The past hundred years has seen the surfer as the craftsman, the waterman, the burnout, the artist, the activist, and the philosopher – all of which were aiding in the development of a wonderfully nuanced history of wave riders. Birthed by plank-carving Polynesians and popularized by harmonizing beach boys, surfing is undeniably a cultural entity of depth and complexity. The Encyclopedia of Surfing, the most recent project of surf writer Matt Warshaw, is a platform from which to view surfing’s mosaic history and culture – surfer by surfer, surf term by surf term. The site is a compilation of vignettes giving descriptive accounts of individual topics logging surfing history and culture. The concept is exactly the same as an encyclopedia: if you are interested in Reno Abellira, simply search. Warshaw’s project is inventive and vital, providing a space where surfing culture and history can be recorded and remembered.
Produced by: Paul De Luna and Sipping Jetstreams Media
Song: Bruce Springsteen No Surrender with Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem / Sony Records
Edited by: Pete Rogers
Voice Over: Mikey De Temple
Special Thanks to: Bruce Springsteen, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, Sony Records, Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Mick Fanning, Rob Machado, Matt Wilkinson, Kassia Meador, Ian Walsh, Thomas Brookins, Mikey De Temple, Todd and Megan Diciurcio, Matt Clark, Will Skudin, Cliff Skudin,Spencer Wolff and everyone else who donated their time and resources.
My introduction to Erin, was actually through the image above. Somewhere along the Facebook timeline I become friends with Alex Swanson. He posted the photo, and I shared it on the Stoke Harvester Facebook page. I was pleased to discover that the surfer in the photo was Erin ‘Worm’ Ashley; surfer, musician, marathon runner, & all around badass.
Is there one session out in the water, that stands out from the others?
It was one of those evening summer sessions where I went surfing Sano with my friend Jeffrey Jones. I was riding a ’68 G&S Stretch (which is one of my favorite old logs to ride). The waves were total rubbish but we were having fun and goofing off. He had just taken a wave so I was sitting on the inside and I took off rode the nose a bit and was doing some silly foot trick when the board spun out right at Jeffrey…splitting his lip open. We spent the next 4 hours at the hospital. He still has a small scar on his mouth… my bad.
How did you get connected with Dano Surfboards?
I don’t remember exactly how, or why I started riding his boards (perhaps that’s a better question for him.) I met him surfing Blackies on these old logs & pigs, and Dano was riding newer versions of those. I really liked what he was into and I suppose he dug what I was doing on the older boards, so we would talk whenever in the water…maybe it just evolved from there.
What are you riding these days?
I usually ride a 9’3 Dano Los Creeper. It’s a double step-deck, hips in back and a 17 1/2″ nose that’s a bit pulled in. I don’t think you could find a more responsive board on the nose or tail. The board completely compliments the way I naturally surf. Besides that …either my hand-plane w/vipers (recently lost to France) or a space pin; which is perfect for ledgy dredgy waves.
Can you tell us a bit about GOGO13?
We’re a band that is an amalgamation of madness, the Aquabats and the B52’s…or so I’ve been told. I play sax and taskmaster. Everyone in the band is incredibly creative and talented outside of the band. Our guitar player is an amazing photographer, and our singer is the art director for the kids show Yo Gabba Gabba. We play for fun and really try to dig deep into the punk ethos, keeping our live shows raw and spontaneous…sometimes to a fault.
Outside of music & surfing, what are your other passions?
I have a fellow that I’m head over heels for….I have two of the cutest & funniest dogs on earth, and read loads of books. In my real life I make desserts (specifically gelato/sorbetto) at a restaurant in L.A. called Mozza. I’m just trying to soak as much of this thing we call life in.
How many Swansons does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I’d imagine two; one to screw it in and the other to take a photo and blog it. (I kid, I kid)
I gotta ask…how did you come to be known as “Worm?”
The nickname comes from the movie Friday w/Ice cube and Chris Tucker. There’s a drug dealer played by Faizon Love called ‘Big Worm.’ He keeps his hair in curler’s and they call him Big Worm, Big Perm. I have this mop of hair that is curly like ringlets at times so one of my sister’s friend’s starting calling me Worm because of that. People thought it was clever and that was that. I’ve always been a nickname sort of person though…maybe I don’t look enough like an Erin.
What’s on the menu for you, in 2012?
