chrome ball interview #87: gabriel rodriguez

gabriel vs. the chrome ball

So how did you and your childhood crew end up getting swooped up by Powell-Peralta, the biggest skateboarding company in the world at the time? I know you were the link there… weren’t you working on a sponsor-me tape at the time?

Yeah, I had a sponsor-me tape going. It’s kinda weird because I was actually going to send it to Santa Cruz the day I got on Powell Peralta. I was getting my letter together at school that day and everything. I mean, I’d always wanted to skate for Powell but honestly didn’t think it was possible. I figured I’d just try for Santa Cruz. I’d tried a few other companies before and didn’t really get a response… though I didn’t really have a video then. I was basically just sending out pictures and stuff.

Who’d you send stuff out to prior?

Oh man, remember Epic skateboards? I sent some stuff to them back in the day. And Rinalli Trucks! Remember them? I sent them some stuff, too. I didn’t want to go too big so I tried to play it smart. I wanted to get on!

I get it. Hedging your bets.

Exactly. But with how Powell happened, the timing was just so crazy. I was seriously planning on sending my tape out to Santa Cruz that day after class. I just happened to call my shop sponsor, Renee’s Skateshop, before heading over to the post office. Next thing I know, he’s telling me how Stacy Peralta wants to meet me. I was bugging out. I was always super Powelled-out so this was incredible to me!

“Come on, man! Stop fucking with me!”

But he was serious!  They were playing my tape at the shop when Stacy’s secretary happened to roll by and see it. She asked Renee if she could take the tape back to Stacy and he liked it, the backside 360 ollies and what have you. He called the shop that day to try and set up something to meet with me. I was beyond elated.

Unbelievable. But were the L.A. Boys tight before the Powell hook-up?

We all skated for Renee’s Skateshop back then but we’d known each other for a while. I mean, Rudy and I have been friends forever, man.

Yeah, didn’t you borrow his baseball glove or something back in the day?

Yeah, we used to play little league together from, like, age 8 to 11 until I stopped... my parents sent me back to Chicago, where I’m originally from. I stayed there for a year or so with my sister. When I came back to Los Angeles, I tried getting back to the baseball again but the love wasn’t there anymore.

While I was in Chicago, my friends that used to live next door to me had moved a mile or so up the street. When I got back and wanted to go visit them, I started rolling around on this cheap plastic skateboard I had as a way to get up there. After a while, they all started skating, too. They had some friends who skated as well and when I went to meet up with these other guys… BAM! I see Rudy! Rudy’s skating now, too.

“Oh shit! I think I owe you 5 bucks!” (laughs)

He’d given me a batting glove the summer before and I ended up going to Chicago so I never saw him to give it back. Kinda funny but whatever.

So we just start skating all the time. It was super fun. This is like 1987 and all I had was this real shitty $20 swap meet board but I worked it out. Of course, I wanted a legitimate board but I wasn’t gonna let that stop me.

From there, Rudy and I just kept at it, kept skating. He ended up moving to West Covina a year later or so, which separated us a bit but also meant more stuff to skate. My dad started taking me out to Rudy’s house to skate on weekends. It was a nicer, safer neighborhood so we didn’t have to worry so much about all that other stupid stuff.

We both got shop sponsors and started skating contests, which is actually where we started seeing Guy around. He was this little kid doing everything. He was just so tiny, man… destroying everything as an infant.

Shop sponsors were so important back then. All these contests were largely shop teams competing against each other. We were always sizing up the competition and you couldn’t miss Guy. He was skating for Val Surf at the time but we had some mutual friends so we started skating together. Even though Guy is from Burbank, we both had friends down in Glendale who skated and had a car to meet up. Guy and I just clicked.

Paulo was always more of a word-of-mouth type of guy. He was never much of a contest guy, even back then. You always had to track him down. When we used to skate Beneficial up here on Wilshire, we’d always hear these stories about this guy named Pablo. It was always Pablo this and Pablo that. We finally got to meet him and turned out the he’d actually already been on Renee’s. It was on after that.

So how did you manage to get everyone on Powell?

Basically by sitting down with Stacy. This was early on when we were just beginning to talk about working together… sending me boards and stuff. I was down, of course, but I also felt that if he liked what I was doing, he’s gotta check out my friends, too. We already had been in a Renee’s shop video together so I showed him that.

“Hey man, you should probably put these guys on, too.”

Just as a suggestion, you know? Like, if you like the way I skate, you’re gonna love these guys’ skating. And that’s how it worked out. We each got our own little personal “try-out” session with Stacy to try and get on the team. We’d just go skate Los Feliz or something with him and do our thing, which was pretty crazy. It was hard to believe it was really happening.

But yeah, I was first. Then we went and skated with Guy and he got on. Paulo was next and then Rudy. Next thing you know, we were all on Powell-Peralta. (laughs)

Were you aware of any hesitancy on his part with sponsoring Rudy back then?

Not at all. Honestly, Rudy did really good that day. He skated unbelievable for his try-out. I vividly remember that.

I was surprised to hear that come out. I honestly can’t see Stacy saying that because of how Rudy was skating. Maybe it was something more personal between Stacy and Rudy that made him say that? Something that happened later? I mean, Stacy always liked Rudy but it was Rudy that took Guy from Powell. I think that might’ve had something to do Stacy saying that. That’s what I think went down.

…fuckin’ Rudy. (laughs)

courtesy: vertisdead.blogspot.com

So when did you guys find out that you were all going to be in Ban This? Were you guys always going to be filming together? Those videos were huge!

Yeah, we were stoked. We always loved Stacy’s videos and the whole Powell team dynamic. It was great.

It was always going to be all of us together. Street skating was started to gain more attention and Stacy wanted to treat us like how he did Ray Barbee and those guys in Public Domain

Yeah, the Rubber Boys.

Exactly, just a bunch of kids running through, skating street together. We were down with anything he wanted to do. Whatever he said, for sure. All we were trying to do was skate, we trusted him with all that other stuff.

Was that just a couple days of wearing the same clothes? On film, too!

Yeah, it was 2 separate weekends in the same clothes. Just like the movies! Gotta have that continuity!

I remember us always call each other the night before to try and figure everything out. We just wanted to skate our best.

And it wasn’t even video back then, it was movie film. Not VHS. So it wasn’t as easy to film as it would be later on but we did our thing.

Were you guys allowed time to really try tricks or would Stacy want to move on fairly quickly?

It honestly depended on the trick. Sometimes he’d wait it out or even want to come back another time to try and get something.

The problem was that we filmed first for the video. Before everyone else on the team. What we filmed was good at the time but it didn’t come out until a year and a half later. So, in the meantime, we’re hitting up Stacy constantly like, “What’s up!? Check this out! We got this and that now! We need to film some more!”

