chrome ball interview #127: bobby worrest

I noticed on social media that you got a new tattoo last week, what’d you get?

(laughs) Well, back when I was growing up in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, whenever my Mom would drive me to daycare, we’d always pass by this tattoo shop. And for years, every morning, I’d always ask her to take me inside. Until one day, she finally did and they ended up giving me a temporary tattoo, right there in the parlor. I still remember, it was a snake, all curled up and shit. I actually have a photo of it somewhere. But when those dudes gave me that in the shop that morning, I thought it was the coolest shit ever.

Fast-forward 20 years later and my buddy Shawn Brown does tattoos right by my house. He’s a great artist and I’d been wanting to get a tattoo from him for a while when I started to think about that photo. I figured I’d get that same temporary tattoo, but for real this time.

So I sent him the photo and he took that same style but blew it up a little bigger to put on my leg.

I’ve read where you got in the habit of getting tattoos that “didn’t really mean anything”. Do you still do that?

I mean, you don’t always have to get something super meaningful. Because the whole process means something. That’s really a bond in of itself. And I like being able to look at all this different stuff and remember the time I got it.

But it’s not like I’m just walking into any old tattoo shop, like, “Tat me up!”

 “Born To Lose”

(laughs) It all means something to me. I think it’s hard for people without any tattoos to understand that.

No regrets with any of them?  

I have regrets for space. There are some things on my arms that I kinda wish were somewhere else. But that’s the only thing, which is pretty good in the grand scheme of things. I’d thought about each one enough to where I’m glad I got it… not that I dwelled on it for a month or something.

“Okay, I’m finally ready to get this Mike Tyson tattoo on me.”

No, Mike Tyson is the fucking champ. He had that left hook and I want that right here.

I knew you had that Rambo tattoo but you got Mike Tyson, too?

Mike Tyson was the fuckin’ champ, man! Come on! You know I had to let it rock.

What’s the significance of Rambo?

Well, it’s not really the significance of him as a person, it’s more about what he stood for. Because that shit is so fucking hard, know what I mean? It’s just so powerful. He stood for everything right, dude. Not that it has anything to do with war or whatever is going on now. But the mentality John Rambo had, you can’t fuck with that. You fuck with John Rambo and he’s gonna stomp all over you.

With explosive tip arrows.

(laughs) If that’s what the situation calls for.

So did the recent government shutdown have any effect on Pulaski Park police or was it still business as usual?

Actually, it’s pretty sweet over there these days. They’ll pull up and as long as nobody’s out there drinking, they could care less. And I respect them for that. Because I get it, they’re human beings. They have families to feed and rent to pay.

It’s when they start taking their jobs a little too seriously and tackling fucking skaters… Like, really? You’re going to turn it into that type of situation? It’s not that personal, man. We’re just trying to skate the spot. You’re not out here busting hardened criminals. Take it easy.

Luckily, we haven’t seen that kind of force in years.

Didn’t you get tackled down there once?

That wasn’t at Pulaski, but yeah… It’s kind of a funny story, actually. This was back around 2002 or so, before I’d really started going downtown a lot. I just didn’t really know how things went down there yet.  

So yeah, I was skating at the Archives with these two other kids. And I just happened to look over at them and they both have the same wide-eyed expression on their faces, like “Oh shit!”

“Hmmm… I wonder why they’re looking at me like that?”

Like I said, I was still pretty fresh to downtown back then.

So I turn to my right and, all of a sudden, I see this bicycle cop riding straight at me, full-speed; half on his bike, half off. And he literally dives off his bike at me, full-on tackling me to the ground. I’m fucking 15 years-old, man! He’s a grown-ass man in his 30s! He starts running through my pockets and pulls my wallet out. Nothing in it but a Metrocard. Zero dollars. So he takes my board and gives me a ticket.

I was so pissed, man. But there was nothing I could do. So I just used that Metrocard and went home. Game over.

You’ve called Pulaski your “favorite place on Earth”. Is it really the best spot ever or is it more of a hometown vibe?

(laughs) Tell me a better place to skate, drink a beer, smoke your little weed and watch girls go by? And I’m not talking about your local prefab park, I’m talking about downtown, in the city.

What about something like Love or JKwon, which you seemed to be hitting up for a while there.

Man, there ain’t no ladies walking through JKwon! I don’t even know what’s up with LA like that.

JKwon was fun, for sure. Those are great ledges to learn just about anything on. And the vibe was always good, too. Honestly, that place was just about the only thing that kept me living in SoCal for a while. It’s very reminiscent of Pulaski in that way. But at the same time, being East Coasters, we’d always joke about how JKwon weren’t “real” ledges. Because they were just too perfect, man. All low and tons of wax, the total opposite of Pulaski.

Now, I can’t speak to Love Park like that, because I wasn’t around for that era. I was always a visitor there… Not that I ever had any problems, everyone at Love was always super nice to me. And I’m sure all those dudes will end up arguing with me about how much better Love is than Pulaski. I get it. I will even go so far to say that while the Love Park ledges were a little lower than Pulaski, they actually were better, to be honest. Because the marble at Love Park was really good. But the flatground at Love, after they changed it up with all that pink shit, wasn't as good as Pulaski... at least, up top. Just a bunch of cracks. I don’t know if it was from kids popping shit up or the floor getting moved around or what, but Pulaski has the best flatground, hands-down. No doubt. So to me, Pulaski is still the best.

But check it out, you might be able to noseblunt or smith grind, but if you can’t do it at Pulaski, you can’t really do that trick. Because that’s a real ledge, man. You might be able to do that shit on your little box in the driveway, but take that shit to Pulaski. You’re not gonna smith grind that ledge unless you take 5 pushes, minimum. Those things don’t grind easily. And locals don’t play around with that wax shit, either. If an out-of-towner pops up trying to get his little crooked grind on, juicing it with wax, they’re liable to kick your ass out of there.  

Name an out-of-towner, besides Johnny Layton’s ollie, who came in and really killed those ledges?

Well, Bobby Dekeyzer backside 360’d the wall. That was impressive. I liked it.

But the first time I ever saw Busenitz come in, he skated that whole place like a local. Just fucking it up. This was over 10 years ago, I still remember watching him and thinking to myself, “Damn, that’s how you skate this place.”

I know Chris Hall hooked up your Get Familiar part, but were you a fan of the DC/Pulaski scene growing up? Was it intimidating at all when you first started going down there?

All that stuff was kinda before my time so I never got to see any of those OG dudes in-person, but I remember always drawing Pepe Martinez graphics on my notebook when I first started skating. I was still in Pennsylvania back then, those dudes just happened to be popular at the time. But, of course, I later on had to go back and do the research to figure out what was up. And those guys were so ahead of their time. I mean, some of the stuff Pepe Martinez did back then is almost unfathomable.

Like what?

A backside boardslide tofakie 5-0? That’s insane. Because that thing does not grind. I’m not sure if I’ve seen anyone else even do that trick, let alone making it look good at an actual spot.

The first time I went down to Pulaski was around 2001 or so, after we’d moved to Washington D.C. from Texas. My buddy’s dad took us all downtown to skate and for whatever reason, he literally dropped us off right at Pulaski. Of all the places, right? But we were nowhere near ready for that spot. I still remember us standing there, looking at it like, “Are you kidding me? People don’t skate this. These ledges are way too high.”

We didn’t know what to do. These weren’t curbs. It was like having just learned how to drop-in on a mini-ramp and then heading over to Danny Way’s house to skate the Mega. And this was at 9 in the morning, too, so there was no one else around to show us otherwise. We had to keep it moving.

It really wasn’t until the summer after 9th grade that I went down there, for real. I met Jimmy McDonald at Woodward that summer and was hooking up with him and his crew afterwards, out in Bethesda. They’re the ones who ended up taking me down to Pulaski again. Kind of reintroducing it to me.

“Oh, I remember this spot from years ago!”

Luckily, I had progressed enough to where it was no longer a Mega Ramp scenario. But after skating there once or twice with those guys, I was hooked.

Were you aware of Pulaski's notorious reputation?

No, but the days of boards getting jacked and all that were pretty much over anyway. Those locals had all grown up by then. So it was a perfect time for me to start coming down and learning the ropes… cops were still fucking on it, though.

I actually started going down there by myself shortly after all that, because I was sick of the spots around my house. I remember having to take a different bus after school so I could then take another bus to the train station and hop on the downtown train to Pulaski. But it was worth it, man. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had were made on those early trips.

Growing up in Pennsylvania before moving to Houston for a minute until coming back to D.C., was East Coast Pride ever a big thing for you?

