Surf Shacks 030 – Kurt Schroeder
/ Mark 05.31.2016
Kurt, AKA “Fuzzy” is known by all as one of the good guys, always generous with advice, a story, and a smile. He knows everyone in the industry, and is loved by everyone. He comes from deep in the action sports / surf market, still passionate about music, tight with friends in bands, and knows all the cool young surf crew from Huntington to Trestles. Surfs most days, riding his bike or taking his surf wagon to the beach. Bombs the hill outside his house on his skateboard, and lives larger than the dream.
Fuzzy currently works for Quiksilver, where he’s unofficially the archivist of the brand’s rich heritage. I don’t know that anyone knows more about their history of boardies than he does (maybe Randy Hild and Bob McKnight might?). He works on the creative and sales for Quiksilver Originals, a flagship category of the brand that re-imagines the most iconic boardies of Quik, and distributes them to the best boutiques and stores in the world only, not to every local surf shop. He has a heritage of working with great labels in their eras: Mossimo, Modern Amusement, Ever and V.S.T.R., predominantly in sales, so most everyone that’s ever been on the Action Sports or contemporary trade show circuit over the last 26 years has met him. I met Fuzzy many years ago, when he was working at Modern Amusement, and he was the guy everyone wanted to hang with. The raddest dude, genuine, with a heart of gold. Here’s a little about him and his digs, you’ll get the picture.
Tell me a little about your youngerness, and what’s with “Fuzzy”?
Just a suburban OC kid. Grew up in North Huntington beach next to the HB River jetties. Hopped on a surfboard and skateboard for the first time in 1972. “Fuzzy” came along as a youngster from my good friends and brother. Hair was short and chopped up punker style.
Boardies. You have a history with them…
Far back as I can remember there were these swim shorts called LAGUNA swim my mother bought for me (I think that was the name). But the fresh memories that stuck in my head were my custom Diamond Echo Beach trunks. Yes, the days where you rode your bike up to the Quiksilver offices in Newport to order what no one else had. I wanted colors that were not offered on the racks at Newport Surf n Sport and Hanifin. Before that time, in the late 70’s we were all ordering custom Vans at the local HB shop. So in 1980/81 when the Echo Beach ad came out and punk rock was injected in to our veins, the first thing was to go search for those print’s with with my mom. The older beach punk guys that rode on mopeds and listened to the Crowd were a hug inspiration.
There’s a little vintage in your office here at Quik. I’ve heard others say you’re an archivist of Quiksilver. What do you do for the brand?
I’ve been at Quiksilver for 6 years or so. Started off launching a emerging brand called VSTR with a great team, then after the rise and fall of the brand and because of some changes around the building, Jeff Hackman, Bob McKnight, Simon Buttonshaw, Pierre Agnes, Josh Rush and myself launched a gig called Quiksilver Originals. Bringing back the Heritage of the brand, pulling from the 42 year vault archives and reproducing styles and prints from 69 through out the 80’s placing it in the top boutiques and surf shops. No better way to do it than with the boys that started the brand back in the very, very early days of Quiksilver. Since I was based here in the U.S., I guess I inherited the entire Quiksilver archive. Before me there was a good friend of mine, Randy Hild, who passed the archive torch to me. Everyday something comes out of the woodwork that blows your mind, whether it’s a story, prints, poster, ad, or of course a boardshort.
Everyone knows you when you’re at a trade show, all the industry. Peeps respect you so much.
Not sure about the respect part, I have been at 4 places in 26 years. First stop was with Mossimo Gianulli at Mossimo back in 1990, so that tossed me in the action sports arena and I played with production when it was all basically So Cal Made. Factories were basically in Santa Ana and LA, then I moved to assistant designer for a hot minute before getting tossed in with the wolves of sales. After the great run at Mossimo, I stepped down and did a start up thing with Jeff Yokoyama called MODERN AMUSMENT which pushed me in to the contemporary side of this world, 95% of that business was in Japan, which was great! While everybody was looking at London for inspiration Japan was on a great rise and we were jamming back and forth. 3rd stop was working with my good ol’ friend Jason Bleick at a contemporary, military surf brand called EVER which was in a deeper, contemporary world.
You get out into the surf most days, what are you digging riding, where are your spots?
I have not stepped off my Bonzer shapes in the past 3 years. They are not an easy thing to get used to, but after you get a handle of them in all types of surf you are good to go. Surf spots for me? I bounce around a lot. Living in South Orange County and working in Huntington, you mix it up through out your week. Weekdays are mostly at home breaks I grew up on in Huntington, with a little south county mixed in, and weekends are all South County spots closer to home.
