chrome ball interview #91: chris senn

chris and chops sit down for some conversation.

Something I learned recently that suprised me is that you always really aspired to be a tattoo artist. That a skateboarding career is something that happened in the meantime. Is that really the case?

It’s hard for me to answer that because they’re both things that I always wanted to do. They’ve always kinda been the same thing in my mind but getting paid to skateboard did change things. I was always doing art but I think I would’ve gotten into tattooing and art as a full-on thing earlier if getting paid to skateboard wouldn’t have gotten in the way. Whatever. I’m sure everyone has something like that in their lives.

Do you feel that not being necessarily “all-in” on your dream and maintaining other passions shaped your career to an extent?

Yeah, for sure. It was never about making money off skateboarding for me. At some point, I realized my situation and went about it the best I could but it was hard for me to think of skateboarding in that way. I feel like all that shit ruined it. To be honest, I tried to fight the business of skateboarding as long as I could. I’m sure that had an effect on my career in some way. I’m fine with that though.

But while I do remember you doing some graphics over the years, you never really marketed yourself as a “skate artist” either. Is this something you largely kept to yourself?

I never wanted to do that to myself. I didn’t want to take away from the art that guys like Gonz, Neil Blender and Lance had done. Those are the guys who really influenced me to be who I was. I feel like as I got older and went about art more seriously… taking formal art training and studying art history, I started to see the big picture of what art really is.

For me, it didn’t feel right to use my name as a skateboarder to push my art. I know that I could’ve done it that way but that felt like the easy way. Not to take away from dudes who do go about it like that. Some of those guys do super awesome stuff, it’s just not my way. 

So I think the first time that most of us heard of you was in Powell 8 where you seemed to blast out of nowhere. How long were you on the team before filming 8 and were you sponsored prior to Powell?

I got on Powell at the end of 1990 and the video came out right as I was graduating high school in the spring of 91, so yeah, it was pretty quick.

The whole thing came out of nowhere. I’d gone to one of those Quartermaster contests at the Powell Skate Zone and was just skating around during practice. I didn’t even know who Todd Hasting was at the time and had no idea he’d been the team manager of the real deal Bones Brigade for years. But he basically pulls me into his office right there beside the skatepark and asks me if I wanted to ride for Powell out of the blue. I tried to be all cool and downplay it a little but in my head, I’m fucking freaking out. I agreed, of course, and he took down my address.

I remember going back to tell my friends about it and they didn’t believe me at first. I got my first box the next week and I remember taking it to school to show everyone, like “Dude! Look at all this shit!”

Everyone was tripping out on all the bearings and shit. It didn’t even seem real.

It’s funny because we watched the premiere of Propaganda the day I got on Powell and I had no idea that I was about to be in the next one.

Were you immediately thrown into the 8 mix?

Not at first but I figured that if I hung around Powell as much as I could, shit might start to happen… and that’s basically how it went down. Jeff Toland was also on Powell at the time and we just started going to the Warehouse constantly. We pretty much lived there for a while. But it worked.

I started filming a lot with Frankie Hill and Kit Erickson around Santa Barbara. That footage got handed over to Stacy and this other filmer for Powell, Rob, and pretty soon, I was in 8. Rob came out to Grass Valley for a couple days and filmed me on his rollerblades. He was so rad, man. That’s how he filmed all that shit, man… all on his rollerblades. At first you’d see him and be like, “What the fuck!?!” but after a while, you got used to it and realized what he was doing was pretty awesome.

I’d talk with Stacy on the phone about shit but Rob was the one who filmed and edited it all. That was before everything split up. After that, it was mostly just Frankie and I filming each other.

Looking back on that part, do you think you were ready for spotlight at that point? You were pretty green, man.