It just seemed like forever for the video to come out and our stuff was so old by then. We were so much better by the time it came out. I don’t like blowing my own horn or whatever… and I understood and appreciated him telling us that our time would eventually come but it was a little frustrating. I don’t know if he thought our stuff was too good or whatever, we just wanted to do our best.

So were you kinda bummed on that part in a way because it was “old” footage in your eyes?

Oh no! My goodness, I was completely overwhelmed! I loved it!

What I was saying was just one small thing on my part personally. Everybody’s reaction to it was amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t even know what to say back to all these people when they’d be complimenting me on it. All I could do was thank them in return. It was amazing.

What about that iconic Mini-Rats wheels portrait? Was that always supposed to be an ad? Was there a part of you that wished you were skating in it instead?

We had total trust in Stacy back then. We just skated and felt lucky to be part of the whole thing. Whatever he wanted to do was fine by us.

But yeah, it seemed like once Rudy got on, we began to take little pictures and things together. I don’t think we knew that was going to be an ad but when they put it out, my goodness! I couldn’t even believe we were being communicated by Stacy. Totally starstruck.

It worked. The breakup: did you see Guy and Rudy heading over to Blind? Did you know Gonz was in the mix like he was?

I think it was right after our second California Powell tour when Mark called Lance for Rudy’s number. Just to go skate and do their little thing. As their leaving Powell for Blind was happening, Rudy and Guy definitely kept it from me… and I felt betrayed! Damn right, I felt betrayed! (laughs)

Oh my goodness, it was just a terrible, terrible thing. Just out of the blue, I find out they left. They didn’t even tell me! I had to find out on my own! I understand why they kept it from me because I wouldn’t have had it but them not telling me made it so much worse. It was such a shock to me.

I mean, I wasn’t going to go looking for them to fight or nothing. People always think I’m some type of tough guy or something. It wasn’t anything like that. But I definitely wasn’t pleased about it at all.

Powell did seem more invested in you, though. Was there ever work on a Powell pro model before you defected?

It was definitely right around when those guys quit that Powell started working on my first graphic. I still have the t-shirt. They made the t-shirts up but just painted one board and silkscreened it real fast with the graphic.

What was the graphic?

You know those bar codes when you go to a supermarket and they scan your stuff? My graphic was one of those going down on the left side of the board with my name and “Powell-Peralta” where the numbers would be.

Honestly, I always felt like they were only doing that because they were nervous about me leaving, too. I think they thought they could use that as a way to make me stick around.

The ad had a feeble grind down a rail, right?

Yeah, that was it. That was the graphic.

But the fact is that I was still loyal to Powell. I didn’t even need all that. I was super upset with Rudy and Guy… like I couldn’t wait to see those cats. That was mentality. I wanted to give them a piece of my mind. I couldn’t believe they would leave Powell! (laughs)

Why the UPC code?

That wasn’t my idea at all. They just walked up with it but I thought it was cool. I was psyched. I mean, it’s a pro board on Powell! But like I said, I just think they didn’t want me to leave. After Rudy and Guy left, they wanted to turn me pro immediately after those Am Finals in Reno.

Where was Paulo during all of this? Because he stuck around with Powell as well. Did he feel betrayed by those guys, too?

Paulo was always off being Paulo, doing his own thing. Always. I really wasn’t sure where he was when all this was going down. He never went on tour with us or anything like that. I honestly don’t know why that always was.

We didn’t really go skating with Paulo all that much back in the day. We liked to go skate spots on our own, just us, without too many other people around. Paulo was always rolling around with 20 skaters following him. We’d be at the spot and Paulo would instantly blow it out with all these people. We’d just be standing there like, “Damn, fool! We’re gonna go over here, man. We’ll see you later.”

The more kids there are, the more likely you’re going to get kicked out. Plus, you can’t really focus with all those people around. But that’s how it always was with Paulo.

But yeah, he was always local. Always by the house. Innovating, for sure, but always around his own area.

You brought up those Am Finals in Reno… what were your thoughts on the “Kids that play with themselves go Blind” shirts?  I know you were pissed at them but those were your boys!

It was crazy, man. But honestly, that was part of the reason why I ended up leaving Powell. I was totally loyal to those guys but they were so afraid of me leaving that it worked against them.

We were all in the NSA Am Finals together that year in Reno. I had already seen Guy and Rudy at the Semi-Finals a few weeks earlier, after they had left for Blind. I was vibing them pretty hard at that one… Not that I was threatening them but they knew exactly what they did and how I felt. Definitely.

By the time Reno comes around, I was over being mad at them. So I see them over there and hit ‘em up like, “What’s up, fool!” Just that quick, it’s like old times again. We’re all hanging out together, kicking it.

I come to find out that my team manager for Powell doesn’t like me hanging out with those dudes, my friends. He said it made him nervous. These guys are all friends again? What the hell is going on?

It was weird because he actually pulled me aside to make sure that everything was still cool. Why? Because he saw me hanging out with my friends? I had done nothing wrong and was always loyal to Powell. I thought this was so strange and seemed like it came out of nowhere. I was sitting there talking with him but the more I thought about, the more I didn’t like it. 

“You know what, man? No, it’s not. This isn’t cool.”

They can’t try to keep me from hanging out with my friends. That’s just not right and was really upsetting to me. Even if we don’t ride for the same company anymore, we can still be social. They’re still my friends!

So out of nowhere, once it was all over, I remember thinking to myself, “Did I just quit Powell? I guess I just did!”

I didn’t think about any of this beforehand. I had no back-up plan at all. And Powell has now taken my pier-diem and kicked me out of my hotel. Suddenly, I got to figure some stuff out.

The way it ended up, I qualified for the contest under Powell-Peralta and the next day, I entered under World. It just so happened that at the time, Natas and Rocco were hanging around together at the contest… so, of course, everyone is whispering about how Rocco is stealing Natas now or whatever. (laughs)

So after all that went down with me and Powell, I called up Rudy at their hotel like, “What’s up, man? What are you guys doing?”

“Nothing, man. What’s up with you?”

“I just quit Powell!”

They were shocked. Super surprised and almost happy in a way, but shocked. They just started giggling.

I head over to their hotel and Rocco and Natas come into the room. Guy and Rudy are going crazy, “Oh shit! He quit!” (laughs)

“They took all my money!”

Next thing I know, Natas is handing me a $100 dollar bill. I wasn’t expecting that but I was cool with it. That was the beginning of 101.

Describe the early days of 101. Did you know Natas prior to joining the team?

Not at all. I remember seeing him around LA sometimes and just thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s the guy right there!” (laughs)

Those early days of 101 were incredible. He was skating so well when we first started meeting up. Way ahead of everyone else. Natas was the first dude I ever really saw doing nollie stuff. Nollieing into grinds, nollieing over benches… and this is way back. There was literally no nose on those boards back then but he could do it.

