‘Sitting Around Hurts My Body’ — An Interview with Cyrus Bennett

📷 Photo by Paul Coots

Interview by Farran Golding
Photos by Ryan Mettz + Paul Coots

Cyrus has been a fixture on the pages of QS for a long time now, but we’ve never had a chance to formally interview him about, you know, E V E R Y T H I N G. Given the opportunity on the tail end of the call for the “Favorite Spot” piece, Farran asked him about everything from Mama’s Boys to Paymaster.

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Your first video part was in Mama’s Boys, filmed mainly in Brooklyn. Did you prefer skating locally when you first moved to New York?

It was because we all lived in Brooklyn and didn’t have cars. I was really excited to skate and when I had the day to, I wouldn’t want to sit on the train.

I didn’t really know Aaron [Randi]; I knew Sean Dahlberg from Pratt [Aaron and Sean made Mama’s Boys – ed.] He was my first friend there who skated. We’d skate these basketball courts by our school and he had a VX. I had never filmed at all.

Was he already working on Mama’s Boys?

Yeah. But that was one of those videos – I think it came out in 2012 – and back then, it was more prominent for videos to take, like, five years.

What’s your earliest memory of Max Palmer?

I remember the day we met at those courts. He seemed like a quiet dude. He had the long, wild hair and the muttonchops. I had no idea who he was.

“This guy looks interesting…”

I think his board was covered in white spray paint. He did pour plaster molds, so he was always covered in dust. He looked like a house painter.

Obviously, I noticed his trucks, but I didn’t think too hard about it. Like, “This looks a little different…” Now, you see kids with squirrelly trucks. At that point, I don’t think I’d ever seen that. I didn’t realize how fucked it is if you stand on a board like that if you’re not used to it.

📷 Photo by Paul Coots

Can you remember meeting Johnny Wilson?

It was that same time period. I was living with Sean and Corey Rubin. I’m pretty sure Corey brought Johnny over. We went to the skatepark and after that, we started skating a bunch because I met his brothers — well, just Andrew at that point. Mitchell was still in Philly.

Johnny’s always been really motivated. He had this video that’s not online anymore, Space Heater, and those were the first clips I filmed with him. Video [Johnny’s first video, also not online anymore – ed.] came out right before we met, before our two crews converged.

It was what I always wanted, but never had. I never had a crew of skate friends in Colorado.

Was filming something you’d always wanted to do, or did you not give it much thought until you had the opportunity?

I always wanted to, but coming from where I was, I never had any expectations. I had ten years of skating under my belt where I’d never filmed, never took skating “seriously” or “tried” in that sense. I’d skated for a whole lifetime before that, so I never had any expectation of coming to New York and filming parts.

Now that I haven’t had a “real job” for a while, I feel that’s the bare minimum of what you should do.

“Obviously, I noticed his trucks, but I didn’t think too hard about it. Like, ‘This looks a little different…'”

The “Most Productive Crew” had a peak period from 2014 to 2016 with Johnny releasing a new video literally every six months at one point. Do you have a favorite out of Space Heater, Beef Patty, Paych, Horny and Sure?

Those are what I might look back onto, when I’m old, as the years of having the most fun and being the most carefree. I remember liking Space Heater a lot, but it has to be at least five years since I’ve seen it. Once we switched to HD, the vibe switched.

In what way?

It seemed like we were getting more traction. Like, “Oh, we’re really going to do this.” I’d gotten a small Nike contract at that point, so I felt a little more pressure.

The VX ones — those memories are a little more pure because we were doing it just because, you know? Nobody was getting any money, nobody knew who we were. It felt really authentic looking back on it.

HD changed things, I think. Or it was a point in time where HD signified what was going on for me.

📷 Photo by Ryan Mettz

It’s funny you say that because Johnny had all those HD vlogs coming out between videos too. They felt very spontaneous and natural. For me, looking in, it seemed like a bunch of friends skating a lot and having a good time.

In that sense it was. In the time period when we were filming VX — we were slumming it harder. We were really young and it’s funny to think back on those times of eating chips, drinking malt liquor and having five dollars to your name.

At the same time, you were studying industrial design. What did your course involve?

The program is geared towards product design and problem solving. There’s a base year where you learn rudimentary skills, then towards the end you have more freedom.

The world of products is pretty vast. It could be a fridge magnet, a new bike, something highly engineered or a space. It depended on which way you wanted to take it. I ended up taking a process-based design course where we’d mess with production processes: having a process with an idea behind what you could make out of it. The end result was, essentially, sculpture.

