chrome ball interview #72: danny sargent

chops sits down with the king of safeway for conversation.

Alright Danny, lets start this off with a trick tip from the master: in your own words, what’s the secret to a good slappie?

You gotta crash into it, man. Make sure your trucks are kinda loose, get some speed and just crash into it. Smash it down. And remember, you gotta hit your front truck first or it’s not really a slappy. A slappy is front truck then back truck. It’s not really a slappy if you ride up the curb with your back wheels.

Are you kind of stoked that slappies and curb skating have had a bit of a comeback in recent years? Such a fun trick but for a while there, they were almost frowned upon as not “tech” enough…

Yeah, and that’s so sad because it really is one of the raddest street skating tricks there is. It’s right up there with ollies. I think if you can’t slappy and you consider yourself a “street skater”, that would really suck. (laughs)

While you could definitely get down on all terrain, you have become largely synonymous with pushing the limits of curb skating. Did you feel at the time that what you were doing on curbs, particularly at Safeway, was going to have this legacy? Did it seem like you were laying down an important framework in street skating at the time? 

Not really, man. I wasn’t really thinking about that at all. Looking back on it now, I wish I would’ve done more in that regard. Honestly, I think I probably did too many feeble grinds. (laughs)

It was all so different back then. Everything was in those early stages and videos were such a minor thing. So much of what I was doing back in the day was never filmed and I definitely regret that. I wish I would’ve focused more on video parts at the time.

A lot of the skaters who were in those first few skate videos say that but everything was so contest-driven at the time.

Yeah, we just didn’t know. I mean… I had kickflip front board transfers on double-sided curbs and I never even thought to film them back then. Sure, I’d try it a few times during filming but if I didn’t get it, I’d just move on. I was never one for trying something over and over again.

I almost made a kickflip frontboard down a handrail for Sick Boys but I fell off as I was rolling away. That’s one where I should’ve taken the time to really try and make on film instead just letting it go so quickly after a couple tries. 

photo: bryce kanights

Jesus! I mean I know you did a hurricane down that rail in Sick Boys which was already impressive but I never heard about that kickflip frontboard!

Yeah, there was the hurricane, which I got, but I was also trying those kickflip frontboards. I don’t know what I was thinking… I don’t think I knew how much time we actually had to film that day so I was trying to get in all I could. I remember Jason Lee asking me about that years later. Evidently he’d heard about it down in LA.

Videos were such a different thing. People hadn’t really set out to film proper parts yet.

That’s so crazy, man. But how did you arrive at this crazy tech focus on curbs and rails back then? Were you just trying to throw in as many combinations as you could back then just for the hell of it? For fun?

I mean, we were trying to do that stuff on ramps and stuff, too. The smith grind-lipslide-revert stuff. But honestly, all that stuff came trying to grind down our trucks to the axle as fast as possible. That’s what our crew was all about. We’d heard a rumor that Tom Knox had been able to grind his trucks down to the axle in 24-hours and we were always tried to match that. The closest we ever got to that was a week.

Tom must’ve been up all-night slappying. 

How did Safeway, in particular, get into the mix? Do you find it weird that you’re so synonymous with that place?

Well, it was only 3 blocks down from my house so it’s not really weird at all. It was just the place that we always went to. Noah Peacock’s house was close by, too, and Safeway quickly became the meeting place for all our friends. Meet there and warm-up for a bit before heading off to Miley or some other spot. 

I know Phelps drew this comparison before… Do you personally see any parallels in your combo-throwing curb skating with the tech-ledge dancing currently seen by dudes like Mike Mo and Tory Pudwill?

Right on, thanks Jake.

Yeah, those guys do the sickest combos now. It’s so awesome. I mean, we would try to be doing some crazy stuff on curbs back in the day but those guys are just so gnarly with it these days.  Guys like Cory Kennedy and that double-sided ledge they were all skating in Pretty Sweet... I can’t even begin with that stuff. 

Going back a bit, I know you lived in Portland for years but you’re so heavily identified with the San Francisco-scene… what was that legendary scene like back in the day with all the homies?

All that came from meeting Tommy Guerrero at a demo back in Portland while I was still in school. Once I finally graduated, I was able to move down to San Francisco and rent a room. It was funny because my room was basically in the kitchen of this apartment and dudes like Orb and Micke used to always be saying things like “Danny skates bitchin’ and lives in the kitchen.” (laughs)

I was so excited to be living in San Francisco that I didn’t even care. It’s funny to say but I had such sick house guests! I grew up always tearing pages out of the magazines to stick on my wall and now I’m seeing these guys out while I’m skating! They’re coming over to my house! I was tripping. I’d be totally fanning out on the inside but trying to play it cool on the outside. Too nervous to really say anything.

But yeah, all the CBS dudes would have parties on the weekends. Skating all day then going out at night. Tommy would set up at this Chinese restaurant and throw these crazy parties. It seemed like something was always going down.

In your mind, who was the king of the SF hills back then?

Well, you have to look at it like Gonz, Natas and Tommy were really the first street skaters. They were really the dudes we could look up to… that we related to. Not to talk shit because the vert guys were cool but we were stoked on the guys who skated street, ya know? And I always thought it was so sick how Tommy was really the first to incorporate the hills into what those guys were trying to do with street skating back then. That was tight.

But you also can’t forget about guys like Julien and Arco back then. All the City Boys bombed the hills. 

For the uninitiated, talk a little about Fogtown/Concrete Jungle. It was more than “just a shop” and for you, in particular, those early ads really did a lot for your career.

Yeah, Fogtown and Concrete Jungle were all the same team, just different owners but it was a really big thing in San Francisco. It was the sickest shop in the City… the only one, really. And the team was just amazing. Jake Phelps, Micke Reyes, Jeff Whitehead, Mike Archimedes, Phil Chen, Shawn Martin… I think Mike Carroll was on there for a minute when he was super young.

But we’d all just skate together and hang out. Go on road trips down South for contests. I remember Phelper winning a slalom contest down in Pasadena back in the day. (laughs)

Have to bring up that Ain’t Dead Yet handrail 50-50, was that the first one ever published? I’ve always heard it was either that one or Ed’s 50-50 for Circle-A?

That’s a good question. I think Ed’s actually came out the same month as mine but his was in Transworld on a square rail and mine was in Thrasher on a round one. I thought about that today when I saw Ed’s Epicly Later’d and someone said he had the first pic grinding a rail in a mag. I’ve always been told that I had the first pic but he can have it if he wants. Or not. I know Gonz and Natas did ’em first.

(Editor’s note: Sarge was in the March ’88 issue of Thrasher, Ed’s was in the June ’88 issue of the still bi-monthly Transworld)

How serious did you take street skating back then? Did you consider yourself a “street skater” or just a skater?

I mean, I think I was a little different in that I’d go to these vert contests and be hanging out with Hosoi and those dudes, skating ramps. Then I found myself on a Cow Skates tour with guys like Hensley, Justin Girard and some of the more “street” dudes… they’d all be getting down on a little 3-foot mini ramp and I’d be the only one skating the 8-foot ramp.

But I just skated and tried to get down. Maybe I should’ve taken it all a bit more seriously. I mean, there were maybe 10 people in the world that could do kickflips or handrails back then, you know?

We were making up these tricks as we went along. I was beanplanting to handrails back in the mid-80s before I could ollie to them. Just making shit up. That’s what we had to do because it was all new. Everything was wide open. No-complying to hurricane down a contest rail in Munster because why not? I remember Brennand Schoeffel tripping out after seeing me do one of those in practice.

I remember you had a sequence of one in Poweredge.

I did have one a curb! I still do that trick actually. I need to do it down a real handrail though. Find a real low one, maybe… or I can just have Brian Anderson do one for me. He can do it. 

So Shawn Martin has already come up a few times in this… whatever happened to that dude? Straight ripper and another member of the Oregon Trail who seemed well on his way after turning pro for Black Label but just disappeared.

Shawn Martin was so awesome, man. He was the best ever. We used to skate together all the time back then. But yeah, he’s good, man. Ended up moving out of San Francisco and got a steady job, got married and has a kid who’s like 16 now.

