New Jack: Ben Hatchell
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, October 2010
Interview conducted October 2009
After surveying many powerful and important people in the skateboarding industry, the general consensus is that Ben Hatchell’s part in Powell’s 2009 release, Fun, is officially awesome and ridiculous.
In 2008, Ben won Tampa Am Vert and placed second in Street. In the last two street-centric decades of skateboarding, that’s not something many up-and-comers like himself (or even pros) have accomplished. In 2009 Ben won the Make-A –Wish bowl contest. Early this year he placed second in Tampa Am Street … again.
He will cab flip a pyramid nearly every try and never misses blunt kickflips out. Pretty enviable, kinda like Ben’s newly-acquired spot on the Zero team is.
"Ben's in his own world, he doesn't get caught with who's done what and what's cool like most people in his position. He just simply wants to skate with his friends in Virginia, which is admirable. I've never seen anyone be so mellow, yet so gnarly. I just hope his body can hold up to the carnage he has in store for it."
So Ben, I hear you didn’t even know you had an interview coming.
I don’t have a "New Jack" do I?
You do actually.
Really? Shit! That’s awesome. I probably should’ve known that.
You get super bummed if people mistake you for being from West Virginia, huh?
Yeah, I mean, I’m not trying to talk major shit on West Virginia, but if you’re from Virginia you know it’s just redneck territory over there. Inbreeds and stuff … so you probably shouldn’t go down there.
Do you know that Virginia is considered the Internet capital of the world?
Really? I had no idea.
Do you know what the official beverage of the state of Virginia is?
Really? That’s weird.
Do you drink a lot of milk?
Not really, I probably should though.
Do you know what the state bird of Virginia is?
I’d have to guess the Cardinal.
You’re right! Where did you get your nickname?
Oh man. Big Black Benjamins? I used to try to act hood and it just kind of stuck.
I think a lot of white people went through that phase. Does skating vert enhance your street skating?
For sure. Whenever you skate ramps you have to be more in control because you’re going so fast.
In 2008, you won Tampa Am vert. If you were to enter that same vert contest today, would you win?
I haven’t ridden vert in a while. I’m probably rusty. The closest ramp is like three and a half hours from me.
You and Powell broke up not too long ago …
I guess. I was talking to a few different people who were throwing offers my way and told Powell about it and they weren’t too psyched, so they let me go. I wasn’t repping the brand as hard as I should. I’m still friends with all those dudes though.
I heard you were at Woodward doing pressure flip melons down a triple set when they first hooked you up.
Yeah, I used to do some circus tricks. But then Deville (Powell TM) told me I wasn’t allowed to do those anymore.
Could you still throw one down if you needed to?
Probably. I’ve been doing them forever.
And so how did Zero come about?
After the Powell thing ended, Deville and Jared (Bones Wheels TM) sent some of my footage to Jamie Thomas and he started flowing me some boards. I don’t know if I’m officially on yet, but I’m working on a part for the next video and I’ve been going on trips. It’s pretty cool.
Is it true you didn’t really grow up watching many skate videos or reading mags?
Yeah. Deville would sit me down to school me with a bunch of skate videos and I thought they were crazy.
He gave you a bunch of homework to do?
Yeah, I guess.
If you’re not watching videos or reading mags and websites like most kids, how do you learn about skateboarding?
I guess it came from my friends. I hung around a whole bunch of kids that were really good. Eventually I watched all the videos and just had a better idea of what I should be doing.
Do you think not knowing what’s out there had a positive effect on your skating? Maybe you weren’t limited or inhibited by knowing what’s supposedly “cool” or not “cool”?
Maybe it made me skate a little differently, but if I didn’t watch skate videos and learn a bit, I’d probably still be doing pressure flip melons.
Good point. What’s your favorite YouTube video of the moment?
“Scarlet takes a tumble” is pretty funny.
Is that the one with the fat chick dancing on the table?
Yeah, that huge chick is singing the song and all of a sudden she put’s her foot on the edge of the table and it flips over and she eats shit.
Just floundering around on the ground moaning … that’s a good one.
How about the time you were out in Cali and woke up to a hundred missed calls from your girlfriend?
Oh man. Long story. I was dating this girl and we were having some problems and she blew my phone up one morning. 117 missed calls. Then, the following day, and I have no idea how this happened, but I had 117 missed calls again. I dunno if she picked that number specifically or something. It was weird.
117 calls two days in a row? Is she psycho?
No, we were in a fight. She was super pissed and trying to break up or something.
And you have a thing for Hannah Montana?
Yeah. She’s hot.
Is that why your girl was jealous and called you 234 times?
I guess. Sometimes I’d get mad at her and tell her Hannah Montana is hot and she’d get kinda bummed.
Do you like Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus better?
Um … they’re both hot, but I think she might be hotter when she’s Hannah. I’m kind of into blondes. What do you think?
I think I’ve only seen her as Miley Cyrus but she’s cute for sure. Maybe I should Google it right now.
You probably should. She looks good as a brunette. But the blonde is hot and she looks good with a bunch of makeup.
Okay I see her now. I think she’s hotter as a blonde, but cuter as a brunette.
Yeah, I could see that. She’s a lot more wholesome as a brunette.
And you were in a movie with her?
Yeah. There was a weekend where they were trying to film a vert scene on the Santa Monica pier. They were trying to get Andy Mac to do it but all the pro vert guys were at some Dew Tour that weekend and they called me as a backup.
Were you psyched?
Yeah, at first when they called I was like, “Oh these guys are trying to make fun of me for liking Hannah Montana.” But they were actually serious about me doing the movie. It was pretty cool. They paid me for it and I get residuals off it too.
Nice. And you were in the same makeup room as her?
Where are you getting all this info?
It’s my job to know these things before I talk to you.
Yeah. I was getting my makeup done and her and the cast from the TV show were in there.
So did you chill with her or anything?
She was like, “Hey how are you doing?” And I was like, “I’m good, how are you?”
Amazing. Is she as pretty in person as she is on TV?
I actually think she’s prettier in person. She’s hot.
So for the smith grind ender of your Powell part, you could’ve moved that garbage can at the bottom of the rail but you chose to leave it there?
Yeah, I was about to move it and then I was thought to myself, “Nah, don’t do it.”
That’s pretty raw. What’s something that bums you out about the skateboarding industry?
That everyone thinks you have to live in California to make it. I’ve heard that from almost everyone I’ve talked to.
There are so many dudes that don’t though. Malto, Zered, Kerry, Westgate …
Yeah, but everyone I’ve talked to says you have to either live in California or stay with friends out there.
It’s definitely harder, but I’ve seen people do it. Just gotta keep killing it and put your time in out here. I’m out of questions, what else you got for me?
Lemme think … I’m chillin' with my friend Doug right now, he’s trying to get me to go skating somewhere.
Put him on the phone.
Is Ben a slob or a scumbag or anything like that? Does he shower?
Nah. He’s super picky about showering. As soon as he finishes skating he goes and takes a shower. He doesn’t like to stink.
You never know when you’re gonna run into Hannah Montana, right?
Ya. You never know man. That’s his girl.
So what’s something about skateboarding that makes you the happiest?
It’s just what I love to do. I just go out and do it.