chrome ball interview #45: rick jaramillo

chops and rick j sit down for some street fighter 2. 

Introduction by Kenny Anderson

I've gotten a lot of questions about Rick throughout the years.  It's always awesome to hear people tell me how Rick was one of their favorites or how they loved a certain video part of his.  I still feel so proud to be able to talk about him and share memories with, sometimes, strangers about one of my best friends. 

A lot of people don't know that he is one of the main reasons why I'm the way I am today.  Not only did he inspire me everyday in Vegas to skate, he still inspires me to skate, to be a good father, a good friend and to laugh all the time.  He also helped save me from getting kicked off Planet Earth when I was living in Vegas and  I don't think I ever truly thanked him for that.  

Thank you, Rick!

Alright Rick, all skateboard interviews start out this way: how were you first introduced to skateboarding and what was your first board?

I started skateboarding right after I saw Back to the Future. I was already riding BMX bikes back then and quickly decided that I wanted a skateboard after seeing the movie. I remember telling my grandmother about wanting one and she told me that if I really wanted a board, I’d have to save up my own money for it. So I started saving up all my change and ended buying my first board entirely with rolls of pennies. No joke. It was a Rob Roskopp 3 with clear grip tape.

It’s funny because I’d never actually put griptape on before and didn’t really know how to so I decided to trace the board with a pen on the backside of the grip and cut it out with scissors.

Needless to say, it came out horrible.

That’s hilarious. So you came up representing Las Vegas pretty hard back when that scene definitely seemed more remote. Almost like a satellite city on the very outskirts of the California scene in a lot of ways. Didn’t Lotti live there for a while? That must’ve been a big influence growing up.

Yeah, growing up in Vegas, Brian Lotti was a huge influence on all us. He was already accomplished and well-respected while we were all still pretty young so we definitely looked up to him. As I got older, he used to pick me up from my bus stop and we’d go skate the quarterpipe in front of his house.

That had to be a pretty big deal for you.

I remember this one time when we wanted to get some new plywood for his ramp, we hopped in his Volvo and went to a construction site nearby. We piled all this wood into the back of the car and just took off. We barely got around the corner when the cops pulled us over. I thought we were busted for sure but they just made us take all the wood back.

Pretty lucky. So was Blockhead your first real sponsor? How’d you end up getting hooked up with them?

Yeah, Blockhead was my first sponsor.

I went to Skate Camp in Visalia one summer and a counselor there saw me skating and thought he might be able to hook me up. The counselor ended up being Ron Lemen, who used to do graphics for Blockhead and was actually living with Blockhead Dave Bergthold at the time.

After that, I just started bugging the crap out of Dave... calling him all the time, trying to get free boards.

And it just worked out. What was it like skating for Blockhead back then? I always dug that crew because everything had such a light-hearted approach while still having more than their share of heavies on the team…

It was really cool riding for Blockhead. I’d go stay at Dave’s house in California and get to skate the Blockhead ramp with all these different skaters that I looked up to. There were so many good skateboarders that rode for them.

For sure. Sam Cunningham, Omar Hassan, Rick Howard, Jason Dill…

Yeah, my first trip out to California, I remember going to this double-sided curb because Rick Howard wanted to film a trick. I barely knew anybody and here I was skating with Rick Howard. I was so nervous on the drive over to the spot because I really looked up to Rick back then. It felt like a make-or-break type of thing, but in reality, it probably didn’t even matter. It was just going to skate.

It’s easy to see a Lotti influence in your Recycled Rubbish debut. Definitely an impressive part with the brim hat steez…

The brim hat was a direct result from staying out with Sean Begg in Carlsbad that summer. Sean also rode for Blockhead and was down with Mark Wyndham, Ocean Howell, and George Carr… which meant skating with those guys almost everyday. Just being around those guys influenced my skateboarding and style so much. Ocean always wore a hat like that.

Hell, I would’ve probably started wearing one, too. I’m not sure kids today know as much as they should about Mark and Ocean because they really didn’t film or shoot photos all that often. Anything in particular stand out from all the times you went skating with them?

Those guys were just so cool to be around. Mark was the first person I ever saw do a 270 lipslide down a rail. That one is still amazing to me.

And I could watch Ocean skate flatground all day.

He had the best 360 flips.

