By Rob Brink
Last weekend, Chris Cole played a huge part in making one of the greatest contests in skateboarding history, just that—one of the greatest contests in skateboarding history. But, with the Maloof Money Cup ’09 title, $100 grand and a new Les Paul under his belt, Cole only has about a week to recover and relax from the intensity that was the MMC before shipping out to Boston for his first-ever attempt at the Dew Tour contest, against Dew veterans like Lutzka, Sheckler, Chaz Ortiz and former Maloof Money Cup champ, Paul Rodriguez.
Whilst making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his son Wyatt, and strumming his new guitar, Cole took a few minutes to talk to us about his Maloof experience, his soon-to-be Dew Tour experience and the state of the skateboarding industry in general.
How much of the 100 grand that you won at Maloof do you lose to taxes?
I didn’t even add it up yet but it’s a pretty good amount. It’s probably like 30 grand or more.
Seems like every time you win a contest these days you end up getting another guitar for your collection. How many does that make in your collection now?
Like high 20’s maybe 30’s. I was actually playing the one I won at Maloof when you called, but yeah, most of them I have in storage. Right now I have seven out.
So when you win a new one is it like a new toy? Are you like, “Oh I wanna get home and play with this?”
Yeah, totally. I came home and it was really busy for the first couple days, but right when I got around to tuning it and stuff, I started playing it. I don’t have a Les Paul as of now, I have an Epiphone, which is like an early Les Paul, it’s a little different but it’s pretty cool to play this one. It sounds totally different. It’s a pretty guitar.
So when you’re out there skating a contest like Maloof for that much money, how much of you is thinking about winning versus having fun on the course and skating with people?
It’s almost like a “self contest” where you’re like, “How much stuff can I get done as fast as possible? Can I make all of it? “How fast can I make it and how good can I make it?” And then it’s almost like, you’re not bummed if you don’t win because of the money or because of anything except you’ll be bummed that you didn’t do your best. ‘Cause if you do your best and you didn’t win that’s fine. I was out there and I had an awesome time.
Well it’s interesting that you say that because when you started the first heat in the finals, you rifled out like 30 tricks within a minute and a half. It was gnarly.
You only have a little bit and everybody is going for it. They’re not gonna let up so you can’t either. When your heat alone… just your heat… is P-Rod, Sheckler, Nyjah and Malto, how do you slow up? ‘Cause they’re gonna be right behind you with those switch kickflip back tails on the rail.
I always think the first burst is so funny, ‘cause you have either five dudes all land a trick in a row or it’s a jumbled mess…
It’s like a car crash. Yeah, it’s actually really funny. It’s almost like you see the dudes too… when you’re standing up there and they’re like, “Let’s count it down! Nine, eight, seven…” and like right when they get to “four” everybody is like pumping their front knee, like, “How long is it gonna take me to ride to the obstacle?” So right at “one” the dudes wanna be about to pop their first trick.
As far as Maloof is concerned, what is the funnest part of that contest for you?
Honestly, warming up for the contest is the funnest part because you get to skate this totally awesome setup and you’re pumped and you’re motivated to rip. So it’s almost like you’re doing a demo on this totally awesome course…
Except that you don’t have to impress anyone like you do at a demo?
Yeah, I do Unfortunately.
During warm ups?
Yeah, always. It’s almost like first impressions... Kids are there all day. There were so many people there before the contest even started. This sounds like a “goody two shoes” answer, but the reason I even skate the thing as hard as I do is because I want to win the contest, but also because I wanna skate super hard for everybody that showed up. Like a demo.
Oh, that’s rad.
They’re sitting in the heat too. If I’m just sitting there and kicking it on my board acting like I’m too cool for this thing or not trying, it just does a disservice to them and myself.
For sure. So, as a fan of other skaters, when you’re at something like Maloof who are you watching and getting psyched on?
Well, all those contest dudes rip. I mean they’re undeniably good. But Paul Rodriguez, the way he skates, like his style and the tricks that he does, to me, are really hard. First go. Switch heel switch manual. And things like switch back tails on the hubbas first go. I’m really impressed by that. I love to watch it. I also love to watch Lutzka, I like that he’s so talented turning frontside. Frontside seems retarded to me. Like, to do a frontside 270 noseblunt seems crazy to me. To do a switch frontside 270 to bluntslide seems way more logical to me. Because that’s the way my body turns.