I was on 101 before it even had a name. Everything was such a slow process with the company, just getting stuff together. I remember going on World tours with all those guys and 101 didn’t even have boards yet. Natas would have to give me his old Santa Monica Airlines boards. I’m out there doing demos with the World guys and here I am on SMA boards… I guess that probably looked pretty weird, right? I never really thought about that until now.

I remember going to get the first shapes done. We were doing a bit of filming, too. I really felt things were going to work out great until he broke his ankle. It was just different after that… 101 was kind of just me for a while after Natas got hurt. I couldn’t believe it when it happened and I hated it for him but at the same time, I did need a bit of help, too. I felt totally alone on the team, which I was… doing the solo-flex by myself over here.

I was kinda young still and had just started drinking… it wasn’t an easy thing. I felt very alone on 101 after Natas got hurt.

But weren’t you around Guy and Rudy more after reuniting under Rocco? That was around the time they were filming for Video Days, right?

Actually I wasn’t around for any Video Days.

What’s interesting is that I vividly remember around the time my Gremlin board came out on 101, Rudy and Guy taking me inside some office and showing me their footage. It was all so under wraps. Nobody even really knew about it.  All of a sudden, it was like, “Check this out!”

Boom! What the fuck is all this? These guys have all this footage? I had no clue! And it’s not like I wasn’t around.

I appreciated the quick heads-up though. Guy was doing those crazy noseblunt slides… I definitely started doing them after that, too.

How much of a voice in the overall direction of 101 did you have as an OG? Were you consulted on riders and ads?

For sure. Natas was completely open to everything I had to say. He’d throw suggestions at me and when I made comments or decisions, he’d listen. He was completely open to everything I had to say. Natas was great like that.

A lot of people don’t know this but the third rider for 101 was Steve Berra. It’s actually kinda weird to think about now but you gotta remember that this was back when people were talking about how vert was dead at the time. Berra was vert skater back then, too. But Natas liked his skating and wanted to know what I thought. He showed me his tape and I remember telling him, “Fuck yeah! We need a vert skater! That would be excellent. Vert ain’t dead. Vert is dope.” (laughs)

Steve’s tape was sick, too. He was doing mctwists and shit… hell yeah, put him on! We weren’t going to listen to what other people had to say. We’re putting on vert riders because we like their skating. This is what we like and what we have to say.  

I was psyched when we got more guys on the team but even then, they still seemed so far away. Leigh Petersen was in Washington, Markovich was in Laguna Beach or something like that and Koston was down in San Diego. They were on the team but I wasn’t skating with them. I was still alone in that respect. I found myself skating with some of the newer cats around my way, the ATM Click and the crew around XLarge as opposed to other 101 riders.

Where did the Jesus graphic come from? Was that always the plan for your pro board and did that have anything to do with the crazy satanic one Natas came out with shortly thereafter?

My Mom used to have this humongous Catholic mantle in the house back in the day with all these Jesus pictures on there. Before Natas even turned me pro, he used to come over to my house to get to know my Mom and everybody.

I remember him walking in from the backyard one day and he just points to this huge picture of Jesus we had and says, “Hey, that’s gonna be your first graphic.”

On the inside, I was jumping for joy but I had to play it cool.

“Wow, man… okay. “

But no, my Jesus board didn’t have anything to do with that Satanic one he had later. It just worked out that way. That wasn’t planned.

Where did that quote about working at El Pollo Loco and tucking in your shirt come from?

(laughs) My friend worked at El Pollo Loco up the street and that was our spot. They had some great curbs and used to hook us up with free food all the time. That was just my spot up there, man!

It was one of those things where Natas asked me to write something for my ad. I didn’t know what to say so he asked me a couple questions about turning pro and that was one of my responses. As soon as I said it, he told me to write it down.

At the time, I was basically saying that if this skate stuff didn’t work out, maybe I could get a job up there. That’s how that came about. Basically, I just didn’t like tucking in my shirts! (laughs)

How did that classic Gabe vs. The Crusher graphic come about? Super advanced for the time.

That one came from Spike and Natas. I remember them coming up to tell me about this idea for a graphic they had. I figured that everything had worked out so far, why not? They honestly didn’t even have to tell me what it was, I was going to do it.

So basically we went out into the backyard and I got Natas in the Camel Clutch. I remember Natas and I tried a few different wrestling moves but that one worked the best.  Spike took the photo and they went off to CGI the Crusher into it.

I liked how that one came out but it was all thanks to those guys.

Have you seen the P-Rod homage with Scuba Steve?

Yeah, I have. That was really cool to see!

Who usually came up with your graphic ideas? And do you have a personal favorite? So many classics there: the bloody drill, the grenade, Superhombre…

Honestly, those ideas usually came from Natas and whoever the artist was. They were always so good that I basically trusted them with whatever they wanted to do. Whatever they said, I went along with even if I didn’t totally get what they were talking about at first. I was basically a “yes” man at the time. I’m sure if there was something I didn’t agree with, I could’ve said no but there really wasn’t any need.

As far as a personal favorite graphic of mine, I’d have to say the Gremlin. I loved that Gremlin board a lot… And the Andy Jenkins one. The Power of One with the grenade, I liked that one a lot, too.

For Chocolate, I’d have to say the Evan Hecox city series where we were all in there on the street. Each of the riders on a board out in the city. That was really cool.

Were you down with doing ads like that 902101 ad where you might’ve ended up looking a little silly?

Yeah, man! Who cares? I don’t take myself seriously and it was all fun. It was hilarious! Natas made a beautiful girl! I loved it.

Courtesy: vertisdead.blogspot.com

Talk a little bit about that banned 101 suicide ad you were in that inadvertently sparked Big Brother Magazine. Wasn’t it like you not making frontside 360 ollies and then a photo with a gun in your mouth?

(laughs) Yeah, we shot that in New York on a trip. It was Natas, Spike and I. We kinda just made it up on the spot. I couldn’t get this frontside 360 ollie that I wanted to do for what was supposed to be the ad. It just wasn’t working out for me that day. That part was real. But the next thing I know, Spike and Natas are both just laughing, talking to me about “Let’s be controversial!”

They went with it. They were seeking a reaction because magazines were banning so many ads at the time. World was always trying to do some controversial ads and magazines were getting tired of it. I can’t believe all that ended up happening as a response to that ad, though. It’s a trip. We were just goofing around.

I gotta admit that I always thought it was weird your 101 Promo part was so short after not having a video part in a while. What was going on there?

