Our good friend, Eric Swisher, that does the The Chrome Ball Incident continues his exclusive interview series with us here at Transworld, and this time he tracked down Mr. Louie Lopez while he was stuck at home during all of this quarantine craziness. The interview runs through key points in this child prodigy’s already extensive career that seems to be kicking into overdrive right now. Dive in for a great interview. Thanks Eric and Thanks Louie!—Jaime Owens
Obviously, a topic on everyone’s mind right now is quarantine, and that self-isolation IG post you did in your backyard was incredible, man. How’d that come about?
Yeah, that was fun. Just messing around. I have this little quarterpipe in my storage here, it just happened to fit perfectly in my laundry room. So, I messed around on that for a while and then I started looking around for whatever else I could find. Just making stuff up with whatever I had lying around.
It was a fun little project to work on because it felt like back when I first started skating. Making due with whatever you have.
It was really cool to see.
Well, something that definitely wasn’t fun was me slamming by myself. Not that sick.
For some reason, it pisses me off so much more whenever I take a slam by myself. Because it’s different whenever you’re with the homies. Everybody’s into it and you can just laugh it off, like, “Wow! That was crazy!”
But when you’re by yourself, you’re just hurt.
What were you slamming on?
That back three over the tire. I slammed on that a few times, actually. I landed on the tire a couple times. It’s just such a weird one…
Yeah, I was wondering if you’d actually done that before? Because that’s a pretty random trick to do on a whim.
No, I’d never done it before.
I just happened to have that tire lying around… and with my little quarterpipe set up right there, let me see what I can do. So I started messing around and did a couple Ollies over it. Then I did a heelflip over it but that still felt kinda weak. I went through a couple of different ideas… At one point, I started flinging tre flips but that wasn’t going to happen.
Luckily, the back 3 worked out. I honestly didn’t know I had them that high. But at the same time, whenever you’re trying to Ollie over something, you need a reference. I just worked my way up.
And you filmed that all by yourself?
Yeah, that was all me… Even cracked my screen a little because my phone fell off the chair I had it posted up on. But it was worth it. Good times.
Are you skating back there a lot?
No, not at all. There’s nothing really back there, you know?
Honestly, we’re pretty bored over here right now. My mind is running wild.
How often are you getting out to skate these days?
I’m being pretty cautious and staying in the house, only getting out when I really need to. That kinda thing.
Where I live, my house is across the street from my parents’ house that I grew up in. The house behind that is my cousins, and there’s another house in the back of that where my grandma is. So, I basically live around a lot of older family members. We’re all on this block. I want to be cautious for them and not do too much.
Some people are going reckless like there’s nothing going on. You gotta be careful.
Were you working on anything prior to all this?
Well, I’ve been filming pretty much nonstop for the last couple of years. I’m hoping to put something out this year but yeah, all that has obviously been put on hold for a sec. But we’ll get back out there.
“The Louie Lopez” edit from FA was a nice surprise.
That was all from a trip we took down to Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas City a couple of months ago. Benny wanted to use the footage for a little idea he had, something to pop on Instagram. He always makes the best videos so, of course, I was down.
Yeah, Benny’s the best. How is it working with FA on videos? They always have such a distinct look.
I just let them do their thing. Because Benny is a legend. Whatever he puts his hands on, you can trust that it’s going to be good. Honestly, it’s pretty comforting whenever you’re out filming… To know that whatever clip you’re trying to get, it will to be in good hands. And it’s always something to look forward to, how it will end up in an edit. You know it’ll be part of something cool.
I just let him go for it. You never really know what the concept is gonna be. It’s whatever he thinks is cool, like the song or whatever.
He always sends it over to see what I think, but it’s always great.
As a “child prodigy,” were you already skating when that photo for your FA yearbook board was taken?
Yeah, for sure. I started skating when I was 5 years old. I’m probably about 8 or 9 there…
Hell, you might’ve been already sponsored by then!
(Laughs) Actually, yeah, that was right around the time I got my first sponsor… definitely within a year of that photo being taken, I was sponsored.
That’s kinda crazy to think about.
Coming out of Hawthorne with Furby, Antwuan and Theotis, were you ever in consideration for Baker? Was that ever a goal?
Nah, that was never a thing for me.
But yeah, we all grew up skating the Hawthorne Skatepark together. It’s funny, Hawthorne really was the happening park in L.A. at one point. Probably because it was one of the only ones with lights. But just because of that, everybody started coming through and I was able to meet more people than I normally would’ve at that age.
Was it inspiring for you to see the homies go on and make it in the industry like that?
