Dane reynolds – Everybody Wants Some!

Dane Reynolds speaks his mind.

All the catch phrases for Dane Reynolds went through my head when I was trying to decide what to ask him in this interview. Is he the next big thing? Is he God’s gift to surfing? Is he the next world champ? Is he a future hippie burnout or a confused kid just trying to make sense of the expectations set out before him? But really, think about it-who is Dane Reynolds? I’m sure by now, with all the media coverage he’s gotten, you’ve already started to form your opinion. Dane, to you, might be a child prodigy on the verge of superstardom, just another air guy, a future WCTer, or a spoiled pro surfer. Whatever you think of him now, take a minute, hear what he has to say; you might learn something about a guy who could very well change surfing as we know it. No matter how you slice it, Dane isn’t the future, he is the now.-Chris Cote

For exclusive video of this interview, look for the (*) icon and go to transworldsurf.com.

Chris Cotà‡: Do you feel pretty young to be headlining a major movie?
Dane Reynolds: Yeah, but then you look at Kelly, he did Black & White when he was eighteen or nineteen. Tim Curran did Here & Now when he was eighteen. I guess it’s just kind of standard these days. Jamie O’Brien did his when he was my age 20. But at the same time, I’m still only two years out of the NSSA, so yeah, I do feel young.

What’s it like watching yourself on the screen, whether it’s editing or at a premiere?
Well, sometimes it makes you cringe and sometimes you’re pleased.

What about it makes you cringe?
Some days you just think that you’re ripping and you’re just not. Sometimes that’s the beauty of watching footage of yourself-it makes you progress, because if you’re always happy with your surfing, then you’re never going to get better. If you watch it and you’re always trying to better yourself, then you are cringing.
You end up weeding out the bad parts of your surfing by being frustrated with those parts and you think about it more when you’re out in the water and it’s almost like natural selection.

What’s harder, making your own video and being happy with it or making the WCT?
Well, I’ve only done one of them. Making my own video is much easier, but for some people making the ‘CT could be easier. I guess it’s just a personal thing, because for me, making the ‘CT seems so far away right now, especially after just losing second round in one-foot Huntington. It just seems so unattainable. But then you see these guys who are on the ‘CT that aren’t that impressive and it makes you realize that it’s so much more about competitive surfing than about who’s the best surfer, and that just frustrates me.

How many times a day or per interview do media hounds ask you about the ‘CT? You must be getting sick of it at this point.
That’s the number one question I get asked: when am I going to try to make the WCT. It’s a frustrating thing, because the ‘QS is such a hell tour and that’s why I quit doing it last year, because I was just trying to keep my points up and not even thinking of qualifying. I was just kind of there to be there, and it’s just such a waste of time. If you’re there, you have to be there to win or else your just going to be like … I was going to say a name |laughs|. You’re gonna end up being the guy who’s been on the ‘QS and is thirtysomething years old and might as well give up. When I do the ‘QS, I’m really going to try to knock it out as quickly as I can, but it’s so hard. Especially after something like today happens and your confidence just deflates |Dane had just lost early in the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach|.

So being a media A-hole myself, when are you going to try to make the WCT?
Next year I’m going to do it all. The problem is that I won’t really have a good seed, so I won’t be able to get into the big events, but I’ll start hammering away at it.
And I’ll be there to win, merciless. Thatas my problem before, I’d be in a heat and be too much of a nice guy and get taken advantage of and you can’t do that. No mercy.

There are no friends on the WQS.
No, not at all. You’ve got to hassle, and if you don’t hassle them, then they’re going to hassle you, so you’ve just got to be an asshole and take the initiative.

So surfing as a profession is work, it’s a job?
I wouldn’t call it a job, but it’s a pain in the ass sometimes.

What’s your average day like?
I don’t have an average day, that’s the biggest problem. I like having a little routine, but I’m only home for a week at a time, so I never really get a routine going. I’m usually doing laundry and getting ready for my next trip by the time I even settle in at home. I’ve gotten used to it and I like life on the road, but I definitely don’t have an average day.

