…or rather the psychedelic west coast fringe living of Ford Archbold (and friends)…
It is several hours after a fine Californian sundown that we approach the Pacific Coast Highway bungalow of Ford Archbold, nearly 24 years old. Next to the Frog House, that wonderful old-school surf shop where visitors split cigarettes and beers with employees, we find the ’60s shoebox designed by a man who once toiled as a set designer for Disney.
The celings are low and Ford, all six feet and two inches of him, must duck his head in the doorways. There are three bedrooms, inhabited by roommates and a small office, also inhabited. The monthly rent is $1450 and this is split four ways. Take the eastern exit and you emerge onto a patio hyphenated with a small garden. A staircase lead to an upstairs balcony whereupon the surfer might eyeball the waves of Newport Beach.
Our mark, Ford Archbod, the son of California’s radical star of the ’80s and ’90s, first for his T-Street airs, later his Off the Wall tube riding, Matt Archbold, is in very good spirits and although immediate plans are for a night rehearsing Tomorrows Tulips tunes with his pal of 10 years, Alex Knost, in his bedroom, he isn’t adverse to the idea of disappearing into the night. While we talk, a cigarette is in his fingers and a five-dollar Cabernet populates his wine glass.
Ford’s life, thus far at least, has been as a fringer dweller on both the pro surfing game and on the normality of a middle-class existence. He was born in 1991, a surrpise for his 22-year-old father and his new wife, but not a bad surprise by any stretch his father says, although the marriage didn’t work. Baby Ford, aged two, was therefore elivered to Matt’s Hawaiian house by North Shore elder Bryan Suratt.
And while Matt pretty much owned Off the Wall, Ford would scratch around in the sand, among the trees and the coral, tenderly watched by that never-mentioned characteristic of North Shore life, the remarkable affecton for family.
“We’d cruise around in my black Chevy, listen to music, cruise. It was really easy. Everyone knew him and I never had to worry about him. Hawaii’s real tight like that, it’s real family oriented.”
Matt was real big back in the mid-90s and Ford’d take a seat next to his Dad on promo tours to Japan where sponsors showered the kid with gifts.
Aged five, Ford returned to his mom’s to start school. Later, he’d high school for a time in Hawaii but would become bored by the obsession with surf.
“I need something…more…something…different,” says Ford.
This time when he returned to California he set up a tent in his pal Andrew Doheney’s backyard (“It was a nice tent, a big tent,” says Ford), later, an industrial warehouse without a bathroom.
Ford’s been on his own trip for a long time and the one thing his bilogical parents agreed on was to give the kid his own space. The result is a remarakbly lucid, easy-to-talk-to, gentle sorta character who may not be the second coming of Matt Archbold but who, with his music, his innate style, and his anything-but-confined way of riding waves, has enough to occupy a small tile in the mosaic of modern surfing.
BeachGrit: What kind of person are you, really?
FORD: I’m pretty realistic. So many people hide who they are and it fucking pisses me off. It’s common in this world. I try not to give a shit too much. (Pause) I don’t even fucking know. Maybe I’m just confused.
When do you feel emotions of envy and jealousy?
I honestly don’t get jealous about anything unless a dude’s hooking up with a chick I want to hook up with. I don’t get jealous of anything at life, I just get pissed off.
I want ask you about Hawaii. Do you remember anything about when you first moved there?
I remember small things about it. Riding my bike around. Fuck, I don’t even know. My brain’s kinda fried.
What about the second time around when you were a teenager?
I tried it out and I wasn’t really digging it, I was bored. I needed more. It’s beautful and it’s cool but I needed more…entertainment. I got over surfing, just bored with it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a contest surfer, that’s what I thought you had to be.
You were tight with your step-brother Will. What’d you guys do for kicks?
We’d hang out and do stupid stuff like collect knives and ninja stars, light fireworks and throw ’em at cars. Something to keep our brains entertained.
Y’ever get busted?
We were pretty good at it. We were smooth criminals.
What entertainment did you think LA would deliver?
I wanted to hang out with friends, party and enjoy being young. All the small things, fuck, playing music. I don’t have a one-track mind, I have a lot of different tracks.
When did you start making money?
Barely scratching by, about five years ago. That was eating fast food and living in a warehouse and not showering.
