chrome ball interview #142: brennand schoeffel

"Hi, I'm Brennand Schoeffel. Welcome to Chrome Ball."


Brennand Schoeffel. What a great guy... Had so much fun skating and traveling with him.

One time in Sweden, I popped off at a hockey player at dinner and got knocked out. And who caught me? BS. I can remember him dancing around with this guy in a headlock, banging his dome off everything in the club.

He also had a sister who owned a coffee shop that I had the biggest crush on, so I would make up reasons to go down to San Diego. 

The original big guy skateboarders. Not fat, just big dudes that rip... Like him, Steve Ortega and Nate Lyons. 

Always fun to skate and hang. He was also friends with every pro so much that his pro board graphic had a little bit of everyone else's graphic in it, too. I haven’t seen that since. 

RA out...

=O =O =O

 So… Vista. Born and raised?

(laughs) Yep, born and raised. And even though I currently live in San Diego these days, Vista will always be home.


How was such a small town able to become this amazing scene during the late 80s?


Honestly, I think all that just stemmed from us being such a tight group of friends, skating together consistently for years and years. As we all came up together, we’d push each other, too. Because at one point, it was some ridiculous number… like, there were 13 pro skateboarders from Vista, which is crazy to think about for such a small place.


Right? Because I’d always heard so much about Vista back then, but once I finally visited there, it’s a pretty nondescript little place.


(laughs) Which probably had a lot to do with the scene, to be honest.


But no, I don’t really know what the special mix was back then. More than anything, it was probably something as simple as just all of us really loving to skate.


What was an average day like back then for the Vista crew?


Well, the average day would always start off with doing the school thing. I basically lived in the middle of town, so after school, everyone would just come over to my house and we’d go skating from there. Often times, we’d actually skate throughout the night. Like, literally, all night. Because we wouldn’t get kicked out of places.


So, it was very common for us to be getting back home in the wee hours and try to grab a few hours of sleep before school. As you can imagine, we definitely weren’t doing too well in school after a while.

How’d you first meet Hensley and Ortega?


You’re gonna laugh. Matt and I were in Cub Scouts together.


That’s incredible.


Yeah, his parents were our Den Leaders or whatever. So we knew each other from a young age. We ended up going to different schools, but once skateboarding came into our lives, we started skating together almost every day.


And Mario, Ortega and I all went to the same middle school together.


How did John Sonner fall in with you guys? Was that his ramp in all those parts?


No, that ramp belonged to another local guy, Warren.


Growing up, my crew was always Ortega, Hensley, Mario, Damon Way and a few others. At the time, there was this whole other crew of vert dudes who were a little bit older than us. Guys like Sonner, Marc Hostetter and Dylan Baker. Our crew was always way more into street skating. We’d skate mini-ramps, but rarely would we hit a vert ramp… except for Mario and Damon. Those guys destroyed everything. But as that crew of established vert guys started crossing over into our crew, I feel like that really helped motivate us and made us all a little more well-rounded than we probably would’ve been otherwise.


For the sake of accuracy, I gotta say that there were some vibes early on between the street guys and vert dudes in Vista. Nothing major. But my crew had actually started calling ourselves the “VSL”, which stood for the Vista Street Locals. Because we were street skaters, right? Well, those older vert guys ended up starting the “VRL”, the Vista Ramp Locals. That was Sonner’s crew. And just because they came up with that name, out of all the names they could've come up with, there might’ve been a little bit of vibes with that.


It was just this weird little thing that obviously faded over the years. And when we all got on H-Street together, we started hanging around Sonner more and it was no longer a thing after that.


John and I actually went on a tour together one summer. We booked a little 2-person demo tour around the U.S., taking turns driving my car all over the country. Stringing together a bunch of demos for a month or so at 500 bucks a demo, basically living out of the car. That was always kind of John’s thing.

photo: sturt

He’s a whittler, no big deal. So was H-Street your first sponsor?


Yeah, H-Street was my first board sponsor. Matt, Steve, Mario and I had all gone down to skate a local street contest in Escondido and that’s where we first met Ternasky.


Mike could clearly spot talent and I’m sure that it only took a second for him to see how special Hensley was. He really took a liking to Matt… who was actually on Vision for a hot second at the time. I don’t remember exactly what all was happening there but Vision really didn’t seem to be doing as much with him as they probably should’ve been. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere, which is what basically opened the door for Ternasky to step in. He started flowing us all boards after that and the rest is history.


With so much of your crew getting sponsored, and obvious talent like Matt and Danny Way rolling around, could you tell that there was something special happening in town?


To be honest, not really. Because when you’re in the middle of it all, you just don’t see things as clearly. It’s not until later on, as you’re looking back, that you start to realize stuff like that.


I remember one thing that was huge for us at the time was when Hensley got his driver’s license. He was the first one out of our crew to get one, and his parents gave him their little mini-van to drive around in.


So yeah, at this point, the Vista Skate Crew became mobile! We’re literally packing that thing full of people and heading out to Carlsbad and Oceanside. Venturing further and further out. Showing up at random spots and 12 kids popping out of this little minivan. We'd just take over the place. (laughs)


There’s so many stories from back then…


Like what?


