chrome ball interview #86: ishod wair

chops and ishod sit down for some conversation.

Alright Ishod, not sure if this ever got back to you but I interviewed Andrew Reynolds a few months ago and he said that one of his biggest regrets with Baker is not sponsoring you back in the day. How does that make you feel? How did all that happen or, I guess, not happen? Was Baker your thing back then?

Oh man, I didn’t know that. That’s kinda crazy to hear.

Yeah, when Baker 3 came out, I thought that shit was stupid dope. Obviously. My friend Julian was getting flowed stuff from Emerica back then and that whole crew came through on the Wild Ride tour that year. I got to skate some and gave them some footage. They sent me a box with six boards in there. I was stoked as shit! But that ended up being it. Only that one box.

But yeah, damn… that’s pretty crazy for him to say that.

Do you ever trip out on kids handing out footage at contests and demos? Because you were in that exact same boat just a few years ago. Got any pointers for the next generation of sponsor-me’s

Yeah, it does trip me out because you’re right, it really wasn’t that long ago. I think it’s a little different nowadays, though. Kids aren’t just handing you footage to check out anymore. It’s not that easy. Everything’s now on the internet with links and shit. Kids always trying to get your email address now, looking for a way they can reach you because they want to send you stuff.

Honestly, it can get a little awkward. They’ll email you and either want to make small talk with you when you don’t really know them or worse, maybe their footage isn’t really all that good or up to whatever stipulations that are out there. I mean, you don’t want to be mean but at the same time, what are you supposed to do? It definitely can become an awkward situation.

True. So as we're all watching this Push part come together, let’s talk about the surprise new Real video that just dropped, Through and Through. What’s the story with this one? 

To tell the truth, I haven’t even seen it yet. I didn’t even know that’s what it was called until you just said it… Through and Through. Alright.  

I can’t say that I know what to expect in there. We’ve been working on this one for a while but the whole thing kept on changing. I feel like it’s going to be mostly from trips. It was originally going to be a tour video at first and then they changed it to be a full-on Real video with parts and everything but certain people were filming for other stuff.  So I’m not really sure what it is but there’s definitely a new Real video and I’m sure it’s sick! (laughs)

The little bit I saw was incredible. The footage from your Thrasher cover in Kansas City is in there. That rail looks straight-up deadly, man. How’d that one even go down?  

That one was pretty sick. It was the very last spot of that trip and we just wanted to get it. Usually with any trip that I’m on, if I’m trying to skate something, for whatever reason, nobody else ever wants to skate it with me. I don’t know why that is but I usually end up having to skate by myself. But luckily, whenever Kyle (Walker) is around, I basically have a partner there. He’s pretty much always down to skate whatever I want to… which definitely helps. So yeah, he was out there with me. Thanks, Kyle.

But yeah, I kinda ended up tweaking my knee a little bit right when we first got there. That rail had never been skated before and we definitely didn’t want to stick on it because that’s a pretty big drop from up there... so we’re waxing it a little and just checking it out. I tried ollieing the double-set just so I can start getting the feel of it and end up breaking my board, first try.

Peter (Ramondetta) let me use his board. The first thing I try is a lipslide and I just stick. I fly straight to the bottom and hurt my knee. I knew I was hurt and was getting bummed but I decided to keep skating and get it while I still could. I loosened up Pete’s trucks a little bit because they were too tight, put some more wax on the rail and kept going.

The lipslide took a little bit because I kept on bouncing off my board after I’d land. It was just so high. You’d land and compress but end up coming right back up and off your board. It was so frustrating because I thought I’d be rolling away everytime.

I ended up making the lipslide and then Kyle made his front board down it a few tries later. He made it look so easy. That got me hyped so I started thinking about what else I could possibly do on it. I waxed it up again, this time for the wheels and made a tailslide first try. It was kind of a Baker Make because I spun around but at the same time, I had enough speed to ride away. It was almost like a tailslide 270. It was weird because I kinda touched my hands. Peter’s trucks are way tighter than mine so normally I’d just turn to compensate but on Peter’s board, the trucks just stopped. I fell over a bit and touched but at the same time, spun around and somehow kept rolling.

I felt kinda weird because my hands touched the ground but everyone felt that it was a good enough make. I tried it a couple more times after that and I’m not sure if I was over it or I ended up breaking his board as well, but that first one was the make. Nobody knew why I even was trying it again. That’s how it goes sometimes.

What’s your process like with making video parts? Obviously something like Chronicles 2 and Push are gonna be a bit different but what about these smaller, independent videos you’ve been in, like Paych and the Sabotage videos? Is that just you out skating with the homies whenever you’re back East? How involved are you with the making of these things? Like, are you picking out the songs, making lists and checking out edits?

Each one is a little different. I mean, I wasn’t really too involved with Paych but with the Sabotage videos, I was definitely picking out songs and having him send me edits. I made a couple of changes there, for sure.

I’ve been so busy lately that filming stuff like that has been a little harder to do. Sitting on a plane going back and forth when I’d rather be out skating and shit. But yeah, kinda like what you said, those sorta things just come from being at home and skating like normal.

What’s the timespan for those smaller projects typically? Just a couple days or so?

Again, it kinda depends. The Paych stuff was probably 3 or 4 days in total. Definitely less than a week of skating. You know how it is, we were in New York and there’s a ton of spots out there. You just skate from spot to spot. Hit up one spot, get kicked out and go on to the next one, always having the camera out. You end up getting a lot of stuff that way.

With Sabotage 3, I’d just always be out filming. I’d come home from trips and skate with Penny, next thing I knew, I had enough footage for a part. It’s weird how it happened because I’d only skate with him for maybe 2 days at a time but that was spaced out over the course of months. Sabotage 4 was a little different, though.

If there is someone around with a camera, I can usually film a part really fast. I just like going out skating and I don’t mind there being a camera on me so it’s pretty simple. I skate all the time.

Right now, I’m dealing with this Berrics Push thing. We have this deadline now when our parts are due and I honestly haven’t skated with the person I’m supposed to be filming with for a month. So that project has actually been a little hard just because I never see the filmer. It has to be with the Red Camera. If that dude would’ve been around, I would’ve filmed that thing by now, no problem. We’ll get it though. 

Last Thanksgiving, you dropped two video parts in the same weekend (ECVX14 and Paych)… did you know that was going down like that beforehand? I know you're working on multiple projects right now, is it hard to keep all these different video parts straight… like who has what footage and when everything is coming out? 

I don’t really film with that many people so I usually know who filmed what. If I’m in New York, I’m with Johnny, who made Paych. In Philly, I’m with Penny or Mulhearn and in California, I live with my friend Ant Travis. I’ll usually film with him or some Nike dudes. Those are the usual guys.

But no, I definitely didn’t know both those parts were going to come out in the same weekend. I didn’t really think about it too much until it just kinda happened.

