Just before Donovan proceeded to thoroughly rock his headlining, sold out concert in San Diego, he sat down to discuss how his freshly acquired life as a professional, world-touring musician has been treating him, as well as the wide range of insane surf projects he’s currently got lined up over the next few months.
What have you been up to over the past year?
I came out with my debut album about eight months ago. Since then I’ve had some surf trips here and there with Billabong and was out with Jack Johnson and G Love on the Brushfire Records Tour. We went all over on that tour including places like Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and even went to Tasmania which was really neat.
Has it been rough touring around the world?
This is the longest I’ve ever been on the road but I feel like when people want to hear your music, or when you’re able to get out and play, you’ve got to take advantage of it while you can. I’ve wanted to do this for fifteen years and never had the opportunity, now that I have that chance I don’t want to let it slip by; I want to work as much as I can. We really have a great time playing music so and that’s really what it’s all about.
Have you been surprised at the solid response to your debut album and all the radio play your single’s gotten?
Yeah, I definitely have. I think a lot of factors have really helped out like Ben Harper and Jack Johnson supporting me from the very beginning. The Dave Mathews Band as well, they let me go out and open up for them for about a week. G Love and Special Sauce too, I really owe a lot to all those guys because its people like that you need in your travels with music who can really lend a helping hand by letting you open up for them and get introduced to their fans.
While touring with Jack Johnson and G Love, did you guys ever perform songs together live?
While I was on tour last year with those guys we all played together throughout the whole evening during shows. G Love would come out and play with me during my set and then Jack would come out and play with G Love during his set and both G and I would go out and play during Jack’s set. It really turned into one big jam. We had a lot of other opportunities to play together too during things like little radio visits and promo things in record stores prior to the shows.
Didn’t you guys also make an appearance together on Kelly Slater’s satellite radio show?
We got to do that in New York and it actually came out really well so Jack put that as an EP. It was just the three of us on acoustic guitars with one of his buddies, Zach Gill, who plays accordion on the whole thing. It was just a really great opportunity, having time to just sit in the studio and jam. It was really cool that Kelly let us go in there and do a little session like that on his radio show.
What’s the name of that EP?
It’s called Some Songs Live out on Brushfire Records. It is really neat; it’s really stripped down, just us with our acoustic guitars. We all definitely have our kind of styles that I think really lend themselves well to each other.
Have the three of you ever talked about doing a full length album together?
G Love had a really great idea that I’ve been begging Jack to do it and I think it’d be a wonderful thing—it’d be a record that we’d call the Barbeque Record. It would consist of four of Jack’s favorite songs from his records, four of my favorite songs from my record, and four of G Love’s favorite songs from his records so there’d be twelve songs on the album. It’d just be the three of us playing acoustic guitars for a one-day session at a studio. We really were inspired after listening to the stuff that was on the EP from that Kelly Slater radio session so we’re kind of looking forward to doing something like that in the future.
Do you have any surf trips in the works?
I have a trip coming up with TransWorld Surf to South Africa. We’re going to film there for the next Drive Thru video, Drive Thru: South Africa. Then I head out for a week to do the Kelly Slater Invitational in Tavarua. After that I’m planning on going for two weeks in September to Imani Island near Tanzania with Taylor Steele to film for his upcoming movie called Sipping Jetstreams.
Are you looking forward to getting back into the surf grind?
I feel really excited about all these surf trips and stuff; I’ve always wanted to get back to Africa and the Drive Thru movies are so fun to do. I was really stoked when Taylor asked me to join him on Imani Island. I’m really looking forward to hanging out with Kelly and whoever happens to be on the island that week in Tavarua.
Do you have any other surf projects in the works?
Yeah, I also want to go on three or four trips this year as well with the Billabong sea-plane. I know Mike Parsons has been working on coordinating some really great trips. I’d really like to connect with him and have him hook me into some waves with a Jetski (laughs).
How would you describe how you balance your passion for surfing and music in your life?
It’s really crazy but my wife and my baby boy are the first things in my life that bring the most enjoyment and throughout that I just weave in the surfing and the music. With surfing, my sponsors like Billabong, Sanuk, and Von Zipper have really embraced the musical side of what I do. They didn’t just say, “Hey look, we’re going to sponsor you for surfing, don’t ask us for any favors. It’s been the complete opposite which has been something I really respect about those guys.
So how do you feel about things in general, it definitely seems like things are coming together for you…
I feel like right now in my life I couldn’t be any happier– being able to travel and surf and play music and have my wife and baby on the road with us. I’m just kind of living a dream.
Check out Donovan’s tour schedule and debut album on his official website: www.donavonf.com.