New Jack: Justin Figueroa
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
Interview conducted March 4, 2010
“They say there's gold but I'm lookin’ for thrills”—a lyric from Pink Floyd’s “The Gold It's In The … ” is tattooed across Justin Figueroa’s forearm. Fitting, considering he’s declined offers from companies in order to be where he wants to be, rather than skating for the company that pays the most. Admirable indeed. But when you’re hand-picked by Andrew Reynolds to be a part of Baker, Emerica and Altamont, like Figgy was—you’re more than admirable—you’re downright golden.
Figgy isn’t the kid that knows he’s golden though. And that’s what makes him amazing. For example, if you were to say to him, “Hey Figgy, you’re amazing!” He’d smile really big and respond with something like, “No way fool, you are!” Then go back to figuring out how he’s going to break into his car because he locked his keys inside it … again.
You have some epic classical music for your ringback tone …
That shit’s whack. Fuck that. It’s someone else's phone. My phone … I went into the ocean with it. Yeah, I fucking blew it.
You forgot it was in your pocket?
I just walked in there.
Keeping your cell phone in your pocket kills your sperm and gives you ball cancer.
Shut the fuck up. I’m gonna put my shit on a necklace.
You’ll probably get chest cancer.
We should just delete them from our lives. It’ll save us all some stress.
How about all this earthquake drama lately?
Dude, we’re all finished. It’s happening. Who does all those predictions?
I remember hearing all that shit he predicted back in the day.
I read that the earthquake in Chile shifted the Earth’s axis and now the days are shorter by a micro-second.
So we’re just our way to a horrible fate?
Exactly. If a tsunami hit Orange County, would you be safe in Irvine?
Dude, I’d probably be the first one to die. I have shitty luck. I’ll probably just fucking hang on to a palm tree. Hold on for dear life.
You still working on the Emerica video?
Hell yeah. It’s been long and torturous but it’s coming along.
Are you nervous?
Fuck yeah. I just hope I get everything I wanna do.
Is it more about you being happy with your part or that the team and the kids out there are stoked?
I wanna do what I wanna do. I dunno if everyone else is gonna like it. Fuck it.
Slash picks on you on tour, huh?
Everyone does. I’m just that fucking cool I guess. I get everyone’s attention.
If you had to be stranded on an island with one of your crew, who would it be?
Fucking Jon Dixon and some Jack Daniels.
I hear he’s the hero of your crew.
He ain’t no fucking hero!
Everyone looks up to him. Admit it.
He’s better than anyone out there right now—in more ways than one. He came on the last Baker/Deathwish trip and fucking killed it. He’s so gnarly. People don’t even know.
If you could hang with any person who’s passed away, who would it be?
Shane [Cross]. I seen his sister over at David Gonzalez’s house and we drank and played guitar all night. There are pictures of Shane everywhere. That shit is heavy.
I hear you guys have a good time over there.
Hell yeah man! We both have Gibson SGs. I bring my amp over there and we just play all night.
Do you guys give each other black eyes?
That’s fucking gay.
What’s this I hear about piss drinking
That’s some Colombian shit …
You lock your keys in your car a lot don’t you?
I’m blowing it all over the place. My shit is whack right now. I gotta get my shit together.
You used all your 2010 Triple A visits already and it’s only March?
Pretty much. I shouldn’t be allowed to have a car and responsibilities. I’m gonna blow it.
Why do you blow it? Are you just excited and distracted?
Too much fun goes down when you’re skating and shit. But I’m not holding back. I don’t really give a fuck.
Are you a bad driver?
It’s hard to say. No. I was doing good for a couple years but I got in a crash recently. Ran a red and got T-boned. It wasn’t too serious.
So that one was your fault?
Dude, I was just mashing it. We were on our way to a Pink Floyd show and I was right by my house and I didn’t know if my shit was green or red.
Statistically speaking, most accidents happen within one mile of the home.
Yeah, someone told me that right after it happened. It’s true!
