Catching up with Andrew Kidman, Part II

[Jesse Gold and Andrew Kidman. Union Pool, Brooklyn. Photo Banjo McLachlan]

Andrew Kidman played an intimate acoustic set Sunday night to a packed Union Pool house. Local gal Jesse Gold shared vocals on a few songs adding a feminine touch to the sound. The crowd who'd been grooving to the Morning of the Earth soundtrack needed a few minutes to adjust to the sweet earnest innocence of Andrew's voice. During "Atlantic City Ashes," an audience member whispered that it could've been on Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska." Neil Young and Crazy Horse come to mind as musical references but so does Lou Reed. Andrew's son Guthrie is named after Woody and Kidman's music, especially unplugged, channels the American folk legend.

More of Andrew's music can be heard on a 10" vinyl recording that comes with his book Ether, a collection of photographs and interviews documenting twenty years of his work, published in 2006. Copies are currently available at Pilgrim Brooklyn.

[Andrew Kidman photographed by Joe Falcone]

Part II continued...

Mike Machemer: Can you tell me more about "Tom Curren Pants," I've seen Franco wearing them with Cabrales.

Andrew Kidman: When we were making Spirit of Akasha, Tom came out and stayed with me for a couple of weeks. He wanted to go shopping at Target whenever we weren’t surfing, he was buying these reef boots so he could go running around the country roads where I live. It was pretty funny, grown men going shopping at a budget department store together. I bought some $12 tartan pajamas, which Tom approved of. Tom’s always had this odd Euro-style, probably from living in France in the '80s. I told him about Brandon "Chicken" Balabus from Long Island, and how the first time we met he was rocking these ‘Tom Curren pants"... '80s Euro-style track pants. Stupid shit you talk about when you’re shopping at Target with one of the most stylish surfers in history, maybe the style doesn’t transcend the land.

[Andrew and Tom get back from shopping. Photo Michele Lockwood]

MM: Looking forward to Curren's part in Akasha, your role this time around was more of a director than cinematographer?

AK: I basically orchestrated the project. The music, the photography, I did both as well, but it was nice to step back and see what others wanted to contribute, their idea of what Morning of the Earth meant, or their interpretations of the songs. It was great to work with Jon Frank again, I haven’t worked with him since we made Litmus, we spent time in Hawaii together just talking about what I wanted to do and then he went about his business. I love it when you can just trust people to do a great job, they bring their own vision to it. That’s what makes the new film so special I think is that so many artists have contributed to honoring the original film, it’s a really unique project. Super interesting to make.

MM: There's been talk of an art show at the Crumpler Space while you're here, has a date been chosen?

AK: The photo show is December 12th and will be based around the book Single Studies of Movement that I did with Stephanie Gilmore. There will be some edition prints that Charlie Griffin is making. I'm also going to project the sequence of Stephanie surfing that the stills were taken from. Dave Parmenter is making some replicas of the board he made Stephanie, the board in the sequence, so they will be there as well to look at. The books will also be available. It's a huge space we have so it should be fun.

[Dave Parmenter]

MM: Really special that Parmenter is making boards for the event. Tell me more about your relationship with Dave, you've been a proponent of his designs for years. When did you meet?

AK: I met Dave when I was 15, he was a touring pro. I’d read an article in a magazine where he’d ridden a longboard in his heat at the OP Pro against Richard 'Dog' Marsh because the surf was shithouse and he didn’t want to flap about in the small waves so he rode a longboard. I think the judges scored him a 1. Anyway, I thought he was pretty interesting, the Australian press was writing him off, calling him a “Seppo” and anything else they could think of. I was doing work experience at Tracks at the time and I asked them if I could do an interview with him. John Ellis was editing the mag, he was pretty opened minded and said, “See if you can do it.” So I went down to the Coke Classic at Manly, hung around and asked one of the organizers if I could meet him. He was just a really nice guy and I was just a kid, but he wasn’t phased by this. He did the interview, then got 3rd at Bells and Tracks published it. I guess we’ve been friends ever since. His boards...I've always ridden them. They've always been advanced shapes, combining the past with whatever he learns. Every board I’ve had from him has taken me on the greatest of journeys. I mean, it's not like you’re riding something you’re used to, they're always these designs he has come up with, so they are these new experiments… riding stuff like this has been unbelievable. We’ve worked on boards together over the years, the channel single fins and widow-makers especially, they are my favorite boards to ride. The boards he's making now, I’ve never seen anything like them, they're so progressive and functional. I've seen pictures of the ones he made for Pilgrim and they look incredible.

MM: Is it true that someone has a bunch of Ricky Rasmussen boards in Australia?

AK: Maybe, I’m not sure. I do know Rasmussen came down to Oz in the early 80’s and made a bunch of boards at the Energy factory in Mona Vale. You should ask Simon Anderson about that, he would know more. There were some great photos published in Surfing World of Rasmussen surfing Black Rock on the south coast from this time, ripping with great style. I remember reading about his death in Surfer Magazine when I was a kid, I had no idea who he was, but it seemed like a crazy way for a surfer to leave this world.

[Rick Rasmussen]

MM: The last time I saw Andy Kessler he had a copy of Last Hope in his hand and was headed to Montauk for what would become a fateful weekend. You guys were aware of one another but never actually met?

AK: I'd heard of him for sure. I knew he was some kind of underground New York skater, which I guess struck me a little. Growing up it was always the LA, Dogtown scene that got coverage, I knew Stecyk kind of masterminded it all, through the skate mags, I’m not sure why but it kind of felt like they always Hollywooded everything out. Where I grew up surfing at Warriewood, it was kind of a low key punk scene, I remember someone saying, "too close to Hollywood” about the way the US mags covered surfing and skating. Maybe it was because of this. I always got told that there was other skating going on around the world, including Oz, that was good and different. I guess when I heard about Kessler, I wondered what he was doing because he was from NY, but there was never much info on him. This was all pre-internet. When I worked at Waves in '88 there was a skate mag there, skating was blowing up, and the editor was kind of gnarly, a drug inspired skater in his mid 30's who was a lot older than the guys in the scene at the time (Hosoi, Hawk, Lance Mountain, Gator), he always said these guys ripped, but he never seemed in awe of them. He'd always point out the older more obscure guys from the roots of skateboarding. His name was John Fox. I'm sure he talked about Kessler, Fox was into the obscure and underground. I still don’t know much about Kessler, he must have had a fascinating life.

[Chelsea Piers Skate the Ghosts of Andy Kessler. Photo by Andrew Kidman]

MM: You champion Williamsburg pizzeria San Marco, as some of the best pizza you've had. I know you've worked as a pizzaiolo, what's it about their pie?

AK: I like their "Grandma," the little chunks of garlic, salty sauce, crispy bottom and the basil. I've had all the rest and San Marco is the best. I'm not making pizza with Chris Pellen (Val Dusty Experiment) anymore, he sold his joint after ten years, he'd rolled enough dough. I have a brick oven at my house where I make pizza these days.

A peek into Ether:

A peek into Single:

[Stephanie Gilmore Greenmount image from Single]

 [Stephanie high]

 [Stephanie holding Dave's board]

-- words by Mike Machemer, photos by Andrew Kidman

Check out Part I of Mike Machemer's Q&A with Andrew Kidman here!