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Tom Today:
When he's not traveling for a music performance, Tom can be found surfing everywhere
from the central California coast to remote islands in Indonesia. Tom loves to get away from it all, and neither cold water or tropical heat seems to bother him.

Tom is actively engaged in coaching and mentoring up-and-coming pros on the Rip Curl Team. He also spends a great deal of time surfing with his own kids, Lee-Ann and Pat, and helping mold their surfing and music careers.



TALKING WITH TOM CURREN

Q

Your career as a pro began at 18. Can you pinpoint a favorite experience that stands out in your surfing career?

T

Well, there've been a lot of really good moments, but the ones that stand out are when I traveled to a certain place for the first time to compete or surf. I didn't travel much before I turned pro, so seeing someplace new for the first time always leaves a strong first impression on me. Going to Australia for the first time was big for me.



Q

Tell us about that first trip..

T

I went to Australia in 1982 for the world amateur titles. It was on the Gold Coast, which is similar to waves we have at home, but it's different in so many other ways-it was all so new to me. I loved Australian surfing and admired Australian surfers like M.R. (Mark Richards) and Wayne Bartholomew. They had a strong presence on the tour and competing. Being in Australia where so many of those surfers I'd admired so much came from was really inspiring and a great overall feeling.


Q

What are your favorite breaks in Australia?

T

Burleigh Heads and Black Rock


Q

What are some of your favorite spots in your native Southern California?

T

I like the waves around the Rincon area. Anywhere in there. I enjoy the central coast too. It's a bit more remote, less crowded, a little lonelier, and definitely quieter.


Q

You've traveled all over the world. What are some other favorite locations?

T

My very favorite wave is Sunset Beach in Hawaii. I really like it there because there are so many different types of conditions; you can surf it in with so many different moods, depending on the swell direction. Indonesia is also amazing-lots of really perfect waves.


Q

Tom, you helped expose the Mentawais while riding an unusual board. Tell us about that.

T

It was the second or third trip to Indonesia, and we did some filming with the team and at one point ended up getting really good waves at this one spot called Bawa. I used a shorter fish style board and got a lot of waves that ended up in the movie. At the time people were kind of surprised that I surfed such a small board, but the waves were easy to surf - really smooth and easy to catch on a small board. (great article about that famous session can be found here: Revisiting Tom Currens Infamous 94 Session at Indos Biggest Right Tube.


Q

How do you picture your surfing future?

T

Well, I want to continue to maintain the level that I have right now, but I still think I can improve in a lot of ways. One of the things I'm working on now involves a 12' paddle board and another board called Alaia board (finless board), which is an old Hawaiian board. I try to use the paddle board to get into the wave really early and then jump off and onto the Alaia board. It's a new challenge-kind of fun. It's important to keep the fun in surfing.


Q

What else is in store for your future in surf?

T

Supporting the kids and what they're doing-the Rip Curl team and the new kids that are coming up is really important. I'm traveling a lot and still tinkering around with board design.


Q

What's it like seeing your kids in the spotlight as they advance in the surfing world?

T

It's really good. They love to surf-pure and simple-all four of them. My oldest is sponsored and she's been able to do well. She's done a bit of the contest scene and made a championship team, and she's also involved in music. My youngest is also sponsored and doing quite well. They're always trying to improve as well and it's getting more and more competitive.


Q

Do you travel with them?

T

Yes, I do travel with them as much as I can. My other two-the middle boys-are great surfers. They don't like to compete as much but they surf really well.

Q

Let's talk about your music. How did you first get started?

T

My first memory of music was when I was about 2 or 3 years old, jumping up and down on the bed, singing, (laughing) I thought that was singing. Then I went to a drum class in school, and that was really where I learned about note value and what each note meant. When I finally got a drum set, I'd play along to all my favorite records. Then I picked up guitar after that. That went on for a while and eventually, I started to put together chords and try to come up with original song ideas.


Q

What artists do you look up to today?

T

Well, the list is very long. Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Donavan-I know those guys personally as well and really admire their work.


Q

What are you working on now?

T

I'm in the final process of writing some songs for a new record and hopefully I'll start to do some demos soon. I have a friend who has a little studio, so hopefully I can get started on that. I have about 10-20 new songs-none of them are good (laughter).


Q

Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?

T

That depends, and it also changes. I've been trying come up with an idea for the beginning, middle, and end of a story and concept, then try to come up with a lyric, and then write the music after that.


Q

Do you try and stick with a certain theme?

T

My style is a little more random. I really just want the music to sound good and in tune, and not too cliche.



Q

To Maky Curren (wife): What's it like watching Tom surf?

M

When he's free surfing and there's a crowd, he won't take the best wave, and that's frustrating. He's surfed so many good places that he doesn't need to fight for the good waves. He lets others have them.

When it comes to competing, he always waits too long to catch the first wave, but he still always wins (laughs).


Q

Tom, do you have a favorite song?

T

Dandelion.


Q

Maky, do you have a favorite song of Tom's?

M

I learned to love "Dandelion" when he played it live. It's about his daughter-you know how dandelions are wild and free but then bloom? A dandelion can grow and become beautiful.