Aloha, welcome to the second episode of The Temple of Surf Pocast.
Today with us is Ben Gravy is a very talented video-maker, a surfer and, most importantly, a great person!
We discussed with him about surf, the history of his famous logo, the punk rock pineapple with sunglasses, life in general and much more!
You can follow us on our Spotify, YouTube, iTunes channels and in many other podcast platforms!
If you prefer to read the interview, you can do it here, please forgive us if the transcribe of the interview doesn’t fully reflect the audio.
TTOS: Aloha Ben, welcome to the show, where are you today?
I’m stoked to be here, dude.
I’m in New Jersey right now.
TTOS: How the day is going so far, you have been surfing, right?
Yeah. I just got out of the water, we’re going into summertime right now. So when the wave say that they’re going to be head high, they’re about knee high ahhah
It was small, but it was fun. We got some good ones.
TTOS: the most important thing, at the end, is having fun.
TTOS: today we’re gonna talk about you and of course your adventures….the first question that I have for you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
That’s an easy one. Having fun, dude!
TTOS:. It’s easy as it sounds, no matter where or what you’re riding as long, you know, I had some conversation before you with other guests of the show and they said …. you need to have fun, but also you need to have some friends out there surfing so you can share the same experience because that makes it even more fun.
TTOS: If you have fun by yourself is good, but not as high as you can tell your adventures, right?
And then people believe you because they were there with you.
I always call all my friends to come out and another thing I do to keep it fun, I always switch boards, I’ll start on a smallone, like five foot twin fins, then I’ll grab like the mid-length, then I’ll grab the soft top, then I’ll grab my short board.
I’m always like rotating boards and that’s what keeps it fun for me…. just like changing it up, you know?
TTOS: What was your first surfboard?
The first surfboard I ever rode was a five/ 10 “In The Eye”.
It’s a surf shop from like outer banks, North Carolina, one of my dad’s friends gave it to us cause we were boogie boarder when we were kids, he gave us the board and he was like, “dude, you gotta get these guys on surfboards!”
So me and my older brother took it out and we stood up first wave.
TTOS: on the first wave you stood up on a five/10 ? It means there how good you were….
Yeah, I mean, I was only eight years old weighting 40 pounds….. it wasn’t like it is now, there are a lot of soft tops around now…. which is cool, cause surfing is still growing and I love it.
TTOS: It is very important to share the passion for this sport, It can go to a competitive level, but at the end, it is such a nice sport for nice people.
For me surfing is therapy.
I’m really glad that I get to share it and more people have started surfing just because of my videos. Because, if it brings them joy and fills their heart and brings them therapy, then we’re doing something good out here.
TTOS: I agree with you, it is also cure, if you look at the Paskowitz, what they’re doing with their Foundation and people with autism …… it’s definitely something good.
What was the first surfboard that you bought yourself with the first money you had?
First board I ever bought myself was a Super Brand toy model, five/11 toy.
I remember it, because, when I was after high school / college and stuff, I didn’t have money and I used to ride boardsfrom like my friends or the dudes at the local shop.
I would just ride these beat up crappy surfboards, but I remember my buddy was out on a Super and he was like ripping.
He was going like three times faster than me and I was like “dude, I think it’s time, I need to buy a real board”
So I went down to the shop here and I just bought that board and it changed my surfing and I was like from then on, I only ever wanted to get new boards because a new board can change your whole entire outlook on surfing….like…. it can make you so stoked.
TTOS: And do you still have that board?
No, I don’t have it, but I do have the first board that my dad ever bought for me and my brother, we got them after we surfed the hammy down board….we begged him and begged him to get our own.
And then me and my older brother went to the surf shop and we got this six challenger and it had blue rails for me and red rails, my brother’s , these were just ripping,
I still have mine, glass on fins on…..it’s under my house and, at this point, that board’s like 20 years old, 22 years old, something like that. Crazy.
TTOS: And then from buying your boards, you have your own pro-model and a collaboration with Wave Bandit….how did it all started?
I started doing my blog and I don’t know how much you’ve researched me, but the reason I started doing my blog is because I quit drinking.
I had a bad drinking problem and I started doing blogging as kind of my therapy to keep myself sober. It was like I needed something to do to keep myself occupied.
