4.02.2024

chrome ball interview #171: mike frazier

Mike and Chops grab a cup of coffee.

art by todd francis

Going back to the beginning, I’m always curious to how people find the inspiration to start skating vert. Because I know that entry learning curve is pretty harsh…

Yeah, but I feel like everybody starts out the same way, especially back then. Like, I just started cruising around the sidewalk on a Nash one day. And the group of friends that I skated with in middle school, we all skated street. For years. Actually, Mike Daher and his brother, George, were in my crew growing up. They'd moved down here from New Jersey when I was in the 7th grade and had a little mini-ramp in their backyard. There was probably about 25 of us rolling around together back then. 

 

In 9th grade, this kid, Chuck, built a ramp about ten minutes from my house. We went to check it out and there was a full-on raging session going. Ten guys on each deck. I’d never really seen anything like that before, that side of skating, and I couldn’t believe it. A bunch of guys from Pennsylvania had come down, like Rob Mertz and Ken Sigafoos. That was my real introduction to vert skating. I think it was 1987.  

 

This was in Tampa?

 

Technically, Clearwater. A little city just outside of Tampa, down by the beaches. 

 

But after that one trip over there, my buddies and I were hooked. That’s all we wanted to do. And we didn’t even have pads, we’d just stand at the flatbottom and watch guys skate. Totally those flat rat kids, asking if we could pump around in-between runs. That was us for the first month or two, until we finally got enough balls to drop in. Because it was a big ramp, man. Two feet of vert with 8 ½ foot tranny? Super steep. If you got the wrong pop, it sent you straight out to the flat… But I still remember Mertz going six or seven high on that thing. It was crazy. 

 

I basically grew up going to that ramp, totally obsessed with skating. Mertz would come down every winter to skate the ramp, and every time, he would see me getting better and better. I feel like a lot of skaters experience a period where you start progressing really quickly after a few years? Because I was skating with guys who were way better than me. Gaining more control. Rob recognized that and put in the word for both me and my friend, Jimmy. That’s how I got on Zorlac, my first board sponsor. Rob hooked us both up. 

 

photo: sherman


Were you into all the Pushead stuff or were you just hyped on free boards? 

 

Well, I liked any board that I didn’t have to pay for, but I also thought their graphics were awesome. I’ve always dug those scary-type of graphics, like Creature and Skeleton Key. Obviously, Pushead is the master of that type of thing, so yeah, I was stoked. 

 

So I always ask Zorlac riders this question: Do you know what “Zorlac” actually means? 

 

No clue.

 

Jeff Newton claimed to have been abducted by aliens in the ‘80s and these aliens were supposedly from the planet Zorlac.

 

(laughs) No way!

 

I’ve had this confirmed by two sources.

 

Holy shit! That’s incredible! 

 

I’ve got a crazy story about Jeff Newton, too. Not “crazy” in a bad way; it’s actually pretty amazing. My first time traveling, I went to Texas for an NSA Am contest and he picked me up at the airport. I’m 16. We meet up and he’s like “Do you want to get something to eat?”

 

So, we’re sitting in this diner and a lady sits behind us with an eight-month-old baby. Just laughing around, being cute. 45 seconds later, I hear this gurgling sound and the mom is freaking out. “Oh my God! Somebody help me! My baby’s choking! My baby’s choking!”

 

I’d looked at the baby maybe a minute before this, and it was a baby. I look at it now and it’s blue, like in a cartoon whenever something is ice cold. Totally blue. And this mother is holding her baby, shaking, like “Help me! Help me! Someone help me!”



Suddenly, Jeff runs over and takes the baby out of her hands. Interlocks the baby’s feet in his fingers, puts its stomach on his forearm and flips it upside down. He fuckin’ whacks it three times and this little ice cube come flying out, five feet in the air. The whole place erupts and Jeff comes back to our table. 

 

“Holy fuck! How did you know what to do?”

 

“My wife and I just had a baby, so I took a Baby CPR class.”

 

It was insane. And when I come home, I tell everyone this story. It obviously made a lifelong impression. So, fast forward years later, my wife and I are now having a baby, and remembering this story, we take the same Baby CPR class. They don’t teach it at the hospital, you have to go off to this other place to learn it, but it can clearly come in handy. 

 

So, Reese is maybe a year old at this point. We go to this little restaurant in Clearwater Beach. Really small, maybe 14 tables, but it’s packed. Every table has a family and it’s super loud. You can barely hear yourself talk. But as we walk in, I just happen to notice these four babies sitting there. 

 

Oh no. 

 

You already know where this is going. Ten minutes later, all of a sudden, these lady starts screaming. “Oh my God! He’s choking! He’s choking!”

 

Everything stops, like on TV when the record scratches at a party? Suddenly, it’s dead quiet. Nobody knows what to do. 50 people just looking at each other, like, “What the fuck do we do!?!”

I don’t immediately want to jump in and do the wrong thing… it’s not like I’m a doctor or something, so I give it 15 seconds. Nobody does anything. 

 

“Alright, fuck.”

 

I jump up and run over there, grab the baby and do the exact same thing I saw Jeff do all those years before. Four whacks and a french fry comes flying out of its throat. 


Holy shit! Full circle!

 

Right? Pretty fucking cool! And had I not gone to that contest and met Jeff Newton, I would’ve never taken that class and known what to do. I’m pretty lucky with how that worked out!

 

Insane, man! I don’t even know how to follow that up!

 

(laughs) Every time my friends have babies, I always tell them that story. Like, “Hey, man, take the Baby CPR class. You never know what could happen. You might be able to make a difference.”

 

I guess I gotta include this in here as a public service announcement! But aside from the choking babies, how was riding for Zorlac? (laughs)

 

(laughs) I mean, it was my first sponsor, you know? Small fish in a big pond. I got boards few and far between, but I didn’t know any better to think that was lame. I didn’t live in California or have friends who were sponsored. I didn’t know you were supposed to get two or three boards per month or whatever. If I got a board every three months, that was cool with me. 

 

What sucked is when I went to the Am Finals in Reno… because I’d gotten first at the districts and second in the regionals. I had qualified, obviously, but I needed Zorlac to get my ticket and hotel room. I was up in Canada at the time, staying at Bill Weiss’s house and skating with Thomas Morgan, Tom Boyle and Justin Bokma. It ended up being that Zorlac couldn’t pay for my travel but they agreed to get my room, so I had to pay for a bus ticket from Toronto to Reno, which was a five-day trip. When I finally got off the bus and went to the hotel where I’m supposed to stay… no room. No reservation. So my buddy and I had to sleep in the bushes that night and get our own room the next day. 

