Eric Swisher from The Chrome Ball Incident continues his exclusive interview series with us here at Transworld Skateboarding with the one and only Andrew Allen.
May 15, 2020
So, because it’s 2020 and everything is fucked, how’s quarantine going over at your station?
It’s going. Same as everybody else, you know? Trying to not lose it completely. Trying to stay busy and not get too freaked out by the news. Just gonna follow the rules and be safe.
Are you getting out at all or sticking close to the house?
I’ve been skating a little. I’ll go skate a parking lot or maybe some flatground. But for the most part, I’ve been laying low. I mean, I’m a hypochondriac by nature so this whole thing isn’t exactly helping. I’m always thinking about the worst-case scenario with every possible symptom anyway.
The emotional rollercoaster.
Yeah, I’ve been convinced that I’ve had the Coronavirus at least 100 times over the last two months. This is not good for me… but I’m hanging in there. Today is a good day.
I figured with all this free time, we might see an update to Heaps Chat? It’s been a minute since the last one.
Well, I’d be lying to you if I said there was one in the works but that would’ve been a good idea. I have been talking to Andrew about possibly making another issue. Because when we did the first two, he was living close by and we were hanging out a lot together. But since then, I’ve moved and he’s been traveling a lot. Time just got in-between things. We fell off but every time I see him, we always bring up doing another issue.
And you’re right, now would’ve been a perfect time to get that going. It just wasn’t the time.
You can’t force the magic.
Exactly. You can’t make an artist paint the Sistine Chapel. You gotta want to do it.
What made you want to interview people?
To be honest with you, I don’t know if I ever really did. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and thought to myself, “You know what? I think I want to be an interviewer!”
It was more something for me to do in order to be involved with the zine. Obviously, I can ask people questions. That’s kind of an easy thing to do. If anything, I just fell into that position.
Still, I wanted to do a good job. And I actually would prepare for them. “Background research”, if you want to call it that. I think I interviewed maybe 10 people for the first zine, so it was kind of a thing. I’d have people over and Andrew would take our picture, sitting around the fire pit. But for the most part, it was all people I knew and we kept it relatively tame. I wasn’t trying to pry into anybody’s business or anything. It was more just sitting around and talking shit about nothing of importance. It was fun, though. Just an easy little thing.
Do you have a personal favorite interview you’ve done?
Fuck… let me look at it. Honestly, I don’t even remember most of this stuff, man.
(Pulls out a copy and opens to Chima’s interview)
Well, I enjoyed talking to Chima Fergusson. That was fun.
As I’m looking at this now and there’s these excerpts where you highlight something that was said. For this one, it says, “He just grabbed him and slapped the shit out of him.”
I don’t even really know what that’s about… but as I’m reading, it guess it’s about Tyshawn Jones slapping Bobby DeKeyzer or some shit? Wow, this is quite an article!
So I’m going to go with this one being my favorite, having just opened up the zine and turned to that page.
What’s Heaps Chat all about anyway?
Well, Andrew had been doing a zine in Australia called Fuknoath. He moved over here about 5 years ago and we became really good friends. Heaps Chat just felt like something for us to do together.
The idea is that there aren’t many magazines anymore, so there’s always a surplus of photos lying around that never get seen. If anything, they’ll get posted on Instagram at two by two inches, which goes nowhere and is quickly forgotten. So we wanted to make something free for kids to grab and take home, have a read and check out some stuff they’d typically never see. It was me and Andrew with a few other photographers giving us stuff. We even got a few advertisers, like Vans and Spitfire, to help pay the cost of production so that we actually could give it away for free.
Love it. So there’s Heaps Chat and Boys of Summer… not to mention all the parts you’ve been putting out over the last few years. Is all this productivity a result of your sobriety?
I guess so. I took a break from drinking a few years ago and when I did that, my productivity did increase. I guess not really having anything to do can cause you to make some bad decisions, so I’ve been trying to stay constantly busy ever since. No matter what it is, if you’re working on something, it feels good. It gives you a sense of satisfaction that then motivates you to do even more stuff. Just being creative and keeping your mind moving, instead of getting stuck in some stagnant place. It’s fun doing shit.
Talk about your involvement with Boys of Summer. I’ve heard you’re pretty involved behind the scenes.
Well, the whole Boys of Summer thing started about 7 years ago. I’d just moved to LA from Orange County and was hanging out with Jeff Kutter and Tino Razo a lot. They were planning on doing a New York trip and I ended up tagging along.
Basically, Boys of Summer came about through that trip. Because we were all pushing around in the streets, skating different spots and filming everything on our phones. It was fun because it didn’t feel like some super serious thing to be filming like that… more like, “Who cares?” So we all got pretty sparked on that.
“Hey, we should make a little edit of this!”
By the time we got back to LA a week later, the idea had gotten bigger and bigger.
“Let’s film more stuff!”
I don’t really know how the name came about. I want to say that it was something Alexis Roth came up with. He’s an artist and one of Jeff’s friends. He just kinda said it one day.
“Yeah, you guys should start a whole crew with these videos. You can call it ‘Boys of Summer’.”
