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Holly Beck steals fish, skins knee, stars in music video

Holly Beck : photo courtesy Holly Beck

Holly Beck Blogs

Holly's romp through San Francisco for benefit of Mother Hips video

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 17 March, 2010 : - - Over the last few months, The Mother Hips have provided the soundtrack to all my adventures. Rock scrambling, shark diving, well-pumping, waterfall sliding, mountain bike riding, desert camping, California surfboard and skateboard riding. 

Even between the peaks in the action, my adrenaline levels have been kept high with an incessant loop of Mother Hips tunes either played through headphones or sung out loud in the shower, in between duck dives, and while washing dishes. Over a career spanning 18 years, the Hips have recorded so many amazing tracks that there's plenty of variety to be able to listen constantly for months and still not get burnt out.

What amazes me is how few of my friends have heard of them, but maybe that's why they're so cool. There are some things that you want everyone to get involved with like picking up trash at the beach, buying organic, and skateboarding instead of driving. Other things become less cool once they go mainstream, like that secret sandbar down the beach, Ugg boots, or the mustache.

When I get excited about something I want to share it, but in this case I think it's wise to hold back.  If you like Sierra Nevada swilling, cowboy boot wearing, and California coastal cruising, you will love The Mother Hips, but do me a favor and don't go out and tell everyone.

Instead, go to the website, download some tunes, load up your van with single fins, firewood, and a good set of hiking boots, grab a few friends and take off on a road trip with a soundtrack that will keep you jamming the whole way there and back again, then come back and let me know what you think (see below for the behind the scenes story of filming the video and a playlist of my favorite Mother Hips songs).

My boyfriend turned me onto the Hips years ago. We started with the Back to the Grotto album and I dug it, particularly Track 3 - Run Around Me. Then, last year my buddy Todd Walsh hooked me up with Kiss the Crystal Flake and I fell in love. I listened to it on repeat the whole six hour drive from San Fran to Redondo Beach. So many songs resonated with my lifestyle, TGIM, Time We Had, and No-Name Darrell particularly. How often do you get a new album and become obsessed with every single song right away?


Tim Bluhm, Holly Beck & Greg Loiacono : photo courtesy Holly Beck


At the point that my obsession had become to consume me, I realized that Todd was friends with Tim Bluhm on facebook. I sent him an unabashedly gushing message that went something along the lines of "sorry to sound like a silly obsessed fan, but I think you guys are freaking amazing and just wanted to let you know." I was so stoked when he responded and we started communicating back and forth a bit.

I was in Nicaragua when I got the message asking if I might like to "star" in a Mother Hips music video. By then the new album Pacific Dust was out. I downloaded it the day it was released and had been listening non-stop, already memorizing lyrics to sing while surfing. The song "Are You Free" was my first favorite on the album. Reading that message, I literally had to fight back the tears of excitement. "Um, yes!!! I would LOVE to be in the video!!!"

Driving up to San Fran for the filming, I was incredibly excited. Tim Bluhm came up with the concept for the video which would involve me stealing a live fish from a fish market in Chinatown then being chased by two fish mongers all the way to Ocean Beach, where I would set the fish free.

We spent a day and a half running. I knocked over a box of oranges on a busy corner in Chinatown which caused a frenzy of confused shoppers. We ran along rooftops, up and down stairs, through a park, over tree stumps. It was tiring, but really fun.

On the second day it was time to film the skateboarding. The director, Patrick Murphree, told me they had a stunt double lined up to do some of the skateboarding and I freaked out!

"I don't need a stunt double!"
"I skate!"
"I have a skateboard sponsor!"
"I do stunts!"
"I'm not ok with that."

He assured me that the hill he wanted me to bomb was too gnarly. It was steep and he wanted me to bomb straight down, no speed checks. He said it was too dangerous for me. I started believing him that it might be too heavy. Despite an acute adrenaline addiction, I'm not totally crazy. I figured when the time came i'd take a look at it and if it looked at all doable I was gonna go for it before he could stop me.

Then it came time to bomb the hill. After all the buildup I was probably a little more nervous than I should have been. Patrick had put doubt in my head and it took a few moments to overcome that. I stood at the top and looked. It was steep and rough, but it was short.

I closed my eyes and told myself I could do it until I believed it. Then stepped on, pushed off, and went for it. A quarter of the way down the speed wobbles started, but I just stayed light on my feet and believed I would make it.

Safely at the bottom, everyone was stoked, but most of all me. We tightened up my trucks to eliminate the wobbles and I bombed it a few more times, with more calm and confidence each run. By the end the adrenaline was pumping and after the hugs and high fives from the crew I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Towards the end of the second day there were only a few more shots on the list. Patrick said he wanted to pick up one more skate shot with the ocean in the background so we went to a different hill. It was wide, smooth, and not nearly as steep as the other. I was a little tired, a little unfocused, and a lot overconfident. I didn't take the time to look and pick my line. I just jumped on the skate and started jamming.

I was going fast, trying to make it look cool for the camera. By the time I figured I was far enough down the hill to be out of shooting range I had picked up so much speed I couldn't stop and the hill kept going. I was totally in control, no wobbles, but going way too fast to just jump off or drag a foot to slow down.

I saw an intersection up ahead and figured i'd turn the corner, get off the hill, and scrub some speed to be able to stop, but the stop sign was on my street, not the cross street. Not able to see cars coming, I didn't want to risk turning right into one, so I went straight until I was far enough into the intersection to see there weren't any cars, then tried to make turn.

Unfortunately, since we'd tightened up my trucks, by the time I tried to turn, I didn't have the tight turning radius I needed. I barely avoided hitting the corner of the curb but the parked car forced me to go up into a driveway and hitting the transition from street to sidewalk at that speed, launched me.

I landed on both feet and tried to run out of it. It all happened so fast.  I ended up sitting with my knee ripped open but essentially zero road rash. My knee started bleeding immediately. The guy who lived there saw the whole thing and happened to be a nurse. He took one look, said I needed stitches and should go to the hospital.

With all the adrenaline, I didn't feel any pain, plus the sun was setting and we still needed to get one more shot, the most important for the story, the actual fish release. So we bandaged up my knee and I hopped in the car.

By the time we got down to the beach the adrenaline had worn off and I realized the knee was the least of my problems. Both feet hurt like hell and I figured i'd probably sprained both ankles. I focused all my energy on trying to walk normally, and painfully made my way across the Great Ocean Road, up and over the sand dunes and across the beach.

Each step hurt worse than the last, but I kept telling myself I just had to get through another twenty minutes then I could relax. (Watch the video again. All that stuff on the beach and the shorebreak was done while fighting back screaming bolts of pain. Can you tell?)

I made it to the waters' edge, pulled a huge live Cod out of a cooler and wrestled with it into the shore break, got the shot, watched the sun disappear, then gratefully accepted help from the boys to half carry me back to the car. Tim volunteered to drive me to the hospital and waited while I got xrays and 4 stitches across my kneecap.

Nicest guy ever. Then he and Nicki welcomed me into their home, fed me dinner, and let me spend the night. It certainly wasn't the way I imagined getting to hang out with the members of my favorite band, but as I fell asleep to the sound of Tim plucking on an acoustic guitar, even though my feet were incredibly angry with me, there was a smile on my face.

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Holly Beck

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