 

I was over it by that point. This is bullshit… but I actually ended up winning the contest! I got first place! So I go back to Canada afterwards and I’m telling Bill what happened. He’s like, “Dude, you’re not riding for these guys anymore.”

I knew he was right, but I was still kinda afraid. After all, they were my first sponsor. But he picks up the phone, dials Zorlac’s number and hands me the receiver. “You’re quitting.” 

 

Alright, here it goes. They finally answer the phone. “Hey, I’m not gonna ride for you guys anymore.”

 

They did try to keep me on the team. After all, I’d just won the Am Finals. That was a big deal back then. They start telling me how they want to turn me pro and give me a board. All this stuff. 

 

“I had to sleep in the bushes , man. I had to pay for my own bus ticket there. I’m over it.”

 

As soon as I get off the phone with Zorlac, Bill says, “I’m getting you on Powell.”

 

I don’t know how he did it, but he grabs the phone and calls Powell. He’s not even on Powell but he starts talking to some connection he has over there. All of a sudden, I’m on Powell. Just like that. 


Really? 

 

I mean, Bill’s a pretty persuasive character, but again, I’d also won the Am Finals. Even if you just made the top 10 in that contest back then, you were going pro. That’s typically how it worked. Here I won it and I didn’t even have a sponsor. Bill just had to call them up and say, “Hey, you guys need to put Frazier on.”

 

Mike Daher put a good word in for me, too. This is back when he rode for Powell.

 

Oh yeah! I forgot about that. 

 

But yeah, once they put me on, things moved very quickly. They sent me to Europe on tour and started making plans to give me a board.

 

But was it hard for you to get comfortable on Powell as the new vert guy? Because at the time, it was still their golden era with all those legends still on the team. 

 

Oh, I was starstruck, for sure. Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, Mike McGill… Those guys have been my skateboard heroes since childhood. To this day, I’ll still catch myself thinking, “Oh, that’s Tony Hawk! That’s Cab!” It was definitely a little crazy at first.

Honestly, they kinda jumped me into all that. As soon as I got on the team, they sent me to Mexico City with Cab and Ray Underhill. That was my introduction. And from there, they sent me to Europe with Cab, Tony and McGill. So I’m doing demos and contests with these guys, right off the bat. I went from not knowing any of them to becoming friends right away, because I didn’t really have any other choice. It was sink or swim. And I feel like I instantly got better, which tends to happen when you’re skating with guys 10 times better than you. 


How was filming for 8? Is it true you filmed that whole part in one day? 

 

Yes, it is. It’s funny, because having grown up in Florida, I didn’t really know how that kind of stuff worked. Stacy’s just like, “Hey, I’m sending Robert out to film you. Pick him up at the Gainesville Airport on Friday night. You guys are gonna shoot all-day Saturday.” 

 

“Okay, cool.”

 

I remember when Robert got there that night, he’s telling me, “Okay, we’re gonna get up at 7am and have breakfast. We’ll get out to the ramp by 9 and start shooting. We’re gonna shoot all day and then I’m leaving Sunday morning.”

 

This ramp was kinda out in the country, in a field. A cool setting with plenty of shade. But yeah, we were out there all day until 6:30 that night, and he was out the next day. He already had his ticket and everything. Glad I didn’t have an off day. 


 


Or it didn’t rain.

 

Wow, I didn’t even think of that! 

 

But yeah, when he laid out the gameplan for filming the next day, I just went and wrote down a list of 100 or 150 tricks that I wanted to do. And that’s basically how we filmed that part, checking off that list one by one.   

 

Alright, frontside fastplant… then we’d film it.

 

…Frontside fastplant to lien to tail. Let’s film that…

 

…Okay, now do a frontside fastplant revert...

 

We just went down the line, filming each one. Lipslide, lipslide revert, alley-oop 5-0 lipslide revert, backside lipslide revert. All-day long. 

 

And he came with a full-on camera, not some VHS camcorder. This is back when videos were shot on 35mm, that gnarly reel-to-reel shit… and as soon as we started shooting, I realized that it sucked. You didn’t want to fuck up because every time you did, you just wasted five feet of film. Luckily, he brought a lot of film, but it was still very limited in what you could do. Like, I didn’t get to put any lines together. 


Yeah, there are hardly any lines at all. Just rapid fire trick-trick-trick. 

 

Robert wanted it like that. Again, because we were shooting on film, if you have a line with ten tricks but only three of them are bangers, you might get stuck on the second trick. 20 tries is no big deal on videotape, but doing that on film is super expensive. It just made more sense to film single tricks instead of burning through film with set-up tricks and all that. 

 

I didn’t have anything to do with the editing. That was all Stacy, but I was stoked when I saw it. And I had no idea that I was going to get first part like that. 


You skate fast as-is, why’d they speed up your footage even more? 

 

I don’t know! I actually get asked that a lot. Because it definitely looks like they sped up the beginning. Not the whole thing, but there are one or two lines in there that they obviously sped up. Like backside air, lien to tail and an indy air… 

 

I like how they did the sound in that one, though. Because there’s no sound with film, all that stuff had to be added afterwards. Like the tail smacks and the grinding sounds? Pretty cool. 

 

Is that Lance Conklin on the deck? 

 

Yeah, Robert told me to invite all of my friends over to skate, too. Because if you’re gonna be skating for nine hours, you’re gonna need to catch a break in-between runs. Having your friends around and skating is a good way to keep the energy going. So yeah, all of my buddies that I grew up skating with were there. Mike Daher and Lance Conklin came out. It made the whole day a lot better. 

 

That was actually Donny Myhre and Monty Nolder’s ramp. Those guys paid to have that ramp built on some kid’s property. It was a cool scene back then. 


photo: kanights

Talk about the aftermath of 8. Because you kick off the video and immediately go pro, but then Stacy leaves, vert dies and Powell is suddenly a very different company.

 

Yeah, I turned pro and my first check was $2,800 bucks. I was like, “This is awesome!” 

 

Next month comes and it’s $3,400. “Fuck yeah!”

 

The month after that, my check arrives and it’s $4,000! I can’t even believe it. 

 

But then, the one after that comes and it’s just $2,000. Like, “Woah! What happened!?!”

 

And the one after that is just $1,000. I had literally turned pro on the cusp of skateboarding going off the cliff. My board came out literally as everything was about to die. Companies were suddenly going under. That next wave of guys who had also just turned pro… guys I looked up to, like Mike Youseffpour and Buster Halterman. Guys who once had very promising careers were now all going out and getting jobs instead. 

 

The lost generation of vert. 

 

Yeah, a bunch of those guys just quit skating at that time. Because vert’s dead and it’s not coming back, what do I do now? I guess I gotta go find something else. 

