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Tom Curren: Interview with 3x World Champ


When I started surfing, you still had to put some real effort into locating surf movies. You couldn't just pull up an endless number of clips or videos on YouTube or StokeTV like you can today. The people and music in these films were usually a collaboration of months or years of work just to create a short 1 hr. film and soundtrack. A stand out collection was Rip Curl's Search series. I instantly fell in love with the cast, the story and romance of adventure, and the mind-blowing surfing footage! I watched them over and over again, trying to absorb all I could. In every movie the stand out character for me was, and always will be, Tom Curren. Watching him surf is like watching art in motion. His creativity and approach to managing a wave was unlike anyone else I had seen and his combination of aggressive power surfing and precision timing all looked so effortless. With the fluidity and speed in which he connected turns, maneuvers, and sections; it always seemed like he was driven by some kind of internal rhythm or beat…turns out, he was!

As much as I loved the surfing, the Search Series also provided some great insight and behind-the- scenes footage which made you feel like part of the crew and let you get to know the surfers and staff on a more intimate level. Tom always seemed a bit more reserved than the others on the trip and you would always see him tucked away in some corner of the boat or beach, strumming a cool riff or a series of warm chords while waiting for the next window of swell to arrive.  He looked as happy with a guitar under his arm as he did with a surfboard and I always wondered what kind of musician he was. Skip ahead many years later…I am sitting at my desk when an email from my editor comes over asking if I wanted to interview Tom Curren about his new album. Tom Curren? Album? I instantly email him back saying that I will do the interview but that he must be mistaken, did he mean Timmy Curran? His response back made my jaw hit the floor… “No, Tom Curren, from the Rip Curl Search Series, 3 x World Champ, Kelly Slater's hero…” – forget Slater, he is one of my hero's!!! A few Google searches later, I was embarrassed when I realized I had already missed a few early albums Tom had released. It wasn't long before I had them downloaded any blaring through the whole office…questions about who it was and where they could get the songs started to pop up immediately.

I don't get star struck often, but as I dialed Tom's number I found myself a bit nervous. However, as soon as I heard the familiar voice on the other end, it was like I was talking to an old buddy from back on one of the search trips we shared. He is as mellow and humble on the phone as I thought he would be and after talking surfing for a bit, we dug into his new album and music focus – that's when you could really hear him come alive on the other end, and his passion for music is just infectious! I learned that Tom and his family have always been very musical and the Search trips certainly provided some time and inspiration for him to explore music even more. He spoke very highly of Rip Curl and he said that they have always been incredibly supportive with everything he has done…although they are not directly involved in his music, he is a true “company man” and an outstanding ambassador for their brand – his music will only add more valuable exposure and marketability to his already legendary status. Although he likes the guitar, he also loves to experiment with all kinds of instruments – drums and percussion were an early passion and you can often see him with less mainstream musical tools like the Ukulele or Banjo. You can tell music gets him as, or maybe even more stoked, as riding a barrel and he said it was natural for him to start recording some of his work. He had some early, self-titled releases that gave him some exposure and experience producing a record, but they were not blockbuster hits. He was doing it more for glory at the time but it's clear he picked up the bug and learned a lot heading into his latest offering.

With his latest project, Summerland Road, I personally think Tom has made the official leap from professional surfer to full fledged rock star! This is a real album with a warm blues/rock/folk feel that I would suggest to absolutely anyone. His signature soft voice and tone remain but they are magnified by a confidence and soulful delivery that makes you bob your head and tap your foot even without knowing it! When I was listening to the “Summerland Road” single I kept having visions of a mix between Don Henley (Solo), Mike and the Mechanics, and Bruce Hornsby. Although you could play this album at any time or any party or venue, it is not the “surf” style or genre you'd expect to hear from a pro-surfer, turned musician. Don't get me wrong…Jack Johnson and Donovan have some great stuff, but after a while, they can all start to sound a bit of the same. Tom's music brings a different sound that has a slightly more mature, rich, and diverse feel in my opinion. The same creativity, soul, and fluidity he applies to his surfing can be seen and heard in the rhythm and lyrics in his music.Tom is just having fun at this point but he is already looking into the possibility of touring for Summerland Road…I think Donovan, G. Love, Jack or any of the Brushfire crew should do themselves a favor and beg Mr. Curren to help bring a new, smooth sound and overall feeling of cool to their winning mix. I still love to watch him surf but I hope to see more of Tom's musical side in years to come. Be sure to buy his album, Summerland Road, and check out his material at: always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend…- Shaper


  1. Great job again shaper!
    Looking forward to hearing the whole album.


  2. I had no idea tom c had albums out! Good article, I just got some of his stuff off itunes!!!

    – KD

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