I’m a videographer editor by trade, I worked in production before I started my blog…. So I started doing that and I started surfing a lot.
What happened was, I always had the interest in novelty waves and while I was doing that, I’ve logged every day and I was filming the novelty waves.
It started kind of becoming a thing, I was using like lesson boards, like soft tops from the surf shop down the street, just boards that they would take out for lessons and stuff.
And then, one day, I found like a cat surf eight foot or in the trash and and I started using that one. It was like buckled, but I started using it anyway and it was like ripping.
It worked way better than the lesson board
So I was like “dude, these guys are onto something, I gotta figure this out”..
I emailed them and I was like “Hey, check it out, this is what I’ve been doing, I’m blogging, I’m shooting all these novelty waves, I’m river surfing, I’m doing this, doing that”
At that point, I had already surfed the wavebehind the ferryboat, the one that was like my video that like went viral and “put me on the map.”
They messaged me back and they were like: “Hey, we’re doing this brand Wave Bandit and dude, it’s perfect, the tagline is “surf’s up everywhere” and …look what you’re doing, you’re surfing everywhere. They sent me like three boards and one of them was like the seven footer, I really started using that thing for the novelties.
After a while, like as my following grew, I was like “dude, I think maybe I should make like a novelty signature, Ben Gravy, soft top”
This is what,pretty much,I did….I got everyone from my blog to like comment on Wave Bandit’s Instagram at once….they went on there and they had like 500 comments asking for me to get a board and then they made it.
Here we are
TTOS: Amazing story! I have seen the video of you opening up the first three boards and it shows that you were pretty, pretty excited… it was like kind of a dream come through. Right?
Totally man, you know, I was a competitive surfer when I was younger, I was on the US surf team.
I did like the worlds. I did the nationals, all that stuff, but I had totally quit surfing, I didn’t compete, I didn’t have sponsors. I barely surfed anymore.
I was working in video production, but this vlog like brought everything back for me.
When I got these boards and I started getting sponsorships and it’s been crazy, man!
For me it’s like a second chance at a surfing career, you know?
it’s really exciting for me, It’s like exhilarating…It’s it’s crazy.
TTOS: I don’t know where I read that, maybe in a podcast that you have done with Inertia, that basically you are turning pro-surfer at 30 years-old, it is amazing!
Dude, I never had a professional surfing contract until I was 30 years old, dude.
TTOS: Amazing, this shows that everybody can aspire to do that……. Isn’t that great?.
That’s my main thing. I just want people to know that they must never give up on their dreams, cause there’s a way……..there is a way, you know, you can make it happen.
TTOS: Tell us more about your iconic logo, the pineapple with the sunglasses, how did end up creating it, it was youor you collaborated with one artist…..
So I was in the great lakes, filming and doing Vlogs, you know, I had this Vlog and this is the first time I ever got good views on a Vlog and it wasn’t even crazy.
I had this video that, I think it got posted on like the surfer magazine forum, and got like 6,000 views…. at that time that was a lot, I was tripping.
This company called “Matunas” they make wax and candles, he must’ve seen it on there or on Reddit or somethingand he reached out to me on Instagram, his name’s Matt and he was like “Hey Ben, I I’ve been watching your vlogs, I found the great lakes blog and I’ve been following your journey, I really like it. Have you ever thought about doing a candle or surf wax? “
And I was like “nah, I haven’t thought about doing anything. I don’t know. I’m just making vlogs”. So he was like “dude, I think you should do a candle. I think it would be really fun, get back to me, let me know.”
So I was like “all right, am I really about to do this? this is crazy!… a candle. Like who’s going to buy a candle?”
I went online, I researched candles and the most popular scented candle in the world is coconut surf wax. It’s the highest selling candle out of any candles.
I was like “all right, how can I compete with coconut surf wax?”
Eventually I thought of pineapple and then my girlfriend, she can draw really well and I was like “Hey, would you mind drawing me like a punk rock pineapple with sunglasses on it?”
And literally, she drew, the stem first, just the green part and I put it in Photoshop and colored it.
We were like, “Whoa, this is sick” and then she drew just the sunglasses, I put it in Photoshop, colored it. and then she drew the head and then the mouth and it all came together. I like placed it together in photoshop and we made the logo and …” dude, that was like, when we looked at that thing, we were like, Oh my God, like I think, I think we’re onto something”
We then put the logo on the candle. I think I made like 700 of the candles or something and people loved them, dude. I I mean I sold them.
