chrome ball interview #154: john lucero

Chrome Ball Interview #12XU for Closer Skateboarding #1 

"His Mugshot Is Your Eye Wound." Photo: O

An admitted “team jumper” back in the day, you also grew up making fake stickers and graphics prior to having your own company, right? 


Yeah, I’ve always loved skateboarding from a nerdy standpoint. It’s why I say that I’ve always “played” skateboarding. Because to this day, I still feel like I’m playing. I remember reading the magazines when I was young and imagining myself as a pro skater. Not that I ever thought I’d be good enough to actually make it happen, it was always more of a daydream for me. But in my head, I could just hear that announcer saying, “Dropping in next, skating for Hot Stix and Ding Dong Trucks… John Lucero!”


And the crowd goes wild! Meanwhile, I’m just skating the little curb in front of my house.


I feel like I imagined having my own skateboard company more than other kids did, too. Not necessarily the business end, I loved the artful side of skateboarding. The ads in the magazines and how everything was laid out. Even before drawn graphics were a big thing, just the logos on the bottoms of boards were rad. The way they were presented. That stuff was so awe-inspiring to me. So naturally, I started to think about how I would approach these things in my own way. 


Growing up, my crew consisted of my brother and a couple friends from across the street. At some point, my friend started drawing “Rad Cats” on the bottom of boards, as his own little take on the Dogtown logo. Just imagine that same cross but with “Rad Cats” and “La Mirada” on it, which is where we’re from. This blew me away, so I started drawing my own graphics for it. We even did a fake little ad with our little crew sitting on my porch. Because this isn’t Dogtown, we’re the Rad Cats!  

Rad Cats 

My other friend, Richard, also had a fake company called “Hot Stix”. I remember asking him about it one day and he goes, “It’s Hawwwwt Stix.” I loved that. So, we started making our own stickers with these little label makers. Drawing that Hot Stix logo over and over again, trying to make them all look the same. It was so much fun. 


Once I got to where getting sponsored was a real option, I couldn’t believe it. It’s like they were letting me crash the party. Any “team jumping” I may have done largely came from a disbelief that somebody would actually let me on their team. That, and getting distracted by whatever new thing came around. Like, “What? Lance wants me to ride for Variflex? Oh my God, yes!”


I never even thought about the consequences of quitting these teams. I was just having fun with all of these lucky breaks I had come my way. Riding for G&S and Variflex… I rode for Zorlac!

John Plays Skateboarding With Zorlac

I didn’t know that.


It’s a pretty funny story. Grosso and I saw this tiny quarter-page Zorlac ad that said “Skate Tough or Die” with a little guy carrying an axe. We got so stoked on that thing. Zorlac was really small at the time, but it felt like the beginning of a DIY-style brand. I just wanted to be part of it somehow. 


I ended up calling the number on the ad and Jeff Newton picks up the phone. 


“Hey, I’m John Lucero. I ride for Variflex and I do pretty good in contests, but I’d really like to ride for Zorlac.”


And he’s like, “Why!?!”


“Because it’s rad, man!”


I basically talked him into it, until he was finally like, “Well… if you really want to, I guess.”


He sent me a little package, which must’ve taken a lot for him to send all those boards from Texas. Because he was still working out of his garage back then. So yeah, I got to play skateboarding for Zorlac.

John and the Banner, 2022

Just some dude doing it for the love. 


It was so small, I remember Jeff Newton asking one time, like, “Hey, if I send you a Zorlac banner, could you hang it at one of those contests you go to for me?”


“Send me that banner.”


And I did! I carried it around to every contest. And when nobody was looking, I’d either try to slide another banner over or just take it down completely, and hang our Zorlac banner proudly. 


So good. 


But through all this, Grosso was riding for Variflex. And one day, he tells me, “Hey, they’re buying me a ticket to the Kona Summer Nationals. They said if you go back to skating for Variflex, they’ll send you, too!”




It just so happened that he’s telling me this right in the middle of an amateur contest at Upland, and I’m riding for Zorlac. I’m actually standing there, about to drop in for my run, wearing a Zorlac shirt. 


“They said if everything goes well, they’re gonna give you a pro model.” 


“I’m in!”


“But you have to do it right now.”


“Okay… give me your shirt.”


I whip off my Zorlac shirt and put on Jeff’s Variflex shirt. 


“Alright, up next is John Lucero, riding for Zorlac!”


“Variflex! Variflex!”


“Okay… riding for Variflex again, John Lucero!”


Jeff always told that story better than I do. But that’s what I mean, I wasn’t team jumping to fuck these guys over. Zorlac was great. It was just fun being in the middle of these new ideas. 

John's Unreleased Zorlac Graphic 

I know your first pro board wasn’t your artwork. 


So yeah, Variflex decides to give me a board and, like I said, I’ve always had these ideas floating around in my head. I’d secretly draw my own graphics for companies that nobody ever saw. Imagining I had a board coming out for my sponsor, what would that look like? Like, I drew my own Zorlac graphic in their style. Jeff Newton didn’t even know about it. 


When it came time to get my own board for real, obviously, I wanted to draw my own graphics. And I did. I hand drew a graphic on two prototypes for an upcoming tradeshow. 


Well, when the Variflex guys came back, they actually bring up Zorlac to me. That they wanted my graphic to be more like Pushead’s artwork, which was making a big splash at the time… and that’s all it took for me to feel like I got shut down. 


I guess I can’t draw my own graphics. I guess I’m not good enough. 

Had Neil drawn his own graphics yet? 


Yes, which was wild for a company to give a rider free reign like that. And made me want to do my own graphics even more. 


I knew Pushead a little bit, so I reached out. Because my drawing got shut down and they said they liked Pushead’s stuff, I guess I’ll ask Pushead to draw my graphic. 


“I can’t really do that for Variflex because I’m doing all this Zorlac stuff, but I have a friend you should contact. His name is Chet but he goes by XNO. Here’s his number.”


XNO ends up sending me a few zines of his artwork and I thought they were rad. I show them to the guys at Variflex and it’s exactly what they’re looking for. Alright then, Chet’s in Tennessee. I’ll just send him my shape in the mail, outlining all the places where art could be screened on. And that’s what he came up with. Some creepy little guys in bondage gear with a gnarly bondage chick. 


I was wondering where the S&M motif came from, because your drawing was a skull with wings, right? 


Yeah, that’s the one that got shut down. 


The bondage motif came from XNO. Not that I would’ve ever come up with S&M on my own, but I did like the graphic. 