Honestly, it was more about just having fun back then. I was still so young, I don’t think that sort of thing even dawned on me until I was already on Flip. Because, all of a sudden, I was going out skating with Geoff and Arto. You can’t help but suddenly have the realization, even at that age, like, “Wow, I’m hyped on this!”
You were flow for Madrid and Powell before that, right?
Yeah, I was getting Madrid boards for a while and had just started getting Powell boards when I got asked to ride for Flip.
How’d that go down?
Lance invited me to go skate the park with him. Because I’d gotten to know Lance pretty well by then, just from skating around the park and local spots. I mean, yeah, it’s Lance Mountain, but I really didn’t think anything of it when he called to invite me out. It wasn’t that out of the ordinary, I guess.
So, we’re skating the park…. and there’s this older guy watching me from a distance. The whole time we’re skating, he’s totally watching me wherever I went. It definitely started to feel strange after a while, because I was still pretty young at this point. There’s some guy that I don’t know, staring at me from the other side of the park. Am I tripping? But every time I look over, his eyes are always on me!
“What’s going on with this dude?”
It actually turned out to be Jeremy Fox. He ended up walking over to us and asked me if I wanted to ride for Flip. It was crazy.
Wow… that day?
Yeah, just like that. That day. A total no-brainer for me, especially at that time because everyone on Flip was still in their prime.
Didn’t Lance ask you to ride for the Firm prior to that?
I had heard something about that. Someone told me that he was considering me for the Firm, but I never heard anything directly from him about it. I guess that was around the time that the Firm went under.
He ended up going to Flip and I guess he brought me up to them. I figure that’s how it worked out, because like you said, Jeremy asking me on that day is not how it typically goes.
As a little kid, what were sessions like with the Flip squad back then? Straight-up legends, were you extra hyped or possibly a little intimidated?
It was definitely surreal.
I remember the first time that I ever went out with Geoff and Ewan [Bowman], Flip’s old filmer. It was a weekday, but my Dad let me stay home from school. I was still too young to stay at home by myself, so I had to go into work with him super early that morning and wait around for those guys to pick me up there. But I was so hyped, man. I couldn’t wait to skate with these guys. Especially being at my dad’s work, I just remember sitting there, counting down the hours.
They finally show up and I hopped into the van… the first thing I notice is how much it smelled like cigarettes in there! Just crazy cigs! But there I was, sitting in this big 14-passenger van with Geoff Rowley. I remember thinking to myself, “Yep, this is tight.” (laughs)
Was there ever any chickening out at a spot with guys like Geoff and Arto around? Would they let that slide?
They were never pushy or anything, but you definitely knew who you were with.
I remember being out with Arto one time, I was scared to try this rail. He goes, “If you think you’ve got it, give it a try. But if you don’t feel like you have it, let it go.”
It’s something so simple but hearing that from him really stuck with me. It’s nice to hear… but at the same time, here I am at this rail with one of the gnarliest skateboarders ever. I can’t really bail on it now.
Did you end up trying it that day?
Yeah, I had to. (laughs)
Good job. So, tell us something we wouldn’t know about Tom Penny.
The first thing that comes to mind is how he’d always bring one of those gigantic sample bags on trips. Those giant ones that sales rep use to show off all the new stuff at shops? They’re seriously twice the size of a normal large suitcase. They easily come up to your chest, but that’s what he’d always bring on trips. Every time. He was basically traveling around with an entire closet.
But he’d put it to use! Because you’d always see him in three different outfits throughout the day! That was his thing. He always had to be fresh. Go out to eat somewhere real quick and come back, Tom’s gonna put on a new outfit. Always.
Did you ever ask him about it?
No, it was just something to watch throughout the day. I’ve seen it in action so many times… trying to put your stuff in the van and there’s this giant bag taking up all the space.
“Yep, that’s Tom.” (laughs)
How would you describe the influence these Flip legends have had on your career?
It’s inspiring because I met those guys early on, when I was still so young. Back when they all were still in their prime. To watch them get a little older and see how they’ve handled things. Seeing how they’ve adjusted to things that we’re all going to have to deal with. That’s what has made the most impact on me. Especially seeing someone like Lance, still having fun and doing this thing. Still involved with so many things. That’s amazing to see.
I hope I can grow into that same sort of position and be doing the same thing at that age.
How was filming for Extremely Sorry? Because not only did you have the pressure of it being your big debut, Flip’s also coming off the momentum of two previous classics.
It was really cool, actually.
I remember being so hyped when I saw it for the first time at the premiere. Because I honestly wasn’t so sure about my part leading up to that night, but it turned out being way better than I could’ve possibly imagined.