He just threw it out there and it kinda stuck. Not too long after that, he started making graphics and we got some shirts going.
But as we’re filming for what was still going to be a little edit, Jeff realizes that we could easily make this into a whole video. Because everyone has an iPhone, anybody can film for this thing and it will all pretty much look the same in an edit… which means that all our friends can be a part of it, too. People can send over whatever clips they have on their phones and we can make a sick video with all our favorite skaters. It doesn’t have to be super gnarly. Just fun skating to get people stoked and make them want to go skate.
So it started to gain momentum. We all started going out filming together, almost specifically for that video… because it was fun, you know? Jerry and Spanky started coming along. The crew just kept getting bigger and bigger. We ended up with so much footage that when Jeff went in to put it all together, the first cut was 5 hours long!
“You gotta cut this shit down, dude!”
And Jeff’s really good at getting companies to sponsor things somehow. So, he was able to rent out the Vista Theatre in LA for the premier, which was pretty epic.
Yeah, I was at the premiere for the second one at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which is insane for an iPhone skate video.
And that’s kind of the idea. It’s ridiculous for an iPhone video to be premiered at such a historic theatre and not in somebody’s backyard, being projected on a sheet. But that’s the whole thing. Making something sick out of nothing and seeing how far you can take it.
Are you guys able to pick the movies and music for your parts or is that all Jeff?
He does a lot of the movie clips, in general. For my first Boys of Summer part, he went with Point Break, as I’ve been kinda tied to thatandit’s my favorite movie. That was the obvious choice. But for the second one, I brought up Blood In, Blood Out because I like that movie and thought that some of those clips could be really cool. So, I contributed that, but for the most part, I think it’s mostly Jeff ripping clips from his favorite movies.
As far as the soundtrack goes, I remember us listening to “Ventura Highway” by America a lot on that first trip to New York. For whatever reason, that was kind of our theme song, and I feel like that set the tone for what we wanted in the video. Those kinda softer rock songs from the 70s and early 80s. It just took on a life of its own.
Which one do you prefer: The OG with Cody and McCartney or the sequel with AVE and Steve Winwood?
I gotta go with part two. Winwood is just too good… and the Rambo clip of him blowing the guy up with one of those arrows? I love that.
At this point, has Point Break been made to be too much of a thing for you? Like Pat Duffy being bombarded by Primus in the 90s?
I mean, it’s definitely one of the most frequently associated things with myself. And I do love the movie. I’ve seen it 100 times. I even did a play with an improv troop once where I was Keanu Reeves. I have a quote from the movie tattooed on me and a signed picture of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in my garage. So, I am a fan, but at the same time, there’s probably 100 other movies that I’m pretty stoked on, too.
What’s the line you got tattooed?
I have “Via Con Dios” on my shin. Tino gave it to me one night, back when we were living together.
Well played. And speaking of Duffy, I know he was your teammate on Mumford’s short-lived Legacy Skateboards. Was that your first sponsor?
Yeah, that was my first real sponsor.
I was around 16 or 17 when I first started getting flowed stuff. I grew up in San Juan Capistrano, California and the next town over is San Clemente…
I actually live in San Clemente.
No shit!?! Alright, good to know.
Well, ATM Click used to be in San Clemente back then. I was actually good friends with Kevin Fallahee, who’s Dad, John, was the guy who ran all that stuff. So, growing up, a lot of my friends got hooked up with ATM through that connection, myself included.
I was getting some pretty random boxes for a while there. Circa Shoes was also in San Clemente back and I was getting shoes from them. I got flowed boards from Shorty’s for a bit and got a couple of boxes from Toy Machine and Nike, too. But at some point, I made the conscious decision that I really wanted to skate for Vans. This was right after Rowley’s first shoe came out and I fell in love with that one. So, long story short, a friend of a friend knew somebody at Vans and they were able to get my little sponsor-me tape over to those guys. This was 2003.
I ended up getting a call from Steve Luther, who was working there at the time.
“Yeah, man, your video is sick. We want to give you some shoes.”
So, Vans started sending me packages and that went on for a while… until they basically told me that they were down to put me fully on the team, I just needed a board sponsor. That’s how Legacy come up.
“Yeah, Matt Mumford is starting a new company. That could be cool.”
Obviously, Mumford is sick. Let’s see where this goes.
I end up going out to Tampa Am that year and I’m skating around. I probably got last place or something. But Mumford was there… talent scouting, if you will. And he was really nice.
“Yeah, man. I’m starting this company. You got a spot on the team if you want it.”
So, Legacy was originally me, Mumford, Shane Cross, Joe Pease, Peter Watkins and Mark Gutterman. It was rad because we all lived in that same zone, we started skating together a lot. A little bit later, Matt added Duffy and Strubing to have a few more pros. And it was just a cool little team, man. We had a lot of fun.
I imagine sessions with Shane and Mumford getting pretty gnarly. Did you ever hit up El Toro with those guys?
I did, dude! I actually went to El Toro with them once. It was Shane, Matt and me with Michael Burnett shooting photos. Shane was going to nosegrind the rail and I remember Burnett asking me to shoot a sequence of it with his camera… because I wasn’t gonna be skating that thing.
