chrome ball interview #86: ishod wair

chops and ishod sit down for some conversation.

Alright Ishod, not sure if this ever got back to you but I interviewed Andrew Reynolds a few months ago and he said that one of his biggest regrets with Baker is not sponsoring you back in the day. How does that make you feel? How did all that happen or, I guess, not happen? Was Baker your thing back then?

Oh man, I didn’t know that. That’s kinda crazy to hear.

Yeah, when Baker 3 came out, I thought that shit was stupid dope. Obviously. My friend Julian was getting flowed stuff from Emerica back then and that whole crew came through on the Wild Ride tour that year. I got to skate some and gave them some footage. They sent me a box with six boards in there. I was stoked as shit! But that ended up being it. Only that one box.

But yeah, damn… that’s pretty crazy for him to say that.

Do you ever trip out on kids handing out footage at contests and demos? Because you were in that exact same boat just a few years ago. Got any pointers for the next generation of sponsor-me’s

Yeah, it does trip me out because you’re right, it really wasn’t that long ago. I think it’s a little different nowadays, though. Kids aren’t just handing you footage to check out anymore. It’s not that easy. Everything’s now on the internet with links and shit. Kids always trying to get your email address now, looking for a way they can reach you because they want to send you stuff.

Honestly, it can get a little awkward. They’ll email you and either want to make small talk with you when you don’t really know them or worse, maybe their footage isn’t really all that good or up to whatever stipulations that are out there. I mean, you don’t want to be mean but at the same time, what are you supposed to do? It definitely can become an awkward situation.

True. So as we're all watching this Push part come together, let’s talk about the surprise new Real video that just dropped, Through and Through. What’s the story with this one? 

To tell the truth, I haven’t even seen it yet. I didn’t even know that’s what it was called until you just said it… Through and Through. Alright.  

I can’t say that I know what to expect in there. We’ve been working on this one for a while but the whole thing kept on changing. I feel like it’s going to be mostly from trips. It was originally going to be a tour video at first and then they changed it to be a full-on Real video with parts and everything but certain people were filming for other stuff.  So I’m not really sure what it is but there’s definitely a new Real video and I’m sure it’s sick! (laughs)

The little bit I saw was incredible. The footage from your Thrasher cover in Kansas City is in there. That rail looks straight-up deadly, man. How’d that one even go down?  

That one was pretty sick. It was the very last spot of that trip and we just wanted to get it. Usually with any trip that I’m on, if I’m trying to skate something, for whatever reason, nobody else ever wants to skate it with me. I don’t know why that is but I usually end up having to skate by myself. But luckily, whenever Kyle (Walker) is around, I basically have a partner there. He’s pretty much always down to skate whatever I want to… which definitely helps. So yeah, he was out there with me. Thanks, Kyle.

But yeah, I kinda ended up tweaking my knee a little bit right when we first got there. That rail had never been skated before and we definitely didn’t want to stick on it because that’s a pretty big drop from up there... so we’re waxing it a little and just checking it out. I tried ollieing the double-set just so I can start getting the feel of it and end up breaking my board, first try.

Peter (Ramondetta) let me use his board. The first thing I try is a lipslide and I just stick. I fly straight to the bottom and hurt my knee. I knew I was hurt and was getting bummed but I decided to keep skating and get it while I still could. I loosened up Pete’s trucks a little bit because they were too tight, put some more wax on the rail and kept going.

The lipslide took a little bit because I kept on bouncing off my board after I’d land. It was just so high. You’d land and compress but end up coming right back up and off your board. It was so frustrating because I thought I’d be rolling away everytime.

I ended up making the lipslide and then Kyle made his front board down it a few tries later. He made it look so easy. That got me hyped so I started thinking about what else I could possibly do on it. I waxed it up again, this time for the wheels and made a tailslide first try. It was kind of a Baker Make because I spun around but at the same time, I had enough speed to ride away. It was almost like a tailslide 270. It was weird because I kinda touched my hands. Peter’s trucks are way tighter than mine so normally I’d just turn to compensate but on Peter’s board, the trucks just stopped. I fell over a bit and touched but at the same time, spun around and somehow kept rolling.