Ocean was just so cool. I remember waking up one day at the Blockhead house and we were all going to go out skating. We walk out the front door and Ocean had come over while we were sleeping and taken Ron Lemen’s tires off and put his truck on bricks. So funny.

That’s rad.

Yeah, Ron ended up filling up the entire cab of Ocean’s truck with hay a few days later to get him back. I still laugh about that sometimes.

But as far as influence goes, I just think that being around different people in addition to skating with people who happen to be on a different level than you will always help somebody’s skateboarding.  

Well said. So let’s talk a bit about your breakout part: 1992’s Debbie Does Blockhead. This one’s always been a person favorite of mine. Street Fighter 2, Black Sheep, ripping skating… so much fun.

Yeah, filming for that one took a while. I was coming out to California and filming with the guys out there, which was good... but no one had a camera back in Vegas! I always had to borrow cameras in order to get anything done and it was always really hard to get someone to film me.  But looking back on it now, borrowing that camera really helped me out so much.

I’m sure it gave you much more control of the footage that way. Were you satisfied with that one?

Honestly, I don’t think I was ever fully pleased with any of my video parts. I’d always think about how I could have done something better or cleaner.

I was a huge fan of the late-flip tech craze but we all know how quickly all that fell out of fashion. Do you think that stuff got a bum rap over the years or do you feel the majority of that stuff really was predominantly bad? And are you kinda stoked to be seeing a lot of nollie front-foot stuff coming back as of late? P-Rod’s making a killing these days with it.

That stuff was just what I was doing at the time. I don’t think the late-foot flip craze got a bum rap, I just think skateboarding evolved. One thing I’ve learned in skating is that it’s the people that make the tricks, not the other way around. There have always been tricks that I didn’t like for one reason or another, but then I’d end up seeing someone do it in a way that would totally change my outlook.

And it’s cool to see Paul Rodriguez do a backside 180 nollie front-foot flip down a set of stairs and to think that I had done that, too.

One thing I always liked about Blockhead videos is how loose everything felt. Always so rad. But I will say that there is one highlight that stands out above all the others: who’s idea was it for you, Laban and JWray to do that Beastie Boys lip-synch for Debbie? That was the best. (R.I.P. MCA)

I’m pretty sure that was Dave’s idea. I was really into their music back then so when it was brought up, I was totally down. I knew it was going in the video but I honestly wasn’t sure if people would actually like it.

Classic stuff. So what was it like to go out skating with Laban and Jeremy Wray back in the day? Throw Dan Rogers in that mix and that’s one very gnarly crew. Would you ever get down with some of the crazy gaps those guys were doing back then?

Going out with those guys was really fun. I wasn’t too into the gap skating but skating with that crew motivated me in ways that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It’s funny because they’d be going so big and here I am doing my little flippity thing but it really helped me push any limits that I may have put on myself.

Didn’t you turn pro shortly after Debbie? Did you know at the time Blockhead was preparing you for the dip?

Yeah, after the Debbie video came out, I guess some people were asking Dave when I’d be getting a board. He kinda mentioned that they were thinking about turning me pro and I was into it. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure if I was ready, but at that age, I felt that being pro was what I’d always wanted and this was my opportunity. I was afraid that the opportunity may never present itself again.

Well, by the time you got to Girl Trouble, Blockhead had basically been picked apart by other teams as well as the new Invisible brand. Did you realize during the filming that it was going to be the company’s swan song? An amazing part, though.

Yeah, some of our pros had left to ride for other companies and then they started Invisible and took some more. But I had no idea what was happening on the business side of things when I was filming for Girl Trouble. I really never asked about that stuff. I was young and all I cared about was skateboarding.

How did Planet Earth to come into the picture for you?

I’d come out to California and was skating the Climax park when Mark Wyndham showed up. We were skating around and he mentioned that some of the guys at Planet Earth had been talking about getting me to ride for them. I had known Mark for a while and he had just left Blockhead to ride for Planet Earth. Kenny Anderson was riding for them and he’s one of my best friends. Lotti had ridden for them, too. So it was just a bunch of factors that made the decision a lot easier.

It was difficult to leave Blockhead. Dave had done so much for me and believed in me when no one else did. But on the other hand, I had a goal of moving to California as soon as I graduated high school and money was a big factor in meeting that goal. Planet Earth made that happen for me.