“Totally, man. I got you.”
Trying to play it cool when I was really shitting my pants because I didn’t want to fuck it up… I’d never done anything like that before! Like, how do you put the film in here?
But it was crazy, because I remember Shane 50-50ing that thing 10 times in a row. No problem. Then he Smith grinds it, first try. It was so heavy. Shane was just so comfortable on those giant handrails, man.
…so this will probably sound crazy, but as Shane was skating the rail, Paul Machnau shows up, completely out the blue. I don’t know if Machnau was there to sus out the rail because he was gonna try something or what, but it totally weirds Shane out. Of all things, Paul Machnau standing there is what throws Shane off. And all of a sudden, Shane wants to leave. I still don’t know what that was about. We even tried talking to him about it, like, “No, dude… you were already here. You’re already in the session. Don’t worry about Paul Machnau.”
But Shane was over it. So, we left and those guys ended up going back another night. And from what I heard, Shane did the same thing. He did ten 50-50 grinds in a row and then nosegrinded it, first try.
Yeah, O’Meally ended up shooting it for a Transworld cover. So what happened with Legacy?
Well, things seemed like they were going pretty good. We had a solid crew and were always skating together. A year or so goes by and I started traveling more with Vans… I remember having just come back from Australia. It was early in the morning and I’m super jetlagged. I’m trying to get some sleep when I get this call from Mumford.
“Hey, can I stop by your house?”
He basically comes over to tell me that Dwindle was giving up on Legacy. It wasn’t making any money and they were over it. Matt just wanted to tell me face-to-face, which was super awesome.
“Alright. Well… that sucks.”
Matt leaves and I go back to sleep. And because I’m so jet-lagged, I end up sleeping for almost 24 hours. But when I wake up, I actually wasn’t sure if Matt stopping by was something that really happened. I couldn’t remember if it was a dream or it was real… but yeah, it was unfortunately a real thing.
But you’re about to go on a real tear here. With your 411 and Welcome to Antihero parts coming out, followed by Prevent this Tragedy a year or so later… weren’t you only trying to get on Spitfire and wound up on Antihero, essentially putting all of this into motion?
Well, I’d also met Darin Howard at that same Tampa contest, who was the Spitfire team manager back then. He was giving me wheels the entire time I was on Legacy, which was rad.
Legacy came to an end in April of 2005, and I really didn’t know what I was going to do after that. But I had become pretty good friends with Van Wastell, we were traveling together a lot with Vans. So, in my mind, I started to think about how sick it would be to ride for Krooked. I thought that might suit me pretty well.
So, I hit up Darin, asking if there was any way I could get some boards. I tell him how Legacy had just gone out of business and that I was looking for a new board sponsor, thinking all the while that Van was gonna put in a word for me and Krooked.
The box comes and when I open it up, it’s a bunch of Antihero boards.
“Oh shit, that’s pretty sick!”
I didn’t really think anything of it. Maybe they just had a surplus of these laying around or something? I call up Darin to thank him for the box and he starts asking me what I thought about Antihero? That they were down to start flowing me Antihero stuff.
I mean, I always thought Antihero was sick but I was still kinda surprised by it. It just didn’t seem like a reality for me. Krooked seemed to make more sense. But the more I thought about Antihero, it sounded like the sickest shit ever.
So, I started riding the boards and they sent a few more boxes. Obviously, Vans and Antihero have a strong relationship and I got to meet Tony and a few of the dudes on a Vans trip to New Zealand at the end of 2005. I actually remember getting a few pointers from Cardiel on the phone prior to that trip, which was probably the coolest phone call ever.
“Dude, just fucking go out there and bust! Don’t worry about whatever. Just skate as hard as you can.”
And that’s how Antihero initially got started. A few months later, I went on my first Antihero trip with the team. A month-long trip from LA to Florida to New York and then all the way back to SF… which was fucking gnarly. And that’s when I officially got on the team.
But all of the footage that came out around that time, that was all supposed to be for a Vans full-length video. It’s kinda funny to think about now, but we’d been going on trips and seriously filming with Joe Krolick for what would end up becoming Propeller as far back as 2004. That’s how long that idea had been floating around. Almost all of my footage in those early parts is from Vans trips for that video.
Obviously, things change and stuff gets shuffled around. I mean, a Vans video wouldn’t even come out until 10 years later. Greg wasn’t even a part of it yet. But while that’s all being figured out, I have all of this footage. How can we get this stuff out there? How about a411part! Let’s do this Spitfire thing. What about a Welcome to Antiheropart? Because I was constantly filming back then… with all the delays at Vans, I basically got all of those other parts instead.
Fast-forward to Prevent this Tragedy and that’s another one I just kinda ended up in. Because they’d been working on that video way before me. They’d already been on trips together and everything. It was actually kind of a Converse thing but Corey Duffel broke his leg and had to bow out.
