Look out your window and you can see why so many Southern Californian musicians have such a strong affinity for the ocean. Having taken up surfing as a teenager, it was on a pilgrimage to Hawai’i that Donavon Frankenreiter first began exploring music. After renting a room on the North Shore of Oahu from Jack Johnson’s parents, the two surfing singers quickly became friends.
The union allowed Frankenreiter’s 2004 debut album to find an audience, thanks to the help of Johnson’s Brushfire Records. Two years later, Frankenreiter moved over to Lost Highway, where he branched out on his own and firmly asserted his own musical identity with the appropriately titled Move by Yourself. Then came last year’s exquisite offering, Pass it Around, which included contributions from a selection of Frankenreiter’s friends, including Ben Harper and G. Love. And while the ocean has played a significant role in Frankenreiter’s life, it hasn’t been featured very prominently in his music. That is, until a recent collaboration with friend Grant-Lee Phillips on the song “Mansions on the Sand.”
“I’ve always tried to incorporate the visions of the ocean, the tide, the surf in my music, but I never could, because it would be corny,” explained Frankenreiter shortly after turning to Phillips to help him give the song some subjective weight. “And it came together and from a guy who doesn’t surf.”
Having self-produced Move by Yourself, for Pass it Around, Frankenreiter decided to enlist the production talents of Joe Chiccarelli. Having worked with everyone from Frank Zappa to My Morning Jacket, Chiccarelli was the perfect fit. The album is brimming with soulful melodies and uplifting grooves, but it also comes with its fair share of life lessons, many of which Frankenreiter realized during the album’s recording.
“I learned a lot. I learned that it’s not all about me, but it’s about coming together and creating the songs together,” Frankenreiter said. “I learned that I could let go a little, let somebody else control the production. For me it was a comfortable place to be. I feel like I had to go through what I was going through in order to get to where I am today.”
Donavon Frankenreiter and Gary Jules will play SOhO (1221 State St.) this Wednesday, February 18, at 8 p.m. Call 962-776 or visit sohosb.com for info