 

I totally understood why they did that, I just wasn’t going to take that route. I didn’t care. I skate because I love it. I hadn’t been pro long enough to get used to that money, so I was still willing to work and skate at the same time. 


photo: brittain

 

Did you ever try to going the street route?

 

I mean, I’m a skateboarder at heart. I enjoy basically every type of skating. But no, I just kept skating vert and doing what was fun for me. Even though vert had died, I never stopped. I got a job while still skating five days a week at the local park. I actually did manual labor for a year or so in the Birdhouse days until things picked back up. Because around ’92 and ’93, it was pretty slim pickings for a vert skater. It wasn’t until contests started coming back around, like the X Games, that you could really make a living as a vert skater again. 

 

How was Celebraty Tropical Fish compared to 8? Did you maybe get two days to film this time? I know it’s the same ramp, right? 

 

(laughs) It was pretty much the same thing! I filmed all of that in one day, too. On the same ramp. But I do feel that 8 is the better video part, just because of the music and overall vibe. I don’t like the audio in Tropical Fish where you hear that same grind and smack sound over and over again. That got repetitious where 8 had the music that Stacy’s buddy made. I like how that melody would kinda get stuck in your head. 

 

You did have more lines in Tropical Fish, though.

 

If I remember correctly, this one was on video, which again, made filming those longer clips possible. But it was actually a conscious decision on my part to have more runs in Celebraty Tropical Fish, because not only did I want to show that side of my skating but I also think if we hadn’t, that part would’ve probably ended up looking too similar to my 8 part. 


 

How’d that tailgrab nose 360 thing go down for your ender? 

 

Well, a lot of people were doing tailgrab nose reverts back then. And I had just learned 360 indys. I was thinking that if I popped off the nose high enough, there’d be enough time to get that extra 180. Because it landed almost like a tailgrab 360 anyway. So I tried two or three and got real close. That was it. It didn’t take very long to learn at all. Just thinking it out. 

 

Did you learn it that day?

 

No, I learned those maybe a week before we filmed. There really wasn’t enough time to learn stuff for either of those Powell parts. You were lucky just to get through all of the tricks you had already. 

 

People forgot about that trick for the longest time, but then I saw Ben Raybourn do one on a really steep quarterpipe. That was rad. 

 

Yeah, I saw him do one at Burnside, too. He’s a big fan of yours. 

 

That’s awesome. Because I remember people commenting on that clip, like, “Woah! I can’t believe you did that! That’s the craziest trick.” 

 

Out of sight, out of mind, you know? Tropical Fish was 30 years ago, but it’s not like that trick was a very common one anyway. It’s just that this generation has never seen a lot of the tricks we were doing in the early ‘90s. They weren’t even born yet. 


photo: ortiz


You’ve always had such power in your skating, is that something that you started leaning into at this point? 

 

Not at all. I mean, I’d break boards. That’s happened a couple of times, like on disaster tricks. But I’ve never made a conscious effort to skate more aggressively. I guess that’s just how I skate naturally. It’s a great compliment, though. 

 

Because you could always shake a ramp. And you did have that PowerEdge sticker on your helmet that you’d cut in half, so it just read “Power”. I saw that and immediately thought to myself, “He knows what the fuck he’s doing.”

 

(laughs) No, I think that just came from the guys I grew up skating with, like Rob Mertz and Ken Sigafoos. Everything was 100% with those guys. Balls to the wall. Like, when Rob did a fastplant, he didn’t do it five feet high like everyone else, he’d do it seven. While everyone else at the session was doing madonnas chest high, Rob was doing them head high. Everything to disaster or tail. Always just a little bit more, just because. That’s the type of thinking those guys instilled in me from that very first session. Because if someone did a trick that was a little weak or not to their liking, they’d let you know about it. Especially Rob, I remember him always being like, “Nah!”

 

My skating is largely a product of how those guys thought things should look. They definitely made a big impression on me from early on. 


Who came up with the Yellowman and what does it mean? 

 

Well, Sean Cliver was the artist. He’s a fucking genius when it comes to graphics. One of the best to ever do it. He was doing a lot of Powell graphics at the time and he came up with it… but it’s nothing, really. There really isn’t some big meaning behind it.

 

When we started working on my first graphic, Powell would send me a pack of, like, 20 different sketches for a bottom graphic. All random stuff, just to see what I thought. I remember one of them being a hot rod with flames shooting out of it. Just a bunch of different stuff that didn’t really have anything to do with me. The Yellowman was one of those sketches, mixed in with the rest. I just thought it looked cool. Just a random graphic idea that I happened to like.

 

There’s something about it, in that pose with the fists. 

 

It always looked like a comic book superhero to me, like the Incredible Hulk or something. There is a lot of emotion in it, especially for a man cut out of stone. That’s what it’s supposed to be: a guy cut out of granite. Granite guy. But you can see whatever you want to in it, and a lot of people have their own interpretations… for better or worse. 



So what led you to Birdhouse? 

 

Obviously, Powell wasn’t doing nearly as well as it once was by this point. Stacy was gone and a lot of that legendary team had left, too, to start their own companies. Tony just hit me up one day, like, “Hey, I’m doing this thing called Birdhouse. I’d be stoked if you rode for us.”
 

And that was it. I was down, 100%.  

 

Seemed like a perfect fit at the time.

 

Yeah, riding for Birdhouse was cool. Skating and traveling with Tony Hawk, the world’s best skateboarder. The biggest name in skateboarding. Everything he did was insane and I got to witness it all firsthand.

 

I’ll tell you what was crazy: Skating demos on ramps that totally sucked and Tony still destroying it. The absolute worst ramps ever. And it’s not like you show up to the skatepark when it’s empty and could get used to the ramp without anybody around. No, you walk into some random park in Germany and there’s a thousand people standing on the flatbottom. You gotta drop in on this ramp for the first time with all these people around. You don’t know where the kinks are or where the coping sticks out. You don’t know how slick it is. You just gotta pad up and go for it… with Tony Hawk, who is about to do the exact same thing and go for 20 walls with a run that’s a fucking contest banger! 

 

Meanwhile, I’m bailing a backside air on the fifth wall. It sucked. (laughs) 


(laughs) So much exploration with tricks going on at this time. What do you feel was the biggest innovation of this early ‘90s era and one that ultimately proved to be a waste of time? 

 

Oh, the biggest innovation during this time had to be all the flip tricks and revert stuff. I tried to learn whatever flips tricks I could, but I definitely remember learning every single trick I could do to either frontside or backside revert. Cab blunt backside reverts, cab nosegrind reverts… frontside sweeper reverts. I liked all that stuff. It took me back to guys like Allen Midgett, who was a big inspiration. I was mesmerized.

 

As far as the biggest waste of time, I’m not sure. I don’t really know. 

 

Tony said that a lot of the “to tail” stuff wasn’t very fruitful in the long run. 