One thing that definitely sticks out as part of PE’s legacy from this era are the videos. Not only did the skating rip but they also represent the baby steps of one Mr. Ty Evans. Silver was around this time and you also had that slick part in TWS’ Uno as well. It was definitely cool seeing you skate in Philadelphia and a few other locations that we normally wouldn’t see you skating at.

Uno and Silver were always my favorite parts and I have to give a bunch of that credit to Ty. He filmed a lot of that stuff and edited all of it. It did help that I was touring a lot around the time we were making those videos but Ty’s filming and editing really made a big difference. He only kept the very best stuff which really made a difference in how you went about filming things.

And skating in Philly was amazing. I remember our tour van got broken into the day we got there. Luckily, I’d left all my stuff at the room but a few of my friends’ gear was stolen. That definitely sucked but it was still a lot of fun skating there.  

It almost made up for it. (laughs)

During Uno was also when Schnurr and I started going down to Koston’s apartment in LA a lot. Always a good time out there. Skating all day and chilling at night… play some Street Fighter and shoot some dice.

Schnurr’s a maniac. Care to give us a good tale of Schnurr?

Most Matt stories probably shouldn’t be televised. (laughs)

But Matt is one of the best dudes to be around. He always made whatever we were doing that much better.

I remember one time tagging along with bunch of my friends to go see some band play in Matt's hometown. As soon as we got there, I went to the nearest skateshop in order to track down him down and have him come meet us. Just chilling outside the shop and watching him breakdance was so rad.

We went out and got some drinks and Matt ends up bringing a box of wine back to the van. I still laugh about that. Just so much fun. I remember waking up the next morning and having all this Mexican food all over me. It looked like I slept on a burrito! So much crap on my clothes.

This one gets brought up on the site from time to time… in that Silver part, were you the first to switch feeble a handrail? Were you aware of anybody having done it yet. There’s always a debate on here between you and Brian Emmers doing it first…

I remember that I had gone on a trip to Europe and starting doing them down rails there. I’d never seen anybody doing it before. I filmed it for the video when I got back… I thought I might’ve been the first to do it.

It was definitely around that time. Now we gotta talk about one of the 90’s most enigmatic companies: Jeremy Wray’s Dukes shoes. What was it like riding for that one? I think you and Jerry Fowler were their only other riders back then…

Dukes just came about through being friends with Jerry Fowler and the Wrays. I was skating with Jerry all the time and he was already on the team so that’s how I got on, too. Jerry always made things so much fun. It was cool riding for Dukes because it was such a really small team and we were all friends.

And that shoe was really good, too. It would probably still be a good shoe to skate in today if they were still around.

Getting that World money must’ve been nice as well. But what ended up happening with Dukes? I know at one point it was being sold in sporting goods stores in Canada… any idea what went down?

I really don’t know what happened with Dukes. I can only speculate that it had something to do with Jeremy and World’s relationship. I think that’s only something Jeremy could answer.

So let’s talk about that 411 Profiles part. Did you specifically film for that one or was that mostly stuff leftover from other parts? I just ask because your hair is every conceivable length in that piece, from baldhead to ponytail.

I never really liked that 411 part. There were a few tricks in there that I enjoyed... like that backside nollie flip into the ditch tranny, but I got hurt a couple times while filming for that and I think I might’ve rushed it out. I wish I would’ve held it back and kept filming because I got some better footage afterwards that has still never really come out.

As a professional in the highly-competitive world of skateboarding, one has to deal with criticisms attacking just about anything one can think of. YouTube is a great resource but I’m not sure that anybody has ever uttered anything remotely positive on there. How do you react towards critics of a part that you worked so hard on…

I don’t really pay attention to the criticisms. I’m kind of old school about that. I’ve always just looked for the respect of my peers. I mean, it’s just skateboarding. Everybody has an opinion. I always have fun when I skate and that’s all that really matters. I was never really trying to be the absolute best.

Now you rode for Planet Earth until the end, correct? What made you decide to give up your board? Seemed like you had several years left to go…

Towards the end of riding for Planet Earth, I was at a point in my life where I was about to get married and start a family. I just started to think that at some point, I would have to move on. I never thought of quitting skating, just that I couldn’t do it professionally forever. I felt like the longer I waited, the harder it would be to start over.

