November 29, 2010
April 8, 2009
Words: Rob Brink
The following conversation took place in April of 2009, the week Leo Romero left Baker to ride for Toy Machine. It was intended to be an audio interview for The Skateboard Mag's website, accompanying his photo-only feature that ran in the mag that month, in which case, it would have been his first interview discussing all that you're about to read.
Much to my dismay (especially when I found out there'd be no paycheck for me as a result), Leo requested that only the photos run and I've been sitting on this for over a year and a half.
My apologies in advance if you've read some of this info in interviews that have since been published by other mags or websites. I figured since he's the new SOTY, it's a good time to publish regardless. Enjoy, and congrats, Leo! Well deserved.
I have this theory that you’re really into slamming and pain. Am I wrong?
I mean, no one likes pain. I wanna make the trick obviously, but part of the fun of skateboarding is scraping your elbow and falling on your knees. As a kid walking around with scabs all over me, I was like, “Fuck yeah! I’m a dirty skater!” You know what I mean? To me, that’s skateboarding.
I remember you came up to me once and said, “Why do you always put slams of me on the Internet?”
Yeah, ‘cause I saw this clip you made of a RVCA demo and it was all slams and only two makes. I was like, “Fuck, I swear I made more than two tricks.”
Well, you seem to commit slamming. You don’t put your arms down. You fall to your shoulders and your head all the time. I was just like, “This guy is crazy in a really good way.”
Everyone learns how to slam and that’s just the way I fall I guess. Look at Corey Duffel, he’s broken many a bone. I don’t think he likes pain. I’m sure at a demo people like to see someone fall though.
I’ve never seen anyone skate a demo as hard as you. You can barely walk by the end. But kids see that and take it with them. You went for it while the other guy was sitting in the van not skating.
Yeah, I don’t do it to shine above anybody. I do it ‘cause those kids are there to see you skate. I remember seeing pros not even skating a demo when I was younger and I was like, “Fuck dude, why isn’t that guy skating? I’m here to see him skate.”
They finally turn pro and get a board. Then they get a shoe and an apparel line and all of a sudden they’re too cool to skate a demo. And you’re like “Wow, only two years and you’re over it?”
Yeah, it’s so funny to see that ‘cause it’s like, “What exactly are you too cool for? You’re obviously collecting the checks but you’re too cool to do a kickflip for the kids who are buying your board?” I think it’s fucking funny, man.
I don’t want a kid leaving a demo and saying, “Why didn’t Leo skate?” I wanna skate like they see me in a video or a magazine, not pussyfoot it just because it’s a demo.
So you’re the hot news item this week. People probably want to know why you quit Baker for Toy Machine.
Just a change of pace I guess.
It seems a common reaction is “Why would you ever leave Baker?” As if you are making a mistake or something.
I can see that. But I didn’t even get that reaction from Andrew. He was as cool as anything. I was already feeling weird because I was thinking about quitting. I didn’t want to go behind his back or whatever. Calling Andrew Reynolds and quitting his company is kinda scary, you know what I mean? When I told him he was like, “Oh, that’s cool man, who are you gonna ride for?”
He thought it was cool that I was riding for Toy instead of some lame company. I never had any second guesses about quitting but his reaction just reassured me that it was a good decision on my part.
Amazing that he’s a real friend in that situation and not just your boss.
That’s how I look at it. He’s not mad at me for quitting his company. He’s happy for me and that’s fucking awesome.
It seemed like a lot of people thought you were a perfect fit on Baker when you went there. I’m wondering if all along you were feeling differently?
It’s just weird. When you get older things change. When I was on Foundation, people thought I was good on there and then I was on Baker and people thought I was good on there. Now that I’m on Toy Machine people think it’s good.