That was five years of filming! And I was so young when we started working on that thing, I didn’t know how far back with footage they were gonna go. How old of footage are they gonna use? And what do I have in there that was filmed recently? I just didn’t know what to expect, you know?
Luckily, my part ended up working out good.
I can’t imagine you having any sort of process back then…
Nah, I was just hopping in the van and going. That’s pretty much how it is at that age. Get in the van and have someone drive you to spots.
Was anybody able to help you at all?
Ewan helped me out a bunch, that’s really how we got to be such close friends. Because it was just me and him going out for a while there. And I was so young, for him to even be down to do that… and it being normal. It wasn’t like I was at daycare or something. It never felt like he was babysitting me. We’d really be chilling together like friends.
I’ll be honest, when I found out that Ewan got another job and wasn’t going to be the Flip filmer anymore, I actually shed a tear. I was so bummed, man. (laughs)
Because when you’re young and trying to figure everything out, he was always the one to give me advice. Spots and tricks, how stuff should look. He really let me know what’s up.
There’s so much more to a part than tricks.
Well… there was actually a time when Ewan’s advice didn’t quite help me out that much. It’s pretty funny. I had kickflip back 50’d this 8-stair rail in Glendale. It was a round rail and I don’t really flip into rails anyway, so I was super hyped.
Ewan ends up calling me one day.
“Hey, we should go back to that rail and do it in a line. Maybe a flatground trick before it and get that kickflip back 50 again. It’ll look better.”
“Alright, cool. Whatever you say, I’m down.”
So, we go back and I end up breaking my arm. Thanks, Ewan!
…I still haven’t let him live that down. (laughs)
I know you were in some homie videos around this time as well, how do you look back on these early “kiddie” parts?
It actually feels like I’m watching another person. It was all so long ago, and everything is so different now, it doesn’t even feel like me.
It’s funny to see some of the tricks that I was doing back then, but at the same time, that’s just where I was at. Doing all of those boardslide combos? I just didn’t have enough pop to get onto ledges the way I wanted to. I was making due with what I could do.
There are a few in there that I might not do these days, but it’s also a different time now. I’m a little more grown, too. But I’m still just trying to figure it all out. Still taking it as it comes…
I’m skating bump-to-bars now, which are pretty sick. I’m just saying, because that was something that I always wanted to do back then but couldn’t. I wasn’t able to. Nollie flips and switch flips, those are hard when you’re little. You don’t have enough power yet.
Is there a clip that sticks out as particularly wild to you?
I used to do a lot of late flip-backfoot flip stuff back then…
I was actually going to ask about that one. Where’d that come from?
(Laughs) I don’t know! It’s so random to see now. But I used to do some random tricks back then, for sure.
Because before I could tre flip, I’d do 360 pressure flips! I couldn’t flick them, so I went pressure instead. Being a little kid, I just got stuck in a weird little zone. That was around the same time I was doing backfoot flips, too. I don’t know where all that stuff came from, to be honest.
But again, just making due. You have very few tricks at that age so the ones you can do, you just go with them. All good.
But on the flipside, is there a clip from back then that you couldn’t do now? Because you were already going really big…
For sure! One that immediately comes to mind, I think that I could still do it now but it would definitely be scary… because I don’t really like doing this sorta thing, in particular. But I grinded the La Jolla 18, which was the biggest rail I’d ever done at the time. I mean, people are doing crazy stuff on it nowadays, but at the time, it felt like a big deal.
I remember Ewan picking me up to go down there. Matt Mumford happened to be there that day, too… Some of those old sessions are crazy to look back on. We had some real OGs in there. But I ended up grinding this rail, a 50 down a round 18-stair. And I was so hyped when I did it. I didn’t even have a phone at the time, so as soon as I landed it, before I could even celebrate, I yell over at Ewan.
“Hey! Can I borrow your phone!?! I gotta call my dad and tell him I did this!”
“Dad! You won’t believe it! I just grinded an 18-stair rail!”
He’s like, “What!?! That’s insane!”
“I know! I’m so hyped!”
That’s something I’ll never forget.
What about the claymation intro for your Extremely Sorry part? I could see that possibly making someone so young feel a little self-conscious.
Nah, I thought it turned out sick. I knew they were trying to do that for the video, but I had no idea what to expect. I just had to trust Ewan and what he was doing.
I still remember Ewan coming over to record the voiceovers. That’s actually my Dad’s voice and a couple other family members in there… and for my song, we used that Guatemalan instrumental? In the middle of it, there are a couple of Spanish words. That’s my Dad’s voice in there, too.
It was cool to have so much of my family be in that part.
Was it difficult for you and Curren as the “little kids” on Flip?