Were you ever approached to join Invisible or Expedition back in the day? Looking back on it, do you ever regret not going with either of those options in your career?

I never had the opportunity to join either brand. I kind of looked at it as I was left to hold down the older brands. It would’ve been cool to start something from scratch and build on it but I’ve never really looked back and regretted anything.

All those guys are my friends and I’m happy for them.

Best and worst thing about being a professional skateboarder? It has to be such an amazing feeling to skate for a living but did you ever feel like a “disposable hero” at times?

The best thing about skateboarding professionally is that you’re basically doing what you love and getting paid for it. I honestly never really thought about the bad parts of it because the good so far outweighed any of that. You skate when you want, film when you want… you have all this free time! You get to go places you never would’ve had the chance to go to otherwise.

What’s the best piece of advice you can pass on to a young skater just now getting involved in the skateboard industry?

The only advice I can give is that nowadays, you really have to look at it as a job. I never really looked at it that way. I’d just tag along with other skaters and if I got a clip, great! If not, oh well. I just wanted to have fun skating. Nowadays, I think you really have to plan things out… like what tricks you’re going to do and where you’re gonna do them at.

But don’t lose sight of why you picked up a skateboard in the first place: because it’s fun.

Very true. So what are you doing now? Are you at all involved in the industry? And are you still able to get out and skate very often? I know you were Kenny’s commercial last year which was really cool to see.

Right now, I am supervising all receiving for Active in California. And still skating... actually skating a lot lately.

Good to hear, man. Alright, I’m gonna pull at the heartstrings on this one. In your opinion, who’s got the better style: Brian Lotti or Kenny Anderson?


I’d probably go with Kenny for the better style. I love Lotti but I think Kenny’s style just flows so sick, especially on tranny.

But that's a real tough one.

Indeed. Alright, Rick, that’s all I got. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Anything you’d like to add? Any shout-outs or words of wisdom?

I’d like to shout-out a few people: Brandi, my wife for being the rock that holds me down. My two children, Robyn and Ryder, for showing me what life is really about. Kenny and the Anderson family for always being there for me. Active Boardshop, Joey Coleman , Sean Apgar , Dennis Bellew, Jason Rothmeyer, Vern Laird, Cy Wallace and Jeff Taylor for taking care of me when I needed some product. All my Vegas friends that I had so many good times with. Ty Evans for making my skating look really good. Lib and Caesar for being good friends and roommates. Jerry Fowler, Jeremy and Jonas Wray, Planet Earth, Blockhead, Rhythm guys… And thanks to Chrome Ball.

special thanks to kevin at skately.com, aaron meza, kenny anderson and rick for making this happen.  


Anonymous said...

Always loved this dude.

With an intro from Kenny, too!?! Goddamn!

Leiv said...

Nice one. I always really liked his Uno part. That nollie front heel manual down the picnic table always stuck with me since I first saw the sequence in TWS.

Anonymous said...

crazy, i was thinking of him while i was reading the speyer post.
i was like "what became jaramillo and his crazy style, loved to see him on chrome ball" ^^
here you are!!!

Terry said...

Hey Rick. Big fan. Psyched to hear you still skate! That's what's up!

Liege said...

After seeing his UNO part I basically went straight out and bought black shell toes and a planet earth T. Dude was so sick. Stoked on the interview.

cousin harold said...


The Chez said...

Such a positive attitude. Seems like he truly was just a skate rat. Great interview Chops!

Anonymous said...

Very Inspirational.! That was dope Rick.!!!

Skately said...

Rad interview guys!

Anonymous said...

On an unrelated note. I gotta make some requests. James Craig. Gideon Choi. Keep killin us with radness, Chops! You really CAN do this forever!

Anonymous said...


t.a. said...

Don't know if ya'll touched on this subject, but is he still doing Nimble footwear?

Anonymous said...

loved this guys skating, alway seemed super cool

Keith said...

Was stoked on that Debby part when it came out... might've been more because of the Black Sheep. Watching it now, it didn't age very well.

Definitely lots of interesting back foot flip tricks!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Used to love that UNO part!!!
'Planet Ers!?' Remember that on the 411?
Rick J was doPe!!!

Anonymous said...

Aya One tag creeping in that switch feeble flick. Thanks for the interview and history lessons Chops.