Getting in fights, that sorta thing…


I remember a Life’s a Beach contest back in the day. We all thought Danny should’ve won… not just us, most people thought Danny should’ve won. So we voiced our disapproval, which then turned into a riot. (laughs)


Wait… what?


The Vista Crew started arguing with the judges over some of the scoring and things escalated. A couple people threw some punches and fighting broke out… it literally turned into a riot down there.


I remember Dave Swift being really mad at us for a long time over that. I’m pretty sure that I apologized to him at some point. (laughs)


What were those early days at H-Street like? I imagine it being pretty tiny prior to Shackle Me Not, right?


Yeah, H-Street was definitely small back then. I remember us all going down to San Diego for boards... Mike and Tony Mag were literally doing everything out of their shared apartment in Pacific Beach. This was really early on, just making it work out of their living room. They just had stuff laying around everywhere.


But you also have to remember that while they were just getting started, it was also super early for us, too. We had no idea how this stuff was supposed to work. If we got a couple of boards and some t-shirts, we were stoked!

photo: sturt

Did you ever get one of those H-Street shirt with the big black tail?


Oh, man… Yeah, I think we all got one of those. That was Magnusson’s shirt and I think he made sure that just about every rider got one.  


I actually did try to wear it a couple of times but I just couldn’t. It was pretty bad.


How would you describe your relationship with Ternasky over the years?


Mike was a great guy. He definitely had a vision and knew how to go about making it happen. The funny thing is that Mike wasn’t that old, but he was so good at connecting with skaters. I mean, so many skateboarders come from tough upbringings. Really bad home lives. And a lot of these guys really looked to Ternasky as a father figure over the years. They relied on his guidance.


The no-brainer is that he and Danny had an amazing relationship. And Mike’s relationship with Matt was very strong, too. Mike knew how to connect with people on different levels, to help them feel good about themselves. To motivate them. Especially when it came to filming, Mike could get you to do some many things that you were unsure about. He would either talk you up for motivation, incentivize a trick with some cash or whatever, or use his reverse psychology to make you mad.


“Oh, you can’t do this. Let’s get out of here.”


He’d throw that one out there just so you could prove him wrong.


That was the genius of Ternasky. He knew how to push people. Whether it was through his own doing or by putting different riders together so they would push each other. That’s why he was constantly filming, because he knew that you just had to get it on film the one time and you were golden.  


Our relationship was a little different but I always liked Mike a lot. We spent a lot of time together early on… going on trips with Mike and Dave Schlossbach to film. We drove out to Gilroy and met Mike’s family, only for our car to breakdown on the way back home. We just ditched it. I can’t remember how it all worked out, because we had to have gotten another car… I don’t think we stole one. But I definitely remember Dave taking off the license plates of that old car and just leaving it at a gas station.


Mike actually dated one of my sisters for a while. They got a little serious for a minute there, too. But after they broke up… it’s hard to explain, but things got kinda weird between me and him. I felt like he would kinda ignore me on purpose after that, which broke my heart a little bit. And honestly, I think that’s when skateboarding lost a little something for me.


But yeah, I really did love Mike. I was heartbroken when he passed away.


Was that the sister in your Shackle intro with those dogs?


That’s one of my sisters but not the one Mike dated.

Going back now, talk to me about supersonic skate camp. Did you go as an H-Street rider?


Well, Matt and I had actually gone the year before as actual campers. I remember us taking the train up to Cal Poly for a week or two, which was fun.


But yeah, after we came back that year was when all of us got on H-Street. And because Mike was camp director, he brought a lot of us H-Street riders back up that next summer as counselors and instructors.


It was epic, man. We got to spend the whole summer up there, skating this super fun street course. And because it was on a college campus, there were multiple other types of camps going at the same time. Obviously, one of them was a cheerleading camp. So… you know, a bunch of teenage boys and a bunch of teenage cheerleaders. We had fun.


“Sneakers and all, ripping on the chicks.”


(laughs) Yeah… I mean, we were still teenagers, you know? And because we were all counselors, we had a lot more freedom to cruise around wherever and meet with the other counselors.


…We had a good time up there. (laughs)


Were you guys already filming for Shackle Me Not prior to camp?


Well, Mike was always filming stuff. But at first, I feel like we were just filming stuff to film stuff. I don’t think any of us thought that it was actually going towards anything. He was just compiling footage.


Obviously, there was a lot of awesome footage that came out of that camp. I feel like that was a high point in the video. Because that camp was really the first time that you had all of these hungry young dudes coming together like that. And even then, Jeff Petit and Ray Simmonds weren’t actually on the team yet. They just kinda showed up! And they were ripping, skating these big handrails! I still remember everybody looking at them, like, “Who are these guys!?!”


They were epic, man. I mean, Ray showed up wearing these little OP corduroy shorts and that crazy hat… Just a style we were not used to seeing. But then he starts skating and it’s like, “Woah! This dude is gnarly!”


That camp is also where I met Tom Knox for the first time, who was ripping back then. I’ll never forget learning frontside hurricanes on that killer little curb setup they had going.


But as far as the H-Street guys, I don’t think that there was really any question that Matt owned the street course. It was pretty clear that he was something special.

Talk to me about filming Shackle Me Not. Like, how did that video even happen?


