First off, I just want to say that it’s been great seeing your evolution over the years. I’m a huge fan of “Spanky 2.0” and all the creativity you’re putting out there. I know a lot of this stems from your sobriety, but I also get the sense that you’ve fallen back in love with skating again, which is pretty rare for someone with a 20+ year career. Are you skating every day?
Well, I appreciate you saying that, because I have fallen back in love with skating again. And I continue to fall even deeper into it. Skateboarding probably means more to me now… somehow… that it ever has. I just appreciate it more.
And part of that is, yes, I skate more now than I used to or probably ever did, which has a weird snowball effect. Because the more you skate, the sharper your tools get, which only makes you enjoy skating more. It all kinda feeds into itself.
You’re clearly in a better place, but how are you feeling on your board these days? Do you still feel like you’re “coming back” or are you passed all that now? Is there a side of you that’s still making up for lost time?
It’s a mix.
Physically, I feel better than ever some days, but then other days, I really do feel it all. I feel all of that age. I’m definitely limited with the kind of shit I can jump off of... that’s become very apparent to me right now as I try to finish this video part. I’m trying to get some last-second airtime shit but it’s really taking its toll on me.
I do feel like I have a better focus now. I can take more of a mindful approach to how I skate, when I skate and what kind of spots I’m hitting. And as a result, I’m not just plugging into spots anymore. I’m no longer simply getting to a spot and figuring out “what counts” as a trick there. Like, what can I do at this spot to continue being a pro skater? There’s more to it now than just being a job.
It’s a nice time for skating, in general. Because you have a bit more control in how you can present yourself.
You definitely play the Instagram game better than most. How does all that fit into your daily skating?
It’s funny, I’ve been talking about this to my friends a lot lately. Because social media is inherently a pretty evil thing in our society. At best, it’s just narcissism… and at its worst, it’s crazy fucking capitalism. But for skateboarding, it can also be this tool that offers such creative control. Where you can showcase this thing you love to do, however you want to present it.
But there’s a balance to it, where you’re trying not to negate the “real” skateboarding you’re doing by putting out every single spot you’re skating. Every trick you learn.
As a pro skater, you’re constantly having to make these decisions and navigate your career. Not wanting to put too much shit out there. It’s all part of it, but I like that side of it. I think it’s fun.
How do these edits typically come together? Is it just the day, usually?
Yeah, but it’s slowed down a lot as of late, because I have all these different projects going on. And I’m also getting asked to do them more on an official level sometimes…
To answer your question, it’s just another outlet for me. I try edit it all on my phone, mixing it up with different stuff. Like, sometimes I’ll do this rudimentary stop-motion animation type of stuff. But it all just stems from having fun. Wanting to not be boring on the internet. Or annoying. And I’m honestly not sure if I’ve succeeded in any of that. (laughs)
It’s that constant search of not wanting to do the same thing. To keep it fresh.
Is it understood when you take a photo of someone that they’re gonna get fucked with? That they’re gonna have their nose coming out of another nose and all that?
It seems to be pretty well understood at this point. Because every time I take a photo of somebody, it’s always like, “What are you going to do to me?”
There’s always some type of question.
And now, I’ve noticed people even posing with their own ideas for stuff. Standing with their hands out, like “Put my head over here!”
Has anyone ever gotten bummed or is off-limits?
Nah, nobody’s ever gotten bummed.
I do try to run stuff by people prior to posting, like, “Hey, if you hate this, it’s totally understandable.”
I could imagine Greco possibly getting annoyed by it. Just saying.
(laughs) You just gotta feel out the situation. Like, I probably wouldn’t switch Greco’s head with a dog or anything like that, no. You have to use a little discretion, for sure.
Is all this just a product of nervous energy? Simply not wanting to be bored in your sobriety?
Yeah, I don’t know. It is rooted in having more time on my hands after I got sober… Not to make it sound like some crazy deep thing because it’s certainly not, but I was looking at the world a little differently by that point. Because I’d found myself in a completely different life position. And over the course of the five years since I started messing with this stuff, it has turned into this fun little outlet for me. Just straight-up for a chuckle. Nothing more than that.
And like we talked about, if I’m gonna have to play this weird game of being on the internet, I at least want to spice it up a little.
How’d the Baker art director gig happen? Beyond the Etch-A-Sketch stuff, have you always had ideas for graphics?
I’ve been doing graphics here and there at Baker for a long time. But with how things were going in my life, I started doing them more and more. And it just so happened that some behind-the-scenes stuff shifted around at Baker and Andrew brought it up to me.
“Hey, how would you feel about helping out with the graphics and lending your eye? Because you like art, you love Baker, and you know what the brand is about. Would you like to be a part of these decisions?”
It all happened pretty organically. And it’s a really loose program, anyway. It’s not like there’s some rigid corporate structure where I have to go into the office every day.
But the thing is: We make a lot of shit. So there’s a lot of creative decisions to go along with all that. Like, do we make this kind of hat or that kind of hat? And pretty soon, you’re all into it. So, for the last two years, it’s become something that I work on every single day.
It’s really a team job with Andrew. It’s something that we both work on very closely. Every single graphic goes through the both of us.
Who’s the pickiest about board graphics?
Nobody else really seems to care. I’ll even try to get them interested, like, “Yo, what do you think of this shit!?!”
“Hell yeah… just do whatever.”
Bacca is kinda picky, too…
Not that they’re super complain-y or anything. They’re both really good about it, actually. Theotis has just had his own aesthetic going for such a long time. He’s constantly coming up with his own ideas and used to having a lot of say, which is totally fine. It’s just different than the other guys. A lot of cartoon characters.
And with Bacca, you can’t have any bright colors. You have to keep it true to his shit. It’s always gotta be black, white or gray. Because he’s not gonna ride just anything. It’s gotta be hard.
Going back now, I’ve always been fascinated by the eclectic mix of P-Rod, Mikey Taylor and Van Wastell that you came up with. Amazing skaters with such distinct styles and personalities… and each of you took such different paths in your respective careers. Looking back, who do you feel had the biggest influence on you at the time?
