Heavy Water Tattoo…with Brayton Furlong

Mr. Furlong and his shop

Mr. Furlong at work

Death metal. Tortured demons. Heaving tubes. These are the kinds of things tattoo artist Brayton Furlong lives for. Growing up, Furlong had a knack for not only skillfully riding the bounty of surf in and around Santa Cruz’s East Side, but for art as well. Before long, Furlong had established himself as a reputable fine artist, specializing in glass blowing; travelling around the country displaying his wares and building a name for himself with his unique glass sculptures.   Nowadays, Furlong has switched from glass to the needle, committing himself to the life of a tattoo artist. Almost one year ago, Furlong accomplished his lifelong dream and opened his very own tattoo shop, Heavy Water Tattoo, on East Cliff Drive, a stone’s throw from the rippable waves of 26th avenue. I recently caught up with the focused young man to get the lowdown on his craft.

Ripping artist, ripping surfer

Ripping artist, ripping surfer

 How were you introduced to art?

The furthest back I remember was my second grade teacher at Live Oak Elementary, Bonnie Thurston. I know it sounds funny but she would give me these huge pieces of expensive art paper to practice on. I remember doing a Van Gough piece using pastels. She must have seen something in me so she set up a meeting with my parents back then– she thought they should push me to pursue art.

Blowing glass

Blowing glass

You were a glass artist before tattoo, can you compare the two?

Yes I have been a glass artist going on 14 years now. I would say that the biggest parallel between tattooing and glassblowing is that they are both relatively underground art-forms and are pretty challenging mediums to work with. Being artistic is not enough, you have to have good hand eye coordination as well.

Some of Furlong's glass work

Some of Furlong’s glass work

How did you hone your artistic abilities early on?

I studied with a handful of respected glass artists early on- Loren Stump, Paul Stankard, Henry Halem, Gary Beechum. I went to Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina for several workshops. Then I started working professionally, selling my production work to over 60 accounts nationwide at its peak. Those were primarily craft galleries and gift-shops. Eventually I grew tired of production work and started making fine art sculpture, and that’s when my career really took off. I was able to start showing my work in high level Glass Galleries or (Sofa) Galleries. My work was also featured in several magazines. But to me, one of the biggest achievements was probably the first artist in residence in flameworked glass at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle. That was a huge honor!

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 When did you get into tattoo work? Anyone help you? How was the learning curve and what motivated you to keep practicing?

I got my first tattoo when I was 16 then a year later when I was 17 a friend of mine who was older and had done some prison time taught me to make a walkman motor, guitar string machine. Then I made a few machines myself and tattooed my leg with them. It was punk rock, I didn’t know anything about tattooing and didn’t care. Just wanted to tattoo myself whether it turned out good or bad or if got an infection– I didn’t care. I tattooed myself off and on since then but it wasn’t until years later that I got serious about tattooing.

I became more serious about tattooing when I had injured my knee surfing. I was out of the water for a couple years. I started tattooing myself a ton and that’s when I started wanting to pursue it professionally so I started seeking out an apprenticeship.

I got my first job tattooing as a full time artist in Morgan Hill at Inked Tattoo. I commuted every day and had to hustle being from Santa Cruz– no one knew me out there. I had to go out canvasing the malls and outlets handing out cards and trying to build some clientele, but it worked, and I became very busy at that shop. We also were doing conventions all the time. It was a great thing for my career and I am very grateful to Gus and Faith ( the owners) for that opportunity.

Gotta love Freddy!

Gotta love Freddy!

Describe what you were doing tattoo wise before you opened your shop?

I worked in a few different shops over a handful of years- it was really hard to find the right fit, and I worked in shops over the hill 3 times. Commuting and working over the hill was what I had to do to get my experience. I just wanted to be working in shops- not at home- so that’s what I did. I sacrificed a lot for many years and it was challenging to make it work. Many times I felt like it just wasn’t happening. But I was persistent and determined and just kept working on my skills and kept putting myself out there.

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When did you decide to open your own shop? Tell me how all of that came together

Pretty much since I started tattooing seriously I had been thinking about it. I knew eventually I would. I had even been scouting locations for several years. I was keeping a close eye on a particular location and one day it was vacant, so I jumped on it. I had already told myself when that day came that I would jump on it. It had been 10 years since it was last vacant. I was working at the Black Pearl during that time and those guys were cool and it had been going well there but this was something I had already decided on long before. So I thanked Mike for having me there and he was cool about it! He understood that was the ultimate goal to have your own shop. There was no hard feelings and I still wish them the best over there!

This guy knows a thing or two about Heavy Water!

This guy knows a thing or two about Heavy Water!