(laughs) I never really gave a shit, to be honest. I mean, I’ve always been hyped on Josh’s Static videos and whatever local DC shit. But that whole mentality about our spots being crustier, we’re fucking salty… that shit never entered my mind.

“Our ground is shittier. Our stair sets are bigger. Our handrails are taller.”

That shit was never an issue for me because it just is what it is. It might’ve been an issue to the older heads or whatever, but not me. Because, seriously, what are you going to do?

We don’t have an indoor park in D.C. And the last two months have sucked so fucking bad here. I mean, I’m looking at snow right now. The whole shits fucked. Because you get two months where you can’t even step on a board and then it takes another month to get back to where you were before it all started. Sure, I can fly out to California. I could fly out there every weekend if I wanted to, but that’s going to kill the human being I am. I don’t want that.

This is what I want, and all that comes with it. I know it’s odd but I love it. So yeah, I do take pride in where I'm from, of course, I just don't feel the need to remind you of that in every sentence.

So Real was your first sponsor? Was that a sponsor-me tape scenario?

I was actually DC flow back in ’99, while I was still living in Texas. It’s kinda weird because I was so young back then and not at all serious about skating. I mean, I actually started riding BMX bikes while I was down there, because that’s what everybody else was doing. It really wasn’t until I moved back to Maryland that I started getting really into skating, around the time I started going to high school… and even then, it was just because the local kids at my school skated.

“We rode BMX last year. Now we skate.”

That’s literally what got me back into it again, switching my whole life around. Weird how things work out like that, you know?

So yeah, I was fully back into it again. Making videos with my friends and going downtown. All that.

Real came into the picture because my buddy Mike Nalls was Real flow at the time. He was kind enough to hit me up, like, “Hey, get me a tape. I’ll send it in for you.”

Mike sent my shit in and they started sending me stuff… which, when you first start getting flowed free stuff, you’re fucking ecstatic. It’s just the coolest thing ever. And the team manager told me that if I kept on sending in footage, he’d send me more shit. So every month after that, I’d send in another minute of footage for more boards. And that’s how we rocked for months until it got brought to my attention that Gonz was starting a new company.

Yeah, how far along was Krooked when you were brought in? Did you have any idea that it was going to be such an unusual company, with Zip Zingers, guest boards and Mark madness?

The way it got brought up to me was, “There’s going to be this new company Mark Gonzales is starting with us called ‘Krooked’. We’ll send you a box and if you like it, you can ride for it. If not, you can stay with Real. Cool?”

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember specifics because I had no idea who Mark Gonzales really even was. I’m not trying to fake the funk here, I’d seen him in Real to Reel but he was never influential to me as a child. I was just too young, man. He was just some wacky dude. Think of your favorite pros when you’re 15 years-old and then you see Gonz out there, being crazy. I just didn’t get it. Like, why is he doing that? Who is this guy? I didn’t understand.

But then you slowly find out that all your favorite pros look up to him, that he’s actually their favorite pro. So luckily, I had someone tell me about G-Man and why he’s so important. That I needed to go back and check out this video part from the year I was born that was so ahead of its time. When he was doing frontside 360s before I was even alive and you still can’t do them now.

“Okay, I get it now.”

It’s like Tony Hawk, too. When you’re young, it’s hard to relate to those pioneers who were before your time because you didn’t experience it firsthand.

That’s fair. And there was no way of instantaneously finding out either, like there is today. It’s the same thing with trying to tell kids about groups like the Beatles or Run DMC.

Exactly, they’re gonna be wondering what the fuck you’re even talking about. That’s not Kodak Black or whatever music is trending now.

You had to figure it out. And anyone who says they learned it all on their own is full of shit. Because you couldn’t just go and check some shit out with a library card. You had to have that older dude at the skateshop tell you what was up.

“Here, look at this. Oh, you don’t know what this is? This is where you come from.”

But no, I had no idea that Krooked would end up being all this crazy shit. They just sent me a box and I liked the graphics.

“Okay, cool.”

But how were you chosen? Because it’s always been a select, very unique team.

I have no idea, man... You need to do a Chrome Ball on the G-Man!

All I know is they sent me some stuff and after that, I went on this crazy Japan trip with Mark and a bunch of other dudes who had nothing to do with the brand, like Matt Field and Bobby Puleo.

Even after that, I feel like they were still kinda feeling me out. Because they had me out to San Francisco for a summer with Nike Dompierre and Ernie Torres. All the young cats, checking to see what we were made of. Because we technically weren’t on any teams yet, they were still trying to figure it all out. Take a couple trips and see if we were kooks, basically… which is funny because I feel like I’m the biggest kook ever so I don’t know how I got a pass. (laughs)

But I imagine not fully knowing Gonz’s importance probably helped in that you weren’t really intimidated by him, right? 

You’re probably right. Because I had no idea, man. He was just this artsy dude, twice my age, with a fucking afro. And dude’s acting just as much like a child as I was. Seriously. He’s still a child at heart. Granted, he’s got a lot more responsibilities now but he’s still living his glory days. It’s fucking rad.

What’s your best Mark Gonzales story?

Alright, so at one point, I had acquired a Cadillac. Why not? I mean, all of the California kids are doing it, I guess that’s what you do when you’re a pro skater, right? Wrong. Don’t do that, kids.

This is forever ago. I’m with the Gonz and Andy Kessler in New York City. At the time, Gonz was trying to build this crazy platform at the Brooklyn Banks that would stretch across both handrails. It was this whole plan he had going, on some high stunt-type shit.

So we’re down there looking at stuff, getting ready to leave, when Mark hits me with “I want to drive your Cadillac.”

“Alright, here’s the keys.”

I hop into the passenger seat with Kessler in the back. Mark takes off and we’re on whatever avenue, heading uptown. Just hauling ass. I look down and he’s seriously going fucking 90 miles an hour through the middle of New York City. Four times the speed limit, easily. Next thing I know, I see the next 10 traffic lights in front of us all turn green... he just starts laughing and hits the gas. 

I remember looking back at Kessler, like “Holy shit!”

I didn’t even know Kessler very well, but he shoots me a look back, like, “Well, you gave him the keys. We’re just gonna have to go along for the ride now.”

He probably didn’t even know who the fuck I was. Just some kid with a Cadillac, riding for Mark’s company. He’d seen a million kids just like me come and go. But yeah, you could just tell by how he was looking at me, like, “This must be kid’s first real introduction to the wild side of the G-Man right now.”

I was tripping the fuck out. Because he was jamming, man. And there was no stopping him. If you would’ve been on one of those little bird scooters, crossing the wrong way, you were getting plowed. You were getting rolled the fuck over that day, I swear to God.

But we made it, man. Somehow. I just remember being like, “Damn, Mark… You just let it rip, dude. Wow… Maybe you should give me back the keys now.” (laughs)

What about Van Wastell? It seemed like you two had a genuine bond there, being thrust into this crazy set of circumstances as young bucks.

I just remember meeting him for the first time on that Japan trip. Getting off the airplane and there we were.

“I’m Bobby. You’re Van. I know who Bobby Puleo, Matt Field, Reese Forbes and all these other guys are but I don’t know who you are. So I guess we’re the two younger dudes out here.”

Fuck, man… We were boys from the jump, coming up together. Always talking shit, getting into fights. I remember us blacking each other’s eye one night after a few beers, just being young and wrestling. I never had a brother figure like that before.

He always had such a unique style, always adding that little something extra you never expected.

He was so light-footed! Just how he skated, he had that finesse, you know? I remember being out there with him, battling spots. Trying to land our tricks, we were always in it together. And there was never any sense of competition between us, which can often be the case with young dudes trying to come up. We were like brothers, man.

He was just so smooth on the board and how he pushed… I can still see him pushing now, know what I mean?

For sure, but what was Lutzka like on Krooked? What happened there?

I met him once. That was it... Good one, Micke.

“Hey, Lutzka’s now on the team. Let’s go meet him.”


We pull up to the Volcom RV and he walks out.

“Hey, guys. Nice to meet you.”

Then he went back into the RV. That was seriously it.

At the time, Van and I were just so fresh. If that’s their new rider, who am I to say? I’m fucking 16 years old. You guys can kick me off just as quick as you put him on. Not that I’m threatened for my position, but at the same time, I just got on last week. Who the hell am I? You didn’t voice your opinion like that. You didn’t have an opinion, and even if you did, nobody wanted to hear it. (laughs)

I actually met Greg later on in life and he seems like a chill dude. I don’t know him but I’m not trying to trash him either.

I’ve always loved your Krooked Kronicles part. How was that to make after all those years putting out little homie vids? Had to be pretty insane, man. 

