People look back on the surf industry a decade ago and think of it as a degenerate redneck that won the lottery. Money was seemingly endless and financial foresight was just plain tacky. Everybody was getting paid supple amounts of money for doing anything back then, but things have changed. The hand that feeds has gotten arthritis and its portions have become more European. Budgets have been sliced and team riders have been skinned. The Mountain Dew fountain has run dry.
Like many other folks, Balaram Stack felt the effects of the industry's arthritis. When his longtime sponsor, Quiksilver, dropped him, Bal was left hungry. There were so many surfers in his position and there were so few companies with loose checkbooks. What was he to do?
Balaram dropped an edit, flaunting the empty advertising space on his beak. And earlier this week, good fortune called. Bal answered.—Brendan Buckley
SURFING Magazine: So you're riding for Volcom now?
Balaram Stack: Yeah, it's pretty much all said and done; I just need to sign the papers. It was cool, because my manager let me do a lot of the talking. I wanted to make the whole thing more personal, because I think it's important to feel that sense of family with a brand.
Was it stressful to be unsponsored?
It's not really the best time ever to be looking for a sponsor. Everyone is kinda set with what they're doing, and it's not like companies have disposable income right now. I guess that was on my mind, but I just kept surfing and doing my thing. I was in Australia when I got dropped and I had like three more weeks there, so I didn't really know what else to do besides keep surfing and keep on going.
And that was when you made that Spring Cleaning video?
The only reason that came out was because I got dropped. I wasn't really planning on doing an edit or anything, but we had a filmer with us and I was just like, alright well I guess I should put out a clip. I really wanted to get something out as soon as possible without a sticker on. Just to like, I don't know, show people that I'm surfing.
Is having a new sponsor going to change your approach?
I'll pretty much be on the same program, but better. Volcom is just a better fit for what I like to do. They're making a movie, so hopefully I'll get to be a part of that. And I'll be doing fewer contests. The only reason that I was doing contests was to get into the Volcom Pipe Pro and they can get me a wild card. They actually don't really want me to do contests, so that's not gonna be my focus at all. I'm just gonna keep surfing and doing trips.
Before we hung up, Balaram disclosed his plans to head to the casino that night. Later on that evening, he texted me saying that he was up $200.