You once said that your boards don’t sell on Baker. I know quitting wasn’t a money thing, but it sort of got me thinking that you might shine brighter on Toy Machine in a way …
I’ve heard people talk about that, like, “Oh, you want to be bigger on Toy Machine.” But it’s not that. I don’t care if my boards don't sell. When I put out graphics I’m not trying to put out top sellers—I put graphics out that I think are funny. There are a lot of good people on Toy Machine. Just like there are a lot of good people on Baker. I didn’t switch to be like, “the main guy” or anything ‘cause that’s the last thing I want. Before me, Toy Machine was still fucking awesome. I’m not really bringing anything to the table that isn’t already there.
As far as Emerica is concerned, there are a lot of the same riders. What’s different about being on Emerica than Baker?
I’ve been on Emerica since I was a fucking kid. They’ve helped me out a lot. It’s different. With Baker it’s like I was joining the cool guys—like the skate stars. And with Emerica it was always like family. I just want to be happy. Not that I wasn’t happy with Baker. It’s nothing that they did. I just wasn’t happy, period.
How would things be different if you had never left Foundation?
That’s hard to say. Maybe the same. Even a month ago at a signing, kids were like “Oh you’re on Baker? Why did you quit Foundation?” And I was like, “That happened three years ago.”
I think with me people don’t really identify my skateboarding with a board company. They just see me as being on Emerica.
It could even be said about this interview and how much we’re talking about Baker and Toy Machine, but are people thinking way too hard about skateboarding these days?
I totally think so. Like, who cares man? People quit companies like all the time. But you can even see it in ads and stuff. People just standing there and looking cool.
I think it’s gotten to that point where certain people think they’re celebrities and it’s like, “You’re not a celebrity, dude, you’re just some retard skater guy. We all are.”
You’ve explained in other interviews a sort of ugly aftermath with Tod Swank when you left Foundation. Are you on a different level with him now, going back to the Tum Yeto umbrella?
I’m not like, good friends with Tod or anything but I was still holding a grudge from back in the day and being a little fuck. I’ve always liked Toy Machine and the only reason I didn’t get on sooner was because of me being an idiot about that whole deal. Towards the end of me being on Baker I was talking to Ed and jokingly was like, “Yeah, if you guys make him put an ad out saying he’s a dick, I’m down to do it.” So Ed’s like, “Alright, let me call him.”
That’s more like how skateboarding was in the early nineties.
I think it’s funny and cool on Tod’s part to do that ad. So I was like, “Alright cool, fuck it.”
Rocco stole Richard Mulder from Foundation back in the day and ran a pretty funny ad with Richard driving his Porsche announcing it.
It just makes it more fun. It’s not too serious, you know what I mean? I think Tod used to kick people off in ads, right?
Yeah, Ronnie Creager got kicked off Foundation in an ad. Do you ever feel that you need to get away from skateboarding, whether it’s the people or the filming or whatever?
I never get to the point where I’m like “Oh dude, skating is such a drag. I’m over it for a week.” It’s more like, “What are we doing this weekend? We’re going to the swap meet? Fuck yeah, let’s do it! Let’s play some guitar today. Lets ride some bikes!”
I’m never putting down my board because I’m sick or tired of skating. I’m just putting it down ‘cause something else comes up—like the weekend.
What’s something you need to work on to improve yourself as a person?
I guess people sometimes think I’m a dick because I don’t really like talking to many people. But like, Austin Stephens doesn’t talk to many people and he’s not a dick. I’m sure I’ve got things to work out but I don’t really know. I guess that’s a question I should ask people … “Hey man, how am I lame?”
I heard that you’re not the best person to go riding Harleys with because you just get on your bike and go 100 miles an hour and leave everyone in the dust.
I’m a very impatient person. If people are lagging I’m like, “Fuck this I’m outta here.”
If you could fight any famous person who would it be?
God I dunno, that’s a hard one. Probably Rocky Balboa. Yeah, ‘cause it would be the last fight of the movie and it would be a pretty big deal.
But you’d probably get your ass kicked.
Yeah, but it’s worth it if it’s Rocky, dude.
See, but that goes back to the pain thing I was asking earlier.
Sometimes it’s worth it to get a little broken up to have some fun.
What do you hate right now?
I’m a pretty simple guy. Not too much shit bothers me but I hate going to overcrowded bars and they’re overcharging you for beer. I hate that.