We were always in awe of Van. His talent and the way he skated… nobody ever took that for granted, even back then. Because from the get-go, he was just different. From his trick selection to the spots he skated, he just thought about skating differently.
You can see it in his video parts. But honestly, and people say this over and over, seeing that dude skate in-person was a completely different thing. I appreciated being able to bear witness to that, especially when he first started grinding rails. I remember watching him figure out that he could grind just about anything, and then he literally took it to every rail he could find. I wasn’t skating like that at all back then, but watching both him and Mikey do that had a big impact on me. And he was just cool as hell. I loved Van. We always got along really well.
Paul and I were probably the closest back then. I’d always stay over at his house and we’d just be skate rats together…
That was a fun time. Because at that point, I didn’t really know anybody else who was taking skateboarding seriously. Those guys were really trying to do something with it. Filming video parts and getting sponsored. If I hadn’t gotten on that wave with them, I don’t think I would’ve been able to find my way. They’re the ones who really showed me that all of this was possible. That it could happen if I really worked at it.
I have to give those guys credit for taking me in, because that’s what basically gave me a career.
Right, because I know Sixteen was your first board sponsor but I feel like City Stars was when things really started to happen for you.
Yeah, and it was through Mikey and Paul that I got on City Stars. I’d just started to skate with them more and that’s when things started to pick up steam.
I remember talking to those guys one day about stuff, basically trying to figure out my situation. And they’re like, “You should really skate for somebody. You should get sponsored.”
Sixteen was pretty much gone by that point, but I didn’t think City Stars was really a consideration for me, either. Because I was kinda hesh at that time, I guess.
(laughs) I don’t know if “hesh” is the right word… But this was a time where there was an obvious difference between someone who rode for City Stars versus somebody else. I wasn’t very fresh at all. Not me.
Nobody was picturing me in a chain whatsoever. But Mikey and Paul, while they may have also come from the Valley, you could picture them wearing a chain. They could pull it off.
Somehow, they talked Kareem into it for me.
Is the meaning of “SHS” still a guarded secret or has that finally been put to bed after all these years?
I have to say, after everything that’s gone down, I’ve never in my life told anybody what it means. Not once. It’s the one thing that I’ve kept to myself. I don’t know if those guys can say the same, but I’ve never told anyone.
But I guarantee if I told you right now, you’d be like, “Oh… okay.” And that would be it. I mean, it’s gotta be pretty underwhelming at this point, you know? It would be such a letdown that I pretty much have to keep it to myself now.
So how’d the Terror Squad come into existence? Was that a real thing or more of a City Stars marketing construct?
I don’t really know. Obviously, I remember that and it being a thing… but I honestly didn’t know what it meant. I was just kinda looking around, like, “Hell yeah, Kareem Campbell! Whatever you want to call us, I am down.”
I was gonna rep anything he wanted to do. Anything those dudes wanted to call us, you go right ahead!
Not that it was fragmented, we were very much a squad. Our little crew definitely came into the whole City Stars thing all at once… and unfortunately went away really quick, too.
Reem said he liked your style because it was “different”, but what about the others guys on the team? Because some little dude named “Spanky” from the Valley is a pretty easy target.
(laughs) I just remember those dudes being in a different place with their skate careers at the time. Not that they were checked out or anything, I guess they just felt like if Kareem thought we were good for City Stars, then cool. Let’s keep this going.
I don’t want to speak for them… because I really don’t know. They could’ve very easily felt like, “Dude, enough with these fucking kids!” Because I imagine that must’ve been a lot for them. But they were always pretty cool to me.
I didn’t kick it with Pupecki much, but I did skate with Joey Suriel, Lee Smith and Caine Gayle fairly often and it was always good. But at the end of the day, we were just skating 411 spots in Inland Empire or wherever. It’s not like we were all hanging out at the bar together.
Talk about your Tampa Am win. Were you a big contest guy growing up? Because your run is pretty casual. I think there’s only six tricks in the whole thing.
I did skate a lot of contests when I was younger. I had a competitive spirit about me back then, as I feel most kids do. I just wanted to prove myself, which is how I was able to get noticed by Sixteen initially. That was pretty typical for back then, skating CASL contests or whatever.
But by the time Tampa came around, I wasn’t so much in that zone anymore. There was a definitely a sense of “Wow, they’re really going to give first place to me?!? Sick!”
I was not the shoe-in, that’s for sure. I’m sure my winning raised a few eyebrows.
That contest was huge at the time.
Yeah, I think I placed alright the year before, just kinda doing my shit. And I had a little more momentum with my overall trajectory coming into that year, too. So I was feeling pretty good, you know? I’d just gotten on Emerica, so I was feeling a little more confident in my skating. Not that I was coming in like, “I’m gonna win!” Not at all.
I just wanted to look cool and maybe show off a little for whoever was watching. That was about it. Everything just happened to work out.
It’s actually a little embarrassing for me whenever I watch that run. I think that I might be feeling myself a little too hard in that one.
I’m probably just being too hard on myself. But I really am happy I won that contest. That really helped me out a lot.
Yeah, it all happened pretty quick. That was a crazy time, for sure. It’s all a blur, to be honest. But I don’t know if you could ever really be ready for all that.
It’s just weird to be that age and have anything happen, really. It’s such a weird time in life, you know? But somehow, it did all hit me pretty well. I was still pretty clear-headed at the time… and just driven. I just wanted to hit the gas and get out of the house. Do all the stuff I’d always dreamed about doing.
How’d your part for This is Skateboarding come about? Because I know they were still feeling you out in the beginning of it, right?
Yeah, it’s funny. Because in the back of my head, I was still trying prove myself, but I also knew that I had to make it appear like I wasn’t trying to prove myself, if that makes sense? It was this crazy balance of trying to rip as hard as I could but also trying not to look like a fucking goofball.
It started out with getting thrown into sessions with Miner, which progressed to these little filming trips I’d go on. Heading out to Arizona or wherever…
It honestly comes down to that golden rule, which still applies today: Be cool, don’t kook it, and skate as hard as you can. The skating part wasn’t hard because I was obsessed with skating back then. I just had to worry about the other two things. Somehow, I made it through.
For this and Logic, it looks like you’re just getting turned loose on spots. Filming multiple clips a day.
