Dream job for surfer

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE 'N' LOUD - – ROSE SADLEIR

DON­AVON Franken­re­iter is liv­ing the dream – but the surf­ing troubadour still views the dream as a job.

‘‘My nine-to-five job is I surf at nine and I play mu­sic at five. It’s like a nine-and-five job,’’ Franken­re­iter says, laugh­ing.

The Hawaii-based singer­song­writer, known for his iconic mous­tache, is paid by Bil­l­abong to pro­mote surf­ing as a life­style rather than a com­pet­i­tive sport. It’s a way of life that many could only dream of but Franken­re­iter ad­mits he works hard to keep it alive.

‘‘I love play­ing mu­sic and I love surf­ing but I have to keep my spon­sors at a point where they see value in send­ing me around the world. I feel like I am en­joy­ing ev­ery moment but there is pres­sure to keep it go­ing,’’ he says.

Franken­re­iter, his wife Petra and sons Hen­drix and Ozzy have called the Gold Coast home for the past month as he em­barks on a 30-show tour play­ing free gigs across the coun­try for Corona Ex­tra and La Casa Artist Res­i­dency.

Hav­ing his fam­ily on tour is a treat Franken­re­iter rel­ishes.

‘‘I get really de­pressed some­times when I am on the road and I am not with my fam­ily. I tell peo­ple that when I go home, it feels like I am on va­ca­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘I am only home in Hawaii for four months of the year. When I’m home, it’s in­cred­i­ble.’’

While he lives the dream, Franken­re­iter ad­mits there are still pieces miss­ing from his puz­zle.

‘‘I feel like I am al­ways search­ing for some­thing. I never feel com­pla­cent,’’ he says.

‘‘Surf­ing and mu­sic keep me coming back. I never get bored. I never walk on stage or ride a wave and say, ‘I have done this be­fore, I know what’s go­ing to hap­pen’. It’s al­most like get­ting given a present ev­ery time, not know­ing what it is and open­ing it up.’’

There’s a ‘‘liv­ing in the moment’’ theme to Franken­re­iter’s fifth al­bum, Start Livin’, re­leased last year. Among the al­bum’s folk-in­fused songs and hon­eythick vo­cals is the track A.I. – a heavy-hearted trib­ute to Franken­re­iter’s good mate, pro­fes­sional surfer Andy Irons, who died in 2010.

‘‘He was the clos­est I have ever been to some­body who has died. It hit me in a hard way,’’ he says.

‘‘I don’t want to catch my­self com­plain­ing about traf­fic or lines at the air­port. Who cares. Just be so stoked where you are at that moment and en­joy it so much with the peo­ple you are around be­cause you never know what could hap­pen.’’

The 40-year-old says he is fo­cus­ing on en­joy­ing ev­ery moment he can with his kids and wife.

‘‘I don’t ever want to catch my­self be­ing neg­a­tive be­cause you have to en­joy where you are at,’’ he says.

‘‘The theme of the record is to slow down and en­joy ev­ery moment. I am not a preacher. What I sing about is really hon­est and it’s really me.’’

Franken­re­iter’s tour sees him stack­ing two to three gigs into a day from Fri­days to Sun­days so he can have week­days off.

‘‘Since they are free con­certs and a lot of them are in lo­cal pubs, it wouldn’t work to play on a Wed­nes­day. It’s so cool to do free con­certs for the fans,’’ he says.

Franken­re­iter says bas­ing him­self on the Coast has been ideal for his fam­ily.

‘‘We have a lot of friends here on the Gold Coast and it makes sense to be in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing while Quikie Pro is on,’’ he says.

‘‘We set camp and pre­tend we have moved (to Kirra) for seven weeks.

‘‘It’s great, the fam­ily get com­fort­able and they can go from here up to Burleigh and down to By­ron.’’

– Pic­ture: JERAD WIL­LIAMS

Don­avon Franken­re­iter

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