Bryce Young: Liner Notes
Bryce Young: Liner Notes
Past experience tells me Bryce Young ain't easy to catch on the phone. In 2017, while finishing a feature for The Surfers Journal, it took five days and fifteen calls till he answered. Purchasing Taylor Swift tickets would've been easier, or so I'm told.
This time he's got his own feature to promote - the new film 'Following the Fall Line' - yet he remains elusive as ever. Though frustrating for a journalist, elusiveness is a trait that I grudgingly admire: we're too on call these days, time away from the phone or from prying media is a good thing.
Besides, experience also told me that when I got him it'd be worth the effort. And it was.
Lastly, though already long, the passage on Ryan Burch has been heavily edited down. We both worship at the altar of RB, considering him a visonary akin to Simmons or Greenough, and an enthusiastic rave followed. The full extract might see the light of day soon.
(All photos taken from 'Following The Fall Line')
The Old Boy:
No matter who or what they’ve done, everybody’s dad is just their dad, you know what I mean? He’s just Dad, and we have a normal, loving father and son relationship - same as I see elsewhere. Yet I always had an idea, even from a very young age, of the things he’d done within surfing. None of that went over my head; none of it escaped me.
Now I’m older, I’m sort of a student of surf history, and the main source of my understanding has been through my dad. Means I see him as just Dad, but also admire him for the things he’s done. It’s nothing complex though, there’s a simple relationship between us.
I'm very competitive in sports. If it's ping pong or tennis or anything like that, I'm super competitive, but I’m not competitive in surfing. Contests feel so far away from what the act of surfing is for me.
I admire a lot of the surfers on tour - guys like John John and Jordy I consider to be the best in the world. But it's so subjective - beauty in the eye of the beholder. I get what contests are - I even used to do a few - but they’re such a small thing among a big, broader, more special thing.
I love longboarding, man. I did the longboard tour when I was a grom for, I think, five years. It wasn't much of a tour back then. In fact, it was only one stop for the first three or four years. One contest to decide the world champ!
These days I ride all sorts of boards, but right now I'm an infatuated longboarder. The last really good session I had was on a log. It’s been virtually flat for the last few weeks but I’ve been on the log, riding it so much. Love it.
The First Time I Saw Burch Surf:
Desert Point in 2013. I was pretty much floored, awestruck. Generally when I rock up to a wave I’m so frothing to surf that I just go, but that was the only time somebody stopped me in my tracks and made me watch.
It was pretty small Deserts, but building really fast. Up the top of Deserts it's fast at the best of times, but it was a tricky new swell and it was extra quick. There was a ten pack of guys surfing and no-one made any waves - they were getting nuked by falling sections - until Burch got to his feet. He appeared to be toying with it, doing bottom turns out in the flats around the bits of reef that people couldn't get past.
They were some of the best bottom turns I'd ever seen, and then he’d do the sickest top turn I'd ever seen. It was the one and only time I’ve been rendered motionless, in such awe that I ignored the waves and stopped and watched someone. It was a real pleasure to watch but it took me a while to absorb what it was he was doing.
He was riding a twin fin pickle fork, asymmetrical, a full R&D machine. Earlier that year, he’d built a big batch for an art show - carbon rails, stringerless construction - and displayed the whole quiver at a place in Encinitas. Then he basically took them off the wall and put them in coffin bags and flew to Indo to go and test them all, which was when I met him.
He was rolling with fifteen boards. I couldn’t believe it! "You've got what? Another board bag..?" I was like, "Who the fuck is this guy?" Just genuinely in awe of him.
At that stage, I didn’t know what was going to follow, but it was one of the pivotal moments of my surfing life. We weren’t yet close friends, but after that trip he ended up coming straight back to Angourie and he helped me clean the home farm bay out, and we started building boards together. Special times.
Something that trips me out with alaias is that a lot of crew that rode them, and this is going back fifteen years, have hung up their hat. They’re kind of done with them. I don’t feel that way at all. I sometimes think we're only just scratching the surface with those things.
I build them with a pretty traditional planshape. They always come out a bit different because it’s wood and it can depend on how you feel with a tool in your hand that day. It's like sometimes a mistake can be something quite good in the end, once you’ve ridden the thing.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with them. I've tried to cut really different outlines and they go like a pile. Simple is always best with alaias, and that's what I love most about them.
From The Ashes Of The Black Summer:
It’s very personal stuff. It took time to think about how we’d include it in the film, but we had to tell the story because to skip over something of that magnitude meant we wouldn’t have been telling the whole story.
A lot was lost out there in 2019. That home was forever the cornerstone of our family. For us, it was sacred ground, and the emotional recovery has been really hard. I struggled for some time after that, which I think is only natural. Did a lot of travel to get away and couldn't even really face going out there for some time.
And then I had that feeling, can’t remember when it was, but it was like the opposite of wanting to be away. "I need to get home now. That's where I need to be."
What isn’t in the film is that I was three years into my own build out there. It was on a completely different part of the property than our home front that was lost. It was not nearly as grandiose in design; just a simple longhouse all timber pole construction. Burch and I had been building it together on and off for three or four years. We were just putting a roof on it and it was also lost.
So much loss, but I guess there’s been a lot of growth too. I'm in a pretty decent space with it now. The place is forever in me and I'm grateful for that and I just have to hold it in a different way. They're the lessons that I've learned.
But we're going onwards and upwards, mate. We're trying to do our old place justice and tip the hat to it with a new build. And we're actually getting really close to moving back out. Yeah, we've almost got our new place built.
I'm in constant awe of the Northern Rivers, and just incredibly grateful to have been brought up here. The community we have is tight-knit and I feel fortunate to be a part of this community. I’ve traveled a bit and I'm just so glad that my home happens to be this corner of the world.