What’s the new board we saw you with at Golden State Glassing?
That would be a 5’6” mini swallow Bonzer. Little Tall Troy Elmore is shaping good stuff and learning everyday, I love to see the youth pulling these harder tasks off, plus it gives them more time in the rooms for our future – why not!
Your house is pretty sharp, you and Kelly (Fuzzy’s wife) have curated it beautifully.
House is pretty much your early 60’s Southern California Ranch style I guess. We kept it clean in the house but when you go out the garage I have so much shit I have collected and kept since I was a kid, it kinda breaks the clean to the dirty, if that makes sense?
I always love my office/record room stuff. If you think about all the records you collect, (me) since I was gosh, 8 or something, you have a connection with each one where you bought it, who you traded it with, how far you rode your bike to Music Market or Licorice Pizza etc. So when you move what, say 10 times through your life those records always move with you, kinda like my best pals. Same goes with all the home music archives, signed albums, posters, punk & rock flyers, etc.
How about your rad garden?
Well, if you have room plant em’ or make room. Yes, we love getting hippie and growing our own in season vegetables. We like to watch the process seed to mouth. We notice if you plant vegetables and they are done for the season the seeded wild flowers are just a bonus after the harvest and you can still enjoy a little color. We have 6 fruit trees that produce strong as well.
Music. Evidently something that is a big part of your life. I see music references at work, in the garage, in this music library. It’s pretty solid. There’s a lot of vinyl. Fuzzy has pretty good ties with Green Day, and has met some or hung out with some of the raddest bands, made me super jealous.
This was a whole other chapter. I was a big music geek throughout the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s. In the 70’s I loved the hard rock stuff, but today I remember all the old soft stuff and it touches me. I played ice hockey up in Costa Mesa and there was a record store called Music Market and it was the Tower / Amoeba of the time. I would run over there in my hockey pads and look at the cool covers and see what I would save money for. I loved Nazareth, Queen, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Kiss, etc. Since these bands already had a few albums, I then started collecting the ones I did not have so then it all began. My older brother and his friends then moved on to the next generation which would be the Stooges, Dolls, Pistols, Clash, The Dickies, etc. That blew me away. The LP covers and the sound! I remember staring at The Incredible Shrinking Dickies LP for months, the clothes and vibe was awesome. Then I started a whole new collection of punk LP’s and 45’s. It took months to track down by mail your next best find out there. There was a Magazine called Goldmine where you could search by mail only. I also then was writing letters to bands like Black Flag SST records, Circle Jerks and ended up getting on their flyer mailing list. And then I was at the age where you could get to shows and this went on every almost weekend for the next 20 years.
And then, the man-cave garage! Whoa! Start talking…
All I can say is: stuff! It’s hard for me to let things go. It’s pretty much normal garage stuff, not so much man cave, but I do spend my week ends always opening the garage. I have everything regarding tools, I do like to collect old tools because old tools are made to last a lifetime, from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, so when I see an old rusty tool and I don’t have it I get off picking it up and bringing it back to life, kinda like anything else: car’s, surfboards, etc. There is daily family beach stuff, easy to grab and go. I have a few older boards that are fun to look at when you have time. Old oil paintings from my dad. Just a bunch of random shit!
You know I dig cars. Tell us anything about the car.
The beach wagon is a 62 Falcon wagon I traded for a 64 Ford Econoline from a good buddy. A little sewing machine motor to get us to the beach and back on the weekends. Also it’s a great little work horse. More scratches the better I always say!
Most of the boards were given to me. I did have about thirty 80’s boards laying around until some Japanese dude did the Japanese strut! In the late 90’s when everybody was collecting 50’s and 60’s longboards we were on a 80’s skateboarding buzz, riding our old deck and shapes. So I was keen on finding 80’s surfboards because of the rad new wave spray jobs that we grew up on. Trash bins were filled with them on the weekend, people were giving them away at garage sales, etc. Then the word was out I liked them and peeps were dropping them off. I think I like my Schroff Blaster the best.
Kinda unexpected, tell me a little about your HOCKEY TROPHIES. I mean seriously, there’s a ton!
Ohh. Ice Hockey. I played for about 15 years straight which is weird living in HB. Parents put me in when I was 5 and I played in my late teens then on and off in top adult leagues. I wanted to play baseball as a youngster too, but we were only allowed to play one sport. Living close to the beach surfing was not a top sport at the time, it was all beach fun like skateboarding. I couldn’t wait to get home from practice to go skate or surf, so surfing became my 2nd sport, haha! As for picking up a stick today, I still like to shoot around a bit.