I’m sure it probably became more “official” at some point that we were making a video, but I don’t ever remember there being any big plan or anything. I definitely never knew that it was going to be called “Shackle Me Not” until way later. It was more casual than that. Like, “Hey, we’re filming for the video. You gotta start putting some stuff down.”


H-Street was just such a heavy crew. When you put guys together like that, with where street skating was at the time, something epic was going to happen at literally every session. Every day. It was incredible.


Shackle Me Not was pretty organic that way, especially compared to the later ones. You didn’t feel any pressure with that one. It was just us going out and skating. And I think that’s why it turned out really well... versus later on, when it got so serious. You had to film. You had to do this. It became a job.


I feel like you and Matt filmed the most out of everyone for Shackle. What were your thoughts and expectations on the project?


We did film a lot but I don’t think we took it seriously at all. I was just going out there and having fun with my bros. Yeah, you always knew that whenever you landed something something good on camera that it was probably going to end up in the final edit… And obviously, with everything Matt was doing, you knew he was going to have a lot of stuff in there. But I really had no idea how much I was going to have in the video. I was pretty oblivious to all that back then. I just didn’t know how it worked.


But you covered some serious ground, up to Long Beach and down in Tijuana.


Yeah, we were definitely all over the place.


It’s funny, because there’s a bunch of footage in down in Ocean Beach, in San Diego. Now, 30 years later, that’s where I live. I drive by spots that we skated in Shackle Me Not all the time, on the way to my house.


“Oh yeah, I remember skating on that wall.”

And staying out all-night to film was common back then?


Yeah, we’d be out all night with either Dave or Mike filming… with the little light on us.


Taking a step back, I had a pretty unique living situation for my senior year in high school. I wasn’t doing very well in school because I was skateboarding so much and not focused on my education. Basically, my parents reached a point where it was like, “Look, you’re either going to get your shit together or we’re gonna send you over to the Army-Navy Academy with Matt.”


I definitely didn’t want that, so I promised to start doing better.


Around this time, a new high school opened up not too far from our house, which seemed like a good way for me to make a fresh start. But in order for me to go there, we had to have the proper address. So, my parents got me and my younger brother our own apartment on that side of town.


My schoolwork did improve, but we also spent a lot of late nights out skating, too. And that’s how a good portion of our filming went down.


Was it hard skating in front of that light? Like those wallrides at the Alley Café?


That was Allen’s Alley Café. We’d been skating that place since we were little, so we had it pretty much dialed. Somebody shining a light in your face didn’t really matter there.


That’s just one of those things when you’re young, you just do it. Because we worked a lot with Dan Sturt back then, too. You see the quality of his photos… that’s how he got them to look that way, by setting up multiple flashes. You just had to know that in shooting stuff like that… “Okay, I’m just gonna go for this and be blinded.”


Because those flashes would be going off right in your face, mid-trick. You would just hope that you’d end up making it somehow. And it's weird, because you’d get more and more comfortable doing that with every shoot.

photo: sturt

Whose little “STV” ramp was that in the intro?


…What quarterpipe?


Oh, yeah! That was down at the Ocean Beach Community Center. I honestly think that ramp was just there. It wasn’t ours. Maybe some other kids were skating it as we showed up.


“Hey, can we borrow that?”


That thing is like half the part!


Yeah, we just found it there and started skating it. Matt got all those slow-motion clips and then we put it up against the wall for some wallrides. That was all one day.  


And I have no idea what those letters meant.

I was going to ask about that. What about that crazy no-comply flip thing you do over the aisle? Where you knock it down? So crazy! What a common one for you?


(laughs) That was the Doorman’s Calvary Chapel in Vista, which we skated at a lot. And we all did no-comply stuff over that thing, that one just happened to pop super high. They typically never did that. Somehow, I was able to catch it with my hand and throw it back down again.


“Oh… Well, that worked.” (laughs)


That definitely wasn’t something that happened regularly. It was usually just a no-comply with the flip, no grab. Thankfully, I got it on film.


And the watermelon bit? The bowels.


(laughs) Just classic teenage ramblings, caught on camera.


We’d just gotten done skating and went to grab something to eat real quick. I’m mowing down some watermelon when somebody asked me something…


“Oh… It’s the bowels.”


Just being funny.

So what was your reaction to seeing Shackle at the premiere?


I just remember being so surprised at how much footage I had in there. Because we weren’t there for any of the editing, the premiere was the first time that any of us actually saw it.  


Afterwards, I was kind of in shock. Like, holy shit, I had no idea that I was going to be so much a part of this thing! No idea. But it works both ways, because while some tricks you see are just how you pictured them, there’s the other stuff, too… like, “Well, that looked horrible.” (laughs)


Like what?


Oh man, I do a one-footed ollie in there that is just horrific. The board didn’t even get off the ground! Why’d you have to put that in there? And did you have to put it in slow-motion, too? (laughs)


I will say one thing that stands out from that video, and it’s sad to say after just hearing of Jeff Petit’s passing, but Jeff and Ray’s part is amazing. I mean, video really didn’t do those guys justice to begin with, but even then, their part is so gnarly! They were going so big!

Yeah, that part is super ahead of its time.


Yeah! Like really, really ahead of its time! I don’t think people even got it back then. Those guys were ollieing over ladders! And all of the rail tricks those guys were doing?! I still remember watching their part, in particular… like holy moly!


