Surfer Rob Machado is one of the most stylish and skilled wave riders out there and has won many of pro surfing's most prestigious contests. He shares stories about discovering the Blues, bonding with a Beatle and jamming to Jimi Hendrix, all in his trademark laidback style. He just released a surf film -- Melali: The Drifter Sessions -- documenting sessions across the vast Indonesian island chain and contributed to the movie’s score.
Liza Richardson: Hi, this is Liza Richardson from KCRW and I'm here with surf guru, Rob Machado. Rob has won many of pro surfing's most prestigious contests and today we will be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as a part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. First up, I see you've brought some Jimi Hendrix.
Rob Machado: My girlfriend gave me this cassette tape when I turned 16 as my birthday present and this one song kind of stuck with me for a long time. I still is very relevant today. "If 6 Was 9" off the album “Axis: Bold of Love.” It's pretty special, it's one I frequently visit.
RM: I mean Hendrix, just out of the gates, kind of blew me away -- obviously the guitar playing and him, as a person. I just kind of embraced his sound and his music so much, but this track, the lyrics are very powerful, obviously. There are lines in there that just really stand out to me-- "I'm the one that's gonna have to die when it's time for me to die. So let me live my life the way I want to."
LR: That was "If 6 was 9," it's by Jimi Hendrix and it's the choice of our guest DJ, Rob Machado. So Rob, what do you have next?
RM: This gentleman, by the name of Mississippi John Hurt, was kind of my first real introduction to the Blues. It was coming out of that grunge era and I thought, at that point, that I've heard some Blues music.
My friend bought this tape for, I think, 10 cents. It was in this used pile at some record store down the street and we just loved the cover. The cover of this album was just so cool. It was this drawing of him sitting on a porch playing this old guitar and we're like, ‘what's there to lose? 10 cents,’ you know, and we threw it in and we were just blown away by this guy's guitar playing skills, his finger picking. This is recorded in 1928 and it's just him playing into his phonograph or however they recorded music back then. It was so raw, but so real and so… it opened up a whole side of me that I didn't know existed.
LR: That's "Avalon Blues," it's by Mississippi John Hurt and it's from the “1928 Sessions.” It's the choice of our Guest DJ Rob Machado. Thanks Rob, that's a good one, beautiful. I love it. Now, we have a classic from The Beatles.
RM: I pulled out this one. It's "Yesterday" by The Beatles.
Song: The Beatles - "Yesterday"
RM: I had a little run in with this gentleman, actually. I was in LAX, I was waiting for my surfboard to come off to the side and my friend goes, "dude, that's Paul McCartney." I kind of looked over and he turned around and we kind of made eye contact -- and I didn't want to be that guy that's staring at Paul McCartney, so we kind of turned and he cruised over and just said "Hey, where you guys been? Have you guys been surfin?"
It was pretty funny. He goes, "you were in that movie, “Surf's Up,” the animated movie." I'm like, "there's no way you just said that" and he's like "no, I have a 6 year old, I watch it everyday-- I watch it all… the behind the scenes. I've seen every single piece of that movie." I was like, you have got to be kidding me! Anyway, it made me think, I haven't listened to The Beatles in so long and I think it was some of the first music I've listened to.
LR: So that's "Yesterday," it's by The Beatles and Rob Machado chose it. He's our guest DJ today. So Pearl Jam singer, Eddie Vedder, is a surfer, so I'm not surprised to see them on your list.
RM: This is one of my favorite bands.
RM: The album “Ten,” when it came out, was at that time that, I think, I just graduated from high school and I was cruising in my Nissan Sentra with the sickest little tape deck or whatever was going on. I had the sounds rolling, my boards in the back, I was on top of the world, right. And I had this album just on repeat. This song, "Alive"-- I could just listen to it, over and over again. It's just a really powerful track, for me.
LR: That is Pearl Jam and the song is "Alive." Rob, I think there is time for one more. As a music supervisor and someone who surfs myself, I know how important music is to surf movies and I hear you got really involved in making the soundtrack to your most recent surf movie.
RM: We made another surf movie. We took all this extra footage we had leftover from a project I had worked on called “The Drifter” and once we were finished with that, we looked at what we had left. We had so much surf footage left that we decided, well, let's put it together and let's score this footage. I assembled a group of guys, starting with my best friend, Jon Swift. Jon was the leader of this whole project. Taylor Steele edited it together into sections and we started bouncing back. He recorded some ideas and would give them to Taylor and Taylor would edit it to him and send back the edits and then we'd adjust the songs to him. It became this really cool way to make a soundtrack. It was just really fun. This song is called "Old Dark Road." It's actually the opening song of the movie.
LR: What's the movie called?
RM: The movie's called Melali
LR: So, I have a question for you Rob. If the ocean was an instrument, what instrument would it be?
RM: Wow, that's pretty heavy. There's something great about a grand piano in a big room. You see those, right? You always just see that giant piano in this big, empty room and when you open it up, you can pretty much hit anything and it sounds incredible. It's kind of like the ocean, it's always good.
LR: That's "Old Dark Road". It's by the Melali Sessions Band featuring our guest DJ, Rob Machado and Rob, I really appreciate you coming by KCRW. Thanks for joining us.
RM: Thank you.
LR: It was really cool.
RM: Right on.
LR: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online, go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.