I know what you’re saying but I was just a kid, man. I was only 18-years-old at the time. But I was fucking hyped on it. Looking back on it now, it’s like looking at some high school video your friends made. In some ways, it doesn’t even seem like a Powell video. All my friends are in it as well as all the stuff we skated back then… a lot of that shit isn’t there anymore. I like it for more for those reasons now.

Gotta ask, why did you stay in Grass Valley again for your next part in Celebraty Tropical Fish? Didn’t you want to get out to better spots elsewhere?

Oh, Grass Valley is amazing! There’s so many skatespots there that people don’t even know about. Seriously, tons of empty pools and DIY stuff. There’s a huge skate culture there and a rich punk rock scene, too. I really liked it there, probably because not a lot of people knew about it. Plus, that’s where I grew up so I already knew everybody.

But in my opinion, I don’t think it was until the last half of that Celebraty part where you destroy the Skate Zone that your talent was really showcased. Wasn’t that whole bit filmed in one day?

Yeah, that second part was Stacy’s idea and it was all filmed in 2 hours. Like I said, I’d skate that park pretty much everyday, usually with Frankie. Stacy basically felt that we didn’t have enough stuff. He’d always see us out there in the park doing this and that, we might as well try to film it. We banged that out pretty quick because that half was essentially the stuff I’d always do. Stacy edited the new stuff into what I already had and it turned out good. That place was so much fun, I think that’s what shows in the footage.

What’s the deal with that weird “Hi, I’m Christopher Ray Senn” ending? So funny.

(laughs) I still don’t know! He asked me to say my name and I said it, now it’s at the end of my part. It’s haunted me ever since.  

What was it like as a teamrider to go through such a rapid decline with Powell? What was once the biggest company in skateboarding being reduced to almost rubble in just a few years by Rocco and the new “cool” kids…

You gotta remember that when I got on Powell, the team still had those legendary dudes! Tony, McGill, Lance and Cab were all still on there. I honestly didn’t know how the fuck I fit in with those guys! I was not worthy! But then, everything split apart. Not just for Powell, the whole skate industry was splitting apart.

Yeah, there were all these different companies but we all still hung-out together. We all knew each other pretty well. There weren’t as many skaters and definitely not as much money back then.

Honestly, it was kind of exciting. The whole industry was changing so fast that if your team fell apart, fuck it, just go ride for somebody else. Even though I rode for Powell and appreciated all they did for me, it was still kinda cool to watch it all disintegrate. It was actually rad to be there and watch this big empire of skateboarding collapse.

The Rocco stuff was just a joke to us. Like I said, we were all friends. We all hung out with the dudes who rode for Rocco. We all knew what was going on.

Again, it was exciting and fun to watch. I mean, Steve’s walking around, offering people brand new cars to quit their board sponsor and ride for him. It was easy to see he was just as corrupt as everybody else. People liked to make out what Rocco was doing to be this big deal but it really wasn’t. In reality, it’s just a skateboard company.

Honestly, I don’t think most of us gave a shit. We were just trying to skate and get better.

Who came up with that classic Cliver cop graphic for you first board?

That graphic came from going up to Sean’s office one day. He was talking to me as I just kinda stood there, looking around, and noticed this drawing of a guy playing hockey.

“Oh, that could look cool as a cop!”

If you look at it, you can kinda see how that same character could be drawn on ice skates with a hockey stick in his hand. I have no idea what it was for and I have no idea why I thought of it as a cop but I did. I thought it could look cool. It wasn’t a big serious choice. We were just throwing out ideas. I figured if Cliver was down to draw something for me, let’s do it! That’s sick! He can do whatever he wants!

So yeah, he ended up redrawing it for me as a cop and making it work. 

You’ve definitely always done your own thing… even when your style wasn’t exactly seen as “on trend”. Did you ever get any pressure to change your style of skating or even wardrobe back then to something more marketable?