I felt kinda weird because my hands touched the ground but everyone felt that it was a good enough make. I tried it a couple more times after that and I’m not sure if I was over it or I ended up breaking his board as well, but that first one was the make. Nobody knew why I even was trying it again. That’s how it goes sometimes.

What’s your process like with making video parts? Obviously something like Chronicles 2 and Push are gonna be a bit different but what about these smaller, independent videos you’ve been in, like Paych and the Sabotage videos? Is that just you out skating with the homies whenever you’re back East? How involved are you with the making of these things? Like, are you picking out the songs, making lists and checking out edits?

Each one is a little different. I mean, I wasn’t really too involved with Paych but with the Sabotage videos, I was definitely picking out songs and having him send me edits. I made a couple of changes there, for sure.

I’ve been so busy lately that filming stuff like that has been a little harder to do. Sitting on a plane going back and forth when I’d rather be out skating and shit. But yeah, kinda like what you said, those sorta things just come from being at home and skating like normal.

What’s the timespan for those smaller projects typically? Just a couple days or so?

Again, it kinda depends. The Paych stuff was probably 3 or 4 days in total. Definitely less than a week of skating. You know how it is, we were in New York and there’s a ton of spots out there. You just skate from spot to spot. Hit up one spot, get kicked out and go on to the next one, always having the camera out. You end up getting a lot of stuff that way.

With Sabotage 3, I’d just always be out filming. I’d come home from trips and skate with Penny, next thing I knew, I had enough footage for a part. It’s weird how it happened because I’d only skate with him for maybe 2 days at a time but that was spaced out over the course of months. Sabotage 4 was a little different, though.

If there is someone around with a camera, I can usually film a part really fast. I just like going out skating and I don’t mind there being a camera on me so it’s pretty simple. I skate all the time.

Right now, I’m dealing with this Berrics Push thing. We have this deadline now when our parts are due and I honestly haven’t skated with the person I’m supposed to be filming with for a month. So that project has actually been a little hard just because I never see the filmer. It has to be with the Red Camera. If that dude would’ve been around, I would’ve filmed that thing by now, no problem. We’ll get it though. 

Last Thanksgiving, you dropped two video parts in the same weekend (ECVX14 and Paych)… did you know that was going down like that beforehand? I know you're working on multiple projects right now, is it hard to keep all these different video parts straight… like who has what footage and when everything is coming out? 

I don’t really film with that many people so I usually know who filmed what. If I’m in New York, I’m with Johnny, who made Paych. In Philly, I’m with Penny or Mulhearn and in California, I live with my friend Ant Travis. I’ll usually film with him or some Nike dudes. Those are the usual guys.

But no, I definitely didn’t know both those parts were going to come out in the same weekend. I didn’t really think about it too much until it just kinda happened.

The ECVX part came about from having a bunch of footage with Penny. He wanted to keep some of it for Sabatoge 4 because he didn’t know if I’d have enough stuff for it… but I wanted that footage out. At that point Sabotage 4 wasn’t gonna be out for another year.

That always seems to happen every time I film with someone, they always end up wanting to hold on to it for whatever reason. It drives me crazy because then stuff will get to a certain point where I feel it’s too old and then I won’t like it anymore. I’d much rather just put the footage out now and go back to film some more stuff later. With Sabotage 4 not coming out until a year later, that footage wouldn’t haven even been of that same point in time. I don’t really want stuff in there from last year. It’s not that much of a problem but if I can get it out earlier, I’d rather do that. So that’s ECVX.

You’re not one to hoard 5 years of footage to put towards some big video part?

Nah, I’ll just film some more shit. I’d like to be able to do that but I never really have the ideal situation to make that happen.

I feel like people in California can skate with the same person every single solitary day and just stack footage. I have obligations with different projects where I can’t do that. Nike needs HD, Berrics needs Red Camera, I personally want VX… but I’m not even home all that much to where I can really film with those guys like that. And when I do, I’m not always trying to jump off a building either. When I’m home, I usually just want to try and kick it… skate some ledges, skate some tranny. I’ll jump off some shit if need be but I’m usually not trying to go ham when I’m finally home. I usually reserve that kinda shit to when I’m on trips, where everything is a bit more focused.

So many video parts already in such a short span of time, do you have a personal favorite?

I’ve had a bunch, for sure, and I like different aspects about each of them. Not exactly sure if I can pick a favorite…

Alright, what’s the one you show that one Aunt at family get-togethers when she asks what you do?

