Interview by Kyle Steniede
What’s up Will? I wanted to start this off by mentioning that you’re pretty underground and a lot of people might not be familiar with you and your skating. Tell everyone where you’re from and how you ended up in Los Angeles.
I’m originally from Denver, Colorado. I lived there until I was nine and then moved to these small islands off the coast of Washington State called the San Juan Islands. They’re about two hours north of Seattle. I grew up there and that’s how we met. I lived there until I was eighteen. As long as I can remember, pretty much since we started skating, the goal was to always move down to Southern California. I feel like every skater wants to live down here. As soon as I graduated high school I moved down here.
Totally! It’s pretty shocking to think about the transition between that tiny island to the big city of LA. What was that transition like for you?
Well, the island is tiny! It’s ten miles long, you have to take a ferry to get off it. There’re no “chain” stores allowed, so no McDonalds, no Starbucks, no Ralphs, etc. Everything there is locally owned, just one-off businesses. Growing up there was pretty weird. You know everyone. Luckily, we had a really cool crew and everyone loved to skate. The move wasn’t too bad because we took so many skate trips to Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona. You moved to Seattle when I was a junior I think. So, I was coming down almost every weekend and staying with you in Seattle. I remember sometimes we’d take three-day weekend trips down to SF. We’d drive all night on a Friday, skate all day Saturday and Sunday, then drive back all night on Sunday and go back to school Monday morning. We definitely spent a bunch of time in big cities. I was so hyped to get off the island and come down here, I couldn’t wait.
Yeah, I agree. I feel like it was the right time. So, we moved down to LA together seven years ago. You started college right away, graduated, and then jumped right into a full-time teaching job. Let’s talk about that.
(Laughs) Yeah, that was a lot! When I moved down here, I also started going to art school in Pasadena. I went to school all year long, so I graduated early–took three years, I think. When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, other than skate. I needed to make money and I stumbled across an art teaching job for this private school. I had no teaching experience at all, but I ended up getting the job. I worked there for nearly four years and actually just quit back in January.
What was your schedule like every week?
My hours ended up being super gnarly. When I started at the school, they didn’t have an established art program, so they let me build it from scratch. I made all the projects by myself. Pretty much took what I had learned and retaught it to the students. We had a 3D printer that I learned how to use, which was really cool. We did all kinds of drawing, painting, etc. I would teach for eight hours a day, then had to plan early in the morning before class. I also got to teach a skating class that counted as P.E. Every Friday I’d pack kids into my car and we’d drive to different skateparks. It was so sick! I was pretty much getting up at 5 am, getting to work around 6:30, working until 5:30 pm, and then getting home by 6:30, Monday through Friday.
Wow! How on earth did you manage to work 50 hours per week, do freelance work on the side, and manage to film the hardest tricks of your life for this part?
It was definitely a challenge! Luckily, you were always down. We had a really good system going. I’d get home from work around 6:30, cook dinner, drink some coffee to wake up, and then we’d go night skating. This was at least once a week. There were so many times when I wanted to say no because I’d be too exhausted, but you never backed out, which gave me that extra push that I needed. I’d be totally dead the next day at work (laughs). On weekends, we were out every single Saturday and Sunday. From about 10 am until sunrise—like clockwork, man.
Did any of your students know their teacher was out all-night filming, working on a part for Transworld?
(Laughs) That’s actually pretty funny. There were two kids in particular that actually skated. One kid was really into it and I taught him for years. His name was Addison and I think he was about thirteen or fourteen. He would always ask me if I got any clips. He’d be sending me spots that he went to, showing me videos of him and his crew. It was sick, man! Reminded me of us when we were his age.
That’s rad. So, Monday through Friday you were up at 5 am and back home by 6:30 pm—that’s a really gnarly schedule. How’d you compensate for losing so much time during the week?
Definitely had to cut out a lot of skatepark sessions. When it wasn’t getting dark super early, I’d be able to hit a skatepark after work. I had to be super specific with the spots I wanted to skate. Night skating worked really well because it was like, “Alright, we’re going to go skate one spot and I have to get the clip.” On the weekends, we always had a plan. You and I would be sending spots back and forth all week. We’d be finding new spots, revisiting old spots that I didn’t land my trick on, etc. We barely went out without a plan.
