chrome ball interview #158: rick mccrank

All we do is talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. 

photo: jody morris

Coming straight outta Ottawa before relocating to Whistler and subsequently finding yourself sponsored by your girlfriend’s friend on Cherry Bombs, did you actively pursue a pro skateboarding career? Or did this all just kinda happen? 

It was a little bit of both. Because every skater wants to be a pro skater, you know? I would draw my own pro graphics when I was little. I used to call them “Rick Stix” with an x, like Schmitt Stix… but now Chico’s gone and done that for real. 

But no, I never really pursued getting sponsored or anything like that. I just skated and it just all sorta happened for me. 

Did you ever film a sponsor-me tape?

No, never. I was just skating a lot and happened to meet the right people at the right time. I’m very fortunate. 

How do you think this has shaped your overall career? Because here you are, legendary status on the most elite teams of the day, but you’ve never seemed to take it all that seriously.

Well, I was on a happy-go-lucky path with it all until around the time my daughter was born. That’s when I started to take things a bit more seriously. More like a job. But I just couldn’t maintain that way of looking at it. Because there came a point, maybe two years after she was born, where I was having a really hard time with everything. I remember being at a contest in Switzerland and kinda freaking out. My friend… Michelle from Antisocial, actually. She looks at me and goes, “Just have fun.”

She was right, and I actually ended up winning that contest. I literally went out there and just had fun on the course, which sorta reaffirmed my perspective on things and got me back into that mode of thinking. 

What year was this?  

That was 2000. I feel like from 1998 to 2000 is when I was more stressed out about things. Stressed out about the job. Luckily, I was able to turn all that around. 

I don’t know, maybe it is because I never pursued a skate career as a young person? Because skateboarding is a serious thing, but I never really took it that seriously… until I found myself in this crazy position. 

I know that all of this began after a friend turned you “pro” for her local Canadian company, Cherry Bombs. But how did you react to that at the time? Was it a real thing in your mind or was there always a little asterisk there? 

It’s funny because I don’t even think she asked if I wanted to turn pro for Cherry Bombs, she just kinda told me that she was doing it. (laughs)

The whole Cherry Bombs thing came about because I moved into this lady’s house and was dating her roommate. She just happened to have started a skateboard company in Whistler and one day, she goes, “You can ride for us, if you want?”


Like I said, I wasn’t actively looking to get sponsored or anything, but the offer came up so I took it.

After a while, I guess she just felt like the team needed a pro, even though I didn’t really want that. I knew that it was a bit early. I mean, I’ve always been pretty dumb about the skateboarding industry and how it all works, but even I knew that this wasn’t the best idea. But she was my friend and we were doing this thing together, this tiny little company out of Whistler. I didn’t really know much more… I guess that I’m just gonna go with it. 

Wasn’t your graphic some party guy puking? 

(laughs) Yeah, some guy throwing up into a toilet with all kinds of random shit coming out of his mouth. I remember wondering why she chose that graphic for me, because I never partied. I think it was just a drawing they had, something our friend Ross had made. He was another one of the roommates. I don’t know if he actually made it for me, though… I doubt it. 

The first time I ever heard of you was in that Sheep video, which, how did you see the Life of Leisure project as a Cherry Bombs pro? Was this your big opportunity to breakout, possibly? 

(laughs) No, I’ve never tried to break out with anything. I was just skating, you know? And this was also around the time when I quit Cherry Bombs and got on Plan B. I think that I was only on Cherry Bombs at the very beginning of that video. Again, not that I was looking around or anything, it just happened to work out that way. It was time to move on. 

There was never any long-term strategy with any of this, especially back then… And I think you can tell by that part. I mean, I remember really liking the video but I wasn’t into my part at all. 

Why not? 

Well, it’s funny how it happened because I was actually filming for the Plan B Revolution video at the same time. My Sheep part was basically all the footage that didn’t make it into my Plan B part. 

But Life of Leisure came first. 

It did, which didn’t help things out either. (laughs)

That’s wild, because I’ve always wondered why you have the same San Marcos switch line as both your Revolution ender and basically your ender in Sheep as well.

Oh, wow… is that true? I didn’t even realize that. (laughs)

(laughs) I hate to break the news, Rick… 

All these years and nobody said anything?!? 

(laughs) How’d you get on Plan B anyway? 

I ran into Colin McKay and Jody Morris at a skatepark in Whistler. I had met Colin a few times before in Vancouver so we were friendly. I’d already quit Cherry Bombs by this point because it seemed like it wasn’t really growing and was just going to continue being a local Whistler brand… I was actually trying to get on Shorty’s Skateboards at the time. It’s kinda funny to look back on now, but it felt like a pretty big deal back then. 

I remember talking to Colin about everything and he goes, “Hey, if that doesn’t work out, let me know and I can help you out.” And at the time, I just thought he meant that he’d help me get on some other board sponsor. No, he actually meant getting me on Plan B, which was shocking. I still can’t believe that actually happened. 

That must’ve been a crazy adjustment going from local Cherry Bombs to legendary Plan B... 

Oh my god, yes. It was super stressful. Because at first, I was in total shock… and still kinda stoked. But when it actually became a reality for me, I basically had a nervous breakdown. Like, how the fuck am I going to do this? Because I was not good enough to ride for Plan B when I got on Plan B. Not at all. 

I remember going on vacation to Costa Rica with my daughter’s mom and freaking out. It kinda ruined the trip because I was just so stressed. So worried. 

At the time, I was probably a better fit on Cherry Bombs, to be honest. But it’s not like I could say no to riding for Plan B, either. So I just tried to learn on the job, trying to catch up with what I call “California skateboarding”. Figuring out how everything works and what tools I needed. 

I ended up skating with Jeremy Wray and Pat Channita a lot. I went down and stayed with Pat Channita and his family for a while, which was great. I basically watched how those guys did things and emulated that for a while. And yeah, it definitely took me a couple of video parts to figure some things out. (laughs)

Wasn’t it between you and Daniel Haney to be the new am? 

Yeah, that’s what I remember. And it was close, too! Some people wanted me to ride for Plan B and some people wanted Daniel Haney. I don’t know whose call it was… I’m guessing Mary Ternasky because she’s the one who ended up calling to tell me I was on the team. 

