Welcome to the 15th episode of our podcast.
Today with us from San Onofre, California, a true source of inspiration, an artist, a musician, a skater, a surfer and a minister of the Hot Rod Church, Mr. Brian Bent!
Let’s discover more about his stories and much more!
You can find this episode in all major podcast platforms (Spotify, ITunes, You Tube and many others) or read the interview below (please forgive us of spelling mistakes while transcribing it)
TTOS: Aloha Brian, welcome to the show! Where are you today?
I’m on the highway at San Onofre waiting in line to go surf.
TTOS: It’s a good way to start the morning, right?
First question that I have for you, today, since you are going to surf is …..what is the most important thing in surfing in your opinion?
It’s probably just realizing that it’s all a flow…
Surfing is kind of a flow, you know, the blood flows through our veins with good memories and bad memories, actually, we don’t want the bad memories flowing through, but ,sometimes, you have to go through some adversity…..
Ultimately the best thing about surfing to me is just learning to relax and let it roll, you know, regardless of what board you’re riding and where you’re at. Everything always got to be right….one day, I was in France and it was huge and I had to pray for courage and I caught one wave and I surfed it the best I could…. I just let it go…baby!
TTOS: Yes, exactly with not too much thinking…. surf can be also a space of meditation, right?
Yeah, I always say, first you need to have God’s peace and then, surfing is like icing on the cake.
TTOS: Definitely! Do you remember your first surfboard and you do still have it?
No, I wish I did! My uncle was a pro-surfer and he gave me a single fin.
I literally started surfing right before the twin fin innovation, he gave me a single fin board back in 1980/81, I think it was either a Rick or Becker surfboard (Rick surfboards turned, then into Becker surfboards). He was 10 years older than I was, I looked up to him and dressed like him and he would give me his old surfboards and stuff.
TTOS: How do you translate your passion for surf into your art?
It gets back to the inspiration, I’m really into the fifties art, I really like the expression, that holistic stuff that came out of the forties and fifties.
I really love something that has kind of something to it…it’s like a leather jacket that you’ve worn for a long time, it develops character as it goes.
I always try to just take the character of surfing and try to put it into my painting because, ultimately, I want to paint something that I really like…. if I’m inspired, I usually don’t stop , but if I’m not happy about the result, I get a bit frustrated and I’ll change it.
It’s always about inspiration, for surfing, for music or whatever I like, first I choose and then I put it in to canvas.
TTOS: And all of these passions are coexisting at the, with you at the same time or you have like a favorite one, like music, art…surfing
It’s usually like a platter, It’s like a little bit of this, a little bit of that, it usually takes everything.
If I go into my studio after surfing and I’m inspired, but I don’t have music then something’s missing…. It’s kind of everything coming together, I mean, I don’t always have the luxury of having music and being in my studio, but when I’m in there, first thing I do is turn on some jazz music, or music from the fifties and then I start painting….
TTOS: in your opinion, since we’re talking about music, what is the most important thing is song writing?
Songwriting, It’s just like art.
I think some people have a gift that conveys in words what they’re doing/thinking/experiencing….
Some stuff are really fun, tedious, I have a 10 inch record from Barney Kessel, he’s doing like covers of like popular music from the fifties, he did something very experimental, he took an expression an holistic view of driving on Wilshire Blvd and Hollywood and put it to music in the early fifties, it turned out so good!
Another great songwriter is Jordy Rogers, he would make some improv songs, really true
Both of them were kind of doing what painters are doing, getting the inspiration and then putting it to music, but, obviously, it can go both ways…..
TTOS: Let’s go back to painting, what is your source of inspiration ….what inspires you when you create?
Well, the whole era of the forties, fifties, sixties that I really have always liked.
The Lord healed me from a lot of anxieties and fears that I’m thinking, as I’m talking to you, sometimes in the fifties, especially across the beat generation, some people were just trying to figure things out and maybe some of their art was a bit edgy.
I don’t have those fears, but my art, for some crazy reason shows how I am, has a bit of an edge to it.
I always liked to listen to nice music and apply that to my art, the same happens with surfing….
For instance, these days I’m surfing a 1920’s style surfboard….it is so hard to surf, it’s very heavy and very hard to paddle.
I could definitively surf my regular board, but I choose to ride this old style boards, but then once I get a wave on it, I’m like, “wow, this is so different” and fill nostalgic…
I try to throw that then into my painting. That’s kind of where I am all the time.
TTOS: What is the last painting that you created?
The last painting, I did was a light green background, very minimalist, with a surfer that is nose-riding.
I don’t do too much nose riding, but the way that the figure came out, with a serene green background, was perfect.
You know, if the background is really good, it’s really hard to mess up.
TTOS: which material you use to paint I saw in your website you’re using enameling, do you use a specific material?
When I worked for Becker surfboards (I was working there for 20 years), we had six stores and I designed them and they were three dimensional canvases, I literally would paint on everything: wood, metal, I would even weld designs in metal, you know, using my MIG welder.
Now I’m pretty much in to canvas or wood, while I use enamel and ink , sometimes I mix the two as well.
TTOS: Can you tell us more about the story of the surfboards you are using?
The name Kook Box was kind of a derogatory term for a board that was really odd looking compared to the regular ones that people were surfing….they kind of look kooky, you know?
If you look at the old photos from the thirties and forties, I’ve talked to a couple of the Legends and they all say how fast these board were and very light compared to the previous surfboards that were 70 to a 100 pounds just before the kook boxes came out.
They just fly across the wave where the hot curl sits in, these were really big for California and everywhere else as well.
TTOS: We’re gonna 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…
The one I still have and that I call “The rocket plank” it’s a double haul, very fast surfboard, and it was made by the son of the father who owned the glass shop for Becker surfboards.
The other board I have, best surfboard I ever ridden, was the one I rode yesterday, which is the 12 foot kook box, it’s very light and it was made with European plywood….it’s really fast.
They call it the cat’s meow.
And then I have my last competitive surfboard that I in 1994 it’s called “tremulous”, it was like a Lance Carson board….I still have that board.
If I had to choose a board out of all my boards, it would probably be between the “rocket plank”, the 9.7 or my 12 foot Kook Box that was made actually by my neighbor, John Sanders.
TTOS: Your favorite shaper?
I can’t say who is my favorite….
I really liked John Mandela as a person, I’ve watched him when he was little, you know, grow up and be a really good shaper, but “every shaper is like a guitar”…. how can you say you have a favorite shaper….
I’ll tell you this, the most creative person and artistically person that I could relate to is my friend Tim Francis from the Basque Country in Spain; now he’s out here…. he’s making surfboards right here in my area in Southern California. When I rode his boards over in Spain, they rode so well.
He and I dig the same kind of things, you know, old school, new school stuff.
TTOS: Your favorite song….
That’s a hard question….
I really like the song by Jimmy Dolan called the “Hot Rod Race”, it was about a Ford mercury racing.
I also like the song “Stardust” a classic, I think, by Carmichael written in 1927.
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot….
Ah, right where I surf baby! San Onofre!
TTOS: Your favorite surfer….
TTOS: The last question is a bit unusual, we ask to everybody has nothing to do with surf or art or anything…. we want to know, your best relationship advice…..
A guy one time told me at church when we were doing the Hot Rod Church at a pizza bar place, he said, as far as your wife just stay best friends…. always stay best friends.
That’s my best advice as well!
TTOS: Yes, I agree with you, if your wife is your best friend, you will have, definitely, a beautiful life.
Oh my God! I could start crying right now because of that, lol
Recorded in August 2020.