Let’s talk about the fact that you’re an incredibly talented artist. I’ve seen a lot of the work you’ve done and your board graphics. Most people probably don’t know that side of you. Touch on that for a second.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been drawing. When I started skating, that was instantly the dream—to design skateboard graphics. I remember one point in college, I just wanted to drop out and try to work for a skate company. When I graduated, I was like, “Shit, I don’t know when else I’m going to start, might as well start trying now.” I was riding for Mystery Skateboards at the time and they ended up letting me design a series called “Dream Sequence.” Those were the first graphics I made. From there, I designed a few graphics for Fortune Skateboards, and also worked with a few skate shops to design shop decks. I loved doing it so much that if there was a brand I was hyped on, I’d design anywhere from two to eight graphics that fit that brands style, somehow try to get a hold of the TM or designer, and show them what I made. My strategy at first, was to be willing to work for free. I just loved doing it and wanted to get the experience. If the brand said no, then I had work for my portfolio. If they said yes, then hell yeah, I was stoked because they were about to make boards I designed. Every day that I’m not skating, I’m working on designing graphics.
“My strategy at first, was to be willing to work for free. I just loved doing it and wanted to get the experience. If the brand said no, then I had work for my portfolio.”
Where’s your portfolio? You got a website with your full portfolio?
Yes, I got some stuff on my site, willkromer.com. I hold on to a lot of stuff before it goes public. It’s kind of like filming a part (laughs). You have to hold onto the good stuff before just posting it onto Instagram.
Absolutely. Alright, so back to skating. You’re definitely the dude who drives a two-hour commute to the spot, you’ve swept and bondo’d everything, warmed up, and even built a cinder block ledge in the corner—all before I meet up to film you at 10 am. Where does that type of drive come from? You’re probably the hardest working dude I’ve ever met in my life.
Oh man! (Laughs). I just love skateboarding so much. Having a full-time job makes you realize how valuable your time off is—you just got to take advantage of that time and do whatever you have to do to be productive. I swear, every time before we’d go filming, the night before I’d be all excited. Like a little kid again—not sleeping, just thinking about skating. Thinking about the tricks I wanted to do, etc. I’d get up super early just ready to go, all hyped. But also, everyone’s so good at skating these days, it’s insane. For me, it’s hard to keep up. All I can do is keep working as hard as possible. So, if that means being out late spot searching, then getting up and going to fix a spot super early in the morning, then that’s what I’m going to do. That’s kind of where my passion for building/fixing spots all came from.
So, you mentioned a second ago that you spend a lot of time searching and building spots. I feel like the majority of people go to spots that’ve been around for years. Why doesn’t that appeal to you? Let’s hear about your insane spot book.
The good old spot book! I’ll get to that in a second. Well, I think you and I really got involved spot searching/building spots during the filming of this part. When we first moved down here, I remember we downloaded that CA Skate Spots app and paid 40 dollars for 2000 spots. It was so sick going to all the OG spots I grew up seeing in videos. But after a while, I wanted something new. Obviously watching Tom K, or The WKND dudes inspired me a lot. It wasn’t just about the trick. It was the spot too, the freshness of skating something that nobody’s seen before. You also get the advantages of being able to do whatever trick you want. At the mainstream spots, every trick I could possibly do has already been done.
So, what about that spot book?
Oh yeah, the spot book! I got this app called GPS Log where you can take photos and save the pins. You and I both started using it a few years after moving down here. Right now, I have over 900 spots all logged and saved. It’s my private spot book that has all the spots I’ve ever been to. Most of them are in LA, but there’s other spreads out across the United States. A lot of times, I’d get off work and just drive. Just set out to find spots. And I do that still. If it’s raining, I’m out spot searching. I remember there being times where you and I would drive almost two hours just to search a new area. We’d go with no intention to even skate, just down for the ride and the journey.
Absolutely! I feel like spot building/spot searching really taps into your creative nature as an artist. There’s a real element of creativity that comes along with it.
