Stab Magazine | Heir at last; It’s a boy!
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Heir at last; It’s a boy!

From Stab issue 80: An interview with Dane Reynolds which took place back in March (pre-childbirth!), covering topics such as fame, and the fabulously normal act of fatherhood… Story by Lucas Townsend  “It seems so tabloid. That it’s newsworthy I’m having a kid freaks me out!” If Dane was a consumer service website, like a telco or […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 11 minutes

From Stab issue 80: An interview with Dane Reynolds which took place back in March (pre-childbirth!), covering topics such as fame, and the fabulously normal act of fatherhood…

Story by Lucas Townsend 

“It seems so tabloid. That it’s newsworthy I’m having a kid freaks me out!”

If Dane was a consumer service website, like a telco or electricity company, and he had a FAQ’s tab in his drop-down menu, the first six questions would be WSL-related. His responses, in italics, would be half-interested, quasi-answers. Strangely enough, he’s the third-party authority on tour. Not by his own choice. And somehow, his opinion matters more than, say, 30-odd gents actually on tour.

And if you’d ask Noa Deane why, he’d tell you: “He’s been the absolute lord for the last six years… There’s not enough recognition for how good he is, there probably never will be. He should get more credit than some guys who’ve won world titles, just for how much he’s done for progressing surfing.”

Sitting in room 48 on the 16th floor of the Columbia Apartments, perfectly lonely if not for my presence, Reynolds rears his head back on the the couch and looks over his right shoulder to the hum of a Gold Coast northerly. “It’s so fucking weird,” Dane says, leaning back. “I get asked about tour more now, than when I was actually on tour. People think I’m the authority on tour observations, or something. It’s strange.”

“Surfers who know where the next tour event is, but they ask me when I’m leaving for it. It’s strange that they’re tuned in enough to the WSL to know where everyone’s going, and then not know I haven’t done it for three or four years now.”

“I just answer the questions. I think it’s such an ever-present part of surfing, it’s an easy, tangible thing to talk about. It’s like some NASCAR driver retired but three years later somebody interviewed him, and asked about driving on the track when he’s driving around the street now.”

And to the lonely-ass street is just where Stab wanted to be taken, where the NASCAR’s rolling, baby capsule in the back. Come in and cut laps, shotgun.

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The spotlight has never been Dane’s preferred domain, and as he enters the next phase of his life, and his boundary-pushing career, his impeccable timing and natural affinity for positioning are ensuring that he’s still one of the most watched, and talked-about, surfers on the planet – whether he likes it or not. Photo: Ryan Heywood

Stab: Cluster is wrapped. What’s next?
Dane Reynolds: Well, my girlfriend is having a baby, so I won’t be doing much for a couple of months. Not travel-wise. It doesn’t seem that real yet. I’ll probably be freaking when it happens, for sure. You can go to classes or whatever, but you’ll never be fully prepared. I don’t know, actually. I have no perspective on it. I guess we’ll know soon.

Have you and Courtney gone to the classes with the exercise balls? And all the breathing (laughs). Nah, not yet.

Do you know if it’s a boy or girl? Yeah, it’s a boy. I was stoked. I was more excited about a girl because I thought Courtney would be a good role model. I freak out with kids. I don’t know how to handle them at all. I know it’ll be different with my own, but when I see a baby, I don’t know what to do with it. Courtney will be way better with that.

How’d you find out? We were home, about to go to France, and Courtney told me. It sounds like it’s a lifetime away when you hear it like that. It’s like, “Are we going to do this? And we decided to go for it. I mean, not like it was an accident. It still hasn’t set in. It seems like a foreign universe. Maybe I’m going to pass through it and be a different person. I don’t know. But it seems so weird to think about it now. I’ve had dogs forever, but it’s not the same amount of responsibility or interaction.

Will fame and a family work in Ventura? Ventura is really mellow. I think it’s obvious to see me in town. Not many people take that much note or care too much. Around surf events, there are a lot of people that come here to get autographs and see professional surfers. A lot of people want to take photos.

Are you surprised by your own fame? I guess I forget I’m recognised by everyone sometimes. I always see groms out in the line up paddling around me and I don’t think that I’m getting recognised. But then I see something online where they say I’m their favourite surfer or some shit like that. And I’m like oh, fuck, I guess they do recognise me. You know what I mean? A lot of time if you go to a random town, where you’re not expected to be seen, people trip out. For instance, I was in an olive garden in inland San Diego a while ago. There was a dude in a Hurley shirt, and I could tell he recognised me. He was tripping out. I was thinking how strange that would be if I was in an olive garden at noon, and somebody that I recognised out of a magazine showed up. Then when youíre in a random surf town, people are like “What the fuck are you doing here?” I’m like “Same thing you’re doing here, getting waves!” I would be tripped out, too.

