4.19.2018

chrome ball interview #116: socrates leal

CBI celebrates 10 years with the legendary World filmer.


So you grew up in the South Bay area of LA, right? How’d you get introduced to skateboarding?

Yeah, I was introduced to skating by my older cousin. He used to always skate down at the skatepark in Torrance. I remember going there with him one time, being just barely as tall as the fence but trying to look in. I wanted to get in there and skate so bad. There was this snake run with all these older dudes… they were probably only 13 or so, but I was only 5 at the time so they seemed like grown men to me. But they were just flowing around, back-and-forth, in their little OP shorts and funky-looking helmets. Totally 70s skateboarding, man. It looked kinda scary but I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

And you just kept skating from there?

I really wasn’t even skating back then. It was just one of the many things you did as a little kid. BMX, surfing, frisbee… It was all part of being a kid growing up.  

I didn’t really start skating seriously until the 10th grade, around ‘86. The whole launch ramp-era. I bought my first Thrasher with Mike Muir on the cover. Sick! (laughs)


Were you always interested in filmmaking and photography?

Yeah, a lot of that came from my uncle. He’d go on all these trips down to Mexico and take his Super 8 camera with him. I remember him always coming back and playing stuff from his latest trip. We’d have to turn off all the lights and he’d project it onto our white wall. It was like magic. I was totally fascinated and, of course, I wanted to play around with it, too.

“No, this is off-limits. For adults only.”

Man, that bummed me out. But I still wanted to get my hands on one.  So one day as I was doing my paper route, I stopped by a garage sale and happened to see a camera. It was all funky-looking but it had a spool in there.

“What’s going on with this thing?”

“It’s a movie camera. I’ll give it to you for 10 bucks.”

I knew absolutely nothing about it but bought it anyway. Luckily, they were still producing the film at the time, so I went and bought some at the local Save-On and started messing around with it. Trying different stuff. Shooting my friends on their bikes or having them hold something, dropping it while the camera is paused, and shooting them again to make it disappear. Little effects like that. At one point, I was even trying to write a script but my friends weren’t really into it. They wanted to play Cowboys and Indians instead.

That was fun until they stopped making the film, so I had to put it away. That’s around the time that I started skating seriously anyway, but I always had the bug. I’d still buy cheap little Instamatic cameras to shoot around with. I just wanted to shoot.

I used to belong to a church youth group back then and we’d always go on these trips. One time, we were at a track meet and I saw this guy with a video camera. They’d been around for a while but this was the first time that I’d ever seen one in-person. I was blown away by that thing, man. I still remember when he played some footage back for me in the camera… I couldn’t believe it.

“Woah! How!?! You can just… what!?!”

“Yeah, it’s all on a magnetic tape.”

Oh, man. I couldn’t fathom how it worked! A VHS Tape! I had to get one.

It took me five years but I did finally get one. They’d gotten cheaper over the years and I’d started working, too. So yeah, I was 19 when I really started filming.


And you basically came up filming with Daewon and Eric Ricks?

Yeah, I’d gone to school with Ricks. I was a senior when he was freshman, but that’s how I knew him.

I met Daewon at this random church. He was already sponsored by a local shop, Sporting Ideas. Not that I was a poser or anything but he was already jamming. We had all these launch ramps out in the parking lot and this dude just started launching crazy, like Hosoi-style. He ripped! I remember trying to match him the best could… but nah, I quickly had to take a seat.

Once I finally got my video camera, there was still that show on Nickelodeon called Sk8-TV with Skatemaster Tate. They’d always say on the show “Submit your VHS and we might play it on the air!”

Oh man, that was all we needed. After hearing that, it was on!

That’s when I became the “filmer” of the crew, just because we wanted to send in that tape! Daewon, included! We wanted to get on Sk8-TV! That’s really what set all this in motion to where I am today.

Did you ever send in a tape?

We never did! (laughs)


How much of this do you feel is right place, right time? Do you think you would’ve explored “filming” if it weren’t for such incredible local talent?

There’s some of that. I definitely got lucky with having those dudes around. I mean, I got a camera in ’90, basically right before Ricks got on Powell and Daewon got on World. Those were the two best companies back then. I was able to fall in that mix simply by having a movie camera. Those guys were already killing it. Of course, I’m down to film them.

From there, our crew expanded to those guys’ new teammates, like Kareem, Shiloh and Daniel. I still remember Shiloh coming up to me one day as I was filming Daewon at San Pedro High.

“Alright, man, get this.”

“What?”

“Film this!”

“Huh?”

“Aren’t you the World Industries filmer?”

“No, I’m just here filming Daewon.”

“Oh, you’re not getting paid for this?”

“No! I’m just hanging out.”

“Oh, sorry, man… well, would you mind filming this?”

“Sure! Yeah, I got you.”

I started filming all of those guys after that.


So how did you get officially on the World payroll?

Well, like I said, I started filming those guys as a homie. Nobody ever forcing me to, just wanting to be out there because I thought those guys were amazing.

It was all fun for me but those guys were in a different mindset, because this was actually their careers we’re talking about. I didn’t know this at the time but they were the ones talking to Rocco and Rodney about me.

So one day after we’re done filming, they come up to me, like, “Hey, we need the tapes.”

“Oh yeah, what for?”

“We’re gonna show Rodney. We want to be in the next video.”

So they ended up showing Rodney the footy and actually got rejected. Not because of their skating, obviously, but because the company wanted to go in a different direction. They didn’t want to make another full-length video at the time, which is why they made 2 World Industries Men instead. But we kept on filming anyways.

From there, I was told that Rodney wanted to meet with me about possibly filming. It went really well but he didn’t actually need me right then. He said that they might call me in the spring of ’92 for a little U.S. tour they were putting together.

I didn’t hear anything officially a while, but in the meantime, I kept filming and actually busted my camera. So, of course, this is when I get the call from Rodney. And not for that tour either, he was actually calling me to film him! Like I said, I didn’t even have a camera at the time but I knew I couldn’t pass this up. This was Rodney Mullen! So I lied to him.

“Yeah, I got you.”

I ended up having to call this super weird friend of mine from east L.A. I think he might’ve been autistic or something. He’d do things like getting a job at McDonald’s just long enough to earn the exact amount of money he needed for a year’s worth of CASL contests... I’m talking, calculating the exact number of hours that he needed to pay for the entry frees, bus fare and food to enter every contest that year. That’s what he would work, to the second, and then quit.

But he had come into some money. His grandmother wanted to see him spend his inheritance before she died so she gave him all this money early. What does he do? He goes out and buys literally two of everything he wants. Two Vespas, two tv’s, two video cameras…

 “Why did you buy two video cameras?”

“Because last time, I let a friend borrow my camera and he broke it. So this time, if I lend it to him and he breaks it, I’ll have a back-up.”

“Why don’t you just not let the guy borrow your camera?”

“…But I have two video cameras.”

Anyway, I was able to talk this dude into letting me borrow his camera under two conditions: I had to drag him along and he had to get product. It was the only way.

But this wasn’t going to fly. My first day with Rodney, the second he saw that dude, it was over.

“I’m not gonna film with him here! No way! He’s like a little rat! He keeps skating in circles around me, trying to impress me. Get him outta here!”

“I’m sorry. I have to confess, I had to borrow his camera. Mine’s busted… Oh, and he wants some product, too.”

Rodney was so heated, man. He wasn’t having it. (laughs)

“Okay, we’re going to hook up tomorrow. Don’t bring him. I’ll see what I can do… maybe I can get him some wheels or something. But please, don’t bring him.”

So the next day, I talked that dude into staying home and Rodney brought me bag of blank sample wheels to give him. 

“Here.” (laughs)

That was the day we filmed his opening line in Questionable.


So that’s your first gig? Filming Rodney Mullen’s opener for Questionable?

Yeah, man… that was the first time I ever went out as a pro “filmer”.

It’s that line where he noseblunts a curb, hits that gap and keeps going. I remember him trying that noseblunt forever, but once he made it, I had no idea what was next! And he just starts pushing forever! I’m trying to match his speed but where’s this dude going? Oh, he’s gonna ollie this gap! Wait, what am I going to do?

He was pushing hard, too. I’m just trying not to bobble the camera. I wasn’t planning on that gap. I’d actually ollied it before but it took forever… and now I have a camera? I’m not about to do that now.  I’ll eat it and bust the camera!

Well, that dude does have another one.

(laughs) I basically had no choice but to jump off my board and run with him, hopefully it wouldn’t be too shaky. And that’s what I did, man. I had to make it up on the fly.

You can see your shadow in that clip, too. I love it. So you filmed a large part of his Questionable part?

He’d already been filming down in San Diego with Ternasky and Schlossbach but was finding it harder and harder to drive down there. Because his business is here in LA. He didn’t want to be in an office all day, and then sit in traffic for 3 hours to go film. So that’s where I came in.

The problem was, I already had a job elsewhere. After I got out of high school, I started working as an artist for a screen printing company, designing t-shirts. Even though, I was totally irresponsible with it… spelling it “San FranSISCO” without the c. And I’m Hispanic!

Anyways, I was doing that at the time when I got the gig shooting Rodney. That job was from 8am to 5 in afternoon and Rodney would pick me up right afterwards, like clockwork. But he only wanted to skate at night, so we’d be out til 2 or 3 in the morning. So for about two months, I was only sleeping 3 hours a night! I was exhausted! I was totally down to film and wanted to make the most of the opportunity, but I just couldn’t continue on with that schedule!

Finally, I had no other choice but to mention something about it to Rodney. Because I was beat! He ended up working something out with Rocco. I still remember meeting with Rocco at a pizza joint about it. Daewon went with me, too.

“Why don’t we pay you by the hour instead? We trust you, you write down your hours and that’s it. Just go out and film. You can film the ams in the daytime and you film Rodney at night and on the weekends.”