So on the other side all that, what makes you happy on a daily basis?
The same things as everybody else I think: Playing guitar, listening to music, barbecuing on a summer day, finishing up some cold ones, fucking girls.
Beer, food and women …
And music and skateboarding. Pretty simple.
Imagine everyone in the world was that simple? How awesome would that be?
Yeah, everybody would be drinking, barbecuing and out for poon.
October 28, 2010
Festivus: Stay Gold Premiere
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
When was the last time you waited five years for something?
Like, really really waited.
Five years is an eternity when you’re counting down the days ‘til you get your driver’s license.
It seems even longer while you’re waiting to turn 21 so you can go grab a beer without any hassles or get into a bar so you can step up your game with the ladies.
Other than that, there isn’t much else in life young skateboarding folk yearn for, is there?
The interesting thing about skateboarders, more than any other lot of people out there today—except maybe the dweebs holding their breath for the next Star Wars film to be announced—is how long they will endure the wait for a new video to come out, despite cock tease after cock tease from ads, trailers, release date delays and so on.
These days, it takes a little something extra to drum up this kind of anticipation from the skateboard community. We saw it happen with Fully Flared in 2008; then with Mind Field in 2009. Now, in 2010, thankfully, we have Emerica’s Stay Gold.
When the next “big one” will be is hard to tell. These videos are kinda like earthquakes, ya know? Good earthquakes, though.
You wait, you worry, you get little tremors here and there, then it hits you—blows your mind—changes your life for a little while or maybe longer … to the point where its burned into your brain. Forever.
And then the wait begins. Again.
And sometimes you worry that nothing as good will ever come your way again—but you hope it does.
I’ve heard various people say that Stay Gold might be the “last great skateboarding video” as we currently know them (i.e., long-awaited DVDs for purchase at skate shops.)
But what better way to debut “the last great skateboarding video” than with an open-air premiere at the Henry Ford Amphitheater, live performances by Earthless and Dead Meadow, followed by one of the greatest and most-anticipated skate films of the decade and a surprise “turning pro” party for Justin Figueroa?
No better way. Congrats, Figgy.
Emerica dudes—Jon Miner, Mike Manzoori Jeff Henderson and of course, the team riders—a hat tip and much gratitude for presenting us with the gift that gets seemingly harder and harder to give the world as time rolls on—an incredible skateboarding film.
October 28, 2010
Festivus: Street League
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
It’s a little surreal finding yourself sitting in an arena full of screaming kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk on a custom-made street plaza and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars … really.
Ask anyone who was at Street League—a pro, an industry dude or a fan in the upper level who’s been skating for half his life—they’ll share the sentiment, because none of us (people who’ve grown up with skateboarding) ever expected to be in this position.
No matter how popular, rich or mainstream skateboarding gets—or how much we should be used to it by now—skateboarding always feels like a small little bubble for the lifers.
There’s always going to be something a little “black sheep” about being a skateboarder, despite how much Target or Toyota tries to get their hands in the till. We didn’t start skating so we could get a reality show and a Bentley.
Our shit is grounded.
The cool thing about Street League though, is that it’s OUR thing. I’m confident not too many skateboarders have an issue with Rob Dyrdek representing them and hosting a contest series. And if you do, then could you please propose a current and more favorable option? A sports network? A soda company? C’mon dude. If Rob is running a contest instead of those kooks, you gotta be at least a little bit thankful.
While the Street League hype was building, many of us heard Rob talking about how the format and scoring system would “keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last minute,” which is probably something most die-hard skateboarders would have trouble accepting … that is, until you witness the last few minutes of a Street League event and you are sitting there screaming, with an arena full of kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars.
Did you see the finals in Arizona? Cole vs. Nyjah vs. Malto vs. Pudwill vs. Nugget? Those dudes got gnarly, culminating in a long-overdue win for Nyjah.
Did you see Chaz miss a $150,000 crooked grind in Ontario? Or, to take a more “glass-half-full” approach—did you see Malto’s $150,000 backside overkrook in Ontario? Pretty exhilarating.