Oh, for sure! And you know, I think it started really young for the both of us. I remember stacking up curbs as kids and sticking re-bar through the holes and being so hyped. We’d be skating this wobbly-ass ledge, but just so hyped because we “made” it. When we came down to LA, we started building DIY cinderblock ledges. Think we’ve had at least three or four separate DIYs. Some of them are in the part. It’s all definitely evolved though. Now it’s, “How can we take this creativity more into the streets? Like, how can we build something that still has that bust factor?” You know, because most DIYs are no bust. We started adding onto existing street spots, adding run-up to spots that didn’t have it before, stuff like that. I think I love keeping that true “street skating” feeling. Something raw that has all the elements of normal street skating.
I’ve been on a lot of spot builds with you and there can be a lot of risk. Let’s talk about when that goes wrong. We definitely have some crazy stories during the process of filming this part. Let’s start with Victorville.
This story never gets old (laughs)! There was this abandoned school out in Victorville – and when I say abandoned, I mean super abandoned – like all the windows boarded up, graffiti everywhere, just completely trashed and destroyed. There was this perfect bump to bar there where someone had cut off the top railing, making the over-bar half the size. It was so perfect. We’d seen photos of it but when we went to skate it, someone had removed the whole bar, just leaving a tiny kicker. The thing was too small to film on. We ended up finding a railing that literally fit perfectly back onto the bump. I think we stashed it in the bush that day and decided we’d come back at night to fix it. We were pretty much returning the spot to how it was before someone ruined it. One night after work, we got into your car and drove all the way out to Victorville. Drove two hours or some shit and got there around 10 at night. The school was completely gated so we hoped the fence with all our gear. We cemented the bar back into place and were sitting there, waiting for it to set. We wanted to paint the new cement, and the bar, to match the existing colors so it looked normal. We had all kinds of tools sitting out – cement, hammers, spray paint, saws, etc. Out of nowhere, these lights popped up behind us. Somehow, a car made it into the school without us hearing any sort of gate opening. I guess they came in through the back? We had no idea what was going on because the bump to bar was fully hidden from any road. And, the school was completely abandoned and destroyed. Two security guards hopped out and came running up on us all hot. I’m sure they thought we were vandalizing or some shit. They started yelling at us, saying “Don’t move. The cops are coming. Sit down, you guys aren’t going anywhere.” One dude started calling the cops. I remember telling them that we were only skateboarders and we were trying to fix what someone else broke. They weren’t having that at all. I just looked at you and said, “We have to go.” We turned around and ran, left all the tools there. I hopped the fence so fast and turned around and saw that you were still stuck inside. I had completely forgotten that you had your camera bag. I remember watching you just running through the school while being chased by two security guards. One of them started guarding the only place on the fence where you could hop. You somehow got him to chase you, I reached over and grabbed your bag, and then you ran around them and hopped the fence. We booked it so fast to your car. I feel like they could’ve grabbed you when you hopped the fence, but they never touched you.
That was a really close call. I literally cannot believe that we didn’t end up in jail that night. We were stuck in there for a long time too, it wasn’t something that was over in just a few minutes.
Yeah! I for sure thought I was going to be calling my boss from jail that night and telling her that I wasn’t going into work the next day.
And then, we got into the car and didn’t know what the hell to do. I remember just telling you to drive. I got on my maps and started looking for back roads to the freeway. Victorville has one main road, so we knew we had to stay the hell away from that road. We ended up making it to the freeway, and then drove two hours home. I feel like we were both silent the whole drive. Just thinking, like what the hell just happened! I remember going into work the next day, dead tired, thinking – nobody here knows what I really do (laughs).
That might’ve been the scariest moment in my life. I thought we were both for sure going to jail that night! Another really close call was at the waterslide spot. Let’s talk about that.