The ECVX part came about from having a bunch of footage with Penny. He wanted to keep some of it for Sabatoge 4 because he didn’t know if I’d have enough stuff for it… but I wanted that footage out. At that point Sabotage 4 wasn’t gonna be out for another year.

That always seems to happen every time I film with someone, they always end up wanting to hold on to it for whatever reason. It drives me crazy because then stuff will get to a certain point where I feel it’s too old and then I won’t like it anymore. I’d much rather just put the footage out now and go back to film some more stuff later. With Sabotage 4 not coming out until a year later, that footage wouldn’t haven even been of that same point in time. I don’t really want stuff in there from last year. It’s not that much of a problem but if I can get it out earlier, I’d rather do that. So that’s ECVX.

You’re not one to hoard 5 years of footage to put towards some big video part?

Nah, I’ll just film some more shit. I’d like to be able to do that but I never really have the ideal situation to make that happen.

I feel like people in California can skate with the same person every single solitary day and just stack footage. I have obligations with different projects where I can’t do that. Nike needs HD, Berrics needs Red Camera, I personally want VX… but I’m not even home all that much to where I can really film with those guys like that. And when I do, I’m not always trying to jump off a building either. When I’m home, I usually just want to try and kick it… skate some ledges, skate some tranny. I’ll jump off some shit if need be but I’m usually not trying to go ham when I’m finally home. I usually reserve that kinda shit to when I’m on trips, where everything is a bit more focused.

So many video parts already in such a short span of time, do you have a personal favorite?

I’ve had a bunch, for sure, and I like different aspects about each of them. Not exactly sure if I can pick a favorite…

Alright, what’s the one you show that one Aunt at family get-togethers when she asks what you do?

I’d probably show her the Nike part because I’m doing bigger stuff there. I think it translates better to non-skaters because the stuff looks a little crazier.

But if I had to pick my personal favorite, it would probably be Sabotage 3. I really liked that one because it was such a fun period for me. I lived 4 or 5 blocks away from Love and I didn’t have as much to do back then. It wasn’t totally crazy yet like it is now. I could still be at home for a few weeks during the summer and skate, like normal.

It was the best. Walk out of my house, roll down to Love and skate until the cops came. Roll back to my house, take a shower and drink a juice while I wait to hear if the cops left yet. I was 5 blocks away so I just went back and forth all day. It was so easy and just a fun time in the summer. Skating everywhere because it was so nice out.

One thing your parts are known for are these long, flowing lines. What do you want in your lines or like to see in other people’s lines? For example, you’ve mentioned liking Donovon Piscopo’s lines, what makes his stand out to you?

I don’t know, man. I mean, you can do a two-trick line and it’s cool. I feel like it’s just in the way that someone does something. It’s how you approach it, which probably has more to do with overall style, I guess. You can definitely see a lot more of that person’s style in a line versus just a single trick. You see them push and how they set up for whatever trick they trying to do.  

How much of your lines are planned versus improvised? Maybe go for two tricks then freestyle it from there?

My lines usually come from just skating around a spot, looking at stuff and doing whatever. I’ll start trying tricks and lines can just grow out of that. Figuring out what you can do into something else. Something will pop in my head that I think might be cool and I’ll want to try it.

One thing is that usually filmers don’t want to go blind. They’ll want to know what you’re planning so they can know what side they want to be on. They want to be able to film everything the best they can so being able to prepare definitely helps the thing. They’re don’t want to just be pointing a camera at you from wherever.  

The line I’m really thinking about here is in Sabotage 3 where you do a ledge line, wallie a bin and then, seemingly out of nowhere, kickflip the Love Gap. That last move really caught me by surprise but I can’t imagine you doing that just on a whim though…

It definitely wasn’t planned prior to that night. I just kinda thought of it while I was there but it wasn’t, like, first try or anything. I had to try that one for a bit. Again, we were just skating around and it just popped in my head. Might as well try it.

Things must’ve been going good because I have two other lines in that part from the same night. That line with the kickflip into the Gap was the third one. It was just a really nice summer night, skating around Love Park. The moon was out so everything was really bright out and you could see really well. It was so sick. Penny was down to keep filming and we weren’t getting kicked out so we just kept getting more and more stuff.

The switch kickflip down the Love Gap definitely broke you out a bit at the time. Was that one a battle for you? Did you realize at the time you were doing it that it would be some pretty legendary shit? Because there’s some history there with that one…

Yeah, it was a pretty big battle for that one. I actually tried it a few seperate times but we’d always get kicked out everytime. The time I landed it, it must’ve taken an hour or so to finally do it but I probably only tried maybe fifteen times that day. That’s not really that many tries but I was just so tired from it. I’d mess up pushing or hit a crack, someone would walk in front of me. Something like that. But yeah, it was definitely a battle.

I know you also switch frontside bigspinned it… anything else you’re thinking about?

Yeah, I tried nollieing it once and stuck. I’d like to do that. My friend was trying to get me to do some other stuff down it but I don’t know. If I’m not feeling it, even if the fountain is drained, I’m not gonna skate it. I’ve done a few tricks down it already…

How come you’ve never really tried anything down Wallenberg other that one Bust of Bail with the switch flip?

I did go back a little bit ago actually. I happened to be in SF to film for the Push thing and Wallenberg came up. I didn’t really want to skate there and it kinda bummed me out. I was just trying to get lines but some other people wanted to go so I went.

I was only in SF for 2 weeks or so and I didn’t want to bruise my heels for the rest of the trip but tried some front heels. I was actually catching them and everything but it was kinda windy. I just stopped… even though I ended up bruising my heels anyway. Should’ve saved that one for later.

You’ve definitely carried the Love torch in recent years. How big of an influence was that whole scene on you growing up? I know you’re from just across the river in Jersey, did you know about that scene at all back then or at least aware of its history over the years?

Honestly, when I first started out, I didn’t know anything about it. I was so young, I didn’t realize all that stuff was so close.

I started going out to Philly when I was 15… I couldn’t have known anything about that scene too long before that. It’s pretty crazy how I didn’t even know what was going on. My mom never bought me skate magazines or videos so I always had to piece things together through what I saw with other people. I feel like I started kinda figuring things out when I saw Ricky Oyola at a demo this one time. That’s probably when Love Park really started to become a thing for me.

I definitely remember the first time I ever went to skate Love Park because it was on my Mom’s birthday and I definitely was not allowed to be going over there. But I was so blown away by it. It just seemed so crazy. I was so young that I actually went up to another skater at the park and asking if we were allowed to skate there.

“Well, not really… but yeah.”

That’s how young I was. And honestly, I’m pretty sure that dude was Bobby Puleo. I was there for this random line he filmed that day which I’ve seen later on in footage. I knew what it was the second I saw it. I’m almost positive.

That’s amazing. So would you say you’re more of Josh and Stevie guy or a Ricky/Underachievers guy when it comes to Love Park political lines?

