Interview with Al Knost: OC Freesurfer of the Year

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While most surfers are concerned with sticker placement and making sure they’ve got the right fin set up, Alex Knost is already out in the water surfing. And he does it his way. Not your way. It’s that type of attitude that has set Al apart from virtually every other surfer in the world. He rides to his own tune and doesn’t give a flying frack what anybody thinks. Several years ago it was almost weird that this native Newporter shunned the typical shortboard set up and went the way of the longboard, but at the end of the day, he’s laughing hardest. Now riding all sorts of surfboards seems all the rage. Longboard, egg, shortboard, kneeboard. Heck, Alex will stand up on just about anything and each, in its own little way, brings the same amount of stoke. Not worried about WQS ratings or the ASP World Longboard Tour, Alex has been freesurfing his way around the world and it’s all led to this….

Interview by Skip Snead

Ghetto Juice: First off, Alex, congrats on being named this year’s OC Freesurfer of the Year!
Alex Knost: Thank you very much. I feel very … free.

Ghetto Juice: What comes to mind when you hear the term “freesurfer”? What’s that mean to you?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, really. I guess it’s a way to describe someone who’s not on a tour competing, I can imagine. Just freedom. Freedom to surf how they want.

Ghetto Juice: Did you ever have dreams of being on the tour when you were little?
Alex Knost: Probably. I always longboarded so it wasn’t really an option, because there wasn’t really a tour. I mean, there was but there weren’t many people who made a living off it. There were guys who did longboard contests … guys were getting like a thousand bucks for winning a contest or something, so it wasn’t really like a feasible profession for anyone. There were like two guys making a living off it, like Joel (Tudor) being one of them, but I don’t think his accomplishments in competition really afforded him a paycheck.

Ghetto Juice: How did you get into longboard as opposed to shortboarding when you were a kid?
Alex Knost: My dad got me into longboarding. My dad and his friends were the first surfers I knew, and they rode longboards and that’s what they surfed. They went to San O, Malibu and Blackies. So for a nine year old kid, you really don’t differentiate from much, you just try and do it. So I just did it. There was kids who surfed (longboards) in high school and stuff, but there weren’t many kids as die hard as I was, or even in Junior High. My dad would go every day before work, and we’d go on the weekends. Most kids that I knew weren’t really, well, I just didn’t know them. The easiest way to go surfing as much as I could was to go with the people who were doing it the most, which was my dad and his friends.

Ghetto Juice: What moments do you remember from your early days on a surfboard?
Alex Knost: I remember the smell of Bubble Gum surf wax. Bubble Gum surf wax stickers on coolers at San O. All my dad’s friends all had Igloos full of beer, and they always like a Bubble Gum surf wax sticker on it, a Da Bull sticker … everyone had these bumper stickers that said “Miki for Prez because Bush don’t surf” … what else do I remember? San O, hanging out there all day, and surfing Blackies before school when it was one foot and south wind every day. Just being obsessed with surfing. I could never get enough of it. I’d wake up my dad at five o’clock in the morning. I’d bang on his door and go, “Let’s go surf!” And he was pretty psyched on it, too, but he worked pretty hard his whole life painting houses, so he was pretty beat every morning, but I thank him for that. I thank him for getting up and getting me out there.

Ghetto Juice: What kind of surfboard did you start out on?
Alex Knost: Let’s see…. I was like 12 and I had an 8-foot Russell, it was really thick, a tri-fin longboard that was made in the early ‘80s. It was like my dad’s friend’s old board or something. I rode that for a while, but I got jealous of all the guys at Blackies, cause they had these bitchin single fin nose riders, guys who were older than me, guys like Steve Farwell and Cody Simkins and those guys, and George Wally, and Bean Dip. They all had these like big Joel Tudor style longboards, Model T Takiyama type noses, and big noses, like David Nuuhiwa models, and I always wanted one but I could never get one, because everyone I talked to, like Robert August and Mike Marshall, they wanted me to learn to noseride the right way, and thought that a “giant” nose was cheating ‘cause you wouldn’t have to noseride in the pocket, so I sat there and felt like a kook ‘cause I always wanted one of those big noses that I could hang ten on, and my dad and Mike Marshall and Robert August would only make me these tiny noses, I guess to get me to walk before I could run, or something like that. I never felt cool. All the older guys had big tip noseriders (laughs) and I didn’t.

