Surf Sounds – The Coast News Group


“Man, your music sounds like riding a wave.”

– Surfing legend Lance Carson to Bel-Airs band member Paul Johnson, circa 1962

SSurfing remains the only sport in the world (with the possible exception of curling, which only those with finely tuned dog whistle hearing abilities can hear) with its own music.

And so there I was last Saturday, growling to the surf beat of my own lousy drummer as I drove toward the Pacific on Oceanside Boulevard when I came across an unlikely sign that said “Cinematic Arts and Sound.”

Thinking they might have a part I needed for my camera, I wandered through 5,000 square feet of film and sound equipment only to find myself in a scene as unlikely as Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Even though co-owner John MacDonald didn’t have the room, he kindly gave me some equipment to improvise. John, along with his brother Jesse, Steve Evans, Donovan Stapleton and Jaqi Beasley run this world class recording and film studio. He told me that his brother, the founder of Cinematic, left a successful company in Los Angeles to live near the beach, surf without massive crowds choking every wave, work and just live.

The conversation with John, which went from the musical production skills of Great Wall of China jumper Danny Way to the brilliance of Switchfoot and Taylor Steele, quickly had me scratching “Miserlou” in my head while reminding me of a conversation I once had with Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman about recording a surf album with the dearly deceased Dick Dale, aka King of the Surf Guitar.)

Surf bands are nothing new, but most of them just play the soundtrack of the waves while few of them accompany the music.

Without a doubt, the best surfing band the world has ever seen was the short-lived and adamantly named The Surfers. The trio consisted of Kelly Slater, Rob Machado and Peter King. Next in line for the crown would be three-time world surfing champion Tom Curren and his band known simply as the “Tom Curren Band”.

Switchfoot, with three excellent surfers, Jon and Tim Foreman and Chad Butler, ranks high in the rankings, as does Denny Aaberg’s “The Wrinkled Teenagers”. Add Borracho y loco, the Mighty Flyers of Mar Dels’ Rod Piazza, Bill Stewart and the great Peter Tripp Sprague and we have a festival culminating in a battle of surf bands.

Here’s how I see it working: First, there’s a surfing contest (thank goodness the surfers, who would slaughter all comers, are no longer together) where points are awarded for surfing. Then there’s the music part where an audience rates the music on, say, a 10-point scale.

I haven’t asked anyone, but I think we could hold the contest on Oceanside Boulevard and move the music part two blocks from the Cinematic parking lot. Or, we could do it all in Stewy’s (Bill Stewart) Fun House after surfing Trestles, which is just down the street.

Or maybe we do it all in Doheny, which has surf and a great lawn for music lovers. I know it’s just a dream, but a dream I can hear, taste and celebrate. Think how fun that would be!

Until then, anyone who wants to record music or make a movie of any kind no longer needs to brave Hollywood traffic. It’s all here in beautiful downtown Oceanside. See for more details. Anyone know how to play “Pipeline”?


Comments are closed.