It’s not often a surf movie brings you to tears but you might just want to pop a couple of hankies in your pocket if you are coming along to join us for the nationwide screenings of the epic, and very touching ‘Momentum Generation’ movie over the next few weeks. It’s rare we get to see proper surf movies on the big screen and this one is a belter!
Book your tickets to see the movie here.
One of the main protagonists is none other than the iconic Californian master of flow; Mr. Rob Machado.
Now, we here at Wavelength thought it would be remiss of us not to catch up with the man himself to find out a bit more about what he has been up to of late, what his thoughts are on the way the movie turned out and of course, how he likes his tea in the morning so we picked up the phone and had a quick chat – enjoy!
SL: Hey Rob, how are you doing?
RM: I’m good man, just tucking into a morning cup of tea
SL: Can you set the scene – where are you, what are you doing?
RM: I’m standing in my living room, I’ve got a nice warm cup of tea, the waves are two to three foot, clean offshore, it looks really fun, just waking up slow today, had a big surf yesterday, just getting the day going.
SL: How do you take your tea?
RM: Well it’s not your traditional cup of tea, this morning I have ginger tea with another blend of green tea, lemongrass and spearmint, with some fresh ginger ground into it and a bit of Cascara…
SL: Goodness me, that sounds like the ultimate zen blend. Is this a regular thing?
RM: Ha – I’m not even done yet, then I sprinkle a bit of turmeric and cayenne pepper and then a dash of honey to sweeten it up. And that’s my morning routine..
SL: Amazing! Now if you don’t mind I’m going to bring it back to the movie. I’ve got to admit I actually cried a bit when I watched it! I was also born in the mid 70’s so the whole Momentum movement, you know ‘Slater in Black and White’ and ‘Drifting’, they were the soundtrack to my surfing life, so it was interesting to have the gloss taken off it a bit. It felt like it was the most revealing, most honest and candid portrayal of that group that I’ve ever seen. Did it feel a bit like that?
RM: Honestly, when we all watched it together we all cried. It was a crazy moment because we all flew to New York and watched the movie together, and we all walked out of there and all hugged each other and all looked at each other in such a different way, you know I think it was finally a moment when we could all step back and say ‘we’re past this now.’
You know, because we were so competitive with each other, we were such, nobody wanted to show any weakness and we were all going through our own shit and everybody was just kind of too tough to show what was really going on. And it took this movie to expose it all and we all just kind of stepped back and looked at each other and said ‘wow dude’! We all kind of looked at each other and said ‘why didn’t you say something man?’
SL: Sounds like a real watershed moment – to discover new things about each other?
RM: Yeah – Or even if it was stuff that we knew, we didn’t know how to communicate about it to each other. Maybe it was competitiveness, with what was going on between us with surfing and life, and Taylor Steele movies, so it was cool and very revealing and it brought us all together in a new way, and now we can appreciate it so much more.
SL: It’s amazing, and I think it comes across in the movie as well, it feels like it’s the tip of the iceberg, but it’s interesting that the movie in itself is the catalyst to then deepening the friendships and the understanding in real life, it’s not like the movie is a separate abstract from your day to day reality with your friends.
RM: Yeah, that was what was beautiful about it, I don’t think people realised, and I don’t think we realised what was really happening. We were just reacting and just following our dreams and just going for it and trying to deal with stuff as it came in front of us, and now we look back at it and say “Wow man, we went through a lot of shit!” and I think our lives in the public eye were all so glorious it was like guys winning contents and travelling the world and making Taylor Steele movies and everything just looked great with bells and whistles and rainbows, and I think the movie just kind of exposes what’s happening behind all of that, what was really going on.
SL: And I guess it takes a certain amount of maturity and intellect as well to be able to communicate those feelings to each other.
RM: Very much so, and I think the Zimbalist brothers did a really good job, their interview work was above and beyond, everybody was pretty baffled, they spent a lot of time researching and really digging deep and pushing us beyond any normal interview we’ve ever done. I think everybody walked out of that interview and just said ‘that was the heaviest interview I’ve ever done, you know, I cried I laughed.’ It was very enlightening to come out of an interview and just be blown away like that, it was a testament to them really.
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📷 Jeff hammer Repost from @oldsurfermags This photo was shot in 1994 at south jetty Oceanside. I still remember this exact wave… I was tryin to get some speed to make a long section when some backwash from the jetty threw me off balance… I had to make some adjustments and ended up in this unique position. Makes an interesting photo.
