Thirty-something Bruce Irons was once the best "free surfer" in the world. Then he turned philosopher in this archival interview!
What are your favourite sounds? Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The sound of my ten-reel getting screamed by a Yellowfin [tuna]. This year we’ve had one of the best Yellowfin seasons ever. Officially, I’ve caught seven all from 150 to 200 pounds and one 500-pound marlin. All right in front of our house. My baby is making all these little noises that are priceless. All these little eee-eee, ooo-ooo, ah-ah. Goo goo, gah gah, that kind of shit. Everyday is a different little noise.
What is the most curious album in your collection? A GG Allin album that Nathan Fletcher put me onto. He’s an old-school punk guy, long dead. He’s a crazy, crazy old punk rocker (Allin was famous for his live shows in which he would often defecate on stage, perform naked, cut himself and sometimes, when hunger beckoned, he would eat his own shit).
What is heaven for you? Getting stand-up shacks, catching big Ahis [another name for Yellowfin tuna], watching my baby grow and um, Kauai. Wait, I’m in heaven right now.
What is hard for you? Communication is hard. Sometimes I don’t want to pick up the phone and return calls for a week. Getting back to my so-called ‘responsibilities,’ is hard. Leaving Kauai. You get in a groove here and you don’t want to leave. It’s a little island, with a real tight island community where everyone knows everyone and it’s hard to leave your friends and family.
What is right with the world? We haven’t had a total nuclear-fucking-mayhem-weapons-of-mass-destruction bomb test yet. All this nuclear-fucking-mass destruction talk and still no one’s pulled the trigger. If one person pulls the trigger, we’re all fucked. Who wants to be the first idiot?
Describe a scene from a movie that moved you? Wave Warriors III changed my whole perspective when I was nine years old. To see Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher and Pottz, at that time, doing airs and high-performance surfing – it changed my life forever. Archy at Trestles doing big backside grab airs. Christian Fletcher doing the fucken biggest airs. Johnny Boy was doing these backside back flip snaps. That was in ’89! I watched that section a week ago and it still pumped me up. It’s got the sickest soundtrack and the baddest airs. That was the beginning of innovation in surfing.
What is your motto or words to live by? My mum always said, respect your elders and treat someone, as you would like to be treated. Respect your elders is a Catch-22. If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them. Which is where the other part of the saying comes in.
What remarkable things have you found in remarkable places? I just came back from Mexico and it was a good reality check to see how good we have it compared to them. I was hanging with this crazy gnarly local gangster guy. He had three kids and he’d been in a Chicago prison for five years, for having a lot of drugs and a machine gun, I think. Heavy duty shit. He’d taken over this broken-down abandoned home and hooked it up with electricity and water. I walked into a room and there were his three little girls sleeping on a hard concrete floor on a towel. To talk to the guy and see how happy he is, with his chick and his three kids, just to be alive, made me appreciate that I’m spoilt.
“If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them.”
What do you wonder about? I’m more cautious about living and staying alive. I want to see my daughter grow up. Little things like wearing a seat belt and not driving drunk, which I overlooked before I had my little baby. I still make those dumb decisions but I try to cut back on them. (Does that cautiousness extend to surfing?) No. In those situations I feel comfortable because I’m confident that I can control what’s happening.
What’s your most thrilling surfing experience? Surfing Teahupoo at 15-feet plus with some bigger ones… you’re looking at waves that can kill you. We surfed a tow session in Kauai with my brother, Kamalei [Alexander] and Parko. It was one of the sessions of my life. Reallly big, big day, and this one spot that people usually paddle was randomly holding it. We had a window of just us four for two hours. I got the best waves of my life. Priceless.