Explain the name “Heavy Water” and what it means to you and your tattoo work-

I remember when I was younger watching a Josh Pomer Ruffo section and he was talking about Santa Cruz surfers being core getting up at 5am to surf 50 degree water. That always stuck with me. Our cold water here has a heavy feel to it. Especially when it’s super cold and the waves are big. Hence the name Heavy Water. But I’m also a big metal head so it has multiple meanings to me. I also just liked the sound of it. Nothing to0 flashy or anything– just a solid name that had meaning behind it.

Not a bad way to spend your day working!

Not a bad way to spend your day working!

How business been so far? Any really memorable pieces? What made them special?

My glass career gave me an education in small business, photography and art, so I brought what I learned from that into my tattoo career. I would not have been able to progress as rapidly without doing glass first.

Business has been great!   I am very grateful for every client that walks in my door. I tattoo just about every day and some days I do several. My favorite pieces are usually the big realistic ones that I’ve been doing. I don’t have a favorite but usually the newest one I’m working on is my favorite as I try to make each piece better than the last one I did.

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Describe your tattoo style/influences

I have always been blown away by realistic and surrealistic tattoos—that’s what gets me the most excited. Nothing compares to it in my mind. That style also comes to me the most naturally, so that’s what I’m focusing on the most. However, I enjoy doing different styles and like to be well rounded. It also makes my days interesting to do a few different styles of tattoos in one day. I have many influences but a few of my favorite tattoo artists are Paul Booth, Bob Tyrrell and Carlos Torres.

Local's only! Furlong reaps the rewards

Local’s only! Furlong reaps the rewards

How nice is it to be working so close to a killer area for surfing?

Having grown up surfing First peak every day along with Santa Moe’s and Windnsea and all these waves around here I feel lucky to be able to have my shop so close. It enables me the ability to take surf breaks between appointments which keeps me sane! It’s important for me to enjoy my days, and not be a slave to my job. That’s why people become artists right?! I figure I’ll work till I die, and I’ll spend most of those days alive working so I better love what I do. Or else I would be miserable. Money is nice but it’s not everything. Being happy and fulfilled is way more important to me than a bunch of zeros at the end of my paycheck.

 Plans for the future?

My plan for now is to just keep my head down and to keep doing what I’ve been doing, because that’s what has been working for me so far! I also want to keep pushing myself as an artist and to never stop learning. The learning never stops I will always be a student.

Walk The Line…with James Manss

If you can't take the heat...get outta the kitchen! Manssy center

If you can’t take the heat…get outta the kitchen! Manssy center

If you’ve been surfing in and around Pleasure Point for the past 20 years, you are probably very familiar with the site of 30 year old James Manss attacking the surf with his compact and powerful style. What you might not know about the humble regular footer is that he’s an awesome cook to boot. I caught up with Mannsy recently to discuss his culinary curiosity and passion for makin’ something a dish that leaves you smiling and satisfied. Here’s what he had to say…

Power Player

Power Player

I’ll always remember being a grom at your house and your mom was always baking or cooking something—would you say she’s your primary influence?

That’s where I got it from for sure. I’d say I really started getting serious about in in High School, or thereabouts. I started by watching her and learning technique—from preparation to cooking—she lit the flame. After High School, I went to work tile with my dad, but once the economy crashed I thought about going to culinary school. So I went to Cabrillo for a few semesters. The lady there, one of the teachers, she was the head chef at the Chaminade, and she offered me a job– so I worked there for about a year. That’s where I met Pete, who’s my sous chef now at Solaire at the Paradox Hotel. He kinda took me under his wing.   He became like a coach to me—ya know? But in the beginning it was my mom who got me into it. She went to culinary school in Monterey and work in the Pebble Beach area, then places locally like Michaels on Main and Gayles Bakery. So she had a lot of knowledge and really got me psyched on pursuing it as a career.

Manssy, close to home.

Manssy, close to home….Framegrab-Skimshady

You grew up around so much cooking, did you try to get in the mix as a youngster?

I’d bake with her a little bit, and yeah she’d always show me her recipes, like the stuff she learned from her mom. I would watch her and learn from her. She basically tried to show me everything she could—she could see that I was interested.

Bali Style, whole fish

Bali Style, whole fish

Describe the environment working on “The Line”

It’s intense, it can be really stressful but at the same time it’s a full adrenaline rush—you get psyched! I’m just really stoked on making people happy, making good food, and sending out something that people will enjoy. My focus is just putting my all into any food I make, and hoping that the customers enjoy it. The environment is hectic but rad. It’s not like “Hell’s Kitchen”, where the head Chefs are screaming at you. There’s a little bit of yelling but it’s mainly positive, like “C’mon, hustle up! Let’s get this goin!”…just keeping everyone in that productive mode. But yeah, it can be gnarly, I’ve definitely burned myself a lot (points out a number of healthy looking scars on his arms and hands). It gets hot, sweaty…sometimes like 100 degrees, it’s gnarly. It’s fun though, I really enjoy it. I actually look forward to going to work, which sounds weird (laughs).