That part is just so young, man. You really have to look at it through the parts I liked growing up. Because at that time, it was all about guys like Koston, PJ Ladd and P-Rod. Pushing the limits of technical street skating. The type of skating where you’re constantly trying to get the best fucking tricks you can possibly get. Not that style wasn’t as much a part of it, because it always is, but you couldn’t be out there filming basic tricks on flat with an ollie over a fire hydrant for a line. You had to be doing really hard tricks, first. That was the era, trying to break the mold with all-new shit.

So for me, as Bobby Worrest, I want to get on that same level as Paul Rodriguez. What do I gotta do? Backside noseblunt this, kickflip backtail that… film lines that take 3 fucking days to do. But that’s what skateboarding was back then.

What line took three days to film?

(laughs) None of them, but you get what I’m trying to say.

For sure. But was “Misdemeanor” your song choice? So good. 

Tommy actually picked the song. He asked me what I thought about it and I remember thinking that if it was good enough for him, I was down. Because it was way better than anything I was going to come up with. 

So with both Kronicles and eSpecial going on at roughly the same time, how did Get Familiar come about? Were you out with Chris filming as well or were those primarily Kronichles extras?

That project really had nothing to do with me in the beginning. Chris had popped back up in the scene and was hanging out with Darren Harper a lot. It guess it became pretty obvious that Darren was on the come-up, Chris figured he might as well start filming him.

So we started seeing those guys around, filming at spots we were at. Next thing you know, naturally, I started wanting to be in the video, as did everybody else in town. And yeah, I did film a few things with Chris, but coming out of those other videos, I had a backstock of footage. So that’s really how that part came together. I just kinda slid in there on some D.C. shit.

But Chris is a funny dude. Because he obviously knew that I was in with Mark. So it became a thing where every chance he got, he’d want to go to New York and try getting Mark out for the day. Like an ulterior motive. Let’s go skate and if Mark happens to get on his board, let me turn on my camera real quick. Next thing you know, Mark had a part. Gotta say, that was pretty slick on Chris’s part.

What was that mohawk all about in the opening? And was the Fugazi selection just some more D.C. love?

(laughs) Yeah, I think that mohawk was on Fourth of July shit, just being dumb. I’m sure I shaved it the next day. It didn’t have anything to do with anything.

And I think it was Chris who picked that song but yeah, that’s D.C., man.

I actually saw Ian the other day. He was walking through Pulaski with that guy, Glen Friedman.

I said, “Hey! What’s up, Ian!”

(laughs) I don’t even know him like that. Then I looked at Glen and asked him who he was, even though I totally know who he is.

“Hey, what’s your name?”

“Uhh… Glen.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. I met you with the Gonz a few years back. My name’s Bobby.”

Just to fuck with him, know what I mean? (laughs)

How do you go about making those wilder Krooked projects, like in 3-D or VHS only? Is it hard to skate your best when the video has such a novelty feeling?

The only difficult thing about those projects was just trying to get a sense of where it was gonna live and how much Deluxe was going to push it.

“Hey, we’re going to make this VHS video. Just do whatever you want.”

“Really? Well, I guess I’m just going to fuck off then.”

But next thing I know, motherfuckers seem to be going crazy for it… I just thought it was going to be a fun little thing! I was just fucking around out there! If I knew it was gonna be a real video, I would’ve done things a little differently.

I was led to believe that it was just gonna be all bullshit. Ollie this, 180 that, and you’re good. That you just needed some cool looking clips, nothing really comparable to what was actually happening in the streets. I just didn’t know it was gonna be showing up on people’s radars like that, which is maybe what made that video so rad.

Was Gnar Gnar really filmed on an old camcorder with a fisheye taped on?

Yeah, that’s no bullshit. Mark and Sam Salganik had three or four old VHS cameras. Whenever one broke, we just threw it away. Onto the next one until its battery died, then another one. But Mark loved being behind the lens, man. And we had Alex Olson in there, too. That was a fun time.

What was Naughty all about?

Naughty was a video where I basically didn’t have anything, because I had so many other parts right before it. Straight up. But Mark still wanted me to be in it, because it was a Krooked video and I needed to be in there. So I went out for a week to try and get something…  not wanting it to be just b-roll clips from other trips.

I feel like Scuba filmed it? But that’s what came out of it. I don’t even remember what I had in there... Not the best.

But you killed it in Right Foot Forward, which must’ve been a nice change after all these crazy Krooked projects. How’d that one come about?

Oh, definitely. I’d grown up with Transworld videos and they were such a prestigious thing to be part of. I really busted my ass for that one. I enjoyed it, too. Because not only was I stoked to be in a Transworld video, I also had a better idea of what the end product would be like. That’s the type of shit I like, where you do your thing for a few years to show what you’ve been up to. Not just going out for a week or whatever. You had years to work on shit and then could ride it out for a bit afterwards, too.

But I will say that I’m pretty embarrassed by the intro of that one. Because I’ve always liked graffiti, that’s not how I would’ve really liked to have shown my interest in it. I actually like to keep those two things separate. But here we’d gone down to that tunnel to do some throw-ups, I had no idea that was going to be my intro. I think they only filmed about 4 minutes total but I guess that was the only footage they had for it. That was not my choice.

I get that. If it’s something you’re passionate about, you don’t want to half-ass it. At least the backtail-kickflip ender was gnarly, though.

Yeah, Mike Manzoori filmed that one. And yeah, it definitely took a long time, up in Minnesota. I’d seen Heath Kirchart do one so I wanted to do one, too. I mean, talk about influential guys, he’s definitely one of those for me.

But it just worked out to where we got to the spot and I started thinking to myself that I could maybe do it, too. Sure, it took me four hours to get but I got it! (laughs)

Something that I’m still trying to wrap my head around is what happened with the end of that first era of eS. Didn’t you just put out a shoe, like, a week before?

Yeah, I’d just put out a shoe and a little video part thing before all that went down.

Did you see the end coming?

Yes and no. We’d gone through multiple dudes at the company pretty quickly. And Scuba had told me at one point that we weren’t looking so good. I guess they’d hired some guy to try turning the company around but we never really heard anything more about it. And then one day, I get a call from Don Brown. It’s over.

It was kinda sad but it is what it is, you know? Everything comes to an end. What am I going to do about it? Cry? I had to make shit work.

So I started getting shoes from Huf… Vans, too. But flow doesn’t really mean much.

Yeah, I thought you were an obvious choice for Huf and was quite surprised when it didn’t work out that way. Why was that?

I don’t really know, man. I was filming a lot at the time and showing them everything I had. I made that Pulaski part almost entirely in the shoes they were sending. I guess there just weren’t any plans for me. Because they knew that part was coming. I’d shown them the entire thing. Maybe they just weren’t feeling me? Maybe I just didn’t fit in to where they were wanting to go as a company? Who knows, it just wasn’t meant to be.

But that part came out and I think people really seemed to like it. Nothing happening at Huf? Alright, I’m just gonna keep it rocking. And it was at this time where I made the decision to try getting on Nike. That was my motivation to go out and bust my ass. And a couple months later, I got that call from Scuba, “Hey, we love that shit. We want you to ride for the Swoosh.”

“Let’s do it.”

Good for you, man.

Yeah, I was hyped. Not only because I accomplished my goal, but I also feel that Nike likes me for what I do. Because I’m not trying to compete with the kids in Cali grinding 32 stairs. That’s not me. I’m at Pulaski Park, man. That’s me. If you want to fuck with me, you’re gonna see me there. Of course, I’m still trying to progress and do all the best shit I can do, but you’re not gonna change me much at this stage of the game. And not only do I feel like they like me for me, I also get to work with my friends there as well. 

How long had you been kicking around the idea for an all-Pulaski part and what was it that finally got you going?

Here’s the funny thing, an all-Pulaski part was never even the idea. That’s not what I ever set out to do, it just happened like that. 100% natural. Like I said, I’m there every day, that’s just how the part came out.

So much of that was me feeling inspired after seeing Sabotage 3. Watching Ishod and Mark Suciu skating those ledges. I saw them bringing back the kinda shit I love and it got me hyped. Let’s go.

Because I wasn’t on eS anymore, which was a very southern California, jumping-on-handrails kinda thing. And honestly, that shit got old quick, but what was I gonna do? I was on their team. So after they went out of business, I kinda hibernated into my own little D.C. world of motorcycles for a little while. It really wasn’t until one of my friends threw on Sabotage 3 one day that I got hyped on skating again.

“Yo, this is what I like!”

I can’t even remember what tricks they did, but seeing those dudes skating in circles, skating the same shit I do. I loved it.

So I went out and filmed a line at Pulaski. That’s really when it started. Because then I filmed another line. And another line. Then a single trick, back to another line. Then I got what would become my ender.