One thing that I will say for Rocco: he always wanted to make something out of us dirtbag kids. He always saw our potential. Because if it wasn’t for World, I would’ve probably just worked at some warehouse my entire life.



So now you’re officially the World filmer, do you just start cold calling people? Were you nervous at all?

You have to remember that I was older than most of those guys. I was 19 already, they were all 15 or 16. So most of the time, I felt like I was hanging out with little kids. They just happened to be really good at skateboarding.

Also, the first job I ever had was filming Rodney! Talk about a trial-by-fire, that’s gnarly! All of my jitters were pretty much gone after that! (laughs)

The crew just kept growing. Like, one day, we’d all go out and Shiloh would bring Guy along, so I’d film some stuff with him… the next day, I was going out to North Hollywood and the Valley to film them at their spots out there. Because that’s where Shiloh and all the Blind guys were from. Matt Schnurr and Chico, too, whenever he’d come down. I didn’t know any of this walking into it, I just had to figure it out as I went.

I guess before me, they would all film themselves. Just passing around Mark’s old camera, filming each other with a busted lens.

Do you recall any particularly epic times where everybody got multiple NBDs in one night?

That went down fairly regularly. Because we’re talking about a time when so many tricks hadn’t been made up yet. Somebody had to make up all that stuff, I just happened to be filming most of the guys doing that. What if I go this way or out that way? What if I throw in a flip? All of these different variations. That became the thing: progression. Not only trying to do something that nobody else could do, but also trying to make up something that nobody had even thought of.

One night that does stand out was around ’93 or so, back when Jeron was still on Blind. Daewon and Jeron got into this little joke battle of seeing who could pull off the most NBDs that night. It started off at the Imperial Ledges and then went on to the Santa Monica Manual. They were both breaking off tricks, one after another. I think they each ended up with 8 or 9 tricks that night, none of which had ever been done to our knowledge.

What were the tricks?

I’d have to watch the footage. It’s pretty bad that the dude filming it all can’t remember. People always flip out on me because I can never remember. I'm more concentrating on filming it right and not screwing up. The trick was on them.

All of Daewon’s stuff got put in New World Order… I’m not sure if Jeron’s stuff ever came out, to be honest.


Wasn’t Love Child your first big project?

I filmed probably half of Love Child. The rest was probably Meza, Jake Rosenberg and this other guy that World had hired who used to film on rollerblades.

Is that “T-Dog”?

Yeah, that’s the guy where that all came from. I think his name was actually Mark Eaton. Dudes were pretty bummed on that guy. (laughs)

A long source of controversy, who picked out the music for that one?  

Yeah, there were all pretty bummed on the music at first, too. (laughs)

I think it all came from that U.S. Tour that we went on. That was kinda like the unofficial beginning of Love Child. Rocco was with us and he bought this crazy CD, like “Malt Shop Favorites” or something. One of those Oldies But Goodies-type compilations you see at gas stations. it was all 50’s and 60’s music that he kept on playing. We just laughed at it because we all had our headphones on anyway.

For the record, I didn’t edit Love Child but I did do all the off-line stuff, like transferring the footage. They actually edited all that down at Mike Ternasky’s place in San Diego. So no one up in LA could see anything until it was done, which included finding out what song they were skating to. But I definitely remember being there the first time everyone saw it.

“Oh, man… No way! My song sucks!”

It was obvious that the decisions regarding music and the overall theme had been planned for a while. I can’t say for sure, but Rocco playing all those songs in the van and looking around at everybody, I feel like he was making decisions there about which song fit each guy. Because all those songs were off his CD.


The summer of ‘92 saw videos from literally every Rocco brand. Did you film at all for 101 or Pack of Lies?

I filmed Leigh Petersen some for 101 but I had very few clips in that one. Natas liked to handle all of his videos. I usually wouldn’t even see those until they came out.

I’d say I probably filmed over half of Tim and Henry’s. Tim Gavin’s stuff was almost all mine, piling that up. And I’d also film Henry whenever he came down to LA and stayed at Guy’s house.

That was actually supposed to be for a full-length video, but after a while, they had to make a marketing decision. Because they’d just turned Tim pro and really wanted people to see him skate. Tim and Henry both had a lot of footage piled up, way more than the rest of the dudes. Might as well put that out now instead of having to wait. World had put out a promo with two dudes that seemed to work, we’ll just do that again and let the other guys keep piling up for the full-length later.   


“Get me in the background before you edit”… were guys doing that a lot back then?

(laughs) That was a total joke, man. Background props were not cool at all back then. Like, we didn’t use the word “T-Dog” in LA but it was typically that type of dude.

“Oh, you guys are filming a video? Let me position myself right… here. Now I’m in the background! I’m gonna be in the video!”

Daewon just happened to be standing there at the end of Tim’s line. He was picking his board up after missing a trick and we ended up right there in-front of him. There was nothing he could do about it, so he just screamed that out.

Obviously Henry’s part is one of the all-time best, how did he go about putting that thing together? Would he go out on missions or just make things up on the fly?

We never discussed anything in advance, we’d just go out and film. I would do my thing, he would do his. Simple as that. Don’t mess with him. He knows what he’s trying to do, let him do it.

“Film this.”

“Okay.”

Whatever was going on in his mind, I don’t know. But seeing it all at the end, he obviously had a plan going the whole time. A part like that doesn’t just happen, he had to be building on stuff in his mind. He was just playing it close.

Guys like Henry and Daewon, all they did was watch footage. All day. They’d sit and watch the transfer tape for hours to figure out what was next. Looking for a clip that would spark an idea for the next one. I think they’d bounce things off each other, too. Asking Rodney what he thought about something, because I would hear them talk. Just not to me… at least, not Henry.


Isn’t that you who ate shit mid-line at the bank-to-curb spot?

(laughs) Yeah, that’s me. I was filming with that old busted Blind camera. It was already broken and we tried to get it repaired, but I think the guy just superglued the inside of it or something. It obviously wasn’t fixed because it was slowly busting open again. You seriously had to hold it with both hands whenever you filmed with it. That’s a super awkward position to be in. If you hit a rock like that and fall forward, you can’t catch yourself.

So, of course, I’m filming Henry when I hit a rock and slam straight to my shoulder. Because there’s nothing you can do. You have to take it in order to save the camera. But it was already so loose, that slam finished it off anyway. The lens broke and everything.

So after falling like that and now the camera’s done, I was pissed. For whatever reason, I get up and try to do some crazy flying sidekick into one of those rolling warehouse doors… I don’t know why. Just not thinking straight. But even then, I misjudged it somehow and ended up barely even kicked the damn thing.  I wanted to really slam it and dent it, full-force. But here I give it this crazy kick and I barely even nick it with my toe, which pissed me off even more. Everyone was laughing at me. It was the worst.

Who decided to keep it in the video?

The guys did. They thought it was hilarious.

“You have to put that in there. You’re not getting away with this. It has to go in there.”

Who edited that part? Because it almost seems sequential with the tricks.

I edited that… and my apologies for the audio. But honestly, Henry laid out all those tricks for the video. That was all him. That’s how he wanted it. He came in to edit with that Black Sabbath song and a list of all his tricks in the exact order that he wanted them. He even had it down to how it opened up with that line to start everything out, no music. He specifically wanted you to hear the bricks.

“No music until this line comes kicking in and that’s when you start the song.“

“Alright, sounds like a good plan to me!”


Why the decision to let the song play at the end?

That was more of an afterthought than an idea. What can I say? It was my first video! (laughs)

That was largely due to the way we edited back then, tape-to-tape. You had to record the whole song onto one audio channel before you even started editing any footage. So basically what happened is… we ran out of footage! That’s a long song, man! We’d already edited all of the footage that we wanted to use but still had all that music left! I didn’t really have a way of ramping down the music back then. I guess we could’ve cut it abruptly but honestly, I always thought it was cool that we let it ride. It’s such a good song, let the people listen to it. Who cares?

But yeah, I can’t believe they went along with it. I guess Henry was only concerned about the skating. (laughs)

What does “Pack of Lies’ even mean? Who came up with that?

That was Rocco. At first, it was going to be called “Tim and Henry’s Promotional Video”... something that was so generic that it was cool.

I think “Pack of Lies” as along the lines of “Virtual Reality”, like, movie magic and all that. But looking back on it, part of me thinks that it actually had more to do with the intro promise of a full-length video coming soon. I can’t say for sure, but Rocco probably knew that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. He was a joker like that.


Was there ever going to be a full-length Blind video?

I honestly thought there was. I remember filming those dudes, thinking that the footage was going for that. I know the heads of World were definitely planning on one. They needed to market their guys!

Whether or not the guys on the team wanted that video is another story. I had no idea about their plan to leave but I’m sure it had been going on for a while, during that time.

Was that Friends section in Virtual Reality just a footage dump prior to leaving?

At the time, I thought it was a good idea, but I can see that being part of their plan now. Because I remember watching that video after Girl came out and thinking to myself about how hardly any of those guys were even with the company anymore. 

What about the World Park? Were you essentially the only guy filming in there? Wouldn’t a lot of those sessions go all-night?

The whole thing was Rocco’s idea to have a park where we could film whenever we wanted to, day or night, and not have to worry about security. And it started out that I’d go over there and film whenever somebody hit me up, but it got to the point where I was always there. After a while, World ended up moving all the video equipment over from the main office in Torrance and set me up a little editing bay there. I had my own little room with these weird tables made out of warehouse palettes, like a one-level rack. This way I could transfer the footage right after we got done filming. I had a key and everything.

And yeah, we’d definitely be in there late, sometimes all-night. That’s why they set up those bunk beds, too. That was after Big Brother had moved out. It was their old office.


But as a filmer, what about all the hi-jinx? What was the balance between cool stuff to film versus incriminating evidence?