Were you surprised at all when Matt blew up the way he did?


Well, it was always pretty obvious that Matt was very good. I don’t know if I ever looked at Matt and thought that he was about to become a superstar, but we all knew that he had a lot going for him. Because he had this incredible style and an amazing bag of tricks that he was always expanding upon. He could skate really well in contests, too. It just all happened so quickly. Once Shackle came out, it was out of control!


I’ll never forget going to the World Cup contest in Germany shortly after the video came out. It was myself, Hensley, Ron Allen, and a few others. We’d gone into this McDonalds to grab something to eat and we were just inundated by skateboarders. It was wild, man. I’m telling you, within minutes of us walking into the place, word must’ve gotten out that the H-Street guys were inside… suddenly, there were literally hundreds of kids outside. Banging on the windows, chanting “H-Street! H-Street! H-Street!”


At a certain point, they start to break things and we all ran into the bathroom, locking ourselves inside. And these kids, they actually start a riot out there! Meanwhile, we’re stuck in the bathroom. Eventually, these kids end up leaving. I’m not sure if they just gave up or what, but it was insane.


This was early on with all of his success, but it was definitely a testament to the power of Hensley right there.  


Yeah, how was it to see your friend who you were in Cub Scouts with, suddenly becoming the most popular skateboarder in the world? Like, how would you react to seeing people dress exactly like him?


(laughs) Oh my god, the Hensley outfit. Suddenly everybody was dressing like Matt! The chain wallet. The shoes cut off with the tape around the top. The cargo shorts. That basically became the uniform for so many kids.


But that was the thing: Matt didn’t care about trends. That’s why he started wearing all of that stuff in the first place. He was just being himself. But you know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I mean, kids idolized Matt.


It was a trip, man.  As his friend, it was probably more funny to me. But it’s weird to think that there were several years of this actually happening. But, because it wasn’t necessarily happening to me personally, it was easier for me to gloss over. Like, it never dawned on me how weird it was to consciously think to myself, “Oh wow, another Hensley kid.”


I can’t even imagine what that must’ve been like for him. At that age, it couldn’t have been easy. And he did go through a lot. Look at guys like Kurt Cobain, Matt kinda has his own story like that. Things just got so out of control for him. Because he’s just the coolest, most humble guy. Gracious and easy-going… And I feel like a lot of people took advantage of that. Matt was making a lot of money and I think there were a few people hanging around who used that to their own advantage.


That’s why Matt exited Vista. Getting out of skateboarding and moving to Chicago. He was trying to figure the who, what, where… Trying to figure out his life. And that’s what it took for him: doing the EMT thing and getting more into music.


Did you start to see H-Street changing at all with this newfound success?


Oh, for sure. I mean, shit, it blew up so quickly. Once Danny got on and the video came out, I’m sure they were making a ton of money. I know the packages got way gnarlier. Tricks got more incentivized.


But Ternasky was smart in how he handled H-Street’s image, even while they were experiencing all of this success. Because even after it became this monster company, he still made it seem like we were the little guys. A small brand. That H-Street was the underdog and the interrupters.


When H-Street came out with Shackle Me Not, with such a focus on street skating, that represented a big shift in skateboarding. Vert basically died not too long after that. And that video, in of itself, was a completely different style of video than everything that had come before it. It was so focused on the tricks and actual skateboarding. Just clip-clip-clip-clip, as opposed to anything else. 

photo: kanights

How’d your Thrasher cover go down?


(laughs) That was a super fun trip I did with Mario Rubalcaba.


There was a contest we’d gone to in Lake Tahoe. And after it was over, Jim Thiebaud came over and invited us down to the city to hang out. I think Jim had just moved out of one apartment into another, but he still had a couple of weeks left on his lease, so he let us crash there.


For me, personally, and I think that Mario would probably say the same thing… this was the most epic skateboard adventure that we ever had. I mean, spontaneously going to San Francisco and hanging out with these legendary guys? Jim Thiebaud, Tommy Guerrero, Natas Kaupas, Julien, Danny Sargent… that legendary SF crew! It was only four or five days, but it was amazing.


Jim would always come by in the morning to get us. Him and Tommy had this little café down the street that was their go-to spot, I think it was called Eddie’s Soul Food Café. We’d all grab breakfast there and then go skate the city for the day. Dude, we had Tommy Guerrero to follow through the streets of San Francisco. Bombing everything…


One of the gnarliest things that I’ll never forget: we’re all bombing this hill. Going super fast and doing these huge cess slides. I remember being in the middle of this regular frontside cess slide when I look over my shoulder and Natas comes flying past me in the sickest backside cess slide ever. Just totally styled out. And even in the middle of all this crazy speed, I couldn’t help but think to myself how amazing this all was as I’m watching him go by. (laughs)


But yeah, we were able to connect with Bryce a few times to shoot some photos. That cover came from a session down at Fisherman’s Wharf. We were all down there, ollieing stuff.


I never knew what was going to happen with all those photos. Because we’d shot a few different things on that trip. I remember my favorite being that Safeway with the historic curb. Super fun. But we would skate all day, all night. For several days in a row. So yeah, we shot a lot of stuff, but there was never a plan for any of it. Mario and I were just happy to be there.