But he always got ripped off, man. I remember he got fourth at one of the Back to the City contests. He had a board for Black Label and when he got 4th, Lucero said that he was going to match his winnings after the contest: $500 for $500 but I guess he never did it. Things just kinda faded after that. I don’t know if Shawn didn’t take himself seriously or skateboarding seriously… but that dude was the best. He’s doing fine, though… he’s not like Coco or something and totally off the deep end.

Good to hear. So how did Schmitt Stix enter the picture for you? A Vision-backed company at the height of their powers had to be huge, right?

Yeah, it was cool how it all worked out. At the time, I was really into riding those Chris Miller Schmitt Boards with the weird dog on it… the one with the Christmas tree nose. It had a smaller shape with a bit of a longer nose and I just liked it so I started riding those all the time. Bryce Kanights, who was riding for Schmitt back then, ended up telling them about me and how I was always riding that shape. I guess they knew me from contests already. I got on Schmitt shortly there after.  

Were Schmitt Stix riders treated differently compared to full Vision guys?

Yeah, we were definitely lower class, for sure. I remember getting a check for $25 after I was on the cover for Thrasher Magazine, even with a pair of Vision Street Wears on! A check for 25 bucks! That for sure ain’t much.

You should’ve been wearing one of those berets, you might’ve doubled your profits!

(laughs) Maybe! I think I was wearing this Jimi Hendrix tee that I liked instead. I mostly stuck to the shoes. I never really got down with the berets.

I actually think that I may have been riding for Vans and Vision Street at the same time for a little bit. I wasn’t on a Jovontae Turner-level with it but that kind of stuff definitely happened. 

Wheel sponsors especially were so crazy back then… like I was supposed to be getting on Spitfire at one point but Paul wanted us to be riding Schmitt Stix Wheels so I was getting both… then Speed Wheels was also sending me stuff.  So I just had all these crazy sets of different wheels lying around all the time. At one point, I think I had like 28 sets of wheels on my piano! They all ended up getting sun-faded and yellow because they’d sat there for so long. 28 sets of wheels is a lot of wheels!

It seemed like you were super am-status for quite sometime back then. That had to be frustrating for you, right? Because turning pro was such a big deal back in the day, I imagine you had to feel more than ready when it was time to finally take the dip.

I guess I was. I had been placing really well in those NSA AM Contests over the years and it just got to the point where I started to wonder how long I could keep on doing them. It seemed like I was getting enough photos in the magazines to where people started to know who I was. I was in a few ads for Indy and Schmitt already… it just seemed like it was time.

Where did the whole Monkey theme come from in your graphics?

Honestly, it was just hard for me to think up what I wanted for a graphic. Schmitt Stix started giving me ideas for things I might want and somehow we started talking about possibly using some type of childhood game or toy for kids. Barrel of Monkeys came up and I liked it.

Looking back on it now, I honestly don’t know why I went with that. I probably should’ve thought about it more instead of just going along with it but graphics were kinda whatever. I probably should’ve got Gonz to draw something for me instead. 

So how did the idea to start the New Deal come about? That had to be scary leaving such big company but Vision was already so out of touch.

It was kinda scary but you gotta remember how it was back then… vert was out and street was in. Things were already so different than how there were just a few years before. There were all these little companies popping up that were really starting to do well… World Industries was getting really big. It was during all of this that Paul Schmitt started talking about it to some of the guys. They called me up about it and I ended up flying down there…  We did it. We started a new company.

I remember a few of the dudes who remained on Schmitt were a little bummed that they weren’t invited to come along but the entire concept behind our company was that it was a “New Deal”. It couldn’t be the exact same thing. Whatever.

How were those early days of New Deal compared to Vision? I know you said Schmitt riders weren’t treated very well but I imagine those early days at the Deal had to be pretty tight financially, right?

Actually, we started out doing really good. We started New Deal up that summer and we were all still doing basically the same shit we always did, pretty much. Checking out skate camps and going over to Europe. I was still making the same amount of money, if not more. It’s not like we were now dogs without that solid foundation of Vision. We were doing just fine, which I think says a lot about how Vision was treating us. 

Were you down with Andy Howell’s art direction with the yellow ads and everything? And we talked earlier about your graphic process, did you have much input into that side of things with the New Deal?

I thought it was tight, man. He’s a great artist. He drew my first graphic on New Deal back then that I always liked.

One of New Deal’s big things was trying to get people to do their own graphics…  which I do draw and stuff but I never really tried. Andy’s stuff was always sick.

I think its crazy what all Ed has been able to accomplish with his art, too. I think that’s awesome. He must’ve had some visions or something. Almost like Rob Dyrdek… just a kid that plays everything right and does well for himself. I remember when Ed drew his first graphic, I never thought that he’d be in art shows one day. The only thing I remember thinking when I first saw his graphic that day was, “That guy can’t draw very well.” (laughs)

I know we talked about Sick Boys earlier… getting into the New Deal Promo and Useless Wooden Toys, did you take those projects any more seriously considering it was your main sponsor and videos were a little further along?

Those videos were definitely still with that same process of filming for a couple of days and throwing it together.  2 or 3 days of filming... that was just how we did it back then. 

Videos were so much looser then… companies could’ve brought in people to point the camera at you while you’re skating but it was still mostly filming with friends who happened to have cameras. It was cool to get a sense of personal satisfaction from seeing stuff you did that day on video but it didn’t seem like the most important thing for your career at the time. Sure, we could’ve put more work into the parts like people do today but it’s not like those parts we made back then were bad. They were definitely cool for what they were… even if they could’ve been more professional. 

Definitely. But did you even get to pick your song on those parts?

Nah, I didn’t. I guess I probably should’ve been more involved. I mean I tried to throw out songs… like skating to Motorhead or Too Short or something like that but we couldn’t afford that. We didn’t have money for the rights.

Could’ve probably just taken it. So you definitely came up with the older SF guard out in the hills but quickly adapted to that young fresh-to-def EMB crew… when did you start to realize what was going on down at Embarcadero was really going to be leading the way in skating for some time to come?

Shit, when I went down there and saw those guys doing tricks I didn’t know how to do. (laughs)

I remember seeing Lavar doing a big spin down the 7 and it was obvious that these dudes were getting raw. Henry and Mike were already so sick! You just knew right away. It was tight to see these people around me not only keeping up but being the first people to actually do shit. For me, it wasn’t about trying to be better than anybody else, it was more about the progression. Paving the way and seeing where stuff can go.

Didn’t some of the older guard try to hate on that crew down there?

There were definitely some haters. I’m not going to name any names or anything but yeah, some of the original dudes were getting frustrated because those kids were so good. They were all trying to hang on to their pro careers. 

So much of your approach was about speed and long grinds… all of sudden, everyone is going super slow and basically doing freestyle on little wheels. Did you feel pressure to start changing up how you skated to better fit in with those trends?

(laughs) Yeah, I got a little left out of that, didn’t I?

Honestly, I did slow it down a little bit to try some of that stuff but I never went all out and tried to film pressure flips all day. I did feel a little bummed back then… not really on myself, but because skateboarding was in such a strange place at the time. I was bummed that I really wasn’t on the newest shit or whatever. That definitely discouraged me a little bit from filming, for sure.

I was still skating fast and doing my thing just the same or better. Just because I didn’t have every trick that all the kids were doing, it was still all good. I didn’t want to dumb it down, you know?

As a skateboarder, I was totally fine with that but it did make ads and video parts a little more difficult. I love skateboarding but there was a time where I felt kind of at a loss as to what I could go out and film.

And its funny, too, because at the height of all that stuff back then, Julien had the best video part and he didn’t do one flip trick in the whole thing. That was the trip.

Skypager! That’s an amazing point.

Yeah, not one flip trick in there and it was fast and raw. It was nothing like anybody else’s part during that time. 

Talk a little about that classic 1281 part. That one seemed to have a bit more polish as by that point, it was now obvious the power of skate videos… did you approach this one a little differently?

