Chrome Ball sits down with DiLL* for conversation.
So they all start out this way… how’d you first get introduced to skating?
I don't really remember... I just started banana boarding down various driveways, that kinda thing.
Who were some of your favorite skaters back then... when you first really started getting into it?
Mark Gonzales was and is still the greatest skateboarder ever. I saw Mark in a grocery store when I was about 11. I was with my Mom. Nowadays when Mark tells that story, he says that me and my Mom were stalking him… shit, haha.
I loved Jason Jessee and Neil Blender... Amongst the guys I skated with day-to-day, the older guys were Skip Pronier, Jake Burns, Arron Devine... they were really more than any kid could ever ask for as far as influences go.
Oh yeah… and Saecha Clarke. She helped me out a lot.
Kinda on the flipside of that, I’m sure you got plenty of shit from older pros for being the hyper little kid. What pro did you admire growing up that you ended up being kinda bummed on when you finally met him?
ummm... well, I met Gator. Yeah, Gator was a dick.
I met Gator when I was about 13 riding for Blockhead. He asked me if I wanted a Vision sticker and when I told him no, he said something about me being a little punk... it was right before he went to prison.
Its weird, I haven't really thought about that in a long time.
So how did you get hooked up with the House of Kasai back in the day? Definitely seems like a weird mix. How was riding for them? What was Lester like?
When I was 11 or 12, I skated at a place called Sadlands in Anaheim, California… I'd see Lester there, now and then. He ended up being my first sponsor.
That time is blurry for me... I do remember going to Lester's house one day and my brother's best friend's girlfriend was in Lester's room... pretty funny. I never told my brother. Lester was super cool. I saw him last year.
Yeah, yeah Ridgeway. What up, baby...
Now didn't you once say that leaving Black Label for Color was the worst move you ever made in your career? Why? What happened there?
No, Color wasn't even anywhere around 'career' time. I was a little kid then... riding for Etnies was the worst move I ever made in my 'career'.
I hated Color though. What the fuck was I thinking? Fuck it... me and Gino did 101 for a little over 3 years after that... so yeah, everything for a reason.
Quitting Label was terrible though. I really loved Lucero... sorry John.
The first part where I noticed that you weren’t just some little kid anymore but really out there doing your thing was Snuff. Granted, its becomes pretty obvious when you have Natas and 101 backing you... and its not like you didn’t go all out on Blockhead or especially Black Label… but that part just seemed a bit more refined... and really just fucking ripped. That was for the Lotti project, wasn’t it? Now was your Snuff part pretty much straight from those Lotti tapes or did you and Gino film some for 101 too?
How did that all go? The company we were gonna make through Rocco was called 'Program'... right? Yeah. Like pro/am, Program. Brian and Dave what's his name…
Anyway, Brian filled you in about all that in his interview... Lotti took Gino and I skating for a bit one summer and the stuff we filmed at that time was what ended up being in Snuff. There was a point in which Gino and I were filming for Snuff after Lotti left town. We started filming with Soc and going to the World Park.
Then yeah, Girl started and we got on 101 basically the day that all went down... the whole Girl thing.
Brenton Wood, what what...
Can’t lie, 101 is probably my all-time favorite company. Amazing skaters, classic graphics, brilliant ad concepts… and it ended without becoming a mockery of its self. What were the innerworkings like there?
I hear that a lot about 101. That’s really cool that people loved it...
Umm… I dunno. I was stoned and crazy. I mean when I got on 101, I was a baby barely smoking weed and by the time it ended, I was on acid in New York.
Best Clyde Singleton story?
He slammed my head in a van door once in New York.
So I'm curious about your personal view of your Trilogy part… bittersweet? I mean you really went for it on that one and had such an amazing part but it was essentially hijacked from you the day after the premiere when you got kicked off?
No, it wasn’t 'hijacked'. I mean what other video could that part ever have been in besides Trilogy?
I like how all that went down... stealing mad shit from World and getting kicked off? That was rad! I made so much money off all those boards... weed, ramen and Kool-Aid for days. I do like most of Trilogy. Great time to be a broke pro.
Little known fact: the 101 section of Trilogy was supposed to come out on its own as a 101 video. Kinda wish that’s what had happened.
I know after all that went down, you were sponsorless for a while… How’d 23 end up coming through? That company really seemed to have a lot of potential… But didn’t you try to hook up with Alien around this time too?