NY Steak, grilled asparagus, roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fingerling potatoes, Mushrooms, and Veal stock reduction

Bronzino, grilled artichoke blossoms, blistered tomato, salsifly, and citrus mousseline

Is there any ways to compare surfing with cooking?

I guess with surfing, you get to create your line on the wave. It’s an open canvas. Same with cooking. I really like creating new plates, using local and organic ingredients– good quality meats and poultry—all natural and fresh, and seeing what I can come up with. They are both really fun too, they make me happy…but I don’t get paid to surf (laughs)!

Did I mention he likes to get tubed? Framegrab: SkimShady

Did I mention he likes to get tubed? Framegrab: SkimShady

What was the hardest part of the learning curve?

The hardest things are speed and timing. I still have trouble with my speed on the line. You gotta hustle. When you have a big ticket you have to plan everything out perfect. You have the grill station, and then there’s the saute in the middle, and then the garmage, which is like salads and desserts. So your first course will be a salad and an appetizer. That goes up, but they have to go up together at the same time. But then you could have ten tickets at one time so really gotta shake a leg. Then the second course will come up, which might be salmon or roasted chicken or steak—all those items on the ticket have to go up at the same time, so timing is vital. The whole table needs to get there food at the same time– it’s tough.

Cheeseburger with turkey prosciutto, Bacon, Bacon Marbella, Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Onions

Cheeseburger with turkey prosciutto, Bacon, Bacon Marbella, Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Onions

Is there any particular meat, or ingredient that you like working with more?

The cuisine that we do is called “New American”, basically like California Cuisine—lots of local and fresh products. It’s also got a little Asian flare to it, French and English as well—we’ve got quite a mixture of everything. Another thing I love to do is gardening. Growing fruit and veggies, so I can cook the freshest dish possible. There’s nothing like a fresh heirloom tomato picked off the vine that you grew from start to finish.

NY Steak, grilled asparagus, roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fingerling potatoes, Mushrooms, and Veal stock reduction

NY Steak, grilled asparagus, roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fingerling potatoes, Mushrooms, and Veal stock reduction

What’s the signature “Manssy Dish”

I used to do a Thai Green Curry Chicken that my girlfriend’s mom and my own mom loves as well. My mom’s actually the one who taught me it. I think it’s the dish I’ve done the most for that reason (laughs) for them you know. Roasted chicken thighs, with rice and veggies…it’s pretty damn good. I also like doing the salmon dishes, or a really good ribeye or New York steak.

Verlasso Salmon, forged chanterelles, celeriac puree, mache, and chive oil

Verlasso Salmon, forged chanterelles, celeriac puree, mache, and chive oil

Do you find yourself consistently challenged with cooking?

It all just takes practice, like anything you do. The more you do it the better you get. With cooking you use all your senses- your smell, your taste. With sauces or soups in particular, you gotta taste everything before we send it out. You take a spoonful of chowder, taste it, then it’s like “oh this needs a little bit of salt”. Usually when I cook salmon, I touch it. Same with steak, it’s all by touch—you can tell how well done it is. Also just by looking at it. When a steak gets to medium rare, the juices will start coming out. When you see those juices you know it’s going right past rare to medium rare. Just like with surfing, you have to be aware all the time—is this going to be a good wave? Naw it’s got a little mush on it, I gotta wait a little longer. Cooking is just the same.

Poached Salmon

Poached Salmon

What’s your ultimate goal with your cooking? Would you ever want to open your own restaurant?

My goal is to work in a really nice restaurant first then yeah it would be rad to open my own small restaurant or have a catering business. Do my own thing eventually, but for now just learn as much as I can. Every day I go into work I learn something different, it’s pretty bitchin’.

Any last words?

I want to thank executive chef Ross McKee and sous chef Pete Martinez for their guidance, and my mom and girlfriend for all their support.

THE GRIND…W/ NIC H’DEZ

podium

H’Dez, in White

Pikachu, aka Nic H’Dez, is on a tear right now. The lanky regularfoot scored the last cover of Santa Cruz Waves, had a two page spread/profile in Surfing Magazine, and just made his first WQS final in Argentina of all places. This is part of a reoccurring series, “The Grind”, where I follow Nic’s year chasing qualifying points in a bid to build his seed, and eventually, join his mentor Nat Young on the elite World Surf League tour. Here’s what he had to say about his trip…

Flaring

Flaring

What was the name of the comp, and where was it held?

It was called the Ripcurl Argentina Pro and it was held at Mar Del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

How many points were on offer and how many did you make? Will that help you get into more events?

It was WQS 1500, so the winner got 1500pts, and I got 1125pts for runner-up. It will definitely help when they re-seed the ratings halfway through the year

Making it count in the small stuff

Making it count in the small stuff

How was the surf down there? How did you put it together during the small waves? Strategy, mojo, or both?