Yeah, I actually like that video way more than Useless Wooden Toys. We definitely put more time into the video but not much more. I got footage at Woodward, went to Embarcadero one day… but you can still pretty much tell how many days we went by the number of outfits.

The slappy on the Big Block at EMB… so sick but you did it so casually. Was that the first time you’d done that? You made it look so easy!

Yeah, that was the first time I did that. I was already doing little wallrides on it when somebody brought up trying to grind it and I felt like I could do it. It’s funny because I still have the raw footage of that day and it was definitely less than 10 tries. I did that switch backside 180 down the 7 that day, too.

That’s insane.

Yeah, that was a good day. All that stuff was pretty quick. I never liked to try too many times at a spot. That just wasn’t enjoyable to me. It is what it is. 

Did you ever go back and try that triple ollie down those stairs you almost made in the beginning? Classic stuff.

No, I never made those last steps. (laughs)

I was there for a contest and actually ended up breaking my board. But I could probably still jump down it… maybe. It’s been a minute for some stairs.

I know it wasn’t long after this that drug addiction came into play… something that you’ve been very honest about over the years. I know SF has had its bouts with hard drugs at Hubba Hideout and the like but I’ve never heard too much like your troubles with heroin in skateboarding circles. Did that come about through skating or other influences?

That’s hard to say but it definitely come about with people I knew through skating. I’m not going to name people or anything but it came through skating, for sure. Going out skating every Friday night and then drinking with the crew afterwards at the house or wherever… it can just evolve into other things over time. You’re drinking this or that and some dude starts getting into dope, somebody starts getting into heroin. Next thing you know, someone is fucking yelling out “This fucking sucks! Friday night always ends up with fucking dope!”

Things start changing. Some people just stay getting fucked up. Some people start moving on to other shit, like speed. Smart people start distancing themselves from you because they know you’re fucking up. It wasn’t good.

When in your career did drugs ultimately become more important than skating? Do you feel like you might have been taking skateboarding for granted?

It’s hard to describe... I got into dope after I’d be done skating for the day and it ended up getting to the point where I needed dope to be well enough to skate. It was crazy. If I wasn’t on dope, people would be asking me what was wrong and if I was okay. But when I was on dope, I’d be well, and because of that, skating better than ever. People would assume I was fine but I’d just done 60 bucks worth of heroin. I’m doing late shove-its on vert with no pads, everything seemed okay to them. I wasn’t over in the corner nodding out, scratching.

Heroin was what I needed to eat, sleep and breathe. It was what I needed to feel normal.

Did New Deal have any idea what was going on with you?

Yeah, Steve Douglas called my parents and talked to my Dad about what was going on. It was rough but I know he did it out of love.

Did they decide to pull your board or was it a retirement-type of thing?

I think they made the decision but when Steve Douglas came out and saw me skating, I remember him being almost surprised by what he saw.

“Sarge, you still rip, man. You’re just not filming or anything.”

They put one more of my boards out and then they stopped. 

I remember you writing about how substance abuse made you lose focus on your skate career and that is such a big disappointment personally for you.  Did you feel like you weren’t quite done yet with being pro? Did you still have things left to prove in your career? 

I don’t know if I still had things to prove but I definitely felt like my time as pro was cut short because of all that. I was always still skating. No matter how bad things got, I never quit skating. I never lost focus on the skating itself, it was just how I did it for a company or whatever.

How often are you skating these days?

Everyday. A lot of it might be with a cruiser board but I’m always skating. I’m always kickflipping around, slappying around. I’ll hit up the DIY-spot or the parks a few times a week. But I’m always skating. I’m not driving to the spot. 

photo: theo hand

What’s going on with you currently?

Right now, my girlfriend is 10 weeks pregnant and I’m really stoked on that. I’ve been pretty much surviving by doing construction here and there but I’d like something a little steadier.

I’m actually trying to work in skateboarding somehow… maybe in a warehouse or something. Maybe a team manager perhaps. I’d just love to work in skateboarding again. I’d appreciate that so much. 

Views and thoughts on skateboarding in 2014?

It’s fucking sick, man! Grant Taylor, man. I went out to Atlanta with the homies not too long ago and we ended up seeing Grant and Thomas Taylor. I got to kick it with them and it was really good. I was teammates with Thomas back in the day and now his kid is Skater of the Year. The kid is fucking insane!

Does it trip you out the notoriety you still have with the skate public after being “retired” for 20 years now? JFA even has that song entitled “Danny Sargent’s Trucks”.

It’s so funny just because how long it’s been. It’s almost like I can’t even believe it really happened. So silly. But I’d like to think that people still know me because I’ve always tried to be nice and cool to people.

But yeah, that song is pretty cool. I guess one of my old ground-down trucks sat on a desk at Indy for a while and they ended up taking a photo of it for the Indy book. Brian Bannon said that photo what made him write that song.

So sick, man. Top 5 favorite curb skaters.

Oh man, that’s tough. There’s so many. Even Gonz and how he got down on that double-sided metal curb in Video Days was so sick… But in no particular order, I gotta go with Shawn Martin, Julien Stranger, Mike Archimedes, Joey Tershy and Rick Windsor.

All-time favorite curbs? Is Safeway #1?

Safeway is obviously number one. I always like the Whale Curbs that the San Francisco DMV, too… I did that bluntslide to manual in Useless Wooden Toys there. The curb in front of Mission Skateshop is really good. And basically any downhill red curb is always hella fun. Lipslides and shit… you always go really far.

Perfect. Alright Danny, thanks for doing this, man. Anything else you’d like to add?

Just keep skating with your homies and enjoy the ride. 

special thanks to theo hand, jon constantino and sarge for taking the time. 


chrome ball incident #913: promise

Long overdue.

In preparation for Sarge's interview, I took a look at all of his previous posts and found that in literally every single one of them, I wrote about how I so needed to do a Shawn Martin post. 

Well... better late than never.

Not sure how I was able to dig this shit out everyday for 5 years...


chrome ball interview #71: sean malto

Chops sits down with KC's finest for conversation. 

Alright Sean, so on average, how often does someone come up to you and emulate one of your more notorious super fans with their best “Sean Malto! SEAN MALTO!” impression?

(laughs) Oh man, that’s been insane. Those clips went viral so fast… I ended up getting so many text messages that day. Everyone was tripping. But it’s funny because even as much as people have tried to emulate her, no one has truly been able to match the excitement of that girl. It was so crazy.

Which one is more popular, that girl or Jack Black’s “Do it for the Skate Gods?” I have to imagine you got that one a lot, too.

The Jack Black one was a lot at first but the “Malto, Malto!” one has been lingering a lot longer for some reason.

What’s the backstory with that one?

It was at a signing down in New Orleans. It was raining out and we knew we wouldn’t be skating so we were just taking our time getting to the shop. When we finally arrived, those two girls were right at the front of the line. Who knows how many hours they’d been waiting but when they saw us, this girl just went ballistic. I’ve never had that sort of thing happen to me. I didn’t even know what to do.

But yeah, that girl... I think her nickname was “Potatohead” actually. We were supposed to go on a date to Taco Bell.

Did that ever happen?

No, but I’ll leave it open. (laughs)

Meeting new people is one of the best things about skating. Just be nice and roll with it. I never thought I’d meet someone who had that much love… it really is flattering.

So how’s your foot doing? When can we expect to see you back on your board?

The foot is doing well. It’s a little bit ahead of schedule. Right now, I’m set to come back at the end of March but that’s just basic rolling around. I probably won’t be fully skating until the end of April. I still have a little bit of time but, like I said, I’m ahead of schedule. Hopefully this process keeps speeding up and I can get back on my board sooner.

I know you’re up here in Portland doing Bo Jackson-type rehab stuff and I’ve also seen you on the Berrics documenting yourself out traveling around for appointments. You definitely seem to be taking this whole recovery process very seriously.

Well, what I had done was a common ankle procedure so there is a basic framework in place with guidelines to follow. Plus, I’m younger and a bit more athletic than the typical patient so that helps... but at the same time, I’m not trying to just be able to walk again. I’m trying to get out there and jump down 12-stairs all day. So, it’s a little more difficult knowing what those rules really are.

