The G+J Interview with Todd Miller

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Todd Miller. The Whacker. That toe-headed grom with an appetite for the big leagues. He went from a 36th Street grom to world tour charger. From 54th Street shredder to Bud Tour kingpin. One of his biggest victories was winning the 1991 Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, and his biggest victory to date is being the father of the next generation Miller, his son Taj, who along with his pop took out their divisions in this year's City of Newport Beach Championships. We caught up with the Whacker, and here's what he had to say….

Ghetto Juice: What was it like transitioning from a touring pro surfer on the WCT to the civilian life like you have today? Were you thinking you'd just come back to Newport and work for one of your sponsors?
Todd Miller: Danny Kwock was my mentor and he saw me losing my inspiration to compete and he offered me the team manager position at Quiksilver. He was like it’s time to go to the University of QS and it was a great learning experience. I now work at a company called Nameplate that produces stickers and point of purchase items and it’s great because most of my clients are my friends from the action sports world!
 
GJ: Tell me about how you got into surfing and what it was like back then?
TM: I grew up surfing 36th Street in Newport and I really looked up to Robbie Todd and Paul Ebel back then. They were the older guys surfing out there and it was really cool.
 
GJ: Do you remember your first surf contest?
TM: Not really, but I remember I loved the feeling of competing, and once I did it I was hooked.
 
GJ: What were some of your best memories from the time you spent on the ASP WCT?
TM: First would be beating Kelly in France man-on-man—that is no easy task. The guy is a freak to be doing it almost 20 years later and still winning! Others would be some of the free surf sessions all over the world with the best guys out. Great memories!

GJ: I remember you sort of gave up shortboarding for a while in the early 2000s. What was that all about? Had you lost the passion for throwing buckets? How did you get back into shortboarding again and what did that period of riding longboards do for you mentally?
TM: I got fat and my shortboards weren’t floating me very well so I guess I got into longboarding because of that. I think after you make something your life and then don’t have to do it professionally anymore your motivation changes.

GJ: Your company "F54" was one of the hottest surf companies coming up in the early 2000s. You ran it for several years then let it go. What happened?
TM: I did F54 for about eight years and had a blast. I brought on a partner Ted Wueste and he was a really cool guy and helped the company a lot. We licensed it off in 2010 to a big company and a year later they didn’t want to move forward with it. We were going into a recession and that didn’t help anything. I learned lots and I am very thankful for all the support everyone gave me and all the cool people I met!

GJ: You went to Newport Harbor High School, right? Were surfers considered the cool kids? Did you like school? How were your grades?
TM: Newport Harbor was a fun school. There was a cool group of guys that all surfed together and we kind of did our own thing. I wasn’t much of a school guy and I definitely regret that. School is very important and I always tell my son Taj that very thing. My grades were average and that’s another thing I wish I could change for the better.

GJ: You and Richie Collins are pretty much the only surfers from Newport to make the ASP World Tour. What possessed you guys to make the world stage? And why don't more surfers from Newport make the world tour?
TM: It was good to have someone like Richie to watch surf everyday because he was one of the best. I don’t think I was ever the best surfer, but I knew that whatever I did I was going to overachieve because I was so competitive. Danny Kwock always said it best: "When you are a skinny alley cat you win and when you are a big fat cat you lose." I don’t feel like the guys in Newport are hungry enough. You need the "do-or-die attitude." A guy like Droid should be on the tour with the Kolohe’s but he has a different act. I like that he is not "cookie cutter" and he is his own person and he shreds!
 
GJ: Today you're back on a short board, and you're still throwing major hacks in the water. What joys do you get out of surfing these days?
TM: I'm in the best shape of my life and that really helps because nowadays you might miss a few weeks of surfing and being in shape you feel like you don’t miss a beat. I don’t really enjoy competing as much as I used to, but I like to surf the two contests Newport puts on every year.

GJ: I remember when you were in that one Quiksilver ad of you when you were a toe headed grom, you had the broken wrist and you were quoted as saying, "I love being a young pro because the bigger the come the harder they fall." That was brash but a few years later you would be on the world tour. What was your mind-state back in those days? You were gnarly!!
TM: I heard Reggie Miller say something one time and it kind of stuck to me. It didn’t matter what he was going to do in life he was so competitive that he would be successful in anything he did. Not comparing myself to Reggie, but on a smaller scale that’s how I felt. I just had a very strong competitive drive.

GJ: Do you think we'll see a surfer from Newport make the world tour anytime soon? Or has the Newport-Mesa crew lost that certain brash attitude that got you and Richie and the world tour to begin with? What type of mental state does someone need to not just be "sponsored and get your photo in the mag" but to actually get on tour?
TM: I sure would love to see all of them make it. Droid should be on there already, but when he’s ready he will be there. Colin rode for me at F54 when he was a grom and he is a great kid and I love him and his family and it would make me really proud to see him make it! He surfs well enough and he just needs to believe that he belongs with the top guys. Meah is still young but I’m sure she will be there eventually because she rips.

GJ: Anything you want to add?
TM: Thanks to my mom for believing in my surfing when I was a grom!