A couple of months later, I got a call from Shrewgy. He was the Thunder team manager at the time.


“Hey! What’s up, Schoeffel? I’m just sitting here, looking at you on the cover of this month’s Thrasher.”




I couldn’t have been more stoked.

photo: sturt

An entirely different example of your photo notoriety, isn’t that you dressed up as the jogger in Matt’s TWS Spotlight opening spread?


(laughs) Yep, that’s me.


Sturt was always doing these crazy things for his photos back then. So when it came time to shoot photos for Hensley’s interview, we were trying to come up with some wild ideas.


Because Dan was always out there, scouting for places to shoot.


“Hey, I got this bank…” And he already had almost everything lined up in his head.


“I want Matt doing an ollie on this thing but I need something else to be in the background.”


I think we were at my house at the time, talking about everything. And my brother played a lot of basketball at the time. That just set it off in Dan’s head.

“Hey! Go grab your brother’s gear and throw it on! I want you to be dribbling in the background of this shot. Let’s go shoot it!”


It’s funny… but at the same time, that’s classic Dan. Because if you look at that photo, he shot it perfectly. Both of my feet are off the ground, dribbling the ball. And Hensley is exactly in position.


Nobody knew for the longest time that was me dribbling the ball. And that Pro Spotlight was such a big thing at the time, with that iconic shot of Hensley doing the frontside ollie on the freeway overpass…


My next question. Because I know you’re in the background there.


Yeah, that’s Steve Ortega, myself and Tim Hadden, who’s nickname was Ned. Another Vista guy, he did Assault Skateboards.


That’s right there on the 805. Dan found that one, too. Of course. We’d gone by that thing a million times but it never even dawned on us to try skating it. 


But what people don’t understand about that photo — what Matt is doing there is far scarier and gnarlier than you could ever imagine. Because the concrete on that thing was so rough. There was really no way you could skate on it.

photo: sturt

So how did that happen?


Dan, over the course of a week or two, gathered up 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and hoisted them up there. Laying them all down like you see. But you needed a 10 or 15-foot ladder at the base in order to get up there. Somehow, Dan would climb up there on his own with all that wood and lay everything out so we could skate it. I still don’t understand how he did it.


But the thing is, that plywood wasn’t secured to anything. So anytime you stopped or moved, it would all slide around. I could barely even roll up the thing without totally freaking out. I remember doing the tiniest ollie… I was sure that I was about to slide off the edge and die. But Matt ripped it, which was crazy to watch. And that photo is just classic.


Nobody knew that I was in the background in that one either, which is rad.


Another Sturt gem with you and Hensley, what about those classic scooter shots?


That was a fun one. I want to say Dan shot that from the back of a truck or something. We were just following him.


Matt was really into Vespas at that point, which went along with his whole style of dress and being into ska. But you’ll notice that he’s riding some super sick Vespa while good ol’ Shaboobie is over there on a Honda. (laughs)


And worse yet, it wasn’t even mine. I had to borrow it from Hadden.


But yeah, we’d just been skating Twin Banks in Vista and I’m pretty sure it was Ternasky who came up with doing that for an ad. Just hop on the scooters and shoot some photos real fast.


Actually, I think they ran another photo from that day of Matt just sitting on his scooter for Hostetter’s wheel company, A-1 Meats. That was the same day.

photo: sturt

So what happened with you and Hokus Pokus? Because you seemed to have much less footage in that one, but then they turned you pro?


No, I didn’t have as much footage in Hokus Pokus.


Honestly, that’s were skateboarding really started to turn for me. I had a few injuries around this time, which is also when Mike and my sister broke up. Like I said, things just got really weird between us.


How so?


I remember us being out filming and I would do something, Mike would just be like “eh”. It got to the point where other people noticed it, too. I know one time that a few of the other guys were like, “Dude… did you not see what Schoeffel just did?”


He was just kind of ignoring me. I feel like whatever had gone on between him and my sister was carrying over to his relationship with me. That was difficult for me, for sure. It really bummed me out because I didn’t understand why things got that way between us.


What about the Vista section with all the Hensley/hydrant stuff at the end? How’d that all come together?


Mike and Barbier had come to Vista and we were all out there skating together. That was just a day or two… I’m trying to remember how everything went. Because Steve blew out his ACL at one point, which was pretty gnarly for him. That’s why you see him with a brace on.


Honestly, the whole Hokus Pokus thing was just kinda “okay” for me. For whatever reason, Mike and I weren’t on the same page, which became pretty obvious after the video came out. Because I definitely didn’t have a lot of footage in there… although I did film a lot of stuff that didn’t quite seem to make its way into the video. It is what it is. I couldn’t really harbor any negativity because the whole Life thing started not too long after that.

Some of the older H-Street heads have spoken about feeling “replaced” by Ternasky at this time… did you ever feel like that, too?


I mean, let’s be real: What Mike did in skateboarding was always find new talent. He found all of us… and then he found the next crew. He had to surround himself with the latest and greatest in skateboarding in order to survive. And a few of us older guys just weren’t on the same level that these new guys were. We just weren’t.


Some people might’ve got a little hurt over the years, with how quickly things changed within the company. I understand that. But that same time, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You had to know that you weren’t bringing it the same way that Mike Carroll was at that point.