I’ve been talking to different people that have already gone through this… Torey Pudwell, Rick McCrank, Ty Evans… I guess it lingers for a little bit but the more physical therapy you do, the faster it works itself out.

I know you largely put the foot photos out yourself through Instagram. They’re obviously gnarly but did you expect the reaction it got? Does it freak you out when everyone starts weighing in on your injury like they’ve been? I know people have come back from much gnarlier injuries but they weren’t so public about it…

Yeah, I did it to myself. (laughs)

If I didn’t want anybody to ask about it, I wouldn’t have posted it. I put it out there. People are just curious. I mean it’s cool when kids tell me that they can’t wait for me to come back. But there’s also the kids that think it’s career-ending… the ones on Instagram who are asking me if I’ll ever be able to skate again.

I’m fine with it, though. I’m confident. Talking to other pros that have gone through the same thing, it’s a standard ankle procedure. The success rate for coming back from this type of injury is 95%.  The way that my ankle folded probably meant that it was probably loose in the first place. It will take me a little longer to come back from having the surgery but when I do, I should be even stronger than I was. My ankle will be tighter so I’m excited about that.

But honestly, doing stuff like the Road to Recovery videos has been really cool. Being able to film what’s going on with a GoPro for those things has been good because it’s something I can do. I’m going crazy not skateboarding.

What will be the first trick you do once you get back on your board? And what’s the first real hammer-type trick you’re looking forward to trying? Are you going to attempt that varial heel again?

The first trick is always that KFC, that kickflip challenge.

My friends and I have this joke where everyday when we wake up, we do the kickflip challenge. Before you’re warmed up, it’s the first thing you do for the day.  Just to do it. It will be interesting to see a kickflip challenge 4 to 5 months later. I have never been away from skating this long so hopefully I can do that first kickflip.

Other than that, I’ve been piling a list together. It’s hard to say the first one but I’d love to go back and try that varial heel again. Down that gap that I hurt myself on, I’d love to do that.

The more I think about what went wrong, I’m confident that I can go back and do it. It’s not the gap’s fault because that spot is perfect. It just didn’t work out for me. I was unlucky and bailed too late. But I know what I did wrong. The only thing that sucks is that it’s a fountain in Kansas City that you can only skate during the winter. By the time I can skate again, it’s going to be full of water. I’ll have to wait an entire year to go back for that one.

Maybe I’ll wait for the day after Thanksgiving and do it on the anniversary of my injury.

Aw, man… you’re tempting fate with that one. So for the record, how do you respond to those outspoken critics of your trick selection? And how much of that do you think stems from your skating in contests, where such consistency is a necessity if one expects to actually do well? I mean, anybody that has paid attention to your skating in the mags and in videos (your insane TWS “And Now” part, for example) knows how big your bag of tricks really is.

I have to say that it is a little annoying to hear that sort of stuff. People are always talking about how I do the same tricks over and over again and that I’m boring. But those are the tricks I like to do and I have fun doing them. That’s the why I skate. Who cares?

It was actually more annoying to put out a part that I really worked hard on and still hear that. There were tricks in there that I’d never done in my life… like that backside overcrooks kickflip. I’d never done that before. I felt like I did do different tricks in that part but I still heard that stuff.

And yes, everyone watches these contests and thinks I do the same tricks. But it’s a contest!


Contests are built for that. You can’t fall. It’s all built off consistency and these tricks are the ones I know will get points. That really is the whole strategy portion of it.

There are tricks that I could possibly change up for it… to keep evolving. But I know an overcrooks kickflip will get me a high score almost everytime. I don’t think I have another trick that will get me that high of a score. I could try a backtail kickflip but it might not score as high.

And in a contest setting, why would you do that?

Right. I know I’ll get the highest score with this trick, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s strange to think about it like that but that’s how it is.

Did any of that trick selection criticism play into how you filmed for Pretty Sweet? Was there anything in the back of your head to where you were possibly trying to answer those naysayers?

Yeah, it did… which sucks. I’d go to a spot and think that it’s a good spot for a nollie front feeble but then start thinking about how I can’t do that now. That I should do some different tricks. But that’s just skating in general. You always want to learn and progress… regardless of if kids are making fun of you or not. (laughs)

But again, if you’re going to put yourself out there for public view, you have to be able to handle that kind of thing. I’m just trying to skate how I want to skate. These dudes can figure it out and talk shit… I don’t care how you skate. I’m excited to learn tricks and if I don’t, that’s fine. I like the feeling of doing an overcrooks. I like the feeling of hardflips. I’m not going to change the way I skate because you think its lame.

How was your experience filming with Ty and dealing with all the pressure that a big video like that involves? That was especially a huge part for you…

The whole process was crazy because it was originally going to be just a Chocolate video. I remember being actually bummed at the time because it always seems like I just miss videos. All throughout my career, I just miss these projects. It’s really weird. I have this one Transworld part and that’s it. So I was bummed, man. I thought I was missing another opportunity.

But Pretty Sweet slowly transformed into a Girl and Chocoate video and when they finally hit me up about it, I was so hyped… until I realized that they’d already been using all my footage over the years! (laughs) Free DVDs were such a huge part of skating when I was coming up that I’ve literally had all the stuff I’ve ever filmed on trips put out on those things. I’ve never had to save footage for a big part before.

But alright, whatever. Clean slate. Let’s do it.

Honestly, I was just excited to be in the van with Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Gino and the Trunk Boys… it was so much fun. A great experience.

People always trip out on Ty because he’s so gnarly. I remember hearing all these stories from Fully Flared that were all so crazy. He definitely goes above and beyond. But honestly, when I started working with him, I really liked it. Trips were all very productive. He got you up in the morning and you skated late into the night. However much torture you went through, at the end of the trip, it felt good to look back on it. They were real skate trips, strictly skating. It was a full experience. I was psyched on that.

He does apply some pressure but he’s smart about it. If you get to a rail at night and you’re looking at it but not sure, he say something like, “I’m gonna put some lights on it just so you can see it better.” (laughs)

He puts light on it and chances are, you usually start skating it.

It’s weird to say but it’s almost like he’s your caddy in a sense. Because he’s around you all the time… you’re skating with him for years and he knows what you’re capable of. He never put me in some situation that he didn’t trust me in. And just seeing him visualize something and trusting me like that definitely gave me more confidence. It was like a partnership between the skater and filmer that worked really well for Ty and I.

Gotta ask about that ender-ender… the overcrooks kickflip out. Didn’t that come right at deadline for you? Was that something you’d been thinking about for a while?

Yeah, it came super late.

I actually started thinking about it after I did that front crooks across the 3-stair ledge to kickflip out that’s also in the part. That was the first one of those I’d ever done but it took me a really long time. After I did it though, I kinda started figuring some stuff out. The problem was that I wasn’t getting the leverage because it was a front crooks. But in a overcrook on a flatbar, I realized you had so much more room to dip it down. So I ended up going home to my skatepark and… this doesn’t happen to me… but I swear it was 3rd try. I couldn’t even believe it.

So Moore Park is basically my backside overcrook rail for some reason. Everytime I learn an overcrook variation, I go there because it’s mellow. I already got an overcrook fakie and overcrook shuv-it there, maybe I can kickflip out of one there.

But on the rail was a different story than earlier on the flatbar. I had to go there 3 separate times before I could get it and with that spot, you can only skate it on Sundays. The deadline was coming and I didn’t have that much time left, especially if I can only skate it one day a week. And at this point, Ty is editing so I can’t even skate with him. I had to go with Federico.

What was crazy was that third time we went, he had rented this crazy camera that he’d never even really used before. It took to people to operate! So here I am trying this trick I’d never done before, the deadline’s coming up and Federico might not even end up filming it! I was tripping but it ended up working out.

Honestly, it didn’t feel like how I wanted to do it when I finally made it so I kept trying for another hour. But once I really looked at the footage, I thought it was fine.

You didn’t check the footage after you made it?

