Surfing and rock music is not a new combination by any means. Surfing musicians like Dick Dale have even created music to sonically represent what it feels like to surf. Different from Dale’s instrumental surf soundscapes is the early vocal-based surf pop of the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean, who took Californian surfing themes and imagery and spread it throughout the world. Dennis Wilson was famously the only member of the Beach Boys who was actually a bona fide surfing musician, but if you listen to Good Vibrations, it sounds like his brother Brian was surfing on something.
As surfing’s popularity grew and spread throughout the world, particularly among the counter culture, the amount of surfing musicians increased. Surf music also evolved to include California punk bands like Agent Orange and obviously named Surf Punks. Anthony Kedis and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are avid surfing musicians as are Kirk Hammet and Robert Trujillo of Metallica.
Here’s what Hammet had to say at a recent press conference in Singapore (via Blabbermouth):
I do a lot of yoga. We’re all pretty physical. [Bassist Robert Trujillo] and I like to surf. We just got off a week-long stint in Bali, surfing a lot. You know, it’s important to keep maintenance on the road — eat well, sleep well, and just make sure the engine inside is running well. It’s really important. ‘Cause the last thing I wanna do is drop on stage.
Of course it’s no surprise that a lot of coastal California rockers like to surf. Likewise across the world in Australia, where surfing musicians are as common as kangaroos. Take Melbourne-based indie rockers Loon Lake, who “got their groove back” from surfing.
We went to Bali on a surf trip in April and I wrote some stuff there. I took MIDI keyboards and a laptop and wrote loads of stuff, but the boys just weren’t taking it. It was probably too shiny and catchy, loads of stuff in the vein of Cherry Lips, but it wasn’t what they wanted.
–Sam Nolan, Loon Lake
Probably more the feeling of early Beach Boys as opposed to the Pet Sounds era, right? Luckily all they had to do was surf a bit more until they found their sound. Read more about that odyssey on themusic.com.au.
Other surfing musicians include Jimmy Buffet, Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. See this article for a longer list.