Micky Clarke is a refreshing piece of Ventura that’ll smack you right between the eyes. Metaphorically, of course. A few things you should know about Micky: he spends most of his time kickin’ it down at Emma Wood with Ethan Osbourne and co., he’s got a mean bottom turn and heavy feet reminiscent of a young Dane Reynolds, and he changes his hairstyles more often than he does his underwear. Let’s meet the bright young spark from California.
Ventura… That’s where Dane Reynolds is from, right? (Do you like how we started this interview with a reference to someone else?)
I love it! When interviewing someone from Ventura, there’s no better way to get it started. Along with a few others, he was definitely one of the biggest influences in my grom-hood. He still is, actually.
Give us three people that influenced you growing up on the coast of Ventura.
Man, that’s a loaded question, but if I really had to think about who’s influenced my approach to a wave the most, I’d have to say Dane and his power, speed and creativity, as well as his progression in the air and ability to get absolutely drained. Tom Curren is another mega-influence of mine, with his incredibly seamless and effortless style, amazing rail game and very ‘third eye’ sorta style to life and waves. Last but not least, Bobby Martinez. A very expressive, no-fucks-given type of lifestyle, yet seemingly humble and very approachable. I feel like if you were somehow able to incorporate all three of those surfers into your own style, you’d be checking every box.
What is it about Ventura that breeds these powerful, sure-footed surfers?
It could the Coors Light, it could be the abnormal amount of Mexican food consumption, it could be the clueless and entitled locals that take every good wave causing rage within to hammer every section… or it’s just the stupid amount of semi-mushy, right-hand point breaks that make you work overtime for speed, so you end up blowing a gasket on every section. Next thing you know, it’s engraved in your muscle memory. Or maybe it’s just all of the above.
Does this directly correlate to a filthy bottom turn?
I’d say so. A filthy bottom turn is essential for a filthy top turn.
Do you have an intimate relationship with booties or is it just fucking cold?
I fucking love booties. But it has to be the right kind. Thin, not much goin’ on, no straps or anything, and grippy on the bottom. They feel like waterproof skate shoes or some shit. But also, yes, the water does get cold and the rocks can be a mega nuisance at the point breaks when you’re trying to run out, so the booties kinda always got your back.
What else gets you going out of the surf?
Slayer, DRI, cup of coffee and a spliff… Talk about a good morning. I love playing my drums and making noise. Stretching, working out, yoga—all that good vibe shit is pretty dope when your body is cooked. I love making art too: sketching, painting and drawing, tie-dying and screen printing t-shirts. I’m also a huge nature fanatic. Nothing better than losing yourself in some beautiful, scenic part of the world. Henry Rollins is a pretty big inspiration of mine. Maybe that sounds cliche or whatever, but where he started, how he did it, what he became, and the lifestyle that he lives today is all very motivating for me. A couple more people to add to the list would be Joseph Goldstein and his insight to Mindful Meditation, as well as Jordan Peterson and his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I really enjoy learning about their perspectives on life, and it’s helped me through some pretty strange phases.
Three times you wish you had a different board in your quiver when rocking up somewhere?
One specific time in Indonesia, we rolled up to a beach break that seemed head high, ended up being roughly double overhead and I only had one step up. There were a few memorable floggings. On the very same trip, we surfed a reef pass that was pretty far out and deceivingly much bigger than it looked. I missed and fell on a lot of waves that trip. Another epic time being under-gunned was at home just recently. The forecast read 2.5 feet west and it ended up being one of the best days we’ve seen in a very good amount of time. All I had in my car was my normal shortboard, epoxy. I felt like such a fish out of water watching people paddle past me on 6’10’s. I ended up eating a lot of shit in the process, then finally picked off one of the better inside double ups I’ve got at home. Only took me about three hours to do so.
Three boards you could take on any surf trip?
My love buzz for sure (5’11), impossible to get skunked on that thing. My Darkside (6’1) for the good waves, and then my Black Noiz (6’3) for the bigger more proper stuff. It’s tough to decide, honestly. Hayden has so many unique shapes that are so good you almost couldn’t ever go wrong.
Three worst times you got skunked but had a fucken hell time anyway?
On a trip to Panama, a few of us got roped into boating to a nearby island. The idea was that it picked up a lot more swell than anywhere else nearby and it needed to be flat. So when we went on a flat day it was also very flat on the ‘new’ island. Luckily it was beautiful as shit, so we did a bit of walking around and had some drinks to wash away the pain. There was weird but really cool bungalow-esque restaurant-bar over the water. Another time, a few friends and I went on a trip to Israel. The waves went completely flat with heavy onshore winds, so we did some pretty dope site seeing in Jerusalem, saw the Dead Sea, rode some camels and went to a bar/club that was on top of a building overlooking the city of Tel Aviv. A third time I got skunked and had a hell time anyway was a camping trip I did in Northern California. We didn’t get the greatest waves but we got chased out by a shark—which has never happened to me—had an abnormal amount of beers by the campfire every night, and went to a drive-through coffee shop where the ladies serve you in their bikinis even though it’s 45 degrees outside.
Three haircuts you wish you’d never got?
When I was super young, seven or eight, I had pretty long hair. I kept it long till I ended up getting a lethal case of lice in elementary school and was forced to shave it. I only went to such drastic measures of chopping it all off because it was either that or not going to the Ventura County Fair—I’m now on the road to getting it long again. The second haircut: I dyed my hair vibrant red, and that same day a package from Chad Wells at Quiksilver showed up with wetsuits. One of them was entirely vibrant red, which just so happened to be the one for promotional purposes. This instantly led to the next bad haircut: I died it black, left it for a couple weeks, then wanted to bleach it back to blonde and get a mullet. After applying bleach and not realising I still had red underneath the black, I was left with a very muddy, red, gross colour and a botched mullet-mo-hawk thing, with bleached roots. My hair was genuinely fried and falling out.
Three times you wish you’d taken off on a bomb, but you didn’t cause Dane was right there beside you and you said, ‘Go Dane!’
Holy fuck, have I done that before. Back when Marine Layer was a thing, I’d absolutely let Dane go on anything I could. Simply because I knew if he did something insane, I’d see it on his blog later that day and I got to see it firsthand. A specific time at Emma Wood when I first got on Quik, I remember paddling for a set wave and completely stopped mid-paddle to tell Dane to go. He ended up not even going and telling me, ‘Thanks, but I think that wave kinda sucked anyways.’ I just really wanted him to get a wave so I could watch. Another day at a beach break by my house, I think I was too deep honestly, but a really good wave came through and I called Dane into it—as did the rest of the line-up—and it resulted with him getting the wave of the day and very barrelled… Nothing out of the ordinary. Recently we were surfing and got stuck going back and forth with each other, but he ended up letting me have the wave. I got stuck behind the first section then blew the rest of the wave, paddled back out and told him he shoulda went. All in all, good fucking memories.