What did I do? Yeah, I always always really loved Alien Workshop cause of Blender... and seeing Memory Screen and really understanding just how incredible it was had a big impact on me. I was friends with Dyrdek and Duane, too... fuck, i know right? Carter should have put me on at least 15 years ago. Good thing I eventually did get on.
23... I was real far out there on the pot. I don't know... Sal is great though, he was a good dude to ride for.
Those years are blurry and my gear was hectic.
What’s your favorite thing about Mr. Anthony Van Engelen?
Ha… wow... my favorite thing? I'd love to have that hair... no, Anthony has a really demented laugh that comes out only at the height of shit getting sketchy.
So what led you to New York City? Do you think you fully realized the drill when you moved out there (shitty concrete, NYC-style spots… winter)? Was there still a bit of culture shock ? Seems like several pros have tried to make a go of it there and end up moving… what’s made you stay? Was there static from the local heads at first?
I met and spent lots of time with Peter Bici, Chris Keefe, and Huf when I was 15 in San Francisco. Being friends with them and Gino is what led me to New York the next year. When I came out here, I was welcomed with open arms. The guys at Supreme in 94-95 really put me on… Mike Hernandez, Danny Supa… New York in the 90's in summertime was the fucking best.
I had a lot of my firsts out here… first time in a club, first time I took acid, getting blown in a cab... everybody was just surviving so hard out here. I guess I just thrived on that... I just didn't want to ever leave. So after coming and going so much, I finally ended up living here.
I don't know why I stayed. I met so many people who didn't skate who also became really important to me…
Shit, I'm still here... but in Brooklyn now. The city ain't got nothing good for me anymore. Everybody's died or cleaned up. Party's over... I love that some of them are still out there getting fucked up though.
IRAK CREW! Kick back 200 grams! haha... kunle, where you at? I gotta see you soon...
Let's talk a little about Photosynthesis. How long did you film? Was it really as turbulent as the intro made it seem? Moving to NYC at that age must’ve been out of control... but it also added so much to that part. How did Feedback figure into all this… were those a lot of throwaways?
No Feedback… well, fuck... me and Ave gave Ty such a hard time when we were filming Feedback... in the middle of filming tricks we would say “this is for Workshop, not Transworld, right?” and Ty would get bummed. People loved Feedback... thanks Ty. Me and Ty went raving a few times during the making of that video... haha, yeah Ty.
Photosynthesis. That was about, ummm... well, it came out in 2000. Took about 2 years, I think. We were just so on it back then. These kids these days... geesh, we'd film like 3 video parts in 2 years... haha… "back in my day"...
Yeah, I was real hectic back then. I did not know that Carter was recording our conversations. Had no idea about my intro until the day of the premiere... people ask that a lot…. but yeah, there you go. I had no clue. Shit, I didn't even know that Hill was filming me with the javelin. I was on pills.
I don't know for the life of me how that video was made. Glad it was though.
How would you describe your relationship with Strobeck? From a career point of view, he’s definitely seemed to make your move East much easier by being such a great filmer… but you guys obviously have more in common than just skate shit... How’d you first meet Bill?
Great filmer indeed...
Bill is just genuinely Bill... he is what he is. Take it or leave it... endearing yet aggravating traits in a human. I would say our friendship is based on stagnation and movement. I know that sounds fucked, it’s the only way I can describe it. He is either 100% down or not down at all. I like how cut-and-dry he is... he's easy for me to read. He's a real survivor... I just always wanted him with me on trips.
He would take the train from Philly to come and stay with me while we were making Photo. I lived in this big fuck-off loft on Canal Street... Jesus Christ, Bill saw some weird shit when I was living there. It was pretty great being so young and having such a nice place to live… and money and drugs and food from nice places all the time. Bill didn't partake in any of that, he just observed everything... or filmed it. He ate the food.
But yeah, I just always liked Bill's outlook. Sometimes when I'd film with him, I'd forget he was even there. It all just worked. Nothing was forced then... it all just happened. Nothing 'just happens' anymore... everything is forced. Everything sucks... haha.
Hey Bill- "back it down"
You famously utilized the “lines only” concept for Mosaic, based on Henry’s Pack of Lies part. Any other concepts you’d like to explore like that?
Why yes, my next video part is all photo sequences.
Alright, so I loved the book that was put out a few years back with all your polaroids. Any projects in the works photography-wise or is that more for your own enjoyment?
I have no idea what you are talking about.
Haha... ok, so what would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned from Mark Gonzales?
Not any lessons, no lesson learned... but what I got from Mark was all of this. The reason I am sitting here in New York is because of Mark Gonzales. No one person ever had a bigger impact on me than Mark...