Ghetto Juice: Interesting. During that time was there any pressure from your peers your own age to ride a shortboard?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, the two were separated. I mean, I rode shortboards in high school on the surf team (Newport Harbor) but it was just different for me. I think even in middle school, seventh and eighth grade I had a couple friends who shortboarded, so I’d surf before school and on the weekends with my dad, and if I wanted to surf after school I’d get a ride with my friend’s parents and when I’d bring a longboard in their car they’d look at me like a dipshit, you know, a mom trying to fit a longboard in her minivan or Honda Accord. She’d say something like, “Why does your friend Alex bring this big board?” So sometimes out of necessity I’d ride shortboards, and it was cool, too. I mean, I got made fun of a little bit but I didn’t care. I knew this whole world of people who rode longboards, and who hung at San O, and that was what I was addicted to anyway. You could just hang out there all day anyway. Where in Newport it was a touch and go sort of thing. You surf in the morning and then it’s blackballed. Where I’d go to San O with my dad, or with friends who were older that drove, we could get down there at six in the morning and leave at seven at night. It was an all-day thing.

Ghetto Juice: Was it there at San O that you really improved fastest in your surfing?
Alex Knost: I’d say Blackies. I’d do all the club contests with my dad, but that was more family oriented. We’d go up to Santa Cruz or down to La Jolla, but Cody Simkin was the best surfer I ever knew, probably one of the best surfers I’d ever seen, and I remember he’d take me to the beach, he was older than me, and we’d surf all day. And as soon as I got a car when I was 16 it was pretty much game on. I had a couple friends, like Nolan Hall and a couple other people and we’d either go down to San O or Cardiff for weeks at a time. We’d go to San O and surf all day, then go to the skatepark in San Clemente after, right when they opened that up, and then we’d go to Wal-Mart and we’d steal socks ‘cause our socks smelled so bad, so we’d steal socks, and sometimes jeans, but mostly socks. And then we’d go back to the beach and we’d surf and then we’d talk our friend Jeremy into buying us beer and we’d drink and sleep in the car. We did that from the time I was 16, every summer, all summer, until …. Now. You know, I sleep in a van now, not a station wagon, and I don’t have to steal socks anymore. (laughs)

Ghetto Juice: Yeah, you probably don’t need to steal socks anymore…
Alex Knost: (Laughs) No. Don’t have to steal socks.

Ghetto Juice: How old were you when you got your first legitimate sponsor?
Alex Knost: Ummm, well my dad was friends with Mark Martinson and Robert August and they were shapers, and they were awesome, and they kind of held a carrot in front of my face. Like if I got good grades they’d make me a new board. I think Robert gave me my first board, it was a “Wingnut” model, right after Endless Summer 2 came out, had the two red stripes. That was my first custom board. It was an 8’4” … it wasn’t even technically a longboard, but I remember I ordered that and I was all excited he was making me a custom board. And I went to leave and I was like, “Thank you so much, Robert, I can’t wait!” And I came back a few weeks later and he was like, “Yeah, your board’s almost done, the one with the pink bunny rabbits on it!” And I was like, “What? Pink bunny rabbits??” And he said, “Yeah, remember? You wanted the pink bunny rabbits, that’s what we got, it’s airbrushed all killer…” I was like, “F—k, man! I’m gonna be the biggest kook, everyone’s gonna make fun of me!” But he was just f—-kin’ with me, that was just Robert’s vibe. So I got that board from him. Around the same time, Surfside Sports when it was down by Blackies, that was kind of the cool thing, all the older guys rode for Surfside, like Josh Hoyer and Maikai McKenna and Steve Farwell and Bean Dip … and I got a bunch of free stickers, a couple t-shirts from Surfside Sports and that was like the coolest thing for me. And then later, I remember the Frog House guys, like TK and stuff, and I’d be like, “Am I a kook riding for Surfside? Should I be a Frog House guy? I wanna be a Frog House guy!” (laughs) It was the funniest shit.

