From surfing around the world to playing around the world, Donavon Frankenreiter has done it all. Donavon has teamed up with friend Devon Allman (son of Gregg Allman) for a new EP called Rollers and a unique tour that will see them play all 50 states in 49 days. While prepping for the tour, Donavon took some time to talk about all of it.
Please press the PLAY icon below for the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Donavon Frankenreiter –
On meeting and working with Devon Allman – This is the first time we worked on a project together. I met him probably six years ago at Americana Fest. Then for the last couple years, I’ve been touring with him at the end of the year doing his Allman Family Revival shows. Last year on the last one, he came to me at the beginning of the tour and said, “Hey, I know you’re turning 50. I’m 50. Would you ever want to do this tour? ” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “Let’s go do all 50 States, but we have to do it in 49 days in a row to beat a world record.” I’m like,” Oh shit”. So I said, “Yeah, let’s go for it”. So we’re, I’m actually at his house right now. We’re rehearsing today. We leave tomorrow on the plane and we start Saturday and we do two shows in two different States, then we do one show a day for the next 48 days after that. But while we were on that tour, the Allman Family Revival Tour and I agreed to do this tour with him, I said, “We should have some music to play together”. So we ended up writing some songs on that tour. Luther Dickinson was on that tour playing guitar as well. So he’s like, “Let me produce it”. So he produced it and it just kind of all worked out, it all just kind of came together.
On tying the theme of the record into the tour – We had this idea to do a tour and then I said, “Hey, we got to have some music to play together if we can make it happen, let’s try”. In the process of writing these songs, definitely lyrically, it was all about getting out there and trying to see as much of your community or city or state or the world that you can. Sometimes you don’t have to travel too far to see something different or just encourage people to kind of just get out there and see how beautiful different parts of America are. It’s always fun and inspiring to travel, so sometimes people forget that. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost too much. You can just get in your car and go on a little road trip, and it’s just a beautiful thing. So we’re kind of just talking about that with all the music, getting out there and seeing it all.
On relying on the songs and fans to carry them through the tour – I think collectively more so than that is just the band. Devon’s bringing his drummer, I’m bringing my bass player and we’re joining two bands together to make one and playing one set of music together every night. I think that’s what’s going to carry us through. We hope the fans enjoy it and they love it just as much as us playing it. But I think what’s really key is that we really enjoy this group of songs that we are pulling together. It’s just playing these songs and this is like a one-time thing. We’re going to go and we’re going to attempt to break the world record. Anybody who comes out to see a show is definitely gonna be a part of history and helping us get through and trying to help break this record.
On what fans can expect from the show – We’re definitely doing all the songs off of Rollers most nights and then we’re picking three songs from Devon’s catalog, three from mine, and the band is really great. Devon’s drummer, my bass player, then we have this guy, Daveed Gomez, playing percussion and sax, this guy Jackson Stokes, who’s playing all the different guitar parts and candying up stuff, and then we have amazing openers. Jackson Stokes is opening every night, as well as, I think, every week we have a new opener, and they’re just incredible openers. They will always come up and jam with us if they want to every night as well, we’d love to have them sit in, so, It’s going to be a great show. We’re doing a 75-minute set every night as well because we’re doing 50 in a row. So this isn’t going to be like some 3-hour jam. It’s going to be like, “Hey, here’s a group of songs we’re going to play, and then we’re off to the next city or state”.
On if it was tough to find opening acts to take this journey – No, because they’re just doing a week at a time. So it’s no big deal. Every week is a new opener. We wanted to kind of freshen it up for us. Devon and I didn’t want to ask somebody, “Hey, you want to open up 50 nights in a row?” I think they’ve been like, “What the fuck?” But, it’s cool. It’s going to be really fresh and great and cool for us to see new people every week. We’re excited, man. Devon and I have done a lot of shows in a row, but those tours usually consist of us being on the east coast and we’ll do six gigs in Florida, three in the Carolinas, two in Jersey, four or five in the New York area. This is going to be a little crazy going from state to state, and then flying to Alaska, flying to Hawaii, and then back to LA to finish at a big festival outside of LA on the beach called Beach Life Ranch Festival. So, I don’t know, it’s, we’re going to cover a lot of ground, man. I mean, everybody’s fucking got their part from the bus driver to the agents to the fucking road manager. Everybody’s just like, “We’re ready”. We’re all packed and ready to go, but it’s going to be a hell of a tour.