Wow, this is crazy. I’ve pretty much filmed an entire part at Pulaski. But at the same time, I don’t really want to film anywhere else… let’s do it. So I went back to film a little more and we put it out.

And it’s funny how it worked out, because ever since then, I’ve had all these people asking about how I filmed the whole thing at one spot. They don’t understand. Pulaski is simply what we like to skate. That’s like our skatepark.

It’s not like I was out there getting all California crazy, by any means. It’s not some super technical equation, you know? Honestly, you don’t even have to do the craziest shit at Pulaski because it just looks cool being there. That’s something that took me a long time to figure out. Because I’m not boasting or bragging here, but nothing in that part was some crazy, week-long battle… which fucked with me for a while because I was afraid the lines were too easy. It wasn’t until I really thought about it and talked it through with my friends that I started to realize the bigger picture. That when you’re putting together a part like that, it’s like the sum total is greater than each individual piece… if that makes sense.

I just like puzzle-piecing lines together, man… not that I’m some genius with it, either. I just learned from the guys I like watching and tried to add my own little tweak on it.

I mean, Bobby Worrest at Pulaski is come classic shit. But what was it that tipped the scale, allowing yourself to put it out?

I feel like a lot of it had to do with the last trick I filmed for it, which is actually the first trick in the part. The backside noseblunt on the planter. That trick was actually the photo in my Krooked “Going Pro” ad, however many years ago. But I never really made it until that day, which always bugged me. So once I finally put that shit down after everything else that had happened, I was hyped.

(laughs) I love it. But if HometownTurf Killer came about naturally, what about an all plaza part? That had to require more planning… and what made you go with Hjalte?

Hjalte and I were on a little Nike skate trip together and quickly found that we both like skating the same shit. We both like the plazas. So we’re in Europe together, and probably drunk, when Hjalte threw it out there.

(heavy Danish accent) “Let’s film plaza parts… like Stevie Williams and Josh Kalis.”

“Yeah, I guess we could do it like that, if you want. But we skate the same shit, let’s just do a short video where we combine our shit.”

And that’s what we did, which ended up becoming this crazy 10-minute long project! How crazy is that!

The only real hang-up was not being able to get the official rights to that Talking Heads song for Reese. So we really couldn’t put it out the way we wanted to. It had to come out on Ben Chadourne’s YouTube page instead. Obviously you want the Swoosh to post something like that but evidently those rights were crazy expensive.

Yeah, there’s no way you could’ve used any other song. How did that Reese homage come together anyway?

Hjalte, Ben and I were just trying to think of old DC locals we could have pop in there for a quick cameo and Reese was our guy. Nike was so rad about it, too. They sent him a box and flew him out here, just so he could get some footage for our video. It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

(laughs) …And it was so fucking hot out there, it was insane. He came out to skate with us for a couple days during probably the hottest time of the year. We were just melting out there. But we got what we got. It’s Reese at Pulaski. Rad as fuck.

Had you ever skated Pulaski with him before? And did you reach out to anybody else for potential cameos at other spots?

Nah, Reese was our only one. And no, I’d never skated Pulaski with Reese before. I saw him out there filming with Dan Wolfe once, a long time ago, but that was it. It’s funny how much a little age difference can change things between different generations, especially back then.

Is “Looks Ok to Me” a reference to something?

(laughs) At the end of the video, there’s footage of me walking up a set of stairs. I’d just 50-50’d that rail in Paris twice… which I’m not sure if anyone had even skated that thing before. And honestly, I felt like that was a pretty big rail.

But because we only had one filmer, I had to do it twice. So that was the thing. That clip of me walking up the stairs is after I’d done it the second time… and I wasn’t going to do it again.

“Ben, you’re a great filmer. I don’t even want to look at it. Whatever you got is what you got. Looks okay to me… and I don’t care. I’m done.”

Amazing. You’ve said in interviews that you and Hjalte skate “completely different.” How so?

Just little differences in our trick selection. We both like the same type of shit and we’re both coming at it the same way, but where I’d do a tre flip, he does a backside flip. Shit like that. I’ll look at a ledge and see backtail fakie where he sees a back smith. It’s just weird how we both interpret the exact same shit so differently.  

Did you find yourself being influenced by him as the project went on?

Yeah, we were definitely feeding off each other throughout the whole thing. That’s really what made the project so fun.

“Yo, what should I do in the middle of this line? I’m not sure, my switch heelfips aren’t working today.”

“Try this.”

“No way, I fuckin’ hate that trick!” (laughs)

Talk a little bit about the switch lipslides on the Gold Rail through the nubs. Was all that the same night?

Funny story, I had to do that switch backside lipslide a few times actually.

I’d already boardslid and front boarded it with the knobs, but it just so worked out that I was starting to think about my last tricks for that plaza video and was feeling a switch backlip. Let’s go hit up the Gold Rail. Ben wasn’t even in town that day to film so I went over and got it with Rodent and Tim Cicalino.

The problem was the footage didn’t quite match Ben’s filming style for the rest of the video. And we’re talking about the ender here, too. So once Ben got back into town, I went back and did it again. That’s when the frontside lip went down, too. I figured they’d be good to complement each other in the edit. 

Because the thing with those knobs, it had to be some type of boardslide or you weren’t getting through. But we made it work… which is good because without those lipslides, what would my ender have been? I’d probably still be out there.

So what’s next for you, Bobby?

Well, I’ve been working on a Welcome to Venture part that comes out in March… yeah, I’m on Venture now.

Sick! What prompted that move?

Yeah, I'm really hyped on it. I mean, Indy's always been nothing but good to me. Rhino's still my man. I just felt like doing something different, you know? A nice change of pace. 

But yeah, that part basically started out last summer with me fucking around on the tall ledge at Pulaski.

“Hey, film this real quick.”

We got three lines that day and that’s really all it took to get things in motion.

I can’t wait to see it.

(laughs) Me, too!

I still haven’t even seen the final edit yet. It’s my roommate, Jeremy, who’s actually making it with me. I’ve seen a few earlier versions leading up to it, but I’ve never actually seen the final piece he sent out. He says he wants it to be a surprise.

Would you say your process with video parts has changed at all over the years?

Oh, when I was younger, I would’ve bit your head off if there was something I didn’t like in there. But I’ve definitely mellowed out a bit over the years.

My approach now usually starts with a few ideas and building from there, basically filling in the blanks as I go. Like, if the last clip I got was a line ending in a kickflip noselide, I might try to play off that same move with something similar at the start of the next line, you know? And after a while, I’ll take a look at what we got and start to think about the edit as a whole… I mean, this Venture part is almost another Pulaski part, with the exception of a few other spots around town. But that’s just what I’m feeling, man.

But no, I’ve never really made lists. If I come up with an idea, I’ll type it into my phone before I forget… but then I usually look at it the next day and won’t even know what it means. (laughs)

Like I said, I’ve actually been working on this new one with my roommate, so it’s a different type of a scenario. Because before this one, I’d never sat in on an edit. But after filming three minutes of footage with him, it was just too tempting.  

“Let me see what we’re working with, man.”

It was just too easy to pop in and give my little two cents. Because he’s right there, you know? (laughs)

“Nah, move that over here, make this a little bit closer.”

I realize that this is his art and I respect that. But at the same time, this ain’t exactly my first rodeo, either. (laughs)

Big thanks to Bobby and KVL.


chrome ball interview #126: silas baxter-neal

photo: humphries

You’ve always had a pretty straight-forward look over the years, did you ever have any regrettable phases growing up in Eugene? Like a skinny jeans Piss Drunx-era or possibly even a yo’d out cornrow phase?

(laughs) I did, actually.


Oh, for sure. Eugene is essentially a bubble in of itself and when I was growing up, backpack rap was huge. So I’d wear camo cargo pants and stuff like that… which I think is actually pretty cool, I just personally don’t look very good in it.

But I’ve never really been into fashion, in general. I’ve always just worn whatever was sent to me… which looking back on, probably wasn’t always the best idea. There are definitely a few red t-shirts and some desert camo pants that I looked pretty ridiculous in.

Did you ever start rapping or anything like that? Possibly a graffiti phase?

(laughs) Oh yeah, I went through this period where I got hurt and couldn’t skate for a little bit. I broke my foot and was out for about 7 months. But because I was so obsessed with skateboarding, I basically had to start hanging out with non-skaters so I wouldn’t drive myself crazy. So I found myself hanging around a lot of breakdance and graffiti kids. It was cool, though. I got into it a bit, which proved to be a sufficient enough distraction from skating for me. I learned a lot about the culture and everything, it just wasn’t me. And as soon as I started skating again, I kinda realized that I’d been getting into some trouble with that other stuff… partying too much and whatnot. So I had to make the decision to put it on the shelf and get back fully into skating.