I thought it was good but with it being the deadline of the video, I felt I might as well keep skating and try to get it perfect. But it worked out. Federico filmed it perfect.

But yeah, after that, my part was now done. It was such a weight off of my shoulders.

From the ender back to the beginning, who came up with the idea to grind that rail in your house in your pajamas? Such a nice touch. Had you skated that rail prior?

It was my idea… but honestly, I wasn’t serious when I brought it up. When you’re on these road trips, you get bored and start talking about whatever. That’s one reason why talent alone isn’t enough to get you sponsored, there really is so much more. You have to be someone that people can really get along with because those van hours are a big part of it.

But yeah, that came out of one of those trips in the van where I just happened to be talking to Ty about my new place. I mentioned there was a rail there that was probably 50-50able if someone wanted to. Again, I wasn’t really being serious when I brought it up. We were just in the van. But just by being a skater and seeing the rail everyday, of course, I’m going to think about skating it. I think about triple kink rails that I see as I’m out walking around, not that I ever would skate them but it’s just something that you do as a skater. You just trip on anything.

So a few months down the road, there’s a trip to Kansas City and Ty starts asking me about the rail in my house.

“It’s whatever, don’t worry about it.”

So the last day we’re in Kansas City, Ty’s comes over to pick me up and we’re gonna skate this perfect 10-stair rail we know. Cool.

Ty pulls up. “Hey, I’m going to come inside.”

Well, that’s a little weird but maybe he just wants to kick it for a little bit before we go. That’s fine.

So not only does Ty come inside but so does literally everybody from the van. He starts looking at the rail and goes, “Let’s do it.”

“Do what?”

“Let’s film this right now, the intro to your part.”

“I don’t know, man. Maybe we should come back. Let’s go skate and come back.”

“No, let’s do it now… Just roll up to it a couple of times.  I want to see you roll up to it a couple times.”

Okay, whatever. So I start rolling up to it.

“What do you think?”

“I think I can get up onto it.”

Next thing I know, he’s already mobilized the whole crew in my place and their fully moving all my furniture around. Moving my entertainment center out, putting a mattress in the window… just like that. I’m just sitting there watching this whole pit crew of people set everything up. I can’t even believe it. Ty’s asking me if I have any pajamas. There’s a camera on a dolly all of a sudden. It’s crazy.

The only thing I could think about was what if I get smoked on this thing? What if I come up short or get broke off somehow? I’m going to have to move! I own that place. If I get hurt, this is gonna stick with me because I see that rail everyday. It will be devastating.

But at the same time, I can’t live in a place where a rail is possible and not do it. It’s just going to nag at me. I was basically screwed. So I did it. I had to do it 4 times actually but it worked out.

Honestly, now I kinda want to put skatestoppers on that rail. I don’t ever want to have to deal with that thing again. I’m never it again. It’s done... I might even cut it out. (laughs)

Were you pleased with how the part came out? Jack Black seemed pretty psyched on it and I know Guy called your part his favorite in the video…

Oh really? I didn’t know that. Thanks Guy!

I was excited but you always want more. That will never stop. When I personally look at my part, I see what isn’t there, too. So I just want the next part to be better. You see someone like Marc Johnson: he’s done like 16 video parts and each one of them keep getting better and better. I’m not saying that I can do that because Marc Johnson is one of a kind, but in my head, that’s what I want to try to do.

I really want this Chronicles 3 part I’m about to start working on to have a little bit more variety. It would be cool to skate some transition. I’m definitely not good at it but there’s 2 years for me to figure it out. Maybe I can get a tranny clip at some point in that time. But I would like a more well-rounded part, for sure.

The gnarly stuff people are doing now is just psycho. I’m honestly not sure how long I can keep up with that stuff. I mean, that kid in the latest Thrasher did a 25-flat-25 and it’s only on the Contents page! Come on!

Did you realize BA and Alex were going to be leaving Girl shortly after Pretty Sweet premiered? I know you played around with the team changing trend at one point by posting a blank board on your Instagram for fun… which immediately sent the Internet into an uproar.

(laughs) Yeah, I texted Mike Carroll before I did it to see if it was okay, just to freak some people out. We thought it would be funny.

20 minutes later, all these guys are yelling at me. I had to take it down.

I had no idea about Brian. I think that was a big surprise to everybody. But whatever, it’s all skateboarding. I’m psyched he’s doing something that he wants to do. He has so many ideas and for him to have a place to put it all is great for him. He’s obviously a great artist and when I see his 3D stuff, I get psyched for him. I didn’t know about Alex either… I’m sure he’ll come out with something great as well. I wish those guys the best.

But it is a bummer, though. Those dudes were such a big part of the video and not just the skating. Just to have them in the van was great. But I’m happy for them and I’m also glad I still get to hang out with them on Nike trips.

World Park re-creation videos, reusing old Jason Lee graphics, and not to mention being around so many legendary dudes on the Girl/Choc squads from that era... I know the 90’s was well before your time but have you gone back to check out any of that stuff over the years? Talking about spending time in the van earlier, I have to imagine a lot of this stuff coming up in conversation quite often.

I’ve definitely gone back and watched older videos. I’m sure I can still get schooled on a million things in skating and I don’t want to act like I know it all but I’ve seen a lot of that classic stuff from spots like EMB, Hubba Hideout, and Pulaski. It’s cool to go back and check out all that older footage. Just watching Video Days and seeing stuff that Gonz did that I didn’t even realize had been done before. It’s cool. And you’re right, going on trips with those guys, that stuff is always in the mix. I’ll see Koston do something crazy and have to ask him, “What era was that?”

I get schooled along the way.

You’ve essentially grown up in the skateboarding industry… thrown into the pit on things like Beauty and the Beast at a very young age. What’s the most important tip you’ve learned after all these years on the road?

Well, an important one is to definitely not be the last one in the van.

That actually came from one of the first nights of Beauty and Beast. I was so hyped to be on that trip... setting up the tents and everything. But I wake up that first morning and get out of my tent to see literally everyone else with their tents packed. They’re just chilling and ready to go and here I am, the only one out of the crew that isn’t ready. Out of 30 dudes, they’re waiting on me. It was so embarrassing. So from then on, I was always ready.

Another thing is that if you want to go skate something, don’t feel bad about it. I remember feeling when I was younger that if nobody else wanted to go skate a spot, we shouldn’t go there. But I’ve learned with so much downtime on a trip, people usually get psyched when anybody wants to skate anything. There’s always too much time wasted on deciding where to go. Usually people just don’t know where they want to go so when someone actually does, people get psyched. And knowing there’s a support group behind you is sick.

But even if Carroll wants to go skate some spot that I would never skate, it’s cool because, at the very least, I’ll get to watch Carroll shred.

One of my favorite covers in recent memory, talk a little about that backside noseblunt down Stanford for Thrasher. So insane, man. What was your process like for that one? Did you go there specifically to do that? That had to be scary.

You know, sometimes skate trips just work out like that. I honestly didn’t even know that hubba was there. I mean I’d seen it before and recognized it when we came up to it but I didn’t know that was the spot we were at. But I was psyched. I started rolling up to it and everything felt good so I started trying it.

It honestly wasn’t even that hard or scary for me to do… it’s not like it was easy or anything. I’m not saying that at all. But it was one of those times where as I was rolling up to the spot, everything was feeling right. I was feeling good with that trick and just happened to end up right there to do it. Right place, right time. I was confident that I could get it. Not to say that I haven’t been confident about a million other things that I haven’t landed but that one was cool.

But it felt good because until that point, Thrasher was the last mag in the US that I hadn’t gotten a cover for yet. I had every other one up until then. I didn’t know that shot was going to be the cover but when it came out, I was hyped.

Is that your favorite cover you’ve gotten? You’ve definitely had more than a few…

Well, I’m friends with Atiba and I love the Skateboard Mag and everything… but yeah, that Thrasher one remains my favorite. It’s just a classic skate mag, you know? You gotta trip on it. Plus, with it being the last one, it really felt like a real monumental thing for me.

I always liked that Skateboarder cover with the tre flip over your namesake gap. Wasn’t that your first cover?