The surf was pretty bad, everyday was kind of the same. 1-3ft brown water, mushy, yet kinda closed out lefts at this beach break with a right-hander that would come up on the inside.

I went into every heat just telling myself that everyone had to deal with the same conditions and I personally thought who ever got on the two best waves of the heat was gonna make it, so that’s what i focused on doing.

Argentina is known for having some of the hottest females on Earth. Poor lil Pikachu!!

Argentina is known for having some of the hottest females on Earth. Poor lil Pikachu!!

How is Argentina? Food? People? Chicks?

Argentina is pretty sick, I’m sure there was much radder spots there than where I was, so I wish I got to sample more of the good surf.  The Argentinian BBQ steak was bomb digitty. People were super friendly but there weren’t that many women around. Probably because it was cold as fuck where the comp was! Maybe even colder than home!

Is there potential for good surf down there?

I see potential for surf down there for sure, and I’ve heard of some sick point breaks north of where I was. I’d be psyched to score ‘em someday f’sure.

HDEZ3

Who were you travelling with and how was their support helpful with your result?

I was just traveling with my mom, her support is always the best support I could ever ask for, she always dials everything in so I just have to surf, she’s the best!

HDEZ1

Where’s the next stop? Any secret moves or magic boards you’re working on beforehand?

The next stop is QS 3000 at San Martinique in the Caribbean, so that should be an interesting one with some more points on offer! (side note: The runner-up finish I just got is equivalent to a 5th place in this next one). Got a magic 5’10.5″ Channel Islands Fred Whip right now too that I’m pretty hyped on!

MUSICAL CHAMELEON…NICK OLIVERI

oliFirst off, I’m gonna be that guy and gush on how honored I was to interview Nick Oliveri.  He’s been jamming and singing to me since I was nine years old, especially with Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and Mondo Generator.  Being an artist can be a thankless job, but it must be pretty cool to know that you’ve influenced generations of kids like myself.  In anticipation for the show tonight, I’m releasing our chat.  The interview was taken in the middle of the night after a long day for the hard rocker, but luckily Oliveri is a super chill and down to earth guy, and he did his best answer my questions.  Enjoy.

How and when did The Uncontrollable begin?  Cuz I know you were doing some acoustic shit with Blag Dahlia from the Dwarves recently.

The Uncontrollable began as a name I used to draw on my peachie folders in sixth grade (hahaha) that I would someday turn into a band, but I didn’t. Eventually, we started using it for an acoustic tour I did with Blag Dhalia in England and it was a name for the both of us playing at the same time, like a lil duo-band.

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What’s the name of your new album?  I was told that you recorded the entire thing solo–from drums, bass, guitar, to the vocals.  Did you find this experience more frustrating than liberating, or was there a combination of the two?
The name of the new album, “Leave me Alone”.  I called it that cause I did the record basically by myself with all the instruments, but I had some guest guitar solos, so yeah, that’s pretty much why. Yeah it was frustrating and also very satisfying to finish. I had a lot of things happen while making the record that set me back, like rolling my car-which made for some good lyrics for one the the tunes I didn’t have lyrics for at the time.
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This question always intrigues me in a confusing way, kinda like the old “Chicken before the egg” quandary.  Do you start a song in your head with lyrics, a hook/riff or chorus, bass line, or drum line?  What’s your method on this one, especially when recording an entire album from start to finish by yourself?
It’s always different, but mainly I start with a riff, then build on it from there. With this last record I did a lot of stuff with drums then transposed it to record and transposed it to guitar (what I was humming in my head) and reversed it and demoed it a bunch of times before I went into the studio. I’m not the slickest drummer in the world but I practiced my ass off. I did record it myself but had Harper and Trevor helping me, they were behind the controls, recording me. I did some of the stuff at home on my Protools in the little apartment I had but yeah, it was the chicken before the egg, man (laughs).
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Speaking of range, I’ve always admired your ability to go from the soothing sounds of songs like “Auto Pilot” and “Another Love Song”, to pissed and charged songs like “Tension Head” and “Six Shooter”.  Is this adjustment easy for you?  Are there times when going from a mellow jam to something pissed a difficult exercise and vice versa?

Right on thanks. It’s easy for me to transition from going softer vocals to harder vocals, but going hard vocals to soft vocals is not as easy I guess. I’m not very good at singing but I can scream my ass off though. So yah, that’s a tough one for me. I guess I just do the best I can do, sometimes it’s off (laughs)

yew

It seems like you’ve had worn a hundred hats, from Kyuss, to Queens, Mondo Generator, The Dwarves, B’Last and now The Uncontrollable.  You’re a bit of a musical chameleon.  Does this flexibility give you a sense of freedom?  It must be cool to be constantly collaborating with so many great artists.

