Do you get nervous doing interviews?
No, but I hate them!
Because it feels like there's a lot on the line?
No, it just feels corny to talk about yourself.
And you know some people are going to pay attention.
I don't know, I always wonder how many people actually read the interviews these days?
I would read all interviews in skate mags back in the day.
Yeah but now it's a different world where you can just find out about everybody's shit without reading anything.
And that's the weird thing, right? Like, you could just know way too much information about your idols, and they don't even have to talk about themselves. You can see what they eat every day.
People don't know what I eat.
Actually, I told someone I was going to interview you and they wanted me to ask you if you still go to KK Cafe.
I would if it was still open.
They remembered it from watching the Skate San Francisco thing you did for Ride Channel.
That thing got so many views, more people have seen that thing than anything I've ever done.
More than any video part?
Oh, for sure.
I mean, it's got like over a million views.
Yeah, it's crazy. I feel like SF kind of had a comeback right around that time. A lot of people were going.
Is that because you have established it as a tourist destination?
Not because of me. It's like any city, it becomes cool for a little bit and then not cool for a bit. I feel like right after that, and not because of me, people started coming to SF again. There weren't very many people in SF skating the whole city, when I was skating for Rasa Libre it was kind of dead. There were people skating down at the island, the island mob crew, but there was nobody skating in the neighbourhood. Trevor Prescott's thing had disappeared when he passed.
Was that called Seasons?
Yeah, at that time they were skating everything in S.F.
Those videos were really good, but it didn't get the love it deserved.
For sure. And then afterwards there were a few years when SF just felt kind of dead. It was a small crew of DLX people.
I feel like people were skating the blockbuster spots and not utilizing the city to its full potential.
I would say you're right about the blockbuster spots for most of the people, but there were still definitely some people that were part of that crew skating the whole city.
I think in general that was just the approach. I don't want to discredit anyone.
Yeah, they're in a van driving around looking at spots. When you're on foot you're skating everything that you pass by. When you're in a van you sit there thinking "Should we get out or should we not?"
It's kind of comfy in there.
Haha! The weather is a little colder in San Francisco so to get out of the van and warm up is an effort. If you're on foot you're just ready to skate shit.
Okay, so here's a question. One time you told me you don't think that you could move away from San Francisco because skating there is so closely linked to the way that you skate. Do you think that's true? People associate you and your approach with San Francisco. It's kind of like dictated the way you skate now, right?
Yeah for sure. I still think I could move somewhere else and skate shit, but I think for me personally, if I left and moved anywhere, I would miss the shit out of this place. It's just so easy to walk out your door and skate here. Most places it's a process to just try to go skate. I just walk outside with my board and I'm good to go. So you’re saying people would be bummed watching footage of me if it wasn’t in SF?
Honestly, now that I’m thinking about it, everyone is probably over watching you skate there.
They're probably like, "This guy needs to fucking move, we've already seen all this." Haha!
I feel like most of the time the best shit people put out is when they're working on one thing in the place where they live. You get what I'm saying? They're not traveling all over the world. They're just in their element doing their thing. At least it hits the best for me. I like that approach.
I do too. It's hard to mix footage from other places.
Especially if you live in a place like San Francisco because it's so distinct.
I mean, it can work. My Static part was mostly SF, but it did have a few things from New York and other places in it, but Josh just finessed it.
You've had a prolific career as far as video parts go, why keep doing it?
It's being obsessed with it. If you're going to keep doing it for that long, you're obviously obsessed. It's like that feeling of accomplishment too. Working towards something and finishing it, it feels fucking good. But as soon as it's over you're like "Let's start over again!"
That's good to hear because you know how I am, right? I have that addictive mentality so I like to talk to other people about this to have another point of view because I wonder if everyone is the same.
I'll compliment you which I hate doing, but you haven't really slowed down. You’re old as dirt but you still look pretty good skating. For someone our age to still be doing this and not really slowing down you have to have something inside driving you to do this you know?
It's not just about the parts and all that. I'll be busy and I'll still always make time to go skate. Like, I have to work today but I have one hour free, so I'll go skate flatground for an hour, and I'll fucking skate for the hour. I'll have a shitty session, but I'll still feel good because at least I skated and got some juice out. That energy release, it's hard to get other places.