Fondest memory of Keenan Milton?
He was just so fucking funny... being high and being around him as a teenager was great. I was always laughing, trying to contain my laughter.
Fuckin hell Keenan was good, huh...
What was the inspiration behind your “No Dice”palm tattoos? Fucking love it.
My friend Pat Dewitt has palm tattoos.
Ummm... nothing. All my tattoos are based on stupidity... no, there are a couple that are for people I know… or knew.
You’ve essentially been under the skateboarding public’s microscope since you were like… what, 11? We’ve essentially watched you grow up as we did. What do you feel is the biggest misperception people have about you?
It’s weird... I'm like a former child star.
I really don't know what perception people have of me in the first place... so the misperception is even harder to gauge... lemme see...Yeah, I don't really give a fuck.
What do people think of anything nowadays? The internet babies have the attention span of a gnat... the internet babies... what will become of you?
I'm almost too old to care... maybe that I'm jaded. I'm not jaded, I just had a better time before you were here.
Oh, and I don't “hate” Paul Rodriguez.
So what gets you stoked now? Like most rational people, most of your influences seem to fall outside the realm of skating as the years go by. Like when you’re 12 and you want to dress like Joe Pro versus getting older and delving deeper into other things…What sort of stuff really gets you going these days?
Not much, I make FUCKING AWESOME (innernet plug!!). That’s the clothing company I have been doing for some time now... Lil' Wayne has been known to wear it... you kids still like him now, don'tcha? I spend much of my time lately doing that... everything about it is parts of things I like or at least is influenced heavily by what I like at the moment.
I just went to Japan... I like those motherfuckers. They loooovvve shit out there. They really get into it when they like something. That trip was good. I liked seeing that people still cared... I thought everyone was close to really not caring about anything.
What makes me stoked though? Umm... Holy War, Richard Pryor, skateboarding, coffee, smoking, nudity, old Stones, Charlie Rose, the New York Post, fucking, Gram Parsons, film, postcards, Theotis, glue, bad graffiti, Kenneth Cappello, the thought of Brazil.
Shit, what photos are being used for this? I'm probably not stoked on them...
Who do you feel is the most underrated skater of the '90s? It seemed like you skated a bit with one of my usual picks (Ocean Howell) back in the day…
Well, Markus Wyndham. Ocean was another one that was especially kind to me when I was young. Yeah, he was super talented...
Henry was better than everyone then.
Top 5 favorite styles and why?
I want this to be current. I'm a fan of skating first and foremost...
My top 5 styles for now:
3. Brian Anderson/ Kenny (that new backtail was heavy, bud)
Julien, Gonz, Carroll, Hensley and Gino are on the forever list...
Cardiel and Danny Way are just on a whole other level that can't be on any list... like superheroes.
In your opinion, best and worst things about skateboarding in the year 2010?
I like how different everybody is... even though all their shoes look like vans. But really, I find pretty heavy diversity amongst the up-and-coming dudes... wild gear here and there. Hip Hop seems to be not 'locked down' to one look.
The worst thing? I fucking hate that Skytop shit... sorry Chad. I just don't understand how it has this global impact... its actually insane. It’s not the worst thing... what's with the D.C. skytops, Dyrdek? Yeah, i seen an episode of the new season... haha, Bobby Dee!
Element. Element is the worst thing about skateboarding today. "Power to the Planet"??? Power to the fucking planet? Boards are made out of trees and covered in paint that is anything but eco-friendly. You can't make shirts that say "Power to the Planet" anyway... its corny. We are human. We are the cancer. Face it, fuck it, fuck them.
Ok, so with all the crazy shit you’ve been through, what’s the one piece of advice you would like to offer mankind?
If you like to read, maybe read Kurt Vonnegut. He has lots of advice and doom talk for man.
Maybe if America falls and whites are the minority, maybe some cool shit might come outta that. I don't know... maybe some really progressive Manson cults will start up soon. I'm just entertained and fascinated most of the time by anything even close to these types of things...
Don't use dope.
Anything else you’d like to add? What projects are you working on right now?
Blender knows you are doing this website?
Yeah, I'm working on so much shit its crazy... no, I'm not. Bill and I will eventually do something for Alien Workshop...(there I said it on the internets, now we have to do it Bill).
Jeff Grosso gave me good advice... I never took it.
Remy Stratton was a chrome ball... -Dill*
special thanks to Jason, Greg Hunt and Don Pendleton.
chrome ball will return on tuesday.