 

But I actually liked all that stuff! Like a good backside tailgrab to tailsmack? I always liked that trick. And I still like all the disaster stuff, too. That stuff was fun. 



Who are some of your favorite street skaters and what influence did they have on how you approached vert? Like Max’s Mike Carroll fixation?

 

I mean, Mike Carroll is one of my favorites, too. Sean Sheffey. John Cardiel and the Butcher. Guys who skated really fast, like Chris Senn… 

 

It’s weird because I never made a conscious effort to have a street influence in my skating, but the guys I mentioned all skate the way I like to skate. You called it “fast” and “aggressive” earlier, these guys skated that exact same way. Just a different terrain. 

 

But beyond all the flip stuff, you never had a shortage of bluntslides and noseslides, either. You even do a 50-50 to 180 in for Tropical Fish, which is totally a street trick. 

 

Yeah, I could all the airs and flip tricks. 540s. But I always had the most fun doing lip tricks. That’s what I always enjoyed watching the most, too. Watching someone do a gnarly lip trick on a mini ramp, or even on a ledge, that was always more impressive to me than a kickflip 360 indy. I would rather see someone backside sugarcane the entire side of a ramp than a 540. 

 

And you’re right, so many of our lip tricks were directly inspired by those ledge tricks. If you go and watch footage of those guys skating EMB back in the day, it’s all basically right there.  



I think people were surprised that Birdhouse didn’t last longer for you. What happened?

 

Well, like we’ve been talking about, skating had kinda died. Tony was doing Birdhouse out of his house, funding everything. Because it was Tony and Per Welinder doing it all… and what happened basically came down to a phone call between Per and I. He called me up and says, “Hey man, we have to make some cutbacks in the company and we’re gonna have to start with you.”

 

I took that as a slap in the face. Like, really? It starts with me? I think it was just the way he worded it, but it rubbed me the wrong way. I was pissed. So I responded with, “You know what? I can probably make just as much money working a regular job, so I quit.”

 

I guess he made that call without even telling Tony, because 20 minutes later, Tony calls. “Hey, I just talked to Per. Don’t worry, we’re not cutting your pay. You’re still gonna get paid the same amount.”

 

Unfortunately, by that point, I felt like the damage was done. Obviously, Per wasn’t looking after my best interests. For him to say that the way he did, it meant that he didn’t care about me at all. Tony tried to calm me down, reassuring me that he’d make everything better, but I’d already made up my mind. 

 

“I’m telling you, Mike. Everything is back to normal, like that phone call didn’t even happen. Don’t worry.”

 

“No, dude. I quit.”

 

Honestly, that’s one of my biggest regrets, because I was so mad that I wouldn’t even listen. I didn’t give Tony the chance to work things out. So yeah, it was a little uncomfortable seeing him at the next couple of contests but we got through it. We’re still friends.



Talk about your Transworld front blunt cover that got you kicked off Airwalk.

 

(laughs) Yeah, so I was riding for Airwalk at the time. And I was wearing that white Jim shoe a lot, which was basically a Stan Smith-kinda thing. I was over in Europe, riding for Stereo, when I caught a screw while skating a ramp in Amsterdam. It snagged my lace and ripped the whole bottom half of my shoe off. Like, the entire toe cap was gone. But the problem was that I didn’t have another pair. 

 

The next day, we’re in England and I’m trying to find a pair of these Jim shoes. Because I’m kind of a creature of habit, I can ride whatever I’m used to straight out of the box, but anything else will take me days to get used to. And I couldn’t find any other shoes that had a real thin bottom like that Jim shoe except for this one pair of Vans. I figured since I was done with contests by this point, no one at Airwalk will actually see me wearing these other shoes. “Fuck it, I guess I’ll buy these.”

 

The next day, we’re all skating the Harrow park and I start trying this front blunt. I throw out one or two, and it’s feeling pretty good. I think I can get it. Next thing I know, Dave Swift comes up and asks, “Do you mind if I shoot that?”

 

“Yeah, cool!”

 

The shoe thing didn’t even occur to me, that I was wearing another brand’s shoe. But at the time, not only was I getting $2,000 a month from Airwalk, I also had a shoe design about to come out. For some reason, none of this even entered my mind. 

 

So yeah, I make the trick. I’m stoked. Dave shot the photo but I didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t even know it was coming out. But three months later, I get a call… from Airwalk. 

 

“Hey man, what are you doing on the cover of the new Transworld?”

 

Swift never called to let me know that I was on the cover, so I’d basically forgotten all about it. The whole thing came as a total surprise… and that was actually my first cover!

 

(laughs) Congrats?

(laughs) Yeah, I didn’t get kicked off but they did reprimand me, I guess. I ended up quitting not too long after that, though. Their whole team was falling apart and I didn’t really want to be part of it anymore. 


 


What about your Thrasher sequence cover in Oakland?

 

Yeah, kickflip mute. I’d flown out to California and was staying with Max. I used to do that all the time back then. We went to skate Andy’s Ramp one day. Again, just shooting photos. I think that was with Morford. Super mellow. We didn’t really go there with anything in mind. Definitely never thought that I’d be shooting a Thrasher cover that day. At most, I just thought it might be an ad. 

 

I remember when they told me I got the cover, I thought they were joking. Then I ended up seeing it at a Barnes and Noble. I was stoked. 

 

So what led to Stereo? 

 

Mike Daher again. I’m sure Max had something to do with it, too. But I remember Mike hitting me up about it one day, like, “Dude, you should ride for Stereo.”

 

My friends have always looked out for me. 


 


Did you ever feel any type of disconnect as the only vert guy on the squad? 

 

No, not at all. Those guys couldn’t have been any cooler. Yes, I’m on the other coast and a vert skater while they all skate street and live in California, but every time I came out there, it felt like family. Everyone was really tight. It was awesome. 

 

Were you into all that midcentury design stuff and the Blue Note jazz covers? 

 

Yeah, that was all Chris and Jason… probably more of Chris’s thing as his dad was a musician. But wow, what a cool image Stereo had. It was just so different than everything else. All of the other brands were so cartoony back then, while Stereo had a real point of view. It seemed so much more sophisticated. The ads. The videos. Everything felt so unique to them. It really stood out from the rest. 


photo: brittain


Like that ad of you sitting in the purple room? No other brand would’ve done that. 

 

Oh yeah, I remember that. That was something cool that Dune put together, like, “Hey, how does this look?”

 

“Fuckin’ cool. Looks good.”

 

I was stoked on everything they came up with, even down to a purple room, you know? Because after Powell, I decided that I wanted to have more involvement with my graphics, which meant the majority of my boards became centered around fishing, coffee or playing cards. (laughs)

 

Those are all things that I love, so there you go. 

