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Interview: Peter King on the Making of Tour Notes

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Find out why Kelly wants to "destroy John John!" So candid, Mr King!

Some people got it, some people don’t. It’s how life works. And Peter King, the former pro surfer from La Jolla in California, the music video maker, the skateboarder, the musician, the photographer, and the creator of #Tour Notes for Hurley, is one of ’em.

Likeable? Yeah, he is. Will he make you laugh? Yeah, he will.

Tour Notes is the perfect antidote to the high-production values of the WSL. I love the sing-song voice of Joe and the cavorting of the gazelle-like Rosie, the desk and the tropical shirts and the on-screen graphics and I even like the Samsung ads, but it’s Tour Notes, that really gets me.

Who can miss an episode? It’s a disposable pop art that’s perfect for Generation Selfie. It’s a yowling discharge of all those down days, all that… nothing but everything… that surrounds those two-week waiting periods at contests. It’s peculiar, it’s memorable, it’s a surface with slips but no adjustments.

I wanted to talk to PK about the machinations of making Tour Notes and found he, en route to dinner, very late, in Rio, with his boy-pal John John Florence, whose commentary will be seen later in the interview.

BeachGrit: Tell me about making documentaries.
PK: It works because it’s me. I’ve been around the tour, I know it. I was on tour for three-and-a-half years, back when girls wanted to hang with Shaun Tomson and Rabbit Bartholomew and were 35 years old and wore high-waisted bikinis, do cocaine and all those things I didn’t know about. And what do I remember about my time on the tour? It isn’t the heats. I wanna show the fun. I want to show the silly little conversations.

BeachGrit: How did you make Tour Notes happen? Even low-budget takes money.
PK: I’m persistent. And overweight. It’s a deadly combination. Oh, but seriously, Evan Slater (from Hurley, the sponsor of Tour Notes) is a real journalist. He appreciated my ability to deliver something. I just have my iPhone running. Most of Tour Notes is shot on an iPhone. I have a RED camera but I just look at it.

BeachGrit: Aren’t they just the prettiest things! But there’s a vulgarity about them too…
PK: It looks like jewellery. I just look at it and say, wow, I have a RED. I always wanted to be in that club of rich kids that have a RED. It seems like they’re having so much fun when they’re setting up their tripods on the beach. I like to move quick. I have ADD times five.

BeachGrit: It shows in your edits. Y’ain’t killing us with slow-mo.
PK: If I can keep myself interested in an edit, I know I’ve done a good job. I’m always thinking, am I forcing this? I want people to scroll through, see the content, I want them to laugh, to be excited, and move onto the next thing. It’s not for sitting around watching. It’s not high-art, it’s not a movie. Watch it and move on.

I don’t think anyone edits faster than me. The turnaround can be instantaneous, if that’s the desired thing. But after the event, I like to wait. The broadcast can have its 22 cameras, its feeds, everything. I give it a day-and-a-half breather usually. You know, I was staying with (Hurley’s) Pat O’Connell a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t even know I was making it. He didn’t want to be in Tour Notes, he’s the one paying me to make it. So that was me doing a send-up of my boss. I’m taking as much a risk as you did leaving Stab before it got sold for millions. You blew that. Now you’ve got Chas Smith around your neck, burying you with the advertisers. Everyone reads BeachGrit but no one admits it. No one is allowed to admit it around the tour.

(John John walks past…)

Hey! Matt or Kelly? (John John yells)

He says Matt’s (Spindle Air 540) is better than Kelly’s (540 in Portugal).

(to John) Matt didn’t quite land it and he claimed it! No, I don’t think it’s better. Kelly’s was an accident? He was doing it to bum you out. And it worked!

(back to the interview)

Kelly’s amazing. He’s better than all these guys. Hee hee hee. Kelly has that power because Kelly is the best. He looks completely uninterested unless he’s in a heat with John or knows John is watching. He wants to destroy John. And that’s another nuance in that Rio episode of Tour Notes. Nothing needs to be said. It’s Kelly and John starting at a monitor with Filipe doing a full-rotation air in front of them. Who cares what they said? They’re watching and they’re stunned! Hello! Budda-bing, budda-boom!

BeachGrit: What’s your professional opinion about Kelly this year? I weep when he gets sent out in crummy waves, reducing the game to a lottery…
PK: He’s completely uninterested and that’s my professional analysis. If he rides that Tomo (Dan Thomson board) he’ll be interested. The world tour needs to motivate him. He will be motivated in Fiji. He’ll win Fiji, guaranteed, him or John. Fiji, Teahupoo, Pipeline, that’s John John and Kelly territory.

BeachGrit: Tell me why you succeed where others don’t.
PK: I’m 47 and that has a lot to do with it. I don’t drink, never drank, I love sugar, but I’m not threatening anyone’s space. I’m not some 26 year old shucking and jiving my way up the marketing chain. I’m not trying to be anyone’s agent, I’m not trying to be a host of the webcast, I’m not trying to make 15 dollars on a Surfline photo. There’s no jealousy. It’s just me.

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