I will say that when it came in, I immediately had my own ideas of how we could flip it this way or that way. Because while I am an artist, I feel like I’ve always been a better designer. I can draw stuff, but I also like to take things I’ve found and figure out how to make them look cool on skateboards. 

Did you know Gonz was choosing that graphic for your Krooked Guest Board? 


No, but it made sense. As a youngster, Mark would always come into Variflex and get boards either at discount or straight out of the trash can. But he always seemed to like Variflex stuff, and that board being my only Variflex graphic, I feel like that was a bonus for him. 


When that original board came out, I’ve heard it was ill-received by a few shops. Because it was kinda shocking for back then. They made a few runs of it, but still being in my team-jumping phase, I soon left for Santa Cruz. 


How’d Madrid enter the picture? 


Well, Jeff had gotten on Santa Cruz, which was always my dream team. And once again, through some miracle, they gave me a shot. The only catch was they weren’t going to give me a pro model right away. I’d still be pro, but they were gonna make me earn my board. 


The problem was I kept getting hurt. I got blasted by a car as I was crossing the street, right before the second San Francisco street contest. Then, I ended up looping out at the Texas contest at the Clown Ramp and damaged the vertebrae in my neck. I had to learn a backside boneless, which I couldn’t do very well at time. I ended up looping out on a backside boneless and landed on my neck. I basically ended up in this paralyzed position on the flatbottom. I couldn’t move, dude. I could only just lay there… which there’s a really funny photo from that day where all the guys came out and started laying around me. It’s really funny. I don’t know if it was a sign of solidarity or what but it looks like a bunch of dead bodies on the ramp. But yeah, I landed on my head and I couldn’t move. Not that I was paralyzed, but if I moved my foot, the gnarliest pain would just shoot down my spine. So yeah, I had to go home and recover from that. 

John and Friends, Paralyzed On The Clown Ramp. Photo: Brittain

I missed out on a lot of stuff at that time. Even though it was only a few months, it felt like an eternity. And it didn’t look like I was gonna get a model on Santa Cruz any time soon. 


Finally, I’m down at the Huntington Beach street contest and end up getting third place. I run into Jerry Madrid, and he’s like “You did good today, man. Is Santa Cruz ever going to make you a board?”


“Fuck, I don’t think so.”


“I’ll make you a board tomorrow.”


“Can I draw my own graphics? Can I design my own shape?”


“Yeah, you can do whatever you want.”


Ba-Boom! Madrid offered me a chance to prove myself in so many ways. As a pro, a manufacturer, an artist… everything. And the coolest part was that after all those years of thinking I could do this stuff, I actually could. I had it in me. I knew how to draw graphics. I knew how to do color separations, cut rubies and make films. And even if I’d never done it before, I could get the experience and learn how. That’s how I learned how to make shapes and figure out how wood worked. I got a crash course in everything that couldn’t really be taught. And I’m so grateful to Jerry for all that. 


Did you see your joker character as an alter-ego? 


A little bit, yeah.


When I was trying to think of graphic ideas, a joker’s playing card was something that came to mind pretty early on. Because I’ve always fancied myself a funny guy. Most people thought I was funny and it made sense to me… Because I’ve never really taken myself seriously, or rather, I never wanted to present myself as overly serious. 


There is a difference. 


For sure. Because I can be serious about things, I just never wanted to appear that way. Because you see how people are, they get their little persona going. Like, how some guys are tough? I grew up reading those Dogtown articles, Tony Alva and Jay Adams seemed like the toughest guys in the world! But even back then, I always wondered what they were always so mad about!? I’m not a tough guy at all, and that’s the beauty of skateboarding. My friends and I are just out there, having fun. Throwing our boards at each other. We’re dorks, man. Sure, we can take a slam, but we’re not trying to fight people or be all scary. That stuff always turned me off.


So yeah, with Jerry giving me a blank canvas at Madrid, that’s where my imagination kicked in. Because Madrid didn’t really have a look at the time, and I have all these ideas. 


If you look at my joker graphic, I put a lot of steady handwork into that. Everything got a little sloppier afterwards, but I really tried on that one. And once I got it the way I wanted, coming out of the jack-in-the-box, I brought it in and Jerry was into it. 


I originally wanted it to be fluorescent pink, but they’d just done a Mike Smith board in hot orange.


“How about green?”


I didn’t really like the idea at first, but once you set it up, it looked super rad. And it sold very well. That meant so much to me, man. Yes, I can draw a graphic and yes, people will like it. 

Were you and Grosso always a package deal for Schmitt Stix? And were you always gonna work in the art department, too? 


So yeah, Madrid was great. And there was no real reason for me to leave, except for “Oh! Schmitt Stix boards are pretty!” That’s really all it was.


At the time, Jeff had become a top amateur riding for Santa Cruz. And very well-known to be his nickname, “the Brat”. He’d recently discovered a Monty Nolder Schmitt Stix board on a shelf somewhere, back when Paul was making boards out of his bedroom at his mother’s house. And this thing was just oozing with Epoxy, man. Just really fucking good.  


Well, Jeff got a hold of one and ended up cutting his own shape out of it, because Monty boards were so big. He skated it for one day and decided that he could never ride another board ever again. To the point where he actually made Santa Cruz buy these boards and cut out his shape for him!


This was around the time when Schmitt, Chuck Hults and John Grigley all moved out here to work with Brad Dorfman on a workshop. Jeff and I just happened to run into those guys at Del Mar one day, and suddenly, Jeff’s like, “We should ride for Schmitt Stix! Make it happen!”


Alright. So, I talk to Paul and he seems into it, but he has to run it by Dorfman. 


I end up meeting with Brad a few days later, and the first thing he says to me is, “Listen, Schmitt Stix is a tiny brand, but Paul is building us a workshop, which means we’ll have good boards for all our brands. I think you should ride for Vision, with all our other creative guys. And you can do whatever you want there.”

“That sounds pretty cool...”


“And I feel like Jeff should ride for Sims and follow in the footsteps of the greats, like Brad Bowman and Jeff Phillips.”


“Yeah, but we want to ride for Schmitt Stix.”


“Okay… well, I guess we can make that happen.”


I come back a few days later with mine and Jeff’s Schmitt Stix graphics. And Brad gives me a job in the Vision Art Department with Grigley, Jinx and Greg Evans… because my Mom was gonna kill me if I didn’t have a real job. 


I remember my first real assignment for Vision, because Kevin Staab was going to ride for Sims. Can you draw his graphic?


“Yeah, I can do that!”

The Scientist. 


