It is only natural Andy Powers’ skill in woodworking spills over into his love for surfing. Shown here is Andy with one of his Alaia surfboards, minimally finned. Photo courtesy Chuck Schmid/Surfshot.com
ing it. Te first couple of weeks aſter a guitar is done, its vibrating a certain way from the person playing it will completely change the way it sounds. Tere was a recording Elvis Costello made (using a ukulele I created) with Emmy Lou Harris singing and when I heard it, I thought…“I remember building that ukulele, but I don’t remem- ber it sounding that good.” Something in the way he played or had been playing it, had his unique touch on it. It was a great feeling.
Guitars aside, let’s discuss your activities in the ocean, especially surfing. How has surfing influenced and in- spired your life?
It has influenced my
wave; you can feel every lit tle flex and move- ment. It feels like you are flow ing with the wave. It is a really dynamic kind of experi- ence.
How did you get into long-distance ocean pad dling? When I was in high school a Velzy life-
Peter Sprague with his Andy Powers built twin-neck guitar. Photo: Josh the Web Guy
taste in inlay art, and it re- ally gives me an outlet to stay healthy. Also it gives me so much inspiration when watching a dolphin—the beauty of their arc, or a lip throwing out or a surfer drawing a line or pulling into a barrel…it feels like music.
How did shap ing surfoards come about for you?
It really was just out of curios ity and
want ing to try a few new things. My brother and I had a small busi ness, when we were groms, mak ing minia ture long boards, out of wood, that we sold to surf shops. So, there has always been a bit of surf board exper- i men ta tion, although I wouldn’t con sider myself a real shaper by any means. Tere are guys who are shap ing some fan tas tic boards, and I like rid ing those boards. I only shape some thing when I want to try some thing re- ally different.
Tell us about these Ala ia surfoards you’ve been mak ing lately.
“Andy Powers really knows how to build incredible gui- tars. I have this wild twin neck guitar that is an engineer- ing wonder and plays like a charm. I also have a beauti- ful Koa wood nylon guitar that he built for me that is so liberated it actually plays when I’m not even touching it. Add into his beautiful instruments, this fellow is one of the most kind and thoughtful humans walking the earth. Plus he surfs big Blacks and plays great guitar. I’m stoked to have him as a friend.”
—Peter Sprague, Master Guitarist Leucadia, California
My brother got the idea to try one of
these, so I bought some wood for him to make one. Tat first one didn’t ride too well for me, but it was fun enough to try to make some bet ter ones. What I’ve been rid ing lately is a combination—a real mutt of a board! I’ve been lam i nat ing a blank of balsa and sal vaged red wood, like the old Pacific Sys tem Homes boards. Tey are thin and flex i ble like an alaia, but with the bot- tom con tours of a Simmons-built spoon. My favorite one even has two small “fin lets,” those lit tle ellip ti cal fins you see on the Sim- mons. Te bot tom has a long sin gle con cave, almost the entire length of the board, with a beveled rail. Te rails have a hard cor ner onto that bot-
tom bevel, then grad u ally blend ing into a very turned up rail near the nose. Te whole thing is pretty small, about 6’3” x 15.5” and a lit tle less than an inch thick. It is a ridicu- lously fun thing to ride on a small glassy
guard board ended up at our house for a sum mer. I enjoyed tak ing that out on windy days, just going for the chal lenge of be- ing out in the ocean with all the chop. Tat board ended up dis ap pear ing, and a few years ago I started get ting back into it on a proper stock board—partly to enjoy the ocean in a diff er ent way, partly for the exer- cise aspect and partly to sat isfy the crav ing of get ting wet even when there’s not surf that is good for riding.
Do you find a cor re la tion between your music life and your surfi ng life?
Absolutely I do. Some times it is a very di-
rect influ ence; I might inlay waves or splash- ing water to dec o rate a gui tar. Or, it could be a lit tle more abstract and find par al lels between the line some one draws on a wave and the ebb and flow of a melody. In some sit u a tions, musi cian friends are also surfi ng buddies.
What are you most proud of? My wife and I had a lit tle boy a few months
ago, and we are quite ecsta tic with the addi- tion to our family.
Where do you find inspi- ra tion?
It is pretty hard to
look around and not find inspi ra tion in some- thing. My instru ment mak ing is directly influ- enced by music I might play or lis ten to, other instru ments I’ve heard or an artist’s work. I love beau ti ful sculp ture; those Sim mons boards
are pretty amaz ing. Being in the water is a refresh ingly inspi ra tional expe ri ence for me.
* * * Having been through the process of re-
searching, interviewing, writing and laying out this article on Andy Powers, I discov- ered nothing can be overstated about the talent and soul of this brilliant young man. Anything and everything one can dig up to read or hear first hand about Andy’s extraor- dinary talents, not only as a fine craſtsman, musician and surfer, but as a human being as well, is all true. When you really think of it, there’s not many people you can truly say this about. And there is so much more to say about Andy that could ever be covered here. A virtual walking encyclopedia on gui-
tars, music, and probably any subject in which one wishes to delve, Andy is always at the top of his game...an
d everything ema- nating from him is so effortlessly positive it is truly inspiring just to be around the man, soaking up his good vibrations. So keep a sharp eye out and a tuned ear on
the progress of this fellow. He’s only 30 years old and has so much more to accomplish in life and offer the world. And the world is definitely a much better place with Andy Powers in the mix.
For more information visit: www.taylorguitars.com
Andy rides his Alaia board. Photo: Chuck Schmid / SurfShot.com
The Ocean Magazine • February/March 2012 25
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