Right, right… but no, I never got pressured for any of that. Of course, people want you to wear the shit they’re selling but it wasn’t like I had a stylist or anything like that. Definitely not. It blows my mind that’s even a thing. (laughs)

When you talk about trends, its kinda funny because while I was definitely more of a street skater back then, I always wanted to be a vert skater. I always wanted to skate pools. I’d try to skate that stuff back then but I just wasn’t that good at it. I didn’t really learn how to skate bowls and stuff until I was 25 or so… years after I’d turned pro. I turned pro for skating street, which is what was big at the time, but you gotta remember that people were saying how vert was dead back then… that was actually what I really wanted to be! I wanted to skate vert! I didn’t give a shit.

Do you feel like you played more of the trend game earlier on in your career? Granted skateboarding was in a weird place but Chaos and Hot Batch have clips that seem almost like a different dude.

But everyone was doing that stuff. I guess part of me wanted to show that I could do that stuff, too. Pressure flips down stairs and shit. Yeah, I was doing all that but that was also when I was starting to want to skate more like Wade Speyer, John Cardiel and Andy Roy. I wanted to skate shit that was more dangerous. Going fast. It might’ve not been the most technical thing but it was way more fun. 

Could that have been Wade’s influence after he joined Powell?  

Oh yeah, Wade was a huge influence. He pushed me so hard, man. Constantly. Not only was he an amazing street skater, which I don’t think people realize, but he could skate fucking anything. We’d be on tour together and no matter where we were, he’d be ripping. I wanted to be like that, too.

Did you have much interaction with Cardiel growing up? Isn’t he from Grass Valley, too?

Yeah, he grew up in the next town over. John is a little bit younger than me but with how skating is, we’d always be running into each other. When we were teenagers, we hung out in different crews and would honestly butt heads a little over stupid shit… chicks or whatever dumb shit that seems important when you’re young. But we got through all of that as we got older. He and I were always next to each other as we grew up skating, for sure. He’s probably had more influence on me than anybody.

So what made you finally leave Powell? And what made you go with Channel 1?

Basically, Powell was going down. They broke the news to all of us riders that they couldn’t pay us anymore.

“Well, fuck… I gotta go then. Later.”

I’ve always been tight with Mark Oblow, who was Acme team manager at the time. I was skating a lot with Bo Ikeda back then so, of course, Mark’s going to try stealing me from Powell. I just didn’t want to ride for Acme… but I was interested in what Marty was doing with Channel 1. I thought all that stuff was pretty sick.

I was on Channel 1 for a little while but what I didn’t really take into consideration before joining the team was that Marty and all the riders were down in Southern California. The guys and the company were all super awesome, I just wasn’t there. It felt a bit distant, especially when I was used to always being at Powell. We did that video and everything, which was cool, but I did end up leaving eventually to start Adrenalin in San Francisco.

We’ve mentioned a few video projects already and while your parts were always solid, you really made a name for yourself in the contest circuit. How seriously did you take all that stuff?

Honestly, we didn’t get paid much to skate back then so I did take contests pretty seriously. If you were only making $1000 bucks a month from your sponsors, you’re gonna be hyped to win $5000 at a contest. That’s why I took it seriously. I need that money, I want to fucking win. You can call me a “contest skater” or whatever, fuck you! I got 5 Grand! (laughs)

I wasn’t trying to prove anything. Contests don’t really prove anything. I just wanted the money. Plus, if you can go to a contest and win, that also means you basically don’t have to deal with any sponsor bullshit either. You can just take your money and dip out. Since you just won the contest, it pretty much guarantees that they’re going to send you to the next one so your travel is set. Just show up again in two months and make some more money. Later! 

I always felt I had an edge because most people never seemed to realize that. They were too busy trying to be fucking cool. They were so worried about what other people thought of them. They’d go out there and try their flip tricks and not make any of them. Ok, well, I’ll just stay on my board then. There you go, I win.

Would those same guys talk shit on you for winning… at the expense of being “cool”?