Hmmm… I’m probably more on the Stevie and Josh side of things. Just because I definitely watched the DC Video a ton back in the day and really liked Stevie Williams.

As a young skate rat watching videos and dreaming about California, what’s one classic spot that you always wanted to skate that you actually ended up hating once you got out there?

Oh man, I’d probably have say every schoolyard out there. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong schools but those picnic tables and benches… I don’t know how people skate them. I mean, some of those benches are cool but for a lot of them, they bend all weird when you get on them. They just don’t work.

As far as picnic tables go, you can’t really noseslide them. Your wheels always get wedged underneath. It drives me crazy. It’s actually become this thing where everytime I go to a schoolyard, I feel like I have to try noseslide tricks on picnic tables. I have to do it because it’s in my head that I can’t. But my shit always gets wedged. It’s crazy.

Maybe I’m just not used to them. Maybe I need to skate those “little picnic table” schools more or something.

Well, when I interviewed Kalis, he gave the exact same response. He hates those tables, too. So you’re in good company.

That’s good to know actually.

Love heads don’t like Cali picnic tables. So talk a little about your first few years being on Real. You climbed through the ranks so quickly, all of sudden, you were on Fourstar, Nike and then pro almost overnight. I gotta ask, were certain teammates kinda bummed on your shine back then? Did any of that serve to fuel your banger Since Day One part at all or were you just trying to skate…

I gotta admit that I felt weird about how everything went down. I knew that I was the new guy on the team and how fast this was going. I mean, it was weird how I even got on the team to begin with. They asked me out to California and I was originally only supposed to be there for a month and a half. I ended up staying for 3 months. I stayed in Sacramento for a while then headed out to San Francisco and this was all during my last year of high school. I actually started getting so busy with skating that I didn’t even end up finishing school. It just became this thing where they kept wanting me to stay longer and longer, which led to the possibility of me filming a video part… I wasn’t even totally on the team yet, still only “kinda”.

So I filmed a bunch and headed home... but I’m still only kinda on the team. That went on for a while. But I just kept going on more and more trips, getting in deeper with everything.

Since Day One came out and I didn’t understand how it made sense that I could turn pro kinda outta nowhere. I felt weird about it because I knew certain people had been on the team longer than me who were absolutely killing it. Looking back on everything now, it does seem kinda obvious with how everything was set up but I was just so oblivious to it all. It honestly didn’t make any sense to me back then.

I mean, even now, I don’t know why Robbie Brockel isn’t pro. He’s been on the team forever and just fucks it up.

But it’s gotta be weird position for you to be in, when you’re really just trying to be out there doing your thing. Was there any type of hazing in the van back in the day?

I feel like when I first got on the team, Jake (Donnelly) definitely fucked with me a lot because I was the new-new guy. Justin Brock always held me down but people definitely made comments about how I was always skating a lot. I remember one time when Chima was hating on me, calling me a “show-off”.

I was just trying to skate. Now that they know me, they understand that’s just how I am but back then, people were kinda bummed on me for skating as much as I do. They thought I was out there trying to skate for different reasons other than I just like to do it.

Any regrets as the young hyper kid on tour? Most important lesson you’ve learned on the road?

That’s actually a hard one to answer because everyone is different. Every situation is different. Different people react to different things and what might be okay on one trip may not be on another. I could tell you just to keep your mouth shut but at the same time, if you’re too quiet then people will probably start thinking you’re some type of weirdo. (laughs)

Just be yourself, I guess.

Describe how you went about filming your Chronicles 2 part? You were essentially a man on a mission for that one. I mean, let’s face it: 20 minutes of footage in 2 years is insane.

We went on a bunch of trips to all of these amazing spots so, of course, I’m gonna try to get out there and skate. I just skated everything that I could, as much as I could. It wasn’t like some thought out thing. I just went about things like that the whole time, skating as much as possible, so I was bound to end up with a lot of footage.

Even when we weren’t on trips, I was staying at Scuba’s a lot anyway, which was always super dope. I got to film with Jason a lot more that way, too.

I never really make trick lists or anything and I honestly get kinda bummed when filmers plan out my day for me. I’d much rather just be randomly taken to a spot. If I like it, I’ll skate it. If I don’t, we’ll see what happens. But I don’t like going to a spot in order to try specific tricks. Sometimes it will go like that but things seems to happen better for me when it’s spontaneous. Just like when you’re a kid skating around the city and you stumble upon something. That gets you stoked. I feel like that’s when my wheels turn the best is when you’re not really making some big deal out of it.

I feel like that’s why I tend to get more lines when I’m out in Philly. I’ll be out in the City riding around, doing that exact type of thing. That’s what I like most.

I think it definitely shows in the footage as well. Chronicles 2 did get you SOTY honors but were you pleased overall with how that part came out? I know you got hurt in the last few months of filming and previously felt like you didn’t get your Ender-Ender? Do you still feel like that?

Honestly, yes. There was a ton of stuff that I still wanted to do for that one. I got hurt 3 months before the video ended. 3 months! That’s a long time!

That’s probably right when you were planning to really go off, right?

You’re right and there was nothing I could do about it. I like that part but at the same time, I know I could’ve done more. Because of that injury and not being able to skate those last 3 months, I did feel weird about having last part in the video. I mean, that’s crunchtime! That stuff is crucial and here I am, not even being able to skate. I hated it. Like, when I did my last trick, I really didn’t think that was going to be my last trick, you know?

The kickflip backlip down that double-kink?

At the time, I knew that was the best thing that I did but I still wanted to do so much more. You gotta aim high!

(laughs) One of my favorite clips is actually the one before that, how did the switch frontside blunt on Clipper go down? Was that just one trip or did you have to go back for that? So gnarly.

Yeah, that was one trip. I think that was a day or two after I did the kickflip backlip. I knew we were on one for those couple days and I’d already been talking to Jason about going to San Francisco. Once I got that kickflip backlip, we decided to drive up there and make it happen.

Did it come pretty quick?

I did a bunch of tricks that day just to get used to it. I remember when we first rolled up, there was a hockey game going on so we went and warmed up at this other spot for a while. Some nice ladies had told us when the game was gonna be over so we knew when to come back.

I did a nollie noseslide on it, a kickflip noseslide, a switch tail and then I wallie 180’d over it before I started trying that switch front blunt. The first one I actually tried, I got into but the thing is so round that I slid diagonally across the hubba. By the time I got to the end of the hubba, I was actually at the other opposite corner of it on the far side. Holy shit! But I kept trying it and the angle lessened every go. The more I tried, the more I stayed on the edge each time.

I remember one time walking back up and realizing that it finally wasn’t windy. That’s the one I landed. It was kinda windy the whole time I was trying it but I specifically remember this one time being very calm. No wind at all. That’s the one that worked.

The classic downfall with most pro skaters: madness. Anything you can speak on? Good luck charms or set-up weirdness?

