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Interviews, Originals August 25, 2021September 14th, 2021

In Conversation with Creed McTaggart

Interview by James Royce | Portrait by Beren Hall | Photography by  Kim Feast

There’re a lot of factors that go into choosing an interviewee who’ll be a proper partner for these particular song and dance and transcription numbers.

It’s stressful. Even before I pick up the phone, my brain will start racing and the immediate thought is always: but what are the readers going to think of all this? Because that’s what’s important, all of you. 

See, it’s all well and good to appease the sponsors and brands and nice people who let us put their logos next to ours on some vinyl tarp backdrop before every bit of Handshakes And Whatever Bastard Movie Premier Happens Afterwards nonsense. I mean, that’s what pays the bills. But the real top-shelf journalism? That’s isn’t done in correspondence with a team video or product release. It’s done deep in the trenches. Off the grid. It’s that buffer yarn that happens between when I scroll through my contacts completely at random looking at every which name I’ve gathered from various events, contests, and blurred nights everywhere from Coolangatta to Capbreton and when I decide to just hit that blue-tinted “call” button on whichever name looks the most interesting. All while taking various time differences into minor consideration and just generally hoping for the best, of course. 

And so that’s how Creed McTaggart found his way here. But, then again, Creed’s someone who doesn’t need much of an introduction, is he? Or really a reason to chat to. Because he’s Creed, and he’s always worth a listen. Even when it’s after some call that came out of the blue. Anyway, with that: here’s Creed McTaggart. 

Creed! What’s up?

I’m just got some fire wood and that’s about it really. I was going to have a couple beers, go down to the pub and… yeah! Friday arvo.

What’s the deal with the pubs and stuff there now? Is it all open? News reports on this end are saying Australia’s all doom and gloom.

We’re not in lockdown but Sydney is. They’ve got a few cases there and, I don’t know what the stats are, but yeah we’re a bit further away. A bit more rural and out in the country, so, we only have to wear masks in the shopping centre or in restaurants. But yeah other than that it’s pretty normal.

It’s chaos over here in the US, we threw away all the mask stuff even though, like, not a ton of people are vaccinated even though it’s available. And now we’re back to masks. But also not really because some places just stopped carding. It’s hectic. 

It’s fucking crazy, hey? Everyone’s opinions piled up on each other and no one calling the shots really. 

Yeah and of course we like to make things a little extra political for no odd reason. 

Whereabouts are you? 

San Diego, a little down to the south. 

Yeah, yeah. I spent a little bit of time there. It’s been a while since I’ve visited. I don’t think I’ve been over there in three, or, four years now, maybe? 

And you’re up in Northern NSW now yeah?

Northern NSW now, yeah. Just an hour south of the Gold Coast. About the corner from Byron pretty much. It’s not too bad. Since this whole COVID thing has happened and like no one has been able to travel, all the holiday destinations like Byron and Margaret River and Crescent Head and all those cute little towns have seen the rich people from Sydney and the cities moving there. Because they’ve always been in lockdown. So they’ve all bought properties and houses and stuff in the rural areas. So all, like, the zones are getting flooded with rich yuppie people and rent’s going up heaps and real estate has gone up heaps. Sort of the whole vibe, the town’s changed a lot. It’s kind of, like, you know, when a little part of a city that’s a little arty zone that’s run-down but then someone does something cool there and then, all of a sudden, all the rich people buy in and it becomes a high-end, ritzy part of town. It’s that but it’s happening all over Australia at the moment.

Yeah, when I lived in Sydney for some time I remember that happening quite rapidly through areas like Redfern and Newtown. They were basically two different places from when I arrived and when I left. And that’s definitely happening around here at just about warp-sped in the US too. It sucks, hey? So can you go state to state? Were you able to go up to the Gold Coast or Cooly or wherever for that recent-ish mental swell? Feel like all I saw for weeks on this end was just a Kirra video followed by a Kirra video followed by another Kirra video. 