I just got back from France for the Roxy pro. Kassia Meador did a longboard invitational and was kind enough to invite me. It was incredibly rad and I got to meet and hang out with some truly amazing & talented people. We even carried Stephanie Gilmore up the sand when she won her 5th world title. How rad is that? I am just hoping to get some really fun waves this summer, go down to Scorpion Bay, run a marathon in October, and hang out with friends.
I was first turned on to Steve’s work about three years ago, when I picked up a copy of Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. Recently, he worked his way back in the tube with A Paradigm Shift. APS has a killer soundtrack and includes some of my favorite surfers; Kassia Meador, Alex Knost, CJ Nelson, Dane Peterson, Tyler Warren, Chris Del Moro…and more. Here’s our interview with the man behind the film.
Where did you grow up, and when did you start surfing?
I was born in Redondo Beach Ca. That’s the area where I had my first experiences with the ocean. I was like a moth to a flame; I was just drawn to the ocean. I remember my aunt would take me to the Palos Verdes cove when I was 4 yrs. Old, and I’d wade in the tide pools. My family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii when I was 7 and that’s where I started riding waves…body surfing and belly boarding. We moved back to the mainland (Redondo) when I was 11 or 12. That’s when I got my first surfboard; an old Velzy/Jacobs 9’3″ balsa, for $20. That must of been around 1963 or 64.
When did you first get involved with film?
I got involved with filming in the early 70s when I was taking photography at Maui Community College. That was my foundation. I started my first surf movie in 1989. It was called On Safari to Stay, and featured a 13 yr. old Joel Tudor, Wingnut, Donald Takayama and Skip Fry. I made it with my good friends Chris Ahrens and Greg Weaver. Spider Wills was a consultant.
What was it like working with Greg Weaver and Spider Wills?
That was a kick in the arse mate!!!!!!!!! So many stories that I can’t tell ya all… but when I’m with Joel and Wingnut, we always relive a couple of the episodes. The stories keep gettin better and better. Weavers da bomb mate, and Spiders a total legend. I learned a lot from Greg and spider! I’m very appreciative of that experience .
Your most recent project is A Paradigm Shift, can you tell us about that?
Well, A Paradigm Shift is a relatively fast paced, tightly edited movie with a bitchen soundtrack. It’s a bunch of great surfers in I guess what you’d call “the alternative” vein of surfing. Ya know…great surfers riding all types of boards, in all types of waves. We shot it in Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Micronesia, and California. I worked on it for a little over 2 years and am stoked on how it turned out!
How do you go about picking the surfers for your films?
I have been very fortunate in that regard! The surfers in my films are people that I’ve met over the years… friends; guys and gals that I get along with and work well with. It’s not that I pick them, really…because they all can pretty much work with any of the alternative surf filmmakers out there. My crew of surfers is a pretty eclectic group. They are relationships that I have developed organically over time. It’s a symbiotic thing! I feel lucky and blessed to get to work with the “A” list surfers in our longboard/alternative (longboards,fish,hulls, eggs, retros, alaia’s ect.) genre. For what I do, it’s all about the surfers. You can have the best surf in the world to shoot, but if the talent level isn’t there then all ya end up with is a bunch of bitchen waves being ridden by so-so surfers. Nobody really wants to watch a film like that, do they?
Any favorite surf flicks?
Yeah, I really liked Ozzie Wright’s 156 tricks. It changed the way I looked at what I was doing at the time. CJ Nelson turned me on to it. In the beginning I was also influenced by Bud and Bruce brown’s films. Mac/Freemans films are also always a good watch… many others too!
Any other filmmakers you would like to collaborate with?
I respect a lot of the film makers out there, but for now I prefer to do my own thing…. but if Steven Spielburg came calling I’d be all ears. ha ha
Any hope for a third Safari movie? :)
Funny you should ask, thinkin about it…. Looking for funding… anyone out there want to be an “executive producer?” Call me, well see!!!!!!!!!
What’s next for Steve Cleveland?
Like I just said, thinking about going back to my roots. A story driven movie? Ya never know…just doing my own thing, with a lot o help from my friends!
Justin from Peanut Butter Coast, introduced me to these videos earlier this week. Hi Shredability was a VICE show about surfers who are doing things that VICE likes. “It isn’t a day-in-the-life of pro surfers deal or some Cribs-type shit…really we just wanted to make a surfing show other surfers would like.”
Here’s three of the surfers we like…
You can check out more of Hi Shredability here.