Yeah, but I think it also brought Curren and I closer together. Not that I realized this at the time, but it was good to have someone my age to travel with. To always have someone to room with and talk to about things. Experiencing the same stuff. Because Curren and I were friends even before getting on Flip. To have him in the van with me, alongside all of these older legends, was super helpful.
We have so many little things that we’ve shared over the years. Like this one time, we were at this super creepy hotel. I don’t even know where we were, somewhere on the road. This was one of the first times we ever stayed in a room by ourselves. It’s just me and him, and I remember us both being so sketched out by this hotel we were in. Our window was right by this sketchy parking lot… We couldn’t sleep. We both got so paranoid about everything, we just stayed up all night because we were scared.
Just a classic little kid moment, all freaked out.
But was it ever frustrating for you to always be seen as that little kid with long hair, even after you’d gone pro as a grown-ass man?
Yeah, for sure. But I don’t think that’ll ever change. At least, not for me. Even in my family, my Dad is “Louie Senior” and I’m “Louie Junior.” What trips me out is that I have cousins who are three and four years old. Really young, right? They even call me “Little Louie.” That doesn’t make sense! You can’t call me that! (laughs)
So yeah, that’s just how it’s gonna be for me. It’s never gonna stop.
Was cutting your hair a way of distancing yourself from being “Little Louie”… or am I full of shit?
(Laughs) Nah, there was definitely no thought put into that one.
I was in Barcelona on a trip and I’d gotten a horrible haircut right before I left to go over there. My hair was getting in my eyes more than usual and was just an annoying length. It looked like a mushroom and I was just over it. I hated that my hair was even a thing but it was driving me crazy for the whole trip. It got to the point where I called my dad from Barcelona, asking him to shave my head as soon as I got home. Just to get it off of me.
So, as soon as I got home from the airport, it was like midnight or something, I had him shave my head. Because I had to do it before I changed my mind. It’s been that way ever since.
I guess that was just a part of growing up, I had to get rid of all that hair.
Let’s talk about Holy Stokes. Because while that’s right after you turned pro in Flip 3, I feel like that part really set the stage for West End.
That was a fun one to work on with Russell [Houghten]. I feel like it had more of an artistic vibe to it, not just your average skate video. A lot of drones and crazy angles.
Yeah, Holy Stokes was around the time I turned pro…but to be honest, that period really wasn’t the best for me. You know how there’s that point in your life where you’re transitioning from being little to full grown? That in-the-middle zone where you don’t really know what’s going on and everything feels a little awkward? That’s where I was at for Holy Stokes, in particular. That awkward period. I can tell by how I look in the footage. Little things that probably only I would notice. Dressing-wise, some of those pants are a little too tight. Things like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that project and how it all came out. Russell did an amazing job. But my part can be a little hard for me to watch sometimes.
But there’s so much good skating in there! Like that 3rd and Army line? With the gap Ollie, tailslide and 180 fakie mannie flip-out… I love that one.
That’s actually one of the things I was most hyped on.
I just thought of that at the spot. At this point, with spots like 3rd and Army, you really have to think outside the box because it’s been skated for so long. I had a couple ideas floating around for there but nothing too crazy. I got some things going and was able to put it all together. But no, that one definitely wasn’t planned.
What about the ditch bluntslide at the end? Super gnarly!
The Vegas one? Yeah, that one was a battle. I almost did it on one trip but could never roll away. Luckily, it worked out that I was able to go back, and I got it that next time. I was hyped because that’s a pretty big wall. I took a couple good slams on that one, for sure.
And the 180 fakie 5-0 fakie flip ender at LA High over the hip?
That was an interesting one because while I got it the same day, I originally wanted to land back in the bank, not off the end. That’s what I was trying at first, and I actually landed going into that bank four or five times, I could just never get it the way I wanted to. It was always a dud. I couldn’t catch all four wheels back in.
That was probably two hours of trying. After a while, I had to give up on going back in and just started going off the end instead. That ended up being a lot easier and actually looked better, too.
So you went from Holy Stokes, straight into West End and then Purple? All back-to-back?
Yeah, that was all one long period of working on stuff. But that’s how it goes, you know? You’re always filming.
How did West End come about? Your big breakthrough as “adult Louie” at eight minutes, did you do anything different in the filming of that one?
Well, it originally started out as a part I was going to film with Ewan. But that fell through, for whatever reason. So, I had all of this footage, not really knowing what to do with it. And I just kept filming.
I ended up getting my first cover that year, a Skateboard Mag cover. And I was tripping on that. A couple of months later, I got my first Thrasher cover. The wallride cover… and I was really tripping on that, for sure.
