert dubbed the High Roller Package.
You can get the band to play in your living room for a couple of hours. It’s the new wave of package deals. My manager brought these to my attention.
In the other packages, we can take somebody surfing or give them guitar lessons. There are also packages that include signed CDs, T-shirts, a guitar and a ukulele.
You’re a professional athlete as well as a musician. Do you eat a special diet or follow an exercise regimen when you can’t surf?
That’s all I do literally, when I’m home I surf as much as I can with my family. I’m either being a father, husband, surfing or playing music. That’s all I do. The more that I surf, the better I feel.
My wife is really good about making sure that I eat a really healthy diet. That’s another thing I struggle with on the road, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to do. Sometimes in the middle of the night I’d like something healthy like a salad, but the only thing there is pizza. Where are you going to get a salad at 1:30 in the morning? So, you end up eating two slices of pizza and going to bed. Every time I come home from tours I weigh ten pounds more and it sucks. It’s really important, what you eat. It’s the fuel that you’re putting in your body, so I try to really watch what I’m eating.
Do enjoy acting or performing in your videos?
I love it. It’s the best. Yeah, I want to get my own t.v. show. I want to do this, take it around the world, go global (laughs). I have a lot of fun. I can laugh at myself. I don’t take myself so seriously and I love making people laugh. In the videos, whatever happens, happens, nothing’s scripted it just, hey let’s go do this. We have a little adventure, get this footage together, and then we edit it. It’s a lot of fun. I’d like to definitely take it to another level though.