Yes and no. Yah it’s good to play in bands that you like, its great– I’ve been very fortunate on that. But I’ve been home for a bit, haven’t been working or touring for some time, a few months now. So I’m getting ready to get back going and start back up with this new tour. I guess theres some sense of freedom to that and it’s a lot of fun to collaborate with some of my favorite musicians. Fortunately I’ve been able to play with a lot of really cool bands. So yah there’s a sense of freedom but at the same time theres a lot of free time-you’d think that there’d be every minute would be taken up, but everybody’s got their lives as they get older, lives that they’re tending to.  You know when you live at mom’s house you have that all for one, one for all band thing going when you’re a kid, and lots of my friends are parents now, like Mark (Lewis from Doors to Knowhere). It makes things a little more difficult to go down and jam on a nightly basis, plus I’ve got my band in the Desert and now I’m in LA.

Oliveri and BL'AST

Oliveri and BL’AST

 On the topic of BL’AST…how did you hook up with those guys?  Cliffords a great friend of mine, and growing up surfing and skating in Santa Cruz, that band is engrained in my musical DNA. 

I’d known Clifford for a long time and he’s come to see some of the first Queens shows that were in Santa Cruz, and I’m sure he was at some of the Kyuss stuff too.  Anyways, he was at the Catalyst and we (Mondo Generator) played on a tour with Wino and The Saviors and it was the last night of our tour. He asked me and my drummer Hoss if we would do this BL’AST thing they were doing, the remix of Blood. They were at Dave Grohls place and he was remixing it. He asked if I would do it and I said, “yeah sure, I’d love to do it” and same with Hoss, he was down with it too. So we did that for awhile and it was great, had a lot of fun. Now we have Joey Castillo and it’s even better, you know. I mean, nothing against Hoss, Hoss is a great drummer, but I think Joey comes from that hardcore school of drumming and he really just fit the bill better—he plays his ass off and I think he understands the music more, he understands BL’AST more. That’s pretty much all it comes down to. Hoss grew up up with some Skynard, which is great, but Joey was in some really hard core bands so it makes sense to him—he’s seen blast in the old days and Hoss was like, “BL’AST Who?” So that was the difference.

Nick's down with the Murderers.  Oh yeah, Gi Gi too

Nick’s down with the Murderers. Oh yeah, Gi Gi too

What do you think about the current crop of bands in Santa Cruz?  Obviously you are fans of Doors to Nowhere and B’Last, but what do you think about other cats like The Highway Murderers?

Of course I’m fans of Doors to Nowhere and BL’AST. Yeah, the Highway Murderers. Those guys are great. They are a fantastic band. I played with them last time I played at the Catalyst and it was rad, totally, totally rad. Those are the bands I like from Santa Cruz, but I’m sure that there are some others that will come to mind after this interview (laughs).

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What are some of your best and worst experiences in Santa Cruz?
Everything’s been good there, for the most part. Anytime we’ve had a bad time, good people such as the Lewis’s household, they always took care of us up there. Having the BL’AST guys from up there has been good, places to stay and shit like that, so that’s cool. I don’t know about any seriously bad experiences up there. So far so good.
nik2
.Everyone is super psyched about your show on March 27th…what is it about Doors to Nowhere and You Know Who that inspired you to tour with those guys?

What inspired me to go on tour with You Know Who, is that they kick ass. It’s also Mike Pygmie’s band who also plays in The Uncontrollable and Mondo Generator as well, and he’s a fucking ripping guitar player, and he writes some cool stuff. Doors to Nowhere, they’re my friends and they kick major ass, just a group of great guys. That’s why I was inspired to do it- my friend Mark (Lewis of Doors to Nowhere) called me up and said, “Hey, you wanna do this tour, and these shows?” I was like, “I dunno if I can” cause I had some overlapping stuff going on with the Dwarves, but that fell through till April so it just so happened I had the time off and the time to rock with the Uncontrollable and my friends. So Mark set it up. It’s his fault that we are going to have a good time. So I’m really looking forward to seeing all those guys. Sorry my interview is so jumbled…I’m pretty thrashed.  Thanks, see you at the show!

Stoner rock show

GETTING INTIMATE…WITH NOAH WEGRICH

Come On and Take a Free RIde

Come On and Take a Free Ride

 When I first met Noah “Waggy” Wegrich, he was a tiny little tadpole with a bald head ruling the inside bowl at Manresa.  Nowadays, he’s sporting a magnificent mane and is turning heads with his stylish and progressive surfing.  He’s super fun to surf with and is humble and respectful to boot.  His energy and humor is infectious, so I decided to divulge a recent discussion we had….

Hurry up and come in from getting tubed Noah...