Do you find as you get older it's become more like a practice, like going to yoga or something. Or like this meditation where I warm up on the same tricks every time.
Yeah, I go skate before work and make myself do something like fucking 15 times. I'll do 10 back tails in a row, then I'm going to just keep going from that. And then I'll do 20, then I'm going to try kickflip back tails. And then just go to work. I've only done two fucking tricks but I did them 20 times. Haha! It’s not for anybody to see, it's just for my own personal acceptance of my existence.
I know exactly what you're talking about. That's cool.
Like a mental challenge, you know?
And as much as that would suck while you're doing it, you feel relieved after.
Do you have any practices outside of skating that you do to keep going?
I don't really work out or anything. I ride my bike a bunch and I'm on my feet all the time and I skate places. I don't have a car so I'm doing that to get around wherever I need to go. My legs are moving constantly. I think that's key to feeling good.
One thing I will say about getting older, it's my brain that's affecting my skating the most. When you're young you don't have anything else to think about but skating. You get a little bit older and start to have responsibilities, and other things will start to creep in when you're trying to skate. Like, what the fuck am I thinking about that for? That type of shit happens to me all the time. I'll be trying to film something or whatever, and then all of a sudden I'll be like "Goddammit, I forgot to do that one thing." And then it will fuck my whole shit up.
What are your practices outside of skating to keep your mind right in that way? Has that changed as you've gotten older?
It's definitely changed. I used to smoke so much weed it's crazy, and I just can’t do it anymore. Once a week, maybe if that. Sometimes I'll just forget about it for a month. I probably haven't actually smoked any weed for like a month. I used to smoke right as I woke up in the morning. All fucking day. I just can't do it anymore.
How old were you when you figured that out?
I think I stopped going really heavy when I was filming for the MIA Video. I was living in San Francisco and went to Florida to work on that. Being in Florida and trying to smoke all day and skate.
Just being swallowed by oppressive heat.
It's so hard. I don't know how people do it. It's crazy.
What was the worst living situation you had in San Francisco when you were younger?
The thing is, to a skater nothing sounds that bad actually, but to an average person you tell them where you're living and they're like "What are you doing? You're basically a bum." The first place I ever lived in San Francisco was Lucien Moon’s apartment. I wouldn't even say it was a bad living situation because he helped us out. He had a loft space that used to be a gallery or something. I lived in a tent inside of his house in the corner. I had mats down on the ground, and it was just a little tent inside the place. That wasn't even that bad to me. I was stoked just being able to live out here. I feel like I just slowly upgraded from that.
Anything is an upgrade from the tent.
From the tent to the laundry room. I moved in with Evan [Kinori] and it was in the laundry room in the back. After that I moved to another buddy's house, which was this back room that used to be a green house or some shit. That was super small too. It was just a bed and a chair and that's it. But it was never that bad.
That's by our standards. I think if you told any normal person that you lived in a tent in someone's living room they would be concerned.
Yeah. My mom came when I was living in the tent and she was like, "You're living in that?" and I was like, "yeah!" But she could see that I was happy so she was cool with it.
I mean, I lived in my car out there, it could have been a lot worse. To pursue a 'skate career' you have to sacrifice so much in your life to do this one thing you love. It’s admirable, and really the only way to do it. But developing many regular life skills gets put on hold for a lot of people who go down that path.
You don't have to deal with people really. Haha!
You checked all the boxes of the traditional path to being a pro skater: A young sponsored skater, contests, moving to a larger city with a skate scene and industry. Pro board on an established brand, shoe sponsor, etc. How did you stay relatively grounded through all that?
I guess it's probably coming from my parents. My mom is a hard worker. She always just got the job done, whatever it was. And so that probably came off onto me a little bit. I went out to San Francisco when I was 19. I was just there skating and that's all I had to do. I was fucking around, but I still had to take care of myself somewhat. I'm not scared to get a job because I don't want to be totally fucking broke. But I’m not super greedy and I don't need to be rich either. It's just that I’m trying to do the things I love as long as I actually can. I think I’m kind of moving away from your actual question.
No, no. Everyone's motivation is different. I'm trying to get inside your mind, like, what's your motivation there? Especially when skating isn't something you're necessarily making a living from. Clearly there needs to be some other driving force besides money.
