CT Championship Tour (CT) surfer Conner Coffin released his freshman EP this week, titled Conner Coffin & Friends, which features six covers -- the most popular being Knockin' on Heaven's Door. All the songs featured are a homage to Coffin's upbringing in the cruisy town of Santa Barbara alongside icons like Tom Curren. Although Coffin doesn't plan on giving up his surfing career for music anytime soon, the EP offered a different outlet for the 24-year-old.
Currently in Brasil awaiting the start of the Oi Rio Pro, Coffin took some time to reflect on the album's release:
The World Surf League: When did you start playing music?
Conner Coffin: I got into playing guitar a little bit when I was about 10 years old. I had a friend, JP, that played. My grandma bought me a little nylon string guitar and he showed me a few chords. I picked it up a bit from there, but got pretty frustrated in a few lessons, so I would go through phases of playing from then until I was 18. When I saw the Rolling Stones live when I was 18 everything changed and I was all in on playing guitar. At the same time I had a few friends who were playing in bands at home and a lot of free time traveling doing the WQS (WSL Qualifying Series) and other trips around the world. I started bringing a guitar with me everywhere I went, and was hard-pressed to put it down.
What motivated you to make an EP?
Julien Garros runs Tmade studios, which is [Emmy-winning composer] Snuffy Walden's studio, and he saw that I'd been really into music. He invited me down to come check out the studio, geek out on Snuff's gear and also jam with Snuffy. We hit it off and had a blast playing together and they asked me if I'd want to record some songs there. I was pretty shy about everything and wasn't really sure if anyone would want to hear it, but they convinced me to go for it and we went from there.
Are the other featured artists mainly friends of yours? How did you all get connected?
I actually surfed with Snuffy's son, Connor, way back when in NSSA and had met Snuff a few times, so we knew each other a bit that way. Zach Doiron, who I did Ooh La La with, has been one of my good friends for years and one of the people that put up with me when I was a really bad guitar player. We've jammed a bunch over the years and he has played in several bands around Santa Barbara (Spoonful is his latest project). So it was great to do a song with him.
Logistically it was really hard to get other musicians I'm friends with in the studio, so Julien and Snuffy introduced me to a lot of the other people that played on it. It was really cool, because in a few cases we met and really hit it off and then it was super easy to start playing with each other. It was a really great experience to make several new friends through music and how fast we got to know each other through a day at the studio. I feel like music is such a cool way to bring people together and although you all may have different backgrounds you share this commonality that gives you this instant connection.
What is it about these songs that made you want to include them?
They're all songs that I grew up listening to as a kid and bring back different memories of growing up. Knockin' on Heaven's Door was aimed at the gun violence our country has been going through lately. I've been so fed up with seeing headlines about shootings so that was definitely a stab at that. Oooh La La is a song that just reminds me of growing up, my dad, my family, and learning lessons the hard way. But like I said, each one just relates to something and in that way, although they aren't songs I've written, I felt inspired to perform them even though they are covers.
How would you describe your music?
What was really cool about this opportunity is that I really grew as a musician through the experience. I played with so many amazing musicians that are really good at what they do and it inspired me to play more and progress as a singer. I did an EP of covers because I don't think I've really found "my music" yet. I know the kind of music that I like, which is rock and roll, blues, southern rock, all of that sort of stuff. I also dig a lot of punk rock, Social D was and is one of my favorite bands. So I'm still just exploring writing music and creating music that's an expression of myself. But this experience helped me a lot in finding that and I hope soon I'll have a handful of songs that I've written.
Is this something you see yourself pursuing more aggressively in the future?
I will always play music and I will always do it as a hobby while I'm surfing. For now so much of my passion, creativity, and drive is focused toward surfing and I'm really enjoying the Tour and focused on that career. That being said, I have a ton of time on the road where playing music is such a great way to use that time. It's a creative outlet and something that I can always do. I love that a guitar can always be there and if you feel inspired you can pick it up, where sometimes I'm so inspired to surf but the waves are flat. I would love to play live more, and keep working towards writing and recording my own songs in the future. I also just love jamming with people and would love to have more connections in the world to do so.
What song are you most proud of?
On the EP I'm really happy with Knockin' on Heaven's Door. It came together so naturally and totally took on a life of it's own in the studio playing with Will Walden. I've always loved that song and I felt like without trying, we were able to capture a unique sound on that track. I was also happy that there was a message in that song that I felt was really applicable to the times.
Conner Coffin & Friends is available on ITunes and Spotify. You can also watch Coffin surf live daily at the upcoming Oi Rio Pro March 11-20 on WSL.com and Facebook.