How We Became The World’s Ultimate Music Experience
“In 1995 SMP stood for Sex, Money and Power. Since 2014 SMP has stood for Surf, Music and Paradise.”
Let me explain … in the 90’s, as the big three surf corporations were becoming stale, a good friend of mine started a company called SMP and he employed another buddy as Marketing Manager, who in turn sponsored a lot of our friends on the surf, skate and music team.
At that time, I owned a magazine called Underground Surf, and together we often teamed up to co- sponsor and co present a bunch of pretty epic music tours including Agent Orange, Bad Religion’s first Australian tour, and The Vans Warped Tour amongst many others.
It was on The Vans Warped tour in the hazy mid nineties that I briefly met Donavon Frankenreiter. Donavon, Fletcher, Byron and Jim from Pennywise, along with Rob Trujillo from Sucidal Tendencies (now Metallica) were often hanging in the Underground Surf bus driven by my mate Tommy. Tommy would take the boys surfing in between gigs and generally hang out and give the crew some respite from gigging by taking them surfing.
During the Manly gig, I was kicking back in the bus with Tommy and Bra Boy Sunny Abberton for memory, and Donny swung by for a magic cigarette or three.
Donavon struck me as a friendly, super chilled, down to earth kinda dude, who just dug going surfing, playing music and kicking back.
Fast forward 20 or more years, and Donavon is now an internationally acclaimed surfer, musician and family man who has toured Australia multiple times and built up a very solid and loyal fan base.
Donavon has remained true to his core interest’s throughout.
These days I work as Marketing Manager for Perfect Wave – the world’s largest surf experience Travel Agency.
One night in the summer of 2013 Donny was playing down the road from my place, so I trundled on down to the gig to see if he was keen on doing some shows for Perfect Wave some 10,000 to 15,000km across an ocean or two.
On the night I recall literally having to wait for the hordes of Frankenreiter’s female admirers to get various parts of their anatomy autographed before I hit him up. “Argh Donavon, you probs won’t remember me from 20 years ago on the Warped Tour, but um do you want to do a bunch of gigs for Perfect Wave in the Maldives?”
He said, “How are the waves?”
“Er, ah sick!” quickly scrolling over a coupla Kandooma line ups on my phone and as easy as that, the Music in Paradise concept was born. He said, “If you call me in Hawaii in a coupla days and can get my wife and family over there mid next year, we are on.”
The very next night at Newport, Perfect Wave’s CEO Jamie Gray and his family went to see Donny and left feeling stoked, inspired and totally invigorated by the experience.
At the time Marie Gray (Jamie’s wife) commented, “Imagine if we transported this gig and turned it into a once in a lifetime experience in the Maldives.”
Jamie agreed, “Ben and I have been thinking along the same lines, in fact I asked Ben to invite Donny to the Maldives with Perfect Wave the other night.”
Which leads me to my background music story, I mean we all have one right?
For me Surfing and music have gone hand in hand ever since my older sis dragged me along to the seminal 2SM Victoria Park AC/DC gig when I was barely 10 years old where a Bon Scott-led AC/DC headlined the outdoor gig where Skyhooks and Hush also played.
As a well under age teenager, I was lucky enough to see Midnight Oil at the Capitol, The Dead Kennedys at the Trade Union Club, Tex at the Hopetoun, and later The Ramones at the Hordern, Nirvana at the first Big Day Out… the list goes on.
Every surf trip with friends or family since has always had an accompanying soundtrack to psyche pre-surf, or relax post-surf.
My friends and I were always drawn to guitar-driven rock from the likes of Birdman, the Rifles, The Sunnyboys etc.
In more recent years, my tastes have mellowed with age. Overcrowded festival line ups with their sniffer dogs and overly nationalistic yobs no longer appeal.
Jamie Gray shares similar sentiments, as do a lot of our clientelle.
In June 2014 together as Perfect Wave we launched the Music In Paradise series featuring Donavon Frankenreiter at Kandooma Resort, the Maldives.
In June 2014, Perfect Travel Group launched the inaugural Music In Paradise series featuring Donavon Frankenreiter at Kandooma Resort, Maldives.
In June 2015 Pete Murray and Matt Smith performed. That September, Tex Perkins and Murray Patterson played 4 incredible gigs in 7 days, also at Kandooma.
Since then, Music in Paradise expanded to Bali and Australia. Ocean Alley and Phil Jamieson at S-Resorts Hidden Valley, Jimmy Barnes at Kandooma as well as Daydream Island in the Whitsundays.
May 2022 was our biggest one yet with Daryl Braithwaite, Richard Clapton, Ian Moss, Troy Cassar Daley, The Living End, Phil Jamieson, Diesel and The Black Sorrows – massive two weeks of amazing music and unforgettable memories for everyone involved.
The question on everyone’s lips after all these MUSIC IN PARADISE gigs was: How could you ever go to a standard gig ever again?
Sitting less than 10 metres from stage on a bean bag, cocktail or beer in hand, partner, friends or family nearby, socializing and then surfing with the musos and like-minded fans is unbeatable!
The intimacy or exclusivity of these experiences is the drawcard, the feeling of value beyond the actual surfing or music.
Since Donny, Pete and Tex we have been fortunate enough to host the likes of Phil Jamieson, Jimmy Barnes and Diesel.
Jamie’s vision is to one day have Eddie Vedder playing a bunch of shows and surfing with us, whilst my dream is to host a Music In Paradise festival, featuring bands that surf and play old school punk rock. Bands like TSOL, The Hellmen, The Celibate Rifles, Radio Birdman, The Sunnyboys etc come to mind.
Furthermore, I’d love to invite ex work colleagues like Tony Mott and Rod Hunt to host a music and lifestyle photography exhibition, and extend that invitation to artists like Ben Brown, Jimmy MacMillan and friends to displaying their insane tour posters.
It would also be pretty cool to have a bunch of our Perfect Wave surf ambassadors like Occy, Barton Lynch and Pam Burridge join the giant party in the middle of the Indian Ocean somewhere.
Why not add some sustainable clothing and jewellery stalls, some appetizing vegetarian food and donate a solid percentage of the profits to keeping our oceans clean, plastics out, and hey who knows where we’ll end up?
I do know one thing for sure.
Perfect Wave will invite limited numbers to come along for the ride….. so Music In Paradise remains a once–in–a–lifetime experience.