Nah, I don’t really have any madness. If anything, if a trick is having trouble for me and I’ve been trying it for long enough, I tend to get in a groove. You know what I mean? You start at this point, you go this fast, you pop here… it just becomes this same thing you do everytime. It’s not really madness but I end up needing these certain things to happen that develop over the course of trying the trick that day. I can’t go unless it’s in that groove.

Speaking of grooves, how did you get introduced to those Everslick bottoms that you’ve been rocking as of late on your boards?

Real made a run of these decks called Popslickles that had the plastic on the bottom. I felt like whenever those boards were pressed, they were a little bit steeper generally. I wasn’t really into that at first but I ended up trying one and thought it was so dope. Holy shit.

I always had trouble with kickflipping out of tailslides because I’d have all of my weight on the ledge. Whenever I’d go to press down in order to pop, I always stuck. But with these boards, there’s way less resistance. You don’t even need to wax as much as you usually do… or you can just go ahead and put all your weight on the ledge. It’s so dope.

I really hate sticking. I really hate it bad, so I tend to wax a lot. Some people get mad at me for it  a lot of times, but you don’t even have to worry about sticking with these.

Damn, you’re selling me on ‘em!

The thing with me is that I’d much rather slip out than stick because you can see it coming. You can feel a slip out coming just with how your weight is… you know when you’re not in it right. When you stick, you think you’re gonna go and you just get tossed. I can’t stand it.

I read in a recent article were you said that you often worry about skateboarding as a whole. What kind of things do you worry about? And as one of the most popular pros in the industry today, what power do you feel like you have to possibly change things?

I mean, that’s the whole thing with me is that I don’t really know where skateboarding is going. It’s going in all these different directions and who’s to know if those are gonna be good or bad? There’s no way of knowing how things are going to turn out, so how can you change it? Only time will tell.

My thing is that I feel kids don’t necessarily see skateboarding the same as how it was when you were a kid or even when I was young. I feel like there was a turning point in the last couple years where contests have become such a big part of skateboarding now. Kids come up to me all the time just to talk about contests. That’s dope and all, but when I was a kid, I wasn’t really paying any attention to that stuff. It was more about how someone’s interview was sick or how good their last video part was. The people that you look up to, you wanted to go out and be filming in the streets just like how you see them skating. Like P-Rod back in the day skating spots, I wanted to film myself at spots just like that dude. Being a kid, riding around, skating just like him.

Nowadays, it’s like kids are seeing that guy at contests and they’re not trying to be like him, they’re trying to be on his level and beat him! They want that limelight. They want to win.  

That’s pretty real, man. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong or right necessarily. I just feel like, in general, it’s a very different way of thinking. Things are just different than how they used to be.

I have always wondered where these contests fit in with you. You always do well, even when you're throwing up mid-run, but you definitely seem more like you’re sessioning the course versus taking any sort of competitive agenda.  How seriously do you take all that stuff?

Honestly, a lot of the time, I’m just stoked on being able to skate new shit. That happens a lot where I’m out there skating obstacles while everyone else is putting together a run and when the contest actually starts, I’ll have no idea what I’m going to do. I usually just have to figure something out real quick. It’s really hard for me to get into that competitive mindstate. I used to be really competitive when I was younger, to the point where it bummed people out. I think that just comes with being a kid because I’ve definitely lost that as I’ve gotten older.

I mean, especially over the last few years, I’m out there skating with people that I’ve looked up to for a long time. People that I grew up watching. It’s really hard to be competitive with those type dudes because in the back of your head, you still can’t believe you’re even skating with them in the first place. You’re just trying to skate and have fun while also watching them skate. That’s how I’d rather go about contests instead of thinking about “winning” the whole time. Thinking about putting together some ultimate run and winning! I mean, everybody wants to win, of course, but it’s hard for me to really get into it like that.

You’re an old soul, homie, and I can’t thank you enough for doing this. So as we wrap this up, what’s next for you? Sabotage 4 and I know you’re the end of this Push project but what’s after that? What else can we look forward to in the future?

Like you said, I’m just trying to finish this Push part right now. After that, I’m just trying to keep skating with good people. Try to stay healthy and keep it going. That’s really my only project right now: keep it going.

Thanks to Jim Thiebaud, KVL, Kurt Hayashi, Dom Travis and Ishod.

Through and Through is now live.


chrome ball interview #85: thomas campbell

chops and t-moss get weird in the garage

studio shot, 2014 - photo: tiffany campbell

Alright Thomas, I gotta admit that I’ve had some difficulty wrapping my head around all of the different roles and projects you’ve worked on over the years. One thing I’ve always wondered about, and this is kind of an easy one to start off with: what is your typical day like? How do you go about doing all this stuff? 

I just get up and try to get things going. I normally do most of my work in the first part of the day, whether it’s things like emails, painting or design stuff… whatever I gotta do. I’ll try to do that stuff in the morning and then go run some errands towards the afternoon. I live in the woods near Santa Cruz so I typically have to go into town for things. After that, I usually go surfing or skating sometimes 

I try to take it how it comes. I’m always making art but if I have a big art show coming, I’ll go more into that type of mode when needed. Making a bigger solo exhibition usually take about 6 months or so to prepare. Or if I’m in moviemaking mode, I’ll focus on that area and probably not paint as much. Maybe some doodles here and there but nothing real serious.

I like it, though. I like working on different things because it helps keep everything fresher.

And you work out of your garage, right?

Yeah, my garage has been converted into a studio. Cars do not live in there. But it’s good to have a place like that right there. 

preparing for show at alleged gallery -brooklyn, 2000
photo: templeton

So many of your projects are holistic in approach, with you basically taking care of everything from top to bottom. You direct the film, you design the packaging, you distribute the project. Would you say this comes from your making zines back in the day? 

Yeah, I think it definitely started for me in zines and continued throughout working at skateboard magazines for so long. It’s really influenced me to have an editor’s mind. You can start seeing all the options for things, kinda like you’re cooking a lot of meals at once. I need a little more salt over there, this isn’t quite done over here… 

I’m comfortable with a lot of things going on at once. It’s all sort of a balancing act. What are my main points? I have this stuff already, what other supporting things do I need? That’s basically how you make a magazine or the kind of movies I make. They’re both really similar in that way.

T Campbell with Nikon FM2 - Wallenberg, 1994
photo: Yelland

How did you get introduced to the seedy underbelly of underground skate zines? 

I’d say what happened first was that my friend in high school, Ky made a zine called “Kinky Transitions”.  That was my real introduction, I guess. 

That’s an amazing title. 

Yeah, I still didn’t really know anything about zines at that point but I started working on one anyway with my friend Tony Vadakan after that. It was called “Ground Beef” and I drew the cartoon in it… which is so bad. I didn’t know how to draw at all and it’s really horrible. The cartoon was called “Beef Chew” and I’m embarrassed of it. 