How did that work? He wasn’t down there, skating around with you guys, was he? 

No, I never saw Daniel. I think I only knew of him by name from 411 or something. But I definitely knew he was in the running, that it was either me or him. I heard Channita say it and he wasn’t supposed to tell me. Pat had no filter back then, which was pretty awesome.

With Colin backing you, was there ever any talk of getting you on DC? Or even into that Red Dragons mix?

Never DC. We never had that conversation. 

I did skate for the Red Dragon store for a few months, right when I got on Girl. Because I had ridden for a shop downtown named Division that gone out of business. I needed griptape and skate videos, so I got sponsored by the Red Dragon store. It was pretty quick, though, because we started Antisocial not too long after that. 

Yeah, how long have you been doing Antisocial now? 

That was in 2002, so 20 years now… which is crazy to think about. Me and my friend, Michelle Pezel, who I was just talking about. It just seemed like good idea at the time and a great way to support the community, you know?  

…and I still needed griptape. (laughs)

Nah, it’s been a lot of fun. 

photo: serfas

What all went into making Revolution for you? Because for a Plan B vid, your part feels pretty mellow. 

Yeah, like I said, I had to learn a few things, like how a video part were supposed to work. I just didn’t know. I basically went skating downtown every day with my friends, passing the camera around, and that was my part. That was the result. 

It was more like something you’d put on Instagram today than an actual part, especially back then when video parts were such a big deal. 

I didn’t put in the work because I just didn’t see it that way. I skated around Vancouver with my friends and went down to LA a couple of times. That was it. And I thought that I was doing all that I needed to do, but when the video was done and I see my part, I instantly felt like garbage. 

I learned a pretty severe lesson on that one. If you don’t want to completely hate yourself, you’re going to have to work a lot harder at this.

Did you have much control over that part? Or did you just send in footage and hope for the best? 

It’s funny because I was originally supposed to skate to Dr. Octagon in that one. “Earth People”, I believe. New York to California… that one. I had my entire part finished and everything. I remember being in LA and watching my part in a little studio. I remember seeing it and being, like, “Okay.” 

A few weeks later, I go down for the premiere and when my part comes on, my name is spelled wrong. It’s spelled “Rick McKrank” and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh… weird.” But then a Black Sabbath song comes on that I’ve never even heard before, which only added to my overall confusion and self-hatred. Turns out that Danny Way hated the Dr. Octagon song I had and told Wing Ko, the editor, “Why don’t you just have him skate to Sabbath?”

I don’t even think they re-edited anything. They just replaced the song real quick and that was it. Because I honestly don’t remember feeling as bad with the original Dr. Octagon version as I did at the premiere… which was awful. (laughs)

photo: morris

Was there ever footage of that TWS crooked grind cover you had? 

There was footage of that but I think it ended up in this small local video called “Skate Canada”, so I’m not sure how many people saw it. 

I actually did that three or four times for that photo. 

It’s a great cover. And I always liked that little Plan B sticker at the very end of the ledge… did you put that there? 

Oh, yeah… Of course! (laughs)

Did they slide an extra 50 bucks your way for that?

(laughs) No, not a penny. I was just hyped to be skating for Plan B. It was a good vibe, a full family vibe back then. It was great. I probably would’ve never left if they hadn’t shut down back then. 

Weren’t they going to turn you pro before ceasing? 

Yeah, I have a printout of a graphic with my name on it. It’s this drawing of a kid in a candy store because I was super into sugar back then. Fun fact: I haven’t eaten sugar in over year now. 

Good for you, man. That’s not an easy feat. 

Thank you. I had a lifelong love affair with that drug until I finally shook it. 

But yeah, a kid in a candy store. I want to say that it was drawn by Marc McKee, but I could be totally wrong on that. 

I remember getting that print-out of the graphic and being so excited… and then I got the call that they were shutting down the brand, like, right after that. 

So how’d you end up on Birdhouse? And was it discussed that you’d maybe have to film a part in five days? Or is that just how it worked out?

Plan B shut the doors… temporarily, but we didn’t know that at the time. And it just happened to be right when my daughter was born. So yeah, I was pretty stressed out for work. Paying bills and providing for my family. 

Well, I guess I should probably find a new board sponsor, right? Who would I want to ride for? My thought was Birdhouse because they were the biggest brand at the time. They have a new video coming out and they’re really putting themselves out there. They seem like a solid-enough brand, I doubt they’re going to go out of business anytime soon. That’s literally where my head was at. That was the criteria: not going out of business. 

I remember talking to Danny at the time, trying to figure everything out and what we were all gonna do. I mentioned that I’d be interested in possibly riding for Birdhouse and he goes, “Oh, I’ll see what I can do.”

He knew Jeremy Klein pretty well, so yeah, Danny lined that up for me… actually, Danny’s the one who got me on eS back then, too. 

Oh wow, I didn’t know that. 

Yeah, he really hooked me up. 

But as far as Birdhouse went, Danny gave Jeremy Klein my number and he called me up. 

“Yeah, we’re definitely interested. You’re a ripper. We’re doing this video, it’s pretty much done. We’re editing right now, but maybe you could come down and try to get something real quick for it? That would be great.”

So, I flew down for five days and Jeremy and Heath took me out skating every day. I just got on a roll. They were showing me these really great spots and I just kept getting more and more tricks. Jamie Mosberg was mostly filming me, and I happened to know the other filmer really well, Evan Feen. I knew him from Whistler, actually. So I felt comfortable enough being down there and those guys basically unleashed me on spots. I didn’t have any ideas of what to do where… not at all. They just took me places, I tried shit, and it worked out.

I remember them saying, “Okay, I think we need a flip trick” and that’s when I did that frontside flip down the gap. I think Jeremy wanted to backside 360 it. 

But yeah, after a while, they’re like, “Dude, you have enough footage for a part in the video!”

Mouse ended up taking the flight home with me and filmed me the entire way. We went to Vancouver for a day and filmed the intro, walking up to the newsstand and seeing that Help Wanted ad, then he flew back. And then he made it look like I was flying to California in the edit when it was really the opposite way around. 

Movie magic. 