(laughs) Honestly, those guys didn’t really give a fuck. Sometime they actually wanted me to film that stuff. They didn’t care. Sometimes I think if Rocco himself would’ve walked in, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

“Oh, hey. Yeah, this is what we’re doing.”

Well… probably except for the stealing. But the tagging and all that, they were hyped on that stuff.

What was the craziest shit you saw go down?

Nothing was really all that crazy. We were just kids so it seemed like a big deal to us at the time, but it wasn’t really much. They got really into tagging... even though at first, they weren’t even artists about it. They were basically just writing their name all over the place.

I do remember one night where they decided to get a whole bunch of stuff together on the warehouse floor and light it on fire. I was in the editing bay, which had this giant window. I turned around and saw these giant flames going up. But they already had the extinguisher ready.


What’s the best thing you saw Guy do back in the day that was never filmed?

(laughs) Someone told you about the switch tre, didn’t they?

Down the Imperial double-set… yeah, Koston brought it up.

Oh my God, dude. That was my biggest fail ever. Guy switch 360 flipped the Imperial double-set… which is still big now but back then, it was enormous. And I missed it! Awful.   

So Guy comes up to me one day, like, “Soc, I need you to film this trick. I’ve already gone out with Dowling twice already and he couldn’t get it.”

I’m not sure what had happened but according to Guy, he’d already landed it twice and he was bummed.

“I got you. Let’s go.”

A crew of us head over there and he starts trying it... and I still don’t know what happened. All I can tell you is that I was standing there with the camera down by my side, waiting for another turn. Waiting to hear him pushing towards the stairs. Because as soon as I would hear that, I’d pull the camera up and hit record. Something I’ve done a million times.

So I hear him coming and pull up the viewfinder, but the camera is dead. What’s going on? I had full power a second ago? I mess around with the battery real quick. It’s just not turning on. And he’s coming!

I tell everyone around me, “Hey, something’s wrong. Tell him to stop!”

Because I’m fiddling around with this thing, I don’t want to miss it or possibly catch it late.

But he’s still pushing. I guess he didn’t hear them the first time so they keep yelling at him.

“Guy! Stop! He’s not filming! The camera’s off!”

I think some of them even got onto the actual stairs, waving their hands for him to stop. I was even yelling, waving the camera up in the air… I guess he thought we might’ve been joking? I don’t know. But all that must’ve given him that extra little something to make it. So regardless of all the commotion, he pops it, catches it perfect and lands it so smooth. It was beautiful.

He starts looking around as he’s rolling away and he must’ve known that something was wrong. He just pops his board up into his hand and walks over to the car, like he’s ready to leave.

“Dude, I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t tell me, dude. Don’t tell me.”

“I’m not kidding, man.”

“Alright, I’m over it.”

I don’t know if he ever went back for it but he definitely didn’t try it again that day. He didn’t want to go back up there again, because it was the third time he’d done it. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

Everyone tried talking him into it but he was over it. So that’s when all those dudes started looking at me crazy. It was rough, man. But it wasn’t my fault! It’s not like I ran out of tape or battery. That would’ve been such a bad look but there was none of that! Full battery. Plenty of tape. Oh, man…


Did you film that clip of Guy skating Henry’s broken board? How did that even happen?

Yeah, that was Jed, Henry, Guy and I in Gardena at 135th Street School. Henry had just snapped his board trying switch big spin heels over that hip. This was back when everyone was still big in their focusing phase, breaking down boards into little squares over the trucks.

So Henry’s about to start focusing the rest of his board when Guy comes in, like, “No, no… let me see it real quick.”

We had no idea what Guy was about to do but he gets on it and starts pushing, which wasn’t easy because the middle of the board is broken. It was literally scraping the ground. But he starts pushing on it and I just know, right away, that this is going to be some crazy Guy shit. I don’t know what exactly is going to happen but I have to film it because this dude is magical. If anybody else would’ve tried this, it would’ve been completely different, like stop messing around, dude. But he’s pushing towards that hip, I just knew that whatever trick he’s about to do, he going to make it. He knew it, we all knew it.

Boom, nollie big spin heel over the hip. On a broken board. He landed it all perfect with his Guy style, too. Flat relaxed, no apprehension. That dude was magic, man. So crazy to see. That was Guy.


Was it difficult to be out as the filmer with these amazing skaters when they possibly weren't so into being filming that day?

They were usually the ones who called me to film so they must’ve wanted to go on some level. Typically, we’d just be hanging out. I’d only start filming if things were starting to pop off. But it’s not like I was directing a scene with those guys.

If they didn’t feel like filming that day, they’d let me know. They’ll just sit down. Tim Gavin would do that one a lot.

But at the same time, some people were really into it. Like Jeron, he always wanted to film.

Most guys were into it when they had something that they wanted to get, when they had a specific motivation. But there was always pressure and I’m sure I represented that to many of them. Because somebody was always telling them to get into gear. I’d hear them talk, man. Not to mention when they got all pissed off and started throwing their boards.

“I don’t feel like doing this. Fuck this. I don’t want to film right now. Why am I even doing this?”

I was just patient enough to sit there as they slammed into this thing for an hour. They get pissed but you know, deep-down, all these guys really want the trick. They just hate going through the process of getting it.


Didn’t you film Keenan’s switch flip over the picnic table at Lockwood? What was that day like?

Yeah, I actually can’t find that tape. I’ve seriously been looking everywhere for that tape for weeks.

But yeah, Keenan was trying switch heels that day, too. That switch flip came pretty quickly, though. Keenan never really battled anything. He wasn’t the dude to battle something for hours. It either came in a few or he peace’d out, not today.

Did you know as soon as he rolled away that it was gonna be one of those all-time clips?

I knew whenever I filmed him do anything that it would look special. He was so unique in the way he skated. But the way he popped over that table was so clean, he just had power and so much control over his feet. I loved filming with Keenan, man. He was always the nicest dude.

(Editor's Note: Portions Shot Vertically For Video Grab Purposes. )

How worrisome was filming in spots like Lockwood with all that expensive camera gear?

At first, I wasn’t really worried about any of that. But then I got my camera taken at the 3rd Street gap, so I was always more aware of my surroundings after that. Because it really is thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment. If you bring that out at the wrong time, you could be in trouble. They’ll probably only get about 200 bucks at a pawn shop but crackheads and gangsters don’t care.

The 3rd Street Gap was just a bad deal. It was my camera, too. Close to $3,000 worth of gear. Four sketchy V-13 dudes. I put up a fight but I was so skinny back then that I wasn’t really phasing anybody. One of them was about to crack me over the head with my board so I ran.

Rodney went out and got me a new camera. Even though it wasn’t the World camera, he still replaced it. That was cool. But we lost the footage, a Howard Heelflip over the 3rd Street Gap.

As far as Lockwood went, I’d see gangsters there but I just kept to myself. I always had a plan in my head, just in case they did rush me. You just kept an eye on them and knew where they were. Don’t strike up conversations with gangsters, because they’re not looking to talk about skating. Even if they’re just asking for a dollar, they might have a Corona bottle behind their back. Next thing you know, they’re cracking your head open.


Isn’t that where you filmed the infamous Menace “beatdown” of Matt Nailer for 20-Shot?

They’d always mess around with each other like that. Horsing around. But Matt was usually the guy who ended bearing the brunt of most of it.

But yeah, that day started off at Lockwood and they were already starting up with the shenanigans. Next thing I know, I hear, “Get this! We’re gonna beat his ass!”

I started filming it but we all knew it was a joke. It wasn’t real. They weren’t really hitting him full-force, though I’m sure a few of those probably hurt. It was all fun and games. I don’t think it was planned but if it was, I wasn’t in on it… which I think makes it look more real. Like I just happened to get it on tape.

Right, but didn’t they break his collarbone?

I think that came from where they grabbed him and threw him down. But that was more of an accidental, went-too-far scenario.


What about the breaking into Kareem’s house for the Menace intro in Trilogy?

Now that one was all scripted. I remember Kareem writing all that out, setting up the shots and everything. He basically directed that thing.

“Alright you guys are gonna come in like this. Don’t laugh… come on. Put on your face. Soc, get this.”

You couldn’t help but laugh, though. It was so funny. Even Billy breaking in and laughing, like, “Whatevs!” You had to have some of that stuff in there for it to work. It was like our own little movie. Wing did the rest of those skits so it was cool to be able to get one in of my own. 



Was there really going to be a Menace full-length?

Oh, there was definitely going to be a Menace full-length. We were always shooting for that thing. Dudes had full video parts worth of footage, saving it up. No 411s, no Logics, nothing. Just that video. But they’d always get hit by the next World video and have to put something together for that instead. So the best stuff got thrown into those. Those videos are what essentially kept Menace’s video from coming out.

A few years down the line, it did reach a point where Kareem came to talk about everything with me.

“Hey, man, you know all the footage. Be real, do we have what it takes to come out with something right now?”

At the time, I was thinking more in terms of minutes. Because this was a full-length video that people had been waiting on for a long time, we needed a 30-minute video, at least.

“Look, if we chop this up, cream of the crop-style, we’ll probably have a 15-minute video.”

“What!?!”

Because by that point, we were following the Girl and Chocolate videos as well as Trilogy, we had to do it right. The stuff that we’d filmed over the last year or so was really good, but because we’d been filming for so long, a lot of the other footage was too old. That was a big problem. We had so much groundbreaking stuff of Pupecki and Fabian, but we’d been sitting on it for three years now. I was actually starting to see other people doing those same tricks now. Things Fabian had already done years before but nobody knew because the video still hadn’t come out yet. It was taking the punch out of the whole thing.

In the end, I told him that we had about 15 minutes of footage. If we stretched it out with an intro and some credits, maybe a skit, we could probably get 25 minutes out of it.

“Alright, cool.”