Thrasher ends up asking me if I wanted to be in it and I was down. I was already sitting on a part anyway… same thing, a bunch of stuff that I filmed for Vans but there’s no video yet. So yeah, I just got kinda thrown in there. I only went on one trip, up to the Pacific Northwest… and even then, I only got one clip. That switch heelflip down a double-set in Portland. I mean, it turned out cool but it’s not like I was really part of all that, you know?
How would you describe your place on Antihero as the OC surfing street skater?
It was rad because it felt like I was doing something a little different. I guess I was like a wildcard, if you will. I mean, there were definitely times when we’d go to a gnarly park or a backyard pool and I’d just be standing around, not able to do shit. But it was always a good time. I’d usually be there with Frank and he’d be making me laugh. It was always fun, regardless.
I spoke with Malto about all the tranny parks on Beauty and the Beast and the lack of things for him to skate at times… but this was normal for you.
Yeah, it was different. Because on Vans trips, everything was so street-oriented. Hitting up cities and lighting up handrail spots. Compare that to a trip where your destinations are all concrete parks with 17-foot oververt walls. There’s definitely a side of you that starts to wonder, “What am I even doing here?” But you always gotta push yourself to try something new. Some of those backyard pools, I remember Frank and I basically flipping a coin to see who was going to try rolling into it. And more often than not, I would be getting smoked but it was still fun.
Going to those parks and still trying to get up there and grind something, it really pushed me to step outside of my element. I mean, it was always rad to watch Tony and Pete skate this crazy shit. They both have such different styles and different approaches to things but it was always inspiring. Plus, to have them give you littler pointers was always cool. Because skating a pool like that was such a foreign concept to me. For them to say, “if you carve here and head that way, it’s gonna open this part up.” I just don’t naturally have that way of thinking in my mind. I definitely learned a lot, too.
Give us your best Frank Gerwer story.
The best one I have… and it’s pretty PG but it’s the truth. On that first month-long trip that I took with Antihero, when we made it to New York, I’d never been there before. I remember us all checking into the hotel. It was March, so it was still a little chilly out. And I think everybody else just ended up at the bar or something, but Frank’s like, “Yo, you want to go get a slice of pizza?”
So we jump on our boards and start pushing through the streets. And it just was so cool. I remember him looking back at me and going, “Have you done your first kickflip in New York yet?”
“No!” So, I did one real quick and we just kept skating around. We went and got a slice. He found some wet concrete and we wrote our initials into it. I don’t know where that was or if it’s still there, probably not. But that whole experience was just so rad. My first time in New York, Frank’s from there, and he’s taking the time to show me around and get me stoked. That was sick, dude. I’ll remember that forever.
Awesome… And I hate to ask, but aren’t you the guy who broke Van Wastell’s arm in that ill-fated arm wrestling match?
Yeah, that was on a trip with Jonathan Mehring. At the time, Mehring was really into going to these places that weren’t your normal skate destinations. Like, you weren’t going to Barcelona with Mehring.
He got this trip together to Singapore and Malaysia. It was me, Van and Dylan with Mehring and Anthony Claravall. We all fly out there and we’re skating… and it’s just such a different place. You weren’t allowed to spit on the street. If you did, you could go to jail. And alcohol was kinda illegal in places, too. But towards the end of the trip, on maybe the last night or second-to-last night, I tried some trick where Claravall was like, “If you land that right here, I’ll buy you a 12-pack.”
I ended up making it and he bought us beer, which was our first time getting kinda drunk together on this trip. So we’re just drinking and being young… Getting rowdy and shit. And for whatever reason, we all started wrestling.
“Hey, you guys need to fucking relax. You’re gonna break something in the room and we’re gonna get kicked out.”
“Alright… well, let’s fucking arm wrestle!”
So, we go Over the Top with it, Stallone-style. We start off right-handed and Van beats me three times in-a-row. Because I’m not really that strong.
Alright, let’s go left-handed.
Van had actually taken a weird fall a few days before and I remember him complaining that his arm hurt. He’s just not feeling it that night because we’re all sauced up. So, we decide to go left-handed and Claravall has his camera out, filming it all.
“Are you ready?”
We go and I’m about to put his arm down. I remember looking up at Van’s face and it just changes.
“Dude, you broke my arm!”
And before I even know what’s going on, he’s out the door with Mehring and Clarevall, going to the hospital. I had no idea what was even happening. I just remember looking at Dylan, like, “Dude, what the fuck!?!”
Dylan was just shocked. Like, oh my god, that really just happened. Such a freak accident.
I remember Van coming back a few hours later in a sling.
“I’m flying home tomorrow.”
They didn’t want to do the surgery there so he had to fly back and get it done in LA.
I felt so bad about it. Still do.
That’s a rough one.
Yeah, we all felt that he must’ve fractured his arm on that fall earlier. And when we arm wrestled, my twisting his arm like that must’ve fully snapped it.
It’s crazy because I’d never really heard of that happening before. I mean, I’ve watched Over the Top numerous times and there’s not one broken arm in there! But since that night, I’ve had tons of people tell me about so-and-so breaking their arm that way. People can’t believe that I’d never heard of that before, because it seems to happen all the time.
So yeah, fuck arm wrestling! Why the hell would anybody want to do that! You’re gonna break your arm! Fuck that!