I don’t really go up to Kirra. I’ve never actually really surfed it! I’ve surfed it once or twice. Too crowded for me. But with the borders it’s been off and on. For two years almost I wasn’t able to get back to Western Australia because the premier from WA shut it off from New South Wales and pretty much every other state. But then there was a little window there where he opened it up, about the time the comp was on. So I went over there for about two months and caught up with family and did some surfing and stuff. And now he’s closed it up again. Queensland just closed their borders. I think they did that last night actually, so we can’t go up there from now on until they change it again. But, yeah, I pretty much haven’t been able to leave our states since it’s all happened. There’s a couple little moments here and there, but overall pretty frustrating.

It sounds like you at least have a good amount of space to wander around in, though. Which I’m sure is nice.

Yeah, yeah. We got a couple road trips down the coast which is nice. You know like the South Coast and Forster. It’s not too bad. We haven’t had like the best year with waves but it’s been good enough, a few sessions here and there. 

I feel like all I’ve seen are endless Aus clips. But maybe that’s because of some pessimism bias since our summer this way has just been abysmal. 

I mean we’ve had moments. But, yeah. Nothing crazy. The year before was really good but this year has been a bit slow. Unless you want to go up to the Gold Coast and tap into things there. They’ve had like two or three swells this year but, yeah, I don’t really go up there. It’s too crazy.

Fight off a hundred people for one wave. 

And everyone in the water is a bit crazy. A bit aggro. It’s just not my scene. 

So you’ve been holding tight around home then?

Yeah, and there’s a couple little point breaks down here that have been fun. Just been surfing Lennox a little bit. But, yeah, there’s just a lot of people around since we can’t travel and can’t leave the country so going to all these spots it’s pretty packed everywhere. 

I hear you’re riding some 7’8” Dahlberg recently? Just a full-blown Occy sled?

Well, Noa got two boards off the internet off this guy… I think on Gumtree? Something like that. But, yeah, this dude in Brisbane had a 7’8” and a 7’2” and I think, pretty sure but not really sure, they were shaped in the 90s. Or early Os. But they’re in really good condition and he gave me the 7’8”. So I’ve just been riding that. I have a little bit of a sore back lately so have been going pretty chill mode on that. Lots of slow-motion surfing, which has been fun. 

I feel like you can still whip that around though, no? You riding one during your Cult Of Freedom part and that obviously was working real nice. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah! I think that was the first batch of boards that I got off Dahlberg and then, yeah, pretty much been riding his boards pretty much ever since then. And they’ve been going really good. Just really enjoy surfing a lot more when I’m riding those boards. They’re a lot more fun and you tend to do more turns and not race down the line so you can try to do an air or something, you know? It’s just a bit different from what I’ve been doing over the past few years. 

Yeah the turns are definitely a bit more drawn out. Or at least from what I’ve watched. 

They go so well. He’s been doing it forty or fifty years, so he knows a thing to two. 

And he’s a Yamba guy, no?

Yeah, he shapes out of Yamba! I think he’s in his 60s now, I’m not sure. But he’s getting pretty up there. Regardless I’m stoked to be getting some boards off him. 

Have you been riding any of Beau’s boards or Manners? Mat, obviously, there with the second one. Not Shaun. 

I’ve been riding a bit of Beau’s boards. I’m about to pick up two new boards off him actually. He’s been shaping some really good boards and he’s been busy with it lately. Just trying to hone in on it I guess. In the shaping bay every day trying to learn more and he’s shaping all different types of crafts now. I think he’s really enjoying it. And he’s sorta worked closely with Andrew Kidman and Ellis Ericson and stuff. They’ve got the little creative hub where they’re just popping out different looking shapes. And it’s good because we’re all similar height and weight so we just share each others boards which is pretty cool. 

That’s nice meeting of minds right there. Clearly it’s working too because the boards look sick. 

Yeah, he’s definitely got a signature aesthetic to his crafts. Nice outlines and these thin volume rails that he does that are pretty slashy. He’s just mixing it up. I like a lot of the stuff that he’s doing, you know? He’s a really good surfer so he tries the board quite a lot in all conditions and then goes back to the drawing board and works on all the little bits and pieces. He’s come a long way in a short time.

Takes a good surfer to know a good surfboard. 

He’s in a really good environment. He shares a bay with Gunther and Neal Purchase Jr. and Ellis. So they’re all talking boards and bouncing things off one another. 