It just seemed like everything was starting to work out. I felt like I was in a good place with my skating and I was still filming a lot. I started to feel like… damn, it might be a good move to put something out this year, just to see what happens. Because we weren’t planning on anything at that time. But super last minute, Volcom stepped up and said they would support whatever I wanted to do. Lannie was down to edit it up and Volcom picked up the music rights.
I’m hyped on how it came out. It’s probably the part that I’m most stoked on.
So you just happened to be filming as you started to gain momentum, coming out of your “awkward” phase…
Exactly. Because during the filming of what would become West End, I started to become more and more aware of how much better I was skating… like “Oh, shit! I can do this?!”
It became this thing where I’d go out and surprise myself in doing something, which got my confidence up and led me to try something else. It just fed into itself, figuring out what all I could get away with.
And you’re just killing it out there without any specific project? Minus the first few months and the enders?
Well, it was always going to be my own part, even when I was originally working with Ewan. But after that fell through, I just stayed in that mode. Filming all the time but still keeping things normal and not so stressful. That’s how I like to operate… not so crazy, like “I’m filming for this part. It has to be done by this day. I need to get this trick.”
…because at that point, there wasn’t a deadline. I’m just out there skating.
Don’t get me wrong, there definitely came a point where things shifted. Once I knew that Volcom was going to put it out, I had to buckle down for those last few weeks and make the most of it.
But for the most part, I just like to do what I do. Go out skating with my friends and stack footage. Over time, you’ll get an idea of not only what you have but also whatever else you need to get… and then it’s crunch time. Start planning the enders I want to do and finish up strong.
That’s basically how West End went.
You said that you got all your enders in a few weeks?
Yeah, pretty much that entire last song is me trying to tie it all in. That was probably all filmed in the last month or so.
That’s wild because I feel like West End is when people really took notice of you again. Such an amazing part.
Thank you. Because honestly, I was starting to feel some pressure at the time. As a kid, everyone would always talk about how good I was going to be when I got older. That was the constant remark.
Well, I’m older now. And I felt like people were starting to look at me like, “What are we doing here?”
It was time to do something.
You had to know once you put down that San Dimas big heel, things done changed.
(Laughs) Yeah, that was the last thing I filmed for West End. That was my last thing for crunch time.
I originally went there to back three it, but that thing is way too big. I had to switch it up. I’ve always done big heels, so I just flung a couple out there and they were feeling good. I ended up rolling away with one, which was such a relief. Because I’d gone all the way out there, I didn’t want to come back home empty-handed and then have to figure out another ender.
What’s your process at a spot like that? Do you Ollie it first or go straight in?
Yeah, I Ollie it first. Just to get a feeling for it, you know? That one’s not really all that scary, to be honest. It’s long but not crazy impact. You just gotta have speed.
The scariest thing is that the ground is so rough where you land. But you have to go so fast in order to clear it, you just have to know that if you slam, it’s gonna be a rocky concrete-kinda thing. But aside from that, it’s fun. I loved getting towed in.
How long did that take? Because after you landed it, you just laid down. Someone says in the raw footage that it looked like you’re gonna cry.
(Laughs) That was probably two hours or so.
The thing with that spot is you gotta plan to have a bike there. Again, you need so much speed that you basically have to get towed-in. Luckily, Dane Burman has a dirt bike and was living with my friend who filmed it, Ant Travis. We just posse’d up and went over there.
Because I know your frontside hurricane kickflip in Sacto took five hours…
Oh yeah, that one took some time.
We drove to Sacto just for that. It’s funny because I had that trick in my head, but I never actually mentioned to anybody what I was going to try. I just put it out there as “That’s such a perfect spot. It’d be cool to get something there.”
That was in those last couple of weeks, Ant and I were filming a lot together. He was down to go out there with me, so we planned a little trip and got a hotel. Just for this thing.
We get there that night and I wanted to get right to it, so we go straight to the spot and light it up. I try it for a couple hours and can’t do it. We go back to the hotel and I wake up feeling pretty sore the next day. I remember actually going to get a massage. Just trying to do some relaxing stuff before heading back over there… Light it up again and tried it for another couple hours, got it.
So yeah, that was probably five hours total.
Was that your longest battle for that part?
Oh yeah, that was the longest, for sure.
We were so hyped on the ride back home. And in the back of my head, I couldn’t help but think about how getting that trick was my plan all along… but nobody ever even asked about it. For the entire ride up, we’re all thinking about this spot. If you would’ve asked me what trick I was thinking about, after putting in all that effort to get there, I would’ve said. But nobody even brought it up for some reason. (laughs)
So you’re down to camp out for tricks?
Yeah, that’s definitely more of my approach.