Ghetto Juice: So did you end up riding for Frog House?
Alex Knost: No, I didn’t, and TK just makes fun of me every time I see him. Still, to this day. TK rules. Yeah.

Ghetto Juice: Were you a big fan of Endless Summer and all the old surf movies from the 60s?
Alex Knost: Yeah, even though I was born in ’85, from 1990 until like 1997 my dad would drag me to all these parties, and all the guys would watch movies and get all drunk, and all the surf guys who had kids, we’d all get locked in a room, you know, “Hey you guys just hang out in there…” and they’d watch all the old movies and drink beer, all the videos from their era, from the movies of the late 50s through the early 70s, the Australian transition era, and the Greenough films, all that stuff. So we were just brainwashed, sitting there all weekend at these parties. All the parents would be out doing what they were doing and we’d be in this room watching surf movies getting stoked.

Ghetto Juice: That’s rad that you developed such an appreciation for that side of surf culture during a time when surf movies based on hot shortboarding were really all the rage….
Alex Knost: Yeah, when you’re a kid you’re a sponge. You don’t think about it. You just sat in front of the TV. By the time I got to high school people were watching Kelly Slater in Black and White and that was a whole new thing to me. That was out of my peripheral.

Ghetto Juice: But you still ripped on a shortboard, so that’s kind of cool, too.
Alex Knost: (Laughs) I don’t know if I ever ripped on a shortboard, but I liked it. I had a lot of respect for any type of surfing, from a PT type guy to someone like Derek Hynd on the finless boards, or big wave guys. That’s probably the craziest thing to watch, some of the crazy guys surfing Hawaii the past five years or so. That’s pretty cool. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Ghetto Juice: Where did you end up going on your first surf trip?
Alex Knost: Costa Rica with Robert August. Yeah he told me if I got A’s and B’s in school he’d take me to Costa Rica, so I just cheated…. For two years, just cheating off every girl I could find so I could get to Costa Rica (laughs).

Ghetto Juice: Did you like school?
Alex Knost: (Pauses) Um, well …. No. I didn’t like it at all. But it was laid out for me from an early age. From my dad. “All right, Alex, if you do this, sack up, be a man and do something you don’t like, and keep your head out of your ass, you’ll get to do all the shit you like. But if you blow it, you’re not gonna surf.” It was more the carrot over my head.

Ghetto Juice: Did you see yourself being able to make a living from surfing or were you thinking you might have to get a real job one day like your dad and his friends?
Alex Knost: Yeah. I think, yeah, for sure. All my dad’s friends were construction workers and house painters and stuff, and they were all surfers. You know, getting sponsored I never made any money, and I won some contests, and when you’re a little kid you win a little bit of money you think you’re the richest guy in the world, but I don’t know. I worked at the Robert August factory, before the computer, and I would take the hard foam off the blanks, put the rocker in it and I thought it was cool, you know, working in a surfboard factory, and then Jeff Yoki, from Modern Amusement, gave me a job just scribbling art to put on his t-shirts, when I was like 17, I was still in high school, and so that kind of felt like being a pro surfer. And then I went on a surf trip with Dan Malloy for Thomas Campbell’s movie, and Dan Malloy knew that Conan Hayes and Pat Tenore were starting RVCA. I was about 17 or 18, I was just getting ready to move out of my parent’s house, and the phone rang at like three in the morning. I think Pat thought I lived without my parents, and said he’s got this brand RVCA and asked me if I wanted to ride for a clothing company. My mom had to come in my room and hand me the house phone, she said “There’s some guy named Pat on the phone who said he needs to talk to you.” I still laugh about that, because Pat talks like a million miles a minute and he probably didn’t realize I lived at home and that he’d called me at like three in the morning.