It had to do with how weird skating was at the time. Everything was so sloppy… all flippity-flop with boards bouncing off the ground and landing back on your feet. It was a mess! I wasn’t down with all that backfoot flip-flop stuff at all. I just couldn’t deal with it.

I honestly took a bit of a hiatus at the time because I was so turned off by it. I wasn’t feeling where skating was at back then.

Did you ever get pressure from Natas or Rocco to put out more footage? You were definitely known for having some of the shortest parts in skateboarding history.

No pressure at all. As long as my board was selling, what are you gonna do?

Tobin Yelland once told me about being at World one day right after the Plan B Questionable video had come out and Rocco was telling everyone how my board was selling the best, even though I didn’t even have a video part out. That’s crazy to think about, actually.

But as long as your board is selling, no one has any problem with short video parts.

Were you skating and not filming or just not skating? Did you like shooting photos and filming back then?

I didn’t mind that stuff at all. It was fun. Sometimes you have your good days and sometimes you don’t but I always liked it, especially if there was something you really wanted to get.

Honestly, I just wasn’t as into skating as much at the time. I was hanging out with Rudy and Guy so I was still skating some but it wasn’t really until I started skating with Paulo again around 1993 or so that I started to get back into it. I was basically at the point where I was just like, “Fuck all this flippity-floppity shit!”

This was right when Paulo got on Stereo and he’s switch ollieing picnic tables like its nothing. Nollieing tables, too. Nobody was doing that back then. He was just killing everything, first try: boom, boom, boom.

Skating with him again during this time was really good for me. He was obviously getting me psyched with his skating but it was also like reuniting with an old friend. That’s when I feel like I was really starting to get things rolling for myself again.

For me, I always loved picnic table stuff and this is really when I first started skating them. I was always more about the tables and grinds instead of that flippy stuff and I feel like Paulo and I were just feeding off each other.

How was your relationship with Rocco?

That’s a good question. It’s hard to say, actually. It’s a little more difficult for me to answer because I didn’t really deal with him that much, I dealt with Natas more or less. I didn’t really have anything against Rocco.

The Girl guys obviously had their suspicions.

My only suspicions would be hearing what Tobin said about my board being the highest-selling board but I’m only getting $500 checks. That was suspicious to me.

Were you bummed you weren’t in that original Girl mix? Were you even aware that Rudy and Guy were leaving again this time?

(laughs) They pretty much snuck out on me again. Yeah, they did. But I wasn’t mad at all about Girl. I was happy for those dudes.

Chocolate basically came about through Chico. He was the first guy. Paulo got on and through those two dudes is how I got put on. I was skating with Paulo all the time back then anyway. He said they’re gonna start a whole nother company with Girl… let’s do it then. Like I said, I had those suspicions that only made me more excited about this new thing.

Was the impending Chocolate plan the reason why you only had 1 trick in Snuff?

Exactly. That was basically the transition point. I had some other stuff but that was right at the cusp of leaving for Chocolate. Snuff was perfect timing right in the middle of all that.

How did the concept for Paco come about? And how did you like your first foray into acting, Mr. Deniro?

Oh wow. Yeah, it was either Spike or Rick who came up with the idea. I was down. It sounded like fun. Let’s have some more fun. They made it happen and it was cool.

As far as calling it “acting”… well, I guess you could call it that but not really. The thing with Paco is that there actually weren’t any lines for us to learn. They dubbed it all. Remember those old kung-fu movies where people would talk and the mouth would move totally different than the words you’d hear? That’s what they did for us. It was so funny. We really didn’t have any lines because they were going to overdub them for us with other peoples’ voices anyway. Total kung-fu style.

So I just went out there and had fun. It was great time, man.

What was it that got you so motivated for your Paco part?

It just felt good being reunited with Rudy, Guy and Paulo all together again on the same team. That’s pretty much what it was for me. It was a good time. Skateboarding was changing back to where all that flippity-floppity stuff was going away and we were all back together again. It got my juices flowing again. Let’s do it.

How much of an influence did your immediate crew had on your attitude towards coverage? Because it’s not like Guy, Rudy or Paulo were the most productive skaters back then either. Did that have any influence on your outlook towards producing?

Not at all. I never even really noticed those dudes’ coverage actually. I was just kinda off doing my own thing.

“94 and what?”

Basically, “94 and what?” worked out the same way that whole “Tuck My Shirt In” did. It was something to say at the time. It just popped out of nowhere. I’m sitting there and they asked me to say something… so I did. That video part was pretty much 1994 so it just came out. It was supposed to be funny but I keep hearing it. It just stuck. People kept on coming up to me and saying, “And what!” I’ve never really known what to say back. (laughs)

And yeah, I did that throw-up. I went by “Aya” at the time. Guy, Rudy and I were all doing that stuff back then but we didn’t really take it that serious. It was more just fun for us.

So what ended up happening with you and Chocolate in the end? You seemed to have some solid backing from DVS but no Chocolate Tour part and then your board went away not long thereafter. What happened?

Basically, I broke my ankle in ’97 so I was out for a little bit. I was still skating after all that but I honestly didn’t want too much of that footage in the video, know what I mean? Maybe I’ll be in next one. 

The problem was that my situation personally wasn’t that good. I was drinking a lot and that was pretty much the reason why things came to an end the way they did. I was just in a bad place and couldn’t get it under control.  

Did you try for any other sponsors or were you pretty much over it?

Hell no. No way. Chocolate was it for me. If I wasn’t going to ride for Chocolate, then nothing.

The LA Boys obviously share a special bond. Has it been difficult for you to witness some of the personal struggles your friends have gone through over the years?

We will always have that bond. Those guys are my brothers. We’re skate blood brothers and that is ‘til death. And yes, it has been hard to witness some of that stuff first-hand over the years. Definitely.

No one wants to see their friends going through stuff like that.

Did you ever try to step in and intervene? Or did they try to keep it hidden from you?

No, it was pretty out there. I will say that all I did was drink. I’m a drunk. That’s what I would do. But there would be times where I’d be seeing these fools doing that shit, I’d just be standing there like, “Damn, dude.”

I’d try to make them realize but after a while, you get tired of saying that. And at the same time, who am I? I was out there drinking my ass off at the time. Who am I to judge?

Why have the LA Boys run into so many problems over the years?

I think its mainly just that thing called “life”, know what I’m saying? Everyone goes through their ups-and-downs, when they’re pro and even when they’re not. That’s just life, in general. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with success or money. People had personal issues going on and this kinda stuff can happen. Of course.

If you look at it, most of these breakdowns we’re talking about happened in the late-90s. It is what it is.

Why do you think that was?

I don’t think that it really had to anything to do with age or anything like that. It was more or less about skateboarding completely changing around that time.

I remember going up to kids at the time and asking them who their favorite skater was. They’d say Paul Rodriguez. It was always Paul Rodriguez.

