Stab Magazine | How the Drifter Changed My Life-

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How the Drifter Changed My Life-

An interview with actor, surfer, music man, sage, the eternally kinky Rob Machado I try not to do smugness, as a rule.  Without exception, it always finds its way back to make your life miserable and therefore I have no biz with it. I try to keep hands off gossip too, shit is like poison […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

An interview with actor, surfer, music man, sage, the eternally kinky Rob Machado

I try not to do smugness, as a rule. 
Without exception, it always finds its way back to make your life miserable and therefore I have no biz with it. I try to keep hands off gossip too, shit is like poison and the short-term gain is negligible. A few issues back, I let smug into my life. I joined the chorus of grinning idiots drilling holes in the Rob Machado/Taylor Steele epic, The Drifter. Like macaws, we squawked and trotted around, preening, superior, smug. Then, I saw the movie. Goddamn if it wasn’t the best thing I’d seen in years. To correct the imbalance. I recorded this interview with the movie’s star, Rob Machado, on Hawaii’s Big Island, where Rob keeps a house.

STAB: Your movie is better than I could’ve imagined. I look back at my questions when I hadn’t seen the film, and I want to make myself ill, I want to punish myself, strike chains against my chest and wail and bleed, to atone for my wrongs. 

ROB: (Kinda long, totally forgiving laugh.)

How important is The Drifter to you? 

The whole theory was to sit down and do something beyond what me and Taylor (Steele) had been doing for years and years. I’m definitely not that guy who’s going to be in The Modern Collective, let’s be honest.

I have so many favourite scenes: the taxi ride, for one, when the driver scrapes green from his nose with a long nail, then willfully inspects it. 

That stuff was absolutely incredible. He used to be D.Hump’s assistant, First. We threw him in a shirt, grabbed some guy’s taxi, paid him off, we both had mics, and then we just started driving around the block with the camera mounted on the hood. He killed it. There were moments when I just started laughing, like, dude, stop it already! You’re killing me, man!

It’s so Indonesian how he scrapes the green and then inspects it, without fear of censure, without embarrassment.

(Laughs) Totally! He totally fit the whole mould. He jumped in there, pulled out his little ciggies, his cloves, and he was lighting em off, he became a taxi driver! “Hey, where you from? You like massage, good massage!”

And, when you say, “Put the air con on, man,” and he replies: “Fucking hot!” 

Fucking hot! I know!

Your Kuta session with Kelly also thrilled me. I have no idea if it was premeditated, perhaps you can tell me so now, but it fits into the story so well. Kelly, able to find waves and good times within the crowd, you, bored, uninspired. 

We were trying to link up with Kelly for a few surfs and it was tough. He was staying out at the Bukit for the Rip Curl contest and I was down at Canggu and finally we had one good surf over at the other side and he didn’t show up til late, standard, then he calls up one day and he’s like: “Dude, there’s this sandbar, Kuta, it’s the sickest little right, you gotta come and surf it!” He’s raving: “Me and Benji surfed it and it was insane. We’re going there in the morning, meet us there!” We went there and, obviously, the whole world figured it out, too. Taj was out, Dane, I mean, you name it, every camera dude on the beach. It was the full blow-out And the wave, you know, it was fun, but, I just couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t comprehend it at all.

(I groan in an ecstasy of sycophancy) It works so well. It shifts the narrative. 

It was one of those moments. Man, this is exactly why I didn’t come here.

Tell me about the scene in the bus depot when you pull up next to the smoking man? Was this man an actor? And, what does he bellow in Indonesian?

No, just some random guy who was sitting there. He obviously hears me say California and the only thing he knows about California is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor, so he kinda says, and I’m guessing here, “Oh California! That’s where Arnold’s from, right?” It was like, wait a second, that’s exactly what I didn’t want to hear. Or, maybe that was exactly what I needed to hear.

Did you ever feel a melancholy about Indonesia? For behind the smiles, the Indonesian native must deal with the threat of tidal waves, active terror¬ism and a lack of medical care worse than what faces the American. Yet, a powerful sense of community exists… 

They have the ability to say, “Oh yeah, there was a bombing right here five years ago, but it’s cool, we’ve moved on, here we go.” It’s an amazing attribute and you have to hand it to em. A lot of the times, we’d be filming stuff, I’d be pushing my motorcycle in the rice fields, and constantly people would stop, the Balinese, to try and help fix my bike. I’d be, like, no , no it’s okay, and I’d try to explain that we were making a movie that there’s guys over there with long lenses. They’d say, no, no, no and try and push my bike with me. Even if it was obvious they were in a hurry to get somewhere it was irrelevant. They live in the moment. “Wait, we gotta help this guy! He’s here! It’s now!” That’s the beauty of the Indonesian. – Derek Rielly.


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