Yeah, that’s the one. The first thing I ever worked on that wasn’t for me or my team. But I knew Kevin, we grew up skating together all the amateur contests together. And I still remember Kevin coming in with this drawing of a mad scientist character that his friend had done. I hadn’t thought of the theme, but I saw what he was wanting to do with. The problem was that I just didn’t think it would work as-is for a skateboard graphic. But from that initial art, I got an idea for a different way we could do it. And once I could see it in my brain, I knew how to draw it. 


Yeah, because I was wondering, like the brat and the joker, if that scientist was based on any part of Kevin’s personality.


No, he just had that little piece of art that his friend had done and he liked it. Nothing more than that. 


Honestly, I didn’t think what I did was very good, either. I never really think any of my stuff is very good. But that board sold really well… so I guess that’s success. A lot of people seemed to like that one. Something about it. 


I know your cage graphic came from a cereal box, but was the joker always going to be the reveal in your second model? 


No, not at all. 


The cage graphic was a sticker I found in a box of Trix cereal when I was a kid, and I just thought it was awesome. I’d always stare at it, thinking how rad it would be on the bottom of a board, because of the wooden door and everything. This was well before I was sponsored. I’d had that sticker since the 70s. 


Alright, so now, Jeff and I need graphics for Schmitt Stix. Let me get these done. But what happened was, I spent so much time drawing Jeff’s brat graphic that I kinda forget about my graphic. Look no further, I guess it’s time to break out that sticker idea. So, I peel it off my trunk real quick and redraw it. It’s not the exact same thing, I did put my own spin on it, but you can totally see where I got it from. And I was able to bust it out in a night, which is good because I had to give both graphics to Brad the next day. 


But going back to the Variflex days… I am, without a doubt, the first skater to ever have their name taken off a board and have it be called something else, due to its popularity. Because Variflex took my name off my S&M model and renamed it “The Grim Ripper”. 

courtesy: Disposable
(couldn't find the Grim Ripper)



I can’t remember if I was bummed or if I just thought it was stupid. But I do remember them doing an ad for it that I was embarrassed by. Luckily, it was pretty quick. I knew it was out there but never saw much of it. 


Anyway, this leads to my joker board on Madrid and all that, before I quit to ride for Schmitt Stix. Well, five months into my tenure at Schmitt Stix, Madrid comes with the X-Teamrider… my old joker graphic without my name on it! It happened again! 


The Grim Ripper was bad enough, but that was just another Variflex idea. Another weird complete board to sell in department stores. But the X-Teamrider? That means it’s me! And I was bummed, man… because honestly, it was a pretty good idea, too. 


So, about a year goes by, and there’s talk of me doing a mini, but I always thought minis were lame. What I wanted was a street board. Because during all this, I do get slightly credited for early street skating. And I already had a street shape going, 9.5 by 32. Long and skinny, with a bit of nose. I used to have them made custom for me. 


Is that the Street Thing?


Kinda. The Street Thing that got released was Brad’s compromise with me. We’d do my street board, but shortened to the size of a mini, 9.5 by 29.5. So, the Street Thing technically fit in the mini category, but as long as they kept making my longer ones, I didn’t care. 


The Street Thing graphics came from when everybody was drawing on their griptape. I started drawing peace signs on mine and Lucero just happened to fit inside there. Because my hair was getting long, I got some John Lennon glasses. I started to think that not only was I funny, I guess I’m a hippie guy now, too. 


So those Street Thing graphics were sincere? 


Yeah, that’s what I was feeling at the time. Just a fun, positive thing to put out there. 


Because I really wanted a yellow happy smiley face. And I was putting a lot of flames on my griptape back then, too. What if I just put all this stuff together, like a rad psychedelic hippie vibe? That would be a rad street board! A street thing!

After the Street Thing came out, they start asking about a new full-size shape with a continuation of my bar graphic. But I couldn’t get that fucking X-Teamrider out of my head. I’m pissed. So, I start looking at that guy back behind those bars on my first graphic… there’s no reason why that couldn’t be the joker. It’s pretty much the same eyes. Let me see if it actually works. I sketch a few things and start playing around with overlays. Yes, I think I can pop that guy out of the bars. 


X-Teamrider? No, we’re doing the X-2, meaning the X-Teamrider 2. Not as a slam on Madrid, just as the next thing for me. 


Because at this point, my boards are selling well. We all had the same contract back then, $1.50 a board. I had two boards out and was also riding for Vision Street Wear, which got me an extra $200 a month. And we were happy… at least, I was. I’m making $15,000 a month in royalties!

photo: Brittain

Street skating was largely seen as a novelty at first, but did you always see the potential there? 


Well, up until Gonz, Natas and TG, I saw myself as a street skater. And I still think I am. I feel like that’s what I’ve always done. I grew up skating the streets in my neighborhood. We all did. And before the skateparks, magazines were all about “riding the streets”, even if it was just cutbacks and turns. 


Even going to skateparks as a kid, I’d always end up in the darkest corner of the park. Trying to make the most of my two-hour sessions. This usually put me on some tight little bank, pretending to do inverts and tailtaps while the gnarly guys did those same tricks in the pools. But I always played on the smallest obstacles, and I think there’s something to that. 


I always thought curbs were fun. When rock-n-roll boardslides came out, I’d do them on curbs, too. Just figuring it all out. And it was kinda funny… compared to those giant bowls. 


But when my friend Richard and I got kicked out of the skatepark for being smartasses, we didn’t really have anywhere else to go. So we just stayed in the parking lot, skating the curbs. We did that every day. Not to antagonize those guys, we just wanted back inside. Maybe if we hung around long enough, they’d let us back in. But in the meantime, we’ll skate out here. 


I always felt there was something to it. Because the streets are so accessible, we just needed to figure it out. Not that street skating was new, it’d been around forever. We didn’t invent that shit. Believe me, I hate taking credit for the slappy. It’s just a curb grind. 

You and Lance typically get thrown around for that one. 


I did name it. I’ll own up to that. For some reason, I saw Lance do one and instantly called it a slappy. But people had been doing grinds on curbs for a long time. Brad Bowman had a picture in Skateboarder Magazine grinding a curb. But the actual slappy method did come from Lance and I. 


Because there was this guy who used to skate the park named Rick Tracy, that’s how he’d do backside grinds in the pool. He’d just pump it up there, hit the bottom of the coping and lap over the top. It was actually kinda funny to us. We’d laugh about it all the time. 


Next thing I know, Lance and I are out in the parking lot, goofing around. We start doing that on the curbs out front. Carving into curbs and then slashing it up there. Just dorking off. But after a couple times, we really starting cracking into it… It’d go “Wah-Bap!”. And I remember thinking to myself, this is fucking awesome! 