They go and hire Atiba to shoot a bunch of skits for it. I wasn’t involved with that but I heard the footage came out too dark. So after that happened, it was pretty much deflated. Kareem was bummed, which meant even more time goes by. Meanwhile, everything just kept getting older and older. Round 2 comes around and they gotta put something together for that… that’s when people started taking off. It was City Stars after that.

Fabian was finally able to put out his lost part a few years ago. I still remember him coming into my office for the footage. I was hyped to see that thing finally come out. He worked hard for that, man. He deserved that shine, to let people know.


Are you the one who filmed Kareem check his pager mid-line?

Yeah, but I didn’t even realize he did that at first because he’d do that all the time actually. That one just happened to be in a line he made. He’d always be skating with his pager, the same way people skate now with their phones. The way that you don’t even think about it when someone texts you, you just check it almost instinctually, that’s what Kareem would do with his pager back then. I feel like not knowing who paged him would bug him, because it could be an emergency. It puts you in a weird state… just check it real quick and put it back. Now you’re straight.

I know he was expecting Lil’ Reem around that time. That could’ve been it.


Who was probably the biggest perfectionist you dealt with over the years?

There were a lot but the ones who really stick out to me are Enrique and JB. They definitely had to get everything perfect.

(Heavy French Accent) “No, I cannot be seen like this! This is sucks!”

But a lot of guys are like that. Daewon, too.

“Nah, that looks bad. We gotta redo that.”

And Rodney! Of course, Rodney!

“No, no, no, no… do it again. No, do it again.”

“Oh my God, that one’s great!”

“No, no… let’s do it again.”

There would always be something weird at the time that he’d have to redo. So we’d be out there all day trying to get it but whenever we transferred the footage that night, he’d end up liking the third one he did out of 6. Always. Never the final one.


How would you compare Rodney’s process to Daewon’s?

Daewon always seemed to be more confident in what he was doing. I mean, sometimes he would ask me stuff, but it was always more indirect. He has a way of dancing around the subject but still getting it out of you. He never just asks if a trick sucks.

“Hey, maybe you should stop filming… this is kinda beat, huh? This is poser stuff, right?”

“No, I think it’s a great trick.”

“Oh yeah? You think so? Huh… well, maybe we’ll keep it going.”

Rodney’s the complete opposite. He always has to talk everything through with you.

“Soc, honestly, is this worth it?”

But Rodney isn’t so much about perfection. He’s just wants to present his new trick ideas in the best possible way. But a lot of times, he’d ask for my opinion and I wouldn’t even know what to say. Like caspar slides and all that stuff, I don’t really understand it. You’re landing primo and spinning around and then whatever… Okay.

“But what do you think?”

“I think it’s good.”

He’d end up just giving me this look, like, “What do you know?” (laughs)

But while Rodney almost always films by himself, Daewon likes to feed off his friends. It has more to do with the session with him. Like with what I was talking about earlier with Jeron, that got it right out of him.

“Oh what!?! That’s sick! Alright, I got you. I’ll do this.”

Both of them are always thinking but Rodney will actually write things down and have it all organized on a computer. Trying to figure out not only what’s the next hardest thing he can try but also how he wants to film it. Because he already has an edit in-progress.

“You filmed the last trick going left-right so let’s go right-left on this one.”


What’s your favorite Daewon part?

I always liked his NewWorld Order part. I like the song a lot, too. He’s really good at choosing his songs.

For the record, is that footy sped up?

No, I remember people saying that but dude just skates fast. He has such quick reflexes and reactions to things to where it can look unnatural at times, like it’s sped up. But no, that’s just Daewon.

But there is something I have to admit about his Trilogy part.

Absolute Perfection?

(laughs) Yeah, he wanted to skate to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Art of Moving Butts”. Trilogy actually premiered with that song in there. But afterwards, it was said that there was too much hip-hop in the video and they wanted some songs switched out for different types of music.

This is literally the night before we took it to duplication. So the obvious choice was to start looking at guys who wouldn’t put up the biggest fuss about their music getting switched.

I remember us thinking that because Daewon had such an island vibe, we’d put some reggae in there. He listened to reggae, too. But the problem was that his part was already edited to Tribe, which had a quick beat. You can’t exactly put that to “Buffalo Soldier”.

It’s 2 in the morning and we’d already gone through a million reggae songs that were all too slow when I see Wing pull out that CD and play “Absolute Perfection”. Ok, it’s fast and kinda reggae-ish… I think this might work! So we just went with it. But wow, that song sucks. We’d just heard too many slow reggae songs leading up to it, we were paying too much attention to how the song worked in the edit versus actually listening to it. Daewon hated it, too.

Trilogy had a lot of good songs that got switched out. I remember Marcus McBride skating to Goodie Mob, that was cool. Gideon Choi originally skated to “Me and Baby Brother” by War, which was super good, too, even though he didn’t like it. So once word got out that we were switching songs after the premiere, it just snowballed. Everyone jumped on that, wanting to switch their songs.


How did Cheese and Crackers come about? Who decides on an all mini-ramp video in 2005?

Well, I remember going out to film Chris Haslam and he brought up the idea of having a special mini-ramp part with Daewon for Round 3. Not one specific place, just mini-ramp tricks from everywhere, possibly as a bonus section. But that never happened.

So after Round 3 came out and we were thinking of new projects, this mini ramp idea started to gain momentum. Somewhere along the way, it was decided that it’d be easier to build a ramp somewhere and do it all in one spot. So now they had to find a place to build it, which took a while with our budget, but we finally found a place down in Long Beach. Someone said that it used to be a meth lab but it was technically a body shop. It had been abandoned for a while and was all dusty and dirty… there was a dead rat sitting there. It was disgusting.

They started filming stuff around the end of 2005. I wasn’t even included in the plan at first. But Daewon’s the type of dude where once he starts working on something, he doesn’t want anything to slow him down. One day, he needs to film something and nobody’s around, he hits me up. After a couple days of that, he officially brings me on board. It was on after that.

Those guys seriously filmed every single day, including Christmas and New Year’s. Not even hanging out with family, just skating. But the ideas kept building on top of each other. It’s a mini-ramp, what else are we going to do here? Because this could get old after a while. We have all this junk here, might as well use it. So that’s when all those mousetrap contraptions started appearing. Car doors, tires… that was all just crap laying around the warehouse.

Nothing was planned beforehand, people just grabbed stuff. Typically, it was when things looked like they were done for the day. They’d landed their tricks and just having a beer, looking around.

“Hey, let’s grab that door and put it up there. What about making that an extension?”

It really was one of the most fun videos to make.

Soc and McKee

Honestly, how much footage are you sitting on? And are there any plans to do anything with it?

People are always asking me about what unseen footage I have but I really don’t have that much. After the Rocco Documentary and the World Box Set, a lot of it has been seen. People seem to think that there’s all this leftover Blind footage from back then but most of the juicy stuff got thrown into the Friends section of Virtual Reality or the FTC video. Those guys took off after that.

I did spend 5 years filming the Menace guys almost every day… for a video that never came out. Street Cinema had parts from Joey and Pupecki but that was years later. So there is a lot of stuff from those guys that has never been seen. I’ve always wanted to do something with it. Maybe it’s finally time to put that Menace video together.

I can’t tell you how much this needs to happen, man. We’d all love to see it, for sure. So as we start to wrap this up, who’s an amazing skater that fell through the cracks?

Eric Ricks. He was so good, man. It just never really worked out for him. I don’t know exactly what all went down but there was talk of him getting on World at first. Then he was in consideration for Prime and 101 later on, too. It just never came together. I felt bad for him, too. Because, like I said, he was super good. But that stuff deflates you, man. It discourages you from even trying. Ricks should’ve been way bigger.

After almost 30 years of filming legendary skateboarding, what project do you look at over the course of your career as your proudest moment? 

This is probably gonna sound odd, but Round 2. I know you watch it now and it feels like a freakin’ commercial fest… probably a bit too many motion graphics, but I’m proud of that one. It kinda feels like my college thesis, you know? Like I graduated with that one. Because by that point, I’d been at World for 7 years and every video that came my way, I always felt like my editing could’ve been technically better. I always did my best, but they could’ve been better. And part of me always felt like they only came to me on those early ones due to budget or timeline or whatever.

But with Round 2, I feel like that was the first time they actually came to me for my vision.  They had confidence in me and wanted me to put that video together how I saw fit, which meant so much to me. So yeah, Round 2, for sure. That’s my one.

Thanks Soc for Everything... 

And Thank You All For The Last 10 Years of CBI.

3.19.2018

chrome ball interview #115: jeremy wray


Gigantic.


You’ve been quoted as saying, “I don’t fear anything.” Is that really true?

(laughs) I don’t know if I ever said that word-for-word but there's definitely a trick to turning off your fear. You just have to believe in what you can do, regardless of how sketchy it seems to anyone else. You have to focus on doing it right, which in turn, overrides any fear you may have.

But doesn’t apprehension play some type of role in things?

Not really, because if you’re thinking about what can go wrong, you’re focusing on the wrong things. And doing that will only increase the likelihood of you actually getting hurt. You should just try paying closer attention to what it is you’re trying to do.


We’ve all seen that kid’s reaction in the Color Video, was that common for you?

No, it’s just because that one was so far outside his normal reality. I mean, I remember the first time I saw an ollie. It was just a little one on flatground in a mall parking lot, but that was enough to blow my mind. So if that was the first time he ever saw someone ollie… can you even imagine? Because back then, that gap didn’t even seem possible to people who skated professionally. He’s just riding down the street on his bike! He’s not expecting to see something like that. Hell, I didn’t even think it was possible at first. It was way too far. Not even on anyone’s radar.

That all just happened because of Jason Dill. On that day, he decided that not only can it be done, he’s gonna prove it. So he starts trying it while Jonas and I sit and watch from across the street. And he’s chipping away at it, but it still didn’t really seem possible… that is, until his last three tries, when both he and his board got over it.