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 21 Oct 2014 17:52




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Todd Miller. The Whacker. That toe-headed grom with an appetite for the big leagues. He went from a 36th Street grom to world tour charger. From 54th Street shredder to Bud Tour kingpin. One of his biggest victories was winning the 1991 Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, and his biggest victory to date is being the father of the next generation Miller, his son Taj, who along with his pop took out their divisions in this year's City of Newport Beach Championships. We caught up with the Whacker, and here's what he had to say….

Ghetto Juice: What was it like transitioning from a touring pro surfer on the WCT to the civilian life like you have today? Were you thinking you'd just come back to Newport and work for one of your sponsors?
Todd Miller: Danny Kwock was my mentor and he saw me losing my inspiration to compete and he offered me the team manager position at Quiksilver. He was like it’s time to go to the University of QS and it was a great learning experience. I now work at a company called Nameplate that produces stickers and point of purchase items and it’s great because most of my clients are my friends from the action sports world!
 
GJ: Tell me about how you got into surfing and what it was like back then?
TM: I grew up surfing 36th Street in Newport and I really looked up to Robbie Todd and Paul Ebel back then. They were the older guys surfing out there and it was really cool.
 
GJ: Do you remember your first surf contest?
TM: Not really, but I remember I loved the feeling of competing, and once I did it I was hooked.
 
GJ: What were some of your best memories from the time you spent on the ASP WCT?
TM: First would be beating Kelly in France man-on-man—that is no easy task. The guy is a freak to be doing it almost 20 years later and still winning! Others would be some of the free surf sessions all over the world with the best guys out. Great memories!

GJ: I remember you sort of gave up shortboarding for a while in the early 2000s. What was that all about? Had you lost the passion for throwing buckets? How did you get back into shortboarding again and what did that period of riding longboards do for you mentally?
TM: I got fat and my shortboards weren’t floating me very well so I guess I got into longboarding because of that. I think after you make something your life and then don’t have to do it professionally anymore your motivation changes.

GJ: Your company "F54" was one of the hottest surf companies coming up in the early 2000s. You ran it for several years then let it go. What happened?
TM: I did F54 for about eight years and had a blast. I brought on a partner Ted Wueste and he was a really cool guy and helped the company a lot. We licensed it off in 2010 to a big company and a year later they didn’t want to move forward with it. We were going into a recession and that didn’t help anything. I learned lots and I am very thankful for all the support everyone gave me and all the cool people I met!

GJ: You went to Newport Harbor High School, right? Were surfers considered the cool kids? Did you like school? How were your grades?
TM: Newport Harbor was a fun school. There was a cool group of guys that all surfed together and we kind of did our own thing. I wasn’t much of a school guy and I definitely regret that. School is very important and I always tell my son Taj that very thing. My grades were average and that’s another thing I wish I could change for the better.

GJ: You and Richie Collins are pretty much the only surfers from Newport to make the ASP World Tour. What possessed you guys to make the world stage? And why don't more surfers from Newport make the world tour?
TM: It was good to have someone like Richie to watch surf everyday because he was one of the best. I don’t think I was ever the best surfer, but I knew that whatever I did I was going to overachieve because I was so competitive. Danny Kwock always said it best: "When you are a skinny alley cat you win and when you are a big fat cat you lose." I don’t feel like the guys in Newport are hungry enough. You need the "do-or-die attitude." A guy like Droid should be on the tour with the Kolohe’s but he has a different act. I like that he is not "cookie cutter" and he is his own person and he shreds!
 
GJ: Today you're back on a short board, and you're still throwing major hacks in the water. What joys do you get out of surfing these days?
TM: I'm in the best shape of my life and that really helps because nowadays you might miss a few weeks of surfing and being in shape you feel like you don’t miss a beat. I don’t really enjoy competing as much as I used to, but I like to surf the two contests Newport puts on every year.

GJ: I remember when you were in that one Quiksilver ad of you when you were a toe headed grom, you had the broken wrist and you were quoted as saying, "I love being a young pro because the bigger the come the harder they fall." That was brash but a few years later you would be on the world tour. What was your mind-state back in those days? You were gnarly!!
TM: I heard Reggie Miller say something one time and it kind of stuck to me. It didn’t matter what he was going to do in life he was so competitive that he would be successful in anything he did. Not comparing myself to Reggie, but on a smaller scale that’s how I felt. I just had a very strong competitive drive.

GJ: Do you think we'll see a surfer from Newport make the world tour anytime soon? Or has the Newport-Mesa crew lost that certain brash attitude that got you and Richie and the world tour to begin with? What type of mental state does someone need to not just be "sponsored and get your photo in the mag" but to actually get on tour?
TM: I sure would love to see all of them make it. Droid should be on there already, but when he’s ready he will be there. Colin rode for me at F54 when he was a grom and he is a great kid and I love him and his family and it would make me really proud to see him make it! He surfs well enough and he just needs to believe that he belongs with the top guys. Meah is still young but I’m sure she will be there eventually because she rips.

GJ: Anything you want to add?
TM: Thanks to my mom for believing in my surfing when I was a grom!

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