As for Vegas, well, Shane O’Neill is the man and what isn’t memorable about anything in Vegas?
Obviously, being out on the streets watching someone like Brandon Westgate or Dennis Busenitz do their thing is equally, if not more raw and exciting than a contest. But, love ‘em or hate ‘em you have to accept that skateboarding has many co-existing realms to it and big money contests are now one of ‘em.
So why not make each realm as bat shit crazy and thrilling as the next? If we can elevate every aspect of skateboarding to the level of the Pro Tec Pool Party, Dylan’s Gravis part or the last few minutes of every Street League event, our little bubble will be an even better place to live in.
October 13, 2010
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.
October 13, 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, November 2010
In 2001, Glen Coy was a senior in high school when he and a couple friends decided to open a skate shop.
“For some reason, my family went along with it and gave me a huge loan. I don’t know what they were thinking,” Coy jokes.
Almost a decade later, Coy and staff are strictly skate and still holding it down at Epidemic. They spent their first year in a small 600-square-foot spot in Cathedral City, California, then upgraded to a 4000 square foot location in the center of town a year later.
“It was so crazy looking at that much empty space and thinking we could fill it up with product. Now we’ve practically outgrown it again,” says Coy.
“When we opened I had no future plans,” Coy continues, “I had to take things into my own hands and make shit happen. We’ve realized that most of the kids around us are in the same situation. We always listen to them and try to give them the opportunity to make their lives better and get things going. We just wanna give our employees and riders the chance to do as much with the shop as they want.”
According to Coy, the Cathedral City skate scene is doing well at the moment and there’s a really strong skateboard community thanks to the Palm Springs Skatepark.
“We have the best kids from the area on our team,” Coy says. “But the park is only open from 3-8 pm on weekdays, which is a bummer because it limits us with doing special events. The city is really tough to work with but we’ve done a couple best trick contests there with over 500 kids at each one—some of the best nights ever.”
Epidemic is currently working on a new shop video that will be released for their 10-year anniversary and hosts an annual camping trip to the local mountains with Emerica.
“We invite anyone that wants to follow us to come camping and skate the local park for the weekend,” says Coy.
The 110-degree summers are tough for Epidemic’s business, but what compensates is the fact that Cathedral City turns into a tourist trap snow/ski resort in the fall, winter and spring.
“We try to only carry product were proud of—and a wide range of it so every person that walks thru the door can find something,” Coy explains. “Skate retail in California is so tough. There’s a shop on pretty much every corner and no one our age has seen tougher times than right now. You just gotta be smart and run a tight ship. Everyone that works and rides for Epidemic has grown up around it and made it what it is today. It’s such a huge part of all our lives. Customers love walking in to the store and seeing people they know working and know they can get the best service.”
Unlike many shop owners, Coy’s goal for ten years from now isn’t necessarily to open a bunch more shops. In fact, he’s thankful to just have one.
“I’d love to help the local kids live the dream of opening their own stores, Coy says. I guess that’s my main goal.”
68802 Ramon Road
Cathedral City, CA 92234
September 3, 2010
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.
August 3, 2010
Pro-Tec Pool Party 2009
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, September 2010
You know how sometimes you listen to a song that you’ve liked for years but for some reason, on that given day it sounds and feels better than ever and you play it for hours?
You know that feeling of excitement leading up to something you’ve been counting down the days for? Whether it’s a holiday weekend or a night with friends, you simply can’t wait for it to get underway as you head out the door.
You know what its like to get all cheery inside when you look at photos of old friends, family and good times and wish you had it all back?
You know that semi-orgasmic release caused by punching a wall or screaming or beating the piss out of your skateboard when you can’t land a trick?
You know that feeling of being in a plane and the gnarly turbulence begins and you clench the armrests and seriously think you’re going to die but then it all smoothes out and the adrenaline and fear leaves you feeling like you’ve been electrocuted?
You know that thing that causes you to involuntarily jump out of your seat when your favorite team or player scores the winning goal with only seconds on the clock?