Yeah, it was just that age. Super hungry, super driven. I wanted a piece of every single spot we went to. Because I had nothing else in the whole world to think about other than tricks. That’s all I did.
This was also probably the only time where if I wasn’t filming, I was learning tricks at the skatepark. Because at that point, I was starting to learn a lot of tricks down rails, too… I actually had rail tricks for the only time in my life during that short period.
Was the Cure your song choice? And did you have any hand in that edit?
Oh, there was no way I was gonna tell Miner to change a thing back then. At that point, he could’ve literally put anything in my part and I would’ve been okay with it.
This was back in the iPod days where we all shared music in the van or wherever. Miner was turning me onto new stuff all the time. There was a small pool of what we were all listening to back then and that Cure song was always in the mix. I don’t remember a moment where the decision to use that song actually happened, but when I saw it all put together, it felt like a no-brainer. I was stoked on it.
Where’d the inspiration for that boneless down nine come from? Because it doesn’t seem like Logic-era Kevin would’ve thrown that out there.
That was Miner recognizing something in my skating that he wanted to highlight and spice things up with. I have to give him credit for that. Because I was always doing that kinda shit back then, too... Grabbing my board and getting a little more creative with things. Not necessarily bonelesses, but I did always have that stuff. It’s just at the time, it really wasn’t in fashion. I feel like before that Trujillo part, you weren’t really seeing a lot of tranny stuff mixed in with street stuff.
But no, that probably wasn’t gonna fly in the City Stars-era.
What about that double-kink boardslide? How’d that become your ender and not the switch frontside bigspin down the MACBA 4, which was a huge marquee spot at the time.
That’s a good question… I guess that was a Miner decision.
It’s funny in that for both of those clips, I just came up with those tricks at the spot. Like, “Does anybody want to skate this?”
“I’ll give it a shot.”
And that’s what I got. There was no taking me to spots back then to do specific tricks. I was just at the thing, doing the best I could do.
I’d never really boardslid any kinked rails before that one, either. But somehow, I just knew that I could take the kink. Because I’d previously found a steep kinked hubba-kinda thing and I boardslid that, so I felt like if I could find a rail low enough, I could probably do a kinked rail, too. And that was the one I found.
MACBA had to be a battle, though… right?
I just remember it being back when all of the pros used to be in Barcelona, all the time. There would seriously be whole teams in town at the same time, like constantly. You’d go to MACBA and it almost felt like a tradeshow or something. It was just a crazy scene.
Again, I was probably trying to show-off while pretending that I wasn’t showing off. But it wasn’t that crazy of a battle, though. It came pretty quick.
How’d you deal with the pressure of being thrust into this crazy Baker/Emerica mix? Both brands were enormous at the time, and as Kids in Emerica shows, the demos were insane. I have to imagine every kid there was gunning for you and Herman.
It’s interesting because demos were such a baked-in part of that crew. At first, I just thought it was part of being pro and everybody was like that… but I soon realized that the Emerica crew, in particular, was pretty gnarly when it came to demos. Like, if you put Ed Templeton in front of a thousand skaters at a skatepark, he’s gonna skate the best he’s ever skated. Andrew always kills the demo. Heath will kill a demo, too. All those dudes, they just had that ethic. So with us being the young guys, we really had to jump on that energy. Because we’re already trying to prove ourselves everyday anyway, that was just another side of it.
But as far as the kids went, it was already well-established by then that trying to one-up guys in the demo was never a good look. So, we honestly didn’t get too much of that. It was never very threatening for us.
Do you have any pointers on betting tricks with Heath? What was your typical strategy?
Well, I’m not much of a gambler, although I certainly participated...
Actually, what I remember most from all that is trying tricks and hoping that Heath wasn’t betting against me. That’s what stands out to me, being on the other side of it. Kicking my board away and tumbling… then looking into Heath’s eyes. Wondering if he’s happy that I bailed or does he want me to land it? It became this whole other thing. Because if he’s rooting for me, that rules. Heath Kirchart is rooting for me. But if he’s betting against me, then fuck him. I’m gonna prove him wrong.
Was it hard getting to know the Baker crew at first? Was there any hazing at all?
It was pretty chill, actually. Surprisingly chill. There was some hazing but that always seemed to come more from the peripheral homies.
I remember Shane Heyl punching me in the gut on my 21st birthday. We were at some house party, he comes up and punches me in the stomach out of nowhere and goes “Welcome to the Piss Drunx!”
We’ve all changed a lot since then. (laughs)
Dustin was quite the hazer, actually. But for some reason, I remember being able to dish it right back to him, right away. Not because I’m some tough guy or anything, more as a sense of survival. Knowing that giving it back to him was basically what I had to do. And it seemed to work, so I just kept doing it.
I honestly don’t know how I knew to do that, because I was essentially acting there. And the whole time, I’m wondering where this stuff I’m saying is even coming from. But ultimately, I knew that he was just trying to test me and see if he could make me cry… which is funny because Dustin is the easiest person in the world to make cry.
Yes, dude! That’s usually how it goes. Not that I want to make anyone cry ever, but there have been a few times where I said something that got him and it was like… woah! This guy is sensitive!
(laughs) Incredible. So how does working on a Beagle project compare to working on one with Miner?
Beagle projects just have a different vibe. He’s always super positive about everything. You tell him where you want to go and he’s gonna show up. And there’s gonna be a big crew.
It’s just a much looser way of working, overall. Because in a lot of ways, how your part in a Beagle project turns out is largely up to you. You need to have your own gumption and ideas about how you want your part to be. It’s either that or you have to get on the wave of what everybody else is doing.
Miner projects are much more of a collaboration. The two of you really are working together. You’re bouncing spots and trick ideas off him. And he’s constantly suggesting things, like, “Dude, you can do this trick at this spot.”
Your reaction is usually, “Fuck, dude… I can’t do that.”
“Alright, dude. Whatever.”
Then you basically start trying to negotiate your own skills and guts with him. (laughs)
…At least that’s how it was back then. Miner’s way more on the chill side now. He’s almost transformed completely. It’s still a collaborative process, he’s just not so gnarly with it anymore.