They never talked shit to my face but I’m sure they probably did behind my back. But fuck ‘em, man. Who cares? And honestly, the guys who were doing well in contests were never the ones talking shit. They knew what was up. Koston could’ve won any contest he wanted to, it just depended on his mood. If he was in the mood to win, he won. If he felt like going out to try some crazy shit he wanted to pull, he’d do that instead. There were about 10 of us where the likelihood of winning was higher so I imagine we took contests a bit more seriously than others who didn’t see the money as such of a real thing.

But I remember people definitely talking shit when you beat Sheffey at Shut Up and Skate that year…

Oh yeah, people were pissed! (laughs)

But whatever, there’s always people who want someone else to win. That’s how it goes. I mean, yeah it would’ve been cool if Sheffey won but at the same time, winning a contest is pretty rad for me personally as well. So shit, what can you do? (laughs)

I was always tight with Sean and he was cool with it. That’s the thing, everyone gets bummed except the people doing it. If someone beat me in a contest, I thought that was rad. But haters will always talk shit. The people actually doing it don’t really care.

But yeah, everyone was bummed. Fuck it, I was stoked. Fuck yeah! (laughs)

Koston says that you give him the finger in the middle of your winning Tampa Pro run in 1996. Is that true?

Probably. We always used to fuck around with each other like that. I don’t remember the exact situation on that particular run but that kinda stuff usually came from doing a trick he said I couldn’t. Something like that.

Eric and I are friends so it was more from a place of fucking around. It wasn’t such a serious thing.

Speaking of contests, what about Earl Parker’s notorious “CSG” Big Brother article? How did you both take that at the time?

(laughs) Nah, we knew all those Big Brother guys. We thought the article was funny, dude.

I remember skating the Powell Warehouse one day right after that article had come out when their photographer came down. It did seem like they were trying to build the whole thing up a little more than it actually was. They were wanting me to take some crazy photos as a reply. They spray painted some shit on my griptape, trying to make it look like I was really pissed. They really wanted to hype it up but I didn’t care. She didn’t care either. It was funny to us.

I’ve found out through these interviews that Rocco definitely had his eye on you for a few projects. Were you ever officially approached by World?

Yeah, Rodney approached me once. He asked me and Donny Barley if we’d be interested in doing something with them. I’m not totally sure on the details, possibly doing a company through them. Donny had been talking to them and was kinda hyped on it but I wasn’t. I just remember quickly telling him “No, thanks” and that was it. Nothing ever transpired out of all of it.

It’s not that I wasn’t down with what they were trying to do. Steve was always cool to me. I just didn’t have the time to do it. I had so much other stuff going on. I didn’t want to get involved in all that shit. The last thing I ever wanted to do was end up running a skateboard company.

But you did! You basically did Adrenalin twice!

Yeah, but we didn’t do shit, dude! We just made a couple boards and were kicking it. It’s not like I was calling people up, trying to make sales! The first time we had Think running a lot of it. The second time was basically Chapman helping us out… but “Yeah, it’s my company.”

How did Adrenalin come about anyway? Was that something the guys at Think came up with?

It’s kinda weird how it worked out. I’d known Jaya when I was really young. He actually lived in Grass Valley right when I was starting to skate but then he moved away. It wasn’t until years later, when we were both sponsored, that we reconnected at a contest.

“Oh… Jaya?”


“No shit!”

We became friends again through all of that. And then, somehow, we both ended up moving to San Francisco around the same time, unbeknownst to each other. It was on from then.

I was still on Channel 1 at the time. I ended up going out one night with Don Fisher from Think for a couple beers when he brought it up out of the blue. He said Jaya and I had come up with the guys over at Think and Fausto to start a company with. They talked to each of us individually before we all met up. Jaya and I were already close and it sounded like something cool to work on so we did it. 

How did that work? Were you and Jaya more responsible for the team and artwork while Think did the distribution?

