Cory Russell: The Dust Up Podcast

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Stu Nettle (stunet)
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Talking about boards proves easier than writing about boards. So says veteran Victorian shaper Cory Russell, who recently launched The Dust Up with fellow shaper John 'Robbo' Robertson. The Dust Up is a podcast about board design, including conversations with shapers, and other people involved in the industry.

It's also unashamedly aimed at the surfboard nerd, and that means you, dear reader. There's also a little backstory to the podcast, which Cory describes in the interview below.

Swellnet: When did the idea first strike you to put all your thoughts about shaping into a podcast?
Cory: It goes back to when you rang me in 2017 to do the Boarding School series, and the feedback from that was great. We had a lot of input from people in the comments, yet sometimes it got a bit difficult to convey the information, or to have conversations, or include other shapers, and eventually...I think it got up to surfboard rails, which isn't an easy design element to just put into words. It all went a little bit flat and I wasn't able to finish it.

It's funny you mention the Boarding School project, because I recall looking to streamline the design concepts for a reading audience, and I got a subtle sense that you were frustrated. Did you ever feel like that when we were working on it?
It wasn't a huge drawback. I know you and I had many conversations. I was a bit particular at times, some of the wording, because it's the design combinations in surfboards that make the difference. If you don't use accurate wording, it could convey something else and it was very tricky to do that at that times.

When we got up to the rails, it was like, "Oh, this is quite a task to summarise this and educate people." It felt too much.

So now you're podcasting. Instead of putting it into 1,000 written words you've got an hour of talking. You're two episodes in, how's it been?
We're learning on the run. As much as it was something that was burning in myself, I knew that I couldn't do it on my own and it was only through conversations that I had with another shaper friend of mine, John 'Robbo' Robertson, that we had this banter where we're talking about things and all of a sudden, I was like, "You know what, this is the right co-host! I think we could run with this."

On top of that though, I had a really good mentor in Jimmy Miles that has the Lipped podcast, and he was instrumental in pushing me to think about it, to write a plan, to really bring it all together. Even now, he still provides a lot of feedback and mentorship going forward, because we've still got a lot of wrinkles to iron out. The beauty is that if we're passionate about the topics, and our guests are authentic, then I think people give us that little bit of leeway.

Meet your hosts. At left, Cory Russell, thirty years shaping experience, a deep thinker with an equally deep and resonant voice, elocution lessons are a possibility, and at right, Robbo, also has thirty years experience, a little bit manic, the no filter, colour guy who keeps the convo rolling (Photos Ed Sloane)

You mentioned the limitation of the written word, but what limitations - in the sense of time - are you going to work within. The first two episodes are about an hour and a half each. Gonna stick with that length?
Yeah, back in the day it seemed as though 40 to 60 minutes was the ideal amount of time. But since getting into podcasting myself, which really has only been in the last few years, time doesn't seem as important anymore. I listen to podcasts, skaters and stuff, that go for five hours and you just have the conversation going when you're in the car. You jump out, the conversation stops, but when you jump back in the car, it starts up again. You don't feel like you're missing out or that it's particularly difficult.

It's easy going, you know what I mean? As long as we're talking about something relevant or interesting, then we don't watch the clock, to be honest.

Okay, you're going to talk about board design, but you also spoke to Stuart D'Arcy recently. Is there going to be more of that?
Yeah, there's a few parts. Firstly, there's the surfboard design elements that I started with Swellnet - I want to complete that story - and secondly, I want to celebrate what other shapers are doing.

The chat with Darcy was amazing. He's been a friend for a long time and is so forthright when it comes to surfboards and the industry. We didn't want to do a biography-type conversation. We do want to zero in on maybe one or two points. We were able to really talk about the Pottz boards and the Twinzer and get the most out of that.

We've reached out to a few shapers and the feedback has been amazing.

Yesterday you posted some photos on Instagram of Michael Mackie side cuts. What can we expect from that?
I don't want to spoil it, but there's a lot of shapers that we've lined up that meet a criteria that we've got on mind.

Yeah but are you going to speak to Mick..?
I'd love to, but I haven't spoken to him yet about this. We've actually got a few shapers lined up. We're only planning to do the shaper talks every fortnight at the moment.

I was going to ask you about that...
Yeah, just to give us a bit of breathing space and allow us to improve. There's a third element that we'll include, and that's speaking to people who aren't shapers yet have something to do with surfboards and surfboard design. For example, I've spoken to Cahill Bell-Warren, who works for Surfing Victoria with a lot of the groms. We want to do a an episode about grom boards; about building foundations for grom surfing.

Even though it's on the periphery, it's directly related to surfboards. We'd also like to talk to some of the manufacturers, the glass houses, the blank manufacturers, all of these people that can tell their story and just show the richness of the surfboard industry. These people are often unnamed in the manufacturing process, they're highly skilled and highly sought after within the industry, and I think it'd be great to get their perspectives, tap into their knowledge.