Because half of the time when you’re out trying stuff in the streets, you’ve never done it before. And every day is different. Some days feel better than others. Some days you get pissed easier when things aren’t working out.
I try to keep it in my head that anything can happen. And that’s what really keeps me going, knowing that one of these tries is bound to work. It’s like the lotto. Just keep trying.
Keep your cool. Because when you get pissed, things only get worse.
What about your over-the-rail wallride cover in there? You’re definitely not trying that for five hours.
No, not at all. But that was a random one as well.
The way that day started out, we’d gone to this random flatbar spot on the side of the street. Just messing around, my board ends up getting flung out into the street and ran over by a car.
“Sick. First spot and starting off like that? This day is going to be a dud.”
It sucked. Because not only did it break my board, it broke a truck, too. So, I had to go back home and put together a new complete.
But the way it worked out, that wallride spot is not too far from my house. My friend Ryan is actually the one who brought that spot up, that it could be sick. So, we went over there after I got a board together and it worked out. Same day. I definitely didn’t expect that to be a cover, either. Such a weird one, but I was super stoked to see that come out.
You have some pretty unusual spots in there, like the kickflip off that overhang and the running on those chairs to hit that rail. Or that frontside feeble transfer over that gate. That’s barely a spot!
Yeah, that all comes from my friend, Ryan Lee. He’s always the one with the spots. Finding new ones and thinking of ideas… Google Maps. I’ve gotta give him credit here. He’s the one who found that wallride cover and the overhang. He found that gate spot, too.
That day with the gate, we were just trying to figure out where to go and he randomly brought it up to me. He showed me the spot on his phone and we just went to go look at it. I honestly didn’t think I was actually going to skate it… at least not that that first day. I just figured we’d go check it out and see.
It’s scary but you have an easy way out, just lean over towards the sidewalk side and bail. It’s high but not too bad… so I gave it a shot. That was another one where I couldn’t get it to look right at first. That one took a minute.
But the chair thing you mentioned, that was my idea. Again, just making due with what we had at that spot. Because I got that kickflip crooked grind there that day, too. The chair stuff was just a little bit extra, having fun.
How picky are you with footage? Because going back to that overhang spot, you must’ve kickflipped that thing ten times in the raw footage.
I’m really picky, man. Because you always have an idea of how you want to do things, you know? You want it to look how you see it in your head.
Surprisingly… well, not surprisingly because it’s a hard trick, but something I struggle with are kickflips. Sometimes they’re working and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re not looking too good. That’s why I did so many off that overhang. Because with my kickflips, they can go a little rocket and then bone… which is weird.
I just don’t get it. 50-percent of the time, they’re just on some other shit. I have to keep doing them until one works out.
I’m confident that you’ll learn kickflips one day, Louie.
(Laughs) Yeah, I really need to learn that one.
What’s your view on music? Like the Spanish song in West End or Pink Industry in Purple. The hip hop joint in Volcom. Are these your choices or are you just going with the flow?
A lot of the songs I’ve skated to haven’t been 100-percent picked by me. But I guess now that I’m older, I’ll try to be more involved with things. Have more of a say. It’s hard to explain, I just feel like as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to care more about certain details.
That’s fair. Has there been a song used that you don’t really like?
Yeah… but I’m not going to say which one. I’ll hear it now and it’s just like, “Ugh.” Definitely a little harsh but whatever. It’s in the past.
Were you more confident with Purple after the success of West End? Or stressed in having to follow it up so quickly?
I just wanted to have fun with Purple. Because that last bit of filming for West End… it wasn’t stressful, but like I said, I did have to buckle down and take that last bit very seriously. I had to do some missions and really plan things out.
For Purple, Ben Chadourne didn’t want it to be so serious. He wanted it to be more of how I skate regularly. Because sometimes when you watch a part, you can tell if they’re being super serious about it… like, “Oh, he’s really ‘filming’ right now! He’s trying to film a part-part. This is serious!”
You pick up on that vibe. Like the difference between a trip edit and a full-on video part. We wanted Purple to be more fun.
I like that you have so many unorthodox tricks in there… like the nosebonk one-foot on the rail and the kickflip manny no-comply flip out.
Yeah, that’s just me messing around. Like, that kickflip manny no-comply flip? I’m just having fun there. That’s a fun trick, Ben just really liked it… Honestly, I was a little surprised when he busted out the camera to film it.
“What… really? Alright.”
That’s kinda how things went with Purple.
But I also know your Purple ender was kind of a thing.
Yeah, that was a full thing.
Burnett told us that he was down to give the cover to a Converse guy, because it was basically going to be the Converse Purple issue. There was a big piece on Purple in there and typically with that, they have a cover tying back to it. So, that cover was pretty much open game for anyone on Converse. If you want the cover, go out and get it.
