chrome ball interview #7: richard mulder

chrome ball sits down with darth for conversation.

Hey man, I heard you were going down to Nashville for that Sugar Ray concert. How was it?

Pure van life entertainment. Super fun tour.

Rolling out the intro: how’d you first start skating and what was your first board? And who were your favorite pros growing up?

I started skating in 1987 in San Dimas, just messing around on my neighbor’s swap meet board. It had a lapper, so we would lap up the curb all day for hours. Then I saw Tom Krauser doing ollies... and after seeing the ollie, something inside of me said, “I need to do that.”

Skateboarding just looked so fresh to me. My family personally couldn’t afford a real skateboard, or even a half-real one, so I stole my friend’s older brother’s board and spray-painted it pink. I still got caught though. A few months later, I traded a buddy my entire G.I. Joe toy collection for a Steadham Sure Grip Intl’.

The Search for Animal Chin was the first skateboard video I ever saw. Everyone was a favorite when I was that young. I loved Lance and Cab, and anybody who could launch ramp. It wasn’t until I saw Matt Hensley’s part a couple years later where I started leaning towards favorites.

Now who was your crew growing up? And when did you meet Daewon and Daniel?

I moved to Fontana right when I fully started getting into skating, and it was a night-and-day skate scene. Some of the crew that I skated with inland ended up getting picked up: Phelps Ines got on Planet Earth/Rythym and Marcus Stroud rode for Milk and Venture.

I ended up meeting Daniel and Daewon through CASL contests in 1991. Daniel was super cool and we just connected. From there, I would take road trips out to LA on the weekends and skate or Daniel and Daewon would stay over and skate our spots.

Seems like everybody has that one crazy memory from back in the day… and you getting chased by some bum carrying his piss and crap in a pickle jar is a good place to start. Any wild stories from back then that can top that…

That bum situation was gnarly at the time... but pretty funny now. Yeah, filming at the Courthouse and my board just hits his bathroom. Something in his mind probably clicked and he thought he was in the NFL so he starts chasing me, holding his arm out.

Nothing too crazy growing up... but never throw your board over the fence first. I was skating Lockwood one weekend and threw my board over... after I jumped the fence and look down, it was not the same board that I had originally thrown.

I think the craziest story for me would be an ignorant-teenager-buying-weed story. We just rolled up to a drug house without “proper drug-buying etiquette” and got an Uzi pulled out on me. I will never forget that Rams jacket it came out of.

Wow! So was Foundation your first sponsor? How’d you get hooked up with them? You were, after all, their “first minority”

Christian Hosoi saw me skating in the parking lot of the Encinitas YMCA and first put me on Milk Skateboards in the beginning of 91’. That was his new gig he was doing and that was super cool for about 6 months.

Josh Beagle ended up moving inland near us and we started skating a lot together. It was sick skating with him. He asked me and Tony (Briseno) if we wanted to ride for Foundation. It was at the beginning of the brand re-launch outside of the World umbrella. We were stoked and put a video together.

That was "Cocktails" right? How was riding for early Foundation? Were you stoked on the Circle-F?

It was sick skating with Josh, Ronnie, and Tony. We all filmed each other for Cocktails... just making it happen. I was stoked to be on, for sure.

Obviously getting hooked up with the World Industries camp back then was quite the honor but your transition was a special case. How were you approached to join World? Did you have any idea you were playing such a role in a Rocco/Swank power struggle?

During the time I was riding for Foundation, I would still trek out to LA and spend time skating with Daniel, Daewon, and the World guys. Rodney called me up one afternoon and asked me if I wanted to ride for World and that’s how I got on. I was stoked because I was going to skate for World but I was sort of feeling bummed because I didn’t really have a reason to quit Foundation other than I liked World better. Tod and Josh were super cool and treated me cool.

What did you think when you saw both your ads in Big Brother (and the repercussions involved within). Did you know that it was gonna go down like that? You’re a pretty mellow-type dude… that’s a whole lot of drama for just coming fresh out the gate like that. Wasn’t that Foundation "You can have that sniveling, lying piece of shit” ad geared towards you? Granted you were young but did you really feel your actions deserved all that?

I remember going to World, meeting Steve Rocco and shooting that photo. I didn’t know that the World ad and the Foundation ad were going to be in the same issue nor did I know that it was going to be laid out like that.

However, at fifteen, nobody has a clue how the skateboard industry or a business is ran. So from their vantage point, I would’ve been pissed too. It was pretty bad. I feel bummed when I think about it even now. Can’t recall lying to Tod and Josh but now, in hindsight, their harsh words were understandable in light of how it all unfolded.