I’d start to ask them questions like, “Who is Mark Gonzales? Who is Natas Kaupas?”

I’d ask them who Guy Mariano is.

They’d just be standing there, looking at me like “Who!?!”

Things were changing and we weren’t young anymore. That’s a tough thing for anyone to deal with.

But Guy is still able to hold it down after all he’s been through. His comeback must be inspiring for you to see as one of his oldest friends.

Of course, without a doubt. But the most important thing is that he’s well. Fuck the comeback, as long as he’s better and not where he was. He’s a changed man, a family man now. It’s good to see.

I’ve always said that Guy is the best skater in the world. It’s the truth.

What’s the gnarliest thing you ever saw Guy do that was never filmed or photographed?

Oh wow, that’s a good question.

You know that bank-to-wall in Hollywood that Natas used to do those frontside wallrides where he’d grind the top? I remember Guy doing a blunt to pivot, kickflip in on that thing. And I think we were drunk, too.

I don’t recall seeing that anywhere.

Looking back on everything, do you ever wish you would’ve filmed more during your prime?

Honestly, not too much. I will say that before that first 101 video came out, Natas and I were actually filming some stuff for a video that was supposed to come out before the first one. I had so many tricks from back then. I really did film a lot for that one but none of the footage ever came out. I think Natas might possibly still have it. I’m not sure why that footage was never used.

Do you think a comeback like Guy’s could’ve ever been in the mix for you?

To be honest, I’ve never really been interested in anything like that. I was done, man.

I stillskate, I’m just retired now… even though I’ve actually been skating more now than I have in the last six years. I had to take a break there as I was acting as caregiver for my mom but I’ve been skating a lot as of late. I’m just happy now when I’m able to get out there when I can.

Can’t thank you enough for doing this, Gabriel. Any thing you’d like to add as we wrap this thing up?

I'd just like to thank Rick Howard, Megan Baltimore, Mike Carroll and Spike Jonze for helping me out so much over the years. 


chrome ball interview #86: ishod wair

chops and ishod sit down for some conversation.

Alright Ishod, not sure if this ever got back to you but I interviewed Andrew Reynolds a few months ago and he said that one of his biggest regrets with Baker is not sponsoring you back in the day. How does that make you feel? How did all that happen or, I guess, not happen? Was Baker your thing back then?

Oh man, I didn’t know that. That’s kinda crazy to hear.

Yeah, when Baker 3 came out, I thought that shit was stupid dope. Obviously. My friend Julian was getting flowed stuff from Emerica back then and that whole crew came through on the Wild Ride tour that year. I got to skate some and gave them some footage. They sent me a box with six boards in there. I was stoked as shit! But that ended up being it. Only that one box.

But yeah, damn… that’s pretty crazy for him to say that.

Do you ever trip out on kids handing out footage at contests and demos? Because you were in that exact same boat just a few years ago. Got any pointers for the next generation of sponsor-me’s

Yeah, it does trip me out because you’re right, it really wasn’t that long ago. I think it’s a little different nowadays, though. Kids aren’t just handing you footage to check out anymore. It’s not that easy. Everything’s now on the internet with links and shit. Kids always trying to get your email address now, looking for a way they can reach you because they want to send you stuff.

Honestly, it can get a little awkward. They’ll email you and either want to make small talk with you when you don’t really know them or worse, maybe their footage isn’t really all that good or up to whatever stipulations that are out there. I mean, you don’t want to be mean but at the same time, what are you supposed to do? It definitely can become an awkward situation.

True. So as we're all watching this Push part come together, let’s talk about the surprise new Real video that just dropped, Through and Through. What’s the story with this one? 

To tell the truth, I haven’t even seen it yet. I didn’t even know that’s what it was called until you just said it… Through and Through. Alright.  

I can’t say that I know what to expect in there. We’ve been working on this one for a while but the whole thing kept on changing. I feel like it’s going to be mostly from trips. It was originally going to be a tour video at first and then they changed it to be a full-on Real video with parts and everything but certain people were filming for other stuff.  So I’m not really sure what it is but there’s definitely a new Real video and I’m sure it’s sick! (laughs)

The little bit I saw was incredible. The footage from your Thrasher cover in Kansas City is in there. That rail looks straight-up deadly, man. How’d that one even go down?  

That one was pretty sick. It was the very last spot of that trip and we just wanted to get it. Usually with any trip that I’m on, if I’m trying to skate something, for whatever reason, nobody else ever wants to skate it with me. I don’t know why that is but I usually end up having to skate by myself. But luckily, whenever Kyle (Walker) is around, I basically have a partner there. He’s pretty much always down to skate whatever I want to… which definitely helps. So yeah, he was out there with me. Thanks, Kyle.

But yeah, I kinda ended up tweaking my knee a little bit right when we first got there. That rail had never been skated before and we definitely didn’t want to stick on it because that’s a pretty big drop from up there... so we’re waxing it a little and just checking it out. I tried ollieing the double-set just so I can start getting the feel of it and end up breaking my board, first try.

Peter (Ramondetta) let me use his board. The first thing I try is a lipslide and I just stick. I fly straight to the bottom and hurt my knee. I knew I was hurt and was getting bummed but I decided to keep skating and get it while I still could. I loosened up Pete’s trucks a little bit because they were too tight, put some more wax on the rail and kept going.

The lipslide took a little bit because I kept on bouncing off my board after I’d land. It was just so high. You’d land and compress but end up coming right back up and off your board. It was so frustrating because I thought I’d be rolling away everytime.

I ended up making the lipslide and then Kyle made his front board down it a few tries later. He made it look so easy. That got me hyped so I started thinking about what else I could possibly do on it. I waxed it up again, this time for the wheels and made a tailslide first try. It was kind of a Baker Make because I spun around but at the same time, I had enough speed to ride away. It was almost like a tailslide 270. It was weird because I kinda touched my hands. Peter’s trucks are way tighter than mine so normally I’d just turn to compensate but on Peter’s board, the trucks just stopped. I fell over a bit and touched but at the same time, spun around and somehow kept rolling.

I felt kinda weird because my hands touched the ground but everyone felt that it was a good enough make. I tried it a couple more times after that and I’m not sure if I was over it or I ended up breaking his board as well, but that first one was the make. Nobody knew why I even was trying it again. That’s how it goes sometimes.

What’s your process like with making video parts? Obviously something like Chronicles 2 and Push are gonna be a bit different but what about these smaller, independent videos you’ve been in, like Paych and the Sabotage videos? Is that just you out skating with the homies whenever you’re back East? How involved are you with the making of these things? Like, are you picking out the songs, making lists and checking out edits?