But this was around the time when my friends and I started going to skate Del Mar Skatepark and really looking at skate magazines. That’s where I got to know about Swank and Blender. Those are the two big guys for me as far as inspiring me to be creative.  

I can’t remember the exact occurrence but I started making my own zine shortly after that. I just wanted my zine to look a certain way… but at the same time, I didn’t want my friend Tony to get mad that I was starting my own zine so I called it “Joke”, trying to downplay it. 

I got really into it, though. I took an offset printing class in high school and started making my zines in class. I started getting ads from Santa Cruz and Dogtown… my zine actually had a lot of ads in it. I got all kinds of free boards for that.  

That’s a pretty good racket. 

Yeah, it really was. 

But I was also starting to develop relationships through making my zine. Grant Brittain was sending me photos to use and I was also trading zines and stuff back and forth with Tod Swank. I remember when Tod put my drawing on the cover of one of his zines, this one he did after Swank zine called “Scrap”, it was seriously one of the best days of my life. I was so stoked. My idol likes my drawing! It was a crappy drawing of Anne Frank but he liked it. That meant so much to me.

It’s difficult to explain to the younger generation how all of these zines circulated around the country with so much distance between like-minded individuals. It’s taken for granted now with the internet but it really was like an underground network back then. 

To be honest, a lot of it grew out of Thrasher. They had this thing in the magazine called “The Zine Page” with different zines and addresses. You could send a dollar or something and get zines straight from that.  That’s what connected a lot of us in the beginning. 

Magazines, in a way, didn’t cover all that much back then. You wanted to share what was going on in your scene.

But that’s what brought so many of us together, relationships I still have.  Like, I remember when I started trading zines with Chris Johanson in the mail back when I was 16. I’d get his stuff and be like, “Man, this guy’s fucked up!”

I didn’t get the humor. It was really dark and tweaked. I’d get his zines and feel like he was on some other shit that I didn’t even know about. 

But it’s funny because I ended up meeting Chris for the first time totally random on a bus in San Francisco 6 years later. Just because I was wearing a Swank shirt. It was something that Tod had made and given me so I guess it was pretty limited. But this guy on the bus looks at it and says, “Do you know Tod?”

“Yeah… woah! It’s you!”

So many zine guys soon found themselves with jobs at major skateboarding mags, yourself included. I know you did some stuff with PowerEdge and Club Homeboy but how did you get involved with Transworld specifically and what was it like working there during this pretty wild period? I know you weren’t even taking photos at first, only writing? 

My friend Joe Lloyd used to take pictures under the name Xeno. We had a ditch by our house called “the Shit Ditch” and it got bulldozed. Somehow I ended up getting to write an obituary for it in Transworld along with some of Joe's pictures. I couldn’t even really write but I tried anyway. 

After that, I think I might’ve made another zine, but I really started focusing more on writing for magazines. I figured this was my opportunity to really work towards something. So I basically just wrote for 5 years… like you said, mainly Transworld but there were some other mags, too, including Big Brother. I was taking some pictures back then but mostly portraits. I didn’t really want to take pictures back then, I just wanted to skate. Taking pictures meant being responsible for camera stuff and not being able to really skate during sessions because you were too busy. 

But I was also insanely poor. Permanent couch tour poor. You really don’t make anything being just a writer at a magazine so I was running on empty all the time. That’s basically why I decided to start shooting skate photos. 

The big switch came during this one time when I was in Spain. This guy in Madrid was trying to start a skateboarding magazine and I was helping him organize photographers while I wrote for him. I remember he had all this camera equipment and wanted me to take photos as well but I didn’t really know how to use any of the stuff. I didn’t know how to use flashes back then. 

I started thinking of who I could call to help me out. My favorite skateboard photographer at the time was Spike. I loved the way he shot photos and used color gels. There’s always a lot of movement in his photography. I’d known him for a long time, I think I’m gonna call him up and ask him how to use all this stuff. 

“Hey Spike, how do I do this? What do I do?” (laughs)

He gave me the whole rundown! Set the flash in front usually at 5.6 and the one behind the skater a little hotter… this is back when you put the flash in the photo, which definitely does not happen now. But yeah, he told me everything I needed to know and I wrote it all down. I went out that day and shot more-or-less totally professional pictures. 

One thing I love about skate mags in the late-80s was the sense of exploration and personality. Take monthly columns like Room Without A View and Street Sheet, for example. You’d never have that today. Like that photo you took of Chris Reed in his pajamas blowing bubbles. That’s a two-page spread!

(laughs) No, that would never go today. But that was such an interesting, unique time. It wasn’t so serious. Now everything is so hammertime-oriented. Things could be more in the creative realm back then. Obviously there was some super good skating, too, but mags were more about showing a spectrum of what was happening.  

What is going on in that Chris Reed photo anyway?

Honestly, I don’t really know. We’d been really good friends since high school, it just basically good friends out making weird stuff one day. I sent it to Transworld and the next thing we knew, it was a two-page spread… which is both awesome and fucked-up. That might’ve been when GSD was designing the mag. 

I know you worked on a lot of Pro Spotlights back then but one thing I remember capturing my imagination were your travel articles. You led quite a nomadic existence for several years that you were then able to incorporate back into your writing and really make something special. Taking a bunch of dudes to parts unknown for skating is a standard concept now but it was rarely seen when you were doing that in the 1990s. 

It’s interesting because when I’d travel to Europe every year for those contests, I’d always go off on tours and stay with people afterwards. One time in particular, I stayed at Skin’s house before heading down to Spain and checking out their skateparks, eventually working my way down to Morocco. Surfing and skating for a while. 

I was basically on a 5-year bender of going all over the place on a shoestring. It was the best.  I was working for Transworld and eventually Skateboarder, I wanted to go to different places than what was not normally where people would go to skate. I’d already been to a few of these places and knew that there were spots. You could get a different look and bring a different culture to people, too. Cool, let’s go to Morocco. 

Some people had beef with those articles because they felt those countries didn’t support skateboarding. Whatever. Who cares. We’re on the Earth. Go skate whatever you want. There are no rules. 

adrian lopez in hong kong, 1998

You were on that amazing 1992 UK tour with a post-Blind Mark Gonzales, a SOTY-bound John Cardiel, and a prime Salman Agah…  in addition to Karma, Alan Petersen and Ron Chatman. Such a solid crew and an amazing snapshot in time. What was up with Gonz during this time? And was it obvious that a young Cards was on his way to greatness at that point? 

Yeah, that was a really good tour.

I’d met Skin Phillips at Tobin’s house in San Francisco. He was this cool guy from Wales trying to be a photographer. I think he was working for Thrasher a little bit at the time but not too much. I remember telling him that I was trying to go to Europe that summer when he invited me on this tour with them. He was the van driver and the photographer for the whole thing. 