It’s really vast. That’s why I wanted to major in it because you learn about production, 3D computer classes — all shit that I don’t really use anymore, but hopefully I’ll start again.

What put you on the path to study that?

Art was the only class I ever really liked and I liked building stuff. My dad’s a metalworker and I grew up around his shop with a lot of tools. I worked in the metal shop at school the whole time because that’s a foundation I previously had.

That’s what a lot of people thought “industrial” design meant. Because I worked in the metal shop, people thought it was metalwork. “No, I work in a metal shop. It could be a lot of things. And a lot of things are made out of metal…”

📷 Photo by Ryan Mettz

Was there a certain piece of work you were particularly proud of?

I still have a side table I made through this process of bonding aluminium with corian with a resin-based cement, which I was having a lot of fun with. I was CNCing [Computerized Numerical Control] connections, then bonding two materials.

It was my last semester. Then I did this thing with expanding foam where I made cushions that fit into cylindrical packing tubes. I was proud of those two pieces. The class was really fun.

I don’t think it’s sustainable to be going into that. I know people do, but fucking with resin is gnarly. I wouldn’t want to be doing that for years. It’s really toxic — all the chemicals are pretty bad for you.

Were you all set to go into that field before getting that Nike contract?

I had a job with a salary and benefits for a few months and got fired. I wasn’t in the right mind space because of skating. I wasn’t mature enough to have a “real job.” Maybe if I didn’t have anything else going on, I’d have taken it more seriously, but it didn’t feel right for me at that point.

“Sitting around hurts my body more than skating and actually hurting my body does.”

Were you hesitant to make skateboarding into a formal job in case you ended up in a similar scenario?

Yeah, I was. It wasn’t enough to make ends meet all the way. I remember being in limbo, then Pontus [Alv] wanted to turn me pro [for Polar], so I was feeling hesitant. But skating my was passion, so I felt like I should do it if I was getting any offers at all.

I remember Ryan Bobier [at Nike SB] told me – because I was like, “I think I need more money if I’m going to just skate” – and I remember him giving me the extra. “Hang in there. It’s only going to get better.”

Looking back, did things take off quickly anyway?

Everything went so fast. Going to school, skating with my friends when I could, working at the metal shop – honestly that was some of the best years of my life, juggling the two. School is really demanding, but I also skated really hard. My boss was cool and I met my best friends. Once I hung up the towel on working and only skated, it’s a blur from there. A lot of trips, hanging out with my friends, and a lot of laughs.

📷 Photo by Ryan Mettz

Although it was probably pretty familiar territory – filming with Johnny and Logan [Lara], hanging out with Max and co. – did you feel any pressure based expectations for the 917 video?

We all took it relatively seriously, but at the same time, it was my first time doing that. In hindsight, I tried really hard, but now I know how to perform better than I used to.

Logan’s temperament is so mellow and undemanding; I wasn’t feeling any pressure. I feel like I was serious [about 917 #1], but I didn’t know how to be. I did my best. There’s a few tricks I’m still hyped on.

You’ve always put out quality footage, but I feel like you turned it up a notch for 917 #2. Were you striving for something more?

No, I’ve always tried the same amount. It’s a natural progression thing. Since I was younger, I’ve always thought that every year, you should get better and I’ve never wanted to turn that off.

Earlier we talked about you being hands on. I feel you have a pretty proactive approach to skateboarding too.

Clutter pisses me off — it makes me irritable. Anything that really takes your concentration and attention away from regular bullshit – working hands-on, skating, or people who like to play video games – anything making you focus on what you’re doing in that exact moment really helps me.

It feels better to be focused. I’m a physical person, so skating works. I’ve been adapting to working on the computer, but that hurts my back. Sitting around hurts my body more than skating and actually hurting my body does.

What got the gang back together for John’s Vid? Did you get a taste for working on something after “Skate Clip?”

He finished working on the Supreme video [“BLESSED”] or didn’t have a project he had to be working on with any company. I think he initiated it. We only went to Miami and did a trip upstate.

Once I saw the video, I felt a little bit of nostalgia because it was Johnny’s thing and it hadn’t really changed. The making of it felt dope: “Sick, we all get to film for the same thing.” It didn’t change much because we always skate together, but someone’s always doing some shit for something else.