It was awesome, though. That was a really good experience, skating with those dudes…

Sounds like it! You filmed an entire part in five days!

(laughs) There were maybe two or three tricks I had from Vancouver that we slid in there, too. A switch front tail and a big rail… but yeah, it was great. 

photo: atiba

And you’d never been to any of those SoCal spots before? Like San Dieguito or the San Clemente Post Office? 

No, I’d never been to any of those before. Heath and Jeremy Klein just drove me around to wherever. I had no idea where I even was half of the time. But coming from Vancouver where everything is so crusty, those spots almost felt skatepark easy. That happens a lot, actually. When people finally start going to really good spots, it’s like, “Oh, this is actually way easier.” 

What about “The Waster”? 

I think that was something Jeremy and Heath had maybe come up with? I’m not really sure. I just remember riding in Jeremy’s Lexus on our way to a spot, it was nighttime, and they start telling me about this idea they had for a skit in the video. We were all going to be in it together and I was going to be “The Waster”, that I would just waste everything. Like, I take one bite of a candy bar and throw it out of the car window. Stuff like that. Just being super wasteful. 

I had to tell them no. I don’t litter, I’m not going to do that. And I just remember Jeremy giving me one of those long “Okayyyyyy”s with the question mark-kinda deals. (laughs)

I totally felt like a nerd for saying something but I just couldn’t do that. It wasn’t that of a big deal, though. We just thought up something else and made it work. 

photo: tobin

How was the overall vibe as the new guy coming in? Especially with them having filmed for so long and being pretty much done with the video? 

Well, Jeremy and Heath obviously enjoy teasing people. And I definitely remember them calling up Berra to mess with him a little. 

“Hey, we took the new guy to San Dieguito rail. Just so you know.”

“What did he do?”  

Because Berra had worked really hard at that spot and done a bunch of tricks there. Obviously, I didn’t know that. But Jeremy wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily, either.

“We’re not going to tell you, dude. Just wait for the video to come out.”

And how I heard it, Berra wasn’t very psyched on me afterwards because of that. But who knows? This might’ve been Jeremy and Heath fucking with me, too. 

Then the video comes out and you’re mad-dogging the rail on your rollaways.

(laughs) I was just goofing around there. None of that was serious. I honestly didn’t think any of those tricks would actually make it into the video, like the frontboard fakie. But it happened. I think at one point I ended up pointing at Mouse or something, too? I was just having fun. 

But it did feel like the team was stressed out with each other. Coming from Plan B, that felt weird for me, because that sorta thing just didn’t happen there…  But in hindsight, it makes total sense. They’re at the end of this giant video project! Of course, they’re all gonna be burned out. It’s completely understandable, I was just super green. 

photo: morris

Is that why you left? 

Yeah, I just didn’t feel comfortable. Honestly, I’ve never really talked to any of those guys about that. Next time I see them, I should ask if that was really the case. But that’s what it seemed like to me. 

There wasn’t a full-on offer yet, but I do have vague memories of Eric talking about my potentially getting on Girl, which I was totally down for. Just the possibility of that sounded crazy. Because I already knew Colin from years before and Koston and I were always skating together on the road with eS. Those two guys were the ones really pushing for me to get on the team. 

But it’s kinda weird how it worked out, because the team manager of Birdhouse at the time, J. Strickland, heard through the grapevine that I was gonna quit. I guess I’d been mumbling about it for a minute. He calls me up one day, completely out of the blue, like, “Hey, is this what’s happening?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

He was super bummed on me! But I get it. They’d just put me in their video and now I’m bouncing? I didn’t see it that way at the time because I’m dumb, but I didn’t mean to burn those dudes. I was just young and living my life day-by-day, because that’s how young people live. But I remember him saying to me, “If this was my company, I would hunt you down.”


Something like that. I can’t remember exactly how he said it, but it was pretty gnarly. And I was in a mall at the time when I took his call, totally stressing. Like, “Oh shit, I’m really sorry, man! So sorry!”

The thing is, I didn’t have a spot on Girl yet. I was actually unsponsored for a month or two, which felt like years back then. I just had to wait it out, which I don’t know why it took so long. I remember Rick mentioning once that a couple people weren’t quite comfortable with the idea, so I didn’t get the green light initially. I don’t know who… maybe I should ask him about it now, just so I can know. Obviously, we all became really close friends in the end, but I get it. I didn’t really fit on Plan B before that and I definitely didn’t fit on Girl at the time. I just didn’t, but I happened to be really good friends with Koston. 

Weren’t you the first non-OG pro to get on Girl?

Yeah, and I was definitely a funny addition. 

But honestly, I wasn’t as stressed with Girl as I was when I got on Plan B. I was more empowered by the possibility of Girl than anything else. I knew that I didn’t quite fit… but who cares, you know?  It felt right to me. I don’t care what Johnny Skateshop is thinking. If it feels right to me, that’s all that matters. And in the end, it ended up working out. 

You just had to win a few guys over? 

I guess? It’s funny because I remember passing Rick in the hallway at Slam City Jam during that floating time when I didn’t have a sponsor. He barely even looked at me, which I felt was him trying to avoid eye contact. I thought we were gonna have a little chat but he just kept walking. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh fuck!” (laughs)

What’s crazy is that I have no memory of getting the clarification and being asked to ride for Girl. I don’t remember how that went at all. Because I remember Mary Ternasky calling me to ride for Plan B…

And J. Strickland yelling at you in the mall. But Girl was the most elite team back then!

They were the best, dude. Growing up, I used to pretend that I was on the team sometimes. I’d do a backside nosegrind on a ledge and think to myself, “Oh yeah, the Girl trick.”

They were always so good… and I was always shit on ledges, so it was a definitely a little weird getting on the team. The ledge team. 

I never noticed any lack of a ledge game on your part, but you’re saying that you always had trouble with them? 

Yeah, and I don’t really know why that was. Because handrails were no problem but I couldn’t skate ledges at all. So stupid. Some kind of mental thing, I guess. 

Didn’t you get offers from Flip and Element, too? 

I didn’t have a legit offer from Flip but I feel like it could’ve gone that way. I can’t remember who I was talking to, maybe one of the owners, but it definitely seemed like a possibility. 