I can see that.
But with how much ease he has. Maloof is awesome because you get to see other dudes you don’t usually see. Because I’m gonna see Sheckler and P-Rod and Lutzka and everyone like always… but to see Tommy Guns; to see Ramondetta, and Dennis and Pete Eldridge.
It’s like a surprise… a real treat.
Yeah, and I was rooting for Pete from the beginning too. “Like, you gotta get this dude in! Vote him in!” And he got the wild card and got in, I was psyched.
It was also sick to see people like Mike Vallely out there too. Because Mike’s not out there to win the contest. He’s out there to represent his style. While everybody might be getting a taste of skateboarding regularly, they’re not getting a taste of his side of skateboarding. I thought that it was cool that he came out and showed people there’s a different type.
Yeah, for sure. I thought that was a good segway coming from The Battle at The Berrics match with you.
Yeah, exactly. I think it’s really rad and different. He’s coming into what everybody else is doing, but doing it his way. I think that’s sick.
Prior to the Maloof or Wallenberg or any big contest? Do you have an interaction with Jamie Thomas? Is there any sort of conversations or pep talks or anything like that?
Yeah, I know what you mean, almost like coach-style.
Yeah, but not so jockish…
Yeah… no we don’t. I didn’t talk to him for a couple days prior to Maloof and he’s definitely a good person to talk to about that stuff. But it’s not something that we normally do. I usually try to talk to nobody. Something like Maloof where you know everyone is bringing the heat… the more someone talks about it, the more nerve-wracking it is. That’s kind of hard. My family… my in-laws were in town, and they’re awesome, but they’re so awesome that they’re trying to accommodate me make me feel good and they’re like “How do you feel? Would you like us to make you breakfast?”
And I’m like, “That’s awesome, but let’s just pretend it’s not happening.” I Just don’t want to be bombarded and pampered before the thing.
Where does something like Maloof rank as far as a proud moment with you?
Well, it’s almost like, as time goes by there’s things that lessen or increase in your mind depending on the day. Some days I’m like, “It’s cool, I won the X Games!” And other days it’s kind of surreal. Like one point in my life I was able to do it. Even if I’m not able to tomorrow, at some point in my life I was… and without the use of steroids. [Laughs].
I was thinking back to early footage of you, maybe eight or nine years ago. At City Hall in Philly. Your World Industries days. Would you ever have thought back then that you would be on this level? You win this contest and you’re on the phone afterwards for days, for lack of a better term, doing press with people like me…
No, that really never, ever occurred to me. I didn’t even think that that was like…
It didn’t even exist back then.
Exactly, there wasn’t even an option. Skateboarding is a legitimate sport almost like basketball and football and baseball now.
So you’re headed to dew tour next weekend? This will be like your first time skating Dew Tour and I hear that there are a lot other of dudes that haven’t been in it. Busenitz and Dompierre and you will be joining the regulars like, Sheckler, Chaz, Lutzka and P-Rod.
Oh, really? That’s awesome.
So how did it come about? Dew Tour has been around for a while now.
Well, you know what? I was never invited.
Oh, is that all it was?
It’s funny; people are like, “Oh, how come you didn’t do the Dew Tour? And I’m like, “I never knew when it was.” But then I actually thought about it… skateboarding as a whole, you need to support it. And you can wish that skateboarding was better off and the economy wasn’t hurting skateboarding so bad…
I think we’re kind of getting to a point where you have to accept that skateboarding has changed and you cant just keep crying about who’s going into the X Games and who is “keeping it real.”
You know what? I feel that way too, and I’m actually very surprised that you said that ‘cause I’ve had that conversation a couple of times recently.
I’ve always turned my back on non-skateboarding sponsorships and drink sponsors and things like that, and you know the hats that everybody wears to promote their drink sponsors at contests? I see kids wearing them on the streets or in Target and I’m like, “That hat is what people wear to get paid.”
And then I realize that skateboarding has changed. These kids are growing up now and they don’t know any difference between the old school core and dudes wearing big logos. I still don’t wanna wear a big logo on the front of my body that I don’t really believe in. Like something I don’t even like the taste of… but I mean, having a sponsorship from someone who is willing to put money into skateboarding is a pretty good deal, and to walk away from that to quote unquote “keep it real…” well you end up keeping it real for the dudes on the message boards that don’t buy anything. And they’re like “Hey, remember that guy? He was tight, what’s he doing? Oh, he’s a road rep now for some company.”