I’d probably show her the Nike part because I’m doing bigger stuff there. I think it translates better to non-skaters because the stuff looks a little crazier.

But if I had to pick my personal favorite, it would probably be Sabotage 3. I really liked that one because it was such a fun period for me. I lived 4 or 5 blocks away from Love and I didn’t have as much to do back then. It wasn’t totally crazy yet like it is now. I could still be at home for a few weeks during the summer and skate, like normal.

It was the best. Walk out of my house, roll down to Love and skate until the cops came. Roll back to my house, take a shower and drink a juice while I wait to hear if the cops left yet. I was 5 blocks away so I just went back and forth all day. It was so easy and just a fun time in the summer. Skating everywhere because it was so nice out.

One thing your parts are known for are these long, flowing lines. What do you want in your lines or like to see in other people’s lines? For example, you’ve mentioned liking Donovon Piscopo’s lines, what makes his stand out to you?

I don’t know, man. I mean, you can do a two-trick line and it’s cool. I feel like it’s just in the way that someone does something. It’s how you approach it, which probably has more to do with overall style, I guess. You can definitely see a lot more of that person’s style in a line versus just a single trick. You see them push and how they set up for whatever trick they trying to do.  

How much of your lines are planned versus improvised? Maybe go for two tricks then freestyle it from there?

My lines usually come from just skating around a spot, looking at stuff and doing whatever. I’ll start trying tricks and lines can just grow out of that. Figuring out what you can do into something else. Something will pop in my head that I think might be cool and I’ll want to try it.

One thing is that usually filmers don’t want to go blind. They’ll want to know what you’re planning so they can know what side they want to be on. They want to be able to film everything the best they can so being able to prepare definitely helps the thing. They’re don’t want to just be pointing a camera at you from wherever.  

The line I’m really thinking about here is in Sabotage 3 where you do a ledge line, wallie a bin and then, seemingly out of nowhere, kickflip the Love Gap. That last move really caught me by surprise but I can’t imagine you doing that just on a whim though…

It definitely wasn’t planned prior to that night. I just kinda thought of it while I was there but it wasn’t, like, first try or anything. I had to try that one for a bit. Again, we were just skating around and it just popped in my head. Might as well try it.

Things must’ve been going good because I have two other lines in that part from the same night. That line with the kickflip into the Gap was the third one. It was just a really nice summer night, skating around Love Park. The moon was out so everything was really bright out and you could see really well. It was so sick. Penny was down to keep filming and we weren’t getting kicked out so we just kept getting more and more stuff.

The switch kickflip down the Love Gap definitely broke you out a bit at the time. Was that one a battle for you? Did you realize at the time you were doing it that it would be some pretty legendary shit? Because there’s some history there with that one…

Yeah, it was a pretty big battle for that one. I actually tried it a few seperate times but we’d always get kicked out everytime. The time I landed it, it must’ve taken an hour or so to finally do it but I probably only tried maybe fifteen times that day. That’s not really that many tries but I was just so tired from it. I’d mess up pushing or hit a crack, someone would walk in front of me. Something like that. But yeah, it was definitely a battle.

I know you also switch frontside bigspinned it… anything else you’re thinking about?

Yeah, I tried nollieing it once and stuck. I’d like to do that. My friend was trying to get me to do some other stuff down it but I don’t know. If I’m not feeling it, even if the fountain is drained, I’m not gonna skate it. I’ve done a few tricks down it already…

How come you’ve never really tried anything down Wallenberg other that one Bust of Bail with the switch flip?

I did go back a little bit ago actually. I happened to be in SF to film for the Push thing and Wallenberg came up. I didn’t really want to skate there and it kinda bummed me out. I was just trying to get lines but some other people wanted to go so I went.

I was only in SF for 2 weeks or so and I didn’t want to bruise my heels for the rest of the trip but tried some front heels. I was actually catching them and everything but it was kinda windy. I just stopped… even though I ended up bruising my heels anyway. Should’ve saved that one for later.

You’ve definitely carried the Love torch in recent years. How big of an influence was that whole scene on you growing up? I know you’re from just across the river in Jersey, did you know about that scene at all back then or at least aware of its history over the years?

