Thanks for coming out today, gentlemen. We’ll start this thing off with an easy one: tell us about the first time you had a run-in with Mr. Eric Koston.
Gavin: It was through this social dating site called “JDate”. I saw his profile and immediately became interested…
P-Rod: I first met Koston when I was 13 years-old. He was skating a demo at my local shop. The first time I saw him, he was standing in the middle of all these kids signing autographs. I remember just straight running right in the mix and turning around so he could sign my backpack. I was stoked.
Lance: I was hearing about this whiz kid who skated with Eddie Elguera a long time before I actually met him. But when I finally did, it was at this skate camp in Oregon. He was taking 2-minute runs on the mini-ramp, literally doing every trick. I decided not to skate that day.
Gavin: I was sitting in the H-Street house with Donger, Dan Peterka and Sal Barbier one weekend when this young dude wearing bad shorts and tube socks walks in with his friends. I still remember the sweat lines he had on his hat. It was a cheap target for Sal and I that we completely honed in on. We just let loose on the guy.
Why did so many people seem to think that Koston was kinda nerdy back in the day?
Gavin: Well, he had a really bad comb-over. But like most people who find skateboarding at an early age and fall in love with it, you just really don’t know who you are. You’re knee-deep in skateboarding and that’s all you care about. And on top of that, he was just so introverted and shy… and we were vicious back then.
Paul: He’s just not that wild type of dude. He’s way more analytical than that. And let’s face it, he had to be a bit of a skate nerd to get where he is.
Lance: Anyone that is young and who is a little more advanced is always hated on for a while. That’s just how it is. Because they are a threat and a game-changer. The best way to explain it is like when Tony Hawk came along. He was a little bit younger and he wasn’t doing things quite correctly. We didn’t necessarily like the way he was skating, we were all about power and style, but it was obvious he was going to change the game. We were doing our best to make sure everybody didn’t jump on board so quickly.
When did you see Eric becoming the game changer? When he did go from being just another good skater to THAT dude?
Gavin: Fuck that, I’m just as good as that dude!
Lance: Honestly, it was that first time I saw him skate at that Skate Camp. He was on H-Street at the time and I remember telling him flat-out that if he ever wanted to leave, I was starting to a new company and that I’d love to put him on. He was the first guy I approached and I approached him the first time I ever saw him skate. I remember him telling me that he’d never quit H-Street…. 3 weeks later, he was on 101.
Gavin: Yeah, not to sound corny or cliché but it really was the first time I saw him skate. That day I first met him at the H-Street house, he was in town for this CASL contest. I really didn’t think much about it… I actually did my best to make sure Eric’s arrival at our house was not a comfortable experience for him. But when I saw him skate later on that day, he was doing everything… and all within 1 or 2 tries. I couldn’t believe it. From then on, I just knew he had so much natural ability. That he was just a rad fucking skateboarder.
P-Rod: I’ve never met anybody that knew him when he was just another dude skater trying to make it. It’s crazy. It seems like he’s always been Koston. I’ve asked a lot of the old Girl dudes and Steve Berra… all guys that have known him for a long time and they never remember him as a beginner. He was always the best.
Gavin: You know, I’m getting older. I have kids now. And I’m starting to realize things like certain people just have natural gifts. Eric’s obviously naturally-gifted with coordination but it’s more than that. His brain chemistry is just different. When he became Eric Koston, that was it. He was on that other level and you couldn’t really compare yourself. For me, it actually became pretty helpful because I didn’t have to worry who was getting last video part anymore.
Favorite Koston video part?
P-Rod: They’re all incredible. But if I have to say one: Menikmati.
Gavin: Falling Down.
Lance: My answer’s probably the worst but my favorite is that Charlie Chaplin thing he did. Not that I don’t think any of his parts stand out but those are the special things that set people apart for me. Once you’re a great skater and have those parts, it’s those other things that become most memorable for me. But I do know that 101 part really opened up a lot of opportunities for him.
Is there a particular Koston dork trick that sticks out for you from over the years? What would you say is the craziest thing you ever saw him do?
Gavin: I was always partial to his stinkbug frontside airs.
P-Rod: I actually wasn’t with him for this but there’s a sequence that sticks out in my mind from the early 90’s. He’s at this double-sided ledge around back from the Med Choice Gap down in San Diego and he does a noseslide pop-over with a nollie frontfoot-flip out. So insane. And evidently he never filmed it. He just did it and the photographer luckily caught it. That’s an insane trick now and here he is doing it 20 years ago!