Have you been doing stuff with WASH lately? I guess lockdown to not lockdown to back to lockdown has been inspiring a bit of songwriting. Whether it’s positive or not, hah. 

I’ve been writing heaps of tunes. We played together a few times but then other than that I’ve been writing tunes at home in my bedroom. Just on a drum machine and synth and stuff. Taught myself how to record, really… poorly. I’ve just been recording I think, now, twelve or thirteen songs? All that I’m going to put on a record and hopefully have that out soon, maybe the end of the year. 

So a WASH project or more a Creed McTaggart Spotify artist page situation? 

Yeah, hah! I’d still put it under WASH. There’s still a couple ones that we all did together and then a couple of the other ones. It’s a big mixed bag of genres of music. Through the COVID thing I was listening to heaps of different stuff and it’s inspired by all those different sounds. It’s a pretty trippy collection of music once it’s all put together. It still has a WASH kind of vibe to it. It’s been fun focusing more on trying to record music and write music rather than thinking about playing live and how you’d think you’d play it live. So, I’ve been fucking around with the synthesizers and weird little bits of percussion. Recording myself doing some funky shit. Like, recording a broom on pavement and just different little sounds. It’s been fun. 

What have you been listening to music wise? I remember you talking about Witch in the last thing I saw of you and that band is sick! I’m still listening to them. 

They’re amazing hey? Such a good vibe. I’ve been listening to I guess a few 90s indie bands? Like, Silver Jews and Pink Reason and then I listen to A. Savage a bit. And, what else? Always listening to a bit of Ween and Frank Black. I actually went through a crazy Chemical Brothers session for a few months there. So that was kinda cool. 

Dude, I love a good, old-fashioned Chemical Brothers bender. They’re so good. 

It’s amazing. They’ve got such a catalogue of music too to get through and it changes quite a lot through the years. I kind of started in the 90s and then worked my way to now. But, yeah, I love that earlier stuff. 

Dig Your Own Hole and Exit Planet Dust are amazing.

Oh man, so good! It’s been cool, for me, trying to figure how they made those tunes back then. I really like that Come With Us record they did and then that first one, yeah, Exit Planet Dust. 

Exit Planet Dust is such a strong album. Just an all-timer for listening straight-through on.  

Yeah! It’s amazing, hey? They’re really fucking talented dudes and I feel like they, I don’t know, paved the way for that sort of genre of music. Everything progressed from that. In my head anyway, hah. 

They’re like one of my biggest go-to bands, hah! And I’ve always thought, like, In Dust We Trust, the track, or Dig Your Own Hole would be killer for a section. But then again I also feel like the music itself is so quick and unique that you’d have to really deliver on an absolutely banger part to go with it. Not something you can just half-ass. It’d be tough. You could really screw yourself and look like the biggest moron if you didn’t pair it right. 

Take like an ecstasy before watching the section, hah. But, yeah, that’s been fun tapping into that. I just went down to Tasmania to this festival down there called Dark Mofo. That was really cool. I went and watched Om play for the first time which was good. And one of my friends from here, he played his first gig, his band’s called Drug Cult. And, yeah, they sounded amazing. We went and watched them play and then went off. Thurston Moore did a gig there with a New Zealand band from the 90s called Dead C, too. And then he did a talk after it. But, yeah, just a couple of metal bands and sort of scream grindcore bands that were pretty good. I hadn’t seen live music in a few years so that was great. Other than, though, that’s pretty much all that’s been happening. 

You guys are filming a new Epokhe flick, no?

We filmed for it on and off because of COVID and stuff and not being able to move around too much. But we filmed enough for about eighteen months and then I gave all my footage to Kai and I think he bought a caravan and him and his chick and his son are traveling around Australia so they’re kinda like pulling a Beren (Hall). I think they’re inland right now? Or last I spoke to them he was inland Queensland and he was chopping wood and they just had these campfire vibes. I think he’s just going to edit it from the road. So, yeah. I think it’s meant to come out around October or November. Should be pretty interesting. I’m pretty excited to see what he puts together and it’s a pretty crazy team now with Craig and Jaleesa and Shaun. It should be pretty action packed too. Occy as well… 

Occy’s frames are sick! They’re total middle-class fancy speed dealers. 