As far as Element went, I heard after the fact that they wanted me to ride for them. I saw Donny Barley somewhere and he told me that they’d made a tape asking me to ride for Element. I always thought that he meant a video, but it was actually an audio cassette. Because I randomly saw Johnny Schilleriff a few years ago and he brought it up! He said that it was an audio tape where they’d gotten every team member to record a message, like “Hey Rick, we’re all really down for you. Come ride for Element.” 

I never got the tape, but that’s pretty sick. I wish I could still hear it somehow, but I doubt it still exists. Still, I was pretty honored to learn that. I just didn’t know at the time. But Girl was always my #1 choice, for sure. 

photo: bryce golder

You’ve said that Rick was the hardest person to get to know initially, that he thought you were a kook. Is that really how it went?

Oh, yeah. And fair enough, in the pro skater world, I was. I didn’t fit the mold. I did benihanas and whatever else. I definitely wasn’t a cool guy. 

…Maybe it was actually Rick who initially didn’t want me on Girl! Turns out that it was Howard the whole time who needed convincing, that fucker! (laughs)

Who knows? But I feel like my first trip with Rick was pretty seamless, after that whole Slam City hallway incident. We got to be homies pretty quick and I feel like he’s a brother to me now. 

Two early staples that you’ve seemingly abandoned: you just brought up the benihanas but also, nollie hardflips. What happened there? Did somebody say something? 

Actually, the nollie hardflips have recently been resurrected!

You always had a mean one of those!

Yeah, those always came to me really easily. But the benihanas, I just had to face the fact that it’s a kook trick. It just is. And yeah, people would always make fun of me for doing them, but they were so much fun to do. I mean, I lived in this tiny mountain town with a bowl. Duh! Of course, I’m gonna be doing benihanas. 

My only problem with nollie hardflips is that I completely overdid them. I had way too many of them in my parts. I had to set those aside for a while and move on, but I have been doing them again lately. They’re pretty fun. 

I never really thought of them as a wack trick, I just thought I overdid them. And honestly, I didn’t exactly do them right, either. A lot of times, I didn’t hit the nose. I’d just float off the step or over the lip of the pyramid. It didn’t really hit, so now I’m really trying to pop them. We’ll see how it goes. 

photo: atiba

I always loved your nollie hardflip over the rail in Menikmati, which, how was filming for that project? I feel like you approached that one a little differently than your previous parts. 

Yeah, I feel like I had finally learned the formula for professional skateboard filming by then. Because I wasn’t just skating with the homies downtown anymore, I was literally out with the best of the best. Guys who had been making video parts for their entire life, way before I had even tried to put one together. So they knew what they were doing and were able to help me out. I mean, Koston basically grew up making video parts, so I found myself watching him a lot and learning that way. And we had Fred filming, who helped guide my process a little, too. I was still doing my thing, but I feel like whenever you’re working closely with a filmer, they have a tendency to voice their opinions and make suggestions about things. Planting little ideas, like “maybe try this” or whatever. 

I remember having a lot of fun making that video, even though we filmed for a very long time. It all felt very natural. Sure, there were a few moments of stress due to things going on at home, but I really liked working on that one. I enjoyed the whole process and working with Fred was like a dream. I love that guy still. And skating with Eric was such a privilege and a mind-opener. I couldn’t believe that skateboarding could be done like that. 

Looking back, are you still psyched on that sitar song? 

Semi-psyched. I don’t know if I was ever “psyched” on that song… like, “Yo, this is my shit!’

photo: thompson

(laughs) Fair enough. 

I just felt like it fit the mood that Fred was going after. It was during that whole electro-era and I was really into experimental and world music at the time. I still am. I just happened to randomly find that song on Napster one day, like “Hey Fred, check this song out!”

“Dude, that’s kinda sick.”

Somehow, he was able to find whoever made it and got the rights to use it in our video.

Probably overthinking here, but is the song in your Doll part a nod to that Menikmati sitar flavor? 

Oh… I don’t know! I didn’t even notice that but it very well could be! We’ll have to ask John Morello. 

Kind of a rare one, what was your process with that nollie kickflip lipslide in there?  

I learned those on skatepark bump-to-flatbars… and to be honest, that was really easy for me to do. You just kinda land into it. I don’t remember if it was my idea to take it to a handrail or if someone else brought it up to me, but it went down pretty quickly. 

I would throw those out on flatbars at almost every demo, but I’m pretty sure that was the only time I ever did one on a street rail. People don’t really do that trick, though. I don’t even think I’ve seen one since that video, which is crazy because it’s really not that hard… Although, I did try one on a handrail maybe two years ago and I didn’t even come close. It was pathetic. (laughs)

It was seriously a humbling moment, like, “Okay, you’re old. Don’t trip.” 

How about the 50-50 kickflip at Le Dome? Was that always going to be your ender?

The editing was all Fred. That was his realm. To this day, I’ve never cared about sitting in on edits or anything. I’ve never really done that. I feel like it’s my job is to get tricks, then it’s up to them to take that footage and do whatever they want to with it. That’s their job. I wouldn’t even know where to start when it comes to editing.

The kickflip-out came about after I filmed the line where I did the 50-50 ollieing over the kink and then went down to the stairs. I felt so comfortable with the 50-50 ollie that after I did the line, I figured that I’d try kickflipping out. 

I like how I did that one but I don’t really care for that trick, in general. I mean, I think that I caught it really nice, but I wish I had more technical tricks at the time. That’s just how I skated back then and that’s that. 

So much has been made of you and Koston skating together during this era, but were you cognizant of any impact or influence at the time? Could it be competitive or was it all in good fun? 

It was more of a friendly competition. I feel like I was more comfortable with hitting the big stuff… at first. Obviously, he caught up. But he was always way more technical than I was, which pushed me to do more in that direction. Maybe I pushed him to go a little bigger with things? I don’t know.

People do often cite you as influencing him in that regard.

You’d have to ask him, but there was no outright discussion about that sorta thing. We were just skating a lot together at that time because of eS and Girl. And in a situation like that, you’re bound to have some influence rub off on each other. But it really was a rad period of time. To have that dude be my partner-in-crime at that time was fucking crazy. I loved every minute of it. 

