chops and royce sit down with the street pirate for conversation.
Let’s start from the beginning… what was your first board? Everyone always remembers their first.
A banana board from my neighbor then a Variflex "Wired" with barbed wire for a graphic.
What was the Connecticut scene like growing up? Do you think at some point you’d ever return back to the East Coast?
It was hard in the winter months. I had two friends with ramps in their parent's barns and that was fun in the colder snowy months. I didn't know Jim or Upson but saw them skate if i went to a demo or park when i had friends with drivers licences.
I love New England and still have family there. I would like to visit more regularly but I want to live somewhere warmer... New Orleans.
Now was Toy Machine your first sponsor? How’d you end up getting hooked up with Ed?
Yes, that was my first sponsor. I skated with Donny Barley and the rest of the team. They told me to make a sponsor-me tape and they liked it... flew to San Diego, finished the video and went on tour.
How was it dealing with the culture shock of coming out to California for the first time? What made you settle in San Francisco? Any vibes for being an out-of-towner?
People may have had a slight vibe... that's any skater being protective. I waited for people to come to me. Coming from Connecticut, Nor Cal was not as crazy as L.A. so I settled up here. Slower pace.
How long did you film for your intro part in Welcome to Hell? And how were those early tours? The Toy Machine crew really seemed to grow into a cohesive unit around this time…
Probably a year of footage. I never filmed before that... just for fun. My part was cool, just wish it was longer.
Good memories. Good tours. Crushing demos and kids were so happy. I liked touring instantly... just having to do a demo then open road and no rules. I love driving.
Now were you doing artwork then? Both the Toy and Girl teams are a very creative bunch… what influence has being around Ed and the Art Dump had on your artwork?
I have always liked to draw. Always was really into board graphics and I got along with everyone good at both companies... they've been very open and creative so I've always contributed, still to this day. The Art Dump helps many of my ideas become reality
Best Brad Staba story?
Throwing toilet paper balls out the window in Melbourne with Rickk. I thought we were going to jail for sure but they let us off.
How were you approached about getting on Girl? Was there hesitation at this point? Girl is essentially the gold standard but you’d really been a key element in Toy Machine for quite some time… Was it hard leaving Ed?
Carroll offered me and I said no... then a few years later, Toy wasn't the same and I felt like moving on. It was very difficult for both Ed and I but we got through and are still friends.
How was Girl at first? Had to be pretty intimidating when initially joining that squad… essentially entering a room of straight-up legends? And what's your favorite thing about riding for Girl?
It wasn't weird really cause I was already on Fourstar. Favorite thing about Girl is everthing... Sam Smyth and Meza and E.A... fuck.... everyone! Our tours are the funnest, I can guarantee it. Biebel!!!
Can we look forward to a full-length BA part in the new Chocolate video?
Trying right now.
What do you have in store for your newest Nike model coming up? What models do you typically like to skate in? I’m a die-hard Blazer guy but recently discovered the Bruin…
I like the Bruin and the Stefan Janoski. My Blazer is a mid with a cup sole so it doesn't break in as quick as a traditional blazer but it lasts longer.
You’re seriously one of the only dudes I know that can skate colored wheels… doesn’t that drive you crazy? And what do you look for in a board shape? You’re definitely not afraid to rock some old school style money bumps...
That money bumps board didn't come out exactly correct but its still cool. Colored wheels are a once in a while thing... for a fun set up. I usually prefer white if i need to really concentrate on some shit. I like dont know the numbers of wheels bases but I don't like long ones cause slow tre flips suck.
I ride anything. Gonna make a 9" board soon. I'm 6'3" or 4" with size 13 feet. I like big boards.
Speaking of which, who is your favorite old school skater? I know you have a special liking for Lee Ralph…
Ben Schroeder is my favorite skater of all-time. Then Carroll, Gonz, Tom Penny, Muska, Koston, Blender, Rudy, Rickk, Barley, Elissa.... lots of people. I like Jason Jessee a lot... all kinds of people. I could go on and on... Nick Trapasso, Hosoi...
What’s your favorite thing about living in San Francisco?
I think the food. Casual marijuana smoking for regular citizens. Not having to drive. The 49ers and Candlestick Park. The SF Giants and the landscape... good produce. Good skatepark. Good wine and cheese... hella shit, basically. Ha!
What do you like to do in your spare time? You seem like a pretty mellow dude… What kinda music you been been digging on as of late?
I like to cook, draw and paint once in a while, stretch, go to the gym... Drink with friends and bomb hills.
I like smooth R&B... don't like a lot of new music, like the stuff thats in Prius or Ipod commercials... that feel good hipster shit. I like 90's rap. Gaga's cool. I like soul. Yeah, the radio is tight. NPR sometimes...
Now when did you get your first tattoo? And which one is your favorite?
First tattoo was a cross on the ankle with like 5 of my friends. We did 'em with a sewing needle and india ink. Favorite tat is probably my ultimate meal: lobster and a beer.
What’s your go-to choice of beer? Favorite whiskey?
My favorite is Busch but I like Budweiser, too. Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. I like this Bulleit Frontier Whiskey also. Strong, good quality and a killer shape bottle.
And last but not least: Bluntslides or Hurricanes?
Bluntslides. They're more flowy.
Special thanks to BA, Aaron Meza, Alex Olson, Ben Colen and Girl.