Ghetto Juice: You've been riding for RVCA for a long time!
Alex Knost: Yeah, well, Matt and Ford Archbold were already riding for them, and in all their ads, but yeah, it was right when it started and I think it had just moved the company out of their garage … So then I got a job. I got the free ticket (laughs). The meal ticket.

Ghetto Juice: And you combined that with the music. How did you get into that?
Alex Knost: I was always kind of into music. My dad got me into Neil Young when I was pretty little, and The Cars and Fleetwood Mac and all that shit, you know, driving down to San O on blank cassettes. And then I started skateboarding next, and going to skateparks and hanging out with all those punker dudes, like Mike Lohrman from The Stitches and Gish from the Smut Peddlers, and Ricky Barnes, and Grosso and all those guys, they were all skaters. So I was kind of born into this hippy Neil Young thing and then went to the skatepark and there were these tattooed gnarly looking guys, Duane Peters and shit, and I was like, f—k, these guys are really cool, I like the punk rock thing: skateparks, punk rock, tattoos and chicks. So that got me into music even more, you know? And Nolan Hall and I, we were longboarders, surfer friends, and we started our first band Japanese Motors and we just played in my friend’s living rooms, all teenagers, and Chase Stopnik, the bass player, he crashed there. He was like a skate punk kid, he just smelled so bad, never took showers (laughs) … Yeah I dragged my parents through some commitments in those days.

Ghetto Juice: What do you like better? Performing on a stage or on a surfboard?
Alex Knost: Ummm, I don’t know. Surfing you’re not really thinking about an audience, which is kind of cool. You don’t even have time to think about an audience, just a head down type of thing. Sometimes music, the response is so immediate, you know, it’s easy to feel rejected if everyone’s not going apeshit, looking at you like you’re the best song writer in the world, you get self-conscious, but I really like recording music. Yeah, I think I was a little more self-conscious playing live when I was younger but now (in Tomorrow’s Tulips) it’s more like who the f—k cares, just do it and have fun.

Ghetto Juice: Yeah, and you’ve got Ford in there, too….
Alex Knost: Yeah, it helps to be in a band with Ford because he’s so detached from any sort of like … I don’t know, Ford’s an Archbold. He just don’t give a f—k. He just enjoys life, doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’s a good person to be around to help you remember that everyone’s gonna die eventually, it doesn’t matter, just enjoy yourself and feel good and make other people feel good. That’s cool.

Ghetto Juice: How would you describe the last ten years of your life?
Alex Knost: Lucky. Amazing. Far out. Exceptional. Yeah, grateful. I’m super grateful to have met so many cool, unique people through surfing and so many inspiring originals. All the people who did all this amazing stuff, and all these incredible things without any expectations of recognition. I think that’s the coolest thing, meeting real awesome surfers and board builders and artists, all these people who did it for fulfillment. One thing I’ve noticed with all the internet and online stuff and self-promotion, I feel like people do get caught up in it and they only do things just to put on their Instagram, just to show people how cool they look and how cool they are to flip off their sponsors. I don’t know, I’ve just met so many real awesome people that were so ahead of their time and just did it because they loved surfing, or they just loved whatever they’re into. I’ve always thought that was so cool.

Ghetto Juice: What advice do you have for the kids out there who might be reading this, in terms of living their life?
Alex Knost: Be grateful and stay modest. Everyone’s the same.

Ghetto Juice: And how do you see the next ten years playing out for you?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, I’ll just take it a day at a time.

Special thanks to Laylan Connelly and the entire OC Register staff for letting us be part of the OC Surfer of the Year awards for the fourth straight year!