Luckily, everybody knew it was a total accident. It was obviously a bummer but Van was cool about it.
“Aw, whatever, man. Fuck it.”
Legend. So, people really seem to love those earlier parts in your career that we talked about a second ago, but how do you look back on them personally? I feel like so much has changed for you…
For sure. But whatever tricks I was doing, that’s just what I was into at that moment. But I know what you’re saying. I actually watched a part of mine the other day and there was a trick in there that I don’t remember at all. I don’t remember the spot, I don’t remember filming it. Nothing. And that’s crazy! Because, for the most part, you’re gonna remember something. No matter how long ago it was, you’ll kinda remember trying it and probably landing it… at the very least. Maybe you ate shit really bad? But no, I didn’t remember a single thing about this clip. It’s a varial heelflip down this loading dock gap… like what the fuck is that!?! It was crazy!
And there are clips that I’ll look back on now and wonder how the fuck I did it. Because I might not be capable of doing it now. Either I’m too scared or because I’m physically not able to do shit like that anymore. My ankle doesn’t work the same way it did when I was 18 years old. But for me, the coolest thing about skating is landing something that you didn’t think you could do. Pushing yourself to do something you’re scared of and being able to overcome it. That feeling of riding away, it’s the same driving force that has me as addicted to skateboarding as I was when I was 13 years old. Yeah, my skating has changed, but that feeling of landing something is still the same. You still get those same endorphins in your head.
What stands out as especially crazy from back then?
I did a kickflip front blunt on the San Clemente rail in my 411 part… that’s one that I probably trip out the most on. It’s just a six stair but I really don’t know how the hell I did that.
I read somewhere that you wish you would’ve tried harder in Propeller, is that true?
Yeah, I definitely wish that I would’ve tried harder for that. But I was kinda hurt at that time and going through my own mental crisis, if you will. Looking back, I do wish that I would’ve done things differently but at the same time, I’m beyond stoked to have been a part of it. And Greg did an amazing job.
I remember him asking what I thought about sharing a part with Dustin and it made so much sense to me. Because I had a decent amount of stuff but I didn’t really have any “ender” type of shit. It was all just kinda cool looking skating. Dustin only had a handful of tricks but they were all mind-blowing. So, combining the two of us made more sense and I think it worked.
But your Raw Files were awesome!
I feel like a lot of people have said that. When that Raw Files thing came out, I had several people come up to me, like, “Woah, you had all that?”
The fact that people wanted me to have a full part after that, that’s a good thing! I don’t agree with it, but that stokes me out! Because I’d much rather have people say that than putting out a part that’s whatever. No one wants that.
I was just more interested in having something short and sweet. Stuff that I was stoked on.
Ankle injuries have unfortunately been a thing for you. What happened? Was there a particular instance?
I mean, I don’t even know how many times I’ve sprained my ankles. But probably about 10 years ago, I was skating this hubba ledge when I basically missed it and came down really weird. It wasn’t even a fall, I just compressed my ankle in a weird way. People talk about “hot pockets”, that’s always been more of my struggle. My ligaments and movements are okay, but how I move my feet whenever I bend down to ollie, there’s a sharp pain. That’s what my problem is.
At the time, I got an ankle surgery… which was basically a cleanout. And whenever you go in for one of those things, they always tell you, “In three months, you’re gonna be back skating good as new. Like nothing ever happened!”
So, whenever I got that done, it did take a little longer to recover but there was a time where I was finally skating pretty normally afterwards. This was around when I moved to LA and stopped drinking. I was feeling really good. But then I went on a trip to Europe and on my second day over there, I rolled the shit out of my ankle. I did something… it was crazy. More than just a hot pocket or your average ankle roll. It was something where I probably should’ve gone home but I ended up staying on the trip and sitting around for two weeks. I was miserable.
When I finally got home, I went to a few different orthopedic surgeons to figure out what I should do next. I was gonna get another surgery but then something came up and it kinda got better… To be honest with you, I probably didn’t do the right thing. And now, I basically have arthritis in my ankle. All the soft tissue in-between my bones has worn away.
Two years ago, I tried a stem cell injection in an attempt to try growing some of that soft tissue back. It sounded less invasive than surgery so I gave it a go. But it was crazy, man.
It’s this 3-day period where you go in on a Monday and they inject water and sugar into your ankle. Doing that basically tricks your body into thinking you have an injury. Then you go back on Wednesday and they drill into the back of your pelvis to extract the bone marrow… it was possibly the craziest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m just lying there on my stomach and they’re drilling into my bone, sucking this shit out of my back. It was so gnarly.
So, they somehow spin that stuff around to extract whatever positive stem cells from the marrow and then they shoot it into my ankle… which, basically felt like I broke my ankle afterwards. My ankle swelled up super big, I couldn’t move it at all and was in so much pain. And then you’re back on Friday for a PRP injection, which is them shooting plasma into your ankle.
I couldn’t skate for three months. And after all that, it still didn’t really work for me. I didn’t really hurt me but I didn’t experience what I was hoping for either.