We started doing them from then on. Crack, crack, crack! Just the way it felt. That little technique. Backside and then learning frontside. Just the raddest feeling.

But I feel like the push cart definitely came from you.


(laughs) Yes, that’s my trick. But it’s not called the push cart, it’s actually called “commando training”. It’s just Neil got the first photo of it at the Sacto Street Contest and they called it a push cart for some reason. But I will lay claim to that one. That’s 100% something stupid I came up with to make people laugh. Because people have a hard time with that one but I could do it right from the get-go. The way you wrap your foot in and out of it? I called it commando training, like you’re doing training exercises to become a commando. Just a stupid human trick I came up with… same with no complies. 


No complies came from bonelesses, right? With Blender?


Yeah, Neil and I were trying to learn bonelesses one day in the Gemco parking lot, out by my parents’ house. We used to do a ton of stuff over there, actually. We didn’t even think to document it. 


But yeah, we were over there, messing around. And because we could already do these wallie bonk-kinda things over parking blocks… I used to call them “smashers.” Using that same idea, I go “Hey, I think we could do a boneless over this curb without grabbing.”


Just take your foot off and pop it over. Bonk it off the curb and it pops even higher. I remember it taking forever to figure out to how to land back on it, but once we did, Neil, Hago and I were just laughing. 


“I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand. No comply!”


And that’s where it came from. Neil got the first photo of that one, too. But saying that I invented the no comply, which is true, sounds so stupid. It’s just a dumb trick… but it’s fun!

Talk about the early Lucero Skateboards. Because walking away from $15,000 a month couldn’t have been easy.


Just a puppy chasing after a new bone. (laughs)


It all came down to me wanting to do a new board. Because like I said, I was always riding longer boards that they’d make custom for me. I wanted to do a longer board that we could actually put out. I already had the graphics done; my red cross graphic. But when I presented the idea to Paul, I guess I caught him on a bad day or something. Because he wasn’t into it.


“Boards that size don’t really sell. Graphics like that don’t really sell, either.”


I love Paul, but everything went completely sideways over the course of this one conversation. I went from being totally in love with riding for Schmitt Stix to us screaming at each other and me quitting the company! It escalated that quickly. 


I know he was just mad, but the one thing he said that really got me was that I didn’t know the first thing about running a skateboard company.


“Well, I think I do. I do all your graphics. I do all your ads. I have a top-selling board.”


And over the course of this one shitty ten-minute conversation, it ends with, “Alright, well, I guess I’ll just make this board myself. I fucking quit!”


I had no plans of starting a skateboard company, I just got backed into a corner. I felt like I wasn’t being appreciated, which is probably the same way Paul felt. And with us both being so young, we said some lame shit. And I walked out of the room just as quickly as he could turn the other way. That was it. 


On the way home, I’m in total disbelief. But I didn’t even think about trying to smooth things over. I was done. No plan at all. 


I wake up the next morning, like “What am I going to do? Well, I said I was gonna start my own company, I guess that’s what I have to do.”


Where’d the Elephant come from? 


Back when I was on Madrid, I moved into this little apartment with Bob Schmeltzer called “Blue Death” … Jinx came up with the name. It wasn’t furnished, so I went into a nearby thrift store and they just happened to have a vintage painting of that elephant. 


“Oh, this is pretty funny. I’m gonna hang this in my living room.”


And I still have it. It’s a production-style piece you’d hang in a kid’s room or nursery. 


One day, we’re all partying at my house. Taking acid, which I don’t do anymore. And I go, “If I ever have a skateboard company, that elephant is gonna be my logo.”


But that was way earlier. By the time I’m actually going to do a company, I’d moved and that painting was in storage somewhere. I didn’t even know where it was. So I just redrew it from memory, what I remembered it looking like. And that’s the elephant logo you see today. The same drawing. 


Once I found that painting again, years later, the elephant looks totally different. He’s facing the opposite way and has much longer legs, but he is sniffing a flower and does have very similar characteristics. 


What about Thumbhead?


One of the not-so-fun things about running a company is the ads. Because no matter what, they’re always due every four weeks. So you’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas. I did have a few riders by then, but we didn’t hang out with many photographers. And I never took many photos, either. What are we going to put in these ads? I’ll be honest with you, after a while, I started putting just about anything in those things.  


At the time, I was staying with Grigley a lot. He was always doing Xerox-style art back then. I remember being over at his house one day, super hungover, and he’s Xeroxing postcards. One of them was for this movie from the 60’s, Children of the Damned. The main image was of all these little kids’ faces, which John had blown up because he thought they looked funny. 


At the top of the postcard was the kid who ended up being Thumbhead, because his head was cut off by the edge. When John Xeroxed it, it left this extra space up there, so we started drawing these different heads on him to fill in the space. We just thought it was funny. John gave him a big squarehead. A big Frankenstein head. And when we gave him a big elongated head, that must’ve been our favorite. Thumbhead. 


It just so happened that I had an ad deadline coming up… boom, there it is. Use that postcard image with our little Thumbhead addition, add my two logos at the bottom and we’re done. No explanation given. It was never supposed to be a graphic or anything, but when I saw it in print, I just loved it. 

How’d you end up partnering with Rocco?


Rocco used to be the team manager for Vision, Sims and Schmitt Stix. He was awesome, but kinda crazy, too. Always thinking a little differently. And he was always fighting with Dorfman, until they finally had a falling out and Steve lost his job. I don’t really know what about. 


He starts doing his SMA thing, which I thought was great. And I end up seeing him at a CASL contest. I remember him being so excited that I’d quit Schmitt Stix, because in Steve’s mind, I was fucking over Brad by starting my own thing… which, not really, dude. 


He starts asking about my plans and everything. I had to be honest with him, because I had no idea where to even start. Because I’d talked to Madrid and had a few sample boards made, but I didn’t know how to put it all together. I had money and ideas, I just couldn’t connect the dots. 


“Alright, come down and see me. I’ll show you how I’m doing it and you can just do the same thing.”


So I go down and we have lunch. He shows me his Prime woodshop, which wasn’t called Prime back then. They were making boards for Z back then, actually. But it was obvious that we’d both fallen into this thing at the same time, so Steve just floats it out there.


“Why don’t we just do this together?”


“Uh… okay!”


“Let’s make a distribution together. What should we call it?”


“How about Prime Time Distribution?”


And the next thing I know, we’re doing this, but he’s going way faster than I am. He’s already got a couple rounds of boards made. He’s selling them. And he doesn’t know what he’s doing either, he just knew to do it. That’s the genius of Steve. He has this “go for it” spirit. But at the same time, he seemed almost fueled by vengeance. He needed to prove to everybody that he could do this. And he seemed willing to do almost anything to badmouth Brad. I could never figure that out, and I never liked that about him. Sure, it could be funny sometimes, but he’d always take it too far… which obviously became a theme. 