So besides movies and doing promos and all the stuff, what is being a professional surfer to you? If someone didn’t know shit about surfing and they said, “What do you do for a living?” what do you tell them?
When people ask me about that, I try to downplay it and pretend that there’s no money in surfing, and that I don’t have a real job. I didn’t even graduate high school. I always shock them with that one, because basically they think I’m a bum. It’s a real business, and it is a lot of work, but I try to downplay it and pretend that it’s not, because I wish that it wasn’t.

Is being a pro surfer different than what you expected it would be like when you were a kid?
You expect to just go on trips, surf, and live the life-basically I am, but there’s so much planning and people who want something from you. Everybody wants something from you, whether it’s people who want my old surfboards, people who want you to come to their shop promo to people who …. I don’t know, it seems like some people see a pro surfer and their eyes light up, like it’s either something free or some way to help themselves.

There’s a lyric on the new Thom Yorke CD that says “Are you only being nice because you want something?” Do you ever get that feeling from people?
Definitely. There’re so many fake nice people to me, actually. Everywhere I go there’s people that are fake nice and I have to be fake nice back. I hate being fake nice, but sometimes you can’t do it, there’s no other way about it.

What’s your biggest fear as a pro surfer?
Right now there are so many expectations and I fear not fulfilling them. But at the same time, I never asked those people to expect anything from me. It’s their own fault if they get let down. I never asked for any of this, really. It’s definitely a fear to never make the ‘CT and to never succeed-probably the biggest fear is to go on the WQS and end up one of those guys who’s 30 years old and still trying.

When you get these kind of thoughts or emotions, do you have a mentor or do you have someone you go to and ask advice?
No, I don’t. I’m basically on my own.

Really? You feel like you’re in this thing by yourself?
Pretty much. I have a lot of good friends, but not in that sense. We don’t really talk about the whole pro-surfing part of my life. Basically, just friends on other terms. I don’t have a whole lot of people. My parents, family, and friends are really supportive of my surfing career, but at the same time, I don’t really get much help.

You’re like a samurai, a solo warrior out there. You know you have a big support system, but do you feel like if there was that person you could go to, what kind of advice would you ask them?
I don’t know. It seems like every time that I’m at a WCT, guys put in their two cents about competitive things and I hate hearing it, to be honest. I hate getting into that competitive mode and having such a set plan when you go into a heat. I hate when it happens at bars or whatever, when I’m cruising.

Didn’t Bruce Irons give you some good advice?
Yeah, he said everybody was trying to tell him to do the same f-king thing. He said, ‘F-k ’em all.’

F-k’em all-that’s your new slogan.
Yeah, I’ll just start saying that. Especially when I get praised, too. I hate being praised by people, I never know what to say.

Well you put yourself in an awkward position for that by putting out a video, right? You’re either going to get praised or written off.
Good. I want to get written off.

So bring on the bad reviews?
It’s fine if they want to praise me, but not to my face. I don’t know how to accept praise. Like, what am I supposed to say? “Yeah, I’m rad, thanks” |laughs|. I don’t know, I’m not Mr. Self-Promoter.

Obviously surf magazines are either on your nuts constantly or hating on you. Do the magazines ever piss you off?
I read them all, and the only time that it pisses me off is when it’s a quote from me and it comes out differently than I had intended it. Then it just makes me look like an asshole, and I don’t feel like I’m an asshole, so that kind of bums me out.

If you could run your own show and a magazine gave you complete power to do your own pro spotlight or whatever, what do you think a good theme or good title would be for your story?
I don’t know. That’s a first for that question. I’ve never heard that before. I guess Lone Soldier.

What about labels like “Golden Child,” or “Reluctant Superstar”? Do those labels bum you out?
Yeah, because they’re just building up more pressure.

How famous is too famous?
I guess when you can’t live a normal life. When you’re being recognized everywhere. I’m not even famous right now, but it’s almost too hectic as it is with all of the phone calls and things that people expect from me. I wouldn’t really want it to get too much crazier. I’ve hired a manager, and it’s meant to settle that down, hopefully with the phone calls. I want to have everyone call him, but I always feel awkward saying that.

