Jamie O'Brien: Pushing Surfing to the Next Level

Jamie O’Brien, also known as J.O.B (@WHOISJOB), is pushing limits on his surfboard and conquering social media one wave at a time.  Scrimshaw gave Jamie a call recently to talk to him about his favorite waves, Red Bull’s increasingly popular and thrilling TV show - Who Is J.O.B, and how to live life like a free surfer.  He was calm and collected and gave a sense of appreciation and love for his craft throughout the whole interview.  Jamie is true professional speaking like a quintessential surfer who lives his life to the fullest.  So once initial niceties were exchanged, he was excited to answer any question we had:

For someone who has never been to Pipeline, what is paddling out like in ideal conditions (without tourists, boogie boarders, and kooks)?

When the waves are bumping, you have so much anxiety.  You are pre-meditating what kind of wave you are going to catch and what you are going to do, then you also have to think about what is going to happen.  There is this crazy buzz, like the highest buzz of your life, and then there is this buzz kill behind it dealing with the reality of everything at that moment.  It is unlike anything you have ever felt.

When you ride waves like Pipeline or Teahupoo, and others that are so heavy, do you have any specialty boards that you like to ride?  In your show (Who is J.O.B) you even ride soft tops and the SUPSquatch, how do you choose what to ride?

Shit, I get into rhythms with a board and it becomes my bread and butter, but it is so fun to go and challenge myself with all different boards.  The Catch Surf (@CATCHSURF) soft tops are so fun because they paddle really great and you can catch all the waves.

With all your boards and the ability to choose any wave, would you ever return to competitions, or do you feel that progressing as a free surfer is more your style still? 

I enjoy myself every day man, and I don’t have to go where I don’t want to go.  What the ASP (The Association of Surfing Professionals) is doing currently is really good for surfing but you know what, it’s not for everyone and to each there own, and I just choose to free surf and go with my own path.

Yea you kind of own that lifestyle and you are sponsored by these great companies who allow you to create your own TV show and surf where you want.

Yea it’s a blessing in the skies man, My dad raised me right here in Oahu (Home of Pipeline) and he taught me everything I know, whether its being a good person on land or whether its learning how to surf, he set me up in the right place.  It all worked out.

You said that it was a blessing that your dad raised you out there, was he also born in Hawaii?

So my dad was born in America, but grew up in Australia and met my mom, and she was from Australia.  And because of my family and Grandparents, we ended up here in Hawaii. 

Do you have duel citizenship?

Yea I am dual, and a real fun thing to do in Australia is I go to the bar and talk to someone and I’m like “Yeh, I’m Australian mate” (Australian accent). They bet me next couple rounds of drinks that I’m not, and I win every time.  Pull out my passport and boom. 

Hahaha, that’s amazing.  

Ah yea I love Australia man. The people, the surf, it’s a great place.

Nice, so would you ever live there or anywhere besides Hawaii?

Ah nah man, I love Hawaii.

That’s awesome.  Well we have to say, we have been watching your Red Bull TV show, Who is J.O.B, since the beginning.  Absolutely stellar stuff.  What prompted you to start this project?  Just that you lived this life and wanted to record everything?

You know, I was always into filming and have always enjoyed filming. It was like a year of me surfing and not really doing anything and the next thing you know, Red Bull has an idea and asked if I was into it.  I took my own initiative and time and really made sure it was a good show and quality content.  And each year I get more excited and think about it more and figure out what worked and what didn’t work and better what we do every year.  And I think that can really make it a success. 

Which is so commendable because not only are you bettering the show, but you guys are pushing the limits of surfing, like setting yourself on fire and surfing Teahupoo and surfing places most people wouldn’t go near.

You know I just think, everyone just does the same shit and we are just having fun.  People say we are like Jackass but it’s like saying every surfer is Kelly Slater.  What, just because we like to have fun?  We have the talent behind us both on and off screen and we have real passion about what we do. Shit, we just have fun and that’s amazing to run your life and show that way. 

You guys really do have such an awesome group.  Speaking of your group, we gotta know, how did you meet Poopies (Sean McInerny @Poopiesgram)?

Ha you know, I met him because there was this guy renting a room from me and the next thing I know, he has like 8 guys in the room, so I came over to the house to figure out what was going on.  Sure enough, Poopies was one of the 8 humans that were living in my house.  And I kicked everyone out, told them to beat it, except for my good friends.  And you know, Poopies kept just coming around after that and was just a real nice and a real chill and down dude.  I felt bad because his name was Poopies, so I was like, ‘yo man, you are a really cool guy, I will just call you Sean’ (his real name) and it just didn’t work, he’s just not a Sean, he’s Poopies. 

Haha, yea you guys have such a solid cast.  Between the filming and your social media presence with photography you guys are killing it.  Your pictures that you post from these photographers are just so epic.

The thing about it is we have just an amazing team and the people that I work with are so amazing and without them I wouldn’t be who I am.  As a group, we work together.  We are all about social media and great content, and we like to take pictures and show off our work.  I keep up on the surfing community and the following it is getting on social media and I was like shit, I am like top 5 most followed, which is really cool.  I think that goes to show, you don’t have to be the best surfer, but you could be great and have a great lifestyle and work really hard and people will enjoy watching it. 

Do you ever feel any pressure to entertain since you are top 5 and a big social media player? 

I think the hardest thing to do is to produce good content when you are taken out of your direct element.  Like when there are no waves.  Like right now, I feel like a fish out of water and am just trying to think of something that could keep the ball rolling.  Some days I don’t know what to post, but I need to keep people happy and put something out. 

So if there are no waves at home do you travel?  Like what’s the craziest place you have ever visited? Outside of the Island. 

I think South Africa is one of the craziest places I have ever visited.  There is so much diversity and culture there between the location and the people.  The waves are so epic and whether its crowded and huge or pristine and no one is out there, there are so many channels and it is crazy. 

Yea man, I stayed in South Africa for 6 months and everything about it is amazing.  From the people to surfing to just living there, it is so incredible. 

Yea South Africa is insane. 

Have you been a couple times?

I have been like 5 times.  I recently just visited for John-John’s (John-John Florence @John_John_Florence) new movie, View From a Blue Moon. 

Do you get to surf with the talent of John-John often or do you rather take trips with your crew or alone?

You know, I love surfing with John, and we surf together in the winter sometimes.  It’s awesome being able to push yourself with him.  I just like to surf and have fun.  Whether it’s on my boards or the SUPSquatch with my friends.  I just want to have fun man.  Surfing is like anything else and can be made boring, so I try and enjoy every second and make it as fun as possible.  That way I love what I am doing.

Well thanks man, for doing this.  We started Scrimshaw (@Scrimshaw_Collective) because we wanted to make our passions come to life.  It really means a lot to speak to you, someone who follows his passions and made it his livelihood. 

Yea no worries, glad I could help you guys out!