Next up on the Beneath the Surface Podcast, Corey and Sean welcome DarkRoom Guru, Pete Buzzelli, into the studio for their eighth episode: Ural.
It’s safe to say everyone at BOTE has a special tie to the beach, but they also have another common thread that feeds their need for adrenaline, and that’s motorcycles. There’s always been motorcycle surf racks, allowing surfers to transport the traditional surfboard to the beach via bike. In 2017, Corey got the idea to create a motorcycle SUP rack. In true BOTE fashion, he wasn’t designing just any old motorcycle SUP rack. He wanted to build it onto a Ural, you know, the Russian motorcycle famous for sidecars.
In this episode, you hear about the inner workings of the DarkRoom, BOTE’s multi-layered prototyping playground for experimenting with advanced materials and production techniques, with DarkRoom Director, Pete Buzzelli. From sourcing a Ural from Harley Davidson dealer’s personal collection to grinding and welding in the midst of shooting promotional footage, the crew turns inspiration into reality… and then gives it away.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
Pete Buzzelli joined the BOTE team after 40 years in the boat building industry. His eccentric and innovative personality is why he was selected to direct and manage the DarkRoom, an area at BOTE dedicated to complete control and infinite manipulation. When he’s not working with Corey and the crew to bring their mad scientist ideas to life, you’ll find him driving eclectic motorcycles off and on the road or SUP racing along Northwest Florida waterways.
“There was no plan… Grinding, welding and painting - just hands on, making cool shit. A lot of us at the brand are into bikes, so this felt authentic.” - Corey Cooper, BOTE CEO and Co-Founder
Links From The Episode
There was no plan … Grinding, welding and painting - just hands on, making cool shit. A lot of us at the brand are into bikes, so this felt authentic. - Corey Cooper / CEO
Pete Buzzelli is back from the dead and ready to get hopped up with Corey and Sean.
00:01:40 Motorcycles are small. Paddle boards are big. Can this work?
At BOTE, you gotta be obsessed about what you do, because an obsessive personality is what they’re looking for--in a non-creepy way. Corey admits, everyone in the clan is obsessed with cars, so in 2017, after telling Rob McAbee, Creative Director, how rad it’d be to fit a Ural motorcycle to carry a paddle board, the team decides to pull the trigger.
00:03:59 A Piece of Art
Rob put together the design and for the next two years that’s exactly what it is, artwork. Selling shirts and hats with the image of a badass Ural with paddle board-lugging sidecar was a hit, but Corey’s need to build cool shit told him he needed to make this a reality. So in November 2019, Corey located a Ural Tourist, sidecar and all, from a Harley Davidson dealer’s personal collection in Pennsylvania. Corey’s vision was starting to come together, but he had to answer the question: What do I do with it once it’s built?
The answer: A giveaway.
00:05:39 Pete’s Interesting History with Motorcycles
Pete Buzzelli walks us through why he’s the perfect guy for this project. See, Pete has a long history with motorcycles. Competing in hare scramble races, a dirt bike race between 8 to 12 miles long over rugged natural terrain, to his daily commute through off road tracks into the office, Pete was hooked when he learned about the Ural. You could say, it gave him the bug to pick racing back up.
“By the way, Pete’s in his 60s and would probably out work every single person listening to this podcast. I mean, he’ll put you in pain. You’ve heard of social shaming, this is humiliation, this isn’t even shaming. He’ll make all these young guys in the warehouse or working in the darkroom look like insane punks.” Corey Cooper / BOTE CEO and Co-Founder
00:10:45 They Buy a Ural… Now What To Do With It?
After Pete negotiates a deal to purchase a beautiful matte black Ural Tourist, both the dealership and BOTE get super excited over the giveaway and social traction naturally kicks in. Corey and Sean knew they wanted to shoot tons of video and photography around the Ural, and why not start with the creation of it to build up hype?
Carving out two days in the winter to build it and film it, the team walks into the DarkRoom with some sketches on a piece of cardboard and no plan.
00:14:00 Pulling Inspiration From Dunkirk
When inspiration hits, you have to act, and when Corey thinks he’s hit the filmatic jackpot with the WWII movie, Dunkirk, he texts Sean late at night with the idea. Needless to say, things start to spiral and in a couple hours it goes from an idea to a fully flushed production concept. Sean pings his Facebook friends for a WWII helmet and goggles. Corey combs the Army Navy store for boots and scarves. Both decide Navarre Beach, FL is the perfect nod to a Dunkirk backdrop thanks to its desolate beauty.
And the star of it all? Well, your very own Pete Buzzelli.
Corey explains how going about this unplanned is what makes it fun. Don’t get him wrong, planned out ideas are great for the business, necessary, but 90% of the best things they have produced are live, and they take that rawness and use it to be badass, putting a ton of work in on the back end.
“I tell everyone it’s lightning in a bottle. Nobody has a tighter team of eccentric people with superpowers than we do. So what I’m no good at, you’re good at, and what you’re good at, and so on. We can afford sometimes to do these last minute things and actually pull them off.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography
00:18:01 Movie Magic
Lights, camera, weld! The team cranks up Black Sabbath and gets to cutting and welding their version of a Frankenstein monster. It gets kind of crazy, like bucket-of-gasoline crazy where thankfully nothing burns down, and they all agree - if they planned this out, they would have never done it.
00:22:04 Corey and Pete Compare Favorite Moments
It’s obvious from the team's vigor they still carry with them, the Ural project was one for the books, but Corey and Pete have specific favorite moments they share.
For Corey, it was the perfect day on Navarre Beach. And by perfect, we mean cloud cover and still waters eerily mirrored to look like Normandy in the movie Dunkirk. No CGI necessary.
Pete, on other hand, enjoyed bringing the team together in the shop. He knows how important it is for newer employees to see what the BOTE lifestyle is all about, and it’s good for them to see that creativity and crazy runs through the brand, all the way to Corey.
The crew thinks they are getting the hang of this podcast, so onto the next.