Growing up in Gracetown (south-west WA) I learned not to take things too seriously. I’ve always thought we were blessed growing up there and to try to enjoy every moment. Why wouldn’t you? I didn’t really like negativity, so that is one of the things I avoid. That place didn’t breed too much negativity but Australia does have that tall poppy shit.
It was pretty rural, well, 15 years ago before all this property boom and money and tourism. Just a dead-end surfie town with one road in and one road out. Still is, I guess. But, it can get a bit stagnate. A lot of guys smoked a lot of weed. Everyone pretty much just wigged out on that when there wasn’t any waves. The boredom would start to kick in and you’d try to one-up each other on the piss or whatever it was.
(Legendary West Oz anti-hero) James Catto was a prick. He’s all-time, but he’s a prick. I used to go up to his house when I was a grom and try to get deck grips off him and they’d just make us eat the crookest shit. They’d raid the pantry, the fridge, getting raw eggs, off milk and make us drink it. I’d leave the house and I’d get half a deck grip. Whenever we surfed he’d always burn me (laughter) but it was good, I was a little shit, too. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t asking for it.
Sometimes we’d get in Brett’s (Hardy) car, all seven of us, and drive up to Bunbury and try and get ourselves in trouble doing nude runs, egging people and cars and doing the ‘fire in the hole thing’ at Maccas (where you pull up at the drive through with a soft serve fizzing in a cup of coke and yell “Fire in the Hole” as you peg it in). We’d fuck the hippies, too. They’d all park in the car park and we’d egg the shit out of their cars… fuck them up!
Maneaters and man beaters. I’ve seen a bunch of reef sharks but only one White about three years before that guy got eaten at Lefties (Brad Smith, 2004). I saw it jump. I never even saw that stuff growing up and that’s one of the things that trips me out now: how many shark attacks there’s been. In all the times I’ve surfed around there, and my dad and my mates too, there was nothing. Then, one happened and there was like six after that.
There were no girls in Gracetown. It was slim pickings back in the day, a lot of rocks and not many diamonds. My wife Bella is the complete opposite. She’s more of a princess, like a cut diamond, sparkling. She was so different to anyone I’d ever met, the complete opposite, which is exactly what I needed, what I still need.
Once you know, you know. I was 21 when I married Bella. I was at that point in my life where if I kept doing what I was doing I wouldn’t be where I am now. I was pretty selfish and pre-occupied and meeting her I found myself caring about someone else and life. She made me a better person, so I just wanted to be with her. The main reason I relocated to the States was for her.
There is good and bad about Santa Barbara. The good things are: pretty much the world is here, you can get everything and anything you want. But, that’s also a bad thing, you can get anything, stuff that isn’t good and you can get caught up in it so you have to work out the balance of it, how much is enough. I mean, a rock and twigs was all I needed in Gracetown to keep me occupied so I don’t know what it’s gonna be like to grow up here. I guess I’ll go through it with my kid and find out. Ask me in 15 years.
Everyone is telling me how a kid changes your life and, fuck, they’re right (Yades and Bella gave birth to their first child, a boy, four days before this interview). What I went through compared to her was mellow but it was pretty emotional. Fuck, you’ve got this little thing which is, well, perfect, really.
I haven’t really thought about fatherhood too much. I’ll balance it the same way as I balanced having a wife and a dog: make sure I can spend as much time with them when I’m back and do my best when I’m away.
In a perfect world I’d wanna raise him in West Oz. It might happen, but I want to be able to keep surfing and travelling for another six years or seven years, however long it may be, and he’s gonna be coming with us on the road. For sure.