You were living in Eugene until after high school, right? Were you actively pursuing a career in skateboarding up there through sponsor-me tapes and stuff like that?

Yeah, I lived there until I was about 19 or so.

Eugene actually had a pretty good skate scene as I was coming up. My friends and I would always be making little local skate videos, just for fun. We all had the same shop sponsor that we hung out at every day, and just by having reps come through town to sell stuff, I started getting Powell flow when I was 15 or 16.

Shortly after that, the Powell team came through and I ended up going on a little trip with those guys, with things progressing from there. I remember that first trip actually being to Texas with Tony Manfre and Caswell Berry.

Oh yeah, I forgot about Caswell’s Powell period.

Yeah, we were all filming for a little 411 commercial on that trip… an “Am/Flow” commercial, which I always thought was kinda funny. But I was hyped because I’d never really been out there before. It wasn’t much but it was my first experience with going on tour and shooting photos. It was cool.

Something I’ve always loved about your skating is the interesting trick selection, but looking through those early Powell ads, they’re all fairly “on-trend” in comparison. Were you possibly playing it a little safe with stuff early on?

Honestly, I’ve never really paid too much attention to trends. I’ve always just done whatever I could do.

As for those Powell ads, those were just whatever tricks I went with at those spots. I never really thought about coverage in such a way back then. I was just happy to be out there at all in those days.

But you know what I mean, you’ve always had a knack for atypical tricks and not-so-typical spots. Like all of the wallride stuff and the skating bricks with crazy tight landings… even that gap grind-to-grind on the handrails. How do you think this unique way of looking at stuff developed over the years?

I think it goes back to growing up in Eugene. Like I said, it was a cool scene but the spots weren’t always the best. The ground is shitty and there really weren’t any good ledges back then. That’s why I’ve never considered myself very good at flatground or ledge stuff, to be honest.

Our thought process with tricks came more from wanting to get something at every spot we had, whatever it was. Let’s figure this out. Not because we were trying to rule the world or anything, we just loved to skate. Filming for those little local videos in such a small area led us to start skating all types of different stuff. Because we not only wanted to learn new tricks, we also wanted to skate old spots in new ways as well… because that’s all we had. So that’s basically how I’ve always approached it: here is the spot, what can I do here? And I feel like over the years, that’s helped make my bag a little bigger, I guess.

Later on, Eugene did end up building a bunch of skateparks, so I was able to fill in some holes there. But that was years later and by that point, I’d already been messing around with all this other stuff.

Amazing. So how was riding for Powell in the early 00s? Was there loyalty there for you or just free product?

Oh, I liked those guys. I was super stoked be an am and go on trips and everything. Powell wasn’t necessarily a leading brand at the time, but I was so new to everything that I didn’t even really know what it meant to be a sponsored skater yet. I’d later find out how much different it could be but when you only know the one experience, it’s hard to think otherwise. I mean, I was still working a job the entire time, but in my mind, I was pursuing skateboarding. I just didn’t know how to really go about doing so. So yeah, there was some loyalty there but it just got to a point where I finally realized that they weren’t really trying to do much with me.

How’d that realization come about?

It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco that I started figuring it all out. Because that move was my big decision to go “all in” on skateboarding.

And it’s funny, because I thought Powell would help me with getting down there… not that they were paying me before but I was still getting photo incentive. But when I moved to San Francisco, they suddenly decided that they couldn’t pay me at all, which I always thought was strange. (laughs)

That is weird, because no offense to Eugene but San Francisco is a much larger market. You’d think they’d be hyped!

Yeah, but after I moved to San Francisco, not only did more opportunities start to present themselves, I also started to get a better understanding of how the skateboard industry worked. And it became pretty clear that if I was really going to do this, I’d have to go somewhere else.

But it seems like you went a dark here for a bit, emerging sometime later on Habitat. What all was going with you at this time?

I had a Thrasher part come out around this time, Rocket Science. Part of which was old sponsor-me footage along with new stuff I filmed down there. That got some attention. And Trevor Prescott was making those kinda underground Seasons videos at the time as well, which I also had a part in. So I was doing stuff, it just wasn’t happening overnight, you know?

I was trying to make it work but the problem was that I just wasn’t making any money. I’d help out at skate camp and sell boards to make whatever I could, but I was getting eaten up, financially. And after a year or so, I was basically broke.

I’d already met Brennan Conroy, the TM for Habitat, and he was giving me boards. He seemed stoked on what I was doing but they weren’t ready to pull the trigger yet and commit fully. So I didn’t really know what to do.

It just so happened that my girlfriend was moving to Denver at the time, so I went out there with her for a few months. Because I could no longer live in San Francisco the way I was doing it… Living the skate life on one burrito a day, I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I moved to Denver with the plan of just waiting it out to see what happened next. But I think that move is actually what kinda prompted Habitat to take me more seriously. And it was actually while I was out in Denver that they finally put me on the team. Brennan came out in early fall with Alex Olson, who was getting Alien stuff at the time, and we skated for a week or so. I guess that was the deciding factor of whether or not I got on the team.

So yeah, once I got on the team, we returned to the West Coast, ultimately coming back to SF for a while.

Were there any other possible board sponsor options at this time, prior to Habitat?

There was a moment where I contemplated riding for Popwar before I got on Habitat. I’ve always been a big fan of Cairo’s and I thought that company was cool. And because I knew some people there, it felt like a real possibility. Adam Crew was an amateur for them back then and he’s actually from up here in Washington. I’d known him for a while and had actually made a lot of my initial friends in California through him when I first started going down there.

I got a box or two from them but I feel like by that point, they were already starting to fall apart.

I've always seen you and Guru as part of Habitat’s second wave, two non-East Coast riders thrown into the mix with a heavy crew of hard-knock Jersey kids. How were you greeted by those dudes?

(laughs) Yeah, we were the hippies. I was definitely stereotyped as the new hippie kid, which I rejected and hated… probably because it was a little bit accurate. But those guys definitely teased me a lot. Almost like a big brother-type mentality, you know? They could definitely be assholes, but in a way where they were obviously trying to show you the ropes. Teaching you what was cool by making fun of everything you did that wasn’t cool.  So yeah, it was hard, but I needed that. I mean, there were periods where I definitely felt harshed but there were also periods where I felt really accepted by them.

It’s cool, though. I love those dudes.

What was a particularly harsh experience from back then that you laugh at now?

(laughs) Well, Renaud and I always had a pretty interesting relationship. It almost felt like whatever trip we were on determined if he liked me or not. Because on some trips, we’d be buddies and skate all the time, but on other trips, not so much. Sometimes I was in on all his jokes and sometimes I was the brunt of all his jokes. It was weird.

I remember going on one trip in particular where we were both catching the same connecting flight at an airport. I met him in the terminal and he greeted me with, “…Pffft, what the fuck? We’re supposed to be fucking friends now or some shit?”

“Woah! Cool, dude.” (laughs)

Yeah, I’ve always heard he was the harshest.

There was another time where we were all in Ohio and he calls me over, like, “Hey, come to our room.”

Cool, so I head over and when I open the door, there’s a towel laid out on the floor with a piece of pizza on a plate… and there’s a giant pile of shit on top of the pizza. Danny and whoever else in there were just laughing at me.

It was definitely a wild bunch to travel with, for sure. They were the dirts, man. I wasn’t quite a dirt, just trying to fit in and get along with everyone. It’s not like I was trying to be anything I wasn’t, I was just wanting to be accepted.

Tim was a good one, too, because he can be funny in the most asshole way possible. You were always the butt of his jokes… so whether he liked you or not, you were never sure. But at the same time, Tim could always find a way to make you feel okay about yourself from time-to-time. Renaud seemed to go out of his way to let you know that he didn’t like you. And Freddy, he’s a maniac but he has a heart of gold. I’ve never really seen him be a straight-up asshole to anyone. Sure, he could get wild but there was never any malicious intent there.

Since we’re on the subject, what is your best Fred Gall story?

Aw man, I actually get this question a lot and I always feel a little guilty because I never want to throw him under the bus…

I don’t think he’ll mind me telling this one. It’s something that always makes me laugh from back on the Regal Road trip. We were out skating this spot and Freddy was full-on trying to get this trick. He’s got a filmer and a photographer at the bottom of these steps, the whole thing. And he’s battling it, you know? We’re all sitting there, cheering him on as he‘s trying and trying this thing… and this one time, he almost got it, man. So close. He gets his board and heads back up there for one more try. And we think he’s got it, too. So we’re all waiting for that next try… and it’s starting to take a little longer than usual.