It’s a give-and-take, you know? Because I love the zero pressure and all-positivity of skating with Beagle. It’s always so enjoyable. But I also recognize now, as I’ve gotten older, that it’s helpful for me to bounce ideas off someone, too. To have someone call me out, like, “Nah, you can do better than that” or telling me if a spot is played out. It helps to have a bit more of a critical eye to push me. I feel like I get more out of myself that way.
How’d Koston end up filming your over-the-rail line for Baker 3? Because at the time, he was the dude. That had to feel pretty intense.
Oh god, totally. I mean, at that time, if I had a diary, I would’ve totally written in there, “I saw Eric Koston today. Holy shit!”
(laughs) I love the diary construct. That’s a first for these.
“Dear Diary, you’re never going to believe this, but I totally ran into Eric Koston today! And guess what happened? He filmed me!”
I honestly have no idea how that happened. I mean, where was everybody else? Because there were three filmers there that day, why did it end up being Eric Koston filming me?
I feel like my plan was to always ollie the rail… maybe I started warming up on the smaller rail and came up with the idea to do that line? I don’t remember exactly. Because I’d never ollied something like that before...
There’s a possibility that I wasn’t even planning on doing it at all? Like it was something I did only because he was there? I don’t know. But for some reason, Koston said that he would film me doing it, which elevated everything drastically inside my head. Because as soon as it became Eric Koston filming me, I knew it was fucking going down.
Have you seen Yuto’s recent homage?
Yeah, I got a kick out of that. That was really cool.
Throwing out a couple of Baker 3 deep nerd cuts here, is the pole jam manual stuff in that part a Donny Barley Welcome to Hell influence perhaps?
Oh, that’s 100% accurate. Most definitely.
I feel like you always take those influences with you throughout skating and they manifest themselves at different times. It still happens today, you know? But at the time, that would’ve been a direct homage. Because Welcome to Hell probably informed me more than anything, back when I was just starting out. I thought that video was the coolest thing I ever saw. And I always loved that part.
What about that dipped boardslide in the intro? Was that possibly a Kenny Reed reference?
(laughs) I think that might’ve been part of it, yeah.
Because I feel like you had quite the fascination with Kenny for a while there, right?
That’s really funny you noticed that. I honestly don’t know where that came from. Because he always seemed to be riding down these massive hubbas in some remote land with this crazy yoga pose… Not that it was wack at all. We always thought it was really cool, but kinda funny at the same time.
(laughs) He was always nosesliding some hubba that was, like, three blocks-long in a total Namaste type position…
With a funny hat on.
And there’s a mosque in the background. Thinking to himself, “If I could just stay on this hubba…”
Yeah, I guess I was sorta making fun of it, but at the same time, I thought it was dope. I would’ve shot the exact same photo… just maybe without the little cylinder hat or whatever.
But yeah, it’s funny you pointed that out. Because whenever we used to go to hubbas, we would all instantly get into that position and skid our foot down it.
Did you ever feel trapped by that “handrail kid on the party team” image? Because I feel like you’ve only gotten more creative over the years, but early on, Baker was so known for that one type of skating.
I know what you’re saying, but I want to say no. Because after a few injuries, I had to start skating other things. And because of that, especially back then, I always had this feeling that what I was doing was out of style. Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten hurt, I would’ve still been going down big rails. I just couldn’t do it so much anymore.
I remember feeling pretty scrutinized by, like, a Leo Romero. Guys who are roughly the same age as me, skating these huge rails while I was out skating banks and drawing bears. And drinking too much.
How’d you end up with two darkslides in that Baker 3 part? And I know you darkslid Black Hubba just a few years ago…
I don’t know how that happened, man. There’s been quite a few of those over the years… Certain things that you may have landed as a fluke, which then makes you believe that you actually have that trick in your arsenal. Then you proceed to spend the next 10 years bailing them on things, occasionally getting a sloppy one here and there.
But yes, I've done a couple.
So you’re officially pro-darkslide? You’re putting your stake in the ground?
(laughs) Oh, like are darkslides a cool thing to do?
Listen, just because I do something does not mean I advocate for that thing or believe that it’s a good idea. Nor will I say I’m pro-darkslide. I’m definitely not going on record saying that shit is cool.
(laughs) You appear to be walking this one back a little...
(laughs) There’s a time and place for it… occasionally.
I don’t know, watching Jerry do it is amazing. Jerry makes them look so cool. And it’s one of those things where if someone is able to do a darkslide in a sick way, you can’t really argue with that. He slid on the top of his board!?! Hell yeah!
Jerry's darkslides are the exception to the rule, for sure. Speaking of, Jerry once said the first five years you two knew each other, you skated together twice. Was this during some kind of post-Bag Of Suck/Baker 3 victory lap?
In my head, I was taking a victory lap, but I was also going through a lot of injuries and not taking care of them. And again, drinking too much.
I was basically living the opposite of what we talked about in the beginning. I went from being completely obsessed with skateboarding to just feeling like shit whenever I skated… because the only time that I really felt great was whenever I was partying with my friends. It would just feed into itself and ten years later, it’s all a complete blur.
How many times have you tried getting Jerry on Baker over the years?
Hmm… I mean, I’ve definitely thrown it out there more than once. Probably a hundred times, to be honest with you. But I think that’s the kind of thing where if he was down, it would almost be unspoken. We’re so close, I feel like he should know that door is always open to him.
What about the crying bit in your Stay Gold part? What was that all about?
At some point, I realized that I could fake cry, so I just started busting it every now and then. For that one, we were in Europe at a signing somewhere. It felt like a good time, so I started to fake cry about being at the signing. Just to make Miner laugh. And, of course, he wanted to film it for the video.
But yeah, I can fake cry. I haven’t done it in a while, though. Basically, my eyes just get super watery, so if I make a sad face and keep my eyes open for a really long time, I can squeeze some tears out.
It’s actually super annoying this time of year because I’ll be skating and my eyes are constantly tearing up. I need to get those Muska goggles.
And it’s only a matter of time before some kid posts on the internet that they saw Spanky crying at the spot today.
…which, to be fair, also happens.
(laughs) Miner said you started off strong in Stay Gold but kinda fell off. What happened?