Any clips of yours that you see as being directly influenced by Koston?

Hmmm… what immediately comes to mind is a line I did at UCI: backside tailslide fakie on a ledge followed by a switch frontside boardslide down a handrail. That’s probably the most basic thing Eric would ever do but I was definitely thinking of him when I did it. And that backside tail on the ledge was actually hard for me to do. Now I can do them, but back then, it was hard. 

photo: atiba

What about your Hollywood Bowl 50-50 in Yeah Right? Because I know he noseslid it. 

No, those were different days. I wasn’t there when he noseslid it… 

I actually wanted to grind through the kink on that one but I was too scared. There was a giant rock in the dirt that I was afraid of smashing my face on. It totally freaked me out. 

Honestly, Eric’s influence on me largely came down to him just being there. Sometimes, just that was enough for me to get the trick. Having his support and being hyped that he’s there with me. 

How serious was your “talk, talk, talk” commentary about Frost?  

That was all in good fun. It was just a joke, but with every joke, there’s some truth in there, too. Because Eric’s process is the complete opposite of mine. Where I’ll jump on something over and over again until I finally do it, Eric will roll up to something for an hour and talk about the spot. He’s more of a cerebral skater and I’m just a piece of meat. (laughs)

So, that being said, he could’ve easily made fun of me for being the dude who body slams for an hour before getting a trick. 

(laughs) So you’re a battler?

Oh yeah, I go until I can’t walk anymore. That’s what I do. Some things are easier than others, but more often than not, I’ll have to put in the work. I still do. Just before this call, I was battling a hubba. 

Aw, shit… I’m sorry, man. 

(laughs) No, it’s fine. I was at a skatepark with Breezy and wanted to switch 5-0 this hubba but I was too scared. I finally started getting into it but then I stuck and ate shit. So, after that, I decided that I didn’t want to do it anymore. And here we are. 

photo: atiba

(laughs) I appreciate the time, Rick. So are you one to make lists for a part? 

No, I’ve tried to do that and it never works. It’s depressing. To this day, I’ll make lists of things that I want to get done… this, this and this. I never get it. And then I’ll find that list six months later and I’ll still have the exact same list going. I just can’t skate like that. I have to see what my body wants to do that day and go with it. Because a lot of times, I don’t even know where I’m going to skate, like on tours or filming trips. I’ll just end up skating somewhere and whatever happens, happens. 

It’s essentially a lesson that I’ve had to learn in life, in general. I used to be constantly stressed about skateboarding as my job, thinking that it was always going to end tomorrow. And because of that, I didn’t really sleep for ten years. I just couldn’t. I had to realize that everything that’s happened for me just sorta happened and I can’t force it. I just gotta float down this crazy river I’m on and when an opportunity comes, I have to acknowledge that and take it. That’s basically how I live my life now. I’m very lucky. 

So, no lists. 

Do you hunt for enders, or not even that?

Nope… which I’ve kinda had mixed results with. They’re all 50-50s but whatever! (laughs)

I’m only competing against myself. 

We talked about the sitars earlier but I always loved your skating to Le Tigre in Yeah Right. Was that your pick? 

It was actually Ty’s idea but I would listen to that song a lot. I DJ’d a lot on trips during the Yeah Right days, in the van. And dudes would always react to that song whenever I played it. Like, “What the fuck is this? We like it, but what the fuck do you listen to?”

…Because it wasn’t DMX or Jah Rule.  

Anyway, I remember talking to Ty about potential video songs for my part. I think I even mentioned a few other songs as options that I can’t even remember now when he just threw it out there. 

“Dude, let’s use Ichiban!”

That’s what he used to call that song, like the noodles. He’d heard that sound in there somehow and latched onto it. And that’s how it went. I thought it was a great idea. 

I’m curious about the black-and-white stair footage that opens your part. Is there a story there? Was it meant to possibly be something else?

I don’t know what that was meant to be, honestly. I remember Ty being in Vancouver and I was taking him to the airport. That spot happened to be on the way so I brought up trying to get that line. I’d actually done it before but I wanted it to be in Yeah Right, so we made what I thought was going to be a quick little stop. I thought that I’d just be able to do it real quick but it turned out to be a pretty gnarly battle. I hit my head and everything, but I was able to get it. And I got him to his flight at the very last second, which I didn’t think we were gonna make it. 

I think Ty just liked the drama of it all. Maybe a cool moment of working hard to get something. 

What about the grab over that Atlanta hubba? In slow-mo, nonetheless.

(laughs) That was just me having fun skating. Back then, I would try a million different things at spots, just to see what all worked. 

It was Ty’s idea to put that in there. I didn’t hate it. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see it in there but I thought that it was cool. I like a good street grab every now and then… although, I don’t really like how I landed that one.

photo: morris

What about your front tail kickflip and Koston’s backtail kickflip? How’d that work out? 

You know, I feel like that actually was a bit of a competitive thing. Because I had skated that spot by myself the night before and got the trick. We were in Philadelphia and I remember us going back to the room and telling Eric about it. I don’t know why he didn’t come with us that night… He must’ve been too sore or something. But we showed him the clip and you could see the gears in his head starting to spin. And the next night, we went back and he did it backside. 

I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Damn, he just took me out.” (laughs)

I liked sharing spots with him, though. And because we’re different stances, that frontside/backside thing would happen all the time. But that was the only time I remember where I suddenly felt like my trick wasn’t as good anymore. (laughs)

Was it awkward to go back with him the next night and watch him put that down?

(laughs) No, it wasn’t awkward. He was the king back then, that was just him putting on his crown. But we all knew that. 

I remember doing a switch noseslide to kickflip forward there on the night he did that backtail… I think. I don’t know if that ever came out, though. Maybe I did it shitty or something? But that rail was sick. 

I would love to see that. And your front tail down that long Philly hubba was no joke, either.

Now that one was fucking hard. Because not only is that hubba really long, it’s pretty tall, too. You have to go really fast. And I remember the feeling of my wheels being locked-in against the ledge, floating away for a little bit and then coming back. Somehow, I still managed to ride away. 

That was a battle, for sure. Definitely not a cozy session for that one. 

Were you bummed to have the 50-50 from Harsh Euro Barge as your Yeah Right ender? Because I know that was your warmup for the tailslide that took you off that tour.