“Oh, I guess this really is possible.”

He ended up hurting his feet on his last attempt but that was enough to prove that it could indeed happen. He told me to take over for him and do it. But that kid didn’t show up until I was already pushing by at full-speed, down a hill to ollie it. So in his mind, it’s first try. Out of nowhere. He didn’t see any of that leading up to it.


Anyone ever try talking you out of something? I hate to bring up the Water Tower Gap already, but did Jonas ever step in, like, “Hey, let’s think about this, bro.” Because you know Sturt’s not gonna say anything.

(laughs) No, it’s usually the opposite. If Jonas is there, I’m typically talking him into doing things with me. Like one time, I was skating that roof-to-roof ledge and he needed an ad for one of his sponsors, so I started coaching him through crooked grinding it because I knew he could do it.

Because if you block everything else out, it’s just a crooked grind on a ledge. You could do it, for sure, if it was on flatground. You just have to focus on going fast enough to where if something happens, you won’t fall in the hole. Because if you go in the hole, you’re done. But he was able to get it done. Multiple times, too.

What’s your warm-up process when it comes to mission-style gaps and rails?

I guess it depends on the size and the length. If it’s something you can ollie, that’s a good way to warm-up. At least, that way you can get a feel for the stairs and the roll-away. But if it’s a really long and mellow rail, you’re just gonna have to jump on. I typically noseslide them first, but if that’s too sketchy, I’ll boardslide it.


But how did you warm-up for the Water Tower? Because I know it took a while to climb up there…

No, I got up there pretty quick. There was a fire escape ladder… which obviously wasn’t down but you could Jackie Chan your way up to it. Jump off the wall and get your fingertips on the bottom rung, then pull yourself up. There was also a locked grate to deal with, but I was skinny enough to where I could climb up the backside of the ladder, turning around again once I got up to the top… super sketchy.

But you weren’t popping flatground ollies up there beforehand, were you?

I’m not sure… I don’t think so. That was all real early in the morning but we were skating so much back then, I didn’t have to do much to warm up. I was just always ready to go.

I had gone up there beforehand to check out how far it was. Because you couldn’t really tell from the ground. It looks smaller from the street, but once you get up there and walk to the edge… oh man, it’s the most frightening thing you’ve ever seen. I really had to wrap my head around everything and know it was possible.

The mental thing is that the wall seemingly gets farther away as you’re coming at it, full-speed. And you can’t stop. That was the craziest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Is that the biggest thing you’ve ever done or is there something else you’re more proud of? And are you tired of talking about it?

(laughs) You know what? The San Diego Sports Arena Triple-Set was harder than the Water Tower Gap. By far. Because the Triple-Set looked impossible at the time. It’s such a far ollie and the run-up is so short. Math-wise, it didn’t make sense. I wouldn’t say that it’s scarier, just physically harder. Because you had to run and jump on your board to get speed. You only got one or two real pushes.

We didn’t have even a proper filmer for that one, either. Atiba was shooting photos and 16mm, we just sat a 3-chip camera at the bottom, filming straight on from the landing. I don’t think that ever got used for anything because the angle made it look smaller. The whole thing with the triple-set is how far it is, not the height.


Wasn’t that done on a whim?

Not really. I’d tried it once before, years earlier, but it was too windy.  We were actually trying it on a different set, on the south side of the building.  I gave it two shots that day but knew it wasn’t going to happen. The downhill take-off at the end of that particular set was also a factor. I didn’t try it again until years later, when I was shooting a Transworld interview. Atiba suggested it, so I got a set-up together that I thought might work… Bones ceramic bearings, 54mm wheels, some thin squishy risers and a deck with a nice, steep tail.

When we went back, we started trying it on the North side this time because it had a slightly better take-off. The set itself is so far that you tend to land leaning back, causing you to manual and shoot out on the roll away. I kept slipping back and even burned a hole in my hand from sliding it on that rough ground. I did that 4 times in a row until I was able to stay square over my board on the fifth try and ride away clean. I remember going to the In-N-Out down the street afterwards to grab a burger before heading back to the Transworld offices to break the news of what had just gone down.

Did you ever consider roll-ins back then?

No, that’s definitely not my style. You shouldn’t have to build onto something to make it more skateable. Why can’t you just skate it as-is? I guess I’m from a different generation of skateboard purists. I didn’t even like putting wood on landings or bondoing cracks. Because as soon as you start making it easier, it’s not the same.


What’s your personal favorite Jeremy Wray part?

Probably my part in The Revolution, because I was able to go back and get some things that I missed for Second Hand Smoke. I feel like I was pushing things a little more and finding different spots. Everything was a little better than what I’d done before. And I’m really proud of the slow-mo section that followed my part. What Jim Greco would later call, “After Black Hammers.”

I think what would’ve been my favorite part was going to be my next Plan B part after that, but the company went out of business unfortunately. We were supposed to do a Best of Plan B video and the stuff I was filming for that was of a whole different caliber. That’s when we got the Water Tower and the Sports Arena Triple-Set, the Santa Monica Triple-Set and many other heavy-hitters. If all that would’ve ended up in one place, that would’ve been my best part. But when Plan B ended, my footage got broken up and spread out.   

I was going to ask why those legendary clips never found their way into a proper part.

Because I was suddenly in-between sponsors with all that footage, it had to go somewhere. So it got pieced out to some 411s and Transworld videos, with the rest going to Element World Tour… the frontside 360 at the Santa Monica Triple-Set, among other things. I think I’d only been on Element for a few weeks when that video came out. I’d gone on one trip and they’d all been filming for two years.


If someone were to put all those clips together for the part that never was, what song would you want?

Probably another classic rock song, either some Led Zeppelin that isn’t so familiar or maybe another Van Halen song. The early stuff with David Lee Roth is really good.

Well, hopefully somebody takes the initiative. But on the flipside, what would you say is your least favorite part?

I wouldn’t say that it was my least favorite but 4-Wheel Drive was a little different for me. It’s a different side of my skateboarding that people don’t often get to see. More lines, a little more tech, not necessarily going for the biggest things. But I guess that’s not what people want to see from me. They like it okay but would rather see me jumping down stuff.

I was just trying to see if I could put a part like that together and have it stand on its own. It still got last part in the video so it must’ve not been too bad. But it was fun working on something a little different like that.  



You’ve hit almost all of the more notorious gaps out there, which one was the most difficult?

That’s hard because they all have their own little personalities. For example, the Gonz was hard because it had that narrow run-up. There were cracks and you also had to duck under a low tree branch, all while trying to get your speed… I remember Dill hitting his head really hard on that branch after standing up a hair too early.  But also, with the angle of the landing, certain tricks worked better because of the slant. Going the other way actually made it even longer. It had a frontside/backside feel to it.

Carlsbad had the insane uphill landing and it was slick, too, so that’s bad combination. I remember always skating over there from Matt Hensley’s house down the street and ollieing that gap first thing in the morning. Sometimes it would hit like a ton of bricks. I even cracked a set of Thunders there once. Boom, right in two. But other days, it felt lighter somehow, like an 8-stair. Those were the days you’d try something else down it.

The Santa Monica Triple-Set has those wooden planks on the run-up and sometimes there’d be nails sticking up outta there, too. But worse than the run-up was the sandy bottom, which either made you slip out or made everything grittier. We rarely brought brooms with us, either…  just kick it away and hope for the best.


Didn’t you frontside half-cab the Gonz? I thought I saw a photo of it but I don’t remember any footage.

Yeah, we shot a sequence of it. That was back when we didn’t have filmers around all the time. We’d just gone up there on our own for a skate trip. Whoever was around would shoot the photos, but nobody was there to film. I think the Russian twins might’ve filmed some stuff but I don’t think it ever came out anywhere. I never saw it.

I switch ollied the Gonz on that trip, too. I think that was the first switch trick to ever go down there. I was stoked on that. But again, same thing, we got a photo of it but no footage. Maybe those twins still have it somewhere? I never had any way of contacting them.

I always thought Matt Rodriguez did it first because of that ad.

Yeah, I think Matt got his a couple weeks later. But since he rode for Stereo and they needed an ad, he got it in the magazine first. My frontside half-cab was the same day as my switch ollie and I just happened to be riding a Real Kelly Bird board with a Thrasher shirt on. They ran my frontside half-cab instead and let Matt’s switch ollie run for his ad. I know I did mine first but that stuff doesn’t matter anyway. That’s just how it goes. At least this way, everyone got coverage. Makes sense.


Gotta say, I’ve interviewed plenty of others who wouldn’t be this nice about it.

People get upset about all kinds of stuff. I don’t have time for that. Plus, Matt is rad and I always liked the way his ad came out. No biggie.

You must’ve tried kickflipping the Gonz, right?  

Yeah, the first time I ever tried the Gonz was on the trip prior to the one I was just talking about and I got really close to kickflipping it. I got the ollie and the backside 180, the next one I typically went for back then was a kickflip. So I give that a shot and actually landed on it first try… I can’t remember if my tail broke or if I leaned too far back but the footage is in the slam section of the Blockhead video. But yeah, my board was done after that and I didn’t have another one so I went to FTC to buy a new board. I ended getting the Henry Sanchez Terminator because I liked the shape, but it was a slick-bottom. Anyone who remembers those things, they were super bendy and flexy. It just didn’t feel like it had any pop. So even though I loved how the board looked, it rode like hell… that kickflip wasn’t gonna happen. And that was the last day of our trip, we went home after that. A couple of weeks later, Gonz got the kickflip, which I really think was how that was supposed to be.

Is there a famous spot you always wanted to hit but haven’t? El Toro? The Wilshire Rails? Hollywood High?

I always thought that the Hollywood and Wilshire rails were weirdly steep. They send you right into the ground. I like rails that are a little more mellow, even if they’re taller. I like actually standing up on them. I feel like on steep rails, you’re falling the whole time.