I don’t really know what Mark was doing at that time. He might’ve been thinking he was retired at that point. He wasn’t skating a whole lot… I don’t even know if he had his own skateboard on the tour. He’d borrow somebody else’s and shred here and there, not much though. I think at the time he was riding for 60/40 maybe.

One thing that stands out on that trip is when he hippie jumped over the bars into South Bank. To this day, I don’t know of anybody else who could possibly do that. That’s some serious ninja shit. 

Cardiel was a ball of energy at all times. I remember him in the van eating candy, drinking Coke and smoking hash. He was non-stop super-amped and as soon as the van door opened, he’d go completely nuts. The tour basically went around to all the old skateparks in England and Scotland. Everyplace we went, John would find the gnarliest thing possible and do it. I think he was maybe 19 at the time. John’s got an awesome energy.

mark in england, 1992

On another excursion, you basically discovered an unknown Chad Muska on a TWS trip to Vegas. Every town has their rippers, what was it that made him stick out like he did?

Yeah, that was with Tim Brauch, Jesse Paez, Chris Pontius, Fernando Elvira, Floyd Williamson and Tobin Yelland. 

It’s funny because I remember going to pick up Jesse Paez at his house. He was only 16 at the time and as we’re leaving to get in the car, I hear his mom say, “Please take care of Jesse!”

“For sure! No problem!”

We then get in the car and immediately eat mushrooms. That’s like the worst thing ever: driving to Las Vegas at night while super high on mushrooms. That’s not what you want to do. Fear and Loathing is exactly that and the reality of it is not good. (laughs)

But yeah, we went to this spot and Chad just happened to be there. He was so good… like really, really good. We were all blown away by him. He was a little gangstery, hip hop-style dude wearing Adidas with double-tongues. We all thought he was awesome.

We hooked up with him the next day for more pictures and I remember going to this rail. I’d seen people skate small rails before but never anything like this. This was a 12-stair rail and he’s just attacking it, doing lipslides down it. He broke his board after two tries. I let him borrow my board and he broke it. Tobin lets him borrow his board and Chad breaks that one, too. We couldn’t get over it. He was an animal. 

When we all headed back to California at the end of the trip, I tried to get him sponsored by several companies but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. I’ll leave the companies nameless but they’re obviously retarded.

“Hey, I have this guy and he’s basically better than your entire team put together. You should put him on.”

A few year later, he’s the biggest skateboarder in the world. But Chad’s rad, man. He’s got a good vibe and his skating is amazing, especially at the height of his powers. It was like magic. 

muska's hate

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask for your side of the Ethan Fowler/Iowa-to-SF story. I know you were the connection there. You talked about some guilt with the mushrooms-thing earlier, was there any with you essentially helping him run away?

No, I didn’t feel guilty.

I’d originally met Ethan through Ed around 1994. I think he was 15 at the time. 

Yeah, you took that frontside grab photo of him at Miley. 

Yup. He was riding for Ed (Toy Machine) at the time and he was amazing. He just looked super good on a skateboard. Like, he’s one of those people who can just roll straight and you’re like, “Oh my God!”

But all of a sudden, his Mom wanted to move him to Iowa. It really sucked. I even called his Mom, trying to make her realize just how good Ethan was. Basically equating him to an Olympic-level athlete, asking if he could still live in California with his brother or possibly even Ed? But she wasn’t having it. 

So he goes out to Iowa and is just partying and doing drugs. It’s kinda whatever for him, he’s obviously the best skateboarder in Iowa City but nobody is inspiring him. He’s not really skating all that much. 

Around this time, I had my first art show at Alleged Gallery in NYC. Tobin had driven out to the show with Julien Stranger, Rick Ibaseta and our friend Kiawa. Rick and Julien decided to fly back to San Francisco so I ended up driving back across the country with Tobin and Kiawa.

We were making stops along the way and I brought up stopping by to see Ethan in Iowa, thinking we could possibly shoot some photos. It wasn’t anything super planned, we were just there and he was stoked to see us and shoot some pictures, he was ripping. At one point, I was like, “Dude, do you want to come with us? Maybe live in San Francisco or something?”

“Yeah, I want to go.”

Looking back on it, it seems way more hectic than what it really was. But he went back to his house and filled a backpack full of stuff. He didn’t want to make it too obvious. And we went. 

I don’t think he called his Mom for a week afterwards… and I think Ed was pretty bummed that he left for Stereo. But that summer, he went to Munster contest and won pretty much what was the World Championship at the time. He won Munster at 16 after basically taking 9 months off from skating. That’s how good he was. 

ethan in france, 1996

One of my all-time favorites has gotta be your Sean Sheffey TWS cover. Did you shoot a lot with Sheff back then? 

That one was super random. I think that was the same day that I shot that photo of Ethan there as well. I didn’t even know Sheffey at the time. I was shooting pictures of Ed and Ethan and saw him skating that little corner of the bank so I took a couple shots. I didn’t really think too much about it. 

It’s funny because this was back when I’d shoot pictures and literally send all the film directly to Transworld through FedEx. I’d never even see anything, they’d do all the developing and stuff. All of a sudden, they’re like, “Hey, you got a cover with Sheffey!”


I only shot maybe four pictures of him that day but I guess all the timing was right and it worked out. I saw Sheffey shortly after that on a fairy ride from Holland to England with the whole skateboarding circus.

He was super psyched and thanked me… was rad.

Were you at all bummed on how rigid skateboarding got in the 1990s with all its rules? Why do you think that was? 

To be honest, that was pretty much one of the main reasons I stopped working in skateboarding for a bit. I used to work a lot with Tim Brauch, Ron Whaley and Israel Forbes because I lived in Santa Cruz and I thought those guys were rad because they were the prototypes of skaters that just would skate everything. People like Phil Shao and Dan Drehobl, guys that just wanted to skate and would skate whatever. That’s what I’ve always felt skating is. 

“Oh, a backyard pool? Let’s go skate it! Let’s hit up Derby! Let’s go street skate! Yeah, let’s just go skate!”

But they were the exceptions! I think a lot of that separation came from the Girl camp. They were only into what they were into and everything else was cut. I don’t think that’s too far of the mark. At that point, you had your vert guys, your street guys, your tech street guys and then your gnar dog pool guys. It was all so divided, which seemed really stupid to me. 

What’s interesting is that in the long run, I think the Beauty and the Beast tour did a lot to break down those divisions. All of a sudden, the tech dudes were like, “Oh, the Girl dudes are cool with the Anti Hero dudes.” And the gnar tranny-type skaters probably thought the same. It's fascinating the dudes that helped create the division helped close it.

