If you’ve been to Rad Bar in the past year, you likely will have come across the mural of Martin Naylor by the stairs. His face peering through black and white paint, wispy hair falls to either side of his Cobain glasses and fuses with a puff of white cigarette smoke.
It’s likely you will have also come across Martin himself – somewhat of a local icon and equally as handsome as his mural would suggest.
But who is he? Why is he so revered?
We sent our journo Brendan to try and answer that over a few cones at Martin’s house. Covering every topic from surfing to veganism, he caught a glimpse of the essence that makes up this man, and a glimpse of his home to suit.
We also sent Phillip Muzzall to capture their hellacious conversation on film.
Please enjoy Martin Naylor: a cathartic look into culture, art, and Wollongong.
I was born on the other side of the world in Bolton. It’s near Manchester and Liverpool; up in the north of England in Lancashire.
It was great mate. Our house back onto a farm. There was a paddock out the back – hay grew in that and stuff for the cows, and at the end of the paddock was a creek. So we could play down in the creek all the time.
Around ’60, there was all these massive trees everywhere planted in the second World War. Really thick. And the people next door were playing on the street. It was called scrumping. And we’d all go out scrumping and live off the fruit all day. We’d just eat massive amounts of fruit. Apples. Pears. It was cold so it was just apples and pears mainly. Yeah we were there until ’66 or something.
It was ’67 when I went to high school. Went to Bondi. That was brilliant. Bondi Public School – it was right on the beach. The hill, the beach. And we lived on the hill right up the northern end.
I’ve got three brothers. I don’t see them much. Just see them around Christmas time.
We were in Bondi for about six or seven months because my dad had a job as a draftsman. And then that was it because we started high school the next year. It was about six months or seven months they before we moved. I finished fourth form up there.
School was brilliant. Lots of fun. I was a little lad. And it was just fucking exciting.
I rarely did my assignments. The rest I just failed because I just didn’t study. I wasn’t interested in it. I started down there surfing – I was surfing before then, but I started getting good in Wollongong.
So I’d just go to school, and because in sixth form you get split periods; so if you go surfing in those periods you got sent home. And I’d worked over Christmas to save money for a car so I could get back [to school] in time.
I drove a station wagon FB Holden. In the back I had a mattress, fucking surfboards… great time man, fucking 18. Just love it. Couldn’t give a fuck man, just whatever.
Couldn’t give a fuck. You’re never going to die. Everything lasts forever. Just go surfing.
Then we started smoking dope, which made things even better.
The first time, I went to my mate’s bathroom, and she says, “You want to smoke it?” Because I didn’t start smoking cigarettes until I after I started smoking dope and I mixed them with hash.
So I started smoking for the first time, and it didn’t affect me.
It was only when we were six joints though that I got affected. But then again it wasn’t as strong as the dope we have now. They were bush buds: a lot more natural. Nowhere near as strong.
But they were strong because it was a new experience for the mind. So it took me like six times to get started up.
I was coming home, I went to get a joint out, I’m driving back, and I couldn’t work out why the car was moving and I didn’t have my foot on the accelerator. Because we were going down a fucking hill. And I went, “Oh yeah, I’m stoned”.
It was a magical fucking thing. And then after that you just get stoned all the time.
I started taking LSD when I was about 20. Fuck it is definitely mind blowing. I got right into it and up taking it three or four times a week. Sometimes five times a week and up to five a time, and then it just sort of faded from the scene and heroin took over.
Heroin is crap, don’t take it. The only stuff I recommend is pot and hash and if there is high quality LSD, definitely try it but you need to be in the right frame of mind. If your mind is negative you will get seriously negative and could end up in psychotherapy.
Most will survive the right frame of mind – you will definitely have a mind blowing experience.
I surfed at South Beach. I used to love that beach. We surfed all the others, but mainly South Beach, and we’d go down to Oilies. That was right further on. Man that was a fucking wave man. It was a good wave.
Now you’ve got new Oilies. You can’t surf the old one because of the break wall.
Do you have a favourite surfer?
Na I never got into that shit. Like competition and groups. They had them down there but we were like, getting the hippies man. Surfing’s an art: it’s about being one with nature.
Which is fucking true man. There’s nothing better than getting on a wave and tuning into that wave. You’re on that wave and you don’t know what that wave is going to do, so accept things that are new all the time, but I don’t really think that deeply about it… it’s just fucking, “I’m in the moment,” and it’s good.
What music did you listen to growing up?
Groups. Bands mate. All of them It was the ’60s and ’70s. Fucking Beetles, Stones, everyone.
Because the Aussie bands were like, the one’s I’d been listening to since primary school, was like Billy Thorp. Billy Thorp and the Aztecs. He’s still going. I haven’t seen him for a while. Oh maybe he went off the rails. He got locked up. You want to read his story down at the library. He got locked up in New York when had all the record executives and everyone there. He walked in and there was this giant anaconda snake on this big giant dining table and he walked up and it was all cocaine. He got mega rich. Mega rich parties. He snorts it and he’s having a fucking disco and he gets arrested. He was in Bellevue Hospital for a week. Murderers on either side, fucking other people… It’s a good story, Billy Thorp.
What makes good sex?
A fucking good woman. I don’t know mate I never really got into sex much. I never like thought about it. I fell in love… This is when you first fall in love. Every girl’s your first fucking love. And they say, “Oh you think you’re fucking in love with this chick,”… You find out later you’re just in love with being in love because it’s such a fucking great feeling.