Actually my first cover was a front feeble for Transworld. The Skateboarder cover was the very next month. It’s funny because I remember seeing that Transworld cover for the first time and not even believing it was real. I’d never gotten a cover before and here it is with Blabac who’s such a classic photographer. I was tripping.

But I remember all my friends texting to congratulate me on that cover… and then a few weeks go by and people are still texting me with things like, “Awesome cover.”

I thought they were still talking about the Transworld one! I didn’t even know about the Skateboarder one!

That’s incredible, man. So that’s all I got, Sean. Thanks for taking the time to sit down.  I know you’re currently rehabbing but what plans do you have coming up after you’ve put all this injury stuff behind you?

After my ankle gets better, I’m just looking forward to really diving into Chronicles. I’ve already been talking to people about filming trips and things are looking good. This video is gonna be pretty intense. I’m psyched. We got a good crew lined up. We’ll see how it all works out.

Special thanks to Kaspar Van Lierop, Aaron Meza, Ben Colen and Trevar Cushing.


chrome ball interview #70: reese forbes

chops sits down with the forbinator for conversation.

Introduction by Chris Hall

My earliest memories of Reese come from Pulaski Park. He would come down there with his homie Dickie and he’d have the worst set-up ever but still be ripping. Mismatched wheels with flat spots all over them and an old chipped up board. I remember he’d wear untied white trash Reebok running shoes with the soft soles and still skate better than most of us down there. He had a very powerful, distinct style that made you just want to sit back and watch. Element was lucky to have him on their team. 


Alright, Reese, so I don’t know how much of this you want to get into but I do think we should get this out of the way, I know you are now over 3 years sober. Congratulations. Good to hear, man. Not sure how much people know about your backstory on this side of things or to the extent you’d like to talk about it but what was your inspiration to get clean?

Oh man… you’re going right in. I love it. I didn’t know if you were going to start out with Washington D.C. or ollieing stuff or what but you go with this one. That’s cool. I’ll be as honest and as forthcoming as I can possibly be.

Alright, so honestly, I didn’t really have an inspiration to get clean, it just sort of happened upon me. It basically came in the form of an exhausting run that chipped away at me for the longest time. It was something that I always had to carry around with me until I finally got fed up with it and admitted that I couldn’t beat it myself. I always felt I could somehow control it before. I had to admit I was defeated.

It’s crazy though because when you first came out, you always seemed so clean cut and fit. I remember a time when you were talking about being pro for two years and before planning on joining the Navy SEALS. And it seemed quasi-believable! When did things start to get out of control for you?

There’s so many ways to dive into this subject. I’m not sure if I have the words to properly explain every facet of this because I honestly had a lot of fun drinking my whole life. I had fun for a very long time until it stopped working. The problem was that I kept going, which led into other things.

There’s a lot of sensitivity around talking about the subject of drinking, in general… because yeah, its fun and you’re hanging out with your friends. It’s all good. I had a very long career in skateboarding and was able to travel all around the world with my bros and have a really good time doing it. My real problems came about when I started to develop this private, secretive relationship with a lot of the stuff I was starting to use outside of that party situation.

We’ve all heard these same kind of tales from pros like Guy and AVE battling addictions. Why do think skateboarders in general are so predisposed to this type of thing? Too much free time on your hands? The skate/party lifestyle?

I cannot speak for those people you mentioned or for anyone else because everyone is different. But for myself, it was just a long grind. Why are people so predisposed to that type of behavior? It’s hard to say.

Personally, getting into that stuff was essentially the same draw that threw me into skateboarding. Part of the initial attraction I had for skateboarding was that sense of rebellion and not caring. Doing whatever you wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it. I’m not comparing skateboarding to substance abuse because they are two different things entirely, but how skateboarding happened to me was that my mother brought me a skateboard and it just became this thing that I did. My life eventually became this thing where what mattered most to me was my relationship with my skateboard. It’s crazy how much of that same type of thing would happen to me again.

I think the lifestyle had a bit to do with it. I’m not pointing the finger at skateboarding for all the things I did in my personal life but the reality is whenever you fall into a type of lifestyle that allows such fame, cash and juice, there’s a responsibility that comes along with it. If you’re not taking care of things in the way you should be or if you haven’t aligned yourself with people you can trust and who will call you on your shit, you are left to your own devices. I didn’t have anyone to really be accountable to so it just became, in a sense, taking. And that worked for a really long time… again, until it didn’t.

But yes, I am 3 years sober now.

Well said, Reese. And congrats once again. Switching up speeds and going back a little bit, you’re known for skating DC but in reality, you mostly came up in the Maryland suburbs, right? How did you get introduced to the Pulaski scene back in the day that would eventually become so synonymous with your early career?

Yeah, I grew up skating in suburban Maryland, man. Bethesda, Maryland. That was my scene. And yeah, it’s pretty rural… it’s basically woods. The stuff I grew up skating was like a curb, a parking block and maybe a crusty-ass wooden bench. But that’s basically where I stayed and skated for years. I rarely ventured into the city because, for some reason, it never occurred to me. It honestly never dawned on me that I could go to other places with my skateboard and skate, too. It wasn’t until I went into the city with my friend Dickie that I realized it was even possible to catch a bus to the Metro and take that in.

I remember just popping out of the Metro, inside the city for the first time was so crazy to me. The whole thing was so exciting… to be in a city and skating with all of these different kids who came in from other areas, too. All gathering in one space for the same thing, I loved it. And it was such a great place to skate. 

That was obviously an earlier, friendlier-era of Pulaski. When did you start to realize what was going down in Pulaski was really starting to blow up on a global scale? That it was more than just a local scene going on there?

That’s so funny to hear it put that way but its true. All of a sudden, I started seeing people I knew with photos in the magazines skating at Pulaski. I mean, there was already Sheffey and Chris Hall with some coverage there but when Pulaski started popping up in 411 all the time… that was like our Bible at the time. That was when it became obvious that it was really becoming something. If you made it into the opener of 411 back then, that was a big deal. And that started happening more and more.

It’s inevitable that when a spot blows up, the tourists will flock. And unfortunately for them, Pulaski locals were well-known for regulating pretty heavy once the spotlight started shining a little too bright on that spot.

Yeah, people got jumped. Either one guy jumping on another dude or multiple people jumping a guy. I’m not going to mention any names but I will admit that I was part of that on more than a few occasions in my younger years.

But I have to say that once D.C. skaters became known for that type of thing, it almost seemed like it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was like once that sort of thing got in somebody’s head, that there was a chance they could get jumped by coming down to Pulaski, it was almost like that thinking guaranteed them to start acting in away that would make that sort of thing happen to them. That they’d almost make themselves get jumped in a way.

It didn’t happen everytime but it happened enough.  

How did Goodtimes Skateboards come into the picture for you? That little-seen promo part of yours is incredible!

I had just graduated from high school, barely, and was working at a deli. I was still skating downtown all the time and I just had the most busted gear.  My board was all worn out and my gear was totally busted. I remember just starting to think about things and not really liking how it all was starting to play out.

I figured I could keep on working at this deli, which was barely even a job anyway, or I could make one last serious go at skating. I knew I was coming towards the end of really being able to skate because I had to start supporting myself. I knew I was going to have to get a different job since this deli thing wasn’t enough and a new job wasn’t going to mix so well with skating. It just wasn’t going to work. I knew that I needed to get a sponsor to keep it going. I mean, Chris Hall had hooked me up with free product before but I needed to get on a team in order to keep going.

I got on Goodtimes shortly after that through a friend of mine, Joe Pino. We’d go skating downtown a lot together and he ended up telling the owner about me. That’s how I got my first box. I was riding Goodtimes boards after that. A friend of mine who also rode for Goodtimes, Andrew, ended up sending some of my footage out to Califonia and things progressed from there.

You were an interesting case because so many people talked about you very highly in interviews before you really started getting a lot of coverage. Like that Nicotine ad, “You don’t know him now but you will.” Did that kinda freak you out? Did that put any extra pressure on you at the time?