All people were stoked and then people were like, yo, we want t-shirts we want hats, we want hoodies. we want everything.
And then from there I just started with a tee shirt, then I made another one, then I made a sweatshirt, then I made a beanie, then I made a hat and he just went and it’s crazy.
Cause at the time, I wasn’t thinking about making a logo that was going to be so powerful, but now it’s like, it’s a full print. It’s a thing.
TTOS: It sounds like people see it and then immediately connect with you, so I think you reached the goal, right?
I mean, beyond the goal.
My only goal was to make a candle logo. I went above and beyond, but yeah, it’s, it’s crazy, dude, it’s mind blowing.
We always jokingly compare it to like Ralph Lauren, like the little guy, the horse thing, but yeah, it’s wild. I can’t believe it’s such a thing. It’s wild. Yeah.
TTOS: What is, in your opinion, the key of your success in video-making?
I would say, honesty.
I don’t really hide anything from the blog.
if I have a bad day, you know it, if I try to talk through it, if I have a bad surf session, I show it. If I have a good surf session, I show it, f something bad happens, I show and if something good happens, I show it.
I don’t really have an agenda, I didn’t get into this to become a pro surfer, I didn’t get into this to sell boards.
I got into this because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a director and, somehow, this is what I found in my life.
I think transparency is the key to what I do…. just being real and people can relate to you because they connect and they know that you don’t have like a hidden agenda or second things.
You just say what you want to say and you get about yourself always.
TTOS: I think you always keep a positive spirit, right?
Yeah, genuinely I noticed, in all levels of life, I’m a really positive person and that doesn’t mean, you know, I’m smiling all the time and it doesn’t mean I’m stoked all the time, but a lot of times I get in situations and for some reason I’m able to see the good side or like how we can fix it or that kind of thing.
Aomehow I just inherently am positive and I feel lucky for that.
I think it has to do with like when I used to drink and just my mindset was so bad that I know that I never want to go back there and I know how to fix it.
It’s just like, see the good in everything, cause like when I saw the bad and everything, I was just getting drunk and wasting my life.
And now if I look at everything in a good light or like a positive way, I just seem happier.
I just follow that, I just want to be happy.
TTOS: You know, this question is a little bit outside surf, but maybe at this stage, is interesting….
Which kind of suggestion would you give to somebody that has a drinking problem and would like to go out of it?
Well, the first key, I think, is kind of looking inside yourself and realizing that this is not what you want. And it takes a while.
It took me years to come to terms with the fact that like I had a problem, I wanted to ignore it forever and I always had excuses…. So, the first step, is being honest with yourself and then the next step is being honest with the people around you and being like, “yo, I got a problem, I think I need help”
If that help is rehab or that help is counseling or that help is surfing, you know, there’s different levels to addiction.
But, at the end, I think it’s really just being honest with yourself and then,the hardest part about getting sober is, honestly,the people around you because when you’re in that lifestyle, you surround yourself with people who are also in that lifestyle.
For me, the hardest part was kind of breaking away from the group of people that I was spending time with and going out and spending time by myself because I didn’t want to get drunk, I wanted to make videos.
Sobriety can be very lonely, but good thing is now we have social media, you know, there’s people out there, you can find people to talk to, you can find people that you relate with.
But yeah, it can be lonely, man, that’s the hardest part, but you just have to know like it’s worth it to go the extra mile, if that’s going to make you happy.
For me it’s like “alcohol is not going to be the thing that makes me happy, surfing, making videos, spending time with my family. That’s what’s going to fulfill me in life. So that’s what I’m going to do”
TTOS: Is that goal that allows you to go towards your freedom, right?
Oh, for sure. Yeah.
TTOS: You were talking about “NUB Nation”, I saw one video in which you explain the meaning of it “nobody unlike buddy” …
I think it is a very powerful meaning…..
What this nation represents to you?
When I was a kid, I had a skate magazine that I called NUB.
It was called “NUB skateboarding magazine” and, like you said, it was the acronym for Nobody’s Unlike Buddy, which at the time, I was in second grade, I think maybe first grade it was like, everybody is accepted…..we don’t judge people.