I didn’t have any preconceived notions. When H-Street split with T-Mag going one way and Mike starting Plan B… It wasn’t difficult to see that coming. I feel like most of us knew something like that was going to happen. And I wasn’t going to kid myself, I was nowhere near the talent level to be part of Plan B. Those were the heavy hitters. I mean, the bar to even be considered for that team was super high.


I’ll be honest, my skateboarding was okay. I look back on my skateboarding career and I actually feel like more of a bit player. Just fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time. It’s just amazing to look back on everything and know that I got to be a part of something so great.


And I was thankful that Mike put Life together with Ron and let me be a part of that. To put me on the same team with Sheffey, Reeves and Kien Leiu? That was great for me.

How was Life brought up to you?


Well, at that point, H-Street was already starting to implode because Mike and Tony Mag weren’t getting along anymore. But Mike was smart about it. He got together with Chris Miller to start Planet Earth, and ended up putting a bunch of H-Street guys over there. And he basically did the same thing with Ron and Life.


I will say that Mike did let me know about everything going on with him and H-Street at that time. He was the one who brought up Life to me and that he was going to put me over there with Ron.


“Well, who’s on it?”


“It’ll be Ron’s thing and you’ll be on the team with Ron, John Reeves and Kien.”


“Okay, cool.”


It just felt cool to be part of something small and new. H-Street had just gotten so big… but that’s why I technically turned pro for H-Street, but all of my boards were on Life.


Life was pretty short-lived. Just with how everything went, Mike created those two new companies out of H-street, which were both doing well… but once he left to start Plan B, it was over. That company was just so phenomenal, it made the rest of us seem like “the guys left behind”.


Planet Earth was able to hang on but Life faded out pretty quickly.

But I imagine Soldier’s Story being a much better experience for you than Hokus Pokus, right?


I actually got hurt right before that video started getting underway. I was out for a couple of months there.


When I was finally able to skate again, I went on a road trip with Sheffey, who’d I never really seen skate before… and Jesus Christ, it was so gnarly. Coming off an injury and then to be introduced to Sean’s skating like that was pretty overwhelming. That was the trip where he got a lot of the footage we all know from his part, but I didn’t get hardly anything at all. 


So, once I got back to Vista, I knew that I had to get things moving. I started going out by myself a lot to film things, instead of with Matt and the crew like in the other ones. That part was mostly just me and Sturt.


Did you work for Texaco at that specific location with the bank-to-curb?


(laughs) No, but a buddy of mine did. Because normally, you got kicked out of there super quick. But because we had a friend who worked there, we could skate there whenever he had a shift.


That Texaco bit was just a fun little thing to film. We just grabbed my buddy’s shirt and filmed it real quick. “Welcome to Texaco.”


So you didn’t really work at that Texaco?


No. (laughs)

photo: sturt

Man, I’ve thought you actually worked at that Texaco for the last 30 years. I actually have a bunch of questions here about you skating on the clock and other skaters possibly pulling up from out of town…


(laughs) Oh, I’m sure. You pop up in the shirt and everybody thinks you’re working at the gas station.


No, that wasn’t my uniform. But that would’ve been a pretty good set-up to have… clocking in and just working on your part the whole time.   


And yeah, whenever anybody from out of town spots that Texaco, they still bring it up to me. It’s not a Texaco anymore, but that bank-to-curb is still there.


Pretty rough these days, though. What about your two-can melon ender at School Q? How’d that one go down?


That just ended up happening during a session somehow. I was there with Hensley and we just started grabbing trash cans. We started doing tricks over one trash can and somehow, that led to us stacking one top of the other. I can’t remember whose idea it was. But yeah, that was fun.


I’ll tell you the real bummer, I stuck a backside 180 melon over those two cans that night but Dan didn’t get it on film. He just missed it somehow. So I started trying it again to hopefully get it on film but I could never get it again. I’d end up stepping off. Every time… which sucked, but it is what it is. And for whatever reason, I never went back for it.


And you tailgrabbed and frontside 180'd over 3 cans stacked, too?  It’s in that weird H-Street Summer 91 Tour video.


Maybe... I don’t know if I ever saw that. How funny.


But that was the thing with that spot: the faster you went, the bigger you could go. You just got tired really quickly from all the pushing.


Gotta ask… why the elbow pad?


I was suffering from a bad case of swellbow during all that.


I ended up having to get surgery on that elbow after a while. It wasn’t one slam in particular, I just kept hitting it over and over again and wound up with a monster bone spur. You couldn’t even touch it after a while, it hurt so bad.


Was “As Devious As It May Seem” your song choice?


No, it’s a great song but that was Ternasky’s idea. That band, The Cry, I think they were from Vista. Some local guys, a couple years older than us who had done some really cool music.


When was the last time someone called you “Brennand Shaboobie”? You’ve already dropped it once over the course of this interview.


I actually still hear it to this day.


And it really was Sheffey who came up with that. He was just messing around, talking on camera to Ternasky… out comes “Shaboobie”. And it just stuck. So funny.


I still hang out with a bunch of my friends from back then, they all still call me “Shaboobie”… actually, it’s been shortened to “Shaboob” over the years. But yeah, they still call me that. What’s funny is that their kids even call me “Shaboob”. (laughs)

What’s a Sheffey memory that stands out from this time when he’s filming this incredible part?