I don’t want to talk bad about those guys because I respect Greg and Keith a lot but I do feel like they were more or less leading us on. We never really had control over the company. We kinda did… but it was really them. We had some input with riders and graphic stuff but it always seemed like they had the final decision.

Mike Giant was doing the majority of the graphics and obviously he’s fucking awesome. We weren’t about ready to tell him no with all that he was offering up. No way.

I was able to do some graphics but honestly, the Think guys would shut down a lot of my stuff. It’s interesting because I’d show them some stuff I was working on and they’d be like, “No way.” But then Fausto would end up seeing it and he’d always be on my side. He’d let me push shit through that otherwise wouldn’t have.

“You guys are fucking retarded. You guys need to be doing this kind of shit. This is what people are doing now.”

We just wanted to do our own thing. We didn’t want to copy anyone. We wanted our shit to be a little more raw… we weren’t even thinking of it as a brand. For us, it was just skateboarding. We didn’t necessarily want all the frills.

What’s the story behind that classic Bryce photo of you blasting the downhill ollie out of that driveway in SF?

Yeah, I know the one. I think Coco Santiago actually had a photo there first.

Bryce is the one who actually took me there that day. He and I used to shoot a lot together back then. Bryce always had a ton of spots in his little Rolodex. He’d always be showing me stuff like, “Look at this one! Or how about this one?”

Honestly, that photo wasn’t that big of a deal at the time. We just went over there and took a couple ollie photos. Cool, I guess. But it’s funny because that’s the photo I see the most. It’s just an ollie. Of all the shit I did, all the shit I almost killed myself over, all I had to do was an ollie going downhill. That’s the photo that still lives on. Just an ollie and I would’ve been good.

Something curious I found in my research… I went back and read your TWS interview from 95 with my man, Arthur?

(laughs) Yeah, we did that with Tobin.

That interview is so funny, man. The real story behind that thing is that he basically took an interview from Rolling Stone Magazine with some gay poet and copied it word for word. That’s where those questions came from.

Yeah, there’s all these questions about living a bisexual lifestyle and poetry… but it’s hard to tell how serious it all is because none of it really makes any sense.

(laughs) Totally!

Basically what happened was that we were all sitting in Tobin’s apartment one night and all of the photos for the article were shot. We were trying to think of an interesting way to do the interview but none of us had any good ideas. By that point, I was so sick of doing fucking interviews, man. All of a sudden, Tobin starts pointing at this Rolling Stone Magazine he’d been looking at.

“What if we just copy an interview from in here?”

“Yeah! Let’s do it!”

So we’re laughing about it the whole time. I honestly thought he was joking but sure enough, the interview comes out a couple months later. (laughs)

Nobody knew that’s what we had done for a long time… but everyone I knew freaked the fuck out at the time. You gotta remember that kinda shit was a bigger deal back then. I just blamed it on Tobin. I thought it was hilarious.

The best thing from that whole experience is not too long after it came out, I did a live interview on the first X Games. I guess the people who ran X Games must’ve read that interview and believed the whole thing so they ended up asking me those exact same questions on national television. They had no idea what the fuck they were even talking about and I had to field everything with a straight face. It was amazing, dude.

Did you have kids at demos asking you about being bisexual and writing poetry?

Yeah, my son Anakin even asked me about it one time.

Tobin was trying to sneak in some of that crazy Big Brother-type of shit into Transworld. Honestly, I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about me and I still think it’s funny as shit that we were even able to pull that off.

So I’m sorry if I’m missing it but were you ever on the cover of Thrasher?

No, I’ve never been on the cover of Thrasher. Never.

I knew they didn’t put you on the cover when you won SOTY in 1996, which I always thought was weird.

Right!?! I’m the only Skater of the Year who didn’t get the cover when they won. I mean, I won your magazine’s big award and I don’t even get the cover of the issue? I didn’t know why it was that way but it’s not like I’m going to refuse it. You ‘d have to ask Jake. Honestly, I’ve never asked why. Skater of the Year wasn’t that big of a deal back then but I do think it’s weird. The cover ended up being Ron Whaley doing an air over the corner of a car. Ok, whatever. (laughs)

Do you still have the trophy?