I mean, it's just enjoying what you do. That thing, whether it's skating, shooting photos, whatever, that thing makes you happy, and then you feel like you've accomplished something. You’re going to do whatever you need to keep going as long as you can, because that's what makes you happy.
Whether I get a job to do it, or whatever I have to do to take care of myself, I'm going to make it happen. It's like raging every night and feeling like shit the next day. You don't want to do anything, why would you keep doing that? Because you’re not going to be able to do the things you love if you're fucking around like that. So it’s probably having that passion for those things that keeps me wanting to be healthy so I’m able to do it as long as I can. Not that I’m the healthiest person or anything.
So you’re saying skating still excites you?
Of course it still excites me. You have to balance it out, take some days off here and there. As soon as I don't skate for a day or two, I need to go fucking skate dude!
Then sometimes you're on a trip or something and you skate five, six days in a row and don't want to skate the next day. Then you go out and you still end up skating. It just takes one spot sometimes and you're back on, like yeah, let's go!
I've been thinking about what it means to be a pro skater. In my mind I've made these distinctions where there are 'career pros' who earn a living from riding their skateboard, and that goes in so many different directions. And then there are pro skaters or just people that 'practice the craft' or whatever. They shoot photos and they film video parts. Maybe they even have a pro board, but it is not their source of income. But they dedicate so much time to it. I don't know what to call it other than a craft because I think saying it's an art is kind of corny. Are you following me?
Yeah, for sure.
To me you are one of the people that walk the line between both. Most pros kind of fall into one of those two categories, you know? There was a point in time where your sole source of income was skateboarding.
Yeah, I didn't have another job. I was just skating.
How long did you do that for?
Well, I mean, I guess you have to start counting it from when you move out of your parents’ house. Haha!
It doesn't count if you’re living at home, you still have training wheels on at that point!
I would say from 19 to 27 I didn't have a job at all, I was surviving on the money that I got from skating, which wasn't a ton, but I was doing all right. I was surviving. Rent was cheaper back then so I could make it happen.
Then around 26-27 I lost a sponsor and I was like, "Oh, I got to figure something out". Haha!
How did you navigate that situation, get through, and still keep skating and putting out parts?
The thing that was so crazy about it was that it all stemmed from me taking a chance on doing something that I actually wanted to do. Basically, I got kicked off Dekline because I wanted to skate for Magenta.
That was it. Bottom line.
That's what it came down to. They were like "How about you skate for Foundation?" And I was like, "No, I'm good.”
I remember I said "I'm calling because I want to do something new. I want to move in this direction and do something I actually care about." They probably wouldn't admit it but that's what happened, that's why I got kicked off.
So I did something I wanted to do, and as a result I had to get a job. I wasn't bummed on it though. I was like "I'll get this job and I'll skate on all my days off. I'll use the days that I'm working as my rest days and make it work." And actually I was happier because I fucking ditched what I was doing before and started skating for something that I was super stoked on.
So that was a turning point. That goes back to the exact concept we're talking about before, the career pro skater.
You got to do a bunch of shit you don't even want to fucking do.
How have you managed to balance skateboarding with your regular life, have you managed to stay on track all these years?
I found the track for myself. I'd take some time to work on personal projects. I have too many interests. I think at the end of the day that's a reason why I didn't fall into some other shit that skaters end up falling into. I just had other things along the way that I was like, “Oh that's sick just like skating, I'm going to do that.” Or even skate wise, if no one was asking me to do anything, I'm going to work on these personal projects. If I want to film an entire part over mopeds, or whatever, let's just have fun and do it.
Luckily I was in a place where I had other people that were down to help me with it and do things like that. I was lucky that people would support little things that I would do personally as well, and that's what I feel kept me from falling.
Outside of skating, what were you doing to keep a level head?
Getting obsessed with photography is a big one. That hole is just as deep as skating. Getting obsessed with the process of it. Developing in the darkroom, and then printing. There’re so many little things you can do. Making little books and stuff like that. It's endless.
Things that require a lot of effort and dedication can create routine. Things that you can't get better at without a routine.
Of course, that's the only way you learn how to do it!
Published in North 35