“Oh, he must be up there psyching himself up.”

But he never ended up coming. He just disappeared.

“Hey, where’d he go?”

(laughs) Turns out that he decided to sneak around the corner from the spot to a bar and get himself a drink. He just left us there, waiting. Didn’t tell anyone, we just found him there. But in total Freddy fashion, he ended up coming back after he was done and got the trick. He always finds a way, man.

I love it. So how long were you on Habitat before filming for Inhabitants got underway?

I don’t think they’d started filming for it yet. Because the first few trips I went on initially were for a tradeshow promo loop thing. But it was pretty much after that where everything started going towards what would become Inhabitants. I know it came out in 2007 so I want to say we really started filming for it seriously towards the end of 2005.

How serious did you take that project? Especially after all the work you’d put in by this point, was this essentially do or die for you? Or were you just seeing how it turned out?

It’s funny because I look back on all that stuff now and feel like I was so oblivious to the whole reality of it. I was so consumed with being in the moment back then that I’m not sure if I understood the whole big picture. It was more just trying to figure out the ropes.

I was living with Brennan in San Francisco, which in retrospect, really helped me out a lot because it took all the guesswork out of things.

“Alright, we’re going here today.”

I don’t think I realized what an influence that had until much later. Because he knew what I could do, you know? Not that he would tell me what tricks to do, but he’d take me to spots, knowing my overall thought process and capabilities. Sometimes I was into it, sometimes I hated it. But I definitely credit a lot of things, both in Inhabitants and throughout my career, to Brennan. He was pretty hands-on with helping me do what I needed to do and I see a lot of that in Inhabitants now that I maybe wasn’t quite aware of back when we were filming it.

So you weren’t you making lists and sitting in on edits?

(laughs) Not at all. I don’t think I started planning things for videos until much later on. Not that I’ve ever set out to have the “best” part in a video… whatever that means. That was never my goal. Especially with Inhabitants, I was just trying to earn my place on the team and show what I could do. A lot of my motivations back then came from simply being excited to be out there, skating epic spots and getting better. Learning tricks. I don’t want it to come off like it was such hard work because it was really exciting and a lot of fun to do. It was my first real taste of experiencing what it truly meant to be a sponsored skater. It was fucking amazing, man.

In retrospect, it almost seems like your success with Inhabitants was more of a timing thing. After bubbling up for years, you finally had the proper backing with sponsors, and with living in San Francisco now, it all came together to create this incredible video part.

I think that’s pretty accurate, actually. Because I’d always been obsessed with skating and trying to film. That sense of accomplishment you have with landing a trick on film. Now, I had the opportunity to do it all for real, skating all these famous spots around the world for this big video. That, and I had someone who was kinda focused on me, helping me get what I needed. It all just worked out.

Were Cream and Hot Tuna your choices?

The Hot Tuna was my choice. Cream was Joe Castrucci.

Who’s idea was it for that all wallride section in your part? Was that something you planned on or more from just having a bunch of wallride clips at the end?

Well, the one wallride spot was right by where I was living at the time, so we skated there a lot. It was an easy spot for us to hit up that was a lot of fun and you didn’t get kicked out. So yeah, we got a lot of stuff there. But no, it wasn’t some preconceived idea to have a section like that. I just had a lot of wallride clips so Joe put them all together into a cool little section.

You definitely made the most of it. One thing that always trips me out in this part is that bank-to-wall side rock-n-roll in there… how’d you come up with that? Did you know that spot prior or is that just where your mind went?

Honestly, that trick came from going down to Burnside. I’d see people do it on the pillar there all the time, I even remember Mike Crespino doing nollie big spin to side disasters there. He’d always skate the pillar like that and I thought it was cool.

I’d never seen that spot before but it just popped into my head. I thought it could be cool to get that at a street spot, you know? But yeah, that came from Burnside.

Makes sense. What about that front blunt to gap in Sacto? So gnarly.

Yeah, that was scary. At the time, it definitely felt like I was reaching a bit with that one, like it was on the outer edge of my abilities. Because I’d done a few blunt gap-outs before but nowhere near anything that big.

I want to say Stefan was there, he’s probably the one who took us to the spot… and I just started trying it. I honestly don’t know why I even thought I could do it but I guess it worked out. We did get it that day but it was definitely a battle. I was pretty shook, because I knew that I could easily get broke off on that thing. I still remember being so careful to get into blunt… every time, so careful. Because I knew if I got into the blunt, I could bail safely. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a front board instead and get tossed backwards. That scared the shit out of me. And it wasn’t a very small ledge, either. It was a little tall for me, at the time.

So yeah, I was pretty stoked to roll away from that one.

People seem to always talk about how Inhabitants came out of nowhere… possibly because Fully Flared was still impending. But at the same time, Alien/Habitat videos are always an event. How did you feel about the project prior to its release?

Yeah, Fully Flared had not come out yet but I think you’re right, they were released very close together, just months apart.

I definitely wasn’t expecting for my part to get as much attention as it did with everything that came after, but I also didn’t really think about things in such a way back then. I was just putting one foot in front of the other, you know?

But like you said, their last video was Mosaic, which I feel is one of the best videos ever. Danny Renaud’s part in that is probably the best video part ever, in my opinion. Combine that with Photosynthesis before that… I mean, everything they had done up to that point was absolutely incredible. So I knew Joe was going to put together something great for this one, too. I’ve always had great faith in Joe and Brennan with whatever they put out. I was never worried about the quality of the video, I just honestly wanted people to like my part.  

But you come out with your first big part and everyone goes nuts over it. Suddenly, there’s SOTY talk, which you end up getting. Was Inhabitants difficult for you to deal with afterwards… almost like a monkey on your back? That had to seem like a difficult act to follow, right?

(laughs) Oh, 100%. I feel like the year after I got SOTY, my head was completely fucked up. Because in my mind, I was just some kid from Eugene out there skating, it was hard for me to process. I didn’t see things as being so impactful as other people might’ve thought they were. I just thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Shooting photos and filming, that’s what pro skateboarders do.

I didn’t think I was doing anything all that special. Looking back at all the other SOTYs that had come before me, they are all the most epic dudes I grew up watching. I could never think of myself being in that same category. So when all that stuff happened, I just remember thinking to myself, “Fuck, man. What am I going to do now? I have to live up to all this expectation. I’m not this person they think I am.”

It took me a while to understand why I was the one they picked.

But while it did kinda fuck me up for a bit, at the same time, it was easily the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. It instantly solidified my career and established me in the industry, you know? That side of it was awesome, you just had to keep some perspective about the whole thing.  

You had an amazing year with eSpecial as well, was this an active campaign to win SOTY? Did you realize that you were in the running as it was all going down?  

I feel like it just kinda happened. I didn’t really know that I was even in the running. Brennan had been talking to Thrasher a lot, but he was the one involved in those conversations, not me. And honestly, he really wasn’t telling me much.

I was living in Santa Rosa by then and at some point, Burnett came out to shoot some photos with me. I feel like that was when he came to check everything out, to meet me and go skate. It just worked out that I had a handful of things around town that I wanted to do, which in Santa Rosa, it’s not like people were coming up all that often. So once Mike came out, I feel like I got a handful of stuff that might’ve impressed him enough to start thinking. Because after that, Brennan would start to mention that I was in the running for SOTY. But I just dismissed it as talk, figuring that he was only trying to hype shit up and make Habitat cooler. It wasn’t until they straight-up told me that I had actually won that I believed it.

How do you think all of these early accolades, establishing your career so quickly, has affected your overall outlook on the industry since?

It was just such a positive thing, because the industry really seemed to open their arms to me after that. My name was now associated with this thing that people hold in esteem. There was a place for me now and I was super fortunate to earn that so quickly.

Not that I had this type of perspective right way. It did take me a little while to figure out what the fuck had just happened. But I did ultimately realize that I had “made it” in skateboarding. Because up to that point, I was always so cautious in my outlook towards a career, thinking that there was no way it could last. And they typically don’t, so I was always thinking about my need for a plan once this was all over… honestly, I still feel like that at times. But I knew after winning SOTY and all that, I’d be able to ride it out for a while. I could give myself a break.  

It was a very encouraging time. I got on Adidas right around this time, too. Things were going to be okay. I was suddenly in a place where I had a bit more flexibility, to where I could do things like move to Chicago.

Yeah, I was going to ask about Chicago and what prompted such a move after all that had just happened? I imagine that had to raise some eyebrows with your sponsors, right?

(laughs) If they did feel that way, they never expressed it to me. It was after the SOTY thing, maybe they knew that I needed some room to let things breathe a little bit? Because I did.