Hurry up and come in from getting tubed Noah…

What makes Waggy wag his tail?
Ice cream, girls and tubes
I can see it now

I can see it now

If you were to star alongside one actor in a movie who would it be, what kind of movie, and how would it end?
It would be Will Farrell and it would end with us being best buddies and building a tree fort and getting crossbows and Hustler magazines!
Would you rather do three kickflips on one wave or 10 chop hops?
Three kickflips FOSHO everyone can do chop hops nobody can do a kickflip though….
Locks of Love

Locks of Love

Your mane is rather luxurious. I bet all the chicks dig it. Any hair care tips or favorite products?
Hahahaha I don’t know if chicks like it…. I hope they do (laughs). Most people think my hair is a wig and ask to touch it. It’s kind of weird
I'm waiting for you Noah...

I’m waiting for you Noah…

 If you had a gun to your head which would you choose….go left at Mav’s on a 35 footer or go left into the cliff at the Slot at the Lane on a 4 footer?
Left at Mavericks for sure! Better chance of getting tubed!
The resemblance is uncanny

The resemblance is uncanny

Beavis or Butthead.  And why?
This ones difficult (sigh)…I’ve always liked Butthead more– but I have blonde curly hair so I’m kind of automatically Beavis, I also get really excited about things like Beavis does hahaha so I guess my hair and attitude are Beavis– but my heart is all Butthead!
Ladies...

Ladies…

Everyone’s got a secret talent.  I can wiggle my ears and talk like Pee Wee Herman and Kermit the Frog.  What’s yours?
My secret talents….. Awwww I’m not sure I have any maybe kissing heard I’m a good kisser (laughs)
Waggy get's me amped, personally photo-Joe Foster

Waggy get’s me amped, personally photo-Joe Foster

Who’s your favorite person to watch surf in person and why?
Ohhhh this ones tough Id probably say anyone who’s going for it! Like if your going fast and doing anything radical it’s going to get me fired up to try something crazy. Ya dig?
Waggy, weightless

Waggy, weightless

If you could name your style of surfing what would it be?  Mine’s Brokeback Bucking Bronco.
Hahahaha that’s a intense name, but solid. My style’s name would be Butterfly Euphoria.
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PETER MEL, ROVING REPORTER

Big Pete

Big Pete

I’ve known Peter Mel since I was twelve years old, when I was rinsing the piss out of the wetsuits that Freeline Design (a surf shop on Santa Cruz’s Eastside owned by the Mel family) rented out to tourists and beginning surfers.  Not only was this my first job, it was my first sponsor, and the Mel family did a lot for me over the years, from shaping me surfboards, to paying for contests and chipping in for trips to Hawaii.  Of course big Pete has always appeared larger than life, and with his yearly accomplishments at places like Maverick’s, I was always nervous talking to him as a grom– he was on his way to legend status.  As we get older of course, our idols become more human and approachable.  I’ve always loved chatting with Pete on everything surf related, and I recently pinned him down outside Freeline Design to chat about his role on the new World Surf League’s commentary team.

Big Pete close to home

Big Pete close to home

I wanna get some thoughts from you on this new career you’ve made for yourself.  Briefly tell me how you stepped into the fray as a webcast announcer?

It originally started, in the very first few events that were ever broadcasted.  I’m trying to think what the very first event was, but anyways, the opportunity came from a guy named Jay Johnson, who was with “Surfing Live”.  He gave me that first gig.  You know, you’re doing the first live webcast for a pro event in California, the first webcasts to be broadcasted ever actually, so it’s all very new territory.  So I had my chance, someone gave me an opportunity to sit, and that was the start of that. Then, through my affiliation with Quiksilver, more gigs came my way.  I was doing webcasts throughout those early days, stuff like NSSA’s, Surfing America comps, and other little pro events.

I basically went to the big leagues with the Quiksilver Pro’s, which was the Gold Coast and France.  Quiksilver produced them and hired me.  So I finally made the ‘CT (laughs).  I started interviewing all those guys and getting familiar with all the characters. So it started locally, and grew internationally, more or less.  All of that work translated when the new WSL took over producing all of the events.  Last year, I was picked to be a part of the roster of a team who’d travel with the tour throughout the year.

Was there any type of interview process involved in getting the job?  Were you vying with other guys to get the spot, or how did that all come about?

There were basically try-outs, more or less…I mean there were times when we’d come into work, and he gave us try-outs.  Literally, we all went in and did our thing, did some staged Pipe announcing, and tried to impress the group that was making the choices.  So yeah, try-outs, but you could really call them auditions…yes there were auditions (laughs).

No guts, no glory.  Pete in his element

No guts, no glory. Pete in his element

You’re a very thoughtful and articulate speaker, especially in interviews and stuff like that.  Did you find that there was a bit of a learning curve—being live and having that pressure of maybe even thinking about what you’re saying, while you’re saying it?  Did your act become more polished with time?