 


Stereo always had such a focus on style, but again, they were all street guys. Did that resonate as much with you back then?

 

For me, not really. I think of all the guys on the team, I probably had the least amount of style. (laughs)

 

No way!

 

No, I really mean that! When I look at that team, every single person had such an awesome style and was so unique. I mean, just look at those videos! When I watch Mike Daher’s part now, he still looks different from anybody else. All of those guys, their parts look so different than any other street part from that era. 

 

To Chris and Jason’s credit, I think a lot of it has to do with the music. When you’re watching a video part set to jazz, it instantly sets a different type of mood, even with vert skating. I never would’ve thought my part would work with jazz, but when Chris showed it to me, I loved it. He gave me six or seven options for songs and I chose the one I liked, but I really thought it looked cool. It fits the part. 

 

Of all my video parts, Tincan Folklore might be my favorite. Powell 8 was good, too, but Tincan is probably some of the best skating I’ve ever done. 

 

You like Tincan more than A Visual Sound? 

 

I think so. Maybe because I had smaller wheels in A Visual Sound? And for some reason, I was riding really loose trucks back then, too. Like if I shook my board, my wheels would almost touch the wheel wells. For Tincan Folklore, wheels had gotten a little bigger, which meant my trucks had to get a little tighter. As a result, I think my skating looked better. 


But how was filming that coffee intro for Visual Sound? Who came up with that? 

 

(laughs) That was fuckin’ Jason. I’m sure he’ll end up being a full-time director at some point, instead of just acting. He hit me up one day with this idea he had, like, “Dude, you know what? What if we go to this coffee shop for your intro? Yeah, you’ll get a newspaper and we’ll follow you with the camera as you walk in. It’ll be great!”

 

The whole thing was very improvised but a lot of fun. I remember the whole time we were doing it, he’s shouting instructions at me, like, “Okay, get a newspaper… now look it! Walking into the shop now! Open the door and sit down! Stir your coffee a little!”

 

I was trying to act natural, but the whole time, Jason is panning 360 around me as he’s yelling these instructions. You can’t hear it in the footage because they used canned audio, but it was quite a scene. It was really cool. 


 


You have some incredible lines in this part, too.

 

Yeah, this was when I started filming longer lines for my videos parts. I would think of a line with eight or nine tricks back to back, but might take an hour to get. I don’t know if any of it was groundbreaking at the time, but it was definitely hard for me. Because in a video part, you want either tricks that no one has done, tricks that most people don’t do, or a line that people will watch and say, “Holy fuck.”

 

To me, the standard for lines was always Tony. Where you’d watch him do a run with ten tricks and you’re not sure if you can even do one of them. That’s impressive, and that’s the type of line I always aspired to do. A run that sticks out and most people can’t immediately do in two tries. 

 

You didn’t see a frontside noseslide to regular on vert very often back then. Or a nollie noseslide. 

 

A lot of the nollie stuff I was doing back then was inspired by Max. He was doing nollie front tailslides, nollie backside tailslides, nollie disasters… it always looked like he was street skating. Popping in and out of lip tricks. Nobody was doing that at the time. And he was one of my best friends who I was skating with pretty consistently. He definitely had a lot of influence on the stuff I was trying. 


 


Was there a sense of camaraderie among you, Max and Bob Gnar back then? Because at the time, it really did seem like it was you three against the world. 

 

Yeah, it was pretty cool with us all being on Deluxe teams. Anytime you traveled to a contest or went on tour, you were traveling with two of your favorite buddies. And there was definitely a sense of being in our own little bubble back then, for sure. It was awesome… and it still is. To this day, whenever I see those guys, it’s still that same feeling. I just skated with Bob a few weeks ago in Tampa and it felt just like the ‘90s. 

 

We’ve always shared a similar outlook whenever it comes to tricks and style. And I think whenever you skate with people who are better than you, it rubs off. Like skating with Max, you would see him do something and the way it registers in your head, you just know that’s how a trick is supposed to look… and that’s how you want to start doing that trick now, too. Because you couldn’t do things the weak way whenever you’re with those guys. You want to skate the way Max does because everything he does looks good, which also inspires you to at least try the stuff that he’s doing, too. 

 

But why end your Visual Sound part with a stinkbug air? 

 

(laughs) I don’t even know. I just threw that in there at the end of the run, goofing around.

 

It’s an incredible part, but how was the response? Hard to gauge? I imagine being one of the best vert skaters in the world at this time being kind of a thankless job, right? 

 

For me, it wasn’t. I appreciate the compliment but I never felt like I was one of the best. And I’ve always felt that I got my due recognition for everything. The people who did watch vert parts back then always seemed to be pretty stoked on them. I’d always get compliments and things. I never felt like I deserved more than what I received. 


photo: skin

I feel like you and Max were in that small minority who always escaped the vert button. 

 

(laughs) I don’t know if I did, but I’d like to think so. Maybe because Max, Bob and I were so heavily influenced by street? People who skated ledges and mini ramps could still relate to what we were trying to do. You could appreciate someone doing a kickflip noseslide more than just some guy spinning around in the air. I mean, that stuff’s impressive, too, just not as relatable. If you can do a switch salad grind on a mini ramp, it’s cool to see someone else do that on a vert ramp. Because that’s like what I do. Switch backside lipslide over a channel, maybe someone does those on ledges? Same thing. 

 

What was the bigger priority for you at this point: contests or video parts? 

 

It was never a conscious choice between one or the other, but if you are gonna enter contests and can skate somewhat consistently, you can make a pretty good amount of money. Contests basically meant that you didn’t have to get a job. Because some of my sponsors actually had incentives where they would match my contest winnings, like if I got $4,000 for third place, that automatically made it $8,000. 

 

Between contests and demos, I was typically on the road 225 days out of the year… and I did that for years. I would do Woodward and the Warped Tour. Go over to Europe for contests and demos over there. Basically, any and every contest that my sponsors asked me to do, I would do it. Because why not? At the end of the day, it was my job. You had to be careful to never lose sight of that.  



Were you based out of Florida this whole time? 

 

Yeah, I never moved. I’d go out and stay with Max a lot, but I always lived in Florida. I love California but I also love Florida and the scene here. This is my home. I made the decision that if my being pro hinged on whether I moved to California or not, then I just wouldn’t be pro anymore. I’ll skate as much as I want to, but I’ll get a job and move on with my life. 

 

But like I said, I was one the road 225 days a year anyway. I didn’t need to live in California as long as I could go out there for a couple of weeks, three or four times a year. Go out and shoot with Grant and Swift down south, then head up north and shoot with Bryce. I didn’t have to live out there, I just had to make the most of each trip by getting clips and photos. Shooting ads. Doing everything that I needed to do and then go home for a couple of months. 

