9 Thoughts On Noa Deane’s “Head Noise”

Is it the best surf web clip… ever?

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On Friday, the year’s most anticipated surf clip/short surf movie was released: Head Noise, starring Noa Deane and directed by Mikey Mallalieu. Turns out, it’s hands down the best surf clip of the year so far, and it’s hard to see it getting surpassed in the five months we have left in 2018.

Here are some thoughts we had while watching it:

1. Noa Deane’s dad just died, R.I.P. Wayne Deane

On Friday August 3, Head Noise was finally released online to the public, following a month of premieres in Australia and the US. We watched, we frothed, we texted each other about how good it was. But it was only seven days earlier, on Friday July 27, that the Australian surfing community woke up to the news that Coolangatta surfing/shaping icon Wayne Deane had died. Wayne Deane is a hugely significant surfing figure. To surfing, Wayne Deane was a legend. To Noa, Wayne Deane was his dad.

It was difficult to ignore the fact that the best surf clip released in 2018 has come at a time when its star would be grieving. And so, the timing feels a little strange. Or maybe Noa was cool with it? Or maybe the timing feels right? One of Kirra’s greatest surfers passes in the very same week his son forges his own legacy, with the best surfing done in a video this year.

2.  What was that?!

A perfect web clip drop should have something in it that makes you scream at your computer. That makes you immediately hit pause and repeat. That makes you think, “What the shit did I just see?” This move here did that for me. At an inconsequential  four waves and 40 seconds into the 15 minute clip comes an air left out of right-field.  I believe this is called a big spin – an aerial where the board rotates 360 degrees while the body rotates 180. Following four giant stomped airs, it hits you how I imagine a fast pitcher’s slow change up bamboozles a baseball batter guy Big spins have been around for a while; Chippa Wilson has been a pioneer of the move, and Noa has stomped a few on film too. But is this the first time one has been done above the lip without grabbing the rail? Honest question, let me know if it has. Note: Noa does a grab rail one at the 9.16 mark also.

3. Four Tubes and a Chop Hop

There’s a comment on the YouTube where this video is hosted by a guy named Jesper Ceria. It says: “1.23 that wave was amazing”

Scrub there and you’ll find a single 25-second wave wave where Noa gets four tubes and then exclamation points it with a stylish chop hop (the sort of chop hop that was lambasted a decade ago but that a surfer like Noa Deane can make look good in 2018). On first viewing, it never even registered how remarkable this wave was. The whole clip flies past you too fast. It takes a random comment to stop you, bring you back and make sure you appreciate how good this one individual wave is. And damn nearly every wave in Head Noise is like that.

4. There’s A Pipe Section (With Comp Surfing)

Oh the irony, the delicious irony that the kid who famously said “Fuck the WSL” and who had to face up to Hawaiian elders and promise he meant no disrespect, the kid who Internet commenters gleefully stated wouldn’t be allowed back on the North Shore, that kid has dropped a standout clip featuring not just Pipe bombs, and not just comp surfing, but comp surfing amongst Pipe bombs. I can hear The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn” playing softly in the background somewhere close by, can you? (To everything – turn, turn, turn There is a season – turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.”)

5. The Backhand air at 9.45

Well… okay. Sure.

6. DIY Is Still A Thing In Surfing 2018

Dinosaur Jr is the big name on the soundtrack – and Volcom no doubt had enough cash in the till to buy a few more big tracks for this edit – but it’s two home-grown efforts that deliver the best pairings for Head Noise. The first is “Pipe Bomb” by Wash, which soundtracks the combo at North Point that ends the movie on a bang. Wash, of course, is the band that features surfers Ellis Ericson and Beau Foster and is fronted by Creed McTaggart, who appears in the section that his song plays over. The other song is the tranquil outro that runs over the credits, “123_4” by Blistar, Blistar being the name for Noa Deane’s solo grunge project. Despite its pared back simplicity, “123_4” it might be the best song on this clip, or on any clip for quite a while.

7. Noa Surfs Switch Very Well

Better than I can surf in general. Probably better than you can surf, unless you’ve at some point had a sticker on your board in exchange for cash or product. Noa goes pretty close to landing an air while surfing goofy-footed. Has anyone done that before?

8. It Ends The Way A Big, Internet-Busting Clip Should

With a combo so big, so good, that it has people openly asking if it’s the greatest ever performed. The North Point tube to end-section alley oop stomp, filmed from two separate angles, is unbelievable. Watch it again, and again, and again.

Ooooof! That’s how you end a surf clip.

9. It’s A Victory For Free Surfing

What’s most significant about Head Noise is that for the past couple of years there’s been a relevant and valid argument that the best surfing in the world is being done in 30 minute heats on the Championship Tour, that the likes of Gabriel Medina, John John Florence, Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson have been landing manouevres and putting together combos in heat jerseys that are better than anything we’ve seen a freesurfer drop in an edit. That fact, alongside Instagram, has for the last little while made the freesurfer edit-drop largely redundant (particularly as Mikey Wright pursues the CT life).

But Noa Deane’s Head Noise takes back real estate for the relevance of the freesurfer in 2018. Fifteen minutes is a long time on the Internet, but this clip flies past with the pace of a country train racing a kid on a BMX. And as soon as it finishes you want to click play and ride it all over again. How many clips on the Internet – of any variety – (longer than a minute) make you want to do that in 2018? The answer, today, is one. Noa Deane and Mikey Mallalieu’s Head Noise!

Some Stray Head Noise Numbers:

Length: 15.29
Time of first wave surfed: 0.21.
Length of end credits: 2 minutes
Tubes ridden by Noa Deane: 44, give or take a few
Airs landed by Noa Deane: 18, give or take a few
Air reverses landed by Noa Deane: 0
Significant turns performed by Noa Deane: 4
Significant combos performed by Noa Deane: 5
Songs written and performed by Noa Deane: 1 (“123_1” by Blistar)
Cigarettes smoked: 0
Beers drank: 0
Birds flipped: 0
Number of other surfers that appear: 5 (Gavin Beschen, Kaimana Henry, Balaram Stack, Creed McTaggart, Shaun Manners)
Length of creative partnership between Mikey Mallalieu and Noa Deane: 6 years

Mike Jennings