That parking lot with the island? Where he does that backside 180 over it? I was there for that. And watching that go down was just shocking. Because that island was absolutely gigantic. I couldn’t even straight ollie it… and I tried. None of us could. It was huge. And here he backside 180’d it.


Sean has always been amazing, but especially back then because he was just so young and fearless. And powerful. He had that physique but was dialed in enough to where he could actually use all of that strength. He was like a force of nature.


Watching him skate, you never knew what was gonna happen. I remember him looking at stuff, he’d say something like, “Yeah, I want to backside 180 that.”


You’d hear that and it would immediately set off your brain. Almost like an automatic response, you’d think to yourself, “He can’t do that.”


But then you’d actually catch yourself responding to your own brain.

“Sean’s going to backside 180 that.”


That’s really how it was. (laughs)


It was unbelievable. And Mike captured that perfectly… with the soundtrack and all of the shots leading up to it. That was amazing.

You had a few classic boards in a really short time, but I always loved your third model, the graphic of all the other graphics. Where did that idea come from?


Yeah, I really liked that one because it felt like more of an idea than those other two, which were parts of series. Honestly, those series always felt more like a quick way for Life to have boards available early on.  


But my third board, those were all my buddies in skateboarding back then. I thought it was a cool way to include all of my friends… because skateboarding was just so divided at the time. Everybody was always talking shit on everybody else. It was always such a bummer.


There was also that quote I found that we were able to include. Let me see if I can remember it.


“There's so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn’t become any of us to talk about the rest of us.”


Because it’s all skateboarding, man. We’re all skaters. That graphic was my way of showing love to all the people I respect. They’re all from different parts of skateboarding, which is a good thing. Let’s just throw it all together… and you know, throw a “Vista” on there, too. (laughs)


Yeah, I was going to ask where that quote came from.


I don’t even remember. I just saw it somewhere and really liked it.


I’ve never been one to talk shit, I never saw what good it did. And it can all get so frustrating. I just want everybody to get along and have a good time.


Because at that point in time, things were getting pretty ugly in skateboarding and I just didn’t like it. That graphic was me trying to say something about all that in my own way.


Did you ever experience any of that H-Street backlash from older pros?


There was always a little of that, even at the Shackle Me Not premiere. But the only time that really sticks out was this one time over in Europe. There was a contest in France… I forget where exactly, up on some mountain somewhere. Everybody was staying in this hostel and I remember Ben Schroeder being super drunk. There’s a skate magazine laying around so he starts flipping through it. He gets to an H-Street ad that I’m in… And I’m literally sitting right there next to him. But he starts talking shit about it.


I remember, he goes, “Who the fuck is this guy!?!?!”


And I just look at him.


“Hey fuckhead, that’s me!”


I don’t think he really had any idea of what was going on. He was just talking shit and I happened to be sitting there. But I’m gonna speak up for myself, for sure. And he didn’t really have a whole lot to say after that. It was pretty lame, man. At that point, I was just like, “Fuck you.”


He was obviously just a member of that old vert guard who wasn’t happy with the new street crew. It didn’t matter who was in that ad, this was just him being bitter that vert was no longer as popular as it once was. So, whatever.


I’d see him around sometimes after that but I never said anything else about it. Who cares.


What about Jason Lee’s intro in Video Days that took aim at Ternasky? A hundred bucks and Benihana’s for a 75-foot handrail? 


But that’s classic Mike, you know? Mike’s whole thing was trying to get you to do something on film. Incentivizing tricks so he could film you doing them for the video. That’s just how Mike worked.


photo: kanights

So what happened at this point, Brennand? Ternasky and Hensley leave for Plan B, which you said you could kinda see coming?


Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how I found out, but it was clear that H-Street was going to implode. Mike and Tony Mag just weren’t getting along and it was pretty obvious that Mike was going to snatch up all of the heavy hitters. Because it was Mike who had all of the relationships with the riders back then. Most of them, anyway.


Mike had very close relationships with Matt and Danny, and those guys were going to stick with him wherever he went. Whatever Mike was going to do, they were gonna be there, too. And those two were probably the best skaters on the team back then. So, while I wasn’t exactly privy to all of the details, like they’re going called it “Plan B” and this or that, I knew they weren’t going to be at H-Street much longer.


But what about you? Because all this goes down, Life quickly became Fun, but you were nowhere to be found. Where’d you go?


I just kinda disappeared.


Skateboarding had been my entire life up to that point, and it had all been a really great experience. But towards the end of Life, I suffered another injury, so I was laid up again. And then there was all that stuff going on at H-Street and after everything that I’d just been through with Mike… it just wasn’t fun for me anymore.


“Hey, you need to be out filming more. You should probably go shoot some photos. You need to do this. You need to do that.”


It had turned into a job… which it always was, but it no longer had any of the fun that used to come with it. Honestly, I got so turned off by everything that I just quit. I quit skateboarding and completely left the industry.


You didn’t try to get on anywhere else?


Ortega was riding for a company called Poorhouse and he tried to set that up, but my heart just wasn’t into it. I just kinda stopped. Life collapsed and that was the end of it for me.