What song you were listening to when you crashed?
Dude, I was probably looking around for my iPod.
Did skating all those flatbars in your driveway that your dad built you as a kid shape the way you skate now?
Hell yeah. All I had was flatbars. I didn’t know what else to do. I can skate a rail. Everything else is way harder.
How does your body feel?
My body feels jacked right now. I feel 80 years old. I’m too tall and my back is fucked.
You’re gonna have to start skating tranny to keep yourself out of a wheelchair.
I know! I was just down at the etnies park like four days in a row skating those bowls with my fucking G.I. Joe helmet on.
You looked good in it. What happened to your glasses?
I just got over it because it’s another responsibility to remember.
Keys, a phone and glasses. That’s way too much to handle.
Dude. Holy shit.
Who do you think is the best dude on a skateboard right now?
Probably Jon Dixon. Without question, Reynolds has been better than everyone and is still better than everyone. He is gonna have the absolute best part and blow everyone’s mind. Peter Ramondetta won a contest in SF the other day and that was fucking gnarly. Those are my three right now.
What would you say is the gnarliest thing you’ve seen done on a skateboard?
I don’t wanna blow the last trick in the Emerica video, but let’s just say “the last trick in the Emerica video.”
I heard you’ve been getting into tattoos.
I just got two new ones last week. I got one of the flying bats from Wizard of Oz on my arm, and on my other arm I got this goblin guy hanging off the 13th floor of an elevator shaft. Hyped.
You have a Goofy tattoo?
Yeah, on my leg. It’s just high jinx shit. It’s funny.
What do you think there’s not enough of in skateboarding?
I dunno. Pro hos?
Who is underrated right now?
Daniel Lutheran. He’s flow for Toy Machine. That fool is about to come-up.
How about your “unknown skater” web footage?
That was when I rode for Powell. Deville was hooking me up with mad shit and I wanted to ride for Birdhouse. I just let him know, like, “Hey man, I can’t go on with this, I have other opportunities and thanks for everything.” You know?
So he threw all the footy that I’d gotten with him over a year and a half on YouTube and a bunch of websites—with no name on it—nothing. I was just a little kid and he was talking shit to me—getting payback because I left.
When something like that happens and you’re so young, how does it affect your view of the skateboarding industry?
It’s like trial and error. I learned how people can be about certain stuff. Everyone’s different and every company is different. I was just trying to hang out with my friends and be on Birdhouse and he was a complete asshole about it. He definitely helped me out with a lot of shit and I thank him for that, but he totally tried to make a little kid cry. We’re cool now, though. Everyone’s grown up and shit.
I couldn’t find that clip, but it’s got the 21 stair nosegrind, right?
Yeah, it was mad hammer spots.
El Toro is 20, right? Do you think it would have been easier to nosegrind that?
No way. That 21 has bushes on the side and wood at the bottom. It’s not as gnarly as El Toro.
While you were a kid skating in your driveway, did you ever think all this would happen?
Dude, hell no. I feel like it’s all being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. I’m completely shocked now that we’re talking about it. It’s crazy. Cannot believe it. So hyped.
What are you up to for the rest of the day?
I’m gonna kick it and play my guitar.
I hear you’ve got Sabbath songs on lock.
Dude, I fucking try. In my room all day and all night. So fun.
Who’s your favorite guitar player?
Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath. Truly. He’s the best because all the other rock ‘n roll bands just copied their shit. He fucking created it all. He
Wasn’t he missing some fingers?
Yeah. A couple of the ends of his fingers are missing. I don’t know what happened exactly but he used to put metal caps over his fingers and a lot of their sound is from those metal caps.
That’s all I got. Over it yet?
Sounds good dude, I’m psyched! Don’t make me look too fried.
Don’t worry, nobody wants a genius skateboarder.
Yeah, exactly. That’s boring as hell.
Okay I’ll let you get back to Irvine now.
Irvine. Fuck Irvine.