Catching up with Rymo was really fun because he’s a surfer at heart. He’s been the drummer for Slightly Stoopid for over 11 years, though it’s no secret to anyone who knows him that he loves surfing almost as much as music. Born and raised in Northern California, he honed his surfing in the heavy waves around San Francisco — Ocean Beach! — and Marin County, but Rymo loves his Southern California home — he now resides in Carlsbad — and when he’s not touring the world, he gets in as much water time as possible.
“There’s a ton of really great beaches right near my house,” Rymo says. “I pretty much surf every single day, if there’s waves. Nowadays, it’s a little harder to get in the water” — Rymo has one kid and another on the way — “but I still surf at least a few times a week.”
Over the years, Rymo has accumulated an excessively large quiver, which he admitted that he needed to pare down: “I’ve got a whole bunch of different boards; I try to ride a board that will maximize the conditions. If it’s small I’ll take the longboard or stand-up paddle board out, and if it’s rippable, I’ll bring a shortboard, egg or fish. I surf for fun. I do prefer doing turns on a shortboard in bigger, juicier surf, but where I live that’s not always an option, so you need to have a well-rounded quiver. “
Music and board sports came to Rymo at about the same time when he was growing up. With one sister that leaned toward punk music and another that was decidedly a hippy, his young ears were exposed to many varied early influences. But Rymo remembers quite clearly when he really got turned on musically.
“I started really getting into music when I heard Led Zeppelin,” Rymo explains. “Once I started hearing [them], the drums just caught me. I heard John Bonham and that really made a big impression on me. I got into music around nine or 10, right around the time I got my first skateboard. I grew up in the Bay area, but not close to the ocean, so skating was the easiest outlet for me for board sports; I got heavy into skating, then I started getting into skimboarding, bodyboarding, bodysurfing — and then surfing when I was about 12. Once I started surfing, I was really into that. And that was also when music was a really important part of my life, so all three of them — surfing, skating and music — really spiraled together at that point.”
Anyone who has been indoctrinated to the many hardships and few joys that come with surfing Ocean Beach understands that those who surf there regularly are a special breed. Let’s be frank, the place is rarely user-friendly, but it didn’t matter to Rymo and his teenage friends, who frequented the place once they got their licenses.
“A lot of my buddies were getting cars, and that’s when we started driving over to San Francisco to surf Ocean Beach, and also Stinson Beach and Fort Cronkite, Bolinas and all these other places. So I grew up in that kind of heaviness and learned how to survive. The waves [at Ocean Beach] get really heavy — a lot of rips and shifty, big swells from the North, from the West, from all directions, and you get a lot of combo swells, and there’s always a nasty longshore current to deal with.”
Now, with 20 years of SoCal residency under his belt, Rymo misses those NorCal surf experiences from time to time, but he’s been fully engrossed in the music scene in and around San Diego since attending San Diego State.
“With the music stuff taking off kind of right when I moved [to SoCal], it’s really become home,” Rymo says. “And my parents moved away from NorCal a few years ago, so there’s not much reason for me to go up there too often. But I DO miss the juice up there.”
While the beach is a way of life for his family, he’s the only surfer in the bunch, though that may change as Rymo’s baby girl grows up with dad regularly showing her around the ocean and beach environment: “I didn’t grow up in a surfing household; my folks weren’t into it. They respected it and stuff, and they used to take us, and we’d be out in the water for hours. These days, my wife, who grew up in SoCal and is definitely a beach bunny, and I take our daughter down there all the time. I show her around the water, the tide pools, all of that cool stuff. Then daddy gets to paddle out and get his fix.”
Author’s Note: If you dig that Jed Noll 10’0″ he’s rockin’ in the photo, Rymo told me about another Jed Noll board the band has in their studio, signed by Laird Hamilton and Gerry Lopez. I might have squealed with delight just a bit at hearing about it.
For more information on Slightly Stoopid, head on over to their site.