Where’s the connection between living cheap and not showering?
There was no shower, literally, in the industrial warehouse we rented. So fucking cheap. Three hundred dollars a month between four friends. And you eat Jack In The Box, so it’s five dollars a day on food, all you have to worry about is getting beer.
Do you like beer?
Oh yeah, I fucking live off beer. Now I enjoy the taste. I like it ’cause it gets you fucked up.
How beers can you put away?
Oh fuck, I don’t know, a lot.
F’sure. Throughout the day. F’sure, 20. Here, the surf will blow out and I’ll drink beer all day.
How do you stay so slim?
Just rigorous workouts. I just have a fast metabolism. I could eat chilli cheese, fries and drink beer and still be skinny.
Your dad’s tiny and yet you’re quite massive.
Dad’s, like, shorter and ripped and I’m tall and noodly.
Where do the genetics come from?
My mom’s short, too. Fuck, I don’t even know. Maybe I’m like an alien spices.
Tell me about your mom.
My mom lives in San Clemente and she’s a hair stylist, works a bunch non-stop. She’s cool, full double-sleeve tattoos, dyes her hair colours, she’s rad, she’s been cool forever. She’s really easy going. She cares about me but usually moms are always trying to control their kids. Same with my dad, too. They’ve always been, like, do what you want to do, just don’t fuck up, which is a good way to grow up. It’s really free.
Why did you spend so many years living with your dad?
I wanted to surf. My dad could take me surfing. I got super hooked on surfing and I’d do anything to surf all day or be close to the beach and friends to go surf with.
Tell me about your relationship with acid?
Acid? Like, the drug acid? LSD? I’ve dabbled in it, I’ve tried it. Sorry mom, sorry dad.
I ain’t privy to their personal adventures but I believe they might be aware of this kinky drug…
I actually like surfing on it. It kinda frees your mind, you think different, it’s a nice peaceful thing to do. For me. Other people freak out. I’ll go and surf and have the best time ever.
How about weed?
That’s after surfing for me. I don’t like surfing stoned. It spaces me out too much.
When did you and Alex Knost become so tight?
I’ve known Alex since I was fricken 11 years old. He used to hang out at the Doheny’s house. Forever. But, recently, six years ago, we started hanging out together, playing music together, now we hang out together every day.
Alex is an extremely influential player in our surfing world…
Oh yeah, and one of the smartest dudes I know. In every aspect. Good at talking, figuring shit out, he’s helped me out a lot. A good influence. Sometimes. Most of the time.
Describe what it’s like playing in a band, touring, as compared to just surfing…
There’s a lot of hanging out in shitty bars and playing to five people. But, no, it’s cool touring. It’s nice to be able to do something different to surfing. When you’re staying by the beach it’s all luxurious and nice and refreshing but you go on a music tour to, say, Texas, and you’ll sleep in a van for two weeks, drink a bunch, be dirty and play rock and roll. Music is a really nice thing to have. I love it.
How’d you arrive at the same haircut?
Oh my god! Oh yeah, it’s a Hanson brothers thing. It’s not a haircut, we just have the same grown-out hair. Fuck, I gotta get a haircut or something.
Who’s a worse influence, you or Metal Jimmy?
Not even on the same level. For sure, him. He drinks, like, five beers and he passes out. He has an incredibly low alcohol tolerance.
Tell me about morphing from a greaser to a pyschedelic dandy?
I was 15, 16, and super into the style for some reason, maybe from growing up listening to rockabilly music. I had a pompadour, blue jeans, white shirt, I was so into it. I’d always go thrift shopping, I was into old cars, all that shit.
Is your latest thrill hooking up with old gals in their 30s and 40s?
Who told you that?
Ain’t no hiding that kinda lust…
How the fuck! Oh shit! I just think they’re cool. I like every chick. I don’t separate ’em. I think every girl is beautiful, every age, shape and sometimes size. Maybe not the size thing. Every shape and colour.
Like your pops, and ma, you’re pretty inked. Tell me about ’em.
I have a dozen tattoos. These things are funny. I’m not too into serious tattoos. It’s a memory for me. I always have my friends give me tattoos to represent something I’m into at that very moment of your life.
Anything that is particularly special?
I have the flying A with wings. Archie’s Garage. It’s the family emblem in some sorta weird way.