I remember I really liked a couple skateboarders back when I was coming up and I asked a couple of people, “Where the hell is that guy?” And they’re like, “Oh, well he’s our sales rep. He calls us up and sees if we need any stuff,” and I’m like, “Dang! That dude was sick too! He didn’t make any money from skating. He didn’t make any to invest… nothing.”
I’m always shocked at the ex-pros that I meet, that work at all the skate companies… I’m like, “God, I sweated your video part so hard when I was 14.”
And they’re so humbled by that. Or most of them, because they’re like, “No way man, really?” They didn’t get compensated for it back then, you know what I mean?”
I guess we’re the last generation to see the actual core world. But I think anyone who can’t accept it now is just gonna suffer business-wise. I see companies that people would consider “mainstream” doing more for skating or just as much as the supposed “core” companies.
Oh, absolutely. I totally agree. And I think it’s important to keep mom and pop skate shops around. But there’s definitely a line between selling out and getting paid for doing what you love. And if somebody wants to put some money into skateboarding, I’ll take it. I don’t have to do something that I feel is compromising and that I’m spreading myself too thin, or I just feel embarrassed about. And you know what I’m talking about… some of those things have to be off the record, but a couple of those fools, it’s harsh when you’re watching it and you’re like, “I wanna quit skating right now.”
It’s like that shirt: “I love skateboarding so much I want it to die.” It’s like that push and pull, love and hate about how I feel about skateboarding on any given day, depending what I’m watching.
Oh, absolutely. When you see some dudes, or some stuff… or when you see actors pretending to be hardcore skaters… but they’re like, super pretty actors, I’m like, “I don’t know how I feel about that.”
Second hand embarrassment.
I love "The Office," but sometimes I gotta turn away cause the second hand embarrassment is so bad it’s just I wish I could disappear… like I wasn’t watching it.
So you’re looking at X Games, and four or five other big Dew Tour contests in the next two or three months?
Yeah, it’s pretty gnarly. It’s gnarly to come off of Wallenberg and try to skate like a normal professional skateboarder. I go out and try to shoot photos and get some tricks for the videos im working on or whatever and then go to the Maloof and then one week after that go into Dew Tour and then it’s X Games and then it’s Dew Tour again… it’s pretty gnarly. I didn’t really think about that when I planned out my summer. ‘Cause I jammed it. I have a Cayman Islands trip this week and then those contests and some stuff at Woodward East.
That’s another conversation I’m constantly having… I cant say no to going on tours. It’s completely exhausting, but hard to say no.
Oh absolutely. And how long are you gonna be compensated for traveling the world? You’re like, “Okay, where are we going?” And if it’s like Australia, you’re like, “Well, I’ve been to Australia six times.” So that’s something you might pass up, But like Japan, I haven’t been to Japan in six years or maybe more…
And you certainly don’t wanna spend out of your own pocket when someone is willing to send you.
Oh my goodness, yeah. Imagine that. Imagine paying for the flight to Japan, just because you wanted to go, that’s like unheard of…
It’s like a few grand.
Yeah, just breaking the bank to get there. Especially after all these years of having someone fly you there, you’re like, “Wait, how much is that?” I lose track of how much I spend because I fly my family. Like we fly back and forth from the East Coast a lot. Plane tickets aren’t getting any cheaper, I’ll tell you that. Well, they try to pretend they’re cheaper and then they charge you per bag.
Last question and I’m gonna let you go eat peanut butter and jelly with Wyatt. Do you think the Maloof Money Cup was the catalyst for things like the X Games and Dew Tour changing up their courses, formats, list of riders and obviously their prize purses?
I think that those things wouldn’t have changed if someone hadn’t stepped up to the table. Because skateboarders are gonna skate for peanuts and corporate America will give you just that. They’ll give you peanuts, and you can sit back and battle and argue with corporate America as much as you want. But if you’re gonna show up and skate for a bad course and whatever else, they’re gonna continue to do it.
So for the Maloof brothers to step up before anybody had to like, boycott and freak out and make a big stink out of it… They just stepped in and said “We’re gonna do something awesome.” And I’m not one of those dudes that’s kissing their butt because I’m a basketball fan or because they have money… but I think that what they do is awesome. I think that they knocked it out of the park.