In Issue #38, we profiled the awesome band Guards. The Californian three-piece has just released their debut album, In Guards We Trust, and we have a bunch of copies to give away. Simply subscribe by 8pm end of Memorial Day weekend (Monday, June 27) and score a free copy. Your music for summer: covered.
A Conversation with...
Posted By Johnny – 02.08.2012
My dad through his teens was a longboarder until the shortboard revolution literally happened over night from what I have been told. During my earliest memories learning to surf, my dad was still trudging away on a thruster until one point he decided to go full circle and return to riding a longboard. Still at that age when I was perpetually in tow behind him, I joined him as he went around looking for a new longboard. It was in a now defunct shop called New Skool that he picked up his first longboard as an adult. If my memory serves me correct, the longboard wasn't even being displayed on the shop floor. It was in the back room. Not sure if it was a space reason or because longboarding wasn't in vogue in the 90's that they wouldn’t even have it out. A guy by the name of Mark helped my dad and he ended up purchasing the board.
I remembered Mark and after that seeing a bunch of shots of him in North East and East Coast surf mags. He was a local standout as a teen in his area and has continued to be still today. Even now, I can picture the brown barrels in the magazines groomed by offshore winds along a shallow sand bank that he was photographed surfing.
Mark graduated from the ranks of a shop grom to one, if not the go to board builder in New York. He shapes under his Faktion label out of a small shed in Oakdale, New York butted up against the Connetquot River. Today, he seems to be straddling the fine line of a shaper who is becoming more in demand from regional and local orders. A task that he tries to fulfill all while remaining true to the essence of a back yard board builder. He is a shaping, sanding, and glassing one man operation. I recently got a board from him and sat down on the tail gate of his truck to catch up and shoot the breeze on what’s going on just as a new surf magazine arrived in the mail.
This has to be Jersey not Rockaway. There is no way a wave in Rockaway could look like that…I mean, do you recognize anything in the background? Who is it? The wave would never be a right and that's a New Jersey photographer too. You ever surf with that dude? Nah, haven't surfed Rockaway in ages… damn, homie filled out! You know him? Not personally. I know who he is though; I haven't seen him since he was a little grom. He rips, all those kids out in Montauk rip. Ya, they are really good. They have had waves all summer. Always! Like the beginning of the summer we were getting skunked up here and they were having like chest high surf out there for three days. Ya but where I’m at on Fire Island we get some sneakers too. But you guys don't have a bottom. True, no bottom! I love this; it says here "surfers from Manhattan don't know what respect is". So, what would be your ideal board for a customer? I push the Frocket model; I think it is one of the best boards for around here. What do you like about it? I like the shortness of it and that it can work from knee high to slightly over head and not slide out like a fish. The dumpster diver is kind of the same concept pretty much, wider nose, wider tail. Everything is going in that direction. The needle nose is kind of...A thing of the past. No they still work when the waves are firing. But a lot of people are finding out, that if you aren't a good surfer then you aren't going to do shit on that board. You know 75% of people need the crutch. Guys pick up a board and put it under their arm and sure it looks and feels sick but get it out in waist high mush and you’re screwed. Then you will have 40 year old guys running circles around you on their beefier boards. What qualifies a board as a "crutch"? A crutch would be all those quads and stuff. What about when it pumps here, would you go to a step up board or go smaller like Slater has been doing in large surf? No, because that's Slater and you can't reference him. You know how he is, he could take any board out of this garage and destroy it in any condition. True, well then what’s you standard shortboard size here? I pretty much will go with my 5'9 even though I feel like I could even get away with a 5'8. I ride my 5'6 frocket most of the time even when it gets pretty sizable. As a shaper coming up, who did you draw inspiration from or who today do you still? It changes from time to time. For a fish, I like Larry Mabile. His quads are sick. For shortboards, I don't even know, sometimes I guess maybe Mayhem. But my all time favorite shaper is Rick Hamon an old Rusty shaper. I used to get boards from him and they were my favorite of all time, the best I have ever ridden. You could easily notice how good they were from riding one. Is he still shaping for Rusty? I don't know. Actually, a few years ago I was going to try and find out right when I was starting Faktion. I don't even know him. When you shape a board, are you referencing boards that already exist? Well when I first started shaping, you see that