I think skating is in a really good spot now as far as the overall mentality and how people are approaching all terrains and mixing styles fluidly. Attacking everything and not giving a fuck. People like Evan Smith are the personification of what skating is. Just not caring and doing anything. Wallie up a rail, smith grinding down it, whatever. It’s what I’ve always thought of skating. It’s not so divided anymore. People seem generally stoked on each other. I am not that interested in the televised side of skating but whatever.

blaize blouin, slob fastplant - chicken's pool, 1998

Curious what you think of skate photography these days. I can’t help but feel there’s a formula that’s being beaten to death and it’s all a bit too perfect… where as before, I think there was charm was in the flaws. 

I’m not very into where modern skateboard photography is. 

I feel like skateboarding is such an outlaw activity. It's really raw, dirty and fucked up in the best way. In a lot of ways, I feel the digital era, where everything’s super-processed and perfectly-lit, doesn’t really document the real feeling skateboarding. It’s almost like that stuff takes it out of context. Makes it to pretty and controlled when it's not.

There are some photographers who do it well. Almost everyone is really skilled at getting the shots that are in the magazines. I’m not saying that these photographers aren’t good. I just feel like with photography and videos, it’s all so clean. Skateboarding is not clean. It’s fucked and it’s heavy. The situations are heavy. But maybe I just relate to film-based photography more. I do.

karma, switch crooks - wade speyer's mini - big brother, 1993

Agreed. Going back a bit, how did you get involved with SMA’s Debunker project? 

I was living in Santa Cruz in the early 90's and one of my best friends was Steve Keenan, team manager at SMA.  I can’t remember exactly how it came about but I think he was already making it and asked if I was interested in helping him. 

I’ve always been super into music so I started helping him organize some of the soundtrack. We started coming up with more and more ideas for it. Obviously, we were heavily influenced by Alien Workshop’s Memory Screen, which had just come out and was the best thing ever to me at that time. There’s definitely some Alien aspects of it but I was also going to video stores and trying to find the weirdest videos I could to steal from. Making weird vocal stuff for it with my friend Adam… stuff with alien’s talking. 

What made SMA go the aliens route after all those years with the airplane? It was a pretty big change in direction for them. 

That’s basically what we were all into at the time. Reading books about aliens and wondering what the hell is going on galactically. I mean, obviously, if you don’t think there are aliens, you’re retarded. I mean… come on!

What’s the story behind Dave LeRoux’s disclaimer? Warranted but still a bold choice. 

We felt it needed to be there because we didn’t think people at the time we’re going to understand what he was doing. 

Yeah, he was basically too far ahead of his time. 

I think we had to put that in there. I don’t think people got how crazy he was skating anyway… and then to point out that it was almost all switchstance, we were hoping the disclaimer might get people thinking a little more about what he was doing. 

Why was Julien in the intro when he didn’t have a part? I know he left shortly after but why was he in there at all? 

That was more Keenan’s decision. He was the one getting the footage together and I don’t think Julien had tons of footage. 

harold hunter - brooklyn banks b side flip, 1995

Talk a little about your 1996 short A Love Supreme. How was that made? And how was it received in the notoriously mucho macho NYC scene? Did they get what you were trying to do?

I lived in New York from 1995 to 1998. I was doing some exhibitions at Alleged Gallery at the time and I also fell in love with a woman there so I basically just ended up there. I started shooting a lot with Harold, Huff, Ryan Hickey, Quim and Mike Cardona. 

It’s interesting because before I moved there, while I’d always listened to jazz, I was still mainly into indie rock. But once I moved to New York, I really felt that jazz was the sound of the place and began exploring it a lot deeper than I had before. Obviously Coltrane is one of my all-time favorites and A Love Supreme his best records ever. I wanted to start shooting 16mm, too… maybe I could make a movie with all of this stuff I have going on in my head? Maybe I could do it with the Supreme guys? So I skated over to Supreme and talked to Giovanni Estevez like, “Hey, could I make a movie for you guys?”

He was into it and we figured out a way to get a small budget. The first time I ever shot a 16mm camera was on the day I started filming that movie. I think I shot it over the course of 4 or 5 months. 

I think it captured the vibe of the place and the scene. The feeling of what it’s like to be there. Obviously the music was really good. But it never really got released. I know there was a slightly edited version in 411 but not with the same music. 

To be honest, I don’t think the Supreme guys really got it at the time but I always liked it. I think in the long run, they appreciated it. It’s interesting in that I think there may have been a slight nod to A Love Supreme in Bill’s Cherry. The Supreme dudes called and asked me come to the premiere since I did the first one. They said Bill really wanted me to be there. That was cool. I really dug Bill's Cherry film.

I was actually just thinking about how I need to call them as next year makes 20 years since it came out. Maybe we could do something for that. 

some weird boards
strength mag, henry lindsey benefit, 2x krooked, element, 2x designarium

You’ve done some graphics for a wide range of companies and I know your doing some stuff with Element now. What’s your process like when working with riders and brands versus your own aesthetic? 

It’s different every time but they generally just want you to do what you do. I gotta admit that sometimes it’s really hard for me to do skateboard graphics because that’s when I feel the most self-conscious. It’s not hard for me to make a painting but when it comes to a skateboard graphic, I freak out! 

“Oh my gosh, there’s going to be a lot of these. Everyone’s going to see this! Is it good enough?  I don’t know! Ahhhh!”

Honestly, that’s probably held me back from doing a lot more in the last 10 years. Different companies will ask me a lot, but I haven't done that many recently. The thing is that it’s kind of part of my job right now to work with Element and make graphics so I’m trying not to be such a wuss. 

Because I’m looking at them on my wall right now, how did you come up with that crazy set for Designarium

Oh yeah, those were just taken off of some cut-down painted boards that I had already made. I was doing that a lot where I’d take used boards, cut out a tweaked shape and paint on them. I’d actually just finished those when Natas asked if I was interested in making some boards for him… why don’t we just make these? We can make a pintail and a swallowtail. 

I think if you actually tried to ride them, they’d be pretty dangerous but it’s art. I like that. I like taking something like that and making it not functional so people will want to put it on their wall. 

sewing station installation - bolinas museum, 2015

I know you don’t want to reveal too much but can you offer a little explanation behind some of the recurring themes in your art? Like those hooded guys, for example. 

As far as those bottle-shaped people I draw, I’ve mentioned spending a lot of time in Morocco over the last 20 years or so. The men and women there often wear this similar kind of robe called a djellaba. I think I started drawing them from being there and have probably been drawing them since the first time I went.  

I like them because I can draw these scenes with anonymous people in them who aren’t sex-specific. You can look at a piece and make up whatever you want. I like that ambiguous idea. I think it’s interesting and I like that point of reference. That’s probably why I’ve stuck with it and evolved it. 

I’m 46 and I started really trying to be an artist when I was 13. I’ve just been working at it consistently. Style evolves. Ideas evolve. I don’t know… I like to just go out in my studio, listen to music and get weird. It’s fucking fun. 

But there’s the full range of emotional shit going on with making art, especially painting. Everything from serious loathing and burnout to elation and really magic, connected moments. It's quite an emotional journey.