Didn’t you shoot the Fandangle, Lance?
Lance: Yeah, I used to shoot photos for the Girl guys and was lucky enough to shoot it. He was trying a nollie 180 switch crooks at Beverly Hills High and what you see there with his legs like that was how he was getting out of it. I had a bunch of photos like that and thought there were funny so I turned them into Rick and ran it with the Fandangle name on it.
P-Rod: Now it’s a classic.
Lance: I saw him actually make it once, though. We were skating in Tampa and the crowd just started calling out for it. This was after the ad when everyone was talking about if it was real or not. But he did it. It wasn’t on a rail, more like a small hubba, but he really did it. Locked in with one foot on, one foot off and he landed all silly. People were freaking out! I’m not making this up!
The legend grows, I guess. But be honest, Lance... do you get Koston's obsession with mainstream sports? He was one of the first pros to really care about that stuff... which always kinda bugged me out.
Lance: I don’t necessarily understand it… he could play any of those dudes and hang but none of those famous athletes could ride a skateboard.
Well put. So how would you guys describe Eric’s process with tricks? What’s the maddest you ever saw him get at a trick?
Gavin: That’s an interesting question because we were a generation that enjoyed getting mad. Throwing boards, focusing boards… we were spoiled kids. Little brats. And with Koston, I can’t think of a particular trick back then because he was always upset. If he couldn’t get a trick within 5 attempts, he was whining. That’s just how he was back then. You should’ve tried driving with the guy. (laughs)
Lance: I don’t ever really see him getting pissed, to be honest. The way I see him getting frustrated with his skating now, it seems like that’s when he starts goofing around. I do the same thing. You’re trying something so hard that you know you can do but aren’t, you get so pissed off at the thing that you just start making fun of it. You do that instead of throwing your board. Just to let off steam.
Gavin: He’s just super smart. His approach to doing a trick is very well thought out. He analyzes every little element of every little detail of what he’s trying to do. He’s not that dude who flies by night, showing up at a spot to fucking wing it. He’s too analytical.
Even during his chubby Goldfish phase?
Gavin: It’s funny that period is even part of his legacy the way it is. But that was fucking weird, man. I don’t even know how that happened because we were skating every fucking day.
Lance: He seems to learn tricks the way we used to, which I think is the best way. He may have a thought or idea beforehand but it all seems to stem from just messing around. He plays around with his board and his feet, seeing where they can go. It’s not from a competitive point of view… where he saw something and is trying to do something better. It’s more for himself.
P-Rod: I’ve personally never seen him spazz out on a trick. If it’s something a little scary for him, he’ll roll up nervous a couple of times but that’s really it. Eventually he starts trying it and will usually land it pretty quickly.
But I’ve always wondered with you, Paul…did you ever feel like you were in his shadow at all? And did that possibly play arole in your leaving Girl and Es?
P-Rod: Hell no! Eric Koston is my hero! You can never feel like you’re in the shadow of your hero! My leaving those companies had nothing to do with him. Those were the decisions I made in order to hopefully take my career to the next level. But having said that, I am glad to be back on a team with him after all these years.
What is something you can say you’ve learned from Koston? You’ve come a long way from getting your backpack signed at age 13, Paul.
P-Rod: I just feel Eric Koston is the epitome of a professional skateboarder. He’s what a pro skater should be. His talent and creativity… the way he carries himself. Even the way he dresses is cool. The longevity he’s had with such a high level of respect is something I aspire for. It’s a rare thing. I hope to be able to look back one day on such a career.
Gavin: I mean you’re talking about a guy who is so not interesting. Just kidding. He’s the best.
Lance: Just his dedication to what he loves. I get lazy sometimes and become frustrated with the overall process of tricks... wishing they would come easier. Eric works at it. There’s a lot of dedication involved with what he’s been able to do over the years. It may look easy for him but you know he’s worked hard. People have said that no one held together a team like the Bones Brigade but we only had 9 years. Girl has been going on for 20 years now and so much of that has to do with Koston. He’s been the standard for so long. There’s always that one person who does it during a specific time period that everyone else is chasing. There will never be another Eric Koston.
special thanks to Tim Gavin, Sal Barbier, Lance Mountain, Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston, Mark Goldman, Kaspar van Lierop, Mark Whiteley, Nike SB and Legend.
Be back on Tuesday.
Be back on Tuesday.