I think everyone knew that I wouldn’t be out there very long. That was never our plan, either. My wife had gotten a job with Sears and we just wanted to go check it all out for a bit.

We lived there for two years, which was good. There’s a great scene out there and I’ve always tried to stay productive with trips and everything, too. I feel like as long as they can see you’re still producing, you’re going to be okay.

I’ve definitely moved around a lot. San Francisco twice, Denver, Santa Rosa, Chicago… but Portland has always been kind of the default setting for me. I’ve always liked Portland, I just wanted to take advantage of some opportunities and see if there was possibly anywhere else that I might like better.

Do you feel like living in all these different places has had much influence on your skating?

I think so. Moving around like I have has allowed me to skate a lot of different things and just gain a different outlook on spots, in general. But more importantly, I feel like it’s allowed me to have a rich home life, outside of skating. It’s hard to explain but I got married pretty young. Having a family has always been important to me and having an outside world, besides skateboarding, makes me happier as a person. I feel like that lets me skate more for fun as it’s not something that consumes 100% of my life, every day. I’ve always been able to turn it off and on, which I still enjoy.

We talked about your knack for trick selection earlier, but where does that inspiration typically come from? Is this all stuff that immediately jumps out at you or are these typically spots you’ve seen a lot?

I guess it’s just the way I look at things.

“Oh, this trick would be cool to do here.”

Sometimes a spot just happens to be set-up for a weird trick, so you give it a go… and work your ass off for the next two hours, trying to figure it out. Because a lot of these tricks are just ideas. I’ve never done some of this stuff before and honestly have no clue how to actually get it. But you should always give it a couple tries, at the very least.

But having lived in Portland myself for 6 years, and I’m not sure if you know this, but there are places around town are known as “Silas Spots”, which usually aren’t even really spots. Like my friend Andrew lives near where you ollied over that bike rack to wallride in Perpetual Motion… man, that isn’t a spot. Or those little brick borders on the westside? No way.

(laughs) Yeah, stuff in Portland comes more often from really thinking about what is around. That stuff is much more premeditated, because I have to let myself think about it for a while as I gather up enough courage to try it. That, or I have to be in the mood to go do something weird, you know?

… actually, I should say “try” something weird. It’s definitely not always a “do” situation.

How did Perpetual Motion come about anyway? And how did that differ from your previous Habitat projects?

I remember being in Melbourne on an Adidas trip when Transworld hit me up about possibly doing a part for them. At first, I honestly wasn’t sure about it. Because it’s a lot of work and I just wasn’t super excited about putting so much energy into it with everything else I had going on at the time. But I came around to it. I remember asking if I could get Josh Matthews in there with me, as it’s always better to have a buddy involved.

But almost all of that part ended up being filmed here in Portland, which was something that I hadn’t really done before. I think I only went on one big Perpetual Motion trip, along with a few trips down to LA to skate with Jon Holland. But the rest of it was me and Tristan Brillanceau-Lewis going out on our own to film around Portland.

At that point, I hadn’t really filmed much since Origin, so I had all kinds of ideas for things I wanted to do. That’s always helpful.

But that video definitely felt more like a solo mission in comparison to the Habitat ones. Inhabitants and Origin involved a lot of team trips to random different places. Perpetual Motion had things literally down the street from my house. It was much more personally motivated.

You know I have to bring up that gap grind to grind again… I’m sorry but it really is insane. Did the inspiration come from that spot, specifically? Or was this an idea you’d been kicking around for a while? I can’t even imagine what the process for that was like.

That spot is actually in my neighborhood. This is back when my son was still pretty young and I actually found that spot while driving around, trying to get him to sleep. Because he always seemed to fall asleep easier in the car than he did at home, driving around with him in a car seat worked really well for a while there. At some point, he started to recognize roads and waking up whenever he knew we were getting close to home, so I had to start taking all these alternate routes home to keep him guessing. That’s actually how I came across that thing.

When I initially saw it, it was more for being a double-set and maybe some type of gap-to-rail scenario. But shortly after that, Brennan came to town and I took him to go look at it.  

“No, man… you gotta grind-to-grind this thing.”

So it was actually Brennan’s idea… and I thought he was crazy. But once he put that bug in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Because the rails were mellow enough and with proper speed, it could possibly work. The rails were square and not too steep to where you could actually get on there and ollie. You wouldn’t just get shot to the ground.

It just became one of those things where I kinda started to obsess over it after a while. But I still didn’t really think that I could do it. It still felt like fantasy. Once again, Brennan actually had to call me out on it.

“Man, if you don’t do this shit, I’ll just fly Suciu out there and he’ll do it.”

It just so happened that the whole Transworld crew was up here to film the last bits of the video, so I brought it up. Just to go check out.

“Ok, well, let’s go look at this thing. I’ve never really tried to skate it but let’s have a look.”

The first night we went there, I ollied into 50-50 a few times, just to see what it felt like. But it was already end of day when we got there, so it got dark pretty fast. The next day, we went back and I spent an hour or so until we got it. And yeah, it was so sketchy. I honestly wasn’t sure if it was even possible when I first started trying it, but as I began to figure it out, I got more and more confident with it.

Wasn’t there some Gonz inspiration from an old Real video?

Yeah, I think it was Kicked Out of Everywhere? I’m not entirely sure which one it was, but there’s a clip of him trying a grind-to-grind in one of those. I feel like that planted the idea in me somewhere, that it would be cool to do, if you could do it. And I’d actually done it before on ledges but rails are a totally different thing, obviously.

But yeah, my friends and I always call it “The Gonzo Grind”.

You’re undoubtedly skilled at handrails, do you have any interest in taking on some of the more notorious marquee handrails out there?

It’s funny because I’ve never really thought of myself as a handrail skater, but looking back on my parts, I do skate a lot of handrails.

I think the best way for me to put this is that I’d rather do something more interesting than simply checking off the next best trick at some famous rail. Because I’d much rather skate a handrail that’s a little more unique and weird.

And honestly, I’m not sure that I even have the ability to one-up the next guy at some perfect California handrail. Because there really are some amazing skaters out there, doing some very hard technical tricks down those things.

Honestly, the thought of you at El Toro kinda makes me sad. Regardless, was it at all intimidating to wrap your head around such a huge project as Away Days?

Yeah, I think as a collective team, we visited something like 90-odd countries for Away Days. That’s crazy. But it actually didn’t start out like that, which probably helped. It just became one of those things where as more people got on the team and the program itself got bigger, the project had to reflect that. I mean, I think over the course of that video, Adidas Skateboarding went from 6 people in the office to around 25. It was all just expanding so rapidly.

After a while, it became obvious that this was going to be a huge deal and that everyone and everything involved had to be stepped up. And that’s when the pressure came, later on. Because with all of the people who were now going to be involved, and the fact that it is coming from a brand like Adidas, I definitely felt more pressure with that project than I ever had before.

Plus, with regard to what I was saying earlier, I wasn’t the na├»ve new guy anymore, learning the ropes. By the time Away Days was happening, I was all too aware of where I was at in skateboarding and what was at stake. I keep on saying that I used to be so “oblivious” to all this career-type stuff but I don’t think that’s the right word. I just wasn’t putting much thought into the importance of things until only a few years ago. Away Days was the project where I started to understand more of the “industry” side of skateboarding and all that comes with it. So yeah, I was definitely sweating that one a little more. 

Were you ultimately pleased with how it came out?

Yeah, I like it. I definitely did the best I could do, for sure.

I have some side feelings about it that I can’t help but think of when people bring it up. Because that was one of the last projects that we did with Matt Irving and theagency, Juice. We had done literally everything together up until that point. So that part was a little hard with seeing that change take place.

It was just a transitional period for the brand and I liked where we were before. Not that I was bummed, it just felt like an end of an era there. It took me a minute to understand the new Adidas.

That’s fair. But as a rider, how do you feel about the drama surrounding some of the team switches and the shadow it cast on the project as a whole? Because it did seem like that stuff kinda took away from the incredible skating in that video.

Yeah, I think you’re right in that all of that stuff did become a bit of a distraction from what we were trying to do. I think a lot of us had worked many years on that project and ultimately, the drama is what many people probably remember most about Away Days as opposed to the final production. Because it really is an amazing video and while having those guys in there served to make it even better, I feel like there was probably too much focus put on that instead what we were actually doing on our boards.

And at the same time, you were also dealing with the collapse of Alien and Habitat as well. Did you see that breakdown coming at all and what was it that made you stay? I’m sure you got plenty of offers elsewhere.

Yeah, that whole period with Habitat sucked. Just so many years of uncertainty. I knew we were in trouble but I never foresaw Alien and Habitat going completely out of business for two months. That they would not even exist. No boards being made, no checks being written, nothing. Realizing that it was gone and not knowing if it would ever be back was just insane.