As far as El Toro goes, I’ve still never been there. It’s probably not even very far from my house, just never been.


What about that 360 ollie down Love? Did you ever go back for that?

Honestly, it was just rare for me to get out to Philly. We hit it on that Adio trip, which was the first time I’d ever been there when the fountain was drained. But unfortunately, it had rained the night before and the bottom was all wet. We weren’t even going to skate it at all until one of local kids came up to me.

“Are you gonna skate the gap?”

“Well, it’s kinda wet. I don’t think we’re gonna be able to get anything down it today.”

But the kid went and got some newspapers out of the trash to start mopping it up himself.

“Hey, it should be good to go now.”

“Well, since you went to all that trouble… I’ll give it a shot.”

That gap was surprisingly good to skate. Because the marble up top was solid, you could push really fast and when you hit your tail, it’s super crisp. Everything snapped really good, it’s just that the landing was slick. It’s a fountain so that’s water-repellent paint down there. Moisture doesn’t getting absorbed, so you have to land on it dead-straight or you’ll slip out. Going 360, if you had the slightest bit of lean, you were done. On a dry sunny day, it would’ve been better. I just couldn’t straighten it out that day.

But no, I never went back.


As gnarlier skating grew in popularity, how competitive did things get with stair-counting and “ABDs”? I have to imagine it getting a little weird, right?

I know what you’re saying but that stuff’s always been a part of it, there was just now terminology to go along with it. It became more understandable to everyone else, causing it to spread. Now everyone can be a part of the game. But that’s the nature of how skateboarding progresses.

Is that the Blind fence you backside 180’d in Recycled Rubbish?

Yeah, we randomly came across it in LA one day. We’d obviously seen the Blind Video so we wanted to give it a shot. But that fence was awesome… sketchy but awesome. That backside 180 wasn’t my favorite. It slid a little, but it worked.


Sinclair tells a story about going out with the Blockhead team to that five-flat-three double-set… you 360 ollied it while everybody else sat down. Did that happen a lot?

(laughs) All I was doing back then was taking a few flatground tricks and pushing them as far as I could. I was just comfortable with bigger stuff, which I think made me a rare breed. At that point, people were still just ollieing big stuff, not much else. But I felt that there was potential, so I’d start going through different things… I’d already frontside 360’d a few other things that size, I’ll give that a go.

There were a few of us skating bigger stuff back then and whenever we saw each other, it was always fun. Jamie Thomas or Geoff Rowley… we were all in the same boat, typically out there skating something by ourselves. But it’s always more fun to skate with other people. A lot of times you’ll make something you might not have even tried otherwise. Those sessions where everyone puts something down, that’s the stuff you remember. Like when I frontside 360’d the Santa Monica Triple-Set, that’s the day Donny Barley got his switch hardlfip, too. It’s always cool to push each other like that.


Did you know the Beastie Boys thing was going to make it into Debbie?

Yeah, that was Dave’s idea, just messing around in his backyard. He even found that effect on his camera to make it look like the video. I still remember us all watching that video together on VHS, trying to get our parts down. We didn’t even overdub the audio, that’s the cassette playing on a boom box right beside the camera, but it worked somehow. Just one of those funny little things.

Blockhead was an awesome time. Just because we all spent so much time together, hanging out at Dave’s house every weekend. I feel like that’s what makes a good team.

Were you skating the Sports Arena double-set a lot back then? I feel like that’s where you really broke out.

I’d never been there until Questionable came out. That’s when we started skating it. We were down at Dave’s house and he showed us where it was. I shot my Check-Out for Transworld there with Grant Brittain. I got a kickflip on it, which I think was the first flip trick to ever go down a double-set. But you got kicked out of there pretty quickly. You never got to skate there very long before security showed up.


I know your first graphic was the Dr. Seuss dedication but what about that Rain Girl board? Did you always want to do your own graphics?

Yeah, I’ve always drawn growing up… drawing pictures from magazines or my own fake graphics with paint pens. So when it came to do my real board, I figured why not? I already had that tribute to Dr. Seuss graphic drawing from doing it my high school art class, I just had to rearrange everything tall and skinny to make it work as a board graphic.

When it came time to do my second board, I’d found some Morton Salt around the house. Rip-off graphics were popular at the time and I liked that girl with the umbrella logo. Plus, “Morton” and “Salt” are the same number of letters as Jeremy Wray, so it fit perfectly! I drew that up by hand and took it down to Dave. Simple as that.

As such a small company, it seems like riders would eventually hit a ceiling at Blockhead and have to leave. Were you looking for a new sponsor prior to Color?

No, I wasn’t looking around at all. I was actually in the middle of filming for the next Blockhead video when Markovich randomly called about this new company he was starting. He was one of my favorite skaters back then and riding on the same team as him sounded awesome. I really didn’t want to quit Blockhead but that’s the nature of the game. It was a pretty crappy time to leave them hanging but I had to follow that opportunity.


There’s that story of Markovich not waking you up to skate Wallenberg at that SF contest…

(laughs) It was more than just not waking me up, he actually told me, “Wait here, I’ll come get you when it’s time to go” and left me at the hotel!

He got in the car and told Oblow that I didn’t want to go!

Was there some unspoken competition between you two back then?

Not that I know of.  He was trying to kickflip Wallenberg that day… so, I don’t know…

Let’s be honest, you probably could’ve done it that day.

…yeah, probably. It was in the realm of possibility, for sure. I definitely would’ve been trying kickflips right beside him and one of us would’ve been riding away that day. I wouldn’t have minded either of us doing it but… who knows.

Because I’d been there before but bent an axle on literally my first ollie, so I’d never really been able to skate it. I was really looking forward to going back there with a board that actually worked.


You had to be bummed.

I was surprised, for sure. Definitely unnecessary. Because if he really wanted to get that kickflip, I would’ve tried something else. I guess he was worried that I was going to do it before him or something.

I was mostly oblivious to it all. I was just young and happy to be skating… but Oblow would typically let me know if Markovich was feeling a certain way about something. Kris would never hit me up directly about any of it, he’d just vent to Oblow… Just competitive stuff. Wanting to hold on to that top spot, I’m sure. Not that I was that guy, I just didn’t pay attention to any of it.

Did you ever try that Frankie Hill gap?

Yeah, I was with Kris that day. That thing was massive. As you pushed towards it, you felt like you were about to fly off a cliff, like the end of a trail. You couldn’t see the landing whatsoever.

I tried ollieing it 2 or 3 times and every time I landed, my board stopped completely. It wouldn’t even roll an inch. That kind of impact on those little wheels wasn’t going to work. I was riding 39s at the time and I think Markovich had on 42s… which seemed huge back then. But he was able to get that backside 180 down it, which was incredible.


I’m a fan but why the Northern Exposure theme?

I loved that show! I used to watch it all the time at my Mom’s house. And I thought it was a pretty good song, too. I liked instrumentals. Because sometimes in a song, when the vocals hit, you either like it or you don’t. Instrumentals are more universal. I wasn’t trying to take anything too seriously back then and it felt light-hearted enough. But liking the show was number one. I even had the soundtrack on cassette!

Howl the eternal yes. Did you realize that joining Color was going to get you banned from Thrasher?

I had no idea. The story I got from Oblow was because he’d left Race Wheels to start Color with Metiver, who owned Union Wheels… moguls of skateboarding battling for market share. It had nothing to do with me as a skateboarder, I just ended up on the wrong side of the fence.


But you were still on Spitfire.

Yeah, that was the tricky part, because they wanted me to quit Spitfire for Union in order to ride for Color. They tried to enforce that, too. But I had to tell them straight-up that I wasn’t going to do that. As much as I wanted to ride for Color, I wasn’t gonna leave my first two sponsors in the dust just because you want to start a board brand. But I was able to talk with the Spitfire team manager and work everything out.

I ran that for a long time… until I got the cover of Transworld a few years later. That frontside 270 to fakie smith at the LA High rail. I just happened to get a Spitfire sticker front and center in the photo.

This was around when Destructo was starting to get into the mix. I was talking to those guys because they were trying to build a new truck and needed some help with the design. They were talking about pro model trucks and I wasn’t getting any offers like that anywhere else… I’d already been riding for Thunder for 8 years and never gotten a single ad with them. Plus, I was really interested in trying to design a better truck. I thought that sounded cool.

So I called down to Thunder to let them know what was going on and at least try to have a conversation about everything, but they wouldn’t return my phone calls.

But I did get a phone call after that cover ran.

“Yeah, we saw you on the cover with that Spitfire sticker. That’s kinda weird since you don’t ride for Spitfire anymore.”

“Oh… okay.... well, I guess I presumed that if I didn’t ride for Spitfire anymore, you’d at least give me a call.”

“We assumed that if we didn’t send you anything for two months, you would know that you’re off the team. Oh, and tell your brother that he’s off Thunder and Spitfire, too.”

That was shocking, man. And for Jonas to get the boot? He had nothing to do with any of it!


Crazy… But going back to Thrasher, didn’t you go from having the next cover to getting banned?

Yeah, I shot a photo with Ortiz of a backside 180 down that double-set off Wilshire, an 8-flat-7 or something. I was riding a Blind “Oh Henry” Sanchez board… which was probably strike one against me already.  But Ortiz told me that it was going to be the cover. I’d just been in San Francisco shooting an interview with Jonas and Jason Dill. Thrasher was all gung-ho on a triple interview since they hadn’t done one in a while. It was all set to go… and then I got banned. 

Did that photo ever come out?

I don’t think so. It’s a sick photo, too! I saw the actual slide at the Thrasher offices on one of our SF trips. Ortiz told me that someone said it was “too blurry”... Pulling that kind of excuse. (laughs)

Do you think you would’ve got reinstated if it wasn’t for that iconic tower photo?  

Yeah, because some older things I’d shot were starting to find their way in there. I just hadn’t shot anything new for them in a while. That Tower photo happened to be the first new thing we got.