It’s like surfing, sex.
Anyway, yeah, so I never really got into it. I never had girlfriends that much. Never really fucking think about it.
Do you know what love is?
Love it true, because everyone on this planet alive or dead has felt love some time. A little child, a fucking old man, at some time – it makes the point that love does exist. I think love is an energy system.
It’s just love. There’s nothing else in it, just love. There’s no fighting, no anger, no fucking emotional… fucking it just fucking pure unadulterated love. That’s what I think love is.
It’s just fucking there man; it’s like freedom! That’s another state too. I call them states. Love’s a stake. Freedom; that’s a stake right. You want to be free yeah? Well once you’re free you’re free. That’s freedom. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re fucking white or black, yellow, fucking green, male, female – freedom is when you’re free.
When you’re free, and when you love, mate, it’s an internal thing. It’s like being happy. You get happiness from your mates or your fucking partner or your children… they give you happiness, but real happiness is inside.
You’re either happy or you’re not. I choose to be happy. Fuck the anger man.
You try and walk away from anger because you can’t fucking handle it but sometimes you’re just confronted with anger and you just gotta say, “Well fuck off mate. It’s me or you. One of us is walking out of this”.
I don’t get into fights. I’m just too small. Most women are taller than me.
It’s cool that you said happiness is a choice, and not something you search for. I think a lot of people get wrapped up in looking for it rather than just choosing to be.
Yeah that’s it! That’s fucking it mate! You gotta be happy. Things can make you happy. I was at that concert a couple a months ago, and I was playing this pinball machine; fucking brilliant machine. I was just laughing like from my guts. It wasn’t just laughing like,“Haha oh yeah that’s funny,” it was laughing that was uncontrollable.
What does ‘selling out’ mean to you?
Selling out? I like these questions man. Nice and fucking simple.
You’re not selling that because of your belief. You could say I believe in Jesus then you say, “Oh no, I’m gonna believe in fucking Buddha”. Is that selling out or is that just changing your mind?
Selling out is like when you’re gonna do something like, “I’m a green hippie,” like full on peace love and incense and then saying, “No I’m not going to do that anymore”. That’s selling out… So you’re selling out your personal fucking image of what you are.
What did you dream of doing when you left school?
I didn’t have a clue. Not a clue. I left school, and I didn’t have a brain so I wasn’t going to uni. I could’ve gone to you, but I just didn’t think about shit like that. So my old man got me a job down the mines. He said, “Do you want to work in the mines?” and I said, “Yep,” and he said, “Oh cool”. That’s just something I did. First job in the mines. Fucking brilliant.
I was doing drugs in the mines.
What was the best thing about it?
Shift work. That was excellent. Fucking massive amount of money. Straight out of school. I wasn’t an alcoholic, wasn’t doing drugs. Still living at home. So I was living for practically nothing. I just kept going to the bank, because that’s all I’d do; just earning.
Who is your favourite prime minister?
None of them. I wasn’t even in politics then. It’s only in the last 20 or 30 years that I’ve started to think about shit.
When you start reading about what the politicians actually do, they just fucking actually lie to everybody about what they’re up to.
Do they teach lateral thinking in school? No, because lateral thinking’s like… Logic you go alright this is right, this is right, this is right, this is right, and it follows along.
But when you get into lateral thinking and shit like that, you go… Say you’re at a job, right? And you want a pay rise. You get stoned, the boss gets stoned, I don’t know – that’s not it.
We all sit down right, the boss, all the other people, staff and fucking workers or whatever you are, and say, “Right now we’re going to put this hat on, this is a salesman’s hat”. Now what’s going to happen? Because if I increase your wages I’m going to have to increase charges on him. He’s going to have to sell more to pay for your wages. Right? So you’ve got to think like a salesman. So then you put the worker’s hat on, right? So now we’ve got to put the workers hat on. Why does the worker want more money? Well electricity is getting fucking expensive and you spend money on fucking cars and whatever. Then you think like the worker. Then you think like the boss – the poor guy’s got to pay all this fucking money? Where’s he going to go?
That’s lateral thinking. Well, that’s one technique. So that’s cool.
You’re modern media, they don’t use any critical thinking at all. They’re just like fucking robots.
What do you think about veganism?
Perfect! Even doctors agree. You’ve got to eat more fruit and vegetables. Fucking no processed meat because it causes cancer. … you get more protein bloody eating sprouts than you do off a cow. It costs so much water to bring a cow up. And meat’s a bit dodgy because they fill it with hormones and shit.
What’s better than vegan environmentally-wise, and cost-wise, is raw vegan. Just don’t kill your food. Because it’s not only cows that give off cO2: i’s cooking food. And everybody’s got to eat, so that’s one of the biggest polluting ways to cook is actually cooking.
What the experience like getting on stage with Velvet Elevator for Yours and Owls?
It was fucking good. I liked getting on stage – I’m going to start playing music man. I love getting on stage.
You’re a bit paranoid but you just do what you’ve fucking got to do, and it felt great. But the problem with being on stage is you can’t hear yourself. That’s why I like to go and see a lot of bands because then you see them and you can hear them. But when you’re playing or singing, I don’t know what you’re hearing. I was hearing nothing.