An Interview With John Gardner

August 10th, 2017 | 2:51 pm | Features & Interviews | No Comments

Photo by Andy Enos

Intro & Interview by Zach Baker

A dope thing about skateboarding is that it attracts an endless variety of people, who are each drawn to it for their own specific reasons. We all have our unique relationships within skateboarding as far as what we want to do, who we want to be around, and where we want to go on, with, or because of them.

John Gardner’s motivations on a skateboard are not so easily pigeon-holed, though it can be said that he’s not adhering to any sort of trends in attire, trick selection, or really, well anything. It makes one wonder whether he even needs a skateboard. Like, if the skateboard were never invented, I feel like John Gardner would figure out some other vehicle to sate his physical and creative urges. This points to part of what makes him such a delight to watch. For some people, skateboarding is what creates their identity. But for John, the skateboard is just an accessory, one of many mediums lending themselves to his way of life and creative pursuits. Without the board, he’d be no less extraordinary, but as skateboarders, we couldn’t be more fortunate to have him as a member of the club.

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To start…the video part. It was just a pleasure to watch. Give me a little overview.

I had a bunch of VX footage that was just kind of sitting around, and I had always wanted to make music for a video part but never really had an opportunity to do so, so I immediately connected the dots and thought that this would be a great opportunity to make that happen. It’s over the course of two-and-a-half years, whenever a VX came out. Some of those clips might even be three of four years old. A lot of it is in California with some Jersey sprinkled in between.

Tell me about the soundtrack.

My friend Max Hersteiner, who I used to live with, is in an amazing band called Dirty Fences — he’s in a couple bands actually, Dirty Fences and Metal Leg. He and the bassist of Dirty Fences and Metal Leg, Max Komaski, all created music together for various video projects that I’ve made, so I hit those dudes up immediately to just jam and see what we came up with. Max’s friend Danny Cooper played guitar for the soundtrack. We just set up a camera, experimented and that’s what we came up with.

What’s up with your uncle?

My uncle is a wild man. He is my uncle Semo, my dad’s brother. He has a lot of upper body strength and is really good at doing handstands. He would walk up and down stairs on his hands when he was younger, so he naturally gravitated to riding a skateboard on his hands. I had a camera and wanted him to be in this little video that I was making, so we drove around looking for a little hill and filmed him doing his thing and that’s what I got. He loves skateboarding and he really tries but he skates better on his hands than I would say he skates on his feet.

An Interview With Mitchell Wilson

April 5th, 2017 | 1:03 pm | Features & Interviews | 9 Comments

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Words & Interview by Zach Baker
Photos by Colin Sussingham & Max Hull

We’ve all heard more than a few skateboarders use the term “family” to describe their group of friends, mutually-funded acquaintances, or more broadly, everyone who has ever owned a skateboard, whether or not they’ve even met. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that it has always been a source of fascination when you hear of people that skate together who are, well, actually siblings. Guys like Jonas and Jeremy Wray, Mike and Quim Cardona, Dustin and Tristan Henry — it always seemed so nice to grow up with a brother or sister who also skated.

Courtesy of Max Hull’s owl-like awareness, it was brought to our attention that a number of Slap commenters are a bit confused about the genealogy of contemporary skateboarding’s most popular brothers: the Wilsons. Mitchell Wilson, a.k.a. Crazy Mitch From Philly, is Andrew and Johnny’s oldest brother. As you maybe know, and in keeping with the higher-publicized talents of the his bloodline, Mitch is anomalously fucked at skating. What separates Mitch is that, unlike his brothers who are very much a part of the multi-billion-dollar skate industry, Mitch has always been untethered by the throes of brand affiliation and marketing teams, which has granted him the liberty to say, post an Instagram story of himself scribbling on his teeth with Crayons, dive headfirst into a pile of garbage, or say generally whatever he wants with minimal repercussion save maybe a black eye.

While many of his compatriots have migrated north in search of art-handling gigs and diamondplated metal, Mitchell has been downright stubborn in his affinity for Philadelphia, so much so that he allegedly gives his whole family Philadelphia t-shirts and souvenirs for Christmas every year.

So, to clarify, Mitchell, the guy who does wallie kickflips, slappy switch smith grinds, and that really, really long winding slappy in Paych, is the oldest brother of Andrew and John Wilson. Josh Wilson is not at all related.