Yeah, practice makes perfect with anything right?  Ultimately, my goal has always been to educate everyone, whether it be the newcomer, who’s never watching surfing before, or the guy that’s been watching every single webcast since their inception.  I’ve been able to try to educate them and so you have to talk in ways that allow people who have absolutely no clue to learn something, as well as someone who, like I said, is a thirty year surfing veteran.  So it can be hard to straddle that fence, ya know?

At work-your humbe roving reporter

At work-your humbe roving reporter

Ultimately, I’m just being myself, and I think I learned that skill working in the surf shop (laughs).  That’s just what it is, ‘cause here at Freeline Design, I’ve had to talk to customers and educate customers who have no clue, as well as guys who have been surfing their entire lives—to be able to communicate with all of them and that has always been my goal.  So it’s definitely prepared me for this new line of work.  The live part, you know, at times, yeah I my have been a little nervous and bobbled a few times, but like I said before, practice makes perfect.  I’ve just kept at it, and now it just comes more naturally. I perform better when it’s live, rather than knowing that I can take a few takes (laughs)!

Board Talk

Board Talk

I really dig the board talk you do during the events.  You’ve really grown into that role and I like that the powers that be have given you that opportunity, as you and your father both shape surfboards. Is that part of the job special to you?

Well, it’s comfortable.  It’s what I know.  I feel like I can bring that knowledge to the general public.  Surfboard design is always changing, so there’s always something new to talk about.  The competition side, generally speaking, it’s a slow change there.  Whereas design, I think, everyone is always looking for a little extra something out of their racecar.  I’m trying to find that little extra something and show it to the public.

The historic JJF/Slater heat

The historic JJF/Slater heat

Right, and I think a lot of people dig it.  So, switching gears a little here, what has been the highlight of your tenure as a member of the commentary team thus far?  Was it sitting in the channel for that legendary John John Florence vs. Slater heat out at Chopes?

Yeah, for sure.  The ability to be sitting in the water with those guys was pretty magical.  With that event, a lot of things happened—first of all it was the first time I’d gotten on a surfboard with a camera in the water.  All of the other times I reported from the water I’d be sitting on the sled of a jet ski.  That was the first time the audience literally got a front row ticket straight into the channel.  And, obviously, it worked out well–being in Tahiti, with the waves being as gigantic and perfect as they were with this blue, beautiful water—nothing could have topped it.  It was just the most perfect scenario, and for everything to come together like that was a trip.

For that historic John John and Kelly heat, all the stars aligned, so yes, that was the highlight.  The funny thing is, it just happened, it really did.  It wasn’t something that was forced, and that’s how I’d like it to be every time.  It’s like a life principle—you enjoy what you are doing and enjoyable things happen around you.  Ultimately, that’s the goal, and everything seemed to click that day.  When you start trying to force stuff, it doesn’t work out and when you don’t put your best foot forward, it doesn’t work either.  You have to just know what you know, do what you do, and enjoy it.  I’ve got the best part, for me at least.  I don’t have to have to be in the booth all the time, where you are more opt to say the same things over and over again.  I kinda sit in a really neat position.  I just get to bring you little blips of happiness, I’m not sitting in the booth for an hour and a half straight.  I have done that, and I think I still could, but for right now the position that I’ve been put in…you know I get to do beach interviews to bring you little tid bits.

You’re on “the “beat” more or less.

Yup, I’m on “the beat”—roving reporter (laughs).

Finally, the Quiksilver Pro is coming up.  I’m excited to see Dane Reynolds as a wildcard.  Who are you most looking forward to see really push the envelope this year?  Who are you most excited to watch?

Well, we’re always excited to see what Dane brings to the table…I mean I know that is one things I know for sure I’ll be excited about.  There’s a couple new kids on the block this year.  You’ve got Keanu Asing and guys like that.  I’ve always liked seeing the new additions, and we’ve got several of them this year, which is rare.  The last couple of years we’ve had only one or two new additions, and now we’ve got five.  So with that, you’re going to see a whole new crop of these kids bringing fresh looks to Snapper Rocks, and I love seeing that.  They’re going to be up against hard seeds so the veterans are going to have to change up their game too. That’s why I always love this first event at Snapper, which is a very high performance wave.  The sandbar is really good right now, so were not worried about the sand being lame.  I’m just hoping we get some good swell!

E-MAN is The Man!

                                      RESPECT…..EMMANUEL GUZMAN

A portrait of a humble shredder

A portrait of a humble shredder

Throughout our lives, friends will come and go, romances will blossom only to shrivel, and enemies may seem haunt our steps like specters. The most solid friendships are based on mutual respect, and regardless of whether or not you’ve seen someone for a decade, you know they’ll always have your back. Emmanuel Guzman is one of those friends. I’ve known him since I was eleven or twelve, and while I was entrenched in the surfing community and he the skate, we had a sort of mutual solidarity in the fact that we’d dedicated our lives to two of Santa Cruz most well-known, and core, pastimes. What I’ve always liked most about E-Man, or Manny, is his honesty, humble nature, and the icy look of intensity in his eyes when you talk to him…you can feel his investment in your words, and his intent to hear you, not to just listen. His uncanny ability on four wheels and plywood is undeniable, and to quote Suicidal Tendencies, this young man is, and has always been, “Possessed to Skate”. I chatted with him recently and wanted to share some of this cool cat’s insight into his world.