That World crew in particular was a very young squad… was there immediate camaraderie or did youth bring some tension into the mix? And where is Shamil Randal?

I would say more camaraderie. Everyone was young and into the same things… so there was for sure solidarity there.

Shamil?! I haven’t seen him in years. I hope all is well with him. I’ll never forget when he fainted while pissing in the middle-of-nowhere while on a pit stop during a Girl/Chocolate tour in '94.

Of all the heavies you saw come through the World Park, who do you think had it dialed-in the most?

Daewon, Daewon, and Daewon. He is one of the most incredible skateboarders in the world, and one of the funnest dudes to skate with. He skated that park on a supernatural tip.

Any Sal Rocco interaction?

None here. I personally avoided that dude because I always thought he came off weird in the mags.

One thing I’ve always wondered… how was the plan hatched for what would eventually become Chocolate? Who asked you to join? And was this sister company always the plan from the jump or was it decided upon later, after the initial Girl defection?

I think Rick and Mike wanted to bring another group of heads over after their base became more established. I was skating Chaffey one day and the Girl guys were down filming for the Goldfish video. Rick and Mike asked me if I wanted ride to for Chocolate and I was down.

How was the atmosphere at World post-Girl? Were the remaining riders immediately treated differently as a reaction to this exodus? And was it difficult going in there knowing you were about to leave when those dudes were obviously bummed/pissed?

World, post-Girl, was life goes on. I’m sure everyone was bummed. I was bummed. I just kept skating with the same friends... nothing really changed too much because I wasn’t sessioning with the Girl guys everyday.

Keenan, Ronnie, and Lavar got on Blind, and Gino on 101- it was like World transitioned and reformed a bit. Had some good times skating with Gino, Keenan, and Pupecki in those days.

You and Daniel both split… was Daewon ever thought to be brought in on the Girl/Chocolate thing?

I don’t know the details of that.

What were those early days like on Chocolate? Was the crew all psyched and skating? What was it like sessioning with Gabriel and Paulo back in the day? Both were so talented but we hardly ever got the chance to see them shine…

It was fresh. In L.A., or even in SoCal in general, you always end up skating with dudes because it is so naturally easy to link up and session. It was always easy to link up and skate with Daniel or Roberts because those dudes were always skating something similar that you wanted to ride.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride with Paulo and Gino as much as I would’ve like to... Got to skate with Gabriel for a while during the USC ledges heyday. That was sick.

All your video parts have been straight-up bangers. Do you mind filming at all? Which part of yours is a personal favorite? (I always though you absolutely clobbered it in Mouse)

I really liked filming those parts back then. I felt good skateboarding-wise and had tricks or lines that I wanted to film. I would have to say Mouse is a part that I can look back and be stoked on. The overall experience: the trips, filming with Tim Dowling, and the skaters you’re skating with… that vid was super fun to make and be a part of. It felt innovative.

Gino needed drinks, TFergs basked in the glow… how was your experience with acting in the Chocolate Tour video. And how were you able to get out of a speaking role in Paco?

In Las Nueve Vidas De Paco, my uncle passed during the filming of the skits so I was unable to make it out. For the Chocolate Tour Video, going out with Spike and making those skits was fully fun… and awkward as we're not actors. It was really cool to be a part of that though. We would be out like at 2:00-3:00am in the morning filming some of those skits.

Funniest Mike York story?

One doesn't come to mind specifically but Mike is one of the funniest dudes I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine a Chocolate tour without him being in the van.

Fondest memory of Keenan?

Keenan was inspiring. His energy and wit was incomparable. You know when you’re around certain dudes who give off such positive vibes that you actually feel like you can skate better or that you feel like you could do something that you couldn’t do otherwise… that’s what Keenan’s personality exuded. Always felt alive around him.

Who came up with “Darth Mulder” and how did it come about?

Darth manifested around 1999. I cannot specifically remember who coined it, maybe Dimitry or Scott Johnston, but we were driving up to Vancouver for a filming trip and the contest. Darth was an alter-ego that became inflamed on that trip and his behavior shocked his peers.

Wildest Sean Sheffey Moment?

Sean Sheffey! For real, my wildest Sheffey moment is just watching him skate. His video parts were all sick, but watching him skate live is the best. Raw. I remember one year at the Vancouver contest he switch flipped into this huge bank. Sheffey was one of my favorites to watch skate switch.

Favorite thing about Chaffey High? Favorite line?

Chaffey High was perfect for that time and era in skateboarding. It worked out perfect.