 

The SPOT scene popping up must’ve been huge for you. One of the only vert ramps in the world is suddenly right in your backyard. 

 

Oh, it was crazy. 

 

The way SPOT started was because Paul Zitzer actually had that same ramp in a warehouse, right near Tampa Stadium. It was an industrial complex and one night, some bums tried to burn it all down. After that, the landlord was over it and kicked us all out. We had to pack up the ramp real quick and figure out where to put it.

 

There was probably about 10 of us, all friends who’d grown up skating together. We were looking through newspapers and driving around, trying to find someplace to put the ramp. Somehow, we end up finding the warehouse where we are now. It had a high enough roof. But it originally wasn’t going to be a skatepark at all, just a warehouse for the ramp. And it happened to be big enough to where six or seven of us could also live there, chipping in a little for rent to help pay for things, and everyone else could pay a little less every month just to skate. 

 

So yeah, it originally started out as a place for friends to skate and turned into something more. Because after two or three months, word got out. We had a few quarterpipes going. Maybe we can open it up a little bit and charge $4 bucks to let people skate? It slowly morphed into a skatepark and 30 years later, it’s now this legendary park with one of the longest running pro contests in skateboarding. Pretty crazy to think about.   


What were some of your fondest memories from that time?

 

Well, I had moved to Gainesville because all the ramps in Tampa had gotten torn down. But then Zitzer opened up the warehouse ramp about a year or so later, which meant I could move back. All of this was pretty crucial for me, because at a time when vert was dying, Tampa basically became the vert mecca. Simply because we had a ramp. 

 

It was me, Brian Schaeffer, Brian Howard, Zitzer and six or seven other guys who would be skating there every night. Then you had guys like the Pappas brothers, Max, Mike Crum and Tony... they were always coming through and would stay for a week or so. After a while, it seemed like people were always traveling from out of town to skate the ramp. It had made so much of a scene that if you wanted to film a video part or get an ad, Tampa became the place. And that was all because of Brian Schaeffer. If he hadn’t done all that, I don’t know what I would’ve done. SPOT enabled me to stay in Tampa for the last 30 years. 

 

Your Tincan Folklore part was pretty much all shot there, right? Didn’t you edit all of that on your own, too? 

 

Well, I shot the whole thing with Josh Stewart. He gave me the tapes and we put together a little rough edit, too, before I went out to San Francisco to meet up with Chris. That was the first time I ever had anything to do with editing one of my parts. I stayed with Jeff Klindt and Chris and sat at Deluxe for four days in a row, sifting through hours and hours of tape. Putting the whole thing together. I arranged each trick, as far as the order everything went in. “Let’s have a line now, another line, now two single tricks: one backside and the second one to fakie.”

 

I did pretty much my entire part with Chris, and it was super cool to see the whole process. Because prior to that, I never had full say in any of my parts, Stacy or Tony just did it all. But with Tincan, Chris wanted each person to put their own part together. Choose whatever clips you want, what angle you like of each trick. Because for a lot of my footage, I had multiple angles of each trick. Chris might’ve picked something different than I would’ve, but not this time. I had full say and I was stoked.  

 

Did you choose the song?

 

Yeah, Chris had a bunch of different songs for me to listen to and asked me to pick the one I liked best. That’s what I went with. 


Who’s the “Mike Frazier rides for Stereo” guy?

 

(laughs) I don’t know! Just some random little kid at Woodward. I was filming a line with Pete Thompson and that kid happened to be on the deck. We just thought it would be a funny way to start my part. 

 

Did you or Max learn backtail shuvs first? 

 

Oh no, I’m sure he learned those first. That had to be more of his influence there. Max was always on the cutting edge of everything. I feel like he was always doing stuff before everybody. 

 

But you threw that nollie 180 nosegrind in there, too. I’d never seen that on vert before. 

 

It’s kinda wild how I think about these nollie tricks, because in my mind, it’s a switch half-cab 5-0. I guess that’s just how I could wrap my head around doing it. Because I did it ollie first, like ollie 180 to fakie nosegrind, but once I started getting into all the nollie stuff, that became the next logical step. 

 

It’s weird because I was doing all of this switch stuff, but I kinda had to trick myself into making a few of those tricks make more sense. I know Bob does the same thing. It can become a real mindfuck, but a lot of this is how you frame things up mentally.  


photo: kula


You really go in on the flips here, too, with a cab kickflip mute and that kickflip 360 indy. What was your process there? Just prolonged battles of dropping in and repeated bailing?

 

The kickflip 360 indy was a battle, for sure. But all of the rest, like the kickflip tailgrab and kickflip mute gay twist… those weren’t really battles. They were basically like any other trick. 

 

What made the kickflip 360 indy special was that Tony had come to town and he was also on a mission. I still remember him telling me, “I’m gonna learn kickflip mctwists.” And while I had already tried kickflip 360 indys, I’d never made one either, so it was kind of the same thing as Tony, but one less 180 and grabbing indy. Neither one had ever been done before. 

 

So, we’re all skating together that night and it’s starting to get late. Tony and I make the conscious decision to start trying our tricks. Maybe we can both get them tonight? Tony and the kickflip mctwist, me and the kickflip 360 indy. And we’re going pretty hard at it for about an hour and a half. He would go, then I would go. Over and over again. It was the end of the session and everyone else had pretty much stopped skating. It’s just me and Tony, pumping each other up, like, “Come on, dude! Make it!”

 

Josh is filming the whole thing, and we’re getting closer and closer. Finally, Tony ends up making his first and I get mine one or two tries later. Both had never been done before… obviously, the kickflip mctwist is way gnarlier, but being able to witness that and then add a little something of my own felt really good. He had been trying that trick for so long and the repercussions on that were so gnarly. I was just trying to go 360 and come in backwards, he was doing a legit upside-down mctwist! And he ate shit really hard on more than a few occasions, it was cool to see him finally conquer it. 


 


Incredible. But what about your fakie bigspin flip indy ender?

 

Half-cab varial flip indy to fakie. 

 

(laughs) Okay. 

 

(laughs) Honestly, I made that one pretty quick. Because I was already doing half-cab big spin indys without the flip, I figured if I added a flip to the spin, it would still take about the same amount of time. I just had to think it out. I think I ended up making that one in about ten or fifteen tries. It wasn’t a battle like the kickflip 360 indy was. 

 

You just liked that half-cab varial flip better for the ender? 

 

Kickflip 360 indy is the harder trick, for sure, but I thought it looked better in the middle of my part. 


 


So why leave Stereo at this point? Is that when it moved over to Giant? 

 

No, not yet. 