Yeah, my Dad has the trophy. And I will say that winning SOTY definitely had an effect on board sales, even back then. It definitely helped out Adrenalin at the time.

What ultimately happened with Adrenalin that first time out?

Basically we had just turned Justin Strubing and Hanzy Driscoll pro and we were trying to get Think to pay them more money. We were also trying to get Mike Manzoori on the team to skate and hopefully make a video for us. It’s not like Jaya and I were looking for more money on our end, we just wanted to make sure the team was taken care of. 

Unfortunately, Think refused so all of us riders basically told them that if they didn’t pay those guys more money, we were going to quit. I guess they didn’t believe us and tried to check us on it by still not agreeing, so we quit. By that point, the whole thing felt pointless anyway. Think wasn’t going to let us do the company the way we wanted to. 

Such a shame because that initial Adrenalin team was amazing.

Oh yeah, we were killing it and I know the business end was killing it as well. I probably shouldn’t be saying this but fuck it, I was friends with the sales guy so we knew exactly what our numbers were. It was clear they were ripping us off so getting more money for the dudes shouldn’t have been a big deal.

In the end, Jaya was the one who went in to talk with Fausto about keeping the name, allowing Jaya and the dudes to keep it going.

How’d Matt Reason get into the mix all the way from the east coast? Didn’t you guys turn him pro?

Yeah, Matt was amazing. That was back when all of the Philly guys were starting to come out to the City. Matt, Serge, Ricky and Fred… all those dudes. They had a new thing going. They were all riding bigger wheels. Everyone else was riding tiny wheels and these Philly dudes were all riding 60s! We couldn’t believe it.

I think it was Ricky Oyola that brought up Matt to me. I used to skate with Ricky a lot back then and he just told me one day, “Dude, you gotta talk to Matt. He’s sick.”

Not too long after that, Matt came out to the City with Ricky and ended up staying at Jaya’s house and then with me for a while. It was clear that he had to be on the team. Besides obviously Salman, Matt was one of the first guys to really start skating switch legit. Skating fast, too. Matt was the shit.

It’s hard to believe that both Matt and Jaya are gone, man.

How did Toy Machine come about?

I was always good friends with Ed and Deanna. I hung out with them a lot during the Adrenalin days and Ed would always bring up Toy Machine as an option. I decided to take him up on it.

To be honest, after things with Adrenalin and Think went south, I was actually going to ride for Flip. They didn’t have any Americans on the team yet and Jeremy really wanted me to ride for them. I was seriously just about to make it happen when Ed brought up Toy Machine again. Like I said, Ed and I were really close and I’d rather ride for my friend so the Flip thing never worked out. I still kick myself in the ass over that but shit happens.

On a quasi-related note, you were on TSA during that golden era of Penny and Muska at this time. I gotta ask about any potential tour stories coming out of that van…

Oh yeah, TSA was the shit. So many stories, man. Not only did we have Chad and Tom but also guys like Quy Nguyen and Skip Pronier. We were just destroying, man. Skating our best and partying the hardest.

Probably the thing that stands out most in my mind about Chad and Tom back then is how much they could drink and still skate so good. It was amazing. Not only would they be doing all this amazing shit on their boards, we also knew how drunk and whatever else they were as they were doing it.

I remember being in Tokyo with those dudes. We’d wake up and hit Denny’s in the morning for breakfast and Chad and Tim are ordering whiskey and pancakes. I mean, I used to drink a bit but it was at night like a normal person. These guys are getting fucking hammered, dude… and we just woke up! But they’d still go out and skate so good. Tom was seriously doing shit back then that people still aren’t really doing…. crooked grinding 20-stair rails and shit for fun. He was incredible.  