I was talking with Jon Coulthard about everything, and he was super hyped on it. Like, “Let’s go get this cover!”
I was down. So, we actually went and tried a few other things first, but none of them seemed quite cover-worthy. And then, somehow, we had this completely random idea for the back noseblunt.
“Yeah, let’s go there!”
The problem is that you don’t get very much time at that spot. We kept getting kicked out after about 15 minutes or so. I actually stuck it the first time there, I just couldn’t roll away. We had to come back the next day and same thing, stuck it again. Security comes and is kicking us out again. We start to act like we’re going to leave when I basically said, “Fuck this,” and ran back around. We were able to sneak in a couple more tries and get it.
Why the 2002 footage at the beginning?
That was Ben’s idea. He just happened to ask if I had any old clips from way back and I knew that we were sitting on a bunch. My parents used to film me a lot back in the day. It was cool to digitize all that and see what we had. Some memories in there, for sure.
Yeah, I guess with your Dad being so down with skating, filming was always a given for you.
Well, my Dad and my Mom. I gotta show some love to my Mom because she’s always giving me crap for this.
“You’re always talking about your Dad like I wasn’t even there!”
She’s just messing around but still… so now every time I do an interview, I try to make it a point to say “Mom and Dad.” (laughs)
Shout out to Louie’s Mom. What about the front bigspin board on the Gold Rail through the skatestoppers?
Yeah, just another unplanned thing. We were all in D.C., skating around. It was starting to get dark and we were ending the day. We just happened to be by the Gold Rail, so I started looking at it. I knew people were doing stuff through the stoppers, so I started messing with it. Boardslid it first and then started flinging out a few bigspin board attempts. Just feeling it out.
But it’s funny, because whenever you fling something out with the crew around, you’re kinda shooting yourself in the foot. Because all the homies see what you’re thinking about and you kinda have to try it now.
It was cool, though, because the boys put some money down for me to do it. So, once I got it, I earned a little extra money and bought everybody beers back at the hotel. We had a good time that night.
How much money did you get?
A couple hundred.
Not bad. What’s your best Jake Johnson story?
Oh, man… there’s too many.
The one that sticks out is probably whenever he got his shoe, that Jack Purcell mid in leather? We all went out to his place in State College, PA. He’s really out in the sticks, but he’s got his own little zone with a mini ramp and everything. He’s got it good out there. And it was cool to see how he lives and what all he’s up to.
But I remember one night, we’re partying at his house. He has a music room going, and after a while, we all ended up going in there and grabbing instruments. De La was playing a guitar, Raney was on the drums and Jake grabbed a keyboard. I grabbed the mic and started singing. Just yelling gibberish, doing our thing. That was a good time.
So, talk about riding for Flip as an up-and-coming pro. Because you did stay with them for quite a while, well after the brand started to have some problems.
Loyalty is a big thing for me. I never want to be that dude to just walk out on someone. Because these people have had my back since I was a little kid. And they didn’t have to do that. They were at an all-time high when I got on. They didn’t need me.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. And I let them know how I felt a long time in advance… That I was wanting something different and was probably going to leave. I wanted to let them know way ahead of time, not just bombard them with everything and bounce. I still had my contract going for at least another year at that point, too. I just wanted to be upfront and honest about everything. I owed them that.
They took it in stride and we quickly got on the same page. They just wanted to be sure that I stuck around until the end of the contract. They had some things to figure out on their end and finish selling my boards. And I respected that, of course.
It was a clean process. I waited a year for my contract to be done. We’re still good, nobody hates anyone. And I’m happy with how that all went down. The day I left, they even posted a little thing on Instagram, thanking me for all the years. That meant a lot because you never want things to end on bad terms.
Yeah, you never want to cut-and-run… but at the same time, they also came out with that gnarly diss ad when Apples left.
Yeah, that was a weird one, for sure. I remember being pretty surprised by that. Things don’t have to go down like that… but then again, every situation is different. You never know.
I’m glad my situation worked out differently. All good.
You must’ve gotten plenty of offers over the years, right?
Yeah, I got a couple. It was nice to know that people were interested.
You know I gotta ask who…
Let’s see… Kenny was in my ear about Chocolate. Manderson hit me up about Krooked. A couple others but I probably shouldn’t go into too much detail.
What was the deal behind that April Fool’s IG joke about you riding for Chocolate?
I don’t even know! I was on a plane when that got posted! So, as we landed and I was walking off, there were all these people texting me.
“Is this real? What’s up with this?”