 

Every time I’ve left a company, there’s a reason, but there are two times that I regret quitting a team. The first one was Birdhouse, because I had and have so much respect for Tony. Always. I was just being stubborn, and that was wrong. So that’s one, and the other one I regret is leaving Stereo. 

 

The reason I left Stereo was because I had been on the road all summer long. I was at skate camp and then gone over to Europe for a bunch of demos and contests. I hadn’t been home since May and it was now August. And I still had more stuff to do. 

 

After being on tour in Europe, I was supposed to fly back to Chicago so I could catch up with the Warped Tour for some demos and then go back to skate camp again. Jeff Klindt had got me my ticket and everything, but it was wrong. I didn’t realize this until after I landed, but he had me in Detroit. So here I am, stuck in Detroit at 10 o’clock at night, and I’m now three cities behind the Warped Tour. I don’t even know what to do. 

 

I call Jeff to explain the situation. That I’m in the wrong city, in a pretty bad neighborhood, and I need help. He tells me that I’m gonna have to take the bus to catch back up with the Warped Tour, which is fine, but a bus to where? Where do I need to go? And where can I get a bus?

 

His response is, “I don’t know, but we’re tapped out here. There’s nothing more I can do.”

 

“Dude, I’ve been on the road for three months, doing everything I can for you guys. Now I’m stuck and you’re saying that you can’t even help me?”

 

“Sorry, man. We’re tapped out. Our travel budget is full.”

 

So now, I’m pissed. “Okay. Cool, man. I appreciate it.” And I just hang up. 

 

I basically have to figure this out on my own. It’s now one in the morning, I’m a scrawny white kid in the middle of the hood, and I have $2,000 in my sock. I’m totally expecting to get robbed. But somehow, I figure out where the bus station is and that I can probably catch up with the tour in Iowa, two states away. Okay, I guess I’m going to Iowa… but if I get robbed in the meantime, I swore right then and there that I’m gonna go back to Deluxe and kick Jeff’s ass. 

 

Luckily, everything worked out. I didn’t get robbed and made it to the tour in time. But I felt like Jeff really left me hanging. It was nothing on Chris or Jason, definitely nothing against Jim, but I was pissed. This was before cell phones, so I just went silent on them. Off the grid. Because at that point, I was done. I’ll buy a board if need be. 

 

After the Warped Tour, I head back to skate camp for a few more weeks and I still haven’t reached out. Turns out that Thiebaud had been calling for me there, like, four days in a row. 

 

“Hey, you have a message from Jim Thiebaud.”

 

I never called him back. And that’s how I quit Stereo. I never talked to him man-to-man about why I was leaving, and I regret that. He’d done so much for me, I should’ve at least called him back to explain what was going on. Because from his vantage point, he’s gotta be wondering what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t call, I’m not answering messages, and now I’m not even riding Stereo boards? What is wrong with this dude? He deserved better than that. 



You went to Toy Machine, right? 

 

Yeah, Jamie Thomas just happened to be at Woodward that week. He goes “Dude, who are you riding for? You should ride for Toy Machine!”

 

“Okay.”

 

How’d you get into the mix with Cigar City? 

 

Well, Josh Stewart has had a hand in almost everything I’ve put out over the years. Anything that was filmed on the Tampa Ramp, Josh was our go-to guy. I actually grew up skating with Josh and his older brother, Jeb, so whenever Josh started getting more into filming, he became our guy. Shooting, editing… he was amazing and we knew that he could handle whatever we needed.  

 

Yeah, but it’s a full part and it’s incredible! And this is well before Josh had made a name for himself. It’s basically a local video. 

 

He funded it himself, too. That was all Josh. 

 

I just got stoked on the project. It was all Tampa footage, being shot on my home ramp with a guy I’m comfortable filming with. It just made sense. I was hitting that ramp almost every day and he was almost always there, too. He’d start out filming street guys in the park and make his way over to the ramp whenever he saw us padding up around five or six o’clock. He’d intentionally switch from street to vert so it didn’t feel like he was doing the same thing all day. But when you have someone around who’s willing to shoot that much, it’s easy to accumulate a full part over the course of a couple months. 


 

I love the hurricane mirror-type line in there. I don’t think I’d ever seen that done with a lip trick before. 

 

Oh, I’m sure someone had done that already. I’m pretty sure that almost everything I’ve ever done, someone has done before. I might’ve snuck in a couple tricks that maybe people hadn’t gotten around to doing yet, but they could’ve always done it. 

 

That line just came about naturally. I feel like any time you learn something switch, especially on vert, you have the idea to do that. And with video parts, I always tried to come up with something different to help it out a little, beyond just the skating. Even if it was just a day of filming, like for Powell, I’d always try to put some thought behind it. 

 

Filming was never a “What do you want to do now?” type of thing. I always have stuff floating around in my head. Luckily, with those later parts, I didn’t have to make lists like in the Powell days because I had more time, but I always had ideas for lines I wanted to do. That’s just skating. Like, I want to film a line with these three tricks, maybe I can throw in these four other tricks in-between so I won’t have any set-up tricks. Stuff like that, so the clip will look better. More impactful. And having Josh around made it easier to do, even if it took a day or two to get it. He lived in town and was always down to film. There was a lot less pressure that way.  

 

People always talk about your varial invert fakie in there.

 

Oh, I’d love to do that trick again. Those were always fun. I feel like with so many tricks,  you learn them and start doing them all the time. But after a while, skating evolves and you start doing other tricks. Next thing you know, you haven’t even thought about one of your old favorites in 15 years.  

 

For someone who’s been skating a long time, it’s kinda nice. Because if I do a trick that I haven’t done in 20 years, it feels like a brand new trick again. It’s almost as good as the first time. It’s a sneaky way to get that stoked feeling of “Fuck, I learned something!” (laughs)


photo: ogden

 

But where did Cigar City fit in with Third Eye View? Because I feel like they were both filmed around the same time. 

 

Oh, I definitely spent more time on Josh’s video. I mean, Josh was a friend, and on some level, I probably wanted that to be the bigger, better part. I put more effort into Cigar City, for sure. Because that Element video felt a little rushed. All of a sudden, they’re asking me for clips and want to shoot all this stuff at Woodward while I was there. Definitely last minute. 

 

Josh’s video felt natural and organic, versus some project that Element wanted to put out real quick. Cigar City felt like the Stereo videos, which got me inspired. I started putting more thought into what I wanted to get, where I definitely wanted to film this line and get these eight tricks for it. The Element thing didn’t have that same feeling.

 

It says a lot that you put a local video over Element at the time.  

 

But Josh is a good friend. And when he’s doing these videos, he puts everything into them. Not only is he amazing at shooting and editing, he’s also paying for all of it out of his own pocket. He’s paying to have it made and then reproduced. He’s paying for the boxes and shipping them himself. That’s how much he believes in this thing. 

