Interview – Kyle Knox

KYLE KNOX – interview by smc


Surfers have feelings too.

Rock stars are cool and they always have interesting things to say, but when was the last time anyone asked a surfer what he thought if it wasn’t in the pages of Surfing or Transworld? I wanted to see what a hot young schralper coming up in San Diego had to say about a few things, so I caught up with local pro and all-around good guy Kyle Knox. After a quick bite at In-N-Out, the laid back 20 year-old chatted with me about music, fighting and what scares him most.

smc: How was lunch?
Kyle: It was crowded and good.

Born and raised in Southern California?
Born and raised in Imperial Beach actually.

Basically spent your whole life here?

What’s your favorite thing about surfing?
Pretty much just going out in the ocean and getting away from all the craziness of everyday life, and suburbia. Everything sorta disappears and I just have a lot of fun out there.

What do you like to do besides surfing?
I play volleyball, listen to a lot of music, I’m sort of a little computer nerd every once in a while…

smc: There’s nothing wrong with that.
and just hang out with my friends, and girls.

That’s good. Is surfer music considered Pennywise and everything you hear in Taylor Steele surf videos an accurate generalization?
I don’t know. That’s funny because it has evolved, and Taylor Steele pretty much seems like he made everyone that was coming up around my age pretty much think surfer music is that. Nowadays though, it seems like a lot of surfers listen to stuff other than that. I listen to that and a bunch of other stuff too.

What are you listening to? What’re your favorites?
The new Red Hot Chili Peppers is super good. I like that. I guess Jurassic 5, Tribe Called Quest, Jimmy Eat World. Social D’s good. I guess more like punk, like the Adolescents and stuff.

That’s a good mix of stuff. Have you ever gotten into a fight out in the water?
Oh boy, there’s always little tiffs I guess between surfers. I don’t know, I’ve never directly gotten into a full-blown fistfight out in the water, but I mean there’s always a little yelling. People just getting mad over just one wave and it’s not worth it. Some people are just bitter out in the water, like they don’t forget what they’re doing outside the water and go in the water just all pissed. Some people almost want stuff to happen.

Where have you traveled and which was your favorite spot?
Oh gosh, um, I’ve traveled, let’s see here, I’ve been to Panama, Puerto Rico, the East Coast a couple times, I took a train across the U.S. with my family to New Orleans, and then up the California Coast, over to Chicago, all the way across the Midwest, Iowa, Nebraska (laughing)

All over the United States…
It’s crazy to see. Cos on a train you get to see more. In an airplane, you know, you fly over everything; you don’t get to see how the people are. The train’s cool because you go through all the rundown areas; you get to see things you normally wouldn’t see.

So which was your favorite spot?
My favorite spot? Gosh, I really liked New Orleans, Bourbon Street. It was pretty crazy, the whole laissez faire attitude.

That place is really cool. In your opinion, what is the hardest trick?
Well, I guess it would be a flip if I knew how to do one. I’ve tried ’em, and come close, but I haven’t pulled one yet. For me though, just a normal trick I mean, the hardest for me is doing a frontside reverse 360, air reverse 360 I guess you’d call it. I’m starting to get the hang of those a lot better now.

That’s rad. Is being sponsored as cool as it seems?
Um (laughing), It’s actually really cool. I mean when I was a kid growing up I always wanted it; you know I’d see all the guys that were all sponsored up and everything. And I always wanted to be like that, now that I am it seems all, it’s work, it’s weird. It seems all great, I mean I love it, but at the same time it is sort of like a business, and it is a little bit of work, but it’s definitely worth it to get a bunch of cool stuff.

Do you like competing?
Yeah, I really do like competing, but since surfing is like figure skating, a subjective sport, it can be frustrating. But you gotta do it and have fun, and take it not too serious, I mean serious, but at the same time don’t get down.

In terms of the state of the planet, what is the one thing that concerns you most?
Gosh, I mean it’s crazy how much pollution and so much stuff is going into the environment nowadays with all the people and all the things that aren’t mandated, from all the Third World countries that you can do whatever you want. If you have enough money and you’re a big company and you’re in a Third World country you can just dump whatever you want anywhere you want. That just scares me.

And then he was gone, most likely on his way to the top of the leader board at a surf contest near you. He’s an ordinary guy just like you and me, with a modest concern for the well being of the planet. The only difference is, when the waves are up, Knoxy rips like nobody’s business. Flips and frontside airs? When it comes to surfing, this guy’s a ‘rock star’. Thanks Kyle.