Who do you expect the audience to be?
We're definitely targeting shapers and surfboards nerds, because we would like to get a bit more technical in regards to boards and design - so there'd definitely be that element. Yet for the shaper episodes like we did with Darcy...I've had family and friends that aren't in the industry who listened and said, "That was unreal. I really got an insight into his life, and his passion." That appeals to a wider audience.

I presume that over time we'll learn what people like and don't like. I remember talking to Jimmy and he was quizzing me, "Who's the audience?" I was like, "Look, we just want to put it out there. We want to do something we're proud of, and if it appeals to a lot of people, great. If it appeals to a small amount of people, great."

We're not trading off it or going to a media corporation or anything like that. It's an opportunity for us to talk to our friends, to shapers, people we've looked up to. Also, it seems like we're losing a lot of the legends; they're getting on now and either hanging up the tools or passing away. It's just such a shame that we've got all these digital media opportunities yet we haven't recorded the stories from those people. It'd just be great to contribute to that.

Well, if you were to jot a list of potential episodes, you've got a huge well to draw from. The various shapers who I'd love to shove a microphone in front of, or the various aspects of board design, even all the designs that have come and gone over the years. There's a lot to talk about, isn't there?
There is absolutely is. All of those guys, they're so passionate and it's so easy to listen to a person that's passionate about what they do.

It's exciting for us. Before we record a podcast, there's a moment where you're just like, "Wow, I'm talking to blah, blah, blah." Again, I can't thank Darcy enough for being a friend and making himself vulnerable while we worked out all the cobwebs for the first episode and just giving us the opportunity.

A goal is to keep it as if somebody's walked into a shaping bay and there's a few shapers, or industry guys, having a conversation and you get a chance to eavesdrop on it. If someone considers us to be providing that, we'd be proud. Job done, you know?

Tune into The Dust Up on Spotify. Next episode is a rave with Brad Gerlach about technique vs board design in good surfing.


udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 22 Jul 2022 at 1:14pm

That was Great .

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 Friday, 22 Jul 2022 at 1:43pm

Wonder how many surfboard nerds are out there??

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Friday, 22 Jul 2022 at 3:16pm

Me, just doing a board now, an out line that came from a conversation with a shaper friend look forward (hopefully) to the pod casts.

A lot of talk re shaping boards these days is pain full to listen to so here's hoping.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... Friday, 22 Jul 2022 at 7:30pm

Lots (of board nerds) I reckon

Boards are beautiful things - form and function..

After over 100 boards (over 35 years) - the best thing I have done is identify my ideal board requirements and work with a local shaper who really knows his stuff..

I think it's great that people are better informed about how boards work - and (hopefully) not just following trends..

Hence - I love hearing shapers talk design..

Our surfing is important (be it 2ft or 10ft) - often more mentally than physically..

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Friday, 22 Jul 2022 at 7:19pm

Whoa…doing something because you’re driven by personal interest and a passion to share that with others!?!? Nothing to measure it’s success or failure beyond how you feel about it ? What kind of crazy concept is that?

Good work gents. Might even tune in to hear what you weirdo foam wizards say amongst yourselves.

But seriously….congratulations on following your own path and thanks for adding to the cultural tapestry of our shared world of surf.

Elliedog's picture
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Elliedog Saturday, 23 Jul 2022 at 11:36am

If you can get him…..Add Sam Egan to the list

cory's picture
cory's picture
cory Saturday, 23 Jul 2022 at 1:54pm

Thanks for the support everyone… we are doing our best with plenty of room for improvement! Ha ha ha
Good news is we are in the process of trying to get Sam Egan as well as many of the older generation of shapers as they have so much to share. I can’t wait…

philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizing... Sunday, 24 Jul 2022 at 9:16am

Started listening to ep 1 enjoying it so far.
One constructive criticism, these podcasts would be even better with a visual accompaniment, for example I had forgotten what a sidecut was and had to pause and look it up, similarly when you talk about where the wide point is on John Johns boards it would be great to see a visual stream of still photos relating to what you are talking about, you would probably need to do it on youtube.
Would love to hear a discussion on asymmetrical surfboards with Donald Brink.
Also Geoff McCoy, the most in depth interview I have ever read with him was in Smorgasboarder magazine issue 9 jan/feb 2012
(Surf town Cronulla on the cover)

Here is an example of a still photo story.
We salvaged the paulownia logs from a plantation at a place called Mountaintop near Nimbin.
Still breaks my heart to think of the tens of thousands of Paulownia trees that got bulldozed and burnt.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 27 Jul 2022 at 4:01pm

Can I just say... unreal logo fellas!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Friday, 12 Aug 2022 at 8:39am

Latest poddy is live. Not Gerr but Chris Garrett:

cory's picture
cory's picture
cory Saturday, 13 Aug 2022 at 6:22am

Yeah… about that. We did start one with Gerr but some idiot (ME) forgot to hit the record button! Thankfully we had only been going for about 30 mins. Gerr had to go to the states but we are going to record the episode when he gets back.

cory's picture
cory's picture
cory Saturday, 10 Jun 2023 at 6:26pm

We welcome Luke Howarth to The Dust Up team to replace John Robertson. The latest episode is getting to know more about Luke.