Jack Johnson is a surfer turned filmmaker turned musician. When he was knocked out by a chunk of coral underwater in a surfing competition, he decided to start surfing just for the beauty and the fun of it and make movies about surfing instead of competing. In the meantime, he wrote a few songs (including a hit single for G-Love and Special Sauce), put them on a CD, and passed a few out to his friends. Seriously, that’s it. Everyone liked it so much that he got more and more requests and started getting calls from record companies.
We read about his sympathy for a truckload of chickens in an interview on RollingStone.com, so we contacted him. He’s inspiring as a sympathetic person and as someone who is making his dreams happen. We don’t want to spoil the ending for you, so we won’t tell anymore. Just read the interview:
peta2: We were really interested in talking to you after reading your comment in Rolling Stone about your cutting back on eating meat—can you tell me about that? Was there a certain incident that prompted you? . . .
JJ: I had some bad chicken nachos in New Orleans one time a couple of years ago, and the next day I was driving and I saw these chickens in the cages in the back of a semi truck, and they all kind of didn’t look like real chickens—their heads were hanging out of the cages and they looked pretty wretched. I just felt so bad for them as animals, and they also didn’t look very good to eat, either. … And then also this movie called Baraka. This movie called Baraka shows inside the chicken factories and stuff. It’s pretty disturbing, too. It’s about the little baby chicks, and they throw them on this conveyer belt and they get their beaks sliced off so they can’t peck each other. It’s a pretty intense movie. . . .
peta2: What is your favorite meal or food?
JJ: I like burritos, I like Mexican food a lot. California has a lot of good Mexican food.
peta2: When considering surfers and skateboarders as a group of people, there seems to be a much bigger percentage of vegetarians than in other groups of athletes. Why do you think that is?
JJ: I can see with surfers that they are pretty connected with nature usually, just spending so much time out in nature. … I know I spend a lot time out in nature myself in the water, and you get to know animals better and you get to know humans sometimes. … When I am out in Hawaii, there is a lot of agricultural land around, and there are these cows that are at the end of my driveway. My next-door neighbor has some cows. I watch them every day. At one point of the day when the sun is at the one side of the yard, they are all hanging out in this one corner. I always ride my bike out on the way to surfing or wherever I am going, and I always hang out with these cows for a little while. They are really friendly.
peta2: They are good company.
JJ: They are good company. You just appreciate them too much as living things to eat them.
peta2: Do you have a cause or causes that are important to you?
JJ: I like to try to help out as much as I can, even if it’s a cause that I just learned about. A lot of the times it’s finding out, if it is a benefit concert, how much of the money is actually going to the cause. … I find that most of the time people approach you with causes that are good, but what I’ve spent most of my time with is … environmental issues that concern the ocean, just because that’s where I spend a lot of my time. Sometimes I spend time with a group called Heal the Ocean, which is a group in Santa Barbara, and then I surf out of Palm Beach a little bit. … We just started working with this group called One Percent for the Planet. The guy who owns Patagonia started it up. Where 1 percent of all your sales goes toward nonprofit organizations.
peta2: Yeah, Patagonia is a great company.
JJ: Yeah, They are really cool. Been working with them and getting to know them and it’s been pretty neat. The owner is a wonderful guy. And I have done stuff with an elementary school in Hawaii that I went to. We did it the last two Christmases to raise money for a music teacher and [went] around and played at different schools in either elementary or high school. I’ve played in the classrooms for the kids and talked to them about following their dreams.
peta2: What is your advice to young fans?
JJ: Just, whether it’s music or not, I always say that I am an example of someone who doesn’t have to have a “real” job—you can kind of keep playing around when you get older and the whole idea is to really spend a lot of time just doing what you like to do when you are young. If that means drawing pictures or if it’s making movies with video cameras or if it is an instrument—drums, guitar, or whatever—just spend as much time as you can doing it when you are young. If it seems like you’re playing around and not practicing—that’s when you know you really love it.
peta2: You have a great life story already—what do you want your next chapter to be?
JJ: I don’t think it would necessarily be anything in the public eye. It’s all been really exciting, but I never thought that I would do anything that would bring so much attention to me. Doing the surf movies is kind of a nice in-between. You get recognition for something you’re spending your time at, but it’s not like you’re the star—you’re just kind of behind the camera. When I was doing the surf movies, that was nice. And then the music is really cool and it’s exciting to get to do it, but it’s definitely a pretty quick turn from what I thought I was going to be doing. And so I think the next chapter will be something a little less in the public eye. Want to be the first to know what’s up next for Jack Johnson and all your favorite bands? Sign up for our monthly e-news now.