The problem was our boards were junk, so I hesitated. I didn’t want to make my boards until they were better. And I was working on stuff, but after a while, I got pretty disenfranchised with everything. I didn’t want to keep doing it this way.  

Jeff ends up telling the NHS folks about my woes, because they’re interested in how I’m doing. And they call me. 


“We hear you’re having some problems, we’d love to help. How about we take care of the manufacturing end and you just do your thing? What do you think?” 


Boom, here’s my way out! Because I still hadn’t made any Lucero product with Rocco yet. Maybe a few t-shirts or whatever, but that was it. 


So, I bail on Steve. And about a month later, Skip Pronier calls me from Screaming Squeegees, because he’s working there at the time.


“Hey, we just screened a bunch of your boards. Rocco’s bootlegging your boards.”


And he did. He fully bootlegged my first run of boards, without my authorization. He actually put my boards out before I did. I was fucking pissed. 


I end up running into Steve at the “Back to the City” contest and threw a little threat… because now I’m a tough guy. Not that I was gonna kill him or anything, I’m just gonna call him names or whatever. But, of course, he’s one step ahead. Jesse Martinez comes blazing over to me, ripping off his elbow pads. I don’t want that energy. I love Jesse, but he’s the enforcer. He’s basically guarding Rocco and is about ready to light me up in front of everybody. It was scary.


I just had to tell him, “Jesse, I’m an easy kill. I’m not going to fight you. Do whatever you’re gonna do, but he ripped me off. And he’s gonna rip you off, too. I don’t know what you have going with him, but he ripped me off big time.”


Luckily, Jesse didn’t break my teeth out. 


And I gotta say, years later, Jesse actually did come up to me and say, “Hey man, I’m sorry for that. And you were right, Rocco did rip me off.”

How’d the Kill Rocco boards come about? 


We found a few of those bootlegs and spray-painted them. Because when Skip called me that day, I immediately rolled down there. Like, what the fuck? These guys are supposed to be my friends! 


“Why would you screen my boards for him?”


“Rocco paid us double to do it!”


He had my shapes. He had my graphics, because we’d already screened my sample boards… he did make the boards with my new concave, which was nice. But yeah, my friends fully screened my boards for Rocco and sent them out the door. 


I did manage to grab a few, which I spray-painted “Kill Rocco” on. Just for fun. There was no social media back then, nobody’s ever going to see them. But it just became one of those funny stories over the years. There was only three of them, and I rode one. But I did keep a brand new one, too. I still have it. 


Was that beef ever settled?


I kinda stop caring after a while. He got a good one over me but I had my Santa Cruz deal going. And Jesse allowed me to live. I’ll take that as a win. 


He did send me a royalty check one time, completely out of the blue. Based off $2 a board. I wish I still had that check, but I ripped it up and threw it away. Never cashed it. Just to prove the point that I never allowed him to make those boards. 


We didn’t talk for years… until I finally ran into him again, right as he was starting Big Brother. 


“Come on down and hang out! I’ll give you an ad in the magazine!”


Whatever, I never liked that magazine much. But I still went down and checked it all out. And he did give me a few ads for free, just to be nice. He even laid a couple out for me.


“We’ll use video grabs!”


He ended up using these shitty video grabs of Gino. You can’t even see what he’s doing because the resolution’s so bad. 


But yeah, I guess it was squashed after that. It was never really brought up again. 


Rocco went off and did what he did. Obviously, he was quite successful. People often ask if I regret walking away from that. Not at all. Because the way I am and the way he was towards people, like the “Dear George” ad? And some of the things he did with the younger riders on his team? I would’ve never allowed that shit to happen. It would’ve been a different company because I would’ve stopped all that. 


I always thought there was something a little creepy about Rocco, too. Not to say that I didn’t like him, but when you think about all the energy he put into World and all the rad stuff he put out, just to sell the company and never be heard from again? That’s not a skater, dude. It’s actually kind of a waste.


What happened with you and NHS?


Well, my deal at Santa Cruz was pretty cut-and-dry. I was making a fair percentage off my sales, but I also had to pay for advertising, my team stuff and everything else. So, after all that, I really wasn’t doing that great.


I ended up running into Dorfman at a tradeshow and we started talking about things. After a while, he goes, “Hey, if you’re ever thinking about taking Lucero Limited somewhere else, you could do it out of Vision. It’d be like the old days.”


Well, that’s enough for me!


NHS was nice enough to let me go and I brought Lucero LTD to Vision without much of a hiccup. Another good thing was that I also got Grosso back on the team. Because he always wanted to ride for Lucero Limited when I was at NHS, but they wouldn’t let us. So, when I told Jeff that I was leaving to go back to Vision, he goes, “Fuck yeah! I’m coming with you!”


That’s why I decided to make a return to our old Schmitt Stix graphics. Transformation graphics, to continue that lineage. I thought those turned out good. 


We were only at Vision for about a year or so when skateboarding started to take a nosedive. Vision was having a hard time. And I came to the realization that if I was ever going to do a company on my own, it would have to be now. That’s when it became Black Label. 

Which came from drinking Black Label beer one weekend, right? 


Yeah, but I was gonna change the name anyways. After leaving Vision, it just felt like the right time.


Describe the balance of sponsoring your older vert friends alongside these younger street kids? 


I’ve always believed that skateboard kids don’t really care what it is, they just want to see rad stuff. And no matter how “outdated” vert might’ve seemed at the time, some guys carryover. No matter how “vert” Grosso was, everybody loved him. Same with Schroeder. 


Trends come and go. Whether it’s teched-out street skating or whatever, I see the radness in all that stuff, which is probably why our riders have always had so much range. Not that I’m trying to sponsor all these different types of skaters, I just like their personalities and how they look in photos. Like, Gino is nothing like Riky Barnes, yet they’re on the same team together.


When we went to Vision, things were already moving in a street-y direction. And we knew that, for sure. We had a couple young street riders. But at the same time, our board shapes didn’t reflect that. Like Jeff’s board on Lucero LTD had as square of a nose as we could get, because that’s what he wanted. 


Skip Pronier and Shawn Martin are riding these boards. They love them, but at the same time, they’re seeing all these other brands losing those edges. We were very late on that one. It wasn’t until Max Evans finally said, “I need a round tail on my board” that we finally got it going.


What was Max’s connection with Pep Boys?