Color fades quickly due to faulty product, how’d you find yourself on Plan B? 

Well, I didn’t immediately get on Plan B. I had a little hiatus where I was trying to figure everything out. I wasn’t trying to start Color all over again with Prime. World Industries was turning over brands pretty fast around that time and I wanted something that felt more stable. I got a few phone calls from people, too. Real was interested in me. Jeff Klindt even came down to my parents’ house one night to talk about things. This was right after the Stereo video had come out and if the offer would’ve been for those guys, I probably would’ve hopped on that in a second. But he was there for Real. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Real, too. Still do… And that actually felt like it was going to work out for a second, but something inside me needed to talk to the guys at Plan B. Their videos were such a huge influence on me, I needed to know if that was a possibility. Because all I wanted to do was make good videos, too. I’d caught the bug and was ready to do my next one really big.

Mike T. was into it. I didn’t know that half of the team had just left. That was a tough blow, but I was still down, for sure.

Who else hit you up?

The only other one I can remember was randomly getting a call from Jason Jessee, I think for Consolidated. That was an awesome call to get. I love Jason Jessee. Big fan of his frontside ollies, best in the business.

How I ended up on Element later on was kinda funny, too. Because it was just a rumor. I don’t know if it made it into the magazines or what, but I kept hearing about how I rode for Element. I hadn’t even talked to those guys until Johnny finally hit me up about it.

But I feel like you could’ve gone anywhere after Plan B.

I considered Flip for a minute, they just didn’t have any American riders at the time. It was all European guys and they seemed to have their own thing going. I loved what they were doing but wasn’t sure if I really fit in there at the time.


Weren't you an option for The Program? That company Lotti was trying to start through World with Gino and Dill? How real of a thing was that? 

Yeah, that whole thing almost got off the ground right after Color and before I got on Plan B. It was very real. Me, Gino, Jason Dill, Brian Lotti and Dave Schlossbach. We'd all been filming with Dave a lot, building up some good footage.

I think the tipping point of the whole project was when Dave and Brian tried to get Markovich on the team. I was with them when they went to surprise Kris at the airport in San Diego as he was returning home from some skate trip or a contest. But he was riding for Prime at the time. Mark Oblow, who was the owner and team manager of Prime, ended up being there with him on the same flight. Dave and Brian still asked Markovich to ride for The Program, right then and there. When Oblow figured out what was going on, he freaked! He was very distraught that we were trying to steal his top rider. I was able to calm him down a bit... Everybody just ended up feeling bad about the whole thing. It kind of lost momentum after that.


The Jody Morris photo of you ollieing Hensley in the chair, discuss.

That was right after we’d gone on a U.S. tour together. He’d got dropped in as our team manager right as I joined the team. That tour was basically all of us being thrown into a van together with Matt at the helm. I ended up sitting shotgun a lot while he drove and got to know him really well.

That bump-to-sidewalk was a spot we used to skate a lot back then. I think we’d all stayed at Matt’s house the night before and rolled down there that morning. It was skating-distance from Danny’s shop, XYZ. That chair was just sitting there so we put it off the bump and started ollieing it. I was clearing it by enough to where someone could sit in it. Somehow Matt ended up on the throne.

“You better not hit me!”

But I was confident in that I wasn’t going to hit him. I’d already ollied it several times and was getting backside shifties over it, too.

We shot a couple photos of it that day. The photo in his book was actually shot a little early, just a second before it bones down for a backside shifty, but that was a fun one.

Did you intend Second Hand Smoke to be a statement of sorts? Did you film for that any differently than your previous parts?

I was aware of what kind of project it was but I didn’t really do anything different. I knew the level of skateboarding that was required to make a Plan B video work and was going to do the best I could to follow in their footsteps.


Do you make trick lists for parts?

I prefer just going out with people to spots. That’s typically how my favorite footage comes about. I’d much rather go to wherever you want to skate that day and figure something out when we get there. I don’t like being the one calling the shots.

But at some point, you do have to look at what footage you have and figure out what’s missing. Maybe you gotta go out and hit a couple more handrails or a few more gaps? Because you want it to be as well-rounded as possible.

I wasn’t doing lists at that point but I did have one for what I wanted down the Carlsbad Gap.  Because hardly anything had been done down it at that point. It had been ollied, 180’d and kickflipped. Dyrdek did that switch ollie, too, but it was still wide open. So I knew that I was gonna really go after that one. That was my plan anyway, but you really had to work for every single trick down that thing. And also, I didn’t live close by so I didn’t get to hit it as much as I would’ve liked. There were still a few things leftover that I wanted to get.

The hardest one for me was the frontside 360 because, again, the uphill landing and how slick it was… I still wasn’t happy with the one that ran but at least it was unique enough with how I slid out.

The switch backside 180 went down first try, which was a surprise. But because of that, I knew a switch backside flip was possible. But I couldn’t get one that day. Someone else ended up handling that, though, maybe a decade later... all that stuff gets chipped away eventually.


Was Cream your choice?

Yeah, I brought that up as an option. We almost didn’t use it because Richard Mulder had used the tail end of that same song for his Foundation part. If you notice, we stopped my part right before where his section began. That was intentional.

It’s funny because we had a ton more footage to use but after we’d edited all the way up to that part of the song, Jake Rosenberg just goes, “I think we’re good.”

“Well, what do we do with the rest of that footage?”

“I don’t think it needs it. It feels pretty complete as-is.”

How’d that opening line come together?

We were initially trying to film lines down that first set, going right for the hole gap and the ledge. Danny’s the one who brought up going left instead for the big gap.

“Sure, I’ve never tried that before but I’ll give it a shot.”

I normally don’t tre flip down big sets of stairs. That’s not really one of my go-to tricks, because it feels harder to catch and stop rotating. But for whatever reason, I decided to start that line off with one that day.

Sturt filmed it and on most ones, he’d actually run down the gap with me on the frontside flip. It just so happened that on the one I made, he took a bad step. He was pretty bummed on that clip, actually. He didn’t like that the camera shook.

“Alright, we’ll do it again.”

We did give it a few more shots after that but I wasn’t able to get it as good. Because on the one I made, you can see me walk off into the grass. It had just rained the night before so it was all muddy. Stepping back onto my board, I got mud all over my grip, which definitely didn’t help anything. Just a big old mess.

But there’s funny things all throughout that clip. The entire Plan B team was there that day… we were having a team meeting so everyone was in town. But that’s Rodney doing his freestyle stuff right in the beginning there, which he was down to do for me. We thought that it would be a fun thing to have in the background as I skated by. You can also see Danny and someone else skating in front of me before I make that left toward the gap.  And that person who pops up and runs after me at the end is Colin. It was so cool to have everyone there that day, playing around.

We weren’t really filming it as an intro, more of just trying to see what could come of it. Some of the earlier takes, I was doing a lot more flatground in-between, because that’s a lot of cruising to fill before the big gap. But I’d get 4 or 5 flatground tricks in, miss a nollie heel and have to start all over again. I was gonna be worn out before I even got to the gap. Let me tighten this up a little so I can get there, I can always go back and do it again later with more flat if I want. Because it’s always better to get one and then improve on it versus trying the hardest thing and never getting it.


You’d never done that frontside flip before?

No, I hadn’t. I was about to try it anyway, just not in a line. But when Danny brought it up like that, it’s not like doing it in a line was gonna make it any harder. It was probably more fun to do it that way. But I knew I could do it. I’d frontside flipped a few things already in that range.

I’m nerding out here but that really is one of the all-time greatest lines/intros.

Thanks. That board is still intact, too. Because a kid asked me for my board after I was done that day and I gave it to him. Turns out a friend of mine knows the guy down in San Diego. He still has it, which is awesome.

The insane fakie heel down Imperial and the switch backside flip… was that the same day?

Yeah, that was the same day. I was doing a lot of fakie heel tricks back then. Fakie heel to fakie nosegrind, fakie heel to switch manual...

The hardest thing with that fakie heel is how fast you’re going and how early you have to hit your tail, because it makes the board go steeper. Leveling out while trying to go that far is pretty difficult because you’re going 20 times faster. You just have to relax and catch it like it’s normal, then take the drop.

I was trying other stuff that day, too, like nollie kickflips and switch heelflips, I just couldn’t get them to flatten out. I remember Jonas almost got a switch backside heel but his shoe blew out. Gino was there as well. I can’t remember if that was when he got the switch flip but that’s what he was trying.


I count 2 outfits for all that Hubba stuff?

Most of that was the same day, all the warm-up stuff with the 50-50s and 5-0s. I did split my chin open on one of those fakie backside tails and got all twisted up, so we had to come back another day. But yeah, that was all 2 or 3 days.

Were you doing a lot of shuv 5-0s at the time? An unusual trick, especially down Hubba.

(laughs) For whatever reason, I just decided to try it there. I don’t know if I’ve done one before or since. But I remember as I was trying it, the board kept wanting to go frontside 180 out. Scott Johnston was there and told me me just to go with it, that the 180 out was actually sicker, but I already had it in my mind to come out straight. He was probably right.


What about the La Habra ledge? Didn’t you go to school there?

Yeah, that was always one of those things where you put your board on top of it, pretending to have gotten up there. Because it’s rib-high. We just weren’t strong enough yet. But the more I skated, the bigger and stronger I got. One day, I decided to give the 50-50 a shot and that broke the seal. But you have to start with your back against the library wall and run slightly uphill as fast as you can, getting a couple of good pushes in and try to get up onto that beast. The faster you go, the smaller it gets but you only have so much room. You seriously have to use everything you’ve got to get up there. Your whole body would be sore for days afterwards.

How did Dukes come about?