You know that feeling when the lights go on at a concert or club and you were having such an amazing time that you don’t want it to be the end of the night?
Well combine all that, multiplied by thousand or so people feeling the same way, in one big warehouse with a Combi pool and the entire living legacy of pool skateboarding gettin’ buck because they waited for this moment all year—and you have what’s known as the Pro Tec Pool Party.
What you need to know is that Cab, dressed in all yellow and completely on fire, dethroned five-time Pool Party champ, Chris Miller, who is still ripping as hard as ever. Bucky Lasek repeated his win combining old, new and everything in between. Dude is real good. Jeff Grosso was in the zone all day, culminating in a record-breaking, face-melting 28-block boardslide.
Ben Raybourn went padless and apeshit. Lincoln went high. Duane Peters went to hell and back and stayed on his board the entire time. Red went out of the bowl and into the crowd. Alex Perelson went silent but deadly, Rune went smooth, Pedro Barros, Nolan Monroe and Josh Rodriguez went young and restless. Fuck man, we aren’t leaving any names out for any reason than it would take all week to recount how insane this day was. Lance Mountain, Omar Hassan, Lester Kasai, Dave Duncan … the list of epicness goes on and on.
The phrase “you had to be there” rings more true for the Pool Party than any event in modern day skateboarding. You haven’t been there yet? And call yourself a skateboarder? Pathetic. If someone were to put together an edit comprised simply of spectator reactions during the day and show it to you, with no skating at all, you’d be begging to get to this thing. Do what it takes to witness the Pool Party at some point in your life and prepare to be annihilated in the best way possible.
August 3, 2010
Storefront: Allied Board Shop
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, September 2010
In the spring of 2006, Crispin Barraza abandoned running Asylum skate shop in Oceanside, California to open Allied Board Shop in nearby Escondido. His goal was simple: To have a down-home skate shop that supports skateboarders, where they could cruise in, chill, watch a video and talk about skateboarding.
Catering to mostly core skateboarders in two locations, one in Escondido and one in cyberspace (alliedboardshop.com), Allied’s “skateboard and shoe walls speak for themselves,” according to Barraza. “We have everyone to beat when it comes to selection and pricing.
“Skateboarders from Escondido a pure street,” Barraza continues, “No fancy skateparks here. We also have really good pools and ditches, but that shit’s kept under wraps. Allied supports the scene the best it can. We have signings and video premieres, but more importantly, we have everyone’s back. If you blow out a bearing or need some hardware, we got you covered.”
So else what separates Allied from the pack? “We’re definitely not down to censor what we carry in the shop,” says Barraza. “Someone might come in and want a board with a baby with a pentagram on its head. And if that’s what they want then they’re gonna get a board with a baby with a pentagram on its head. There are enough people and companies trying to stop us from skating or exploiting us, the last thing you need is your local skate shop doing the same. It’s rad when you set up a customer with exactly what they need and they are happy and shake your hand. That’s respect and that’s why people come back to Allied. I see shop owners that don’t skate and I wonder how the fuck can they look at themselves in the mirror. I would feel like a piece of shit mark. If you can’t relate to your customers then you’ve already lost. The bottom line is, core shops have the biggest influence in skateboarding. We create our own wind and through us educating our customers, we keep the ship sailing straight.”
Barraza’s passion is evident. “When you do something you love you never work a day in your life and I love this shit. Being able to fly the flag of a core skate shop knowing that we are true to skateboarding and going skating with the team or to different events is cool because we’re all fans of skateboarding. And getting to skate with some of the best is an honor.”
No shop would be complete without it’s share of drama and excitement. In Allied’s case, there happens to be an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting hall nearby.
“We are always fighting with those burnouts,” says Barraza. “One time this lady from one of the meetings wanted to try on a pair of shoes. She was all wasted and followed me into the back of the shop. I turned around and she had her top off acting all sexy and shit. That’s one way to earn a discount, I suppose.”
Allied Board Shop
2335 East Valley Parkway Suite F
Escondido, CA 92027