So you gotta talk about your Jump Off A Building part. It was so good to see you come out with a solid part like that after a few years.

Thanks. Yeah, filming Jump Off A Building was fun. That was back when I was still living in San Francisco. Jon Minor was living at my house back then as well so we were always out filming together. That definitely helped out that part a lot. I think that was around a good six months of filming for that one.

What about that ender clip with the hill bomb?

That hill bomb clip came about as an accident. We were trying to film the ollie over that bush and I just decided to keep going. I didn’t even know Jon was behind me for a while actually until I turned around to see him following me. That was rad.

I like how that part came out but honestly, I didn’t take it very seriously. I was never into making videos. I never really took the time to think about a part and what it all takes to put something like that together. I’d just go out skating and hopefully someone was filming it. That’s what I’d do for a while and then someone would put it all together. I never even looked at that stuff until it was done. I just wanted to skate.

We’ve all heard Ed’s tearful admission of guilt regarding your Toy dismissal… what’s your take on it?

I still haven’t watched it and I’m not going to watch it… that fuckin’ pussy, dude. (laughs)

I’m mostly kidding but he fucking blew it, man. He fucking blew it. That’s what it’s really about. Bam and Kerry basically punked him. I knew exactly what those dudes were doing because they had told me! They were going to quit. Sure, Ed was trying to get a bunch of money together to try and keep them but they were gone, dude.

The thing is that I straight-up told Ed exactly what was happening the day he decided he was going to kick me off because I didn’t catch my kickflips good enough or whatever. I told him that no matter what he was trying to do to save them, those guys were going to leave. I even told him who they were going to ride for but Ed didn’t believe me. He said he has to let me go. 

“Alright, dude.”

Of course, he calls me back the next day after those guys quit, asking me to ride for him again.

“No, you blew it. I don’t trust you anymore. I thought we were closer than that.”

You told him that you would’ve ridden for Toy Machine for free…. is that true?

(laughs) Honestly, me saying that was more of a way to stick the knife in there deeper… that dumbass. I never rode for Ed because of the money. That’s really what I was trying to say with that.

That whole situation broke my heart, man. I always looked up to Ed and respected him, even before I got sponsored. His wife and I are good friends and they knew my kids. I always felt that our relationship was more than just me riding for him. So when all this happened, it crushed me. I couldn’t believe it.

Why the decision to return to Adrenalin?

I guess I can share all this shit now because it doesn’t matter: I was actually approached by Black Label after Toy Machine and I feel that I probably should’ve there at that point but I was so fucking bitter over what had happened with Ed. Fuck this. Why even bother? I’m just going to do my own thing.

Like I said, Jaya had kept it going the whole time I was at Toy Machine so by the time that was all over, he was pretty much over taking responsibility for everything. So I decided to do it. I had time, fuck it. That’s when it really got going again with the both of us and Chapman.

Adrenalin was definitely more fun the second time. We had control. It was ours and nobody could tell us what to do with it. We never made a penny but it was awesome. It was cool to finally do it the way we wanted to. It was never about the money anyway.

Your This Is Skateboarding part is a classic and what I always felt to be your most complete part. Did you approach that one any differently? More seriously, perhaps?

That one was about 2 years, which is probably the longest I ever worked on a part. I think the difficulty with me and video parts came from filming with people I didn’t know. I hate filming anyway, so it’s even worse when I have to deal with people I don’t click with. This is Skateboarding worked because it was with John Minor again and Mike Manzoori. Those are two of my best friends who I ‘d known for years. Both of them rode for Adrenalin. They’re the best. We have a strong relationship and work well together. I think that’s why the part turned out so good.

You’ve always seemed like more of an in-person kind of skater… demos and contests, which I suppose can be makes things difficult for a long-term “career”.