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 05 Aug 2014 18:27




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While most surfers are concerned with sticker placement and making sure they’ve got the right fin set up, Alex Knost is already out in the water surfing. And he does it his way. Not your way. It’s that type of attitude that has set Al apart from virtually every other surfer in the world. He rides to his own tune and doesn’t give a flying frack what anybody thinks. Several years ago it was almost weird that this native Newporter shunned the typical shortboard set up and went the way of the longboard, but at the end of the day, he’s laughing hardest. Now riding all sorts of surfboards seems all the rage. Longboard, egg, shortboard, kneeboard. Heck, Alex will stand up on just about anything and each, in its own little way, brings the same amount of stoke. Not worried about WQS ratings or the ASP World Longboard Tour, Alex has been freesurfing his way around the world and it’s all led to this….

Interview by Skip Snead

Ghetto Juice: First off, Alex, congrats on being named this year’s OC Freesurfer of the Year!
Alex Knost: Thank you very much. I feel very … free.

Ghetto Juice: What comes to mind when you hear the term “freesurfer”? What’s that mean to you?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, really. I guess it’s a way to describe someone who’s not on a tour competing, I can imagine. Just freedom. Freedom to surf how they want.

Ghetto Juice: Did you ever have dreams of being on the tour when you were little?
Alex Knost: Probably. I always longboarded so it wasn’t really an option, because there wasn’t really a tour. I mean, there was but there weren’t many people who made a living off it. There were guys who did longboard contests … guys were getting like a thousand bucks for winning a contest or something, so it wasn’t really like a feasible profession for anyone. There were like two guys making a living off it, like Joel (Tudor) being one of them, but I don’t think his accomplishments in competition really afforded him a paycheck.

Ghetto Juice: How did you get into longboard as opposed to shortboarding when you were a kid?
Alex Knost: My dad got me into longboarding. My dad and his friends were the first surfers I knew, and they rode longboards and that’s what they surfed. They went to San O, Malibu and Blackies. So for a nine year old kid, you really don’t differentiate from much, you just try and do it. So I just did it. There was kids who surfed (longboards) in high school and stuff, but there weren’t many kids as die hard as I was, or even in Junior High. My dad would go every day before work, and we’d go on the weekends. Most kids that I knew weren’t really, well, I just didn’t know them. The easiest way to go surfing as much as I could was to go with the people who were doing it the most, which was my dad and his friends.

Ghetto Juice: What moments do you remember from your early days on a surfboard?
Alex Knost: I remember the smell of Bubble Gum surf wax. Bubble Gum surf wax stickers on coolers at San O. All my dad’s friends all had Igloos full of beer, and they always like a Bubble Gum surf wax sticker on it, a Da Bull sticker … everyone had these bumper stickers that said “Miki for Prez because Bush don’t surf” … what else do I remember? San O, hanging out there all day, and surfing Blackies before school when it was one foot and south wind every day. Just being obsessed with surfing. I could never get enough of it. I’d wake up my dad at five o’clock in the morning. I’d bang on his door and go, “Let’s go surf!” And he was pretty psyched on it, too, but he worked pretty hard his whole life painting houses, so he was pretty beat every morning, but I thank him for that. I thank him for getting up and getting me out there.

Ghetto Juice: What kind of surfboard did you start out on?
Alex Knost: Let’s see…. I was like 12 and I had an 8-foot Russell, it was really thick, a tri-fin longboard that was made in the early ‘80s. It was like my dad’s friend’s old board or something. I rode that for a while, but I got jealous of all the guys at Blackies, cause they had these bitchin single fin nose riders, guys who were older than me, guys like Steve Farwell and Cody Simkins and those guys, and George Wally, and Bean Dip. They all had these like big Joel Tudor style longboards, Model T Takiyama type noses, and big noses, like David Nuuhiwa models, and I always wanted one but I could never get one, because everyone I talked to, like Robert August and Mike Marshall, they wanted me to learn to noseride the right way, and thought that a “giant” nose was cheating ‘cause you wouldn’t have to noseride in the pocket, so I sat there and felt like a kook ‘cause I always wanted one of those big noses that I could hang ten on, and my dad and Mike Marshall and Robert August would only make me these tiny noses, I guess to get me to walk before I could run, or something like that. I never felt cool. All the older guys had big tip noseriders (laughs) and I didn’t.