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Who’s your favorite skateboarder?

I didn’t have one for years because I never even thought about it, but when I started working at Woodward, every kid would ask me that, so, I guess, Tony Trujillo.

What’s up with wallie kickflips?

I was trying frontside wallie backside 180s, and it flipped one time. I figured out how to make it flip and just tried to land on it. I can’t really do it anymore, it was just a passing thing. But I’ve tried heelflip ones and I’ve tried them switch.

An Interview With Alexis Sablone

March 9th, 2017 | 11:15 am | Features & Interviews | 11 Comments

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Intro & Interview by Zach Baker
Headline Photo by Richard Hart

PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life was an anomaly. For the kids who had their own local crews, it was strange and inspiring for this shop out of Melrose, Massachusetts to release this incredible skate video of people we’d never heard of, and reach as large of a viewership as it did. P.J’s part was obviously the main draw, and while there were many standouts — including Jereme Rogers at a time when his only musical connection was Buena Vista Social Club, Ryan Gallant’s east coast tech, the mean guy in the paper boy hat, and don’t get me started on Fiske — a particularly eye-opening moment of the video was when we were introduced to Alexis Sablone. Her part, in some pathetic way, enlightened a generation of young male skaters to the notion that females in skating existed outside of the only woman we had ever really been shown: Elissa Steamer.

I had seen Jaime Reyes and Elissa’s skating at that point, but something about the fact that there was this girl who completely ripped in a random homie video, reinforced the idea that there’s a grander female presence throughout skateboarding. It drew attention to women’s extreme lack of visibility in skating.

In the time since, Alexis is still ripping and placing in most of the contests she regularly enters — but what’s dope is that she also, like, fully went to Columbia, and has a Masters in Architecture from MIT. What’s even more wild, and a perfect example of the resourcefulness of people who happen to skateboard, is that she completely financed her education with contest earnings. I don’t care what you did down D7, this way of juicing of the system is the most impressive skate trick I’ve ever seen.

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You’re from Connecticut?

Yeah. I’m from a town called Old Saybrook. It’s a small town not that far from Groton, kind of the bottom middle of Connecticut.

Was there much of a skate scene there when you were growing up?

Not at all, or if there was, I wasn’t aware of it. I started skating when I was ten. I started at a new school that year that was a few towns over. I was in fifth grade and there were a bunch of eighth grade boys who skated, so that was my first contact with other skateboarders. It’s funny because, I had a skateboard, and I was still struggling with it for a while, trying to figure it out on my own. I was playing tag or something and jumped off this twelve foot jetty and broke my foot. When I started at that school, I had DC Clockers and was on crutches. All the boys were like “Whoa, you skate?” I was like “Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, I skate.” But on the inside I was panicking like, “Oh man, I have to get good at skating!” As soon as I got my cast off, I was in the garage like “I’ve gotta figure out how to ollie.” They were cool, but mostly I just skated alone in my garage. There was this one skatepark an hour away, and I finally started going there. I’d make my mom drive me, or I’d take the train on weekends. I met Trevor Thompson, who’s still like my best friend. We started skating together every weekend.

When did you start going to Boston?

Boston didn’t happen until I was like fifteen. I met a bunch of Boston dudes — Jereme, Eli, Zered and Louis Sarowsky — at Woodward one summer. I became friends with them. Then, I went to Boston once with my family for a weekend, met up with Jereme and we skated all day. He introduced me to Matt and Arty, the Coliseum guys, and that’s when I met PJ. I started going there every weekend or staying there for the summer.

And that’s how you ended up accumulating a full part’s worth of footage?

Yeah, I don’t know if I’d call it a full part. I think I filmed most of it in a couple days, it was just random. It didn’t even feel like I was filming a part, oddly enough. Actually, most of it’s filmed at MIT. Then, we went on a road trip. We took this van down to Miami and stopped in Philly and Atlanta, so some of it is from that too.

An Interview With Ray Barbee

February 15th, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 8 Comments

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Interview by Genesis Evans
Collages by Requiem for a Screen via scans from Chromeball
Intro by QS

Mythology has become an accessible commodity. Fifteen years ago, the people who shaped a generation’s manner of approaching the world on a skateboard were confined to hard media with dwindling circulation. Half of my age group grew up hearing the holy words “Tom Penny” for years, without seeing anything until Menik Mati came out. Today, mythology is a click away; you can tend to your old soul without going far. The full spectrum of inspiration is available.