SL: One thing that struck me when I watched it, right at the start, the very first thing we are confronted with .. and I think it sets the tone a little bit, we find out that Kelly’s dad was an alcoholic, Taylor’s dad was in to his drugs in the music industry… Dorian’s dad was an alcoholic, Benji’s dad was really violent and angry, Kalani’s mum left him to fend for himself and I thought it was interesting that nothing was really said about your parents. I know from other bits and pieces that Kelly had a really nice relationship with your dad. Did you have a normal upbringing, relative to this kind of quite extreme situation in the group?
RM: Yeah, that was interesting, I noticed that when I watched the film too, my upbringing was…(brief reflective pause) my mum and dad were very blue collar, my dad worked construction, my mum worked as a school teacher, and me and my dad got very involved in surfing when we started going to contests.
He was very much a part of it and he became a coach for the national team, which Kelly was on and we were all on together. For Kelly, Pat O ‘Conell, and a lot of those kids who didn’t have that father figure, my dad, I think kind of helped fill that role a little bit. But I grew up in little sleepy Cardiff by the sea and I guess there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about as far as my upbringing.
SL: I think in the movie you mention it, that when it came down to it you didn’t quite have that killer instinct, that ‘win at all costs’ attitude. From the sound of it you were very close, but maybe it’s that extra percentile of anger, of frustration, that allows you to then focus a bit more on winning, and you look for winning for that gratification, that maybe you didn’t have because of your happier upbringing. That might have cost you a world title or two.
RM: Ha -Yeah, maybe it did, you’re right! It’s really hard to pinpoint, but it would be interesting to do a study across all sports to see how many of these amazing athletes, with their upbringings and family lives, because there is definitely some sort of correlation it feels like, if kids are brought up in a tough environment then obviously they are going to turn to something else and they focus all that energy on to a sport, then they can produce amazing results, for me, maybe that was the missing link in me.
SL: Damn your happy, kind, friendly parents, stealing those world titles away from you, how dare they!
(laughs) That was why I went for a high five (ed. – in the Epic 95’ Pipeline final), like Sunny said, I should have ran him over.
SL: Kelly’s reaction to that feels honest, like you guys were saying in the movie, and I believe him.
SL: Now, was there anything missing from the movie, what was something you could fill in now? Where you could say ‘actually, you know what, this would have been interesting to cover’…
RM: That’s a good question, that’s a really good question, you know the interview process for each of us, like I said, I did an eight hour interview and a follow-up interview that was another five or six hours, and I know everybody else was on a similar program. Everybody did a minimum of an eight-hour interview, so there was probably so much stuff… they really had to focus in on some key points, key moments and really build a storyline to make it all make sense.
If we talked about every little controversial thing that went on between each guy, they kind of had to focus in on the main ones… I don’t know man, that’s a tough one!
SL: Hey Rob, I’m afraid we are going to have to leave it there as we have Taylor Steele waiting for us on the other line – Do you have a message for him?
RM: Yeah that’s right, he’s in Texas, so ask him how the Tequila hangover is… I’m sure he had a few last night.
SL: We certainly will … hey, thank you for your time this morning Rob, and hopefully catch up again soon… enjoy your tea!
Thanks guys… good luck with the movie tour…hope it goes well – and thanks for the call!
And off he went into the California morning haze … there was so much more we would have liked to talk about with Rob, but there was simply not the time, with Taylor on the other line an’ all! But what was evidently clear, is that here is a man who has set his life up in a very pleasing, balanced manner- something you would expect from the way he approaches his surfing- but to see it manifest in such a way, one could not help but be happy for him, pleased that good things do actually happen to good people!
It would have been lovely to chat for a few more hours – I’m sure we would have delved into his recent, very successful foray into board shaping with his ‘Rob Machado Surfboards’ and the blossoming relationship with the guys at Firewire or explored all the great work he is doing with his eponymous foundation – educating the youth about the importance of clean water and protecting our fragile earth in fact to really get to know this icon of our sport it would probably take a lifetime… but we had to crack on…
SL: Hey Taylor, how’s things?
Taylor Steele: It’s all good yeah, I just got done surfing the wave pool at Waco, so I’m in a good place….
Keep an eye out for the full interview with Taylor dropping soon…