Yeah, that was Ty’s decision. I wasn’t bummed but I definitely wanted better… I mean, it’s a 50-50. 

Pretty much half the things I’ve ever filmed were warm-up tricks for some other trick that I was actually wanting to get. I feel like anytime you see me do a 50-50 or a 5-0 in a clip, I was probably working my way up to something better. Because I really wanted that tailslide. For me, that’s the one that got away. I knew I could do it but I blew my heel out. 

I actually went back to do it for Especial a few years later but was too scared to try it. Luckily, I ended up doing that wallride nollie fakie on the stair set above it, which turned out to be one of my favorite clips I’ve ever filmed… I don’t know why. So, it kinda worked out anyway, but not really. Part of me still wants to go back and get that tailslide. 

photo: morford

A couple of doubles questions for you. First, talk about your Thrasher cover with Lance. And then Gonz’s stalefish over the top for your Krooked guest board. 

Oh yeah, I remember those days vividly. The one with Lance, we were skating at Donald Skatepark in Oregon. We were on the “Hi-Fives Up The I-5” Tour and Lance just happened to be in Oregon skating. Rick brought it up, like, “Hey, Lance is around. Let’s go skate with him.”

It’s funny because in thinking about this now… I’ve actually skated doubles with Gonz a few times and the same thing has happened to both Gonz and Lance as they were following me. Because I roll-in really fast off decks while they kinda creep in, they’ve both ate shit on the roll-in while following me. And I remember always feeling so awful for inadvertently taking out these legends. I mean, Gonz really ate shit this one time we were doing doubles at Hastings Skatepark. It was bad. So yeah, on separate occasions, I’ve actually had them both tell me, “Yo, you’re going way too fast. You gotta slow down for me.” (laughs)

That was a tangent.

(laughs) It was worth it. 

But yeah, we were just sessioning around Donald with Lance. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but we both started rolling in and carving around the deep end, going over the stairs and then blasting airs. Let’s go doubles. 

One thing that does stand out in my mind is how Lance would always put his hand on my back as we were going over the stairs, which was so cool. I remember thinking to myself, “This guy really knows what he’s doing! This is incredible!”

I actually did a stalefish over him, too, but I guess they liked the frontside air better. I was so psyched when that cover came out but I hate my face in it. I’m making the worst face ever. That’s too bad, but I’m really honored. That’s the only Thrasher cover I’ve ever had. 

The Mark photo was at the KCDC mini-ramp. I think it was an eS demo that he happened to be at because he lived close by. We were actually pen pals at the time, corresponding a lot through the mail. Sending little postcards to each other. Drawings and photos. 

That’s rad. 

Yeah, it was really cool. 

I remember that day because we were sessioning that ramp and he just started blasting over me. It took him a minute, but when he landed the stalefish, I went and aired over him afterwards in the same line. Totally impromptu. I’m pretty sure the footage is in a Krooked video. 

That was cool, though. It all comes back to having fun and skating with your friends. 

What’s the one memory that sticks out from all of those Beauty and the Beast trips?

Probably on the first one, there was one day where John Cardiel was skating, which he pretty much didn’t skate for most of those trips. He wasn’t really skating all that much after the accident, but on this particular day, he got sparked on something and was trying to get a frontside grind at this park we were at. I don’t know if he’d done a grind since the accident, but I remember him rolling towards this wall and I yelled out, “Get it!” or something like that… and he ended up getting it. 

Afterwards, he comes up to me and goes, “Dude, thanks so much for the juice.”

I didn’t even know what to say… like, wow. 

And to this day, whenever I’m trying a trick that I can’t get, I’ll quietly say “Cardiel” to myself. Because he tried every try. 

I’d have to say that. 

Jesus, dude. That gave me goosebumps. 

Yeah, dude! He’s so inspiring, man. Such an amazing person. 

photo: ben colen

Many claim your backside 360 ollie rock at Burnside to be the trick of that first trip, was that one you’d been running for a while? Because in the clip, the place goes absolutely nuts as you’re rolling away. That had to feel pretty good. 

(laughs) It really did. And I kinda got roasted for that one, too. 

I’d just learned that not too long before the trip, and I remember thinking to myself that it would be sick to do at Burnside on that wall. And I never do that. Like I said, I don’t do lists or anything like that. So to actually get it, especially on that trip, felt amazing. I was so hyped after I did it that I jumped in the van and called my friends to brag. 

Next thing I know, Julien goes, “You just called your friends to tell them you landed a trick?”

Totally roasting me. 

“Yeah, dude! I’m just really fucking stoked!” (laughs)

Even my friends thought it was weird that I was calling them… like, “Uhhh… okay.”

It was definitely a weird, narcissistic moment for me. 

In front of Julien Stranger. 

(laughs) Right? I just had to own up to it. Like, “Yeah, you’re right.”

I feel like Max would’ve probably called me out on that, too. He’s always one to check people. 

But yeah, I was really happy to do that there. 

Also around this time, talk about the making of Especial. Because I love that video and feel like it doesn’t really get its proper due.

Yeah, I feel like that’s probably my favorite video part. I don’t know why, it just feels more natural. I think that I had a different kind of confidence working for me by then, too. I had a better idea of who I was. And I remember the eS crew being really solid at the time. We had a lot of fun on that one. 

It’s interesting because it came as a free DVD in a magazine, which made it a bit harder to find. I don’t think that it was in a lot of people’s rotation back then because it was a little more rare. 

By that point, I was starting to try different things in my skating and not just jumping down stuff. Kinda moving away from that. And I was skating a lot with the Antisocial crew at that time, too, which was a new thing for us. We had a bunch of people doing projects, which felt good. Growing into new and different things. It was a good time. 

I know you like the wallride fakie clip but I always think of your wallride nollie flip out in that one. 

Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure Jon Miner filmed that one. That was Melbourne.

There’s no way that was easy. 

Well, it came pretty easily when I first did it in a skatepark, but that particular spot was really hard. I’m honestly not sure I chose to try it there, you know? Of all the spots. I seem to remember that one being a bit of a mission. And super hot. But I was really happy with how it came out. 

The pole jam frontside big spin ender was great, too. 