Honestly, when I first started out, I didn’t know anything about it. I was so young, I didn’t realize all that stuff was so close.

I started going out to Philly when I was 15… I couldn’t have known anything about that scene too long before that. It’s pretty crazy how I didn’t even know what was going on. My mom never bought me skate magazines or videos so I always had to piece things together through what I saw with other people. I feel like I started kinda figuring things out when I saw Ricky Oyola at a demo this one time. That’s probably when Love Park really started to become a thing for me.

I definitely remember the first time I ever went to skate Love Park because it was on my Mom’s birthday and I definitely was not allowed to be going over there. But I was so blown away by it. It just seemed so crazy. I was so young that I actually went up to another skater at the park and asking if we were allowed to skate there.

“Well, not really… but yeah.”

That’s how young I was. And honestly, I’m pretty sure that dude was Bobby Puleo. I was there for this random line he filmed that day which I’ve seen later on in footage. I knew what it was the second I saw it. I’m almost positive.

That’s amazing. So would you say you’re more of Josh and Stevie guy or a Ricky/Underachievers guy when it comes to Love Park political lines?

Hmmm… I’m probably more on the Stevie and Josh side of things. Just because I definitely watched the DC Video a ton back in the day and really liked Stevie Williams.

As a young skate rat watching videos and dreaming about California, what’s one classic spot that you always wanted to skate that you actually ended up hating once you got out there?

Oh man, I’d probably have say every schoolyard out there. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong schools but those picnic tables and benches… I don’t know how people skate them. I mean, some of those benches are cool but for a lot of them, they bend all weird when you get on them. They just don’t work.

As far as picnic tables go, you can’t really noseslide them. Your wheels always get wedged underneath. It drives me crazy. It’s actually become this thing where everytime I go to a schoolyard, I feel like I have to try noseslide tricks on picnic tables. I have to do it because it’s in my head that I can’t. But my shit always gets wedged. It’s crazy.

Maybe I’m just not used to them. Maybe I need to skate those “little picnic table” schools more or something.

Well, when I interviewed Kalis, he gave the exact same response. He hates those tables, too. So you’re in good company.

That’s good to know actually.

Love heads don’t like Cali picnic tables. So talk a little about your first few years being on Real. You climbed through the ranks so quickly, all of sudden, you were on Fourstar, Nike and then pro almost overnight. I gotta ask, were certain teammates kinda bummed on your shine back then? Did any of that serve to fuel your banger Since Day One part at all or were you just trying to skate…

I gotta admit that I felt weird about how everything went down. I knew that I was the new guy on the team and how fast this was going. I mean, it was weird how I even got on the team to begin with. They asked me out to California and I was originally only supposed to be there for a month and a half. I ended up staying for 3 months. I stayed in Sacramento for a while then headed out to San Francisco and this was all during my last year of high school. I actually started getting so busy with skating that I didn’t even end up finishing school. It just became this thing where they kept wanting me to stay longer and longer, which led to the possibility of me filming a video part… I wasn’t even totally on the team yet, still only “kinda”.

So I filmed a bunch and headed home... but I’m still only kinda on the team. That went on for a while. But I just kept going on more and more trips, getting in deeper with everything.

Since Day One came out and I didn’t understand how it made sense that I could turn pro kinda outta nowhere. I felt weird about it because I knew certain people had been on the team longer than me who were absolutely killing it. Looking back on everything now, it does seem kinda obvious with how everything was set up but I was just so oblivious to it all. It honestly didn’t make any sense to me back then.

I mean, even now, I don’t know why Robbie Brockel isn’t pro. He’s been on the team forever and just fucks it up.

But it’s gotta be weird position for you to be in, when you’re really just trying to be out there doing your thing. Was there any type of hazing in the van back in the day?

I feel like when I first got on the team, Jake (Donnelly) definitely fucked with me a lot because I was the new-new guy. Justin Brock always held me down but people definitely made comments about how I was always skating a lot. I remember one time when Chima was hating on me, calling me a “show-off”.

I was just trying to skate. Now that they know me, they understand that’s just how I am but back then, people were kinda bummed on me for skating as much as I do. They thought I was out there trying to skate for different reasons other than I just like to do it.

Any regrets as the young hyper kid on tour? Most important lesson you’ve learned on the road?