"Ampersand" exhibition - joshua liner gallery - nyc, 2014

When do the cryptic phrasings come into play? Do they arise naturally through the process of making a piece? Is there some type of overall theme or story there?

I think a lot of things that I write in my paintings are more like self-affirmations. It’s like reiterating ideas to myself through the paintings. Something like, “Sing Ding aling” is basically saying to be thankful for what you have or what’s happening. Our lives are short and can end at any time. A lot of it is trying to be present where I am and trying to convey that. It’s not super heavy or highly-conceptual, it’s kind of a natural dialogue. 

Is that the same reasoning behind your ubiquitous “yar”?

Yeah, I think “yar” is a sailing term meaning that everything is good and ready to go. The boat is yar, the sails are yar. It’s an actual term. It doesn’t sound like it should be but it is. I think it’s funny. 

A lot of that stuff is trying to make myself laugh, too. 

working on max fish mural, 1997
photo: dunn

For sure. How did your installations inside the old Max Fish happen? Is that a nod to old Alleged connections?

I’ve done three installations in Max Fish over the years. I lived two storefronts down from there in 1995.

Rent had to be a lot cheaper then. 

Definitely. And it wasn’t a skater bar either. It was far more artists and musicians back then, which I actually liked because I could take a break from my skatelife and go there. 

My days back then were basically painting or shooting skate photos during the day, skating the metal curbs out on Houston a lot from around 11 to 1am and then ending the day at Max Fish until close at 4. That was kind of the routine. 

All the people that worked at Max Fish were my buddies. How Max Fish became a skater bar, my good friend I skated with was Andre Razo. Whenever his underage younger brothers Marc and Tino would come down from Vermont, we would get them into Max Fish and they’d be stoked. It’s funny to see how they evolved and became bartenders as Max Fish became a total skate bar… and now Marc is one of the owners. 

It was a natural thing over the years where they’d ask me if I wanted to paint the walls. The first one I did was probably in 1997 or so. I did another one in 2004 and the last one I did was 3 or 4 years ago. They want me to do another one in the new spot but I haven’t gotten out there to do it yet. 

shooting "ye old destruction" with al parts

What can you tell us about your new project Ye Olde Destruction

Yeah, I’ve been working slowly on this all 16-mm skate film over the last few years. It’s a pretty solid cast of skaters: Evan Smith, Colin Provost, Taylor Bingman, Nick Garcia, Suski, Chris Russell, Brent Achtley, Al Parts, Ray Barbee, McCrank… there’s a bunch. So far, Jon Miner’s helped me film a trip and French Fred had helped me film another. 

I don’t want to give away too much but it’s really raw and fun skating. A lot of DIY spots and loosely based around automobiles. It’s not about hammertime, It’s people having fun, skating shit. I’ll leave it at that.

Will it be along the same lines as Cuatro Suenos Pequenos

I’m making it so it will have a similar vibe but this one will be much more angsty and in the punk zone. Quatros is a bit more ethereal or dream-state oriented. 

filming Javier Mandizabal for CSP - photo: rip zinger

How did Cuatro Suenos Pequenos come about?

Javi and I were just sitting around the table in my house. I’d wanted him to be in this other idea for a film I was working on but it didn't work out. He was working with Quiksilver at the time and I remember him saying, “Those guys are big fans of your work. They’d probably let us make a movie together if you wanted. “

We started talking about it and seriously, within 15 minutes, we had the idea. 

“Maybe it could be about dreams.”

It kept going from there. I hashed it out a little more and got Quiksilver to give us some budget. We started working on it and were actually almost done when Quiksilver closed down that side of their business. No more skateboarding. But it was cool because they actually paid for the movie and then gave it back to me.

In the beginning, it was going to be a free movie in Europe, released on the internet. It was really made with the European sensibility in mind. Lots of influence from Bertalucci, Fellini and Godard. 

Your use of colors in Quatros reminds me a lot of Godard’s Contempt… which I can’t say is something I’ve ever said about a skate video before.

Yeah, I really like that European New Wave stuff. 

It was awesome working with French Fred and having a really great, small crew that could move fluidly. Making that film was really a nice time. It was a total pleasure. 

self foot portrait - 16mm wheel filming rig
"cuatro suenos pequenos" - santa cruz, 2012

How does that experience compare with your work on SB Chronicles 3

Yeah, I’m helping art direct for the new Chronicles movie and I went on a trip to Chile with the guys not too long ago. I wasn’t filming as much as shooting portraits. Just being like, “Hey guys, come over here and shoot this portrait with me real quick.”

It’s a little different, for sure. On Quatros, for example, I’m the boss. I’m the director. I’m making sure the vision is taken care of and directing what is happening…  and I don’t always like being that person. Sometimes it’s more fun being a sideline person. 

But the trip was super fun. Everyone was really cool and they were all ripping. I love Kevin Bradley’s skating and with Cory, anything can happen at any time. That’s my favorite. And Koston was awesome. It was a great vibe. 

ed templeton - lipslide - garden grove, 1993

We talked about Swank and Blender earlier. Why don’t we see as many pros doing their own graphics and taking on these artistic pursuits like we used to? Is skateboarding still attracting the same weirdos? 

I think in the 80s when all the art stuff came to the forefront, being a professional skateboarder wasn’t as structured. The amount of stuff that needed to be done wasn’t on that crazy of a level. The level of skating wasn’t that high yet. I think this left a lot of room to do other things and be creative. The demand now is so high for what people have to do in order to be competitive, it doesn’t lend them as much time. 

If you look at companies like Magenta or Welcome, those guys are having fun. There is a quantifiable balance: skating good but not killing themselves. Maybe that opens up their brains more towards being weird and making weird shit instead of a serious gnar athlete obsessing over that next crushing maneuver they’re going to take P-Rod out with in the comp. 

t campbell, back d - le vague, paris, 1994
photo: deberdt

Let’s inspire some weirdos with this last question: Recommend one album, one book and one film. 

Okay, I’d say probably one of the records I’ve listened to the most in the last decade is from this band, Girls. It’s their first record, called “Album”. All their records are really good but I think that one is just amazing. Even though a lot of people hate it… which is probably a good sign. 

The movie that’s coming to mind right now is one I’ve always loved called Birdy. It’s with Mathew Modine and Nicolas Cage and is a full-on 80’s movie but it’s really good.

And I just saw Madars at Element Skate Camp… I’d told him a while ago that he should read Miles Davis’ autobiography. Since then, he got around to reading it and was amped about it. It’s super raw. It’s Miles telling all these stories like, “You broke dick dog motherfucker!”…cutting everyone down, telling jazz history according to Miles.

He’s such a dark character. It’s called “Miles” and its pretty long but when you’re done, you’ll wish it was longer. It’s really good. 

big thanks to Whiteley and T-Muck for taking the time,,,