I didn’t know what to tell them! Because I was never in on the joke. I was just as confused as everyone else. It was humbling for them to post that… it was cool to see. I just didn’t know what it was all about.
So how did FA enter the picture? I feel like that rumor circulated forever…
Well, I’m friends with those guys. It was an idea that Nak and I always played around with. Nothing too serious, more of a, “Wouldn’t that be sick?” kinda thing. But at the same time, I was still under contract with Flip. If something was gonna happen, it wouldn’t be for a while. So, it kinda went quiet there for a minute, because it just wasn’t an option at the time.
It was never 100-percent sure going to happen, even as I was leaving Flip. I wasn’t on FA when I left Flip. I didn’t have a board sponsor at all, technically. It was only as I was posting it on Instagram that Nak brought it up again, “Do you want to ride for FA?”
I was down and Dill called me right after.
“Alright! Let’s fucking do this!”
I was so stoked, man. Because FA was in the back of my head the entire time, it’s what I really wanted. And it’s seriously the best thing ever. I love going skating with those dudes. Being out skating with AVE is so sick. He’s still going after it… he’s inspiring, for sure.
And you guys just added Vincent to the roster as well. How does that happen in FA? Is there a team vote before something like that happens?
Well, Vincent was kind of a no-brainer, you know? Everybody already knows Vincent, so it was pretty much a given that we’d want him on the team.
Dill always says that Nak is kind of the “team leader” of the squad. He really gets into making those type of decisions. But nah, it’s definitely more of a friends thing. That’s most important. They’re not gonna go out of their way to bug somebody they’re not down with. It’s a real crew, and that’s what I probably like most about it.
What was FA’s take on you going the Olympics?
Nobody would expect this, but Dill actually watches Street League and all the big contests. There have been times where I just finished taking a run and he’s hit me up on my phone, like, “Damn! That was insane!” (laughs)
Nyjah will do something insane and I’ll see something from Dill come in, like “What the fuck!?! Nollie heelflip back noseblunt!?!”
It’s funny because you’d never expect that from him, but it’s sick to see him tripping on that side of skateboarding.
I love it. So, you were announced for the 2019 Olympic team, even though there’s no Olympics that year… which is kind of a weird one. But you’re not on the 2020 team, which is postponed anyway. What’s your outlook on the situation?
I’m just taking it as it comes. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what being on the 2019 team even meant.
“Oh sick, I’m going to the Olympics! Tight.”
That’s what everyone thought. They picked the team, we’re going to the Olympics. But no, we’re the 2019 team and the Olympics are next year? That’s a different team?
I thought we were gonna start buckling down to get ready for 2020! Getting a bunch of dope shit! But no, we still had to qualify for next year’s team that’s actually going to the Olympics… at least, at that point. The 2019 Olympic Team didn’t mean anything.
That was just bait to bring some hype for the Olympics. And honestly, it was kinda messed up because I have family members who see that stuff. They all think I’m going to the Olympics! They’re telling everyone about me going to the Olympics. Not necessarily.
I’m not gonna make a big deal about it. There’s still time to qualify, so you never know…
How do you approach contests anyway? Because while you’ve won some big ones over the years, I feel like people were kinda surprised when you announced for the Olympic team. You’re not really seen as “contest skater.”
I try not to stress it too much. Because what am I going to do? Go out and train at some skatepark? I’m just gonna skate, have fun and see how I do. It’s no big thing.
Like I said, there are days that you feel better than others on the board. If all the stars align, it’s gonna be good.
Great answer. So, as we wrap this up, I once read in an interview where you said “I’m not sure how much time I have left in skateboarding.” What did you mean by that?
I just like to plan ahead. In theory, I’d like to be able to do this for as long as I can, but anything can happen. You never know. I’m trying to make the most of it while I can.
For sure. Last question, what’s been the proudest moment of your career so far and your biggest regret?
I’d say that I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve just stuck with my gut on things. Because there are times when you’re walking away from something and you’re not really sure if it’s the right decision, but you know deep down that it’s what you really want. It can be rough leaving something behind, but you also might be heading towards something better in the future.
I’ve always talked to my parents about stuff and there were times when they weren’t so sure about something I was about to do… like quitting Globe. I didn’t have a shoe sponsor for a year after that. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I knew that I wanted something different. And in the end, Cons worked out, which has been the best thing ever for me. So yeah, just going with my gut on things. I’m proud of that.
As far as a biggest regret goes, I try not to get too caught up on stuff in the past. There are things that I could’ve done differently, but there’s no point in dwelling on it. There’s nothing you can do about it, just take it as a learning experience and move forward. Because it’s all just a learning experience. Everything.
*Read Chromeball’s interview with Gabe Morford here.