That was in Melbourne as well. Totally random. We were just driving down the street and found that spot. 

I feel like Scuba just happened to be there randomly, on a totally different trip, so we went filming. Because I was actually there with the Antisocial team. It just worked out somehow. I remember feeling real comfortable on that rail, blasting ollies off of the site. I guess I’ll try a big spin out, and it worked. 

Again, not a trick that I would’ve necessarily wanted to be my ender but it is what it is. 

How’d you find out about eS shutting down and what did that mean for your career? 

I had been hearing rumors that it could happen. That Seb, the brand manager, had a certain amount of time to turn everything around or they were gonna scrub the team and start all over again. I had heard that, but I didn’t know if it was true or not. And I personally didn’t think that it was going to happen because things seemed to be going really well for eS at the time. Yeah, there was a moment prior to all that when I was a little burnt on everything, but I honestly felt like we were making a bit of a comeback. The team felt really sick and everything seemed to be in a good spot, you know? 

I found out through an Instagram post by Scuba Steve. I remember it was a photo of an eS mug and the caption read something like, “Thanks for everything, goodbye.” That kinda thing. And it came as a total surprise. That’s how I learned that eS was shutting down. 

To be honest, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for me, financially. Because I had just bought a house with almost every penny I had, and then eS went out of business almost immediately afterwards. And that’s how I was making most of my money. I ended up having to take out a loan in order to pay my taxes… it’s all been a big mess, to this day. 

And that’s fine. That’s business. I could’ve always sold the house. But yes, it was really hard and I definitely was not stoked. That’s just life, you know. We had a really good run.

Were you ever asked back? 

No, I wasn’t. I don’t know why. 

That was a bit of a dark period for me. Obviously, there was the financial hardship but I was also dealing with some injuries at that point, too.

photo: sam muller

Did you really only get one trick for Pretty Sweet? Because I know you had two ankle surgeries and a wrist injury during all that.

And I fractured some ribs, too. 

No, I got a few things. I was honestly pretty shocked when I only had one trick in there. I had maybe three things and a line. But I get it… in a way. Because there were so many people to squeeze into one video, you can’t put everything in there. There were too many people, they made it too long… blah, blah, blah. 

I remember being at the premiere and it really bummed me out. I left the premiere, walked straight to my hotel and actually cried. I didn’t talk to anybody and flew home the next morning. It was super bumming. 

I’ve heard a few people felt like that at the premiere.

Yeah, which is too bad. Nobody wanted that to happen. Ty didn’t want people to feel that way. He was just trying to do his job the best way he knew how. 

And it’s on me, too. I just couldn’t get more footage than I did. Physically, my problems stopped that. I just wish it had been different. 

Is that why you point at that cast in your clip? 

Kinda. I’d gotten broke off at that spot on the same trip. I couldn’t even walk for a couple days there. But luckily, we were still there when I was feeling a better, so I was able to go back and get that 50-50. That was a wild trip. 

But you were never going to leave Girl after Pretty Sweet, were you?

No, never. I will never leave Girl. I’ve never once had any intention of leaving Girl. I’ve said it before, if things were to ever end at Girl, I would never ride for any other board sponsor. That’s my fam. 

How’d you end up as the very first shot of the intro, mean-mugging the camera? And what all went into the making of that? Are you just running back-and-forth there?

That was Spike’s idea. I was just standing there and he told me to do it. Honestly, I was a little uncomfortable with it all, because he really wanted me to mean mug. I tried a couple where I was making different faces, but he was like, “Mean mug! Mean mug! Mean mug!”

“Alright, here you go…”

I don’t really like how I look in it. I can’t really watch it. But yeah, Spike came up with that. Because it starts out with that woman singing, “Fuck California”. I feel like he chose me because of that statement. They must’ve known that they were going to use that song, so let’s put Crank in there. He’s not from here! (laughs)

…But that’s not how I feel about California, though.  

I don’t think that it was too many takes. I don’t have a solid memory but I would guess no more than five. I think it had mostly to do with the timing of everything and Malto hitting that rail. And thinking about it now, I’d say that even five is probably a high number. 

Such an incredible shot. Similarly, what about Feds’ “Warm & Easy” music video that you were featured in around this time? I’ve always loved how that came out. Super fun. 

Oh yeah, we filmed that on a Trunk Boyz trip down to Central America. Feds just hit us up one day, like, “I am making a video for this song, so we’re going to have to play it a lot and you sing. The video will be us on tour.”

It was fun but also really awkward at times. Because we’d be at a spot and he’d suddenly yell out, “Alright, sing the song and dance!” …which, oh god. But Feds is so passionate, you want to help him out as much as you can. And it did end up coming out really cool…  but yes, super awkward at times. 

Didn’t you come up with the “Trunk Boyz” name? 

I did, actually. We had this van where the back row was just a tiny little seat and beside it was empty storage. That was the trunk. A couple of people could actually sit back there, which ended up becoming the dope spot for those guys. It became this thing where they were always talking about how cool it was to be in that back panel. So, I just randomly called them the Trunk Boyz one time and it stuck. 

“Trunk Boyz, get in the back!”

And it just went from there. Now they have tattoos. 

As you mentioned earlier, injuries became an unfortunate running theme for a while. Did all that stem from backtailing into the skatestopper years ago? 

Honestly, if I could go back and change one thing in my life, I would not have backtailed that ledge. 

This was back during the very early days of Yeah Right, everyone came up to Vancouver and we were all skating around. I go to backtail this ledge that had skatestoppers on it and totally jammed my ankle, which was basically the start of a lifetime of ankle problems. I still deal with whatever happened in there to this day. I actually have to try and skate differently now because of it. I either have to not do certain things or relearn how to do it somehow. 

Like what?

I skate with my heel in the air now, whereas before, I used to have it compressed on the tail. And I pretty much can’t do anything high impact anymore. 

Yeah, you really used to huck. I forgot that the first few clips in your Yeah Right part are all just giant stairs. 

Yeah, I really liked gaps. Some of the first skaters that I really got into were Pat Duffy and Jeremy Wray… which is another reason why getting on Plan B was so fucking crazy for me. 

How come there’s so little transition in your early parts? Was that a conscious decision by someone or just how things worked out? 