Ghetto Juice: Interesting. During that time was there any pressure from your peers your own age to ride a shortboard?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, the two were separated. I mean, I rode shortboards in high school on the surf team (Newport Harbor) but it was just different for me. I think even in middle school, seventh and eighth grade I had a couple friends who shortboarded, so I’d surf before school and on the weekends with my dad, and if I wanted to surf after school I’d get a ride with my friend’s parents and when I’d bring a longboard in their car they’d look at me like a dipshit, you know, a mom trying to fit a longboard in her minivan or Honda Accord. She’d say something like, “Why does your friend Alex bring this big board?” So sometimes out of necessity I’d ride shortboards, and it was cool, too. I mean, I got made fun of a little bit but I didn’t care. I knew this whole world of people who rode longboards, and who hung at San O, and that was what I was addicted to anyway. You could just hang out there all day anyway. Where in Newport it was a touch and go sort of thing. You surf in the morning and then it’s blackballed. Where I’d go to San O with my dad, or with friends who were older that drove, we could get down there at six in the morning and leave at seven at night. It was an all-day thing.

Ghetto Juice: Was it there at San O that you really improved fastest in your surfing?
Alex Knost: I’d say Blackies. I’d do all the club contests with my dad, but that was more family oriented. We’d go up to Santa Cruz or down to La Jolla, but Cody Simkin was the best surfer I ever knew, probably one of the best surfers I’d ever seen, and I remember he’d take me to the beach, he was older than me, and we’d surf all day. And as soon as I got a car when I was 16 it was pretty much game on. I had a couple friends, like Nolan Hall and a couple other people and we’d either go down to San O or Cardiff for weeks at a time. We’d go to San O and surf all day, then go to the skatepark in San Clemente after, right when they opened that up, and then we’d go to Wal-Mart and we’d steal socks ‘cause our socks smelled so bad, so we’d steal socks, and sometimes jeans, but mostly socks. And then we’d go back to the beach and we’d surf and then we’d talk our friend Jeremy into buying us beer and we’d drink and sleep in the car. We did that from the time I was 16, every summer, all summer, until …. Now. You know, I sleep in a van now, not a station wagon, and I don’t have to steal socks anymore. (laughs)

Ghetto Juice: Yeah, you probably don’t need to steal socks anymore…
Alex Knost: (Laughs) No. Don’t have to steal socks.

Ghetto Juice: How old were you when you got your first legitimate sponsor?
Alex Knost: Ummm, well my dad was friends with Mark Martinson and Robert August and they were shapers, and they were awesome, and they kind of held a carrot in front of my face. Like if I got good grades they’d make me a new board. I think Robert gave me my first board, it was a “Wingnut” model, right after Endless Summer 2 came out, had the two red stripes. That was my first custom board. It was an 8’4” … it wasn’t even technically a longboard, but I remember I ordered that and I was all excited he was making me a custom board. And I went to leave and I was like, “Thank you so much, Robert, I can’t wait!” And I came back a few weeks later and he was like, “Yeah, your board’s almost done, the one with the pink bunny rabbits on it!” And I was like, “What? Pink bunny rabbits??” And he said, “Yeah, remember? You wanted the pink bunny rabbits, that’s what we got, it’s airbrushed all killer…” I was like, “F—k, man! I’m gonna be the biggest kook, everyone’s gonna make fun of me!” But he was just f—-kin’ with me, that was just Robert’s vibe. So I got that board from him. Around the same time, Surfside Sports when it was down by Blackies, that was kind of the cool thing, all the older guys rode for Surfside, like Josh Hoyer and Maikai McKenna and Steve Farwell and Bean Dip … and I got a bunch of free stickers, a couple t-shirts from Surfside Sports and that was like the coolest thing for me. And then later, I remember the Frog House guys, like TK and stuff, and I’d be like, “Am I a kook riding for Surfside? Should I be a Frog House guy? I wanna be a Frog House guy!” (laughs) It was the funniest shit.