There’s this abandoned waterpark, kind of near Victorville actually, that’s fully deserted. The one waterslide that’s skateable is only skateable from one side. The run up was super weird. You had to dodge this pole and pop in this really narrow and weird path. We thought if we cut the beginning of the slide, it would make the run up way wider and you’d be able to skate it frontside and backside. We ended up going out there one day to cut it. Spent two hours cutting it – had the Sawzall in there, crowbars, just so much shit to make it perfect. Right when we were done, like literally as we were both carrying it out of the way, this dude pulls up. He jumps out of his car screaming, “What the hell are you guys doing? That’s my fucking slide!” We were like deer in headlights (laughs). He said he was the owner of the property, but he looked super sketchy. We put the slide down and started making our way back to your car. We had to walk across this skinny bridge, which was right where the dude was standing. He was a big guy too! He let me pass, but you – he had it out for you. He kept pushing you, calling you all these crazy names. And if you’ve ever been to that spot, you know how destroyed it is. Nothing there is salvageable. We didn’t think anybody would care, let alone notice. So, we made it out of there safe, but that was only round one. We had to go back and cement the hole that the top of the slide was laying in – I mean, we couldn’t just leave it all fucked up – we had to make it skateable. So, another day after work, we went there at night just to cement it. We had figured out where on the property that dude lived, which was actually really close to the slide. Our friends had told us stories about that same guys showing up when they skated it, but he wanted money. I guess they paid him off and he let them skate it. So, we were pulling up around 10 pm, and right as we were driving up, we see headlights coming from that dude’s trailer. We whipped around so fast and pulled off down some random dirt road, killed the headlights, and just sat there – either the dude saw us and was going to come up to our car, or he was going to drive past without seeing us. Luckily, he drove past, so we knew we were in the clear. We proceeded to hike through the desert in the pitch black, with 90-pound bags of cement in our backpacks, lay down some concrete without any lights, and get out of there undetected. That weekend, we went back, bondo’d over our cement, rub-bricked it, made it so perfect, and got the clip that’s in the part!
So many close calls! What was the most creative thing we did to make a spot skateable? What comes to mind for me was when we printed out those “no-parking” signs for that kickflip backside lip in Long Beach.
Yeah! That was sick. And you know, as much as we fixed shit, we always tried to be respectful of people’s property. We never went to new businesses and just started destroying stuff. It’s funny that we had the most problems at the most abandoned and broken-down spots. But as far as LBC goes, there’s this bump to electrical box that always has cars behind it. I wasn’t trying to dent anyone’s car or break a window, so I Photoshopped “Temporary No-Parking” signs – made them look so legit! You wouldn’t even have known they were fake. I drove down to Long Beach on a Thursday night after work and set up the signs with construction cones and fencing. I figured, alright – people are going to see the signs on Friday, they say “No-Parking on Saturday from 8 am – 5 pm”, and then they’ll move their cars before Saturday. I had no idea if it was going to work but sure enough, that next Saturday, the spot behind the electrical box was empty. You can actually see the cones and fencing in the footage. I’ve seen other people skate it before when there weren’t cars, but it seems like that’s during the week, cause every weekend we went, the street was packed. But I’m hyped that worked out. I’m actually about to do that again either this weekend or next weekend (laughs). Want to go back and get another clip!
Another spot – probably more creative than the parking signs, was in Lancaster. It’s actually the mellow bank-to-ledge to rail in the part where I did 50-50 to Ollie up, Smith grind a rail. That rail was actually not there before. We built it onto the spot. To make it look more natural, I ended up hand-cutting these little stencil letters that spelled out the school and school districts name. We painted the rail to match the blue throughout the rest of the school, and then spray-painted the letters across the front. It looked so legit! Just hiding in plain sight (laughs). The spot’s been there for a year or so now, so I guess it worked? (Laughs). Need to go back there though, got some unfinished business.
“I wasn’t trying to dent anyone’s car or break a window, so I Photoshopped “Temporary No-Parking” signs – made them look so legit!”
So, let’s talk about all the successes that we had on these crazy missions.
We had a lot of amazing times. My ender has a pretty good story behind it. It’s the Smith grind up that roof spot in Huntington Park. That spot’s actually really sketchy to skate. Not only is it super rough, but I’ve heard crazy stories about people getting surrounded by helicopters or getting swarmed by cops. It’s at a water plant, so when people see you hopping the fence with a ton of bags, I guess they assume the worst. Anyways, I had recently bought a bungee, so I was on the lookout for spots that I could skate up. I just wanted to go super fast and launch up some shit (laughs). We went there one day to scope it out knowing it was really crusty, but when we got there, we found massive cracks in the run up that would only be in the way if you were trying to go up it and skate the ledge. I ended up backside flipping up the Euro gap that day. I was skating filmer wheels but the cracks were still way too big if I was going to try and hit the ledge. We ended up coming back the next weekend with cement to fill them in. The “backway” into the spot, which was a lot more secretive and hidden from the main road, had three fences you had to hop. You pretty much go through a schoolyard, through the football field, and then over another fence into the water plant. I hopped all those fences with 60 pounds of concrete in my backpack, and you did it with your camera bag! It was so gnarly! But we made the spot perfect! We went back the next weekend and I ended up slamming really bad. My board got tossed sideways right when I was rolling up the bank. I was hauling ass at the ledge, which was up to my shoulders. I completely body slammed the wall. Smashed my waist, my head flung forward, missed the metal box by only a few inches. I was spooked after that. Think I cracked my phone, pretty much the worst-case scenario. I didn’t go back for like another year.
