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By: Michael Lara

“Hold on tight. Don’t let go. I’ll be there in just another minute now. It won’t be long.” In so many ways, these reassuring words bathed in soothing sounds courtesy of Nigel B. Swifte equally explain the immediate and immense warmth and calm from one of Ventura, California’s latest promoters of ocean-based sanity. In the greater Tokyo area for some days along with a few other shipmates from Hawaii and California to promote his latest release The Calm, Ted Lennon (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and his pops Tom (mandolin, ukulele) slide into the antithesis of ocean serenity-The famously seedy Dogenzaka district of Shibuya. Upon finishing delivery of a deliciously smooth family galley affair to an intimately table-seated crew, Ted sits back and shares the grog of life alongside Buffalo-Records captain and fellow shipmate Doug Alsopp:

Thirsty: I know that guy Doug. Cannot place his name.

Doug: Oh that’s Keith Cahoon.

Thirsty: Ah yeah, that’s it man. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him. He does Hot Wire Japan right?

Doug: Well, he’s doing both iTunes Japan and Hotwire Japan.
Ted: Yeah, (looking at all) he’s a nice guy. And he was involved with Tower Records (Japan) for a while right?
Doug: Yeah, he was head of Tower for about 10 years or so.

Thirsty: He knows man…

Ted: He knows the business (smoothly said with a slight smile). And that’s cool because it’s good when you find… Well, the industry is like a spider web. When you find good people, the ones that know the industry, but are cool, they’re not out to fuck you over, that’s when you are onto a good thing. I’ve found through you Doug that you have a good spider web going.

Thirsty: He does indeed. You may not know this Ted, but we’re both from the Kamakura crew. Well, until my house burned down last year that is.

Ted Lennon - photo: Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Doug: It was a cool house too (nodding his head to Ted).
Ted: Oh no…an old house?

Thirsty: Ah yeah man, 80 years, plus good acoustics you’d appreciate (chuckling).

Ted: Wow man, how sad. I’m sorry to hear that.

Thirsty: Thanks for that man. It’s okay now, but you would have liked that crib: We used to have many crazy big beach house parties there. As you know, it’s a California transport thing and having a hundred people in a house in Japan is not normal (all laughing).

Doug: I think his neighbors burned down his house too (big grin).

Thirsty: Maybe.

Ted: Did you figure out what happened?

Thirsty: Nah.

Ted: What are the chances man? That’s so weird.

Thirsty: Yeah 20 firefighters, 3 engines, 12 police guys… It’s a horrible reason to be in the paper. But we were lucky it was a full moon and no winds that night. There are a lot of old wood homes in the neighborhood and they would’ve gone up too.

Doug: Ah yeah, right across the street.
Ted: So are you still figuring out what to do?

Thirsty: Yeah, he knows, my heart is still in Kamakura.

Ted: Totally man.

Thirsty: Kamakura to me is like the Ventura of Japan.

Ted: Yeah, totally, when I was there, it gave me the same feeling. I mean, some of the places I grew up man. You know like Seaward area…like Pierpont?

Thirsty: Yeah man, I used to hang in that area. 

Tom and Ted Lennon - photo: Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Ted: Do you know any of the Malloys?

Thirsty: Not personally, but ah, the world is so damn small.

Ted: Totally.

Thirsty: And today I was down in Kamakura, there was no surf whatsoever, absolutely nothing, but it was nice to just swim there a bit. Do you get wet much?

Ted: Oh yeah, I surf at least once a week. It depends on the waves. I haven’t surfed Japan yet, but everyone tells me there are some good waves.

Thirsty: Check this out what I found today on the beach…

Ted: That’s so pretty. That’s awesome man.

Thirsty: Yeah and it’s still…

Ted: Alive (eyes all big and sparkling).

Thirsty: Ah yeah man, an island it is. It’s like, “Where’s the people (both laughing)?” And if you look on the other side, it’s all shiny.

Ted: It’s like its only little ecosystem.

Thirsty: Totally. If you were to say, what constitutes an ecosystem? If you were to say on the Island of Ted Lennon, what would be the key points to snorkel, surf?

Ted: On this thing (eyebrows way up)?

Thirsty: Well yeah, I mean, let’s imagine you're the tour director on the double-decker bus…”And here we have…”

Ted: Well, first of all, I wouldn’t be in a double-decker tour bus (chuckling). Let’s get me out of that and then maybe then I’ll be more comfortable. Okay?

Thirsty: Sure man.

Ted: I’d probably be walking or riding on a bike, probably not doing the tour bus thing (chuckling again).

Thirsty: What would be the highlights?

Ted: All the natural surroundings are always the most beautiful thing. You know, anything you can point to that’s been here for thousands of years, whether it’s a mountain or volcano or the water that’s been there forever. All that stuff that’s eternal is going to be the highlight.

Thirsty: Well, speaking of historical places, is ‘Wild Planet’ (famous record and music memorabilia, etc. shop) still there in Ventura?

Ted: Yeah man, it is (a slight chuckle).

Thirsty: Right on. I used to shop there a long, long time ago. Good to know man. So in thinking of these good memories, what makes your island now?

Ted: You mean, what constitutes my own island?

Thirsty: Exactly.

Ted: So, like what’s my island like? So, basically what’s my life like?

Thirsty: Sure. You can take it that way.

Ted: Well, you know, basically everyone’s got their own island, you know. That’s what we are. It’s like that Paul Simon song, “I am a rock. I am an island.” I think that, uh, you know, to my thoughts right now, lately they have really been going to my family. I have a 2-year old son and I have another baby on the way.

Thirsty: Congratulations man.

Ted: Thanks. So, I definitely just have been soaking up that experience. Cuz’ when a kid comes into the picture, that becomes your island (big beaming smile and laughter). It keeps you, you know, focused. So that’s a big part of things and uh, you know, just trying to stay healthy. Keeping a good attitude about life. I think surfing helps do that as does just getting in the water as you did today. You’re baptized every time you go in. It’s a rebirth.

Thirsty: And even if it’s just for the shortest space of time too…

Ted: Absolutely, it changes your whole frame of mind.

Thirsty: Why do you think it’s such a christening?

Ted: Well, it’s just like returning to the womb-We come from water, you know. That’s our most natural state, you know, in our earliest form. We began in water. I have a song that says that when we die, you know, we return to the water. That’s what I think makes it such a christening. There’s something familiar there, subconscious almost.


Whether returning to the sea or his island, it won’t ever be long as this lesser known Lennon helps you imagine deeply likewise. For further chill time with this seafarer that Mike Scott would gladly have onboard his ship:




All opinions expressed by Michael Lara are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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