Todd Taylor of University Surf & Sport in Orlando interviewed 23-year-old Todd Brendel about a month before he died in a car accident July 26. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with it – maybe use it as a “Next” column, or maybe do a full four-page interview. After all, he was charging hard, inventing new tricks, and if he was going to be one of the next generation of stars we wanted to show him first.
But now that’s all changed. This is the first and last interview Todd ever gave, and we wanted to run it so everyone could get a feel for what a rad guy he was.
What’s your point of view when it comes to approaching new tricks and going big?
Pretty much just to have confidence and know that you can do it. Really be thinking beforehand by running it step by step through your head.
Does the thought of being compared to a crash test dummy ever scare you?
(Laughs.) No. I like being a test crash dummy. It’s fun. I’m not afraid to hit the water.
It seems that in this sport, most riders or their parents have money. Do you think less fortunate kids will be able to break into the sport and give these guys a run for their money?
Well, yeah, but it will take a lot more work. You’ve got to find people you can ride with and equipment that you can use. If you’re not hooked up with somebody, being a poor fella in this sport is tough business. But it can be done.
What’s the sickest thing you’ve ever tried, or thought of?
Probably the … well, I don’t have a name for it yet. You go in frontside, do a scarecrow into a switch tantrum. I’ve gotten close, but haven’t made it yet.
Sounds sick enough to me. Any tricks on the horizon you wanna tell us about as far as what you will be doing?
A few crow mobes here and there, fruit loops, big worm.
You’ve been knocked cuckoo more than your fair share. What’s the hardest you’ve ever eaten it?
(Pause.) I’ve gotta think about that one. The tricks that I’ve been pounded the hardest on, where I’ve had the wind knocked out of me are my attempts at doubles – the double front roll, scarecrow to switch tantrum. I’ve gotten slammed on those a few times pretty hard.
Explain what a diesel is.
I did the trick first, but I didn’t get to name it. Someone else took the authority, probably ’cause I’m some no-name rider (sounding kinda annoyed). In the scoring book they call it a frontside whirly bird, which is absolutely false. It’s a front roll with a 360 degree spin toward the boat.
How did the trick get named?
When I first started doing it I would come in super hard and hit it spinning as fast as possible. This one guy I know used to call my pit bull Diesel ’cause he thought it was so cool. I just thought it was a funny way to describe something.
Whenever you’re not riding, you’re looking for some way to have fun. What things do you like to do in your spare time?
I started skateboarding on ramps a little and a lot of bike jumping into a lake.
Well, Scott, Ryan and C.C. have been setting up a mini quarter-pipe on the edge of this lake with a 12-foot embankment. We get as much speed as we can and launcch about 15 feet in the air, doing all kinds of tricks.
Got any footage of this?
Yeah. It should be in Bruce Clem and Pat Panakos’ new video. We all get pretty worked, like whiplash and bad welts, but we’re practicing for the X Games next year.
What’s your intense training schedule consist of?
A couple weeks ago I was waking up whenever, getting on the good foot whenever. But now in the last few weeks, since people have been qualifying, we all have been getting up early and doing passes, getting a little more serious about things.
Do you think now that Gator, Scott, Bruce, Steve, Pat and everyone are living in the same area that it will help matters as far as your riding is concerned?
Totally. All those guys have given me an opportunity to ride with them and their boats, which they don’t have to do. They’ve helped me a lot with my riding, my style, my progression.
What happened in Baja, Mexico, last June when you were hanging out with Herbie Fletcher, Schmaltz, Clem and G. Bradley?
We were there to do a photo shoot in the surf. Driving home one night, or should I say sleeping home one night, we ran off across oncoming traffic and slammed into an embankment. I flew through the windshield and got a bunch of cuts on my face. G. Bradley broke his nose and some ribs. Erich messed up his neck real bad and has to wear a metal halo brace for a few months, and Bruce Clem fractured his jaw bone.
Did you gain anything from the experience?
Yeah. You’ve gotta be careful. Always stay awake with the driver and wear your seat belt. I woke up lying face-down on the hood.
Anyone you wanna give props to?
The guys at Sound (Derrick and Tony) are super-cool. I showed them a video at Expo last year when I’d only been riding for four months. I did a bunch of tricks on the vid, but I was really sloppy with no style. I guess they saw potential and hooked me up. Dragon – thanks, Todd Causey and D.B., for hooking me up the first time – O’Neill, Correct Craft and, of course, you, good buddy, at University Surf & Sport. You gave me the opportunity to go ride in the first place. You and Joe helped me more than anything. And all my friends are the greatest.