Yeah, I just don’t like to plan shit out. If it takes more than 5 tries, I’m over it. I’m not trying to get all pissed off at a trick. My theory is that if I’m getting pissed off at something, why am I doing it? I want to have fun when I’m skating. Sometimes things flow, sometimes they don’t.

By that same line of thinking, Adrenalin just got to be too much after a while?

It got to the point where if we were to keep it going, I’d have to become this full-on businessman running the show… which I could’ve easily seen happening but I just wasn’t interested in that. Minor and Manzoori had their own filming thing going at that point. Everyone seemed to be going in different directions.

I was already thinking about stopping Adrenalin when Element approached me to ride for them. Yeah, fuck it. We’re done. I’m moving to Hawaii. 

How much guidance do you place in Anakin’s career? How odd is it basically seeing yourself come up in skateboarding all over again? I know you guys are both on Blood Wizard.

Well, Anakin’s super involved with Blood Wizard. I just like to support them because they’re my friends. I did some graphics for them but that’s about it. It’s nothing serious.

I know what you’re saying about me and Anakin goes but it’s totally different now. I don’t even know how much help I could be. Sometimes he’ll ask for advice and then I’ll give it to him but I’ve never tried to push him with skating in any way. I’m sure I’ve had some influence on him as he’s basically had to watch me skate his entire life but no, I’ve never tried to coach him.

We’re actually going to Europe this summer. He’s going to Marseille and then we’re hitting up Prague, which will be the first pro contest he’s ever entered… I think I’m gonna to try to beat him. (laughs)

“Your Dad beat you, bro! What the fuck!?!” (laughs)

That would be insane.

Nah, I can’t beat him. He’s gnarly, man. I don’t even like watching him skate anymore.

It scares you?

Yeah, it really does! He’s pretty nuts! I don’t like watching him at all. It’s weird because I’ll be like, “Put a helmet on!” (laughs)

So as we close this out, even as a SOTY with countless contest wins, do you feel your skating ever got its proper due? Does part of you think that you possibly came up at the wrong time in skateboarding? I think it could be easily argued that had you come up a few years later, your ATV skills and contest wins could’ve led to some very lucrative contracts.

But the whole idea for me was to not be part of what was going on. I think regardless of the year, I would’ve tried to find a way to not be part of it. I grew up skating with real crazy punk rocker dudes. They taught me everything I know. So I always have that in the back of my head. I just don’t care what people think, whether they like it or not. That was never why I was doing it.  

Thanks for taking the time, Chris.


Paul said...

What a great read!
I remember, not so many years ago, I've often watched his 'Celebraty' part before skating to get me hyped. And it still does (though I wasn't on board for a longer time). this part is pure skateboarding! Thanks Chops and thanks Chris!

Austin said...

Unexpected and rad. Always a fave.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

channelzeroprose said...

I still have Tropical Fish on VHS, dude was so underrated for so long. Good job CBI.

Anonymous said...

Defintely a surprise there, and definitely a mouthful.
There's only one Chops but he's the best !

x Alister

Brendan said...

Loving these,Chops,keep 'em comin'!

Loverboy said...

Love you both!

Anonymous said...

Way back in like 1995 / 96 my buddy gave him directions to the freeway. Chris was on his way to Slam City Jam. It was pretty cool.

isidro rubio said...

this was a great read,thanks!
yeah,i remember first watching Chris on "8" skating to that Ramones song.

i've always wondered what was up with these companies that ran logo boards for a while(acme,channel 1,etc...),then dissappeared.i rode some of them back then.i always wondered whether they had pros or not.i remember they were around when boards were really flat and slick bottoms were cool.i dont remember an acme board without slick bottom.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading that Transworld interview as a teenager and getting real freaked out that he was in NAMBLA.

Nice to hear the joke story behind it.

The Chez said...

Ahhhh NAMBLA....dude was bad ass ATV back in the day. Cool to hear more about him.

Anonymous said...

great read about a truly great skater - A.Howell