That’s actually a hard one to answer because everyone is different. Every situation is different. Different people react to different things and what might be okay on one trip may not be on another. I could tell you just to keep your mouth shut but at the same time, if you’re too quiet then people will probably start thinking you’re some type of weirdo. (laughs)

Just be yourself, I guess.

Describe how you went about filming your Chronicles 2 part? You were essentially a man on a mission for that one. I mean, let’s face it: 20 minutes of footage in 2 years is insane.

We went on a bunch of trips to all of these amazing spots so, of course, I’m gonna try to get out there and skate. I just skated everything that I could, as much as I could. It wasn’t like some thought out thing. I just went about things like that the whole time, skating as much as possible, so I was bound to end up with a lot of footage.

Even when we weren’t on trips, I was staying at Scuba’s a lot anyway, which was always super dope. I got to film with Jason a lot more that way, too.

I never really make trick lists or anything and I honestly get kinda bummed when filmers plan out my day for me. I’d much rather just be randomly taken to a spot. If I like it, I’ll skate it. If I don’t, we’ll see what happens. But I don’t like going to a spot in order to try specific tricks. Sometimes it will go like that but things seems to happen better for me when it’s spontaneous. Just like when you’re a kid skating around the city and you stumble upon something. That gets you stoked. I feel like that’s when my wheels turn the best is when you’re not really making some big deal out of it.

I feel like that’s why I tend to get more lines when I’m out in Philly. I’ll be out in the City riding around, doing that exact type of thing. That’s what I like most.

I think it definitely shows in the footage as well. Chronicles 2 did get you SOTY honors but were you pleased overall with how that part came out? I know you got hurt in the last few months of filming and previously felt like you didn’t get your Ender-Ender? Do you still feel like that?

Honestly, yes. There was a ton of stuff that I still wanted to do for that one. I got hurt 3 months before the video ended. 3 months! That’s a long time!

That’s probably right when you were planning to really go off, right?

You’re right and there was nothing I could do about it. I like that part but at the same time, I know I could’ve done more. Because of that injury and not being able to skate those last 3 months, I did feel weird about having last part in the video. I mean, that’s crunchtime! That stuff is crucial and here I am, not even being able to skate. I hated it. Like, when I did my last trick, I really didn’t think that was going to be my last trick, you know?

The kickflip backlip down that double-kink?

At the time, I knew that was the best thing that I did but I still wanted to do so much more. You gotta aim high!

(laughs) One of my favorite clips is actually the one before that, how did the switch frontside blunt on Clipper go down? Was that just one trip or did you have to go back for that? So gnarly.

Yeah, that was one trip. I think that was a day or two after I did the kickflip backlip. I knew we were on one for those couple days and I’d already been talking to Jason about going to San Francisco. Once I got that kickflip backlip, we decided to drive up there and make it happen.

Did it come pretty quick?

I did a bunch of tricks that day just to get used to it. I remember when we first rolled up, there was a hockey game going on so we went and warmed up at this other spot for a while. Some nice ladies had told us when the game was gonna be over so we knew when to come back.

I did a nollie noseslide on it, a kickflip noseslide, a switch tail and then I wallie 180’d over it before I started trying that switch front blunt. The first one I actually tried, I got into but the thing is so round that I slid diagonally across the hubba. By the time I got to the end of the hubba, I was actually at the other opposite corner of it on the far side. Holy shit! But I kept trying it and the angle lessened every go. The more I tried, the more I stayed on the edge each time.

I remember one time walking back up and realizing that it finally wasn’t windy. That’s the one I landed. It was kinda windy the whole time I was trying it but I specifically remember this one time being very calm. No wind at all. That’s the one that worked.

The classic downfall with most pro skaters: madness. Anything you can speak on? Good luck charms or set-up weirdness?

Nah, I don’t really have any madness. If anything, if a trick is having trouble for me and I’ve been trying it for long enough, I tend to get in a groove. You know what I mean? You start at this point, you go this fast, you pop here… it just becomes this same thing you do everytime. It’s not really madness but I end up needing these certain things to happen that develop over the course of trying the trick that day. I can’t go unless it’s in that groove.

Speaking of grooves, how did you get introduced to those Everslick bottoms that you’ve been rocking as of late on your boards?

