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Longboardin’ Liam

Longboardin' Liam
BOMBA checks in with Liam Spiteri, band member of the legendary Tribali, and amazing longboarder too! Hit that play button at the end fellas.

Picture your stereotypical bass player. Yep, laid back, chilled, polite, awesome… and now you know Liam Spiteri. Liam and I go way back, as we attended the same school. He was in my brother’s class, I was in his brother’s class. We’re cut from the same cloth, so I was looking forward to meeting up with him again. Now we won’t bore you with child school stories from the not-so-cool school days… him and I have blossomed since then, thankfully. Gone are the braces, zits and uniforms, in are the wetsuits, instruments and all that comes with them.

Fortunately for me this interview came as a double deal – in Liam, I not only met a surfer but a musician in one of my favourite bands: local legends Tribali. Tribali are responsible for sending me in many dancing frenzies and have treated us to an insane amount of incredible gigs. We’ll chat surf and bass, music and waves in this article and I’m sure you’ll agree: this dude is a surf icon.

The wind was picking up on this particular Friday, but Liam and I resisted the pull for a couple of hours to chat at Emma’s Kitchen amongst the sounds of cappuccino machines and funky music.

Straight in Liam drops in “I feel there is a deep connection to the sea and appreciate everything related to it. While boarding, I don’t think about anything else. It is meditative and I just appreciate the water, being out there, the sun, the wind or whatever comes”. Mostly when you catch the wave, the sliding feeling is the most amazing feeling ever. To me it’s meditation.” 

What a smile!

“When I started surfing I also read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now, and it all clicked.” My eyes lit up as that is the book that has had the biggest impact on my own personal life too. This presence is vital in life, and this way Liam can even enjoy disappointing dawn patrols, as there’s still elements to love even if there are no waves “Even if it’s just the coffee from Coffee Circus” he added. 

Liam’s first pull was windsurfing, a hobby he shared with his dad as a 10-year-old. “That is totally different, its faster, more adrenaline-pumping, while longboarding is at a slower pace”

Liam and his love for longboarding is a love supreme. It was Joe Camilleri, who we caught up with in Episode 1, who influenced him to try a longboard. 

A love for the 70s

Liam is old school. He thinks he “was born in the wrong era” as he adores the 70s, in every aspect. “The music, fashion, styles, art and everything that came out of that decade inspires me.” 

Now I look up I totally see it… even his colour theme today is 70s related. He loves longboarding styles of the 70s too and retro-looking surfboards are his thing.

It all started when a friend of his Jacob lent Liam his FireWire wooden board – “a proper log” as Liam called it. “It was difficult to manoeuvre, but when you catch a wave the slow glide is so calm and peaceful.”

Joe then inspired Liam to buy a similar board to his, which gave Liam one of life’s defining lessons. His board arrived dented after a shipping error, and further on in the season, Liam smashed the fin box of his board.

“This damage normally writes off a board… but I was determined to fix it and spent hours shaping it again”. He learned a new craft and is glad to have done so as one of his ambitions is to keep up this new skill.

And with that new skill came an idea: Korall Surf co: A Maltese surfboard repair and customisation shop! Check them out here and give them some love: @korallsurfco. We’ll give them a full feature in Episode 3!

One long drag into shallower waters led to a very interesting twist in Liam’s life, and a damaged board has packed a wonderful lesson. 

“My board is special to me because these guys Modern make 70s boards with modern materials.” It’s a combination that suits Liam, who feels very attached to his ice-lolly blue board.

A surfing day

On days where the winds work, Liam loses his mind. He skips breakfast, dows a coffee and races to the bay – getting there at 5.00 am at times, trying to squeeze in a pre-work session. He then also returns after work to carry on where he left off.

“I feel I need to rush in case the waves die down”… but while he’s there surfing, it is all about being present “and my style gives me that more than anything else… on a longboard you’re in no rush, you glide and turn and can move along the board… its calmer.”

On these days he barely eats and can spend up to seven hours in the water. “The food will make me sick anyways with the movement,” he laughs. 

“I like shortboarding too, but longboarding is a different pace”

“My aim is to be able to hang 10 properly… and I have almost managed at my favourite surf spot: San Tumas Bay.”

We’ll elaborate on San Tumas in another BOMBA episode, but a brief insight is that it has the longest left on the island.

Liam’s ideal day

Imagining the perfect day is always a fun mental exercise, and Liam is lucky: he finds it easy. A day of surf, ideally offshore conditions, followed by a Tribali gig. Imagine the power… “my band members tell me that after surf I am more focused and connected during a live gig.” 

Talkin’ Tribali

If there is one band in Malta that gets me going it has to be Tribali, and I’ve been a fan since the early days. Liam is their bass player, an integral part of their performances and it’s a sweet fit. 

Tribali are hard to define, Their style can’t really be pigeon-holed into a genre. They rock and get their crowd hyped up. Never Give Up is Liam’s fave track to perform live and Earth Garden is his, and my favourite venue as a fan. 

Liam told me about the moment he started to make music. “My dad played the guitar, and I wanted to start a band with a friend, but in his garage there only was one guitar and a bass. So I picked up the bass and started to play and the sound it produced and vibrations that it let off left me hooked… I fell in love.”

“I started bass when I was 16/17. In the way the universe works I drew myself towards playing with Tribali. I used to find myself noodling with their tracks. It was the band that made me want to also play the didgeridoo… an instrument I also love and am keen to use more.”

He started following them as one of the band members, Grigal, is nicknamed after the very wind that causes most havoc. The sea theme is present again in his artistic life. This is a very artistic human, who even custom painted his fin using a set of posca pens. 

They’ve got some cool things in the pipeline for 2022, so I am looking forward to more magic from Tribali.

Our mobiles both light up. Surf chats are buzzing: the surf is ON: Liam then heads to Ghajn Tuffieha, I’ve kept him long enough! 

Liam in Tribali
Liam Spiteri on bass with Tribali

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BOMBA checks in with Liam Spiteri, band member of the legendary Tribali, and amazing longboarder too! Hit that play button at the end fellas.