Mike Ternasky saw what Vans was doing with Steve Caballero and had heard that a few other guys were about to get pro shoes. He could see that shoe companies were about to take over. So he had the foresight to start a Plan B shoe brand. I was already working with him a lot at the office, doing graphics and laying-out ads. He just gave me the opportunity to design the brand from scratch.

I got linked me up with the guy in charge of Duffs’ production and we went through the steps of designing everything, using their resources. We really went to town, too. Designing shoes was interesting to me… from cutting up shoes to skating the samples, trying to figure everything out. It was fun and I learned a lot really fast.

I was originally going to name it Kicks. But right before that became official, Kikwear and a few other brands with “Kicks” in the name came out.



His shoe actually came out after Dukes. I have a notepad where I sketched out “Kicks” with the wheat leaves and that K, because that was going to be our logo before we went with Dukes. So when Kareem decided on KCKs, he ended up using that same wheat logo I’d shown him before. I still have that in a notepad, right beside the Dukes logo.

The Dukes diamonds logo actually came from the Audi rings. I always liked how clean that looked and wanted something kinda like it. So I started playing around with the diamonds one day and interlocked three of them… there you go.

What ultimately happened with Dukes?

Well, we had the first shoe and it did really well, but it’s hard to start a brand on only one model. Things were looking good, though.

The big problem we faced was when Rocco traded off part of his Duffs ownership to retain full ownership of Dukes. After that, he pulled Dukes out of Duffs and brought it to World Industries, which had never done a shoe brand before. And other than Sturt shooting photos, I was the only person working on Dukes. I was literally running that brand by myself, but after we pulled out of Duffs, I couldn’t call on those guys for their technical expertise or resources anymore. It made things a lot harder.

On top of that, World decided to move our production from Korea to China, which was basically like starting all over again. It was just too much and not long after that, Dukes got sold to a Canadian distributor.

And that led to Adio? Right around the time you got on Element, right?

Yeah, I didn’t want to just hop on another shoe company after Dukes. I wanted to start something new again. Jamie had just left Emerica and hit me up about possibly doing something together. He linked up with Chris Miller and Jose Gomez, who were also looking to do a shoe brand. They’d found a backer in K2 that would float the bills while we handled the design and the legwork. No ownership opportunities, but that was good enough for us at the time. We just wanted to make some shoes.


Were you hyped to work on One Step Beyond after what happened with your “Best of Plan B” footage?

Oh, I was definitely looking forward to it. The only problem with that one is that I was coming back from a knee injury and had missed the first 8 months or so of filming. So I had to film my entire part at the tail end of the project, which only gave me about 3 months to do it in.  

You filmed that part in 3 months!?

Yeah, because that’s all the time I had. It was a strict deadline, too. They thought the Flip video was going to end any possibility of our video being successful, so we had to get ours out first. They pushed us hard, too. Shooting schedules and everything, it was crazy. Whether you liked it or not, you were filming that gap today... That was the most grueling video I ever worked on.

Who’s Porsche was that?

That was a rental. They’d seen me do stuff over my buddy’s convertible and wanted to get more of that for the video. Only that Porsche was a lot wider. The first car I skated there was a little blue Austin Healey, which was basically like a super-sized picnic table.


That you backside heelflipped.

Yeah, it was the perfect size for going off that bank. And it just happened to be the right day, too. The day with the Porsche was really windy. And not only was it wider, it was really narrow between the windshield and the backrests. It was just way harder to skate.

I always thought ollieing that Austin Healey longways would’ve been cool. I gave it a shot but it just felt too out-of-hand. I didn’t want to kick my board out into my buddy's windshield.

How’d you find a perfect skateable rock in the middle of nowhere?

(laughs) I found that out in Utah while hiking around with my camera. Not too many people know that I shoot a lot of photography because I don’t really put it out there but it’s something I’ve always done, especially being around so many amazing photographers. Not that I shoot many skate photos, it’s mostly natural light stuff because I don’t usually carry a flash.

So yeah, we were out on a trip and came across this crazy Dr. Seuss wonderland. I didn’t have a board with me but I just knew by walking on it that it was skateable. Later on, when we were starting to talk about intro ideas for the Adio video, I brought it up. We were in Vegas with Kenny Anderson and it didn’t seem too far away so we headed that way, I just didn’t factor in that we wouldn’t exactly be on the freeway the whole way there. These were country roads and eventually dirt roads, so it took twice as long. We got there way later than we planned and had to stay overnight in a hotel, but it all worked out. The people with me were tripping on hiking a mile out with all that camera equipment, but luckily, I was able to find it again and it was skateable. It really was a shot in the dark with my fingers crossed.

I was just out there again with Bob Burnquist and Ty for Flat Earth and there’s so much more to get out there. There’s a cover out there just waiting to happen that I’d love to go back and get.


But on opposite end of that spectrum, what about that roof ledge? How'd you find that? And what was your process with breaking that in? Wasn’t that all aluminum?

Yeah, it was roofing tin.

That was just a local business. We found it because we were big into roof gaps at that time and were initially looking at the hole up there. So we climbed up and while the gap wasn’t any good, Paul Luna goes, “What about this ledge?”

We were stoked, because that’s not something you see every day.

As far as the tin goes, you just had to hit it lightly. If you ollied too hard into something, you were gonna stop. You’d dent the tin because that material is softer than the metal on your trucks. You dig in. But if you light-foot it and go really fast, it’ll let you go. Just don’t stomp it down too hard.


You were on Element early enough to see it grow in a very different direction… not all for the better. Do you feel like you stuck around there too long? Did you ever try looking elsewhere as things started to turn?

Yeah, in hindsight, I definitely stayed there too long. I remember starting to see guys leave one-by-one… Reese and Kenny Hughes. I don’t know what their circumstances were exactly but it sucked seeing them go because they were of my generation. They were the team when I got on, and suddenly I was like the last of the Mohicans. As they shifted focus towards their new riders, my support became less and less until it became pretty obvious that I wasn’t a priority anymore. I was doing my best to stay loyal and ride it out, but in the end, it was clear that there was no turning the situation around.

Of course, I thought about riding for other board brands, but it was difficult because I’d already ridden for Plan B, now I ride for Element. At the time, everything felt like a lateral move. I did go down and meet with Jamie about possibly riding for Zero, which actually went well but we never made anything official. I was really just reaching out to see if I had any other options, considering what my future at Element was looking like.

But it was right around that time the market crashed. Companies were starting to struggle, teams were getting trimmed… the wrong time to be looking for a new sponsor. They can’t even afford the riders they have, let alone putting on somebody new. You don’t want to start a brand during a time like that either, so I just had to weather the storm. I did the best I could but that storm just went on for a bit too long.


I’ve heard it called “The Element Blackhole”.

I just don’t think they realize what they’re doing. They buy people up and get them to quit all their sponsors to ride for all their products, but as soon as they’re done with you, you’re left completely on your own. You have to start all over again and it’s difficult building or rebuilding relationships after that. That’s why so many people vanish afterwards.

They want the best team, but as soon as you get there, you realize there’s no filmer. There’s no dedicated photographer. Everything is on you. They expect you to get editorial because that’s advertising that they don’t have to pay for.

When Dan Wolfe was there, that was something real. That was a relatable thing for a company. But after he left, they didn’t fill his spot and there weren’t any projects to bring everybody together. Nobody was hitting me up to film, ever. Luckily, I was doing that on my own. My part in Elementality, Vol. 1 was supposed to be for an Adio project. I filmed all that with Roger Bagley after One Step Beyond, just to keep going. Because I still had tricks in mind that I wanted to get.

I finally got a call one day as they're literally editing the video, asking if I have any clips. This was actually the first call I ever got from them pertaining that project whatsoever.

“Well, yeah, I have this whole part.”

Considering that they were my main sponsor at the time, I just gave them all my footage for that part.

So the next project rolls around, same thing: One call as they’re editing the video again.

“What do you have for us?”

Things were different by then. Roger was busy filming shows for MTV and I didn’t really have a filmer anymore. So although I was skating regularly, I didn’t really have any footage to show for it.

So did you just walk away?

Well, there was a pay-cut here and a pay-cut there... usually with my pay getting cut in-half. They would talk about doing a Legends Division but that never happened. Then they took my pro board away completely. I got sent on less and less trips.  It was like they decided not to give me any real opportunities to be productive or even advertise me as part of their team at all. I guess I didn’t fit their company mold anymore. In the end, I really had no choice but to walk away.


So I guess that brings us up to speed. What’s going on with you now? I know there’s Wray Bros…

Right now, it’s back to the old days of skating with my buddies. Jonas and I, Pat Channita and Paul Luna all banding together for the Wray Bros. brand. Taking turns filming each other at local spots and making fun little edits for social media. Getting everyone involved and skating together again.  

Obviously, it’d be nice to have a solid shoe sponsor or something, just to film for a real project. Something to work on that’s really going to get out there. Because it’s a big switch to go from working with guys like Ty Evans to giving your buddy a GoPro for a clip. There’s a clear difference in the footage you’re getting, even if you are doing the same caliber of skateboarding. It’s just not going to look the same, considering the camera equipment being used or having someone less skilled at filming behind the lens.


Do you feel that you have another banger part in you?

Yes, given the opportunity. Definitely. I’m in prime fighting shape right now and ready for the next challenge. While some people might cringe at the thought of having to film another part, I’ve actually always enjoyed the process. Once you start getting out there and bulding up some good footage, there’s really no better feeling than seeing it all come together in the end. There's a real feeling of accomplishment with every new part.

I'd love to see something new from you, man. It really would be great. So as we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to add to all this? 

I’d just like to say thanks to my family. My wife and kids. All of my sponsors and everyone I skate with. Let’s skate again soon. And keep an eye out for the Wray Bros Brand. I’m doing all of the graphics again and we have some fun stuff popping up soon. You can look us up at WrayBros.com or find me on Instagram at @jeremy_wray and also @wraybros for anything related to our brand.

Special thanks to Jeremy, once again.