You’ve gotta learn how to say, “Call my manager.”
I know. I feel like such a brat saying that.

On the fame tip, you obviously have to deal with groupies. Has that come into play as you’re putting yourself more out there? How’s the pro-ho scene?
Yeah, I get that sometimes. I was just in England and it was kind of gnarly. There was a bunch of girls there because we premiered my movie in a bar. They look at you sitting in the corner, then they see you on the screen, and they come your way. But I’ve got a girlfriend, so it’s definitely really hard.

Let’s get back to surfing. Do you still get amped to surf?
I get so psyched to go surf when I’m at home. I love to watch surf videos at night and get up early all psyched to go surf.

Really? Like, full grommet style?
Not as often as I used to, but I still do and I probably get more psyched to go surf now than I ever have. I just went to Europe and did premieres and didn’t even surf. So coming home from that, I was so psyched to go surf. I went and surfed Lowers and was hassling people and doing head snaps all the way to the beach. I get so psyched up. When you have so many other things going on in your life, it feels that much better to go surf and just clear your head.

You were thrust into the spotlight pretty early, being called the next Kelly Slater and shit. Do you ever feel like you missed part of your grommethood?
Not really, because they started calling everybody “the next Kelly Slater.” Anybody who gets a 9.5 at one point in the NSSA is called “the next Kelly Slater.” I always felt like I didn’t have a chance to make it, compared to the guys from San Diego. I started doing contests when I was thirteen. All these kids had sponsors on their boards and I was jealous. I wasn’t sponsored until later, compared to the average kid from Orange County or San Diego. I was a full-on grommet, my friends and I used to video each other and make surf videos, and you’d wax up your bhe said everybody was trying to tell him to do the same f-king thing. He said, ‘F-k ’em all.’

F-k’em all-that’s your new slogan.
Yeah, I’ll just start saying that. Especially when I get praised, too. I hate being praised by people, I never know what to say.

Well you put yourself in an awkward position for that by putting out a video, right? You’re either going to get praised or written off.
Good. I want to get written off.

So bring on the bad reviews?
It’s fine if they want to praise me, but not to my face. I don’t know how to accept praise. Like, what am I supposed to say? “Yeah, I’m rad, thanks” |laughs|. I don’t know, I’m not Mr. Self-Promoter.

Obviously surf magazines are either on your nuts constantly or hating on you. Do the magazines ever piss you off?
I read them all, and the only time that it pisses me off is when it’s a quote from me and it comes out differently than I had intended it. Then it just makes me look like an asshole, and I don’t feel like I’m an asshole, so that kind of bums me out.

If you could run your own show and a magazine gave you complete power to do your own pro spotlight or whatever, what do you think a good theme or good title would be for your story?
I don’t know. That’s a first for that question. I’ve never heard that before. I guess Lone Soldier.

What about labels like “Golden Child,” or “Reluctant Superstar”? Do those labels bum you out?
Yeah, because they’re just building up more pressure.

How famous is too famous?
I guess when you can’t live a normal life. When you’re being recognized everywhere. I’m not even famous right now, but it’s almost too hectic as it is with all of the phone calls and things that people expect from me. I wouldn’t really want it to get too much crazier. I’ve hired a manager, and it’s meant to settle that down, hopefully with the phone calls. I want to have everyone call him, but I always feel awkward saying that.

You’ve gotta learn how to say, “Call my manager.”
I know. I feel like such a brat saying that.

On the fame tip, you obviously have to deal with groupies. Has that come into play as you’re putting yourself more out there? How’s the pro-ho scene?
Yeah, I get that sometimes. I was just in England and it was kind of gnarly. There was a bunch of girls there because we premiered my movie in a bar. They look at you sitting in the corner, then they see you on the screen, and they come your way. But I’ve got a girlfriend, so it’s definitely really hard.

Let’s get back to surfing. Do you still get amped to surf?
I get so psyched to go surf when I’m at home. I love to watch surf videos at night and get up early all psyched to go surf.

