Jamie Brisick by Kane Skennar
An AllSwell Music Interview
There are surfers and there are writers. And then there’s Jamie Brisick. With prose as compelling as his surfing is fluid, this is one articulate dude.
His books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New York Times, and The Guardian. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. None of this is shabby.
We talked to Brisick recently as a kick off to our new series of interviews and correlating playlists. Reared on a diet of Richard Hell and Iggy Pop, Brisick has the musical taste of a renaissance man. Jazz in the morning, punk in the afternoon and get busy to The Pogues (time of day not specified).
Read on, stream the playlist and enjoy…
What’s your go-to coffee-tea-me music / first listen of the day?
Germs GI played very loud. I've graduated from Wim Hof into a weights/calisthenics routine punctuated wwith lighter held to hand, inspired by G. Gordon Liddy. The smell of burning flesh in the morning...
Do you listen to music while you create or do you consider that a distraction?
Usually not, though sometimes classical, free jazz, or minimalist stuff. Steve Reich accompanies my writing routine nicely. I can't work to lyrics, they mess with the ones I'm trying to compose.
Old school question. What were you listening to in Junior High? And be honest.
Richard Hell and the Voidoids.
Impressive. Okay, first concert you ever went to?
Iggy Pop at Stardust Ballroom.
And your most recent live show?
Love love love her. Do you have certain music that puts you in the mood to create?
Great lyricists. Bob Dylan was my first brush with the power of language.
And, what music puts you in the mood for nookie?
A. Junkfood sex?
B. Lovey dovey?
Consistent. Who are your musical muses? Who inspires you / influences your work?
We love a good roadtrip. What musical memories do you have from roadtrips past?
Dylan's Empire Burlesque reducing me to tears and helping me to process my brother's death in the southwest of France.
God bless. Top live music moment?
Jello Biafra's stage dive, Dead Kennedys at the Whiskey circa 1981.
Full-tilt epic. First album you ever bought with your own money?
Blue Magic, self titled album. It was beautifully sad, and it taught me that sadness can be a lovely companion.
Was music a big part of how you grew up? What was the soundtrack from your early youth?
Zep, Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Aerosmith. They went nicely with skateboarding.
Do you have older siblings? How did they or your parents inform your taste in music?
Yes, my brothers got me into punk.
Quick: Vinyl, Cassette or Digital? Don’t think just answer.
Best lyricist? Barry Manilow to Solange, nobody is off limits except Springsteen. Too predictable.
Favorite music venue?
Some of Brisick's work can be found at jamiebrisick.com. His books are available on Amazon. His instagram handle is @jamiebrisick. He is presently working on an essay titled "On Leaving with a Bang." It begins as follows –
I might have been taking my cues from Tom Waits.
In the song "Frank’s Wild Years," Frank does not quietly exit the house he shares with his wife and chihuahua, he douses it with gasoline, torches it, and sits in his car across the street laughing as it burns “all Halloween orange and chimney red.” When I left my first relationship at the stunted age of 25, I did not leave in a dignified manner, I drank through a bottle of red wine, shouted horrible things...