Real made a run of these decks called Popslickles that had the plastic on the bottom. I felt like whenever those boards were pressed, they were a little bit steeper generally. I wasn’t really into that at first but I ended up trying one and thought it was so dope. Holy shit.

I always had trouble with kickflipping out of tailslides because I’d have all of my weight on the ledge. Whenever I’d go to press down in order to pop, I always stuck. But with these boards, there’s way less resistance. You don’t even need to wax as much as you usually do… or you can just go ahead and put all your weight on the ledge. It’s so dope.

I really hate sticking. I really hate it bad, so I tend to wax a lot. Some people get mad at me for it  a lot of times, but you don’t even have to worry about sticking with these.

Damn, you’re selling me on ‘em!

The thing with me is that I’d much rather slip out than stick because you can see it coming. You can feel a slip out coming just with how your weight is… you know when you’re not in it right. When you stick, you think you’re gonna go and you just get tossed. I can’t stand it.

I read in a recent article were you said that you often worry about skateboarding as a whole. What kind of things do you worry about? And as one of the most popular pros in the industry today, what power do you feel like you have to possibly change things?

I mean, that’s the whole thing with me is that I don’t really know where skateboarding is going. It’s going in all these different directions and who’s to know if those are gonna be good or bad? There’s no way of knowing how things are going to turn out, so how can you change it? Only time will tell.

My thing is that I feel kids don’t necessarily see skateboarding the same as how it was when you were a kid or even when I was young. I feel like there was a turning point in the last couple years where contests have become such a big part of skateboarding now. Kids come up to me all the time just to talk about contests. That’s dope and all, but when I was a kid, I wasn’t really paying any attention to that stuff. It was more about how someone’s interview was sick or how good their last video part was. The people that you look up to, you wanted to go out and be filming in the streets just like how you see them skating. Like P-Rod back in the day skating spots, I wanted to film myself at spots just like that dude. Being a kid, riding around, skating just like him.

Nowadays, it’s like kids are seeing that guy at contests and they’re not trying to be like him, they’re trying to be on his level and beat him! They want that limelight. They want to win.  

That’s pretty real, man. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong or right necessarily. I just feel like, in general, it’s a very different way of thinking. Things are just different than how they used to be.

I have always wondered where these contests fit in with you. You always do well, even when you're throwing up mid-run, but you definitely seem more like you’re sessioning the course versus taking any sort of competitive agenda.  How seriously do you take all that stuff?

Honestly, a lot of the time, I’m just stoked on being able to skate new shit. That happens a lot where I’m out there skating obstacles while everyone else is putting together a run and when the contest actually starts, I’ll have no idea what I’m going to do. I usually just have to figure something out real quick. It’s really hard for me to get into that competitive mindstate. I used to be really competitive when I was younger, to the point where it bummed people out. I think that just comes with being a kid because I’ve definitely lost that as I’ve gotten older.

I mean, especially over the last few years, I’m out there skating with people that I’ve looked up to for a long time. People that I grew up watching. It’s really hard to be competitive with those type dudes because in the back of your head, you still can’t believe you’re even skating with them in the first place. You’re just trying to skate and have fun while also watching them skate. That’s how I’d rather go about contests instead of thinking about “winning” the whole time. Thinking about putting together some ultimate run and winning! I mean, everybody wants to win, of course, but it’s hard for me to really get into it like that.

You’re an old soul, homie, and I can’t thank you enough for doing this. So as we wrap this up, what’s next for you? Sabotage 4 and I know you’re the end of this Push project but what’s after that? What else can we look forward to in the future?

Like you said, I’m just trying to finish this Push part right now. After that, I’m just trying to keep skating with good people. Try to stay healthy and keep it going. That’s really my only project right now: keep it going.

Thanks to Jim Thiebaud, KVL, Kurt Hayashi, Dom Travis and Ishod.

Through and Through is now live.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Wair has a fine head on top of his neck. Skateboarding is in good hands

layzieyez said...

Best kind of skater there is. Passionate as hell about the act and respectful and knowledgeable of the history. He's 100% about skateboarding. No image, no fake persona, no bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eric and Ishod.

Keith said...

Good job Eric!

Stoked on Ishod! Such a skate rat.

Skately said...

Nicely done! An old soul indeed...

mony said...