Encounters with Rob Machado and MGMT
By Travis Ferré
This is weird. It’s 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon in New York City. Gotham. The greatest congregation of humanity in all the world. It’s nice outside. 72 degrees. I love it here.
I’m the editor of a big fancy surf magazine. I’ve been scheduled for a field trip of the city with The Drifter himself, Rob Machado. We’re going to stroll through the new High Line Park. A skyscraper lookout. An interview. Perhaps a piece of pizza with the lead singer of MGMT. PR, baby.
“Who are all these people?” Rob’s handlers ask me. They’re constantly shuffling Rob around and looking nervously at their watches. A member of his entourage bluntly informs my friends that they aren’t invited any further than this. Sorry guys. Keep drifting. Now it’s just me and photog Tom Carey. After a few nervous minutes, Tom and I get chance to say hello to Rob as we power walk to the pizza shop.
“Just cruising man,” Rob tells us, sweet as pie, his scraggly mound of hair bouncing. “Been touring the city, doing press for a few days. CNN. ESPN. SPIN Magazine. You name it.”
Rob is down to earth, but he’s not drifting at all. He’s on a leash, getting pulled about by powerful people in suits. One of them speaks up now, talking about Bob Dylan, trying to be poignant or something.
“This is Greenwich Village, where Dylan would pop up back in the day and play shows,” he says. “All the greats played around here.”
Dusty record shops and thrift stores line the streets. Hipster Mecca. People are spilling into the streets. We find the pizza shop and prepare to force an interview.
Rob, Tom and I sit at the end of the table and chat amongst ourselves. The entourage sits at the other end of the table. They scare me.
“Oh it’s a lot different than Drifting,” says Rob with a sly grin, shuffling through his deck of memories. Drifting was Rob’s first profile film. The Drifter is his new one. It looks like the stuff of Hollywood, not a surf vid. I guess times have changed. Rob has definitely changed.
Then in walks a 26-year-old kid in an unbuttoned plaid shirt. A gym class dropout. A fourth period buddy. He’s the famous, fabulous singer from MGMT. “I’m Andrew,” he says, shaking everyone’s hand gently. “Can I get a pitcher of Pepsi?”
“Wow,” says one of the entourage. “The last time I saw you, you had on a dress in front of fifty thousand people.”
But Andrew doesn’t act like a rock star. Rob doesn’t act like a film star. They’re both pretty normal, actually. Andrew tells us he’s learning to surf. He’s been to Maroubra, Kauai, and Malibu.
“Really?” Rob asks. “You learned to surf in those spots?”
“Yeah. I’m my Wolf-Brother’s Keeper.”
Things go swimmingly. Rob promises Andrew a Dumpster Diver surfboard, a new wettie, and a few secrets for the next time he’s in Cardiff.
It’s all groovy. It’s not weird. I thought it’d be weird.
“Wanna see some good record shops?” Andrew asks us as we head out of the pizza shop. Even in street clothes, he and Rob are both stopped several times for photos and autographs. We break free from Rob’s handlers as they hunt down more cameras and voice recorders for The Drifter. We wander the streets, peeking into shops and shooting the breeze. Andrew tells us, “This is where Bob Dylan used to play all the time.”
More surfing videos on SurfingMagazine.com