He just loved Pep Boys! Max had a Dodge Dart that he was always working on, so he’d spend a lot of time there. Just a little punk kid who loved his old car. And that Pep Boys logo has always been the raddest. I remember looking at it, like “Manny, Moe and Max.” This is perfect! 


I’d already drawn that Max character for his graphic on Poor House, because it was my friend Bob Schmeltzer’s company. And I loved that graphic, too. Max with the Axe. But not that many of them were made... Maybe 50 or so before Bob had to shut down the company. He just couldn’t do it anymore. But Bob knew that I always loved Max, so when they approached me about his possibly riding for Black Label afterwards, it was a done deal. 

I wanted to put out a board for him right away and figured that we might as well use his axe graphic. After all, I drew it and those boards barely got out there anyway. So I changed the little Poor House logo on the axe to say "Black Label" and tweaked the shape a little bit. 

His second board was the Manny, Moe and Max one. We already had our little Max face and it fit perfectly... There you go. 

Obviously he got on later, but wasn’t Hensley supposed to be a Black Label OG at one point?


Yes, there’s a story about that, too. 


When we were first kinda getting going with Lucero LTD, I’m starting to get a little better acquainted with this new generation. Not that I was very far off, but I’d just been focusing on what was around me. 


A new issue of Poweredge Magazine comes out and there’s a sequence of Matt Hensley with a big Lucero sticker on the nose of his board. I remember Skip showing it to me, like “Check it out!”


I’m like, “Rad! Who’s that guy?”


“That’s fucking Matt Hensley!”


“Oh, yeah… of course!”


“Dude, he rides for H-Street. He’s the fucking best!”




It was a little bit after that first video they had where he’s still pretty rough around the edges. It looks like he’s skating one of the first prototypes of his pro board. 

Shackle Me Not.


A few months later, I ended up running into him at a tradeshow as I was changing over to Black Label. Same tradeshow as that Max story I was just talking about. I meet him at the bar, of course. We start talking and turns out, he really is awesome. He’s a great dude. 


I remember he goes, “Dude, check it out!”


He had one and only tattoo at the time, his first tattoo. He lifts up his leg and it’s the Black Label elephant. 


“No way!”


“Dude, I love the elephant. I love everything you’re doing.”


“Well... I’m starting a whole new company right now. I’m calling it ‘Black Label’…I think you need to skate for us.” (laughs)


This was pre-Plan B, actually. And Matt’s such a nice guy, he doesn’t know how to say no either. After a couple of beers, I think he may have half-assedly agreed to think about it. A few days later, he’s panicking, because there’s no way that he’s gonna be able to quit. I understood, but kept in touch with him. And down the line, Matt actually did end up skating for us. 


Talk about Cardiel coming to Black Label. Because while you did turn him pro pretty early, he’d be SOTY within a year.


Luck of the draw, man! I was at one of those Powell Skate Zone contests and he was there. I’d heard of him before but this was my first time seeing him. Fucking guy is gnarly! I remember him doing forward flips over the pyramid, trying to land back on his board! Just insane.  


So, I had my little 70’s van in the parking lot… 


The same one in your graphic?


Yep, the John van! 


We’re all out there, having a good time. John walks outside so we call him over, and everybody just became quick friends that day. We all liked John. And he opened up to us that he wasn’t sure if Dogtown was still going. 


“Well, if you ever need anything, just let me know. Here’s my phone number.” 


And he actually called!

“Hey, looks like Dogtown is going under. Can I still get some boards?”


“Dude, yes. And we need to make you a pro board. Would you be down?”


“Yeah, I’m down.”


That’s seriously how it happened. I had zero hesitation, because he’s just so rad. 


I know now that the people up north wanted him to ride for Think. It just so happened that he took our offer first and those guys found out about it a little too late. They were bummed, too. At first. But once they accepted it, they were totally rad and supported him anyway. 

Was it true that you didn’t know what “switch” was for an early Gino ad?


Yep, that’s true. 


What do you think attracted Gino and Dill to Black Label? 


Well, Dill came first. He came when Black Label was still big boards and square tails. But he rode for House of Kasai before that, so everything was a step-up from there… no offense, Lester. (laughs)


He was skating in Huntington with all the guys and just got stoked on the company. It was Simon Woodstock who brought it up, actually. Because he was always just “Dill”. Just a funny kid. A super skate rat, too. But if he’s down to ride for us, let’s get it going. And let’s give him the biggest board we make. Give him a Schroeder. 


Gino was straight sponsor-me tape, which we typically didn’t do. I still remember receiving his tape in the mail one day, like, “Gino Iannucci? What a rad name.”


I pop it in and it’s this total unknown from Long Island, skating curbs. This was before he got all tech-y. A lot of ollie to lipslide, shift over to grind, back to lipslide… that kinda thing. Wearing jeans and a chain wallet. Just a ripper. Super interesting. 


I remember Grosso goes, “Call him up!”


So, I give him a call and he picks up. He’s just a little kid.


“Hey, I like your tape, man. I’m gonna send you some boards. Do you think you can send in some more footage?”


“Yeah, no problem!”


And that’s how we did it for a while. He must’ve sent in seven of these tapes, and they’re all hilarious, man. Skits with Huf and Keenan. Him in his underwear with a cowboy hat and boots on? With a t-shirt rolled up like a big dong? I loved it. We used a lot of that in those early videograb ads, actually.


I enjoyed hooking guys like that up, but I also had a tendency to treat their skating the same way I did my own. I never made enough of an effort hook them up with photographers or get them filmed. It did happen, but I didn’t put as much effort into that as I should’ve. 

I wouldn’t call it a generation gap, but I imagine those guys were coming from a much different place.  


And I’m just learning all this as I went, too. Because I came up in the contest-era. Suddenly, everything was video. 


Well, you did have that Crummy Promo in ’91. 


Yeah, but for two years prior to that even, we filmed a bunch of stuff. I just never thought it was good enough or we had enough. That and I didn’t know how to put it all together. I knew what I wanted but I didn’t know how to push the buttons. It was Simon Woodstock who actually edited all that together. He’s the one who finally made it happen. 


What I don’t like about that video is that there’s no Jeff or Riky in there. And I can’t figure out why that is. Maybe they were screwing up and I was a little bit at odds with them? I’m not entirely sure. 


It’s super hard to find. I didn’t see it ‘til years later. 


Because it was only meant to be played at our tradeshow booth. The plan was to continue filming and make an official video with those guys in it, too… I think.


I was gonna hand out copies at our booth, but the duplication didn’t go right. We lost all the skate sounds and there were wiggly lines over the footage. So, I just ended up keeping them all. 

