Jared Mell's surf career began with a fistfight. It's 3 a.m. in his mother's house across from The Wedge in Newport Beach. Eighteen-year-old Jared is sneaking a girl down to the beach for a couple early morning beers. His mom, up late singing YouTube karaoke to the Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now" with her new boyfriend, hears Jared stumbling out and gets mad at him for "being a disrespectful little shit." To punish him, she stomps the glass-on fins off a couple of nearby longboards (one belonging to his good friend Alex Knost). In reply, Jared strolls into the living room, picks up his mom's flat-screen TV and drop-kicks it into two pieces.—Nathan Myers
JARED: I drop-kick the TV and it fully explodes. I turn around and look at my mom's boyfriend and the guy just freaks out. He's this guy who mostly just drinks beer, eats steak and watches NASCAR all day. Such a kook. He comes at me and we kinda have a fistfight in the hall. My mom tries to break it up but she's really drunk so she falls over and hits her head on a table. The cops show up and put me in cuffs 'cause they think I've been beating her up. My mom explains what happened, so the cops just tell us to calm down and clean up the mess. My mom gets dressed to go to the hospital, 'cause her boyfriend thinks she needs stitches. As she's leaving she says to me, "Get the f–k out. I never want to see you again."
Soon as she's gone, I pack everything I own into my 1962 Dodge Dart and drive to a friend's house. It's dawn and he's hanging out with a couple chicks. So I drink two bottles of Bailey's, hook up with one of the chicks and pass out.
No one came to my graduation. The only person who said congratulations was my longboard shaper, Dan-O. No one else thought I would even make it. Then all the other kids went out to dinner with their families and stuff, while I went back to work at Jack's Surf Shop straight from the ceremony thinking, "Well, that was pretty f–king pointless."
That's when Alex [Knost] hooked me up with the guys at Insight. I started going on trips and getting paid. That was five or six years ago and since then I've just been traveling, doing a few contests, some projects with friends, having quite a bunch of fun.
I ride everything. Not just longboards. I have a 5'4" Stretch quad fish and a 12' Pearson Arrow. I have a 5'8" bonzer from Dan-O, I borrow my friends' alaias sometimes —that's pretty funny — and I like riding some of the boards Alex has been shaping, too. It's fun to keep it fresh.
I don't compete on longboards much. There's a whole WLT [World Longboard Tour] thing, but that's all high-performance longboarding, which is pretty f–king stupid if you ask me. If you want high performance, why don't you just ride a shortboard? Better than doing butt-squat, wide-stance wheelies.
Growing up in Newport, there are so many good bands around. Alex is in a good band called Tomorrow's Tulips, and my other friends are in The Growlers. There are all these little projects, so I just get inspired by my friends and try to mess around musically as well. I don't take it that seriously; it's just something fun to try at night when you can't surf.
I've done two small clothing collections for Insight. Did you ever see that Dogtown documentary; all those kids skateboarding and those sick old cars? That's the era I tried to reflect into my first "surfabilly" line. The newer line is themed around '80s beach riots. Like, a Clash bloodsplatter and some Surf Punks stuff.
My mom and I are really close now. We hang out whenever I'm home and everyone knows her and her dog "Iggy" on 34th Street in Newport. I love and care about her very much. She's the only family I have around me and that means a lot to me.