I guess the video itself definitely sparks some nostalgia because it’s a super raw editing style with the same faces a few years later and then a few old characters sprinkled in. I liked how that was done.

I felt really good skating in that period of time. Then I hit my knee, kept getting footage and realized I had to get surgery right after [that video] ended.

📷 Photo by Ryan Mettz

After leaving 917, why’d you decide on doing Limosine rather than riding for another company?

It felt like a perfect opportunity to do our own thing. That’s what I — and I thought everyone else — would want to do. Otherwise, it would be having to do some “whatever you can get”-type shit.

We’ve maintained being together for a long time, the opportunity was there and everyone was down. It’s a little bit more work. Or a lot more work.

Do you, Max and Logan [Lara] co-own Limosine? Talk me through the process of setting up a company.

And Aaron [Loreth], he’s the main owner.

First, we had to figure out a name and that wasn’t easy. Then, we had to figure out if BBS was going to make our boards. Everyone was super backed up with production, so that another hurdle. Aaron already had connections, so he could get us in there. That’s why it’s Aaron’s thing: he set up the business.

So, yeah, you have to trademark your name –

On that note: why “Limosine” and why’s it spelled that way?

It’s spelled that way so we wouldn’t run into any problems with legal stuff, and so it would come up easier in a search. I think it’s cool because it’s a vehicular mode of transportation — a luxurious one — but it’s obviously bullshit because we’re haphazardly doing it. We’re still figuring everything out.

“Since I was younger, I’ve always thought that every year, you should get better and I’ve never wanted to turn that off.”

Were the first graphics your artwork?

Yeah, there were three graphics and I did all of those.

Aaron came here so we could work on it because it all slipped into place at one time. We figured out a name, BBS gave us a date they could take us on because they were so overbooked — meanwhile it’s like the highest sales rate of decks in ten years. The “Snake Pit” graphic was the only graphic we had finalized. Then we mashed the other two together.

I’m hyped Aaron knows what he’s doing, it’s not like the product is wack; we didn’t want to do if we couldn’t get BBS wood. The silver boards are really good, and it’s good to be able to really pay attention when specifying paints. There are so many different paints and you only know that if you’ve worked with them before, which Aaron has.

Has the responsibility of having your own company given you a new perspective on your career?

Yeah, it’s stressful because I’ve been hurt this whole time. I’ve had a lot of time to work on stuff. I’m mentally preparing myself to be able to work on both skating and the brand. I’m sure it’ll get easier as time goes on, but I don’t want to slack, feel unfinished, or underworked. Luckily, it’s a few of us working on this all together.

📷 Photo by Ryan Mettz

Talk me through this injury you’re recovering from. You were dealing with that throughout filming for Paymaster, right?

I hurt my knee filming for John’s Vid. [What became] the first clip of that video, I backside flipped over a rail, ran into a cement pillar and sprained my ankle. That was two months before the video was done and I couldn’t skate the whole time.

I was getting better from that, after my knee had been aching all summer. While getting better, rehabbing my ankle, I realized my knee on the same leg was really fucked. Even though I didn’t feel it when I was walking around, when I skated it would hurt, ache or get swollen and stiff.

A lot of doctors visits later, I figured out I had fucked up cartilage and a pretty big spot on my femur and the left condyle — which is the end ballpoint of your bone. They needed to drill it to do a crazy surgery. I had to get a cadaver and they have to place an order for that. You wait and they’ll hit you up two weeks prior to when it’s ready.

I put [the surgery] off until November, so I could film for Paymaster. For our company launch, I felt like I should have footage. Towards the end I was like, “I don’t know if that was worth it.”

Now I’m on the mend; I think I was freaking out. It’s definitely one of those things that you should fix sooner rather than later. It’s like arthritis but acute. I’ve spent the last six months not knowing if I’m going to get better, but I think it’s been really mental for me.

Were you self-conscious about being the “big name” pro on Limosine or if you and Max had the notoriety to carry a brand?

Definitely. I don’t know if I’m worthy, but we’re doing it anyway. It’s not about being the “best” or the “coolest” company; we’re doing what we want to do and I think our crew is sick.

Logan met Nelly [Morville] because she’s from San Clemente. I was hyped on her from her iPhone footage. Logan was giving Karim [Callender] 917 boards for a long time. He was living in Atlanta, so we hadn’t really seen him. Then he moved back to the city, so we wanted to put him on.

Everyone else is kind the same: Aaron, Max, Hugo [Boserup] and I. