Creed McTaggart on New Surf Film ‘Self Discovery for Social Survival’


You know Creed McTaggart, right?

He’s the 25-year-old West Australian freakshow surfer with the quiet, friendly voice and the loud, angry band. He and his band Wash—with Ellis Ericson and Beau Foster—star in a new surf movie, music project thing called Self Discovery for Social Survival by Chris Gentile; a collaboration between record label Mexican Summer and New York-based surf brand Pilgrim Surf + Supply. The film is broken down into three big vignettes with an original soundtrack composed specifically for each bit of surf footage by the likes of Allah Las, Connan Mockasin, Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT, and Peaking Lights. Creed and the lads (plus Ari Browne and Jamie Brisick) went to the Maldives for the project, and the end result might be the best 15 minutes of dreamy surfing set to fruity synth psych-pop you’ll watch this year. It’ll be top five at least. We called Creed to talk about the movie, music and the trip. Oh and Steph Gilmore is in the movie too, surfing in Iceland no less! But we forgot to talk about that.

Still from ‘Self Discovery for Social Survival’

G’day Creed. Can you tell us about this film, Self Discovery for Social Survival? Were you aware that you were shooting for it, or is it one of those things where you’re surfing and they’re shooting and then it ends up wherever it ends up?

It was a bit random the way it came about. We had just been on tour with the Dumb Punts, and then we finished and got asked to go on this boat. So we went off on this three-week tour where we didn’t surf at all and got straight on the boat and it was pretty wild; we kind of stayed in the partying mentality from the tour and went crazy, but it was cool. We didn’t get amazing waves, but it was super fun little waves, and I’d never been there before so that was cool. We just fucken drank all day and fished and surfed and we had a ball. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but shooting it was sweet. It didn’t really feel like we were getting filmed or anything, it was kinda just… we were hanging around and surfing a bit and then didn’t hear anything from it for like two years, and now a movie has come out, I guess.

It comes out today, and you guys have a pretty meaty section.  Do you know the concept for the movie?

Not really, nah. I heard they were going to get Bruce Springsteen to narrate it, but I don’t think it happened.

Still from ‘Self Discovery for Social Survival’

It’s a concept I’ve seen before, but it’s done particularly well here, where they get musicians to watch the surfing footage and then do the soundtrack. Do you know who did yours?

Yeah, Peaking Lights.

Do you know much about them?

Nah, I don’t know them, but Aaron [Coyes, one-half of Peaking Lights] was on the trip with us. He was such a nice dude. He was getting super pitted on his boogie board in the arvos, and out there on the shortboard too every now and then, and yeah he was cruising.

You and Beau and Ellis must be so close now; coming off a tour, and into a boat trip where you’re living on top of each other and there’s no escape and there’s no internet, and whatever else… do you get sick of each other?

We don’t get too sick of each other, hey. When we come home, we don’t really hang out that much. It kind of goes in waves where you hang out heaps and then you all feel it individually that you have to tap out and do your own little thing for a little bit, and then you miss the lads again and reunite and do surf trips or music. Yeah, we don’t hang out that much all the time, but it’s good hanging.

Is there any music that you remember being specifically introduced to by a surf video growing up, where you were like, ‘Fuck, who’s this band?’

I’m trying to think, fuck… after Momentum Under The Influence I got into At the Drive In. There was this one skate movie I remember that I used to have when I was younger, it was a Zero movie called New Blood, and it had a really crazy soundtrack, and that got me into heaps of bands like The Mekons and the Velvet Underground and Minor Threat. That’s one movie I can think of right now, sorry.

That’s alright, shit question. Can you tell us about Ari Browne? I’ve never met him, but I’ve been following him digitally through surfing for so long, and he’s such an interesting character and surfs so sick and I don’t really know anyone who surfs like him. And he’s super entertaining in this. What was the trip like with Ari?

So sick, he’d never really done a boat trip before, so he was super excited and surfing heaps and riding little rabbits feet finless boards and surfing really good, hey. Some of the waves were hard to film, so no-one would film, but he would surf all day, and just be spinning around doing crazy shit. But yeah he’s a crazy character, he’s a really funny dude.

(At this point our phone connection cuts out, I message Creed to ask if he wants to finish his point on Ari Browne, he texts back: ‘Yeah! Ari is good at drawing and doing backflips off the boat!’)

Self Discovery for Social Survival is out June 18 and is now available for pre-order on iTunes. The film’s soundtrack is out now, order it here.

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