Things were moving so fast at that point anyway. The entire company had just fallen apart and everybody was trying to make sure they had their own situations taken care of. I just kinda let myself fade into the background. It’s not like I called up anybody to let them know. There weren’t any contracts back then... at least, not for me. It was all word-of-mouth and handshakes.


I would still skate from time-to-time, but it was more just for fun with friends. And that’s really all I wanted at that point. Nothing serious. Definitely no more professional skateboarding.


I actually got really into surfing and motocross after that. It really wasn’t until my son turned 4 or 5 that I started to get back on a board somewhat consistently again. Just because he was wanting to skateboard. But it was super fun again… the way it should be.

Brennand's all the way to the right.

So what are you doing these days?


Well, my parents have always been involved with different aspects of real estate. After working in my sister’s cafe down in the Gaslamp of San Diego, which I ended up taking over after a while, I figured that I would get into real estate as well. I got my license and worked in my family’s business for 15 years or so. From there, I moved from the actual selling of property to more of the construction side of it. Rehabs, flips and stuff like that. We ended up with a few properties over the years and at this point, I’m just trying to take care of those and figure out what’s next.


Good to hear, man. Glad you landed on your feet. How often do you see the old Vista crew these days?


It’s pretty sporadic, which is always the case as you get older. I saw Hensley last summer… which the rad thing about Matt is that we can always pick things up right where we left them, like no time has passed. I actually saw Ortega that same day, too. Steve and I talk every couple of months on the phone. Damon’s the same way.


I do find myself in Vista every now and then for stuff, and it’s always good to be back. I always tell my wife that I want to move back there at some point. Find a spot in the hills with a few acres and just do whatever we want. I just love it there. (laughs)


As we wrap this all up, how do you look back on your skateboarding career? What would you say was your proudest moment and your biggest regret?


Well, the one thing that I always tell people about my career, what I’m most thankful for, is the travel. Getting to travel around the world on somebody else’s dime with a bunch of your friends? We were so stoked. All we wanted to do was skate and have a good time. That, in of itself, is amazing. And such a rare opportunity.


It gave me a broader perspective of the world and taught me to be more compassionate towards others. Because it’s different all over the world. It’s not all the same as Vista out there. So, the travel was always cool.


As far as something I’ve most proud of… that Thrasher cover is a close second but I have to say my skating in Shackle Me Not. Just being a part of that and having so much footage in such an important video, that is pretty special to me.

photo: alyasha owerka-moore
photo: alyasha owerka-moore

You like Shackle Me Not more than your own part in Soldier’s Story

Soldier’s Story was good, but I wasn’t 100% during the filming for that. I’ve always felt like I still had more to give there, it just didn’t happen. I do love my part, but Shackle Me Not changed skateboarding, you know?


I don’t really have any regrets in my career, but if anything, I’ve always thought that it would’ve been rad to have had somebody in my corner during all of that. Because my parents… well my Dad especially, he really only supported more traditional athletics. Growing up, they were super involved in little league, but once I went off to ride my skateboard, he wasn’t very happy about that. So I never had family at contests or any type of guidance in my career. I always thought it would’ve been rad for my Dad to help out me with a contest run or whatever. Just something that we could’ve shared. A little support, instead of always feeling like I had to do it on my own. That would’ve been good. 


But I can’t complain, you know. It was an awesome time. To have gotten to experience all of that in my teenage years and even made a little money to boot? That’s pretty epic. 

Shout out to the Vista crew: Matt Hensley, Steve Ortega, Mario Rubalcaba, Damon Way, Danny Way, Matt Lorenz, Jeff McDaniel, Jay Hitt, Tim Tillman, Tim "Ned" Hadden, Marc Hostetter, Michael Crum and Tommy Grihalva.

Big thanks to Brennand and Ron for taking the time.


LIRider said...

Welcome to my house...I was 16 when I saw that video. My brother skated too and it was on loop but that line was one of many that made us feel we were part of this change from vert to street and we were included in on the "secret".

Unknown said...

its was rad watch you matt danny vsl guy. growing up in vista was hard having steve giving me boards help me become who im am today. i got see first hand you guys kill our neighborhood.
RIP JAY HIT.i got my first IRON CROSS from him 20 bucks used.later finding out it had a crack in it.i still shred it till i broke it ollie melon down wildwood stage

brendan said...

I love you, Eric.
Brennand was like the Fonz of skateboarding. Always been a fan.
I would have given anything to have grown up in Vista, in the '80's.
Fun times

Unknown said...

Grew up on shackle and always liked Brennands skating and how mellow he was. So glad to hear his perspective during those h street and life years

South Bay James said...

Brennand. Stoked to read this interview gotta say you were one of my favorites and matt from the vista crew. When I moved from Florida to Torrance,ca in 91 I Was the only one In my New crew with your Life logo signature model. In a sea of world industries /blind/planB boards learned 360 flips on your board thanks for all the ripping skating you for sure made a difference with taking street to higher levels mad respect B! Vista rips

captain chaos said...

Totally bought used gas station uniform shirts because of this guy. Glad to hear he's happy and succeeding.

Anonymous said...

Schoeffel., I seldom ever called you Brennand if ever, not sure how I ended up on this site but great interview I wasn't a skater but I knew as a pretty good soccer player back in those days. Its awesome to read that Vista is where your heart is , no place like home.

C. Mendez