 

On the other hand, I always just felt like the token vert guy at Element. And those guys could afford to make a video. It’s no skin off their backs. They were gonna be just fine. 

 


But I do love the switch backlip revert in that part.

 

That’s some Bob influence, for sure. 

 

It’s funny, because there are those tricks that you really learn and can do all the time. But then there are the ones that take a bunch of tries and when you finally do one, you never want to do it ever again. That was one of those. (laughs)

 

Another one like that, I do a switch fingerflip lien to tail in Tincan Folklore. That took forever and the one I did make wasn’t super smooth, but I still remember rolling away and thinking to myself, “Holy fuck, I’m done with that one.”

 

To be honest, I haven’t really thought about either of those tricks since I filmed those clips. I made one, I did one, and that’s it! 

 

(laughs) And a kickflip indy backside disaster just seems terrifying…

 

(laughs) I actually did that one a lot for about a year or so. I always used to throw it out there in contests and stuff. It is scary but it’s fun when you do it really fast. 

 

I’ve seen some of the younger guys doing that trick recently. I saw Jimmy do one and, of course, it looked great. Everything he does is sick. 


photo: thompson


It’s cool to see guys like Jimmy out there making vert interesting again. 

 

For sure. Because for the longest time, it turned into snowboarding. Vert skating was basically a spinning contest: 540, 720, 900, 1080… or it was kickflip this, kickflip that. But now, you’re seeing tricks with more depth to them, like alley-oop kickflip lipslide revert or backside sugarcaning the entire side of a ramp. This is all happening now and I love it. It’s so much more interesting to watch than people spinning around all day.

 

Jimmy and Tom Schaar are basically today’s version of Tony Hawk to the younger kids. Not that anybody could ever replace Tony, but they’re the ones pushing the whole thing forward. They’re on that same level of progression where they raise the bar every time they skate. It’s impressive.

 

But you’re still ripping, too! Putting out solid IG clips at age 51!

 

(laughs) I’m trying! And I appreciate you saying that. I don’t approach it any differently. I’m still going about it the way I always did, even as I’ve gotten older. Just without the pressure. 


So what happened with you and Santa Cruz? Because it seemed like you were still very much in the thick of things, and then you were just kinda gone? 

 

Well, I’m not sure whose decision it was at Santa Cruz, but all of a sudden, they wanted to put me on the Veteran’s Division. And if they wanted to do that now, or even five years ago, I’d be like, “Fuck yeah!” But at the time, I was still traveling and progressing. Placing top ten in every contest. No offense to the guys on the Veteran’s Division, they all rip, but I felt like I was at a much different point in my career. I think my doing that would’ve meant that I was pretty much done, and I wasn’t yet. I didn’t want to do that, and in the end, it’s my decision. So, if that’s the choice, I guess I’m done riding for Santa Cruz. 

 

But the thing is, when I stopped skating for them, I also realized that I wasn’t really interested in finding someone else to ride for, either. So yeah, I haven’t ridden for anyone since 2013. I still get boards from people, but I’m also financially secure from having skated professionally for 25 years. I had saved all of my money. Not that I was super frugal, I just never wasted my money.

 

At that point in my career, losing my board sponsor was almost liberating for me. Because I can just skate for fun now. I don’t have to do any of the contests or demos anymore. No deadlines or having to go to skate camp all summer. And I still skate as much as I always did, from 2013 to now. I still go three or four days a week, there’s just no pressure. No one is expecting anything from me. I can just go and skate with my buddies at the local ramps. I just do it all for fun now and learn at the rate I want to. It’s nice. 


Talk about the Strangelove guest board you have coming out. 

 

It’s cool. It’s not the Yellowman, but the Yellowman version of me holding up a fish... Yes, another fishing graphic. But like I said, Sean is one of the best artists in skateboarding and it was super cool to work on a project with him again like back in the day. And I’ve known Nick at Strangelove since we were teenagers growing up here in Tampa. He just hit me up one day, like “Hey, we’d love to do a guest board with you.”

 

Of course, I was down. And the fishing angle was my idea, actually. I wanted it to be a throwback to my first Powell graphic with Sean but not the Yellowman, specifically. Because if you look at the graphic, it’s basically the yellow version of me in waders. He’s got my haircut and is holding up the kind of fish that I fish for, a saltwater striped bass, a game fish that I’ve been fishing for my entire life here in Florida. Snook fishing. But yeah, Sean killed it, man. He really nailed it. 

 

In your opinion, what’s the best feeling trick?

 

For me, inverts. Because I remember going to that very first session at Chuck’s ramp when I was a kid, I’d never seen anyone skate a ramp before. So when I saw someone go upside down on their hand, I was blown away! To me, that was the first trick where I immediately thought to myself, these guys must be pro. That’s a trick that only pros can do. And when I came back and started learning how to skate vert, inverts were always the goal. Always the dream trick. 

 

I still remember landing my first handplant. By no means was I even close to being upside down and straight arm, but I did do one and I couldn’t even believe it. To me, handplants were just as gnarly as the 900. It was the ultimate. 


photo: thompson


What trick do you miss the most? 

 

That’s a hard one. Because at 51 years old, I can’t take falling for three hours to get a trick. My knees will be fucked for the next week. Like right now, I’m getting ready to have another knee surgery next week. It will be my 18th surgery… which sounds fucking crazy. I’ve had 12 knee scopes, 3 shoulder surgeries and 2 ankle surgeries. That shit adds up, you know?  

 

Cab blunt revert was a trick I always loved doing and would love to do again. It was one trick I had that not a lot of people did, so that would’ve been a good one to keep. I just stopped doing it for some reason, and thinking about coming back to it now, 12 years later, I can’t really devote an hour to relearning it again. But yeah, that was a fun one. 

 

As we wrap this up, you’ve mentioned a few regrets over the years with Jim and Tony, but what would you say has been your proudest accomplishment in skateboarding?

 

I mean, there are a lot of things I cherish, but probably that I got to skate with guys like Tony, Lance and Cab. Being able to skate with my childhood heroes on a regular basis is something I’ll never forget. Guys that I look up to still, to this day. Skating and traveling on the same team as them. For that little kid from Florida, that will always be special. I’ve had other accomplishments, like skating in the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics, but to me, skating with those guys is even bigger than that. Just standing on the deck with those guys is an honor. 


Big Thanks to Mike and My Friends at Strangelove.


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5 comments:

  1. Thank you all for this. Fantastic.

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  2. Thanks for everything. I never hit vert button once for mike. you could just lay down on the couch then it was street!

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  3. This was great. Such a treat! Thanks to both of you!

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  4. Mike is so dedicated. He is a machine. Solid as they come. Big respect.

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