Ray Barbee, for this same reason, has become even more of an inspiration to us in the present day — even as we drift further from the days when he was releasing video parts. Ray’s graceful simplicity on a skateboard is an image that summarizes why anyone skateboards in the first place, no matter the age. We usually save thank yous for the end of interviews, but preemptive thanks to Ray for taking the time out to talk to us, and for pretty much everything :)

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Where are you from and how old are you?

I was born in San Francisco, and when I was five, we moved to San Jose. That’s where I got into skateboarding. Right after my sophomore year of high school, we moved to Orange County. I’m 45.

How old were you when you first started skating?

I was 12. It was right before 7th grade.

I think I also started around 12. Do you think that where you grew up had an impact on the way that you skated?

Oh, completely. Your biggest sphere of influence is your immediate community. When I got into skateboarding, I didn’t know about magazines or videos. My friend got a skateboard for his birthday, and then when we went to school, we met up with other skaters. They took us to backyard ramps and things, and that was my introduction into the culture. Later, I started finding out about videos and magazines.

Did you face challenges in the skate world because you were black?

Yeah, I did. But never from skaters, or not from whites, if you will. I got it way more from other brothers and sisters…other blacks who thought I was trying to be white. They would always make fun of me for riding a skateboard because they thought it was a white thing. In the 80s, it was so close to punk rock and surfing, so I can see why they thought that, but at the same time, it motivated me. I always felt like, “I love what I’m doing, hopefully you guys are digging what you’re doing.”

Did you get that same response from family members?

No, not at all, thankfully. I’m sure they were probably scratching their heads — I know my parents were like, “what is this skateboard thing?” But for them it was more like, a financial thing. Skateboarding’s not cheap, man! But no, my family was encouraging.

An Interview With Sage Elsesser

February 10th, 2017 | 7:00 am | Features & Interviews | 25 Comments

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Interview by Earl Sweatshirt
Photos by Ben Colen, Rob Collins & Jared Sherbert
Collages by Requiem for a Screen

Quartersnacks has long operated around the idea that your friends are your favorite skateboarders. You know every quirk and anecdotal backstory to your friends’ individual ways of skateboarding. Interviews, for that same reason, can be tough. You only really know half the story from watching someone in videos, or reading other interviews they have given to people who are paid to write about skateboarding. Sometimes, a friend knows the best way to lead someone into a conversation about why they skate the way they do, and are the way they are as a person. Quartersnacks is proud to present an interview with Sage Elsesser, conducted by Sage’s longtime friend, and current roommate, Earl Sweatshirt.

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What’s your whole name?

Sage Gabriel Carlos Atreyu Elsesser.

What got you into skating?

Probably my dad. I feel like he just knew a lot of skateboarders. But also, in kindergarten during show and tell, a kid had a skateboard. He was sitting on it and I was like, I need that — whatever that is. Then my dad got me a size 8 board. I was like 3, 4 years old. The board was taller than me.

When did we start chilling?

We started going to the same school. I remember there was a time when I went to the blacktop, and I was in like 3rd grade, a tiny child, and you were in 6th, and these niggas let me play with them. Then we actually fully reconnected at the alumni carnival. Our school used to have an alumni carnival every fall towards the beginning of the school year.

Didn’t you bring me my board?

Yeah, camo Alva grip!

Definitely camo grip to match my camo fucking Air Force 1s. You brought me my board, I didn’t even know you that well.

I saw you put your board behind the trash can and I was like “where are you going?” “I’m going to smoke…weed.” I remember going to school the next week, going into the janitor’s closet and I saw the board. I took it and gave it back to you. So from there, you were like, “let’s skate.” We lived in the same neighborhood, like 10 minutes from each other.

When did you get good at skating?

The definitive moment I got good was during halftime of a soccer game. I was 12. I seen a kid at the park with a board, and I was like “let me see that.” I did a heelflip in cleats. So perfect. Stationary. Everyone on my team was like “what!” My coach was pissed. Lowkey, I was like, “I’m a skateboarder.” That felt good, and I remember telling myself, “this weekend, I’m gonna go skate.”

When did you start doing impossibles?

8th grade when I moved to New York. I didn’t know Aidan, but we moved out here at the same time. We just clicked when we met, and then Aidan taught me how to impossible.