Each one is a little different. I mean, I wasn’t really too involved with Paych but with the Sabotage videos, I was definitely picking out songs and having him send me edits. I made a couple of changes there, for sure.

I’ve been so busy lately that filming stuff like that has been a little harder to do. Sitting on a plane going back and forth when I’d rather be out skating and shit. But yeah, kinda like what you said, those sorta things just come from being at home and skating like normal.

What’s the timespan for those smaller projects typically? Just a couple days or so?

Again, it kinda depends. The Paych stuff was probably 3 or 4 days in total. Definitely less than a week of skating. You know how it is, we were in New York and there’s a ton of spots out there. You just skate from spot to spot. Hit up one spot, get kicked out and go on to the next one, always having the camera out. You end up getting a lot of stuff that way.

With Sabotage 3, I’d just always be out filming. I’d come home from trips and skate with Penny, next thing I knew, I had enough footage for a part. It’s weird how it happened because I’d only skate with him for maybe 2 days at a time but that was spaced out over the course of months. Sabotage 4 was a little different, though.

If there is someone around with a camera, I can usually film a part really fast. I just like going out skating and I don’t mind there being a camera on me so it’s pretty simple. I skate all the time.

Right now, I’m dealing with this Berrics Push thing. We have this deadline now when our parts are due and I honestly haven’t skated with the person I’m supposed to be filming with for a month. So that project has actually been a little hard just because I never see the filmer. It has to be with the Red Camera. If that dude would’ve been around, I would’ve filmed that thing by now, no problem. We’ll get it though. 

Last Thanksgiving, you dropped two video parts in the same weekend (ECVX14 and Paych)… did you know that was going down like that beforehand? I know you're working on multiple projects right now, is it hard to keep all these different video parts straight… like who has what footage and when everything is coming out? 

I don’t really film with that many people so I usually know who filmed what. If I’m in New York, I’m with Johnny, who made Paych. In Philly, I’m with Penny or Mulhearn and in California, I live with my friend Ant Travis. I’ll usually film with him or some Nike dudes. Those are the usual guys.

But no, I definitely didn’t know both those parts were going to come out in the same weekend. I didn’t really think about it too much until it just kinda happened.

The ECVX part came about from having a bunch of footage with Penny. He wanted to keep some of it for Sabatoge 4 because he didn’t know if I’d have enough stuff for it… but I wanted that footage out. At that point Sabotage 4 wasn’t gonna be out for another year.

That always seems to happen every time I film with someone, they always end up wanting to hold on to it for whatever reason. It drives me crazy because then stuff will get to a certain point where I feel it’s too old and then I won’t like it anymore. I’d much rather just put the footage out now and go back to film some more stuff later. With Sabotage 4 not coming out until a year later, that footage wouldn’t haven even been of that same point in time. I don’t really want stuff in there from last year. It’s not that much of a problem but if I can get it out earlier, I’d rather do that. So that’s ECVX.

You’re not one to hoard 5 years of footage to put towards some big video part?

Nah, I’ll just film some more shit. I’d like to be able to do that but I never really have the ideal situation to make that happen.

I feel like people in California can skate with the same person every single solitary day and just stack footage. I have obligations with different projects where I can’t do that. Nike needs HD, Berrics needs Red Camera, I personally want VX… but I’m not even home all that much to where I can really film with those guys like that. And when I do, I’m not always trying to jump off a building either. When I’m home, I usually just want to try and kick it… skate some ledges, skate some tranny. I’ll jump off some shit if need be but I’m usually not trying to go ham when I’m finally home. I usually reserve that kinda shit to when I’m on trips, where everything is a bit more focused.

So many video parts already in such a short span of time, do you have a personal favorite?

I’ve had a bunch, for sure, and I like different aspects about each of them. Not exactly sure if I can pick a favorite…

Alright, what’s the one you show that one Aunt at family get-togethers when she asks what you do?

I’d probably show her the Nike part because I’m doing bigger stuff there. I think it translates better to non-skaters because the stuff looks a little crazier.

But if I had to pick my personal favorite, it would probably be Sabotage 3. I really liked that one because it was such a fun period for me. I lived 4 or 5 blocks away from Love and I didn’t have as much to do back then. It wasn’t totally crazy yet like it is now. I could still be at home for a few weeks during the summer and skate, like normal.

It was the best. Walk out of my house, roll down to Love and skate until the cops came. Roll back to my house, take a shower and drink a juice while I wait to hear if the cops left yet. I was 5 blocks away so I just went back and forth all day. It was so easy and just a fun time in the summer. Skating everywhere because it was so nice out.

One thing your parts are known for are these long, flowing lines. What do you want in your lines or like to see in other people’s lines? For example, you’ve mentioned liking Donovon Piscopo’s lines, what makes his stand out to you?

I don’t know, man. I mean, you can do a two-trick line and it’s cool. I feel like it’s just in the way that someone does something. It’s how you approach it, which probably has more to do with overall style, I guess. You can definitely see a lot more of that person’s style in a line versus just a single trick. You see them push and how they set up for whatever trick they trying to do.  

How much of your lines are planned versus improvised? Maybe go for two tricks then freestyle it from there?

My lines usually come from just skating around a spot, looking at stuff and doing whatever. I’ll start trying tricks and lines can just grow out of that. Figuring out what you can do into something else. Something will pop in my head that I think might be cool and I’ll want to try it.

One thing is that usually filmers don’t want to go blind. They’ll want to know what you’re planning so they can know what side they want to be on. They want to be able to film everything the best they can so being able to prepare definitely helps the thing. They’re don’t want to just be pointing a camera at you from wherever.  

The line I’m really thinking about here is in Sabotage 3 where you do a ledge line, wallie a bin and then, seemingly out of nowhere, kickflip the Love Gap. That last move really caught me by surprise but I can’t imagine you doing that just on a whim though…

It definitely wasn’t planned prior to that night. I just kinda thought of it while I was there but it wasn’t, like, first try or anything. I had to try that one for a bit. Again, we were just skating around and it just popped in my head. Might as well try it.

Things must’ve been going good because I have two other lines in that part from the same night. That line with the kickflip into the Gap was the third one. It was just a really nice summer night, skating around Love Park. The moon was out so everything was really bright out and you could see really well. It was so sick. Penny was down to keep filming and we weren’t getting kicked out so we just kept getting more and more stuff.

The switch kickflip down the Love Gap definitely broke you out a bit at the time. Was that one a battle for you? Did you realize at the time you were doing it that it would be some pretty legendary shit? Because there’s some history there with that one…

Yeah, it was a pretty big battle for that one. I actually tried it a few seperate times but we’d always get kicked out everytime. The time I landed it, it must’ve taken an hour or so to finally do it but I probably only tried maybe fifteen times that day. That’s not really that many tries but I was just so tired from it. I’d mess up pushing or hit a crack, someone would walk in front of me. Something like that. But yeah, it was definitely a battle.

