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The garibaldi did it

Touchstones for the album: the Sandals ‘Endless Summer Theme’ and the cool melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobím and Burt Bacharach

Darius Degher surfing
Darius Degher surfing

The new album from Darius Degher (Sham Saints, Darius & the Magnets) features instrumental music inspired by surfing. “Groundswell Corduroy is a low-temperature variant of surf-rock,” he says, “the teen effervescence long gone, but it is ocean music nevertheless. It’s a step into the tones of sixties instrumental pop. Touchstones for the album were the Sandals ‘Endless Summer Theme’ and the cool melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobím and Burt Bacharach. I tried to evoke these references, in order to get at the dreamscapes of surfing, through the twang of Gretsch guitars, cinematic melodies, and lush reverbs.”

Degher played and recorded with Warren Zevon (Sentimental Hygiene, Bad Karma, etc) before embarking on a solo career and releasing several CDs, beginning with Cardboard Confessional (Gold Castle/Capitol Records). A video for the album track “White Boy Raving” was aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes, making Billboard Magazine’s Top Twenty Video List. In addition to his solo albums, his band the Sham Saints features Michael Packard from Darius and the Magnets, their local 1980s new wave act who released an EP and then a single on Big Time Records of Australia. In 2017, the Magnets song “Saturday at 3PM” was heard in the film Pitching Tents, which is set in 1984.

Groundswell Corduroy contains a full hour of surf-lounge-chill. “I hope you’ll put it on while sipping a cocktail at sunset or while driving down the coast with the breeze on your skin,” he says of the album, which is so unlike the Magnets or his previous solo records that he’s putting it out under a pseudonym. “I chose a new artist persona for it: The Westwatcher.”

He explains the moniker’s origin. “My sixteenth summer, I started surfing. I didn’t grow up at the beach, but my family moved here when I turned sixteen. I’d never given much thought to surfing. In fact, I was a weak swimmer with a vague fear of the ocean. Baseball had been the sport of my youth. But when we moved, I missed high school baseball tryouts and started surfing that summer. I never played baseball again. Instead, I was in the ocean every day, learning the ways of the waves. With adolescent passion at your back, you can learn pretty quickly. Even something as complex as surfing.”

“I rode my first proper wave soon after that. I still remember it, a right-hander at Swami’s. As I came inside over the reef, a small school of garibaldi swam under my board, welcoming me to the surfing life. I was besotted. Through the remaining years of high-school, I surfed whenever there were waves. I trimmed high and fast on water walls, stalled to wait for lips in low-tide tubes. I waited out the wind, watched the swells increase and die. My senses synced to moon and tide, to the eel grass waving above the reef. I was a surfer.”

Non-surfing life did eventually intervene. “There were girls, music, travel. I lived in other cities at times, became a family man. But even when the nearest surf break was hours away and other things occupied my mind, the surfing life was part of my dreams. And now, these decades later, I’m still paddling out and gliding on the morning glass, still scanning the horizon for a set, still wondering what’s beyond the next wave.”

Degher’s daughter Cleopatra Degher was 20 when she released her own debut EP in summer 2012. Another daughter, Cordelia Degher, is also a recording artist. The sisters joined together for a new duo in 2020, Stark Shay, with a debut release, We Begin Again.

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Darius Degher surfing
Darius Degher surfing

The new album from Darius Degher (Sham Saints, Darius & the Magnets) features instrumental music inspired by surfing. “Groundswell Corduroy is a low-temperature variant of surf-rock,” he says, “the teen effervescence long gone, but it is ocean music nevertheless. It’s a step into the tones of sixties instrumental pop. Touchstones for the album were the Sandals ‘Endless Summer Theme’ and the cool melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobím and Burt Bacharach. I tried to evoke these references, in order to get at the dreamscapes of surfing, through the twang of Gretsch guitars, cinematic melodies, and lush reverbs.”

Degher played and recorded with Warren Zevon (Sentimental Hygiene, Bad Karma, etc) before embarking on a solo career and releasing several CDs, beginning with Cardboard Confessional (Gold Castle/Capitol Records). A video for the album track “White Boy Raving” was aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes, making Billboard Magazine’s Top Twenty Video List. In addition to his solo albums, his band the Sham Saints features Michael Packard from Darius and the Magnets, their local 1980s new wave act who released an EP and then a single on Big Time Records of Australia. In 2017, the Magnets song “Saturday at 3PM” was heard in the film Pitching Tents, which is set in 1984.

Groundswell Corduroy contains a full hour of surf-lounge-chill. “I hope you’ll put it on while sipping a cocktail at sunset or while driving down the coast with the breeze on your skin,” he says of the album, which is so unlike the Magnets or his previous solo records that he’s putting it out under a pseudonym. “I chose a new artist persona for it: The Westwatcher.”

He explains the moniker’s origin. “My sixteenth summer, I started surfing. I didn’t grow up at the beach, but my family moved here when I turned sixteen. I’d never given much thought to surfing. In fact, I was a weak swimmer with a vague fear of the ocean. Baseball had been the sport of my youth. But when we moved, I missed high school baseball tryouts and started surfing that summer. I never played baseball again. Instead, I was in the ocean every day, learning the ways of the waves. With adolescent passion at your back, you can learn pretty quickly. Even something as complex as surfing.”

“I rode my first proper wave soon after that. I still remember it, a right-hander at Swami’s. As I came inside over the reef, a small school of garibaldi swam under my board, welcoming me to the surfing life. I was besotted. Through the remaining years of high-school, I surfed whenever there were waves. I trimmed high and fast on water walls, stalled to wait for lips in low-tide tubes. I waited out the wind, watched the swells increase and die. My senses synced to moon and tide, to the eel grass waving above the reef. I was a surfer.”

Non-surfing life did eventually intervene. “There were girls, music, travel. I lived in other cities at times, became a family man. But even when the nearest surf break was hours away and other things occupied my mind, the surfing life was part of my dreams. And now, these decades later, I’m still paddling out and gliding on the morning glass, still scanning the horizon for a set, still wondering what’s beyond the next wave.”

Degher’s daughter Cleopatra Degher was 20 when she released her own debut EP in summer 2012. Another daughter, Cordelia Degher, is also a recording artist. The sisters joined together for a new duo in 2020, Stark Shay, with a debut release, We Begin Again.

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