No, not really. When that stuff started to come out, that was really the start of blowing my head up. I really started to think I was cool after that. At the time, just to be included in the company of Andy, Chris and Pep, that was enough for me right there. Definitely.

Well, the first thing I ever saw of you was that backside kickflip over the White Ledge at Pulaski, which definitely lived up to the hype. Such a sick photo… But was that something you had done before or what? I just ask because you look so casual doing it in those jogging shoes you used to rock. What’s going on there? And why did you run Reeboks so hard back in the day?

Honestly, I only skated Reeboks back then because I could get them for cheap at Pay Less. Those shoes were basically the only ones I could afford.  That’s the only reason I had those on. (laughs)

But no, I had never done that before. It was cool because all the locals at Pulaski were there that night, all gathered around me. That sort of thing used to happen all the time actually and it was one of my favorite things about skating there. Someone would always be doing something and we’d all gather around them to watch and cheer them on, if need be. It was like we were all in it together. I miss that about Pulaski.

Honestly, I’m afraid skateboarding has lost that a little bit.

You got on Element pretty much right before Andy and Pepe left to start Capital. How did things work out like that? I always wondered why you never went to Capital as well…

I never went to Capital because Element started to pay me. That’s basically it. I would’ve probably gone to Capital any other time but Element just seemed like more of a solid deal. I had already taken a trip out to Cali to meet the team and the owner. It felt more stable to me at that point in my career.

I knew those guys weren’t happy with Element and they were planning on leaving to start their own thing. They were promised ownership of this new company… although I’m not sure how much that happened, if at all. I really doubt that it did. Obviously, Capital didn’t stick around for too long so looking back on it, I know I made the right choice.

Were you close to Pepe at all back then? Any good stories stick out about that dude?

I just miss that dude. He was so awesome. The first trip I ever took out of the country was with him and Andy in 1994. I was still amateur at the time but I was so excited to be traveling… I remember slam dancing with him in Germany, which is funny to look back on. Slam dancing with Pepe Martinez in some weird German club, down in the basement.

I don’t have any stories about him really. I just remember how he used to go out shopping all the time, purchasing all these expensive jeans and shoes. I never saw anybody spend money like that before. $300 pair of jeans? That was Pep. Whatever he wanted to buy, whenever he wanted to buy it.

So how did you get involved with Dan Wolfe and filming for Eastern Exposure 3? And how serious did you take filming for that project? Did you have any idea when you were filming that it was going to go on to become this landmark East Coast video?

Of course not. I had no idea.

It’s funny because I don’t really remember the first time I met Dan back in the day. There was so much going on at the time. But I know he was always around filming clips of everybody. That’s all he was doing when I first met him, just collecting clips. I met him at Reading once and filmed some stuff before he came out to D.C. and we started filming more stuff there… took a trip to Philly, too.

He was just so into filming that it kinda rubbed off on me and got me sparked. But I definitely took it serious because I could tell how passionate he was about it. I knew the video was really going to be great because of how serious he was.

How did it come about you getting a part versus being another montage guy?

I’m putting words in his mouth but reflecting back on it, I think it came about because I had already collected a good amount of footage early on. He saw what he was collecting and who had a good foundation of footage to work with and went from there… but I don’t know for sure. Ricky and Donny both had a ton of footage so I imagine that was his thought process.

Who’s idea was it to skate to the Talking Heads? Such a classic song choice.

I can’t remember where that Talking Heads song came from… and I can’t believe that I don’t remember. Let me think…

I know that I first shot over a Fleetwood Mac song that I wanted to use and Dan was like, “Hell no.”

Really? What Fleetwood Mac song?

“You Make Lovin’ Fun”- the Bill and Hillary Clinton campaign song. Just kidding. It was “Dreams”.

But he shot that down immediately. After that, we just started firing songs back and forth at each other and I think he came up with the Talking Heads.  

Did you share the same militant East Coast values as some of the other Underachievers heads back then? Did you at least see where they were coming from? Would you ever get any static or pressure because you rode for Element instead of Zoo or Capital or whatever?

The thing is that Ricky had such a huge influence on the way so many people thought… especially the people that really hung around him. I realize I’m single-handedly picking him out for this but he really had the fever and yes, I did catch a little bit of that static.

I just didn’t share that point of view. I never had that same fever as the party over there did. I had been to California and made friends with people out there. I knew at the end of the day, it was all just skateboarding. I didn’t want to get caught up in all that stuff with those guys.

I was proud to come from the East Coast and skate for a West Coast company because I always felt that was more difficult to do. Yes, we were isolated out on the East Coast at the time, so to make it out of there and actually get recognition for what you were doing was a much harder feat at the time.

One thing you always hear from East Coast dudes moving west is how small everything is… like the picnic tables, for example. Did you experience that same thing once you moved out there? I mean, you moved out there and immediately started ollieing halfway UP Wallenberg to manual. Nobody had done anything close to that up to that point. 

I’ve heard people from the East Coast say that but for me, it wasn’t as much about things being small but more about how smooth everything is. The run-ups and set-ups are so much better out here. With the exception of Pulaski and Love Park, there really aren’t too many places on the East Coast that are just perfect places to ride your skateboard.

I remember coming out and not being able to believe the schools everyone skated. How you could go in there and skate all day with no hassles, have a great day and go home. No conflicts. It was unbelievable. 

It seemed like you were really on a tear there for a while after moving out west… specifically once you went up to SF.

Well, what happened was that I’d moved out to Costa Mesa and was actually having a hard time getting used to skating out there. Having to jump in a car all the time seemed so strange to me. But then I ended up blowing my knee out, so that took me out for a little bit.

I was still injured when we moved up to San Francisco, so once I finally recouped my knee, I was beyond stoked to go out and skate SF.

Honestly, I was just happy at that point. Happy to be healthy and back on my board. I was hanging out a lot with the Deluxe guys as well, skating the park and just having fun. It was a good time.

Was part of that motivation trying to make a big statement after being injured? Because you got two covers pretty quickly there.

Well, my sponsors were going to drop me. I really had to make a comeback after my knee injury. I had just moved out to be closer to my sponsors but after my injury, I was in a bit of trouble there. I knew I had to get more coverage and really try to do the thing. Luckily, things worked out and nobody dropped me.

What was your process like with tailsliding the Cardiel ledge? Did you go there specifically to try it or did it just kinda happen one day? That had to be some scary shit, right?

I remember talking to Pete Thompson around that time and he had mentioned that Dave Swift, editor of Transworld back then, said if someone got a photo doing something down the Cardiel ledge, he’d give them the cover. That was pretty much my motivation to head over there. I’d been looking at it anyway… I’d always wanted to try something down it.

I can’t say for sure but I feel like I had to go back twice for that one. But I know I didn’t have that many tries on it. I didn’t eat shit on it too bad… I didn’t die (laughs).

I still think Cardiel ripped that ledge the hardest but whenever I landed my trick on it, I was happy. I just remember being like, “Let’s get out of here.”

Did that fakie ollie for the Thrasher cover come pretty quick, too?

I was with Dill and few others that day and we were all skating that thing. I remember Dill did a caballerial over it, which was amazing. But yeah, the fakie ollie came fairly easily over it.

I also backside flipped it that day. I got a sequence of it but I could never film it… I always wanted to. I went back a few times to try and get it but never could.

You know I’m going to bring it up… what about the Reese Forbes Ollie Challenge? Looking back on it, would you have set that up differently? Just asking because nobody that’s ever had their name on a “challenge” in skateboarding has ever won it. You took that very well with how it all went down but what was going on in your head?

(laughs) I just wanted a glass of water.

What was going on in my head? It was nerve-racking! It was high-pressure. There were all these antics going on around me… I mean Tim O’Connor’s standing there in his underwear! It was high drama, high intensity. These loud metal bars are getting constantly knocked down. It was crazy! But the contest went down the way it had to happen and the best man won on that day.

It’s funny because in the beginning, it was supposed to be this fun little thing. It was originally thrown out there rather lightly but it ended up gaining all this momentum. Suddenly, it was like, “Oh shit!”