Ghetto Juice: So did you end up riding for Frog House?
Alex Knost: No, I didn’t, and TK just makes fun of me every time I see him. Still, to this day. TK rules. Yeah.

Ghetto Juice: Were you a big fan of Endless Summer and all the old surf movies from the 60s?
Alex Knost: Yeah, even though I was born in ’85, from 1990 until like 1997 my dad would drag me to all these parties, and all the guys would watch movies and get all drunk, and all the surf guys who had kids, we’d all get locked in a room, you know, “Hey you guys just hang out in there…” and they’d watch all the old movies and drink beer, all the videos from their era, from the movies of the late 50s through the early 70s, the Australian transition era, and the Greenough films, all that stuff. So we were just brainwashed, sitting there all weekend at these parties. All the parents would be out doing what they were doing and we’d be in this room watching surf movies getting stoked.

Ghetto Juice: That’s rad that you developed such an appreciation for that side of surf culture during a time when surf movies based on hot shortboarding were really all the rage….
Alex Knost: Yeah, when you’re a kid you’re a sponge. You don’t think about it. You just sat in front of the TV. By the time I got to high school people were watching Kelly Slater in Black and White and that was a whole new thing to me. That was out of my peripheral.

Ghetto Juice: But you still ripped on a shortboard, so that’s kind of cool, too.
Alex Knost: (Laughs) I don’t know if I ever ripped on a shortboard, but I liked it. I had a lot of respect for any type of surfing, from a PT type guy to someone like Derek Hynd on the finless boards, or big wave guys. That’s probably the craziest thing to watch, some of the crazy guys surfing Hawaii the past five years or so. That’s pretty cool. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Ghetto Juice: Where did you end up going on your first surf trip?
Alex Knost: Costa Rica with Robert August. Yeah he told me if I got A’s and B’s in school he’d take me to Costa Rica, so I just cheated…. For two years, just cheating off every girl I could find so I could get to Costa Rica (laughs).

Ghetto Juice: Did you like school?
Alex Knost: (Pauses) Um, well …. No. I didn’t like it at all. But it was laid out for me from an early age. From my dad. “All right, Alex, if you do this, sack up, be a man and do something you don’t like, and keep your head out of your ass, you’ll get to do all the shit you like. But if you blow it, you’re not gonna surf.” It was more the carrot over my head.

Ghetto Juice: Did you see yourself being able to make a living from surfing or were you thinking you might have to get a real job one day like your dad and his friends?
Alex Knost: Yeah. I think, yeah, for sure. All my dad’s friends were construction workers and house painters and stuff, and they were all surfers. You know, getting sponsored I never made any money, and I won some contests, and when you’re a little kid you win a little bit of money you think you’re the richest guy in the world, but I don’t know. I worked at the Robert August factory, before the computer, and I would take the hard foam off the blanks, put the rocker in it and I thought it was cool, you know, working in a surfboard factory, and then Jeff Yoki, from Modern Amusement, gave me a job just scribbling art to put on his t-shirts, when I was like 17, I was still in high school, and so that kind of felt like being a pro surfer. And then I went on a surf trip with Dan Malloy for Thomas Campbell’s movie, and Dan Malloy knew that Conan Hayes and Pat Tenore were starting RVCA. I was about 17 or 18, I was just getting ready to move out of my parent’s house, and the phone rang at like three in the morning. I think Pat thought I lived without my parents, and said he’s got this brand RVCA and asked me if I wanted to ride for a clothing company. My mom had to come in my room and hand me the house phone, she said “There’s some guy named Pat on the phone who said he needs to talk to you.” I still laugh about that, because Pat talks like a million miles a minute and he probably didn’t realize I lived at home and that he’d called me at like three in the morning.

