Why did you give up on professional surfing to become a musician?
It was just a steady thing, the thing is I still consider myself to be more of a surfer than a musician. When I’m at home in Hawaii if the waves are perfect all week I won’t even pick up a guitar, I’ll just surf all day and go to sleep at night. My life still revolves around surfing, the whole musical thing, really what it does is set me up so I can be home in Hawaii surfing.
You had a couple of bad accidents in the surf, what was your worst?
I lost my front teeth surfing Pipeline, that was heavy.
We used to surf there everyday so we thought we were invincible, we used to push each other all the time. I got a wave and all of a sudden I went straight into dry reef and hit my head, there was this big bang, I lost consciousness for about 10 seconds and the next wave broke on my head. I thought I was gone, dead. They put 150 stitches in me.
Do you think it’s a bit selfish to have been a pro surfer and a popular musician when most people struggle just to hold down a steady job?
(laughs) Probably, but it just happened. When you grow up in Hawaii everyone becomes a pro surfer, it just happens. But I never thought I’d become a popular musician, I trip out more than anybody about all this.
What’s the harder lifestyle to maintain: being a musician or a surfer?
They’re both hard, but they’re both fun. You spend a lot of time on the road doing both and sometimes you just want to be at home surfing your local spot. But the thing you have as a musician every day is that hour on stage, that’s what it’s all about.
You don’t compete anymore but do you still follow what’s going on in pro surfing?
Yeah, I’m still good friends with Kelly Slater and some of the older guys. I try to get to contests, I try to support my friends as much as I can. It’s funny, now I get asked for free tickets by my surfing heroes, I’ll see people like Occy in a room and as I’m working up the courage to say hello to them they’re coming up to me saying “hey Jack, loved the album”. It’s a trip.
For more on the surf spot that claimed Jack Johnson’s front teeth, Pipeline, turn to page…….