The ball was rolling and there was no turning back. I remember thinking to myself, “Hey, what a minute! I thought this was a joke!?”

But honestly, people asking me about coming in 2nd at that ollie contest over the years has to be one of the most irritating things for me… just because it’s something that I’ve heard over and over again. And it’s funny because the person who brings it up always seems to act like they’re the first person to ever think of asking me about that.

“Does it bother you coming in 2nd for that ollie contest?”

“No, I was actually trying to get 2nd the whole time! That’s exactly how I wanted it to work out!” (laughs)

That’s always what my friends go with if they want to give me shit.

So funny. Talk a little about those doubles runs with Huf while filming for Closure. That stuff looked like so much fun. Was that just you guys going around and trying to find the absolute biggest stuff possible to skate?

That was fun, man. I always liked skating with Huf because we tend to skate the same stuff. But yeah, Dan called me up one day and said he wanted to go film some doubles with Keith and I so we went for it. It was Dan’s idea. What you saw there was us just cruising around the city with friends, having fun. We were all skating together at the time so some of our friends were able to get in the mix as well. Everyone got clips. That type of situation made the filming so much easier. Not so much pressure.

I liked filming with Dan because he always liked the more obscure stuff about skating that is really cool. The trick only seemed semi-important.

Be honest, who had the higher ollie, you or Huf?

I don’t know, man. Probably him.

We should have a little contest. Let’s call him up…. we can post the footage! (laughs)

That would be amazing! (laughs) So how did Rasa Libre come about for you?  How would you describe the overall direction and purpose you guys were trying to take with that project?

Rasa Libre came about as I had ridden for Element for many years and that was beginning to close. I had become friends with Matt Field over the years and we were skating a lot together at the time. Deluxe had been talking to Matt about doing a new company and it felt like a good thing for me to be involved in as well. Matt wanted the vibe of the company to really reflect the freedom one has on their skateboard. I remember he came up with the name one day with Micke Reyes… two words to represent the freedom to do whatever you want. Combine that with the vibe of 70’s rock and I think that whole thing came across pretty clearly in all our ads and things.

I know it was largely Matt’s project but how large of a role did you have in the overall direction of Rasa Libre? Perhaps with the team and whatnot?

Yeah, I think I played a large part in Rasa Libre. We all had a part in it, to be honest. It all happened so fast back then. Matt and I both chose the guys for the team together… Dylan, Nate, Omar and the crew. It was all pretty organic how that all went down. 

Rasa, especially the Deluxe-era, is one of those companies people love to pine over. Do you feel like that company was ahead of its time? Possibly to a fault?

Yeah, I feel that to an extent. But longevity with a skateboard company is such a difficult thing. You try to cover all the bets you could ever make and it still might not work out.

I think Michael Leon’s art direction was really ahead of its time. He has such an interesting outlook that really did well coupled with the different players involved:  Deluxe’s distribution, Matt’s creativity and the amazing riders we had on the team.

But I think we missed the mark as far as conveying the real inspiration of the brand. Michael left probably a year into it and I think that switchover so early on created a hiccup that we’d continue to feel on and on. Don’t get me wrong: so much of it was awesome but I feel it was also kinda mixed in some areas as well.
It has to feel good seeing that legacy live on with Omar and Dylan out there doing their thing, right?

Of course. I’m so proud of those guys. Even back then, Dylan and Omar both encompass everything that I want to see in a skateboarder and that’s why we wanted them on the team. They’re great people off their skateboards and just straight raw talent on their boards. Just awesome people.

One of my all-time favorite styles who just up and vanished, where is Nate Jones nowadays?

Where is Mike Jones? (laughs) I don’t know about Nate. I think I saw him on Facebook or something not too long ago. I need to get a hold of him. I think he had a kid and plays music in San Francisco. I’m not entirely sure.

So what ended up happening with that initial run of Rasa at Deluxe? Why did that company just implode like that and all of a sudden, you’re an OG on the newly-formed Skate Mental squad?

Shit… that’s a good question. But I wouldn’t say that it imploded, it was more like a gradual dissipation.

I honestly don’t recall anything really dramatic happening. We had an office in San Francisco and we were working on Rasa stuff. Matt was doing IPath, too. We had the art direction switched over and we were all skating a lot. Everything was good but looking back on it, I think what happened had more to do with us trying to wear all these different hats. Trying to do all this stuff while still trying to skate as well. It just didn’t work.

Something I’ve found over the course of my career is that it’s a very difficult thing to be a jack of all trades. To pull everything off is pretty much an impossibility for me. There are some people that can do it but I am not one of those people. I definitely gave it a good try, though.

I was skating a lot with Brad Staba at the time. He was running Skate Mental already but it was still just little t-shirt company. We started talking about things one day and he brought up that he’d been thinking about expanding Skate Mental into a board company and that he wanted me to ride for it. That I could just go back to skating and Brad could run the business end of it. It was really that easy. And now it is what it is today. He did all that. That really is his brainchild.

Could you have imagined it still going 10 years later with the success it’s had?

Never. (laughs)

I always loved your Johnny Cash-fueled part in Nike’s first foray into skate videos, Nothing But the Truth. That had to be a unique experience, right?

I have to say it was a lot of fun because we got to travel around all over the world to make it. But honestly, if you’re asking for my perspective on my part, I think my part sucked. The song is awesome but I really don’t like that part.

Why is that?

I just wish I would’ve done more. At that time, I was not able to do all that I would’ve liked to for it. Obviously I’m my own worse critic but looking back on it, I do feel that I should’ve just concentrated more on it. Skated more, tried more, contributed more… at that time, there were a lot of things going on in my personal life and I couldn’t fulfill all of the responsibilities that I had. That part got slid to the back… which is unfortunate. That’s something I regret.

But as far as that project and Nike was concerned, it was awesome. It was really cool being able to tour around all over the world with the video for premieres. It was really insane. Just going from Brazil to Moscow, London and New York like that in something like a week and a half… just for this video. That was really cool.

That’s the sort of thing I really miss now: being flown across the globe for something essentially quite small in the grand scale of things and having 5 days of leisurely free time. Just exploring cities, kicking your feet up and hanging out at a cafĂ©. The level of what you had to do and deal with was so small. After being home for two years now and not traveling anywhere, I appreciate that stuff a lot more now.

That and free Jaguars. So talk a little about the Stacks project with former Rasa art dude Michael Leon? It seemed super promising but I never really saw much beyond that initial run. Is that still going?

Stacks is kind of on-hold right now. He’s currently working for Levi’s and I’m down here working for an internet company, doing some other things besides skateboarding, so we’re not really doing anything with Stacks currently.

I’m not even skating right now anyway. Just kinda taking a break from it.

Understandable. But looking back on things, do you trip out on the legendary status Pulaski has achieved over the years? A legacy you helped build?

I think that legacy was already built by the time I got there but it’s a trip that it has achieved the fame and status it has. It’s kinda weird for me but there really has been so many awesome guys that have come out of Freedom/Pulaski.

To this day, I’ve never found ground as good as that anywhere else in the world. I love that spot and I really miss it… There’s just something about it, man. Amazing.

So I once asked Ricky Oyola to name any other skater that he would want to skate like and he said your name. I’ve actually heard more than a few people say the same thing over the years. So let’s now turn the tables and ask you the same question, who would you want to skate like?

I’d want to skate like Ricky Oyola. I really would. That’s really flattering.

There’s so many people to call out like that, though. Cards, Alan Petersen... Wade Speyer. But that’s really nice for him to have said that.

Alright Papa Reese, last question: if you could give one piece of advice to any young kids out there just now getting started in the skateboard industry game, what would it be?

(laughs) Oh man… I don’t even know. Skateboarding is so different now. It’s such a big thing.

I’d probably tell them that if skating is really what they want to pursue, getting sponsored and everything, to just concentrate on that one thing. If I could do everything all over again, that’s what I would do different: focus on the skating. Do that one thing and the other stuff will come later. 

special thanks to hunter muraira, mark goldman, chris hall and reese for taking the time.