It was a combination of things, to be honest. Because it’s not like I didn’t have that spark in me. I had enough of a spark to where I was jumping down 15.
Yeah, you took some real beatings in your B-Sides footage.
Yeah, I shouldn’t pretend like I wasn’t trying at all. I was actually trying over and over… I just didn’t want to change my lifestyle. I valued other things more than skateboarding at the time. I thought that other stuff was more important, which is more a product of youth. Because by that point, I’d had enough time in skateboarding to where I could take the position I had for granted.
I was just young and dumb, man. I just wanted to hang out with whatever girlfriend I had or go to New York. Drink whiskey and pretend like I was too sophisticated to hang out in a ditch… which is so stupid.
It’s easy for me to judge that kid now because that’s so not who I was before or afterwards. I can’t relate to who I was at all back then, but it’s just a part of growing up. And going through that is what’s allowed me to enjoy skateboarding so much more in these later years.
Yeah, I had a “sophisticated” phase, too… it was terrible. But in jumping down stuff, you have both a massive kickflip and a switch frontside big spin off a roof in there. Were those the same day?
No, not the same day. Those are actually two different spots but they do kinda look the same.
Was it? Yeah, probably.
This is kind of history repeating itself because I still do that now. If I get a clip that I’d been working on, I’ll wear that shirt again for good luck… especially towards the end of a project. Like right now, I’ll try just about any weird superstition I can think of. Just as long as it works.
I’m also still trying to plug in this formula where I need to be in the air, so I film all my bigger stuff towards the end. I feel like that’s an outdated way of looking at a video part, but in this case, it really is so simple… a roof! Get on a roof and jump off of it. There you go.
…and I’m still climbing up on those roofs.
The backtail big spin and backtail flip-out, are those your first clips at LA High?
I think so, actually. Stay Gold was right when I first started skating there a lot.
I feel like you and Andrew Allen are basically the gods of that spot. But he claims that you’ve actually spent more time there than he has, would you agree with that statement?
Yeah, I went there a lot for several years. I love that place.
It’s interesting because that spot’s kinda gone through phases. There was the early stuff, like that Guy line, where people basically skated it like a ledge. And then there was the stuff with the rail in the back, too. But I didn’t really skate there back then.
I remember there was a Thrasher Skater of the Year video where Andrew Reynolds had a clip on the big bank. I think he backtailed it… I think. And that’s what set it off for me.
This was right as I was trying to find different ways to skate, other than just jumping down stuff. Because I wasn’t in very good shape, I had to start running into the bank instead.
I feel like that spot became almost obsessive for you guys. Did you actually find that place fun to skate?
Eventually, yes. There was a little bit of figuring it out but yeah, I had a lot of fun cruising around there. I still do love that spot so much. It’s probably my absolute favorite spot ever. And I do have fun. But also, at the time, I knew that I could commit to trying something on that bank where I might have to go back five different times to make it… I liked that much more than having to have Atiba meet me at a rail somewhere. Some rail that’s still super scary for me, but also a little smaller than the one I did in my last video part. LA High felt like a good way for me to switch things up.
It’s a fun spot because there’s a lot of different ways to skate it. And honestly, there weren’t too many other spots that I felt like I could skate better than somebody else back then. Not that I was skating LA High the best, but I did have it kinda dialed. I knew that I could get some things there that people might find interesting.
What was your biggest LA High battle? And what do you consider to be your proudest trophy kill there?
I think my biggest battle there would probably be the backside tail, backside flip. But I didn’t feel some big triumph with that one because my foot shifted when I landed… that’s always bugged me. And I don’t think I bent my knees enough or something… I don’t know. That clip has always bugged me. If that was now, I would’ve done it again.
But as far as the one I’m most proud of, I really liked the backside 5-0 to switch front crook I did in Baker 4. It might not be the craziest trick but it did feel really good to get all four down like that.
Anytime you can get a good grind and then come all the way back into it feels really good there.
For Stay Gold, is it hard having a frontside flip as your ender with Reynolds on the team?
(laughs) Oh my god… It’s so dumb that that’s the only flip trick I can do. Because, of course, the one person that I’m always skating with is Andrew.
Still a great clip, though.
The thing is that I was actually trying something else for my last trick. A different frontside flip.
Oh yeah, the frontside flip over the rail at Burbank Middle.
Yeah, I had all of my eggs in that one. And I tried that for months… years, actually. I just couldn’t get it. So I didn’t really have a last trick for Stay Gold. That other frontside flip down the double-set was more of a last-minute type of thing. And, of course, you’re always thinking in the back of your head that Andrew could’ve totally done this, too.
What about that frontside wallride Atiba photo of you through the glass? Always loved that flick.
Oh yeah, I remember that day, for sure. That was over in China… Shanghai, I think. I’d skated there maybe a year before and really loved that spot.
That’s like a crazy train station. And the bank isn’t flush. You have to ollie up to the bank and then you can wallride. But it’s really thick glass so it doesn’t feel sketchy… because there’s actually a huge drop on the other side. I was psyched on that one.
Shooting through the glass was the obvious move, if you could get in there. That was the hard part. And it was pretty sketchy for him to get in there. I’m not used to seeing Atiba take risks like that.
(laughs) Who put it together that you looked like that girl on the Dinosaur Jr “Green Mind” cover?
Oh my god, every single person I’ve met. (laughs)
I don’t know how or why, but it was one of those things where, at the time, I was an effeminate long-haired little kid who was constantly smoking cigarettes. And every photo that was taken of me, someone would just have to say “Dude, you look like the Green Mind girl!”
Oh, wow… because I thought that graphic was genius when it come out.
Yeah, that wasn’t some super creative concept. It literally came out of every single person.
“You look like that little girl.”
After a while, we just had to go with it.
I feel like somebody called me out of the blue about it. Like, “Spike has an idea. They’re filming skits for Pretty Sweet, would you be down to help out?”
And of course! I’ll drop everything, no problem.
I get there and they had all this gear. Spike dressed me up like an old lady. And yeah, Vincent Alvarez got to smash into me a bunch. It was fun.