MANNY

MANNY IN HIS ELEMENT

Q– I remember being baffled watching you heelflip a six stair in middle school. It was apparent from an early age that you were skilled at skating. Was there a point when you knew that you could be a pro skater, or did you just do your thing and things started falling into place?

A– I didn’t think that being a pro skater was a possibility until my first real sponsorships around my sophomore year in high school, I was about 15 and realized that if I worked and skated as hard as I could that people would notice and want to give me more opportunity to prove my hunger for being pro.

Q– What’s the sketchiest bowl or spot that you’ve skated? What made it so nuts?

A-It’s hard to pick one crazy spot but one that comes to mind is the Quito (Ecuador) park! Its built around the same time as Derby park here in Santa Cruz, but is fifty times the size and twenty times the gnar! It’s in this huge central city park and goes on for as far as the eye can see. It all funnels into this huge full pipe and bowl that has a gladiator like seating arena that people watch and cheer from. It’s intense!

Q– It seems nowadays that to be a top skater you’ve got to have the street stuff down and also be able to throw down in pools and bowls. Do you think being well rounded is important in skating?

A-I think that there’s nothing better in a skateboarder and their style then to be well rounded. If not for one’s own want to explore new terrain and step out of their comfort zone it’s just better to be well rounded in Skating as in life! Skate And Destroy means Skate and Destroy EVERYTHING in your path, not just a ledge or a bowl but fucking EVERYTHING!!!

NOT SCARED TO PUT IT ALL ON THE LINE

NOT SCARED TO PUT IT ALL ON THE LINE

Q– What have you been up to lately? Where would you say your motivation lies? Are you still chasing the dream?
A-I’ve been skating a lot! Starting to film for a new Santa Cruz video that will be out by summer 2016! Super hyped on that project as well as all the travels that will be involved! The dream lives as long as I want it to, it’s my dream!

Q– Who are your favorite skaters and why?
A– John Cardiel is my all-time favorite skater not because he’s the best or most technical but he’s pure heart and passion on and off the board! He emulates the raw, real, danger, and passion for what I love in skating! All Hail Cardiel!!!

Q– Can you pinpoint your greatest accomplishment in skating? Was it a particular trip, trick, photo, or props from someone you looked up to?

A– My “Let’s Do This” part in 2008 (Transworld) was pretty monumental. It’s an honor to be in those vids and then to get last part curtains was unreal! My whole family flew to Hollywood for the premiere and we all got the surprise of me having last part together. I’ve also had all the major mag covers ( Thrasher, Slap, Skateboard Mag, Low Card, Transworld, Sidewalk, Automatic) minus Skateboarder which is no longer in print.

Q– Where do you see skating going in the future?
A– Unfortunately, the Olympics. Fortunately, the sky’s the limit!

Q– Why do we always see shots of guys in the mags without helmets on? Is it a fashion thing? The limits are being pushed and the stacks are hard, does this lack of safety equipment scare you?

A– I think kids should wear helmets no question! I prefer not to merely out of the fact I haven’t in so long it feels foreign and distracting. Sure I crack my head from time to time, but I’m an adult and can make the choice to wear or not wear a helmet, and I’ll be responsible for the consequences, nobody else.

FORGET MILK....E-MAN TAKES HIS DONUTS WITH A SMILE

FORGET MILK….E-MAN TAKES HIS DONUTS WITH A SMILE

Q-What’s your favorite part about being a skater from Santa Cruz?
A-That I get to say I’m born and raised in the hometown of shred and hometown to the company I turned pro for and have become an integral part of the history of one of the raddest companies and local stories ever!

Q-Any shout outs?
A-All of my sponsors and homies who have supported me, and many others with the dream to ride! Keep the fire burning!!!

VIDEO PARTS, COVERS...NO WORRIES

VIDEO PARTS, COVERS…NO WORRIES

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Welcome to SPLIT PEAK SOUP, a froth laden haven of surf/skate/art/whatever news, interviews, profiles, commentary and more.  The key ingredient to any scrumptious soup is substance, that elusive quality that adds some SOUL to your  starving stomach and leaves you full and satisfied.  SPLIT PEAK SOUP strives to act as an always accessible portal to the world of gnar, a soup of substance that leaves you coming back for seconds.  Grab a seat, put your napkin on your lap (it’s only polite), and get ready for some SPLIT PEAK SOUP!!!