Is fame still a strange thing to comprehend? I trip out on just the small level that I have, which is only on the small strip of coastal regions. Yeah, one spot where I had a bit of a taste of what it would be like to have any real fame was when Stab posted about me having a baby. It seemed so tabloid, and it seemed really weird to me. That little taste of fame, or that people even care, that it’s newsworthy that I’m having a kid, freaked me out. It bothered me because I don’t think of myself as that being newsworthy. It seems like a personal thing that nobody should care about, but I guess it does matter. I can’t imagine being Kelly. My notoriety has been able to give me a career, but I’m still able to live pretty damn normally, which I’m thankful for. Whereas, you look at somebody like Kelly and just the other day I saw him in the Burleigh parking lot with a towel over his head, like he was cruising, waiting for an appointment there, but wanted to look at the waves. He can’t just check the waves without it being a scene. But over the years he’s learned to hideout like that.

That’s Hollywood fame. Yeah, so I’m thankful that I’m not at that level. I appreciate being recognised and people wanting an autograph, because to me it validates me being a sponsored, professional surfer. I guess when it feels like a chore is when you’re on the beach, and people want to take photos, then all of a sudden you’re out in the water and those same dudes are burning you, paddling around you and annoying you. It’s a funny dynamic to me.

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Dane’s notoriety may come from what he does above the lip, but it’s usually what he does to the lip that provides him with the most satisfaction. Photo: Ryan Heywood

You have a career that allows you to live exuberantly, but you choose modesty. Why? I find expensive things embarrassing. I feel it’s awkward to have nice things, and show off your wealth. Driving up to a surf spot in a nice car doesn’t feel right to me. I mean, we have a really nice house, but it’s not flashy. When I have friends that come over that are living in a shitty apartment, and paying rent, and stuff like that, and they come to our house, it’s almost a bit embarrassing. I just don’t like having nice things.

Outside of jerseys, is this a creative time in surfing? In terms of riding waves, yes. I’d say John John Florence is at the forefront of progression in the last few years. It seems like every day on Instagram you see him doing something that’s new. Then you look at Kelly’s 540, that was pretty groundbreaking as far as progression in surfing.

And in terms of creative output, do you think there’s been a more creative time than now? For me, there was. Definitely Marine Layer days, creatively within surfing, and putting out content. I didn’t really care. It’s different now because there’s so much stuff out there. I feel like I can’t really put out edits from just one session anymore. That era is done. There’s too much shit on the Internet. I don’t have time to see peoples sessions. When I was putting out an edit or two a week, and each one had their own aesthetic and vibe, I felt like that was a pretty creative time for me, personally. But it’s hard to keep going. You just run out of inspiration, I guess.

Board design; Do you find you go through phases of interest? Yeah, it’s cyclical. I’ll be really into performance shortboards, anything that is going to allow me to surf my best for a certain project, like Cluster I was trying to surf my best every session. I can’t really fuck around with my own shapes because that’s just wasting a session if it doesn’t work. I wouldn’t take a fish on any trips because I’m trying to maximise every opportunity to get a clip. But by the end of that, I’m pretty burned out on putting so much emphasis on each session to produce something out of it. I just want to go ride a fish and tune out, and get back into surfing as an enjoyable hobby. Sometimes when you’re filming, and you’re putting so much pressure on each session, it starts to feel like a chore. It’s fun to let that go and ride a fun board, and enjoy being in the ocean, riding a wave, for the simple joy of it.

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Sandspit is a fickle bitch, but Dane’s as local as Dane can be local anywhere, happy to roam around his native Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and he has this place on lock whenever the tide drops and the west swell wraps in. Photo: Michael Farkas

Describe the board you go to when you need to reconnect to that zone. This summer I had a 5’5, really flat thruster with big hips, that had so much glide. It had quite a bit of performance compared to a lot of boards that I’ve used like that like the Sperm Whale. It was hand-shaped by a guy named Gael Blouet who shapes Channel Islands in Europe.