I know you also switch frontside bigspinned it… anything else you’re thinking about?

Yeah, I tried nollieing it once and stuck. I’d like to do that. My friend was trying to get me to do some other stuff down it but I don’t know. If I’m not feeling it, even if the fountain is drained, I’m not gonna skate it. I’ve done a few tricks down it already…

How come you’ve never really tried anything down Wallenberg other that one Bust of Bail with the switch flip?

I did go back a little bit ago actually. I happened to be in SF to film for the Push thing and Wallenberg came up. I didn’t really want to skate there and it kinda bummed me out. I was just trying to get lines but some other people wanted to go so I went.

I was only in SF for 2 weeks or so and I didn’t want to bruise my heels for the rest of the trip but tried some front heels. I was actually catching them and everything but it was kinda windy. I just stopped… even though I ended up bruising my heels anyway. Should’ve saved that one for later.

You’ve definitely carried the Love torch in recent years. How big of an influence was that whole scene on you growing up? I know you’re from just across the river in Jersey, did you know about that scene at all back then or at least aware of its history over the years?

Honestly, when I first started out, I didn’t know anything about it. I was so young, I didn’t realize all that stuff was so close.

I started going out to Philly when I was 15… I couldn’t have known anything about that scene too long before that. It’s pretty crazy how I didn’t even know what was going on. My mom never bought me skate magazines or videos so I always had to piece things together through what I saw with other people. I feel like I started kinda figuring things out when I saw Ricky Oyola at a demo this one time. That’s probably when Love Park really started to become a thing for me.

I definitely remember the first time I ever went to skate Love Park because it was on my Mom’s birthday and I definitely was not allowed to be going over there. But I was so blown away by it. It just seemed so crazy. I was so young that I actually went up to another skater at the park and asking if we were allowed to skate there.

“Well, not really… but yeah.”

That’s how young I was. And honestly, I’m pretty sure that dude was Bobby Puleo. I was there for this random line he filmed that day which I’ve seen later on in footage. I knew what it was the second I saw it. I’m almost positive.

That’s amazing. So would you say you’re more of Josh and Stevie guy or a Ricky/Underachievers guy when it comes to Love Park political lines?

Hmmm… I’m probably more on the Stevie and Josh side of things. Just because I definitely watched the DC Video a ton back in the day and really liked Stevie Williams.

As a young skate rat watching videos and dreaming about California, what’s one classic spot that you always wanted to skate that you actually ended up hating once you got out there?

Oh man, I’d probably have say every schoolyard out there. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong schools but those picnic tables and benches… I don’t know how people skate them. I mean, some of those benches are cool but for a lot of them, they bend all weird when you get on them. They just don’t work.

As far as picnic tables go, you can’t really noseslide them. Your wheels always get wedged underneath. It drives me crazy. It’s actually become this thing where everytime I go to a schoolyard, I feel like I have to try noseslide tricks on picnic tables. I have to do it because it’s in my head that I can’t. But my shit always gets wedged. It’s crazy.

Maybe I’m just not used to them. Maybe I need to skate those “little picnic table” schools more or something.

Well, when I interviewed Kalis, he gave the exact same response. He hates those tables, too. So you’re in good company.

That’s good to know actually.

Love heads don’t like Cali picnic tables. So talk a little about your first few years being on Real. You climbed through the ranks so quickly, all of sudden, you were on Fourstar, Nike and then pro almost overnight. I gotta ask, were certain teammates kinda bummed on your shine back then? Did any of that serve to fuel your banger Since Day One part at all or were you just trying to skate…

I gotta admit that I felt weird about how everything went down. I knew that I was the new guy on the team and how fast this was going. I mean, it was weird how I even got on the team to begin with. They asked me out to California and I was originally only supposed to be there for a month and a half. I ended up staying for 3 months. I stayed in Sacramento for a while then headed out to San Francisco and this was all during my last year of high school. I actually started getting so busy with skating that I didn’t even end up finishing school. It just became this thing where they kept wanting me to stay longer and longer, which led to the possibility of me filming a video part… I wasn’t even totally on the team yet, still only “kinda”.

So I filmed a bunch and headed home... but I’m still only kinda on the team. That went on for a while. But I just kept going on more and more trips, getting in deeper with everything.

Since Day One came out and I didn’t understand how it made sense that I could turn pro kinda outta nowhere. I felt weird about it because I knew certain people had been on the team longer than me who were absolutely killing it. Looking back on everything now, it does seem kinda obvious with how everything was set up but I was just so oblivious to it all. It honestly didn’t make any sense to me back then.

I mean, even now, I don’t know why Robbie Brockel isn’t pro. He’s been on the team forever and just fucks it up.

But it’s gotta be weird position for you to be in, when you’re really just trying to be out there doing your thing. Was there any type of hazing in the van back in the day?

I feel like when I first got on the team, Jake (Donnelly) definitely fucked with me a lot because I was the new-new guy. Justin Brock always held me down but people definitely made comments about how I was always skating a lot. I remember one time when Chima was hating on me, calling me a “show-off”.

I was just trying to skate. Now that they know me, they understand that’s just how I am but back then, people were kinda bummed on me for skating as much as I do. They thought I was out there trying to skate for different reasons other than I just like to do it.

Any regrets as the young hyper kid on tour? Most important lesson you’ve learned on the road?

That’s actually a hard one to answer because everyone is different. Every situation is different. Different people react to different things and what might be okay on one trip may not be on another. I could tell you just to keep your mouth shut but at the same time, if you’re too quiet then people will probably start thinking you’re some type of weirdo. (laughs)

Just be yourself, I guess.

Describe how you went about filming your Chronicles 2 part? You were essentially a man on a mission for that one. I mean, let’s face it: 20 minutes of footage in 2 years is insane.

We went on a bunch of trips to all of these amazing spots so, of course, I’m gonna try to get out there and skate. I just skated everything that I could, as much as I could. It wasn’t like some thought out thing. I just went about things like that the whole time, skating as much as possible, so I was bound to end up with a lot of footage.

Even when we weren’t on trips, I was staying at Scuba’s a lot anyway, which was always super dope. I got to film with Jason a lot more that way, too.

I never really make trick lists or anything and I honestly get kinda bummed when filmers plan out my day for me. I’d much rather just be randomly taken to a spot. If I like it, I’ll skate it. If I don’t, we’ll see what happens. But I don’t like going to a spot in order to try specific tricks. Sometimes it will go like that but things seems to happen better for me when it’s spontaneous. Just like when you’re a kid skating around the city and you stumble upon something. That gets you stoked. I feel like that’s when my wheels turn the best is when you’re not really making some big deal out of it.