Ghetto Juice: You've been riding for RVCA for a long time!
Alex Knost: Yeah, well, Matt and Ford Archbold were already riding for them, and in all their ads, but yeah, it was right when it started and I think it had just moved the company out of their garage … So then I got a job. I got the free ticket (laughs). The meal ticket.

Ghetto Juice: And you combined that with the music. How did you get into that?
Alex Knost: I was always kind of into music. My dad got me into Neil Young when I was pretty little, and The Cars and Fleetwood Mac and all that shit, you know, driving down to San O on blank cassettes. And then I started skateboarding next, and going to skateparks and hanging out with all those punker dudes, like Mike Lohrman from The Stitches and Gish from the Smut Peddlers, and Ricky Barnes, and Grosso and all those guys, they were all skaters. So I was kind of born into this hippy Neil Young thing and then went to the skatepark and there were these tattooed gnarly looking guys, Duane Peters and shit, and I was like, f—k, these guys are really cool, I like the punk rock thing: skateparks, punk rock, tattoos and chicks. So that got me into music even more, you know? And Nolan Hall and I, we were longboarders, surfer friends, and we started our first band Japanese Motors and we just played in my friend’s living rooms, all teenagers, and Chase Stopnik, the bass player, he crashed there. He was like a skate punk kid, he just smelled so bad, never took showers (laughs) … Yeah I dragged my parents through some commitments in those days.

Ghetto Juice: What do you like better? Performing on a stage or on a surfboard?
Alex Knost: Ummm, I don’t know. Surfing you’re not really thinking about an audience, which is kind of cool. You don’t even have time to think about an audience, just a head down type of thing. Sometimes music, the response is so immediate, you know, it’s easy to feel rejected if everyone’s not going apeshit, looking at you like you’re the best song writer in the world, you get self-conscious, but I really like recording music. Yeah, I think I was a little more self-conscious playing live when I was younger but now (in Tomorrow’s Tulips) it’s more like who the f—k cares, just do it and have fun.

Ghetto Juice: Yeah, and you’ve got Ford in there, too….
Alex Knost: Yeah, it helps to be in a band with Ford because he’s so detached from any sort of like … I don’t know, Ford’s an Archbold. He just don’t give a f—k. He just enjoys life, doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’s a good person to be around to help you remember that everyone’s gonna die eventually, it doesn’t matter, just enjoy yourself and feel good and make other people feel good. That’s cool.

Ghetto Juice: How would you describe the last ten years of your life?
Alex Knost: Lucky. Amazing. Far out. Exceptional. Yeah, grateful. I’m super grateful to have met so many cool, unique people through surfing and so many inspiring originals. All the people who did all this amazing stuff, and all these incredible things without any expectations of recognition. I think that’s the coolest thing, meeting real awesome surfers and board builders and artists, all these people who did it for fulfillment. One thing I’ve noticed with all the internet and online stuff and self-promotion, I feel like people do get caught up in it and they only do things just to put on their Instagram, just to show people how cool they look and how cool they are to flip off their sponsors. I don’t know, I’ve just met so many real awesome people that were so ahead of their time and just did it because they loved surfing, or they just loved whatever they’re into. I’ve always thought that was so cool.

Ghetto Juice: What advice do you have for the kids out there who might be reading this, in terms of living their life?
Alex Knost: Be grateful and stay modest. Everyone’s the same.

Ghetto Juice: And how do you see the next ten years playing out for you?
Alex Knost: I don’t know, I’ll just take it a day at a time.

Special thanks to Laylan Connelly and the entire OC Register staff for letting us be part of the OC Surfer of the Year awards for the fourth straight year!

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