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Up Close with San Diego's KCR Radio Jock, Clint Beachwood
His Gig? Spinning Surf Guitar Rock Instros!
By Dick Stewart, The Lance Monthly
(more articles from this author)
2002-06-20
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"I've always enjoyed instrumentals more [than vocals]. I guess they allow my mind to go where ever the it wants and the song can have different meanings at different times, depending on one's current situation in life. Vocals, on the other hand, force you to go to where ever the lyrics take you, which is the same every time you listen." . . . "I think surf/instros can be compared to classical, in that one must listen a lot to really gain an appreciation for the genre."

[Interviewer's note: Fortunately for those who share a passion for surf guitar instrumentals, there are individuals like Clint Beachwood, who have a fervent desire in keeping this genre alive. Many thanks to Clint for offering his very entertaining thoughts.]

[Lance Monthly] In order to give the readers a clue to the mainstream rock that was in while you were a teen, just exactly how old are you?

[Clint Beachwood] Forty-seven

[Lance Monthly] Where were you born and reared?

[Clint Beachwood] Downey, California - both home of Downey Records [and] home to The Chantays.

[Lance Monthly] Why do you like trad surf instrumentals and what artist(s) helped you develop your admiration for them?

[Clint Beachwood] Growing up, my best friend had two older brothers who were very much into the SoCal surfing scene. At eight-years-old, I was VERY impressed and thought they were the coolest! On sleep-overs, they would put six to eight albums on the turn-table (with the auto-drop and play feature!) and we'd fall asleep listening to the Beach Boys, Chantays, Challengers, Dick Dale, etc. My first album was "KRLA 42 Solid Rocks" and one of my favorite cuts was "Blues Theme" by Davie Allen and the Arrows. I loved that time in my life and that was a big part of it. I was "re-born" sometime around 1996 when I heard Surf Report playing at the Del Mar fair here in San Diego. Then a few months later, while waiting for my wife to buy something at Border Books, I happened across a listening station of surf music. The Aqua Velvets' "Nomad" was one of the choices and I was flabbergasted! I loved every track and bought it on the spot. I was hooked. I finally found the chosen music! And I have to mention Slacktone. They came to San Diego and played with Surf Report at the Tiki House. When I watched (and heard) Dusty Watson play drums, I was just awe-struck . . . I've been to many concerts, but never was I so amazed by a drummer. When you throw in Dave Wronski and Mike Sullivan, man, what a group!!!

[Lance Monthly] Are you a musician?

[Clint Beachwood] No

[Lance Monthly] Are you a surfer?

[Clint Beachwood] I made a few attempts as a teenager but that's it. I still love the beach, living about 10 - 15 minutes away. I do love to body surf, and do a lot of surf fishing.

[Lance Monthly] How did you find out about the Cowabunga list? [Editors' note: Cowabunga is the largest surf ring on the Internet with an active list of the most informed surf rock, instrumental guitar aficionados in the world.]

[Clint Beachwood] For some reason, and I can't remember for the life of me, I asked (via email) Ferenc Dobronyi of Pollo Del Mar for some pointers when I first started exploring this D.J. gig. Among a few things, he suggested [that] once I become established, to announce the show on Cowabunga. He turned me on to the list.

[Lance Monthly] Give me a little history of the station with which you're affiliated. How long has it been in existence?

[Clint Beachwood] Thirty-four years, since 1968. I think it's a typical college radio station. It has it's ups and downs. But it's still going strong.

[Lance Monthly] How popular is it with the general public?

[Clint Beachwood] Even though it does broadcast at 1620 AM, I think it only goes out at about five watts max. I have yet to pick it up on an AM radio, even in my car, driving on campus. The main source of listening is two local cable TV/radio carriers and the Internet. I have not seen or heard of any numbers regarding listenership. I do get a few calls for requests or just listeners saying they enjoy the show. Hopefully they are a small percentage of the total listeners and not all of them!

[Lance Monthly] What age group in your opinion does it appeal to the most?

[Clint Beachwood] The typical D.J. is a college student and the music I've heard when I randomly listen to KCR is modern music geared to the college age population.

[Lance Monthly] The surf program that you have . . . is this your brain storm or were you hired to take over someone else's show?

[Clint Beachwood] This is my baby all the way! The D.J. that helped me get the gig is Joe Shrin. He's been doing a 6:00 - 10:00 am Saturday show for the past twenty plus years! (weird mix of oldies). I've been a listener of his for probably eighteen of those. After years of playing my requests, talking on the phone about music in general, visits to the studio etc., I ran the idea by him of me becoming a D.J. Since I graduated from SDSU many years back, I already was qualified and he thought it would be great. After months and months of trying to reach the station manager (a long boring story), I finally got the gig in November of 2001.