Gino’s popularity exploded after backside heelflipping the Gonz. Had you planned on turning him pro before that? 


Gino’s an interesting one because before that era, the team was basically my friends. There was no immediate threat of somebody else swooping in to take my guys. But when that street generation got hot and everybody started stealing riders, it got scary. 


I remember Dill calling me that day from a pay phone, talking all fast with his little kid voice, “Gino just backside heelflipped the Gonz gap!”


“Did somebody get the photo?”


He was so excited, I couldn’t even make out was he was saying. It was crazy. So, I call up Shrewgy. 


“Yeah, Gabe got the shot but it’s going to be a Thunder ad.”


“He’s not even on Thunder!”


“Well, he is now!”


I start feeling this weird panic, because everything’s happening so quickly. 


“Sorry, it’s going to press today. But Gabe has another shot of his switchflip at Hubba. It’s a rad photo, but if you want to run it as an ad, we’re going to have to lay it out today.”


“Yes, run it.”


I think those both came out in the same issue. 

Yeah, it was the Gino show that month. 


Next thing I know, Skip Pronier is calling me, “Dude, I heard Rocco just took Gino out on his boat.”


I don’t know the whole story, but he was clearly getting hit up on all sides. They’re making all this noise up there in San Francisco. Just two Black Label kids rolling up to the spot, and he’s already been scooped up by Thunder. Who knows what’ll happen next? I better take some steps to keep him around. 


We’d already thought about making him a board, but those photos definitely hurried things up a bit. I came up with the “I Heart NY” idea in haste. I wanted to do it but there was so much pressure to get it out as quickly as possible. Because I didn’t want him to leave… and then he left. I got a shaky phone call from him and that was that. 


Was Grosso’s Top Hat graphic in ’92 a retirement board? Was he just out of control at this point? 


What’s funny is that we didn’t even know what “out of control” was back then. We were young and he was fucked up, but we really didn’t know what that looked like yet. 


It was meant to be a retirement board, yes. Because we didn’t know what was going to happen next. He was already getting into trouble. We didn’t really know what to do, other than it’s just kinda over. 


It’s not like he was stripped of his “pro-ness”. He was still working with me. We just thought it would be the best thing. But the reality was, years later, he admitted that he didn’t want that. He was just too ashamed to say anything, because he felt like he deserved to have his board taken away. 


But honestly, I think his board was only retired for 4 or 5 months before we ended up doing another one.  


Yeah, because he got a Transworld cover shortly after that.


And he’s riding that board in the photo! It was their idea to have all the features of that issue listed on his board. It was always planned to be a cover, which we thought was cool. 

As he mounted his comeback in the late 90s, even learning 540s, was there even a question of him officially riding for the Label again? 


No, Jeff was always my little brother. My best friend. And other than the Farewell board, he was always part of Black Label. 


Yeah, he was fucked up for a long time. And he was the king of making bad decisions at the worst possible time. Getting arrested. Wrapping his car around a tree. OD’ing multiple times. But when you’re young, you bounce back. 


One thing about Jeff, he always skated hard. I mean, if he was fucked up on drugs, he wouldn’t really skate. Back then, he would typically have to dry out for a day or two. But once he got himself together enough for a session, he’d always go for it. 


I was so proud of his part in Label Kills, even if I am the worst filmer ever. He really came through on that one. 


Yeah, talk about making Label Kills. That has to be a high point for the brand, right? 


That’s definitely a high point for Black Label. Because one thing I always regret is our lack of video output back then. It’s so important and we just didn’t do it. That’s on me. We did film a lot, but there was always hesitation. Then a couple guys would leave and we’d feel like we had to start all over again. 


I have so much footage of these guys. Gino at Huntington High. He did a noseblunt slide down that ledge by the stairs. It’s rad and no one’s ever even seen it. Why didn’t I put stuff like that out? Skip Pronier’s pro career would’ve been so different. 


The Cardiel-era on video would’ve been great, but I think the Spitfire Video showcased our riders pretty well back then. Because almost all of our riders’ footage in that was stuff we filmed for our own video. I gave them the tapes. They needed stuff of John and everybody, and my guys seemed content with handing over their footage for that project instead, so I did. They all ended up in the video, which was great, but it basically killed our video. And seeing it come out, it was clear that we were almost done with our video. We just didn’t see it through. 


So, there was definitely something that I wanted to prove with Label Kills. 


It’s funny, though. Because I was sponsoring all these older guys, like Matt Hensley and Salman Agah. And in talking with them, they definitely weren’t sure about being able to pull this off. But nobody’s against older guys skating. Guys like that can totally make something rad and not even worry about what other people are doing. Just film some fun stuff and put it to good music. People will respond.


Because when we started making Label Kills, I didn’t really have any younger guys on the team. I had Svitak, but that was it. It was only after we started advertising in 411 that I started receiving more sponsor-me tapes. That’s how I found Adam Alfaro and Jub. The crew just came together as we were filming for the video. Suddenly, it was this multi-generational thing. 


How long did that video take?


Probably about two years in total. 


I love your part in there. So much fun. 


Well, I wasn’t going to have a part at first. But because I’d hired Nagy to film and edit everything, we just became super close. Every time we’d go out to film the guys, if I was there, we’d grab some footage of me doing dumb stuff, too. And the night before the premiere, Nagy goes, “You’re getting a part.” 


I originally wanted to use the Charlie Brown theme song for it. But I was also drinking a lot of tequila at the time, so we ended up using that instead. It’s funnier, too. 

How much input did each rider have in their parts? Because the Kid using Charlie Daniels was definitely a gamble.


One of the reasons I’m so proud of Label Kills is… fuck, I hate to say it like this… but I do feel like I directed that video. I had a vision for how I wanted it to turn out. I came up with the intros and I picked most of the music. And it all started with Jason Adams’ part. Because at the time, Jason thought he should be put out to pasture. 


“No way, you’re the coolest dude on a skateboard.”


I was always listening to “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” in my car back then. And one day, it just hit me. We didn’t even have his footage yet, but Jason skating to this song would be incredible. Luckily, he was into it and I feel like that part turned out pretty perfect. 


We also had a different song for Salman that he vetoed. He wanted Cheap Trick and that was it. Luckily, Label Kills was just prior to when people started getting popped for music. Somehow, we squeaked through without any problems. Because we didn’t pay anything for music. Pretty crazy to think about. 

What about Mike V’s pushing manifesto? 


Yeah, Mike V’s part was different. Because from the second Mike got on Black Label, he knew how he wanted his skateboarding career to go. He wanted to do his demo tours, put on shows and take photos for magazines. That was it. Being in a video was the last thing on his mind. But as we started getting further into Label Kills, I’d always bring it up to him, until he finally relented. 