The last guy I went to, this world-renowned ankle surgeon down in San Diego who took care of Danny Way. He basically just had to level with me. That those injections are about as progressive as it gets and there’s really nothing else they can do for me. The medicine’s just not there yet.
It sucks. But at the same time, I can still skate. Some shit hurts, some doesn’t. Some days I’m in pain, other days not. But I’ve learned to work with these things instead of just giving up or focusing on the negative aspects of it. I can still do this. Kickflips don’t hurt but switch flips do… I guess I’m gonna do more kickflips then. So yeah, it does force me to skate a little differently, but that’s okay.
So, is that why your skating has moved on from, as you’ve called it, “tech shit on little rails”? Because of these injuries?
A little bit. I mean, learning all those tricks on flatrails and then going out to find handrails to do them on, that was fun for me. But after that initial rail, when it came time to go with the natural progression and do them down bigger rails, I just didn’t want to. Either it was too scary or just felt too gnarly for me. Fuck that, I don’t want to do that anymore.
I realize that people bring this up a good bit, but in watching your parts for this interview, your style really isn’t all THAT different. Do you feel like too much has possibly been made of this over the years by interview guys like myself?
I don’t know… I’ve never really thought about it like that. Because for me, I’ve always wanted to do different things. I’ve done a switch flip front board on a handrail, but I also want to know what it feels like to do a backside disaster in a pool. Not because I think that I should be “well-rounded” or whatever, it’s more on a personal level. I just want to get better. And I want to know what different stuff feels like.
With my skating, I’ve always tried to one-up myself. I always want to be progressing. And there’s still a lot of other shit I still want to do. I don’t want to limit myself with what the future holds.
Well said. But I’ve heard that you were thinking about retiring at one point. How real was that?
Yeah, I was in a weird place for a moment. This was after I’d gotten that ankle surgery and was just sitting around. I was depressed, man. I wasn’t able to skate the way I did before. I was frustrated… and maybe a little self-destructive. It was a lot of “I can’t skate so I’m just gonna get drunk.” So, I would get drunk and then not be able to skate the next day because I was now hungover, too.
I had to realize that it was the getting drunk and being hungover that was my real reason for being depressed. But before I could come to that realization, I couldn’t help but wonder if skating was done for me. I suck at skating now and I’m depressed about it.
I was never gonna just walk away from it. Even at my lowest, I was still going to ride it out until everyone was over me. But in the meantime, I was definitely worried about what I was going to do next. Because I never went to college. I don’t really know how to do anything. I don’t know how to use a computer. And I’m pretty anti-social.
I remember entertaining the idea of becoming a plumber… But luckily, I took a break from the drinking, which made me start to see things a little clearer and I was able to get out of that depression. I started skating again and things got to where I knew I could still do this shit, I just had to put the work in.
I got out of Orange County, which was definitely slowing me down, and back amongst people that I needed to be around. That’s when I got more focused and realized that skating is the sickest shit. That I should be thankful. I have the raddest opportunity and I’m gonna be bummed if I don’t make the most of it.
It was a rough thing to go through but I needed it to get me where I am today.
Could you have been sober on Antihero? What role did that play in your leaving?
For me, because I’d already made these other lifestyle changes by that point, it was more about wanting to start fresh. A new beginning in all aspects of my life. So, when I was presented with the idea to skate for a different company, something that was just starting, it felt like a way of moving forward.
Anthony had become a good friend of mine over the years. Obviously, he’s one of my favorite skaters as well as someone who I genuinely look up to. At some point, we’re talking about everything and he brought up Hockey to see if I’d be interested. It was definitely a shock. And at first, I didn’t feel like it was something that I’d even consider… but again, the more I thought about it, I started to think that maybe this could be a good thing. Something to help me get motivated again.
I think it’s only been you and Burnquist that have left Antihero for other teams. You said it “wasn’t easy,” how so?
Those were just some tough conversations, you know? It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… and I still feel guilty about it. But ultimately, it was a good thing. I am happy with where I’m at now.
You’ve been called “The West Coast Fred Gall”. Thoughts?
That’s sick! I’m a big fan… I like that a lot, actually. He’s definitely one of my favorite skaters. His part in Timecode is one of the sickest parts ever. I find that to be flattering.
How would you describe what you’re doing now? Because I don’t think “cool looking shit” gives it enough credit.
I’ve just been trying to skate spots that are a little more unique, but still fun. Because with the current state of skating, there’s just so much of it. And so much of it is super gnarly. I know for myself, watching a lot of that stuff doesn’t make me personally want to go out and skate. If I make a little edit… if it looks like I’m having fun or skating something that looks like fun, maybe people will get more stoked on that. Because I just want to make people go skate. I’m not gonna have clips of some crazy triple-kink rail, I can’t even fathom what that feels like to try. Stuff like that makes me not want to go skate, it makes me want to go eat a fucking sandwich and take a nap.
I feel like you’re the first person I saw doing these, where’d the idea for the caveman nosegrind stuff come from?