On if there are parts of the travel they are dreading or looking forward to – The two flights are the ones that scare me the most, because once we get on a plane, it’s kind of out of our control. If the bus breaks down, Devon and I will grab acoustics and fly to the next fucking gig. But if we’re in Alaska and they’re like, “Dude, there ain’t no flights leaving Alaska for two days. Sorry.” We’re going to be fucked. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of there. It’s like a part of attempting to break a record. I’m looking forward to going to upstate New York, Montauk area because we’re going to go surf. I think Honolulu will be cool. We’ll go float in the water in Hawaii. We’re bringing a couple of film guys. We’re bringing a film crew. We’re filming this whole entire thing. We’re going to edit it into like, minute-long updated videos every day. So people can follow along and see kind of what we did. Because we are going to try to collectively do something in every state. We’re going to go try to do whatever the coolest restaurant is, whatever the greatest or coolest artifact is. Maybe there’s a famous record store or famous guitar shop. We want to take people while we’re being filmed almost kind of make them feel like they’re the 7th member of the band. They’re coming along with us. The guy’s going to film from really different angles on stage. It’ll never be from the perspective of a fan out in the audience, it’s going to be like, “Hey, you’re going to be on the bus. You’re going to be backstage. You’re going to be everywhere that normally people don’t see”. So we want to bring them along for the ride and they can see how it all happens.
On if there will be a documentary after the tour – At the end of it, our goal is to have eight episodes for a television series and in every episode it will be like 7 states. I always try to tell people the analogy is like Anthony Bourdain with a guitar and a surfboard. We’re going to fucking see it all and when we can, we’re going to play music and we’re going to surf and we’re going to go and fucking try to eat at the best restaurants and go to the most wild guitar shops and just film it and just bring people along for the journey and show them a piece of America maybe that they haven’t seen and all the different states and also take them on a journey of, letting them be a part of being on the tour bus, being backstage, what happens, I don’t know, we don’t know what can happen, but anything can happen. If somebody self-combusts, we’re going to get that on film and everybody can watch it.
On any physical or mental preparation for the tour – Playing is going to be the easiest part of the night. That’s going to be great. That only lasts an hour and 15 minutes. It’s just the traveling part. But, you just got to get enough sleep. I feel like you get eight hours of sleep every night. None of us drink. Nobody’s partying. We’re just having fun, trying to just kind of cruise and get around. But that’s when you start to kind of get wore out and get sick is if you don’t sleep. So I think just if you sleep and then I do a little thing called Wim Hof breathing. I don’t know if you or any of your listeners ever do that, but you should look that guy up. It’s called Wim Hof. He is an incredible instructor for a breathing technique that I do every morning. It just takes 11 minutes and it really changes your whole perspective. If you’re ever feeling tired, sick, if you ever had anxiety, whatever. You do this breathing technique and it’s fucking life-changing. But anyway, that’s cool. I do that. We try to get out and walk around, move around. I think you just got to keep moving, you either use it or you lose it sort of thing. I always live in the moment, I don’t ever look at this as like, “Oh, where am I going to be on day 49?” It’s like, “Where am I going to be fucking tomorrow? Okay, great. Let’s focus on that.” That’s it, 1 day at a time. We’ll see what happens. I think that’s when you can get a little overwhelmed, if you start to look at the tour dates and you’re like, “Holy shit, like, there is no days off and we are just going to go, go, go”. But it’s interesting. Sometimes when you tour and you’re working every single day, you kind of wake up like 4 weeks into it and go, “Fuck, I can’t believe there’s a month that’s already gone by”. Kind of neat. It’s when you do like three shows and then you have four days off and then four gigs and three days off those are the tours to me that are like, “God damn. It feels like I’ve been out of for a year”. But when you’re just working every day and going that’s what I’m hoping I fucking wake up seven weeks from now. I’m like, “Holy shit. That went by quick”.
On plotting the route of the tour – We wanted a couple of those fucking two show days cause we wanted a little fucking breathing room, but they only gave us one of those and it’s on the very first day and then the rest of the tour is one day at a time. Devon and I just kind of told our agents what we were kind of hoping for, but those are the ones that kind of spun this whole thing together, which was sort of a magic trick because it’s not easy booking 50 shows in a row. If you end up in Montana on a Monday, who the fuck’s coming out on a Monday? You have to place yourself in the right spot at the right time, and then also try to have some fucking anchors on Friday and Saturday nights, so this tour can kind of all make sense.