My wife makes fun of me because I’m always so down to dress up. Like, if I had to act in my own skin, I’d be so horrible and self-conscious. But put me in an alien costume or dress me up as an old lady and I’ll do anything.
Talk to me about Bake & Destroy, which starts out with that full-on dance routine…
Oh my god, this is gonna be rough to think back on any of this…
We were filming in a ditch that night and I think that I’d just gotten my trick. I’d taken my shirt off and someone just happened to be playing that song really loud, so I’m dancing my way back as a celebration… I guess? And the funny thing is, I don’t even think that trick made it into the part.
…But yeah, I’m just freestyling there, baby!
That was definitely a time where I was drinking hard while skating.
Okay, because I was wondering if you were beginning to skate drunk at this point or just not skating at all?
For sure, skating drunk. Very drunk. For sure.
That part is definitely the hardest one for me to watch. I wish that it felt like a different person but no, that was me. It’s really difficult to watch because I’m just so checked out. At this point, I knew I was on my way out… like, what do I even have to do here?
There are a couple of okay tricks in there but I’m just so stiff and out of shape. My gear is bad. I just don’t like that part.
I’m sure you got plenty of warnings from your sponsors, right? Were you in denial or just not sure what to do?
It’s not like I was bad at reading the room, I knew what was up. I just couldn’t see what the alternative was. Like yeah, I could give skating my all, but what does that even look like? I guess this has just run its course.
I couldn’t see myself finding the passion again. I just saw it as maybe I could try harder and possibly get a little bit better of a result. But I could never envision fully getting back into it the way I have.
I still skated. Even during those times where I think of myself as being totally lost in partying, I was still skating. But mostly just pools and stuff. Drinking tall cans and skating backyard pools.
I know there’s the Neckface fire incident, which you’ve talked about plenty. But that didn’t register at all?
It didn’t register as a rock-bottom at all. It was more of a reminder that I was in a pretty reckless state.
I don’t know, it’s pretty easy for time to fly by when you’re living like that.
Because I’ve seen those photos where you’re covered in paint. Are you huffing paint or what’s going on there?
Yeah… by that point, you’re not really remembering your motivations.
It’s just chaos. You’re lost in a fucking mess. I’m not waking up, like, “Holy shit! I got paint all over my face. I need to change my life.”
I just felt like this is my lifestyle. We’re gonna go until we’re in oblivion and the hi-jinx is all part of it. It’s weird now to imagine that being my lifestyle, because it’s not something that I relate to, but I do remember accepting it. And I did have fun, in a weird way. But it’s dark… as fuck.
So when the dismissal finally came, did you pursue any other sponsors? Were you applying for jobs?
Well, after I got let go from Baker, I did try to ride a couple other boards… basically for the first time in my adult life. I still skated in Emericas, but I did check out some other boards, hoping that I could maybe get a place on this company as a fallback. Basically as a weird, fizzle-out kind of thing. I’m not gonna name the company, but yeah, I did weigh out other options… although not very seriously.
I do remember wondering if I could get a job at Supreme. Because I was there and all of my friends are there, maybe I could get a job in the shop?
Not having a ton of plans or motivation and never having a job before, it was obviously a pretty unsure time in my life. I knew asking anybody for a job anywhere at that time, I was not a suitable employee. I even shadowed my friend as an assistant in working construction. Sanding cabinets and priming a house. Stuff like that. I worked hard but I was really shitty at it.
With Miner, Jerry and the Boss all involved in Made 2, do you think your “comeback” would’ve worked out with any other project?
I don’t think so. With the skills and whatever else I was working with at that time, Made 2 was my only chance to have gotten back into it. I’m so lucky and thankful they gave me the opportunity.
It almost seems like the perfect vehicle for you. How did that part happen? Because again, I know you filmed as a “let’s see” for a while.
Yeah, I just started going out with those guys… Jerry was filming and I was hanging out with him a lot. Those guys would always be like, “Roll out today!”
I was a little hesitant at first, but after a while, I remember Miner goes, “It’s nice having you back in the van. Come skate with us whenever.” I started rolling out pretty regularly after that.
Then I went on a trip up Santa Rosa. It wasn’t a crazy heavy filming trip or anything, mostly just b-roll stuff and a few spots. I remember getting a clip up there that didn’t even end up being in anything, but Miner was like, “We should get you in this video. Maybe we’ll get you some tricks in Jerry’s part or something.”
It just grew from there.
What was the trick?
The clip I remember was on this small outledge off a three-stair. I did a switch noseslide, kickflip back to switch. And I remember Miner being genuinely enthusiastic and even complimentary about it… which you don’t really get a lot of from him. (laughs)
And afterwards, I remember feeling much more driven by that.
But it was weird, because I’d spent so much time not being dedicated to my craft and not really pushing myself, it took me years to get myself back to feeling comfortable again physically on my board. It took me a while, even past the end of that project.
…and I still continue to dust the weird psychological cobwebs off.
With Made 2, I feel like I had a lot of tricks but it was more of a quantity thing, not so much quality. I needed to get better stuff. So I had to slowly start chipping away at that while finding my way physically.
There was so much going on at Emerica at that time, too. A lot of restructuring internally. So it was unclear if there actually was a place for me on the team. It honestly didn’t make perfect sense for me to be in that video, which I totally understand. I basically had to make the decision that I wouldn’t even think about my “career” and just skate. Because that’s how I’ve been able to get the most out of my skating is to just focus on that as much as I can. Don’t think about the other stuff and just focus on the skateboarding.
I feel like you were pretty careful not to blow out your comeback. To keep it fairly reigned in. Why was that?
I was still a little insecure about my skating. I didn’t want to perpetuate some storyline that I couldn’t back up. Because I knew that I didn’t have some Guy Mariano comeback part in me, so I didn’t want to overplay it, you know? Like, “I’m fucking back, baby!”
I was trying to be realistic with where I was at. And also, I didn’t want to come across as being entitled to anything from skateboarding. I just wanted to work hard and if stuff happens, it happens.
How long did that frontside wallride ender take?
Well, that was another one that wasn’t supposed to be my ender. It took a couple of tries but I was actually kinda distracted by the bigger trick I had mind to finish my part with. So I didn’t have all the pressure of it being my ender, it was just another trick I was hoping to get.