Really?! It was really a year before we went back?
Yeah! I was so over it. I just kept thinking about how close I was to smashing my head on that metal box. It’s scary enough going that fast with the bungee, we had to pull it back all the way, as far as we could, and at that spot, I had to swerve all weird over this rough hip, avoid a few cracks we didn’t cement, and then launch up onto the ledge that’s up to my neck, all while skating massive filmer wheels (laughs). Luckily, the day we went back, the homie Josh Gomez came to help me pull the bungee. Between you, Josh, and Rich, we were able to keep the hype up and get me to roll away. It took two hours’ worth of tries but we made it happen!
Yeah, that was definitely a monumental moment for the part. In your opinion, what was the craziest mission we had to go on?
Craziest mission and best feeling trick was for sure the kickflip frontside lip at Slab City. We went out there and filmed a varial heel up the Euro gap – which never ended up getting used. After I landed it, I frontside flipped up it for Instagram. That night, you sent me a screen-shot of my frontside flip and you said, “I think if we built a ledge on top of the Euro gap, you could kickflip frontside lip it.” In the screen shot, I was high enough to get onto a ledge. That’s where the whole idea started. I don’t remember when we decided to actually go build it, but one day, we packed the car up with a ton of cinder blocks, cement, and a parking curb, and drove out there. Slab City was about a three-and-a-half-hour drive for us, one way. So, like six- or seven-hours round trip. We made the ledge and decided to come back the next weekend. When we got there the next weekend, our ledge was destroyed. We found it dumped in this massive hole, like eight feet in the ground. I remember being so bummed. We knew that we had to make the ledge portable. From then on, we’d pack the car with five cinder blocks, a parking curb, and rebar. We’d get out to Slab City, fill the cinderblocks with dirt and hit the rebar through holes in the parking curb, down into the cinderblocks. Surprisingly, it was sturdy enough to skate. We drove out there probably four or five times during the course of six months. Every trip, we’d leave Pasadena at like 5 am, get to Slab City around 8 or 9 am, unpack the ledge, build it, and then try and get the clip. Every time I wouldn’t get it, we’d pack the ledge up again and drive home. I would get so close every time—like sliding and almost landing multiple kickflip frontside lips every session. I’d try for hours. I got tossed a few times,clipped my trucks on the ledge, fell back and hit my back on the ledge (laughs). The ledge was taller than me, like probably seven feet tall from the lip of Euro gap. And the thing about Slab City, is that around 2 pm, the sun is right in your eyes when you’re going up the Euro, so you literally can’t see anything. That’s why we’d get out there so early. I think on our fifth time back, we drove out there at night after work one day. We got all the way there, fully ready to light it up, just to find it full of water. We turned right around and drove back home (laughs). Seven-hour drive for nothing! From then on, since it was winter, we started renting a generator, a water pump, and two hoses every time we’d go. Same routine – leave at 5 am, get there by 8 or 9, drain the whole damn pool and clean it, which would take hours, build the ledge, skate it, then pack it back into the car and drive home. It was so gnarly! At that point, I couldn’t give up. I felt crazy still going back but I was too far in to stop. I remember one dude who lived in the trees right by the pool walked up to us one time and said, “Weren’t you here a year ago trying this same trick.” I think we went back eight times? Maybe even nine? On the day I landed it, I had been trying it for literally four or five hours. It was cloudy that day so the sun wasn’t in my eyes, but it was almost dark, like ten tries away from being too dark, and I somehow rode away. I was so stoked! It didn’t even feel real (laughs).
I remember on the way back that night we stopped and had burgers and beers to celebrate. That was definitely a really good memory. What was the trick that took the longest to land?