I feel like that’s just how it worked out. Because I’ve always skated transition. Always. I actually used to skate vert, too. But I usually ended up on trips with people who only skate street, so that’s what I filmed. Any transition stuff tended to only be in tour videos back then. 

How did Macho Taildrop come about? And how much involvement did you have in the overall development of that? 

Well, my friends Corey Adams and Alex Craig actually made two films with those characters, the first one being a short called Harvey Spannos. Alex actually went on to make our tv shows. But they were just two filmmakers I knew that always seemed to have these fun little projects going on.

The way it worked out, Fuel TV had a contest where they gave 10 people $100,000 to a film a short and whoever won got a million dollars to make a feature. They applied and since they knew me, figuring that I was a pro skater, they’d probably win. So, they asked me to do it and I was down. Fuck yeah. 

Havey Spannos ended up winning, so we got the budget to then go and do Macho Taildrop. 

And that’s a Blender reference, right? 

Yes, it is… which I didn’t even know at the time but those guys are huge fans. 

Which do you prefer: playing a fictional character in a movie or hosting as yourself on a documentary tv show? 

For me, It’s easier to just be myself on camera. Although I do have a lot of fun playing a character, it was also really stressful. My character in Macho Taildrop honestly took a lot out of me. Because while the initial short film was really light and fun, Macho Taildrop was much different. I was in Budapest for a month, filming this movie that was a full-on production. A million-dollar budget. It was actually pretty crazy. 

I was playing a character who was quite manic, so I had to be in that type of headspace for a very long time. And I feel like that sorta thing takes a toll on you after a while. I can’t imagine being a real actor and having to do what all they have to do for some insane character. I actually had a bit of a breakdown at the end of Macho Taildrop because I was in such a weird headspace. When we finished the last scene of the movie, everybody was so happy and celebrating, but I couldn’t even smile. I was just totally burned out. I remember going straight back to where I was staying and shaving that beard off immediately. I just really needed to leave that person behind. 

Not that I didn’t have fun, I’d love to do more of that shit. I’m just not going to pursue it… but it was definitely a good time, despite being so stressful.

So you just fell into the acting, which then transformed into hosting Abandoned and Post Radical? It’s almost like how you got into your skateboarding career, in a way…

Exactly. I’m very fortunate. 

photo: ben gulliver

Everything’s coming up Crankers!

(laughs) Right? I’ve been wanting to say this, that I’m so grateful for everyone who’s supported me over the years. I don’t take that lightly. And not just buying my products, but anyone who has might’ve liked anything I’ve done. I really appreciate it.

But yeah, the TV stuff was all through Alex Craig, one of the co-directors of Macho Taildrop. He and my friend David Galloway somehow got the idea that I would be a good host for a documentary series. They just thought I would, for some reason. I guess it stemmed from the little Top 5s I did for Crailtap, which is crazy to think about. But we all ended up developing this little travel show together and Vice reached out with an option. 

“Why don’t you do a show about abandoned places?”

“Well… okay!”

 We did it, which was really well received. And we were really happy with it. 

photo: dave ehrenreich

What’s the current status of Abandoned and Post-Radical?

Well, we only made one season of Abandoned but they’re still airing it. 

After that first season, we wanted to do something a little different so we went and made a show about skateboard subcultures. That was Post-Radical. And Vice was like, “Okay, great! Cool, cool… how about another season of Abandoned?”

Alright, so we went out and built a deck, planning the whole season. It took a while but everything was looking really good. We hand it all in… and they never get back to us. I believe there was a big shuffle at Vice internally, which probably hurt us. But then we reached out again and they didn’t reply that time, either. And that was it. 

But going back to what we were talking about earlier, I will say that a lot of the documentary stuff was really hard, too. Because with Abandoned, we had to hang out in moldy old buildings for six months… and I’m not much of an urbex kinda guy. But it did kinda force me out of my comfort zone, which I liked because it helped me grow as a person. And I fucking loved meeting all those people. Everyone was so lovely.  

photo: atiba

I have to imagine that being a pretty incredible experience, man. Congrats. So, as we start to wrap this up, what’s next for you, Rick? Anything in the works that we can look forward to, skating or otherwise? 

Well, there is a new Girl video started… I want to do more with that but I’m not quite sure how to do so, strangely enough. I am loving skating right now, though. I’m having a lot of fun these days. Skating every day, as much as I can. 

I guess I’m gonna just keep floating down this river and see what happens. That’s what’s happening. 

After 25 years in professional skateboarding, what would you say has been the proudest accomplishment of your career and your biggest regret? 

Oh god, I don’t really think in those terms but let me think... 

My proudest accomplishment isn’t something that I’ve actually tried to do, but people often tell me that they like my skating because it looks fun. And I think that’s probably the best compliment I could ever get. Because I remember Lance once saying that his job isn’t really about being the best skater ever, it’s inspiring people to skate. So, to have someone come up and pay me that kind of compliment actually feels really good. After all, it’s just skateboarding. It’s not that fucking serious. 

And my biggest regret? Probably backtailing into that skatestopper. But that being said, I might not have the life I do now if I hadn’t. So, you know what? No regrets. 

Last but certainly not least, what is your favorite Keenan Milton memory?

I would say every second that I was around him. I fell in love with that man, let’s put it that way. I think everybody did… I’m crying now. He was a very special person. 

Big thanks to Rick for taking the time once again. 


Anonymous said...

He is the absolute best. I hope Vans pays him well and Girl never retires his board.

Anonymous said...

One of the all time greats, so happy to see this today. Thanks to you both for taking the time!

Anonymous said...

here's some footy of that KCDC demo where Gonz and Krankers do the doubles


Anonymous said...

A true top bloke. I was lucky enough to meet, skate and have beers with him when he was on tour in Aus. Just an absolutely genuine and friendly person. Love the abandoned show and the post radical one as well. Top shelf.👌

Anonymous said...

Hadn't seen that double photo with Gonz. Enjoyed the interview.

Coco Crisp's Afro said...

Great interview!

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Anonymous said...

I used to watch this crailtap vid of him skating around vancouver on a rainy day, such pure geniuine dude, makes me want to skate and makes me want to be a good person.