The magazine was going to highlight the people that weren’t pro that weren’t high level athletes., what I did was I kind of that just grew over time and eventually became the “nub nation”.
The idea is still there, you know, the nub nation is a place where you can be a kook, it’s a place where you can be yourself and people aren’t going to judge you.
I’m a total kook, I know it, I know my surfing ability, I know who I am, I know what I look like.
I think the world is kind of a cool place sometimes, and it’s hard for some people to fit in.
I think it’s cool that the nub nation has become this thing where we have a real deal, a big family.
Everybody involved is stoked and people become friends outside of me….there’s people that watch the Vlog and they become friends and it’s just cool, man! It’s cool!
Nobody’s Unlike Buddy stood from first grade all the way through and it’s, just a thing that’s been in my life the whole time and it’s just amazing for me to be able to share it with people….
TTOS: powerful…It’s powerful. If you think about it, no judgment, the area where everybody can be, whatever you want to be.
Let’s say it’s life at the end of the day,
You shot so many videos and most probably you have thousands of stories to tell, but it is one in particular that was particularly funny or had a very special meaning for you that you always carry with you like a story the behind the scene, let’s say
I have a couple, I have a couple of videos that are special to me.
One of them was when I went surfing in Pennsylvania because I was born in Pennsylvania and I always thought it was like landlocked, you know, but I came to find that it’s on the great lakes, it’s on Lake Erie.
I went up there a couple of years ago and I caught a swell there and it was just really special for me to like do that.
But as far as like, depth wise, like people-wise some of the Vlogs, I think you don’t get the full experience watching are like, when I went on like the, the tour in Florida to all the surf shops…
There’s so many moments when I get to connect with people on those, on those tours that like, I can’t possibly capture on film, but I get to feel like the energy of people and I just get to connect with hundreds of people, like over the course of a week, when I’m doing a tour like that.
That’s always really special for me.
Then I would say probably the first time that I surfed an old log, it’s like almost five years old, but I hurt my knee really bad and I couldn’t surf for like almost nine months, but I paddled back out and I got to surf after nine months and it was a really powerful day for me.
So, yeah……There’s so much, dude.
TTOS: Thanks for sharing. Last question….what’s next for you? What’s what’s your next project?
I have a lot of stuff in my mind, but I really like what I want to do and it’s been interesting navigating this year, obviously because of the quarantine and everything, but like I really wanted to do, I wanted to go to a lot of iconic surf spots, like Jeffreys Bay and stuff like that.
Actually surf good waves because I’ve spent so much time surfing novelty waves and weird stuff.
For me, it’s like, I’m kind of living in the short term right now because I mean, everything’s kind of a little weird, but yeah, I just really want to wake up every day and be happy and I love spreading happiness and,if I can do this for a living, I’m the most lucky person that’s ever lived.
My goal every day when I wake up is just to be stoked and get other people stoked.
I also have the goal of surfing maybe not every country in the world, but as close as I can get, we’ll see, maybe it’s possible.
I want to surf like the 13 territories of Canada, I want to do the seven seas.
I have a lot of stuff that is coming up in the dream here. But yeah, not right now, I’m just like kind of living in the moment and just being stoked, you know?
TTOS: Okay. That’s amazing.
We’re going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind.
The best surfboard that you ever ridden….
Whoa, my favorite surf board is my a four 10, the little twin fin that I ride.
TTOS: The best shaper or your favorite shaper
Favorite shaper. I’m going to give that one to a Frank Sarno. He shaped me a surfboard when I was a grom. He had a company called “indie surfboards.”
He is my favorite shaper dude and now he does carpentry and he’s done some work on my house.
He’s a legend.
TTOS: Personal question, your favorite punk rock song.
In reality, I’m going to say like a song that always, always gets me stoked is by The Ramones and it’s Bonzo goes to bitburg
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot. [inaudible]
El slamo, No questions.
TTOS: Your favorite surfer
I’m going to have to say Jamie O’Brien North Shore legend!
TTOS: The last question is a little bit unusual, it has nothing to do with surf…we want to know your best relationship advice.
We recorded this post early summer 2020, we are so happy that now Ben asked Jordan Elizabeth to marry him!