Favorite line… hmmm... probably this one that I filmed in a Girl/Chocolate Promo loop, and I think it might've been in a FTC video, where the line ended with a FS180 fakie 5-0, then did a half cab flip right after. I remember that felt good.

What made you decide that it was time to leave Chocolate? When did you start becoming interested in real estate? It seemed like you had been am for so long and had finally turned pro and even gotten the whole Nike thing going in full swing… did you just need a break at that point?

Real Estate wasn’t something that I dreamed about when I transitioned out of pro skating... it was something that my wife and friend were already practicing and it just happened to work out that way. My skating level was at a place that I wasn’t satisfied with and it caused me to become aware that this does not last forever. There is an end to every season, and I just felt convicted to learn a trade.

Right at the beginning of 2006 is when my pro model stopped with Chocolate. You’re right, I was amateur on Chocolate from '94 and turned pro in 2000. Right after the Hot Chocolate Tour in 2003 and filming that Nike On Tap promo 2004, I felt like it was prudent to explore other areas of ways that I could make a living so when it was all done, I could still provide for my family.

I remember I used to get bummed out when I was young watching struggling pros. I really didn’t want to be that same pro that I used to get bummed on and the memory of that pro is not their highlights. With Nike, it was a privilege to ride for them. Super stoked to be a part of their skateboarding initiative and glad to see them killing it the way they are.

How did Heel Bruise come about? What made you start it up? I’m really digging the super clean designs you guys are pumping out… not to mention the Lance and Poets collabos…straight up, you guys are killing it.

Thanks. After working in Real Estate from 2005 to 2008, I was offered a financial advisor job at Merrill Lynch. And one day, I was in a meeting and we were going over a client’s portfolio, and it dawned on me that I was sitting on the wrong side of the table. I quit Merrill Lynch shortly after my son was born in July 2009. I started Heel Bruise out of my garage with Thomas Yu and Robbie Jefferes while I was working at Merrill - we did the skateboarding leg of Stussy.

Heel Bruise started to grow, people are stoked on it, and so now I work here full time steering the ship. We grew into a building and have some amazing heads working with me trying to make it happen.

Now when did Hosoi get back into the picture? I know your role over there goes a lot deeper than just skating. How did you guys reconnect?

Like I mentioned earlier, the first time I met Hosoi was in 91’ when he put me on Milk. He probably doesn’t even remember. But we reconnected right when he got out of prison in 2004, and that’s when our friendship grew into what it is today.

When did you realize that you could start utilizing your skating for a higher purpose and what were the initial reactions from your immediate peers like? How did you initially start reaching out to others on a spiritual level? The guy that did 20 takes on “Gino’s skatepark?” is now up there spreading the gospel…. And to fellow skaters nonetheless, one of the most notoriously outspoken and critical breeds on planet Earth...

Everyone has a certain measure of influence. Youth groups and churches would reach out to me and ask me to share my view on life and purpose.

As far as my immediate peers, their initial reactions were chill but slightly shocked given my lifestyle. When it comes to communicating my faith to others- my thoughts personally and I’m not speaking for others- if someone is at a church or place of worship, I will share vocally with them, minister to them, and pray for them. But if I’m at work, with family, at a skate spot, or anywhere else, I hope that it exudes out of me in my character without it being said.

Life is about relationships. How can I begin to communicate about having a desire for relationship with God, who you cannot see, when I myself have not taken the time to invest in relationships with people, who you can see. Different strokes for different folks, for sure... and that’s my discretion.

Have you always been a religious cat? I know Hosoi had his religious awakening in jail after so many years of trials and tribulations… was there a specific moment like that for you? Did you ever try to reach out to some of your past teammates that were going through hardships of their own to try and help… like Guy or Gino for example?

I started having faith in God at sixteen. It wasn’t a preacher or a sermon that wooed me, I naturally desired to seek it out. I had hard questions about why things are the way things are, and for me, everything about God’s word made sense to my heart and gave me true peace- from the genesis account, to present events, and to what will continue to unfold.

A lot of my friends here in the States know what my beliefs are, and even have a general idea who Jesus Christ is. I feel like too many believers try to strongarm people with their beliefs once they get a personal awakening or an encounter with God, but need wisdom, because being "dead" right doesn't always work. Friends will reach out to me and ask me my two cents, and when that invitation is there, I'll take that moment to speak into their heart. It’s not about intimidation, but respect.

On average, how often do you see Hosoi getting fanned-out on per day? And do you just sit around all the time and have him tell stories from back in the day… gotta admit, I probably would. He’s not trying to talk you into growing a ponytail, is he?