Cannibal in the garage, I took that board and outlined it and tweaked it so many times. I used to ride that board all the time. That board is 6'0. So you were one of those guys then, groveling out there on the 6'0? What do you mean? You were doing the Huntington hop across the whole beach? Ya, pretty much. Well, until ...Lost came out with the 5'5 x 19 1/4 fish. That was the first crutch. Did you have one? Ya, but I was more into the double wing rocket fish. The rocket fish was a double winged, wider nose shortboard. That’s what I was getting when I was in Florida. Those boards work well; to think of it I should bring that design back. What about in the winter when you were younger, still the same 6'0? Yup, still the same 6'0. Still and what you’re just sinking out there? I wasn't sinking really, because it was too much board. But back then, no one really knew. It was kind of the norm back then. What did you ride? I started on a beater but then moved on to a 6'2. My dad was pushing me into waves on that. ya, and when you were getting better as a surfer, you were still probably riding bigger shortboards, needle nose style and narrow rockered out. You see that round tail, I have had that in day’s barley waist high and just blazing. But you would never think that by looking at it. You would be like this board needs an overhead wave! What do you think about these fusion designs, where you take the front half of one board and mix it with the back half of another? For me, its just weird looking. It may be completely functional, but my head is telling me it is not. For me its head games, something could be perfect and work but if it looks weird to me then my heads going to be thinking differently. Does that sound weird? No not at all. We are a visually driven society. It is like why do you make anything look a certain way? Things are designed with hopefully an equal balance of form and function. If something is visually appealing, then it will most likely be sought after. Or to flip the conversation, you could just live in Indo and surf perfect waves on a perfect board. Then you can try a bunch of designs out. I think we are just limited on our surf; we have to make do with what we have.Then why do you choose to be a shaper here? It's fuckin' home and if I go to California or anywhere else in the world, I’m a dime a dozen. Where as here, I have my own little niche because there is a board built here for our own style of waves. A board with a bit straighter of an outline because that’s what is going to give you more drive. A lot of the waves around here don't have the push as say the Pacific Ocean. There is a lot more power out there you can feel it when you jump in. Curvy outlines work great in a wave with push, but when you are on your average beach break around here, and you got to drive that board to get it moving, you want a straighter outline. Yes, I can see how you could have longevity here. Yes, that's what I want. The way I’m doing it is tough, I work out of a small shed which is cool and all and some people like the fact that it is real homegrown and rootsy but it can suck. Once I get this other shed it will be night and day. But then if I keep expanding then I’ll probably have to make another move into what, a factory? Then I have more overhead. Yes, and then you will have to get a CNC machine and start out sourcing to China. When’s that happening? What are you talking about, it already happened.
For more info on Mark Petrocelli contact Faktion Surfboards here.
Los Angelenos, make sure to catch the Blank Tapes perform at the Satellite, Friday, May 31st, as they celebrate the release of their latest record, Vacation, which after having a listen to the groovy tunes makes me want to pack up the van and do just that. The evening also brings you sets from fellow favorites The Abigails and Jeffertitti's Nile.
A whopping $8 bones. Get at it.
As introduction to this years Surf Film Festival, those crazy Spanish dudes have made a mockumentary series about searching for the perfect wave. Definitely the most insane and ridiculous, filming the festival has been part of all leading up to the official image of Surf Film Festival 11.
This years festival has events running through the entire summer, in partnership with other collectives who work around the ocean; new exhibitions, cultural spaces and workshops. Heaps of music, good films from Thomas Cmapbell, Taylor Stelle, Patrick Trefz and many more, all to be announced on the 30th of May.
Chapter 1: The boat leaves for new adventure
Chapter 2: Swimming with skarks to the desert island
Chapter 3: Finding the perfect wave
The ourCASTE Quick Cuts series are a bi-monthly collaborative release from a community of enthusiasts interpreting the things they love through different mediums influenced by the sub-cultures that connect us all.
Visualising a story of places they've been, people they've met and experiences shared together, ourCASTE seek to be a curator of sorts to the youth and an outlet for those weird, left brain ideas to be projected to that otherwise wouldn't necisarily have a home for. The end goal aiming to be a series entirely created by contributors.
Check out the website to see a bit more what they're about.