“I’m down, but I want to do it quick.”


Unfortunately, he ended up breaking his leg, which was such a disappointment. Obviously, we wanted him in there, but the deadline was closing in. 


We did have some footage. Clips at Baldy that he filmed with Nagy. And we had some other stuff of him clinching his fists. Stuff like that. But it wasn’t enough for a whole part. What are we gonna do? 


A couple months go by, all of a sudden, he goes, “Show up at my house tomorrow. I’m gonna cut my cast off and I will fucking film this part.”


“Okay! Wait till we get there and we’ll film you cutting the cast off.”


Unfortunately, he didn’t wait and had already thrown the cast away by the time we got there. But true to his word: we get in the van, drive up to LA and he starts pushing around. Fresh off a broken leg that’d been in a cast for months.


Nagy goes, “Alright, I’ll follow you.”


And Mike starts hauling ass, pedal to the metal like the animal he is, for two days straight. Nagy can barely keep up with him. 


We start planning shots. 


“Okay, skate as fast as you can towards the bus… Alright, push next to the bus this time.”


We realized about halfway through that this could work. Of course, somebody’s gonna have to say something. But looking at it right now, Mike’s a beast. Everything you see there was one fucking go. Like when he ollies up that thing and does a streetplant off the handrail, flipping over backwards? That was one and done. There was no going back to try things over and over again. He just kept going. It was crazy. 


And as far as the song went, it just happened to be playing in his car on the way up there… Harder and harder! But Mike never butted in while we were editing. He trusted us. He just did his part, we put it together and he loved it.

Whose idea was it for Wade to air over his truck? 


(laughs) That was me. Everyone was doing their little mega jumps, I’m like, “Dude, you gotta jump your dump truck.”


And he actually made it happen. Because that was not a good ramp, especially for what we were planning to do. It was basically a vert quarterpipe that shot you straight up into the air. It was hard to get any distance off that thing. But he still managed to do it somehow. 


How did Six Gun happen? 


Obviously, I’ve had a lot of favorite riders over the years, but in my opinion, Jason has it all. So much so that he’s ridden for Black Label three separate times. And honestly, he can quit and come back again for a 4th time. I’m always down. He’s the best. 


Six Gun started with that stencil he made of the cowboy skull and crossed guns. I saw that and immediately thought it would look cool on a board. And in talking about it, I think he got inspired to explore taking it further. Because he’s already making art by this point, which I loved. He’s just so talented, I wonder what he’s capable of if pushed a little more?


So he starts doing this little stencil project, and he’s calling it “Six Gun”.


“This should just be a brand, dude!”




“Yeah, man. I think it would come out killer.”


Because he’s already working on all this Six Gun stuff. All these board graphics and t-shirt designs. He wants to bring Chet Childress onto the team...


“What if we make Six Gun a brand within Black Label? Like, ‘Six Gun by Black Label’?”


In my head, I was thinking of Old Ghosts by Vision. Grigley’s project. It’ll be your designs, you can bring Chet on, and it’ll be your thing. But it’ll still be Black Label. 


He was into it, and it was doing well, too. But like I was said earlier, there’s always an ad due. And after a while, it became more than he wanted to do. He finally had to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want to ride for Black Label.”


It was a rad moment, for sure. But as things become more successful, there are more things you have to manage. I totally understood.

Grosso said that he thought about leaving for years, but did you see it coming? 


I didn’t see it coming but when it happened, it made sense. Because a lot of it is my fault. After everything he weathered over the years, he wanted this. He believed in skateboarding and believed in himself. Skating for your friend’s company is awesome, but can also be difficult as friends tend to not want to talk about serious things. You don’t want it to cloud the relationship. 


I feel like it started after he got sober. He was having a son and really starting to go for it. The Vans Combi-Pool contests started happening. He wanted to do well in those, and when he did, other opportunities arose. 


I just wasn’t taking it seriously enough. And he probably felt like I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should’ve been. He’d also tell you that my company is ran by me, with maybe one or two other friends helping out. There’s so many things that I have to do on a daily basis and I don’t always get everything done. 


Often times, I don’t think Jeff got treated the way he should’ve been because he’s my best friend. And after he quit, I started tracing things back and saw how it could’ve happened. But at the time, I just wasn’t thinking that way because I couldn’t see it happening. 

I have to imagine there being a ton of guys who’ve almost ridden for Black Label over the years, right? Lance Mountain, perhaps?  


That’s funny because Jeff and I used to talk about Lance constantly, but it’s never actually come up. He’s never brought it up and I’ve never asked him. I think I’m too afraid to let him down. 


Dan Drehobl was going to ride for Six Gun. He actually was on Six Gun, until he was told that he wasn’t on Six Gun and offered a spot on Krooked instead. 


Navs and Hewitt were almost on the Label, too, but I hesitated and blew it. And Eric Dressen, back in the building for Label Kills-era, around ‘98 or so. 


30 years later, what keeps you doing Black Label? 


After 30 years of operation, I still see Black Label as an upstart company. The biggest little skateboard company out there. 


It’s always been the team. I love giving opportunities to rad skaters and seeing what they can do with it. Just working with these young guys is all the inspiration I need. That, and I just love making rad boards... Honestly, that’s probably what I love most about it.


It’s really that simple. Making rad boards and sponsoring rad dudes. What else is there? 

After all this, what would you say is your proudest accomplishment in skateboarding? And your biggest regret?


(laughs) Oh, man…


My proudest accomplishment is that I actually got to live my dream of being a pro skater. It really happened. But my biggest regret is that I didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve. I was so concerned with not wanting to appear serious about it, I limited myself. I feel like I was a better skater than what I actually gave. I didn’t make a career out of it the way I should’ve. I was lucky enough to have these opportunities, I just went with it and had fun. But as those opportunities got bigger, they became scarier. Too often, I’d resort to goofing around so I wouldn’t have to step up. And a lot of times, I think I had the ability to be successful at that higher level if I only would’ve allowed myself to try. 


But what I can say? I did it my way. And I’m so thankful. 

Big Thanks To John and Jaime Owens For The Opportunity. 

This Interview Originally Appeared In Closer Skateboarding Mag #1.

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1 comment:

Brendan said...

Thanks so much for posting this interview to the site. I'd love to subscribe to Closer, but at NZ$280 for four issues? Yikes.
I love Lucero and his boards, had a red Schmitt 'X2', a green Schmitt Street Thing and a purple NHS era Street Thing.
The Schmitt boards, to quote Grosso, "were like furniture".
Thanks Eric.