I feel like that’s why I tend to get more lines when I’m out in Philly. I’ll be out in the City riding around, doing that exact type of thing. That’s what I like most.

I think it definitely shows in the footage as well. Chronicles 2 did get you SOTY honors but were you pleased overall with how that part came out? I know you got hurt in the last few months of filming and previously felt like you didn’t get your Ender-Ender? Do you still feel like that?

Honestly, yes. There was a ton of stuff that I still wanted to do for that one. I got hurt 3 months before the video ended. 3 months! That’s a long time!

That’s probably right when you were planning to really go off, right?

You’re right and there was nothing I could do about it. I like that part but at the same time, I know I could’ve done more. Because of that injury and not being able to skate those last 3 months, I did feel weird about having last part in the video. I mean, that’s crunchtime! That stuff is crucial and here I am, not even being able to skate. I hated it. Like, when I did my last trick, I really didn’t think that was going to be my last trick, you know?

The kickflip backlip down that double-kink?

At the time, I knew that was the best thing that I did but I still wanted to do so much more. You gotta aim high!

(laughs) One of my favorite clips is actually the one before that, how did the switch frontside blunt on Clipper go down? Was that just one trip or did you have to go back for that? So gnarly.

Yeah, that was one trip. I think that was a day or two after I did the kickflip backlip. I knew we were on one for those couple days and I’d already been talking to Jason about going to San Francisco. Once I got that kickflip backlip, we decided to drive up there and make it happen.

Did it come pretty quick?

I did a bunch of tricks that day just to get used to it. I remember when we first rolled up, there was a hockey game going on so we went and warmed up at this other spot for a while. Some nice ladies had told us when the game was gonna be over so we knew when to come back.

I did a nollie noseslide on it, a kickflip noseslide, a switch tail and then I wallie 180’d over it before I started trying that switch front blunt. The first one I actually tried, I got into but the thing is so round that I slid diagonally across the hubba. By the time I got to the end of the hubba, I was actually at the other opposite corner of it on the far side. Holy shit! But I kept trying it and the angle lessened every go. The more I tried, the more I stayed on the edge each time.

I remember one time walking back up and realizing that it finally wasn’t windy. That’s the one I landed. It was kinda windy the whole time I was trying it but I specifically remember this one time being very calm. No wind at all. That’s the one that worked.

The classic downfall with most pro skaters: madness. Anything you can speak on? Good luck charms or set-up weirdness?

Nah, I don’t really have any madness. If anything, if a trick is having trouble for me and I’ve been trying it for long enough, I tend to get in a groove. You know what I mean? You start at this point, you go this fast, you pop here… it just becomes this same thing you do everytime. It’s not really madness but I end up needing these certain things to happen that develop over the course of trying the trick that day. I can’t go unless it’s in that groove.

Speaking of grooves, how did you get introduced to those Everslick bottoms that you’ve been rocking as of late on your boards?

Real made a run of these decks called Popslickles that had the plastic on the bottom. I felt like whenever those boards were pressed, they were a little bit steeper generally. I wasn’t really into that at first but I ended up trying one and thought it was so dope. Holy shit.

I always had trouble with kickflipping out of tailslides because I’d have all of my weight on the ledge. Whenever I’d go to press down in order to pop, I always stuck. But with these boards, there’s way less resistance. You don’t even need to wax as much as you usually do… or you can just go ahead and put all your weight on the ledge. It’s so dope.

I really hate sticking. I really hate it bad, so I tend to wax a lot. Some people get mad at me for it  a lot of times, but you don’t even have to worry about sticking with these.

Damn, you’re selling me on ‘em!

The thing with me is that I’d much rather slip out than stick because you can see it coming. You can feel a slip out coming just with how your weight is… you know when you’re not in it right. When you stick, you think you’re gonna go and you just get tossed. I can’t stand it.

I read in a recent article were you said that you often worry about skateboarding as a whole. What kind of things do you worry about? And as one of the most popular pros in the industry today, what power do you feel like you have to possibly change things?

I mean, that’s the whole thing with me is that I don’t really know where skateboarding is going. It’s going in all these different directions and who’s to know if those are gonna be good or bad? There’s no way of knowing how things are going to turn out, so how can you change it? Only time will tell.

My thing is that I feel kids don’t necessarily see skateboarding the same as how it was when you were a kid or even when I was young. I feel like there was a turning point in the last couple years where contests have become such a big part of skateboarding now. Kids come up to me all the time just to talk about contests. That’s dope and all, but when I was a kid, I wasn’t really paying any attention to that stuff. It was more about how someone’s interview was sick or how good their last video part was. The people that you look up to, you wanted to go out and be filming in the streets just like how you see them skating. Like P-Rod back in the day skating spots, I wanted to film myself at spots just like that dude. Being a kid, riding around, skating just like him.

Nowadays, it’s like kids are seeing that guy at contests and they’re not trying to be like him, they’re trying to be on his level and beat him! They want that limelight. They want to win.  

That’s pretty real, man. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong or right necessarily. I just feel like, in general, it’s a very different way of thinking. Things are just different than how they used to be.

I have always wondered where these contests fit in with you. You always do well, even when you're throwing up mid-run, but you definitely seem more like you’re sessioning the course versus taking any sort of competitive agenda.  How seriously do you take all that stuff?

Honestly, a lot of the time, I’m just stoked on being able to skate new shit. That happens a lot where I’m out there skating obstacles while everyone else is putting together a run and when the contest actually starts, I’ll have no idea what I’m going to do. I usually just have to figure something out real quick. It’s really hard for me to get into that competitive mindstate. I used to be really competitive when I was younger, to the point where it bummed people out. I think that just comes with being a kid because I’ve definitely lost that as I’ve gotten older.

I mean, especially over the last few years, I’m out there skating with people that I’ve looked up to for a long time. People that I grew up watching. It’s really hard to be competitive with those type dudes because in the back of your head, you still can’t believe you’re even skating with them in the first place. You’re just trying to skate and have fun while also watching them skate. That’s how I’d rather go about contests instead of thinking about “winning” the whole time. Thinking about putting together some ultimate run and winning! I mean, everybody wants to win, of course, but it’s hard for me to really get into it like that.

You’re an old soul, homie, and I can’t thank you enough for doing this. So as we wrap this up, what’s next for you? Sabotage 4 and I know you’re the end of this Push project but what’s after that? What else can we look forward to in the future?

Like you said, I’m just trying to finish this Push part right now. After that, I’m just trying to keep skating with good people. Try to stay healthy and keep it going. That’s really my only project right now: keep it going.

Thanks to Jim Thiebaud, KVL, Kurt Hayashi, Dom Travis and Ishod.

Through and Through is now live.