And on the flip side, when you’re ready to produce, what board are you going to grab? Again, that’s cyclical as well. Whenever I get a really good shortboard, I try to hold onto it for moments when you need to perform. Say you’re going on an Indo trip or something like that. I had two really good boards towards the end of filming Cluster when I was at home the last few months. Both of them I was torn, because I wanted them to get scanned, first of all. But that’s a two-week process and I was feeling pretty confident on them and didn’t want to put them away for two weeks. So I kept riding and broke both of them. I have a bunch of boards here that they took the two pieces and scanned and put it together in the computer, but they’re not the same.

So they can digitally recreate a board, even if it’s in two pieces? Yeah, it’s changed a lot in the last few years. I’m not sure exactly how many points of the board they actually get measurements from, and how three-dimensional the actual scan is, but I know it’s a lot better. I think it’s the closest way to reproduce a board.

How much faith do you have in that system? To be honest, it’s pretty spotty. There are so many factors that go into a surfboard being good, from the construction, to the glassing, the sanding, the shaping. If it’s an eighth of an inch off in the tail rocker it’s going to ride different. You know, the slightest variations makes a board function really differently. It’s difficult to get them to work the same. I’d say even if I get a replica that works good, it’s not often that it feels the same.

How many boards do you personally shape? I haven’t been shaping in six months, really. I made a couple that I still haven’t ridden because they didn’t look good. I was just getting back in the water six months ago from tearing my MCL and it was time to buckle down and film. I wasn’t really fucking around with my own designs.

Did you have to make some lifestyle changes after that injury? What do you mean, like getting fat? (laughs) I’ve been trying, yeah. But pretty much everything that you love to do is bad for you. That’s why I saw Michel Bourez on the beach playing rugby yesterday, I’m like fuck, I need to find hobbies like that.

I can’t picture you throwing metal in a gym. No, I tried that for a while. After France, I did a month of real diet and training and stuff. It sucked. I had a physical trainer come and stay with me and she taught me about nutrition, which I’ve never really known about. I grew up eating grilled-cheese sandwiches and quesadillas, and bean and cheese burritos and I’m surprised I don’t have diabetes. Or that I wasn’t fatter to begin with. But yeah, just obvious stuff to most people, cutting out most of the breads and empty calories and shit like that. I’m not really on that program anymore but we’ve been eating well but still drinking beer.

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inverted and technical, Dane’s air game remains a notch above even after leaving the competitive scene at the end of 2011. Sequence by Bosko

Did she change your life? Well, it wasn’t too hard. It was fun to learn about it and the tools to live a healthier lifestyle. We were doing a lot of gym exercises. We weren’t in the gym but we’d do it in my front yard. I don’t know what anything is called, like step through ladders, jump over shit, that kind of stuff. I picked up the dumbbells once she left, but I wasn’t motivated. I would do it a bit, but I felt like I was doing shit wrong, like I was going to hurt myself. I ended up going for long bike rides, hiking, shit like that.

Will you be doing cross fit with Kai Borg next? No, I don’t even know exactly what cross fit is, but I don’t think we were doing it.

How much weight did you lose? I don’t know. After she left, I quit weighing myself. But I weighed myself right before I went to the doctor, before I came here. I had a two-week cough and it was so shitty. I was coming here, so I went to see if there was anything I could do about it. I got weighed then. I was 193lbs where I was up to 205lbs at some point. I’ve got to stay on the program.

What’s your undoing? I think beer is the devil. Why can’t it be good? Why can’t it be like a protein shake or something? That’s like God’s joke on humans. What if you just drank beer all night and it was just like drinking juice and protein shakes.

What’s really interesting you about surfing right now? Why everybody is putting pop punk back in their sections. Every section that comes out, all of a sudden it’s like the quickest a trend has ever hit.

If you dropped a clip tomorrow, how would you soundtrack it? You’d have to fool around. You really have to put all the footage in a timeline and lay a couple tracks down. Maybe you could go into it thinking you want a rock-and-roll track and then it just doesn’t look right. All of a sudden you’re using a dance track or something. It’s all about matching the certain energy level of surfing. Whenever I put out sections, I like it to be something that I’ve been listening to and psyching on. It’s not just something you pull off Spotify.

What’s the shittiest part about surfing right now? Shit, I don’t know. Crowds? That’s definitely been the shittiest thing. There’s just too many surfers in the world. It’s crazy. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I swear, the population of surfers is multiplying. I donít know how everybody is going to enjoy it anymore.

Is that the biggest motivation to travel? The biggest. I can’t really perform in crowds. I don’t know, I think maybe I’m too nice, but I can’t burn dudes. And you can’t get in a rhythm and catch a lot of waves if you’re not being a dick out there. I just can’t surf with people. I seriously want to paddle in. I get sprayed a lot.

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