[Lance Monthly] What's the overall feeling that the station heads have about surf instrumentals?

[Clint Beachwood] Both the station manager and the music director think it's pretty cool. Neither really knew that surf still existed in the magnitude that it does. They were familiar with The Mermen, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and a few other current groups, but that's about it. I have not heard any negative comments, from anyone. All comments have been positive and encouraging.

[Lance Monthly] If this is your first gig as a D.J., how did you convince the station heads that you could do the job?

[Clint Beachwood] Yes, it is my first and only. The convincing came from Joe Shrin (see above). He had me come to a station meeting to meet the manager, and he convinced her that I knew my stuff and would make a good D.J. Since Joe is so well respected by everybody at KCR, she was convinced and I started two days later.

[Lance Monthly] If you were tied to a chair and were forced to listen to surf instrumentals for 24 hours straight, who would be the performing artists?

[Clint Beachwood] This is a tough question since I don't have a "favorite" band . . . or even style of surf music. I like it all, trad (Challengers), lounge (Aqua Velvets), hard-rock (Surf Report), psych/modern (Mermen). But if you insist, it would probably come down to Slacktone.

[Lance Monthly] What's your occupation?

[Clint Beachwood] I'm a (senior) X-ray Tech for a large hospital in San Diego. I have a small CD player with surf/instro playing at all times in my work area.

[Lance Monthly] You mentioned you were married. Does she have the same passion as you about surf instrumentals?

[Clint Beachwood] She's catching on. We've been going to shows for several years now and at first she'd be ready to go home by 11:00. Now she's really into it. She was real excited when the Aqua Velvets finally decided to leave the bay area and travel south. When I informed her of a show in Malibu with The Insect Surfers, Jon and the Nightriders, and the AVs, she was ready to go! So we drove the 2.5 hours from San Diego to see the show, and we had a great time!

[Lance Monthly] Do you have children, and if so, what kind of music are they in to?

[Clint Beachwood] Three . . . Carly (19), Cassie (16), and Nick (12). Carly seems to go with whatever is popular for the day. However, when we moved her up to Oakland a couple months ago, the three of us were able to see Dick Dale at an all-ages venue in Petaluma. She really had a fun time. When we got to the theater, she literally drug us to the front of the stage and it was a real kick to watch Dick flirt with her . . . she'd just look at us and laugh. It was strange to see DD give my 19-year-old daughter "the eye." . . . Cassie and Nick both like modern music. They both fluctuate with who's hot, but that's nothing new. Nick is currently into "Alien Ant Farm."

[Lance Monthly] Is San Diego your favorite California city, and if so, what's it got that the others don't have?

[Clint Beachwood] By far! I grew up in the crowded L.A. suburbs and escaped to San Diego when I got my first real job. Even though San Diego is a big city, and growing as we speak, it is so spread out that you don't get that big-city-feel. The beaches are way less crowded and the overall attitude in S.D. is so much more relaxed than L.A. that there's no comparison. I don't go a day without appreciating the great weather we have here. I love it! And if a great show is playing in L.A., the two hour drive to get there is worth it.

[Lance Monthly] Do you think surf guitar instros are gaining in popularity and may eventually play a more mainstream role?

[Clint Beachwood] I think and hope they are getting more popular, but I don't think they will ever become mainstream. I think surf/instros can be compared to classical, in that one must listen a lot to really gain an appreciation for the genre. Most people will always give it a quick listen and blow it off. Unless you're a true fan of the style, you'll never stick around long enough to pick up on the difference between the Ventures and the Challengers, for example. AND . . . people love to "sing along" to songs. You can't sing along to an instrumental, you just have to listen and enjoy, and not enough people are patient enough to do that. One must love the sound of instruments for what it is. For some reason, I've always enjoyed instrumentals more. I guess they allow my mind to go where ever the it wants and the song can have different meanings at different times, depending on one's current situation in life. Vocals on the other hand, force you to go to where ever the lyrics take you, which is the same every time you listen.

[Lance Monthly] Clint, do you have any final thoughts?

[Clint Beachwood] Knowing that surf/instro bands don't make huge amounts of income from playing this genre (as demonstrated so well by the musician jokes that recently passed through Cowabunga), I just wanted to express my deep-down, sincerest appreciation to all of them who continue to make this awesome music for those of us who truly love it! It's obvious that much personal MONEY and TIME goes into writing, playing, recording, promoting, practicing, traveling, etc. for the love of the music. I just want the bands to know that it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! Playing their music on my little radio show is just one way of paying them back for providing me countless hours of listening enjoyment. I, for one, cannot get enough of it!


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