That stuff kinda started out as a joke. I tried one on a ledge and it felt kinda cool to be nosegrinding in a tailgrab. We were in New York on that trip I spoke about earlier and I filmed one with Bill Strobeck for the Cherryvideo. Like I said, I’m always trying to one-up myself: Let me try it down a longer rail. So that led to doing one to noseblunt. Doing one switch. That’s just how it goes, you know?
It wasn’t that I necessarily thought it was a cool trick… because it’s kinda not. But they’re fun and I like trying to do different shit.
Is it the same kinda thing with all the noseslide transfer variations?
Pretty much. I could do a noseslide transfer… fuck it, it feels cool to grab the tail. Maybe throw a shove-it in there, too. Same shit. Just trying to keep it interesting.
And I’ve counted 2 darkslide clips…
Yeah, I think they’re sick.
I remember going down to Redondo Beach one time with Jerry Hsu and Jeff to meet up with Rick Howard. This is back in the beginning phases of Boys of Summer. For some reason, we all started trying darkslides on this double-sided curb. This was the first time that I’d ever really tried one and almost landed it.
“Fuck, I want to know what that feels like!”
So that’s how those happened.
Griptape be damned.
Yeah, the two I’ve filmed, I didn’t land either of them on the first day, so I just kept my board going until I made it. Because yeah, you basically have to shred off all your griptape to do it. Just run that same board until you make it and then set up another board while you think to yourself about how you’re never going to do that trick again.
How do you typically go about filming parts? Are you a list guy or do you just have vague ideas floating around in your head?
It’s a little bit of both. I’ll write down spots that I want to skate… it’s a lot more thought out. I don’t really work as well nowadays with just jumping in the van to skate shit. When I was younger, I could make it up as I went but I don’t really like to do that now. I need more structure.
Because so much of what I do is dependent on spots, I feel like I’m always out driving around for new shit. Maybe I’ll see something and a trick will pop into my head… go get a filmer and document it.
So yeah, I’ll write down things that I want to do and how I want it filmed. It helps me picture how everything’s going to look. That’s basically been my program of late.
I’ve read where you’re “done” skating LA High and haven’t been there in years. Is that how you are with spots typically? Super focused and then onto the next?
Kinda. That definitely happened for me at LA High. My first time skating there, it was really challenging and I feel like that’s probably what got me going on it. You do one thing, which makes you want to come back and try something harder. And you just keep going like that for as long as you can.
But I remember after landing one of my last clips there, I think I even said to someone, “Dude, I don’t think I have anything else that I can do here that’ll be up to par with the things I’ve already done.”
I was done with it. I can still go skate there for fun but I feel like I’ve pushed it to the highest level that I could go for myself. I had to move on.
What’s the trick that finally broke you?
The blunt kickflip. That took the longest. I think I went back 10 times for that, trying it for probably two hours each time. So, once I finally got it… yeah, I’m good. I don’t want to fucking skate here anymore.
What would you say has been your favorite Hockey graphic so far?
I really like the mask… Just the original mask, straight-up. That’s a classic one.
Because I feel like you’re more hands-on with Hockey, right?
Yeah, I think so. I go down there a good bit. I feel like I’ve brought in a lot of different stuff. Clothing and different things that I want to remake.
The whole thing with Hockey is that it’s fun to make shit. To express yourself with shit you want to do. And to have people there to support you and help make it better… It’s cool to come up with different ideas together.
I know there’s that drawing of you behind the wheel with a beer, which was actually a soda.
Yeah, I guess a beer just makes for a better graphic. Soda just isn’t the same, you know? I get it.
But the new one that came out yesterday, I’ve had this idea for a while where I wanted my own nudie suit. Because I really love those photos of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, out in Joshua Tree. Those suits are so rad, man. Hayden and I, we were always trying to come up with a way to incorporate nudie suits into Hockey somehow.
So, we came up with the idea to use that shotgun graphic from Deliverance for a board… then we’re like, “Maybe we can get that chain stitched?”
We take a photo of the chain stitch and put that on the bottom of the board. And as we’re doing that, Hayden’s like, “Fuck! Maybe we can finally get the nudie suit made with this on the back!?!”
So, we found a guy and he makes the suit… and honestly, it’s probably the coolest thing I own and/or will ever own. It came out way better than I could’ve ever imagined.
…Benny and I actually met up the other at day at, like, 6:30 in the morning to shoot some stuff in it. Me rolling down a sand hill. It’s pretty funny.
That top graphic with you and the harpoon is amazing.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know where that came from. Because I’ve never held a harpoon before… but it’s pretty sick!
What about that one with the butterfly knife and that guy in sweatpants?
That’s not me, either. That’s actually a pretty famous photo. Somehow, Michael Mann saw that and got the idea for his movie Heat, which is pretty cool. So, we found that photo and changed it a little bit. That one came out good.
You and Benny seem to have a good thing going with not only the Hockey series, but Heart’s “These Dreams” and that Lincoln Raffle video. How do these projects typically work?
It depends. Some have been my ideas, like I’ll present him with “I want to use these tricks with this song for this board” and then he’ll do his genius. Putting it all together with his little touches so that it fits the overall aesthetic. All those little details he comes up with.