The frontside flip at Burbank Middle again?
Yeah, once again. That was supposed to be my ender but I could never quite get it the way I wanted to. I do like that wallride, but it was honestly just something I went for whenever I wasn’t feeling quite ready to try that frontside flip again.
I’ve always wondered, are you aiming at that green line on purpose?
That’s a good question! I was aiming at that, but basically as a reference. I felt like if I got that high up, I’d be able to clear the stairs.
I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to get up there like that… Because I can’t really ollie that high. It’s just one of those things where after you try it 10 times or so, you somehow find yourself up there.
That was one of the rare times where I landed a trick and just knew it was the one. Where you don’t even have to check the clip. I love that feeling. Because I feel like I always have to ask someone, “Was that it?”
I’ve read where you said Made 2 was “fun”, but were you happy with the result?
It was fun to make but I don’t think it represented where I wanted to be just yet.
I was proud of my part and genuinely proud to be in that video. And it did feel like the beginning of a new way of doing things for me… even though I realize to some people that it might not look like such a crazy leap or anything. It’s more of a personal thing.
But yeah, I was still just getting my legs back.
So how did that affect your filming for Baker 4? Because I imagine there was probably even more riding on that part, as it didn’t have the feel-good comeback aspect the way Made 2 did.
I put a little more pressure on myself to be more deliberate with Baker 4. And I was happier with it, in that I could choose the tricks I wanted to do and actually do them. That and I felt much better about how I was riding away from tricks physically. I wasn’t so exhausted all the time on that one. This is admittedly only stuff I notice, but still.
I feel like we also had a little more time with Baker 4, so I was able to get more footage. It wasn’t like I had to use every last clip. We had tons of stuff to choose from.
As far as the pressure goes, I was filming with Beagle this time, which always helps in that regard. I was working closely with Andrew on the edit, too, and bouncing ideas off him. He’s the one who suggested that Ramones song, actually. But there’s so many amazing skaters in that video, I realize that I’m never going to be the star of the show. When you find yourself in these insane line-ups, you just want to skate the best you can and feel happy to be there.
Was that the Phil Shao ditch with the switch wallie noselide?
Yeah, right outside Las Vegas.
I actually wanted to switch crook it. I took a couple of trips out there for it and almost did it a bunch of times. I was coming really close, I just couldn’t come out. Because I was trying to go back in to forward, like a half-cab in? It’s hard to see, but that spot kinda juts out at a weird angle. I tried a bunch of different things but could never quite figure out the angle.
On that trip, I’d tried it all-day that day and the day before. And again, it’s in Vegas, so it’s really hot out there. I literally tried that switch crook for the entire session… no joke, five hours. But because of the angle, I would often get into switch noseslide instead. So at the very end, I was just like, “Beagle, what if I just try to switch noseslide and come back to switch instead?”
(Spot-on Beagle Impression) “Do it, dog. You got that.”
And it was to the point, five hours into the session, where nobody really expected me to do it. Like, I probably couldn’t have even kickflipped on flat at that point. But I just got lucky somehow and in the end, I’m pretty stoked to have that trick in my part.
Recently, Mike Anderson switch crooked the shit out of that thing, coming back in switch. And I was so happy he did because now I don’t have to go back there and try it anymore.
What about that ride-on tailside, kickflip out? I know that spot is always pretty tricky with security.
Yeah, that’s right off Wilshire. We had to go back multiple times for that one because we kept getting kicked out. You really only get 10 or so tries there. 20 at the most, depending on the security guard… which, after a while, you start to learn who the cool security guards are.
It was probably a handful of tries that day. We just happened to get some time and it worked out.
I really like that spot.
It’s actually the same technique you need to skate the big bank at LA High. When you’re wallieing, it’s like the first part doesn’t even exist. You just picture yourself already up at the top. That middle part where you’re on the wall is not even happening.
…I don’t even know if that’s really how to explain it. It’s kinda one of those things that you can only explain with a sound effect. (laughs)
But it just comes from trying to recognize what I can do on a skateboard. Like Andrew, he can frontside flip anything. Leo Romero can grind huge rails. Jerry can darkslide. You just have to recognize what your strengths are.
We talked about how weird and inherently bad the internet is. But for skateboarding, I do feel like filming yourself every day for these little clips does serve a purpose. For me, it helps to watch myself skate. It helps me better recognize what I can do. Not to overanalyze it, but watching myself wallie up things gave me a better understanding of the trick and the confidence to try it on bigger things. And it just goes from there. Maybe I could do this on a thing that’s up to my bellybutton? That would be a good clip for my video part.
Have you thought about taking your wallie manual stuff to the Courthouse Stage?
Yeah, I’ve messed with that. I think I did a switch wallie 180 manual there? Something like that.
You never really know with those things. So much depends on the way it’s filmed and the speed you have. It’s easy for that stuff to not look great. You really gotta capture it the right way to do it justice.
How did that This switch frontside slappy go down?
I met up with Reynolds and a couple other Baker dudes in SF. They all drove up but I had some family stuff going on, so I flew up the next day. So I get off the plane and uber straight to the spot they’re skating… and there’s, like, 30 GX kids. Literally, 30 people. And they’ve all just got done skating, hanging out.
They’re like, “Do you guys want to skate anywhere else?”
Andrew says, “Oh, we’re right by that wall you’ve been wanting to skate. I think it’s right down the street.”
Because I’ve probably screenshotted that wall a hundred times, like “I want to go there.”
I originally wanted to do a different trick but somebody said that it had already been done there. I was thinking about a hurricane, which, if you can wallie board up something, it’s not too far away to try a hurricane.
So I just started messing around with a few other things. Nothing serious. Like I said, there’s so many people there and they’re already thinking about where they’re gonna go next. And for some reason, I usually never get a trick on the same day I’ve flown somewhere anyway. Even if it’s a half-hour flight, I always feel like shit after riding in an airplane.
But I was feeling pretty good this time, so I started messing around with that switch front 50-50. I asked them to film it and ended up doing a few different ones. The first couple were a little sketchy and they also changed the angle a few times, but we got it.