But those were some turbulent years. Habitat wanted to do apparel and footwear stuff, which meant they needed a little more fire behind them. So we joined with Burton, which was actually really great. They treated us well and not only did we suddenly have much better distribution, we also had access to much greater manufacturing capabilities.

Unfortunately, something ended up happening with Burton and they suddenly had to sell-off all their external brands, us included. That’s really when we began to have problems, because we started getting bounced around constantly between different holding companies. And Dyrdek had the reins, as he was the one with influence and money, but I don’t believe that he was the best person to be representing Habitat, specifically.

So we just ended up being under all these different umbrella companies and nobody really seemed to know what was going on after a while. It was a very strange and uncertain position to be in.

Once it was finally done, when Metal Militia or whoever it was that owned us, they just decided to kill Alien and Habitat. Just like that. Over.

The thing is: I love Joe and I love the team. I have all the faith in the world in Joe, that he could hold it together somehow. I mean, he’s seriously put his entire life into this thing. And I have so much respect for him with not only all he’s done for me and the brand but for skateboarding, in general. I couldn’t just walk away without giving him a proper chance to do whatever he could, you know? I owed him that. And I think most of the guys felt like that, too. So that’s why we stuck around and ultimately, that’s why the team was able to remain almost completely unchanged throughout that whole ordeal.

You normally don’t see that kind of loyalty.

I really believe that was because of Joe. He’s such an inspirational person and he’s worked so hard over the years, we had to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I actually did get an offer at one point to go somewhere else. And I did think about it. But I wanted to do the right thing and, at the very least, talk to Joe about it. It’s funny because his advice was for me to take the deal and I didn’t listen to him. Sure, I might’ve been financially better off over there but I’m glad I stuck around. I’m stoked to still be with Joe and everyone.

The state of board brands just changed so much at that time. Two brands really came to the forefront, and as a result, we don’t really do that many Habitat trips together anymore. But we still try to see each other whenever we can. We’re still family.

And that takes us to Control Room. Was that always supposed to be a 3-part web series or was that decided later?

(laughs) No, it actually changed quite a lot.

I think it started when Josh Matthews got on Habitat. He had a little welcome bit and then they wanted him to do a full part. Because our last project, Search the Horizon, was more of a Brian and Mark video with a montage, the original idea for Control Room would be a Josh and Marius video with a montage… because Marius has been ripping and getting a bunch of footage that needed to come out somehow.

That was the first idea, until everyone heard that we were making a video and then suddenly, everyone wanted to put out more footage than just a few clips in a montage. So it was kinda up in the air for a while there. 

I don’t think that Control Room became a three-part series until right before it came out, because Alien and Habitat were no longer together anymore for the longest time. It’s funny to think about but they were actually separate brands up until about 6 months ago. I feel like that’s when it became one Alien rider, one Habitat rider and a montage. And now it’s actually going to be a series now with several more parts to come.

So yeah, it was a process. (laughs)

I’d actually been steadily filming for a while but with everything being so up in the air, I was never really sure what was happening. So around September, I hit up Brennan to try getting a better understanding of whatever it was that we were planning to do.

“Hey, how much longer do I have to film for this video part?”

He says, “September 25th”… which at that point, was only two weeks away.

“What the fuck!?!”

Because while I had some stuff, I didn’t really have any type of ender tricks yet. I felt like I still needed something else. And I actually went down to LA for some ender-type stuff and killed myself, which I got nothing.

So I fly home and call Joe.

“Joe, I don’t really know what to do. I don’t really have what I want for this video.”

“Oh, that’s fine.”

“What do you mean? Isn’t the deadline in two days?”

“Not at all, you have plenty of time.”

(laughs) What the fuck, man!

So yeah, I don’t think they even have a concrete idea by that point of what it was going to be. Because even after that, we still went through a bunch of false release dates I had to work around. Luckily, there really wasn’t much pressure because we never advertised about it. Nobody knew that it was even coming so we were able to work with it until we finally felt it was done.

So how long did you film for that one in its entirety?

Knowing that I was probably going to have a part was a little less than year. But the way I skate is that I’m always filming. If there’s no project than I just hold onto the footage until something eventually comes up.

I feel like this part not only had more lines but a lot more tech ledge stuff, too. Is that where your inspiration is right now?

I’m actually glad you noticed that because I do feel like that Control Room part is much different than my previous stuff. And yes, a lot more lines, a lot more ledge stuff. I feel like that has a lot to do with having my own park and ledges that work, I’ve started to finally learn how to skate them over the last few years.

It’s just that the desire to throw myself down stuff isn’t as strong as it once was. I’m not old by any means but it definitely hurts a lot more these days. I get way more sore now than I used to. So that had a lot to do with it, honestly. And like I said, I’ve always tried to figure out the best way that I can skate a spot, I feel like those thoughts have just started to change over the years.

I like that it’s different. I like that it’s not me trying to one-up all of my previous parts in that same vein. I feel like it shows a different side of my skating.  

I like it, too. And it’s not like you took some drastic turn either, it's just a natural progression that makes sense. 

Yeah, I think I had maybe two lines in all of Inhabitants? This one had ten. It feels good to get some pushing in there.

We talked about your quest for an ender in LA. What about that narrow kickflip ender you did get? Wasn’t that in the Pearl?

Something like that… I’m not even sure what that area is called? The Northwest Waterfront? Some new development up there. But I was just looking around that zone one day for spots and thought it looked cool. I’d ollied that gap once before, so I figured I’d head back and try getting something a little better.

Was that the ender you were hoping for?

It honestly wasn’t but it worked. (laughs)

It’s that weird thing where you think your ender has to be some kind of battle that you work really hard for. Something that you had to go back several times to get. But it’s not always like that. That one really wasn’t all that incredibly hard for me to do. I probably did it within a handful of tries. And it’s not like I got broke off or anything like that, either. So, as gnarly as people think it is or whatever, I don’t think that it’s quite on the level that it should’ve been.

I thought it was sick. But since we’re on the subject, going back to that Perpetual Motion part, why wasn’t your Gonzo Grind the ender for that?  Not to take anything away from the kickflip backtail, but that always seemed kinda weird to me.  

(laughs) You know what, I never really understood that either. I have no idea.

I actually don’t skate Burnside very much... and a lot harder tricks have gone down on that little ledge thingy. I mean, I know people who have done nollie flip backtails on that before. And when I did it, I really wasn’t planning on even using it for anything.

Rattray had recently moved to Portland and he was the one who was actually trying to get something that day. The only reason I was even there is because he needed someone to skate with as he tried it. And since he asked me to go and was skating it, I figured I’d skate that thing, too. I just happened to film that as he was trying his thing.

Maybe it’s because that clip was the last thing to get sent to them? I think that might’ve been the case. Maybe they thought I considered that to be the best thing I had? Because the Gonzo Grind had already been filmed… who knows? It’s weird but whatever. (laughs)

Operating at such a high level, essentially through your own motivation as you’re far enough away from California to have an existence outside the industry, how do you stay sparked?

It’s because skateboarding is my obsession. Not only do I like that feeling of accomplishment when making a trick, I also like the feeling of being productive and pushing myself. It’s just the best.

Admittedly, there’s some anxiety mixed in there, too, which helps keep me on my toes. Because I am so removed from everything, I get a little paranoid that I might not be doing what I need to be doing, if that makes sense? I really don’t know what everyone else is doing, so I better get out there, too. That’s a real thing.

But most importantly, it just comes from enjoying skating and wanting to get better. I’m fortunate to where I can largely make my own reality in skating. I’m very lucky that I can pick and choose the things that I want to be involved in. Not a lot of people can say that.

But as a SOTY with this legendary body of video parts, what’s kept you on your own path? What’s given you the strength to  shy away from all the energy drink sponsors and industry weirdness to do your own thing?

As far as energy drinks go, I just don’t believe in that shit. That’s more about morals for me than anything else. Because I think that stuff is poison and I don’t care to support it or be supported by it.

I’m just a pretty plain person. I don’t have some overly flamboyant personality and I’m not super into fashion. I don’t have any of the sorts of things that might make me stand out, per se. Because that kind of stuff just isn’t important to me. It all comes down to the skating. That is what’s important. And that’s what I’ve tried to take seriously. What should always stand out in the forefront are the tricks and how you do them. I really do think it’s that simple.

If I want to keep on doing this, living this life that I love with skating as a career, then it’s the skating that I need to focus on. That is done by skating hard and having fun. The rest of it doesn’t matter.

thanks to Hayashi, Holboke, Humphries and Silas.