But the Heart song, I was just stoked on that song for a while. I honestly couldn’t stop listening to it. So, of course, I wanted to use it in a little edit, but it was Benny who found that weird, studio demo version and put it together with the slams. I really liked that one, too.
How did that Lincoln skit come about?
Well, I wanted to sell my car, but do it in a way that was a little different. And at the time, a bunch of people I knew were actually doing raffles for their motorcycles. It got me thinking… Fuck, man. A raffle could be a funny way to get people involved while actually making it easier on me to sell my car! That way, I wouldn’t have to deal with putting it on Craigslist and all that kinda stuff.
We could re-release that board of me driving the car, I could sign it and have Mike make a shirt. I’ll sell the tickets for $100 and include the board and the shirt along with a raffle ticket. That way, you’re only paying for the shirt and board… and you just might happen to win the car for free! How sick would it be for some random kid to show up at Lotties and I end up signing over my car to them!
So yeah, we made it into a little thing. We were basically trying to emulate this old car salesman who used to do infomercials in the early 90s. And I already had that suit from a wedding I was in, so we just went down to the river and shot some stuff. Just messing around with the microphone.
Did you actually raffle off the car?
So we had the raffle at Lotties. I draw the name and it wound up being my friend, Josh Paul. And honestly, I was kinda bummed on that, because it looked so sketchy. He’s one of my good friends! I really wanted somebody else to have won. I mean, Josh already has a car! But whatever, he got the car. He actually still has it.
Who would you cite as influences on your overall personal style? With the mustache and the way you dress?
I don’t know. There are a lot of things that I derive from but it’s always kinda changing, too. Like, at one point, I was really stoked on wearing Hawaiian shirts. And then there was a time where I was hyped on Cosmo Kramer. For a while there, I was super into the Sopranos, too. Looking like those dudes with a sick golf shirt or something.
Yeah, it’s always changing. Because I get sick of the way I look sometimes, I’ll try something different. Longer sideburns or dye my hair…
A lot of that stuff comes from Halloween costumes, to be honest. When I had that blonde hair, I’d actually dyed it silver for Halloween because I was going as Barry Weiss, that guy from Storage Wars. I was really into it but then I went to this party and nobody knew who I was. Nobody seemed to own a TV there.
“Well, this sucks.”
Then the grey washed out and I had blonde hair for a while… which was annoying but I didn’t want to shave my head. I felt like I wouldn’t look very good with a shaved head.
What about the mustache? Tom Selleck? Rollie Fingers?
Actually, there’s a famous photo of John Dillinger that I’ve always liked. He had a sick little mustache… not the full-on pencil like John Waters, but a little thinner. I always liked that one.
So we’re doing this following the release your latest Vans part. Looks like you got some new spots in there and really having fun, despite the slams.
Yeah, that was about two months or so of filming…
…Benny always thinks it’s sick to put clips of me falling in there and I’m always like, “Fuck all those falls, dude!” I guess it makes it more entertaining to watch but I’m sick of seeing myself fall. Because I know how much that shit hurts.
But it makes it a little more relatable, too.
Yeah, for sure. And I do have a funnier way of falling, it seems. Compared to just hitting the ground. I realize that. It’s okay.
But yeah, I thought that part came out sick.
What about that noseslide-flip out for your ender?
So back to me slamming, I’d made a regular slappy noseslide over that gap, which is pretty far. And that got me thinking… maybe I could flip out of it? So I went back to try it and took what is the possibly worst fall I’ve ever taken in my life. It’s not in that Vans part, it’s in another Hockey edit for this biker board I had. I basically missed the ledge and because I had so much speed, I flew forward and hit my face on the ledge. I mean, I’m lucky I didn’t knock my teeth out. It was awful.
I got smoked that day. I probably shouldn’t have gone back, but that’s how my mind works. I can’t give up on something until I do it. I go back to try it again and this time, I end up slipping out and fall on my butt. My whole buttcheek was black and blue for a month-and-a-half. But somehow, I end up going back again for a third time and that’s when I finally got it.
It’s always a struggle, dude. I wish that I landed shit all easy but it never seems to work out that way for me.
So what’s next, Andrew? I know you just put that shoe edit out, but is there anything else in the works?
Yeah, that was my main project I’d been working on… I basically put all of my footage towards that. But since the quarantine started, I have gotten out and filmed a few things. There’s a Lotties Skateshop x Vans collab shoe coming out and I’m trying to film a couple tricks for that.
After that, I plan on working on another video part, one with a bit more weight to it. Maybe film for a year or so and get some stuff I’m really stoked on. Not that these other parts don’t have that, but I want to really push myself on this next one and make it be the best thing I’ve ever done. To have it be among the things in my career that I’m most proud of.
Is there talk of a full-length FA/Hockey video at all?
There is talk of a full-length Hockey video. It would be Hockey 4but with parts from everybody this time to make it bigger than the previous ones. It’s just hard to get us all on the same program. Everybody has these other obligations, but it’s definitely something we’ve been talking about. And I would be beyond stoked to get that in the works. The current state of the world raises some questions, but we’ll see what happens.
Thanks to Jaime, Miles and Andrew for taking the time.