It was good because I feel like everything I do is a battle. Even if it’s an Instagram clip, it’s still a thing. But that one wasn’t too bad. I landed it a few times… and in front of all those people. They all seemed pretty hyped on it, too. And that was it. We went and skated a spot down the street after that. It just felt like part of the day.
I don’t know if it’s the way they filmed it or how Miner put it in the part, but it’s something that people have been bringing up to me a lot… more than any other trick I’ve done in recent memory, which I really appreciate. Because I love skating like that.
And while we're on the subject, how did that surprise This part come about?
Well, I’m actually working on a part right now that we’ve been working on for a while. We’re almost finished with it.
Miner asked me for some clips for This, just to put in the team section. So I sent him a few that I knew weren’t going to fit into this project and he hits me back, like, “Hey, I have this idea to make it a little part. Could we get a couple more clips?”
It just worked out. But that was all Miner, for sure. He really hooked me up on that one.
What can you tell us about this project you’re working on now?
It’s a Baker part, but it was originally going to be for Lottie’s.
Back when Lottie’s was doing their last Vans project, we were going out filming a lot. Obviously, I’m not going to be all up in a Vans video, but I did have some tricks with Wheatley. And once the lockdown started, Wheatley and I just kept on going. We ended up accumulating a bunch of stuff and figured that we should just make a little part for the Lottie’s video. Well, Lottie’s ended up closing, so Andrew just said that we’d make it a Baker part.
So yeah, I’ll have some friends in it, but it will be the first video I’ve ever been in that’s mainly me.
Can’t wait to see it. Is that coming out soon?
Yeah, we’re working on music right now. There’s literally one or two more tricks I want to get and then I’m done.
I gotta ask, are you going back to Burbank Middle for that elusive frontside flip? Or are you completely over it and tired of people bringing it up?
(laughs) No, I’m not tired of people asking but I’ve definitely put Burbank to bed. That’s done. I tried it so much for Baker 4. And funny enough, there was a problem putting that video onto Baker’s YouTube. My song didn’t clear, so they had to re-edit m y part to a different song. It just so happened that they needed to put some additional footage in there, which included my Baker maker on Burbank. So yeah, that basically sealed the deal for me.
But also, just the jumping down that thing… I don’t know if anyone really cares that much to see me finally do it. At this point, I just feel like I’m being stubborn. I don’t know if it’s worth taking the years off my skating to do it. Maybe it’s time I recognize that I’m no longer the 16-stair dude anymore.
No amount of tenacity can make your legs springy again. And it’s not about getting older, either. Reynolds is whatever… 42. He can do all that, no problem. I’m just not that guy anymore.
Baker always seems to go through this cycle of party dudes getting sober, just as another wave of younger guys start heading down that same road. You at the Emerica Mansion with an already-sober Reynolds, for example. Now that you’re on the other side of this, how do the older guys react when they start to see the younger riders going that way? What’s the balance there?
Well, it’s not an easy thing, and everyone deals with it differently. There’s an understanding with a lot of the guys who have gone through it… getting clean and going through the program. Getting an understanding of addiction and behavioral things, all you can do is set a good example and just be there for people whenever they need it. Because the second you’re like “Don’t do that”, it doesn’t work. And that’s not just for a younger person, that goes for anyone. No matter if it’s your mom, your brother, your son or your best friend.
You have to provide as much support as you can, but ultimately, people need to make their own decisions and learn for themselves. And it’s hard to watch when you’ve been through it. Because we’ve all dealt with it… struggling with addiction and mental issues. It’s tough to be a human, especially in a world that glamorizes that stuff.
Baker has to leave room for kids who are real and raw, but also not go out of its way to glorify that stuff, either.
It’s a tricky balance, especially for you as art director.
For sure, because you’re trying to best represent these personalities. And for everyone who rides for Baker, it’s those personalities that really are the magic. You want to showcase that with honesty. But Baker now compared to what it was back then, when every board was a Swisher Sweet or whatever… Every board was a different take on whatever that person’s vice was, basically. Not that we’re trying to be this clean-cut Christian “We have a message” brand, but we’re also not trying to go out of our way to glorify that stuff or make it something we advocate.
We just try to take it case-by-case and be there for people as much as we can. To try not to be too much of one thing and just be honest.
So what’s next, Spanky? Because in the short time we’ve been getting this interview together, you’ve put out a surprise part, switched truck sponsors and probably a million other things. What else do you have going on?
The thing I go to bed thinking about right now is this part. Just wrapping that thing up. It’s all-consuming right now. But then I wake up and there’s Baker stuff, too. It’s constant. We do four seasons a year, 25 graphics per season. Shirts, hats… all that stuff. It’s a lot. And every season, we’re still trying to make it all a little bit better, a little cleaner.
Beyond that, they’re coming out with an Ace video that I’m gonna try to have some stuff in. I got another shoe coming out… my old KSL shoe is getting reissued in a new updated version. So we’ll probably have to film some stuff for that, too.
And in the meantime, I’m trying to raise a kid and be there for it. Wake up and spend quality time with her every morning… not just be constantly on my phone all the time.
The day disappears pretty quick, but it’s fun.
Last question and then I’ll let you get back to that. It’s a bit of a doozy but I like to end all of my interviews this way… what would you say has been the proudest accomplishment of your career and what’s your biggest regret?
Yeah, that is a fucking doozy. (laughs)
That’s a tough one. Because it almost seems kinda cheesy that my skateboarding career is basically this story where I fell off and then came back. Sometimes I wonder if it really was that clear of storyline, because life doesn’t usually work that way. But it really is the truth.
My biggest accomplishment is being welcomed back in to skateboarding. Coming back from a true lull, and I don’t mean that in a career sense but actually finding love for skateboarding again. There was almost a moment in my life where that basically happened, and that’s pretty unbeatable. Because that goes beyond tricks and all that. It’s basically getting your family back.
And the other side of that is pretty obvious. Losing that spirit was truly my low point…
Or I could say winning Tampa Am and sacking some rail somewhere, but I think the first version is probably the better answer.
(laughs) I agree but we’ll let the readers decide. Thanks so much, Kevin. Best of luck.