Funny thing is I ask Christian to tell me stories all the time. Eighties stories, prison stories... they’re the best because he’s a naturally charismatic person, all his stories come to life. I get stoked for him when I see people come to him out of nowhere and say that they saw his documentary on Showtime and how it spoke to them.

Christian was on a pathway of destruction and to see him now use his testimony to help others with destructive behaviors and give them hope is very cool. Even when he talks to people, he’ll talk to a person for hours. He really cares about people.

On the fanning-out tip, I’ve seen old skate decks collectors pull out Rising Son decks out of nowhere for him to sign… like they’ve had the board in their car for months just waiting to for that moment when they track him down.

Favorite thing about one Lance Mountain. Have you got to skate his pool yet?

I love Lance. Super stoked for everything going on with him right now. He’s one of the funniest, creative, and multi-talented human beings alive.

Yeah, got to skate his pool. It’s perfect but I definitely need to pull out the Rectors or Pro Designs and learn knee slides again if I’m going to be a serious concrete disciple in there.

Top 5 favorite skaters of all time?

In no particular order: Eric Koston, Guy Mariano, Matt Hensley, Jason Lee, and Ronnie Bertino off the top of the head, but there’s so many.

Your parts are littered with some truly classic locations… EMB, World Park, Venice Pits, LA Courthouse, your beloved Chaffey... What was one spot that many people consider as legendary that you absolutely hated? I know you hit up Beryl a good bit back in the day.

Sometimes the beach spots would harsh out your bearings. To me, Beryl is probably the hardest one to skate of it all of them. Every trick that went down on that is crazy. Rick’s switch tre, Daewon’s hardflip, Gino’s fake hardflip, and Jeremy Klein’s 360 flip are all pretty gnarly.

Most underrated skater of the 90’s. Wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few put you on top of that list.

Ronnie Bertino. I thought he skated super dope. Even during the early Think days, he was always one of the favorites.

What are some future plans for Richard Mulder and Heel Bruise?

We’re going to keep doing what we're doing over here at Heel Bruise, making things that we’re stoked on naturally and hopefully people will enjoy it, too. We’re working on a couple co-action projects with brands and skaters we admire. LA heads Eric Dressen and Aaron "Fingers" Murray are stoked to draw and contribute graphics. Super stoked on that. Gino and I were talking about keeping the Poets/Heel Bruise thing an annual initiative, so that will be pretty fun.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks Chrome Ball. Thank you to everyone that has supported me with the opportunity to participate in skateboarding. I feel super fortunate when I think how skateboarding is one of the coolest things in the world that you can experience on earth and I was able to do it, continue to roll because of that feeling.

Special Thanks to Richard and Heel Bruise.


Stevie Ites said...

Met him at a Nike demo - perhaps the nicest, most genuine skater, pro or otherwise, that I've ever met. A real class act.

Nice interview, well done.

Anonymous said...

Excellent research and exposé; You go, E. Chops!
~Florida Woman

Anonymous said...

Been waiting on another interview and you didn't disappoint.

Anonymous said...

Richard Mulder has always been a favorite. I always loved how he just skated, it was truly skate style and ability coming out of him. I'm so happy you asked about his Mouse part. It's been a top 5'er for me for years. He was so on point in that video. You can tell because on his manuals, especially the sw/flip nose wheelie, he's just straight up frozen in the nose wheelie. Full on perfect balance. DAMN!!! Go Richard!!!
Heel Bruise big up!

Keith said...

Richard Mulder! Dude's always had great video parts with lots of style and solid execution.

I've never met him nor do I think I've ever seen him in person but he comes across as a really good guy. And getting a "real" career outside of the skate industry is not an easy task.

He had a blog a while ago but he took it down! I need financial advice...

T Ferks said...

Richard is the man! It's tight to see him use his talents for God's glory. Much respect....and yeah, that switchflip nose-mani is amazing. The line at city-hall in Philly is also a favorite....just pure style.

Anonymous said...

"Gino's skate part?"

Killing it. Keep it up.

DLTDA said...

It took me a long time to appreciate Richard as a skater, but in retrospect I have so much respect for him taking the true path to a pro board. Nowadays kids would not stick out being AM on a premier company (or a mediocre company) for 6 years.

It's great to see his insight and his well-thought answers to great question.

As always, well done Chops. Great to see a good, quality interview as well as a guy who puts a lot of effort into his responses. Glad to see him doing well. Dude is dope.

Anonymous said...

Him and JP Jadeed were the kings of chaffey.

Brian edwards for honorable mention. Thanks for this!

jason from oz said...

Brilliant interview! Love hearing the old World stories. Definately my favourite era of skateboarding. Keep it up Chops!