Kai Katchadourian (US-33 Quatro / Simmer) is one of Ho’okipa favorite sons, and a long time PWA competitor since making his debut back in 1991. ‘Flykatcher’, known for his massive backloop’s and furious attack on the lip, is also a big hitter on the music scene, playing with rock band Anaesthesia, who’ve opened gigs for acts like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Metallica. A phenomenal achievement was also marked when he won ‘The Battle of the Hands’ drumming contest in 2003, with an astounding 907 single strokes in 60 seconds! Here Kai tells us about his music, his passion for global wave hunting, and where his competitive aspirations lie.
So why Flykatcher?
‘Well Flykatcher came from my old roommate Brett Lickle when we lived at Mike Waltze's house in Haiku back in the day. At first I was just called "Fly" since I was a huge fan of "Flea" from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and was a little skinny punk as well. One flat windless day at home I was trying to imitate Mr.Miyagi from the "Karate' Kid" (remember he could catch fly’s with chopsticks?) It then stuck because of my tendency to do huge backloop’s, and play mad fast drum beats, so then after a few years it came up again thru a rather peculiar fin I designed after that name, and the new generation of kids pretty much identified with it straight away and here we are!’
How do you divide your time between music and windsurfing?
‘It’s a very diverse combination due to the differences and dynamics involved. I try to begin the day behind the drums, unless the surf is really firing somewhere and I go on dawn patrol. Its a great way to jump start your mind and loosen up, and in my case with some of what I am playing, its a fantastic workout. Some of the intense double kick patterns these days is not unlike running sprints, possibly more intense with some of the hand patterns thrown in. Sailing nowadays I see what’s coming on the swell maps, and am able for the most part to predict a fair bit in advance. Anytime I can get a full day in on the water and some time behind the kit, sometimes even playing live, is a great day I know that much. They both go together really well actually’
I heard you're based in Europe a lot of the year - you seem to be based in a lot of places in fact?
Yeah, I’m in what I call a yearly seasonal migratory pattern. So...
January – March I’m based in Finland – I’ve a dual citizenship - living with my girlfriend Anni, helping promote Rocket Shells drums, and awaiting swells to hit Cabo Verde. When they do, I’m there to go sail, surf and tow surf as well as explore the other islands with Josh Angulo. That’s the best time of year there and being based in Finland allows me a quick launching pad to get there when the conditions happen – it’s heaps easier than coming over from Maui anyway!
Last January Josh and I scored the best sessions ever at Ali Babba and Curral Joul. There’ve been many memorable moments. Being in Finland and knowing when to go is the key for that. Finland is also truly the metal capitol of the world right now, and I have my eyes open for any established bands that may need my services as a drummer.
April – June I’m on Maui during prime-time Ho’okipa season; keeping my tracks fresh, doing photo shoots and testing equipment and so forth. I find that Maui is still the best place to be this time of year. There may be a trip somewhere below the equator during this time if the budget allows, like Tahiti or Indo.
Come June – August I’ll be in several places during this time, mainly California and Finland again. I’m the North American distributor for Simmer. That’s a huge responsibility that I take very seriously and during these months I’m easily found at the main San Francisco Bay spots, or at the docks in Oakland unloading huge boxes of sails bound for shops across the country. I can also be found at my parent's summer home back in Finland - the origin of my Windsurfing experiences - chopping wood for the sauna and getting some quality time in with my family and girlfriend. We have a super nice place there, right on the water, two hours outside Helsinki in a group of small outer islands. This is where I met Anni, so we try to spend some time there together, and I’m planning on starting a Windsurf Summer school for the local kids and folk there, as its just such a great place to sail, and fits right in with the program.
In September Northern California's finest moments are likely to occur, and there is no place I'd rather be then at Waddell or Davenport when there’s a NW wind and South swell running. These are prime sessions, and its great to get ready for Maui as well because usually Ho’okipa is still hibernating, so aside from keeping my networks with Simmer stocked, I’ll be ripping with the local crews and catching a few 49er games as well. In fact one of my sponsors, Monster Cable, owns the rights to the ballpark, so tickets are never a problem! I also get to work on some drum stuff at the Rocket Shells factory in Sacramento - about 2 hours drive inland.
October- December it’s back to Maui, and as its usually been about four months away, the feeling of getting back to Hawaii is unreal, and I must say its the kind of place you need to leave from time to time to learn to appreciate. So I savour every moment. Contest or no contest it’s the place I’ve called home for 20 years now, and my roots with the island are deep.
How do you compare rhythm on the water to that of when you're in a percussive frenzy?
Rhythm on the water is dependant on several factors and many things can throw it off or on, but I actually like sailing in crowded conditions, as I liken it to being in a mosh pit at a show. If you think you are just going to gybe on my wave and pretend to look down the line like you don’t see me, you’re in for a spraydown, or sometimes worse! Percussive frenzy is achieved in a controlled environment, but all the same it’s a frenzy, yes.
But, that’s not all that drumming is about to me, as playing certain types of music you can really lock into a grove and then it feels like you’re not even trying. Being in rhythm with the elements during sailing has happened like that as well. I can say that in Cabo Verde, for instance, some of the sessions I’ve scored all by myself leave you with that same feeling. You’re out there on a different level of thought, totally in tune with the elements, and all of a sudden these beats start going off in my head - kind of tribal in fact. These type of sessions are the best, but I still want to go do battle at Ho’okipa too, its just part of the overall program, and I could not be without it.
What are your windsurfing goals?
Right now I’d really like to get into the Cabo Verde event! That said, if that can’t happen, then I think that staying the path that I am on is going to be fine. Klaus Simmer told me once, "you and where you are coming from will take you to where you are going". I like where I’ve been, and I like where it seems to be taking me. Competition is not everything.
Most windsurfers would be jealous of who you get to hang out with at the beach. Don't be modest now, but who'd they be amazed that you know from the music scene?
With Rocket Shells I’ve had the opportunity to meet all my heroes over the ten years we’ve been doing the NAMM trade show in L.A. As far a who I know on a first name basis, we’ve hung out a bit with Stephen Perkins, drummer from Jane's Addiction, and also Jose from Incubus. A good friend of mine from high school, Jason Slater, is a known producer now who works with bands like A Perfect Circle and produced Good Charlotte. The list goes on, but the novelty kind of wears out because you realize they’re just normal people in the end and really value being treated as such.
Mucho Mahalos Kai. Kiitoksia ajaksi sinun aika ja kilvoittelu.
© PWA / Brian McDowell