Yeah! High-end speed dealers. With polarised lenses. They actually look really hot on girls which is something I did not expect but they suit chicks a lot. Which is funny because I thought that it was totally geared for that old demographic, you know, like dads and uncles that are into fishing and shit. But I know quite a few younger chicks that wear them and, yeah. 

 The 90s resurgence is back!

It’s definitely a thing. Bit of a jump back. Or, a jump forward I guess. It’s pretty cool.

As long as we don’t bring back the 1996 NBA draft suit styles then I’m all for it. 

It’s funny, I don’t know, watching styles and influences. Even just listening to Chemical Brothers now compared to listening to them when I was a little kid with my brothers, I have a whole different take on it all. It has another feeling just because the vibes have changed so much. And people change and have grown up and there’s so many other genres and styles out there now but you still end up going back to something like that and you’re just like, “Wow, damn. That was good.” It’s really aged well. 

Since we’re talking about things that have gone on forever, are you going to watch the Olympics at all?

Yeah, I always like to watch the Olympics. I mean it’d be pretty interesting to watch the surfing with it at least being in there the first time. I haven’t really put too much thought into it really, it’s a trippy thing. It almost feels like novelty in a way, which is weird. Because it isn’t. It just feels like that, what with surfing and skateboarding in there… It feels like a bit of a gimmick? I actually heard there’s a typhoon coming too so they might get some waves.

Well I feel like it’s a complete shit show already with the COVID restrictions and everything else, so, as long as no one dies I’d say it’s a success. If it’s sick it’s sick if it’s not it’s already the COVID Olympics so we can just put things on ice and reset at Teahupoo 2024.

It’s crazy watching people trying to live their life like COVID doesn’t exist. Oo go about their profession without the normal restrictions that everyone else has. It seems really frustrating and hard and I really don’t know how they’re doing it but, you know, good on them for trying. Because like everyone else is hanging out at home, not doing anything. So it’s bizarre comparing that with seeing those guys go out and try to go about it normally. And I guess just traveling and stuff. It’s trippy because obviously we can’t travel while we’re seeing other people go to Indonesia and stuff and you’re just, like, “Fuck, I would love to go to do that. But I can’t,” hah. Its rubbing salt into the wounds. 

And it’s kinda crazy because no one really expected it to be like this for so long. And it looks like it’s not going to stop anytime soon. I don’t know what to do really. I guess stay at home, try to find the joy in the small things in the day-to-day. A lot of stuff is out of our control so you can’t really worry about it or you just go crazy. Even go to the pub. Heaps of people can’t do that so best enjoy it if you can, drink every beer you can, hah. The wheel’ll keep turning.

So what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

I have a friends birthday tonight and then just cruising, really. Going to try to do some surfing and then watch some UFC on Sunday, that’s something I’ve gotten into through COVID. I’ve just been watching heaps of it. I grew up watching it with my dad, like, he’s been watching it for 20 or so years. He’s super into the fighting. He would like go down to the video store and get stacks of videos of fights and UFC and I would watch it. But because I wasn’t around too much I never got too into it but now, with all this spare time, I’ve been getting into it which is fun. 

You just watching people or are you getting down on the mat and telling people to get down there so you can grapple them?

No, no. My dad does. When I grew up he had the mats in front of the TV and that was there all the time. So I’d be watching it with him and he’d be like, “Oh! Let me try this one on you!” And he’d do this and that and then I’d be tangled up like a pretzel and in heaps of pain. So, yeah, kept the grappling mats at dad’s house and I just watch it. Kind of just like watching it at home too. Away from all the testosterone at the pub when everyone’s going crazy. 

Yeah, always best to avoid a glassing when you can. 

Yeah, yeah. Definitely not trying to get glassed or anything, hah. Not today. But it has been fun. I’ve never really been into watching a sport or anything so that’s been cool. 

I’ll leave you to it, then. Sounds like you have another event to roll into so I’ll let you get pretty for the birthday party. 

Yeah! I’ll go put my makeup on. Too easy.

Thanks Creed! Talk soon. 

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