"I pretty much fell off the face of the earth and chased great waves around for 6 months."
San Diego’s Rob Machado, one of the most stylish surfers alive, discusses last summer’s Indonesian sojourn and his new movie chronicling his experiences abroad.
You were drifting around Indonesia on a motor scooter most of last summer; tell us about your Indo experience cruising around Indo.
I prefer to call it a motorcycle. Motor scooter makes it sound like a Vespa or something. I actually bought a Honda CB 100. I cruised around filming for my flick. I spent about six months living…sort of based out of Bali. I ventured out to the outer islands from Sumba to Lombok to Java…spent a bit of time in Java. There are a ridiculous amount of waves there that you can find if you really want to find them.
You sort of did the unconventional surf trip, in that you veered off the beaten path. You hung out with the local people in, as you mentioned, rather remote regions. I see that you helped the local communities out over there too.
As the trip went on I sort of realized that to really get away you have to venture way out. My bike started breaking down, and I used public transport and got into some cool funky places and I did a lot of camping, and I removed myself from my normal routine and it was good.
Your movie is called, tentatively, THE DRIFTER. With whom are you working on this film project? Is this a Taylor Steele production?
Yeah, Taylor and I came up with it, and Hurley is backing it and gave me the opportunity to basically disappear in Indo for six months. I pretty much fell off the face of the earth and chased great waves around for six months.
Undoubtedly, you scored some great waves and some great tubes. Photos have already trickled into the pages of surf magazines and on websites. We’ve seen some insane barrels from your trip. The notion that time stands still in the tube, the old surfing clich, do you think there is any truth to that?
Wow, that’s pretty deep right there. For me, it’s about not thinking. I like the idea of actually being on a wave…I think that’s the only time that I’m actually not thinking. That’s the magic of surfing for me. There aren’t too many things that you do in life where your brain shuts off and you acting on what you are feeling and you’re not consciously making decisions.
Seems like the free-surfing vibe fits you perfectly. But watching you surf in events, your level of performance surfing is higher than it’s ever been. Do you still enjoy competitive surfing?
Yeah. Occasionally. It’s still fun, and I like watching those guys. That’s where the best surfing in the world is happening. If you watch those guys: Mick and Joel and Kelly and Andy, and now Dane and Jordy, The stuff that’s going on is pretty radical, so it is fun to go in there and mix it up with those guys. It’s hard because those guys are on tour together all the time and constantly pushing each other. When you are not around that level of surfing all the time it is hard to maintain and stay at that level. I try and hang with those guys as much as I can; it is inspiring to see those guys in person that’s for sure.
So the guys at Cardiff Reef aren’t inspiring you too much then?
(Laughs) Oh, you know, not quite the same level. But those guys at Cardiff are cool.
You mentioned Kelly, and I’m wondering, earlier in the year, Slater played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and hit some great golf shots. Especially on number 17, the par 3, it’s 200-plus yards, he hit it into a strong 20-knot head wind. Kelly put his tee shot 8-feet from the hole and birdied. Being an avid golfer yourself and a friend of Kelly’s, did you see that shot?
No I didn’t see this year’s event. That’s cool. That’s heavy. Serious stuff.
The movie is THE DRIFTER. Where are you at with that?
We are elbow deep in the editing room right now, so we are looking at a summer time release, we hope.
Are you involved with the music on the movie?
Oh yeah, I’m involved, and it’s pretty exciting. We just had Warner Brothers music come on board so we’ll be adding some of their acts to the flick. I recorded some music. We recorded some music in Indo. We are throwing everything we can into the mixing bowl and see how it goes.
Rob, thanks for the time today. Can’t wait to see the movie.
Thanks for calling, and thanks for the inspiration at Cardiff (laughs).