Really? Like, full grommet style?
Not as often as I used to, but I still do and I probably get more psyched to go surf now than I ever have. I just went to Europe and did premieres and didn’t even surf. So coming home from that, I was so psyched to go surf. I went and surfed Lowers and was hassling people and doing head snaps all the way to the beach. I get so psyched up. When you have so many other things going on in your life, it feels that much better to go surf and just clear your head.

You were thrust into the spotlight pretty early, being called the next Kelly Slater and shit. Do you ever feel like you missed part of your grommethood?
Not really, because they started calling everybody “the next Kelly Slater.” Anybody who gets a 9.5 at one point in the NSSA is called “the next Kelly Slater.” I always felt like I didn’t have a chance to make it, compared to the guys from San Diego. I started doing contests when I was thirteen. All these kids had sponsors on their boards and I was jealous. I wasn’t sponsored until later, compared to the average kid from Orange County or San Diego. I was a full-on grommet, my friends and I used to video each other and make surf videos, and you’d wax up your board at night and sleep with it in your bed. I was still fully like that until I was fourteen, so I didn’t miss out on much. I don’t think that I was even sponsored until I was fourteen or fifteen. I was always pissed off because I felt like the kids down south got pushed a bunch because they were all sponsored. I thought that they were like pro surfers already. Travis Mellem would come down the contests with Sunny Garcia and I’d be like, “Whoa!”

What do you like about surfing? What draws you to it and what keeps you amped?
There is just nothing else like it. There’s no other feeling that’s as good as being on the beach about to surf when the waves are pumping. I surf so many shitty days, but it makes those good days so much better. I don’t know what’s better; before you actually go out there and surf, getting all psyched up and super excited to get out in the water or after having a really good session. Both are equally as good, and it keeps you coming back. I could surf shitty days for two months and keep coming back because I know it’s going to happen one of those days and it’s so worth it when it does.

Do you think that’s what keeps you motivated and keeps you dreaming about it?
Well, it sure as hell isn’t the money that keeps me motivated. Getting photos in magazines doesn’t keep me motivated. I only surf to surf, and the whole job side of it is separate for me. I just love to surf for the actual feeling that you get.

Let’s say you get busted in some crazy scandal down the road. You lose all of your sponsors and everybody hates you-are you still going to surf every single day?
Yes. I would be more psyched to go surf. Right now there’s all of these surf spots that I want to go to up in Northern California that I can’t bring photographers to or whatever. If there’s a swell coming, I could either choose to pull the logos off my board and go up there or go surf Silver Strand and get shots and video. I can’t wait until I’m 30 and just go up there every swell.

That’s your retirement, riding a stickerless board in Northern California?
I’m going to buy a little motor home and drive through all of the Northwest and surf secret waves.

What would your ultimate dream wave be?
It would be a right-hand reef break, a little suck-out that’s a couple of feet overhead. Just take off behind the peak every time and get spit out. Then it turns into a sandbar and starts running along the sandbar, and maybe a punt section off of the end or something.

What’s your dream trick?
You can’t beat a huge straight air. Just single grab, but you’ve got to let go of it. I guess something that I’ve always wanted to do- which I think that somebody will do soon, because I’ve seen Boogie boarders do it-is a 720. I guarantee somebody’s going to do it either whipping in or doing it on a huge wave. A 720 is fully going to happen. I think that is one of the next frontiers.

Do you feel like that might be the future?
That’s what has been happening, and I guess it’ll continue to progress. As far as the future, people are just going to keep putting variations on stuff.

It’s like motorcross and they did the flip and then they started doing the off-axis. It just gets more and more upside-down.
It’s hard to say, because people have been doing varials and attempting kickflips for ten or fifteen years.

Why hasn’t it caught on?
I don’t know. It’s pretty dangerous. Not a lot of people like trying them, because your fins are flying right at you.

But do you think people who read surf magazines like seeing it.
Well, surfers, including myself, we’re pretty much pansies compared to skateboarders. They have no concern for their health and we’re scared of our fins. I know, and I’m guilty of that too, but we definitely need to start destructing ourselves. It’s funny, because I always hurt myself doing stupid shit too, like you do a cutback and your fin slips, your