Stab Magazine | Taj Burrow Left His $100k Firewire Contract To Ride Mayhems For Free

Taj Burrow Left His $100k Firewire Contract To Ride Mayhems For Free

Reminiscing on the past six years with Matt “Mayhem” Biolos.  

style // Jun 23, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

In 2012, Taj Burrow left a $100,000 annual contract with Firewire to ride Matt “Mayhem” Biolos’  boards for free. Six years later, Taj is still on Mayhems and doesn’t show any signs of leaving. Taking a break from the words of Taj (to be sure, more TB insight is coming soon!) we had a discussion with Mr. Biolos on their surfer/shaper relationship.

Stab: Do you remember the first time you ever saw Taj surf?

I actually don’t. The first time he came on my radar was after Strider gave us all his “Handycam” footage he shot while on an early Mentawais boat Trip. Prob ‘96? Strider, TC, RCJ, Dave Dixon and Taj was a little Quik grom that came along.  

I remember Reola (my business partner, who masterminded our video program) said, “He’s a gnarly Grom.” 

You guys used to sort of rag on him in the …Lost videos, right? How did the love affair happen? 

Never ragged on Taj. But on the aforementioned trip, the older guys got blitzed, and they took the Grom abuse thing pretty far. They tortured Taj. Ducked taped him up, poured ketchup and god knows what else all over him. It was a bit overboard. Strider filmed it all. We put it in our debaucherous travel video, “On The Road…With Spike”. 

It might have ended TBs Quiksilver relationship…

Watch this before moving on, you won’t regret it.

What did you think his surfing was missing, riding Firewires, and why was he one of the guys you wanted to board builds for?  

He had a good run on the Firewires. He won a bunch of events. I think the thing was he couldn’t get custom boards built quick enough. Maybe that stagnated his design progression. It’s hard to take chances when it take too long to get boards. 

I think he may have stuck with those needle nose, rocketed out, thin-tailed chips longer than was maybe needed. At the time, guys were transferring to more forgiving boards at a rapid rate. I was able to make him boards quickly and since I didn’t have the stress of him using them in events, I could risk leasing him different, more forgiving design directions. 

mayhem clean2

The sled still hanging in Matt’s office.

What was that first board for him? What were you trying to put under his feet, and why?

I made him a board in a low-pro manner in Sumer 2011. He was hanging in SC, surfing with Kolohe, and noticing how fast and forgiving Kolohe’s small wave boards were. We did a few batches, and at the end of the year, his Firewire contract came up. He decided to go freelance. Right before the 2012 season, I sent him a batch of “Contest boards”.

He ended up winning Snapper on one of them. I have the board in my office. 

He seems like one of the major influences on the younger guys on your team—Kolohe Andino, Griff Colapinto, etc. What’s it been like having a veteran like Taj working on boards, as far as influencing your younger rider’s equipment, approach, etc? 

He really mentored Kolohe during Brother’s first few years on tour. We really felt like a team. It was great – the established legend and the super grom.  His influence on Hi-Fi Surfing over the last two decades is everywhere. 

Does Taj’s long-term influence suffer from him not having won a World Title, or is he a beloved enough character to remain iconic for another twenty years? 

I think surfers almost love him more for it. I dunno. It’s just not in the cards. We all excel and make our mark in deferent ways. He’s probably the most respected non-title holding surfer in history. Him and Dane Reynolds. Both will be revered for decades. 


“Winning Lowers was a highlight in both our lives. That was a good party,” says Matt. Here’s a photo of Taj and Matt – albeit far from San Clemente.



Short of Kelly and Dane, Taj has always been one of those surfers whose boards moved the design needle as far as what everyday surfers rode (see: Firewire 1.0). How do his models compare to others in the lineup as far as popularity goes? Whiplash, Baby Buggy, there are a few bestsellers in there, no? 

I never worked with Taj until his 30’s. The thing about working with a vet, is they know what they want, and how to communicate. I had a similar relationship with Shane Beschen, who was in his later twenties when we started. They really push you. 

Most of my current roster of World Tour surfers are influenced by, and ride the Whiplash to this day, in real surf. The thing is, Taj has a smaller frame and lightning reflexes. A lot like Filipe Toledo. Filly’s boards actually look very similar to TBs boards from six years ago. They are similar surfers in physic and technique. Minimalistic and very refined. The Beach Buggy was a commercial and competitive success. Once Taj “ Retired” he opened up to more ideas. We’ve had a couple great, more user-friendly, commercial designs in the last few years. The Baby Buggy stands out. There’s more on the way. 

Taj seems notorious for showing his pals a good time, spreading the love. Agree? 

[Laughs] Well, yea. I suppose. He knows how to enjoy life and I think that’s a big attraction. 

What’s the best time you’ve ever had with him? 

When he won events was always pretty epic. Snapper, Santa Cruz. Winning Lowers was a highlight in both our lives. That was a good party. The morning after, I went to his rented SC house, as I’d left something there while partying. His big Hurley Pro Train Track trophy was sitting there, so I stole it! I let him squirm and freak out for a couple days. 

Cruel joke. 

He was distraught. Finally, I told his girlfriend at the time (a local San Clemente girl ) that I had it. It was in my office. She was relieved and the next day we gave it back to him. He had to laugh. A few years ago I took my entire family and we crashed at his house in WA, for a week, with him, and a very pregnant Becca. That was a great memory. 

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 Taj Burrow Eden2

When Taj’s knee heals up, the next ten years will surely involve a bit of this.



What does Taj’s life look like in ten years? 

Oh, man. He’s got his personal paradise there in WA. I see him leaving less and less. Maybe just for Indo strike missions. Hopefully, he and Bec have a couple more kids. He’s awesome with kids. Maybe in 15 years, he will be doing the tour again, supporting his daughter! 

What have you been making for him lately? 

Lots of fun stuff. Short n wide, fast and foiled. 

We’ve actually kinda been going off. He’s got three designs he’s really digging. We are rolling out two of them in Aus, soon. One is a spin-off of the Rock-up called the Sabotaj. The other is the Baby Buggy 2. We are all very excited about them.  


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