Probably that! But there was also the 50-50 kickflip to frontside crook. That’s actually kind of funny because for my last part, which was a TWS Check-Out part—my ender was at that same spot. I did 50-50 kickflip frontside noseslide. I was actually trying to go to frontside crook that night but did frontside nose, thought it turned out good, and then the sprinklers came right after I rolled away. The spot is in Pasadena, so it was super close to my house. You always kept hitting me up, saying how bad we needed to go back and get the frontside crook. I can’t pop out of frontside crooks at all, so I wasn’t really trying to go back (laughs), but you got me back there. The spot’s at a playground so you can only skate it at night. We probably went back eight times, all after work during the week. I’d get home, drink a ton of coffee, meet up with you around 8-9, then skate until midnight or when the sprinklers turned on, then wake up at 5 am and go back to work (laughs). I think on the night I landed it, we had a super shitty weekend. So, on Monday, we were like, “We have to get a clip. Let’s light up that step-up ledge again.” So, Monday night, we had the whole crew come out with us and I ended up rolling away after a two-hour battle.
I remember there being multiple times throughout the part where we’d go months without getting a clip. What was that like for you?
It sucked (laughs). We grew up skating together, so you know all my tricks. You know my limits, so you were always trying to push me to get the best footage possible. That got really challenging, especially near the end of the part. I had filmed all my go-to tricks, we had exhausted our spot list, I could pretty much only film tricks I’d never done before on new spots we hadn’t skated yet. At the time, you were working too. We had until 1 pm on weekends to get clips. We’d be meeting up at 8 am trying to get footage. At that point, we knew it was time to get it out and start fresh.
Alright, let’s start to wrap this up. I would say that we had an interesting dynamic during the part.
Yeah man, like I mentioned earlier, we grew up together. We’ve known each other for over half our lives. I think you challenged me and pushed me a lot throughout this whole part. So many of the insane ideas were your ideas! You’d always push me to try something a little harder, or to land the trick cleaner, or faster. There was a really good dynamic. You’re also the only dude who I know who is always down to go on a gnarly mission, even that means waking up at 4 am and driving to Slab City almost ten times for one clip.
It was awesome. Okay, so your part is finally out. What’s next for you? Are you sitting on any clips?
Got some clips today actually (laughs). Yeah, I’m sitting on some footage. It feels great to start fresh though. I’m just as hyped to keep filming. It’s awesome to see all our hard work come together. Gives me a chance to see what I need to do differently, what I really like, you know – stuff like that.
Seems like we’ll be seeing a lot of you in the future. You ride for anyone?
I just recently started getting some shoes from Lakai, so I’m super stoked on that. All their shoes have been amazing. They last me forever! I’ll skate a pair for months, and I’m skating almost everyday, now that I quit my job. I also ride for Brooklyn Projects. They’re amazing. I’ve only been on for about six months but they’re like family. They support me and look out for me like no other.
What companies are you hyped on right now that you don’t ride for? What’s your setup looking like?
I’ve been riding Chocolate boards for a few months now, bought like four or five graphics recently. Their graphics are just so sick, same with their image and their team. Especially being an artist, I’m always looking at graphics from a different perspective. Chocolate always comes correct. I got on some big Spitfires right now, like 56s I think. Venture trucks too. I’m always stoked on RVCA’s clothes, same with Brixton. They always make clean stuff.
Any last-minute shout outs?
Man, I have to give you the biggest shout out. None of this would’ve been possible without you, so thank you! You never said no, no matter what kind of crazy mission we were about to go on. Have to give a shout out to all the other media dudes who helped – Unk! He had some additional filming in the part and he’s the dude who I’m filming with now. We’ve been best friends for years and he’s a lot of fun to be around – always a good time. Will Fisher, who shot most the photos in this interview. Corey Greengage who shot some photos too. Ben Ericson for color correcting the part. And Brent Barrie for making the titles. Need to give a huge thanks to Dom over at BP, same with Steve over at Lakai—you guys keep me skating and motivate me a lot, so thank you so much! Big thanks to my girlfriend (laughs). She’s always been there to support me and fully backs what I love to do so, I have to give her a really big thank you! And Sammy Perales too. If you don’t know who he is, look him up! He’s got an amazing part out. We skate almost every weekend together, he’s the real deal. And thank you to everyone at Transworld for letting us to do. You guys are the best!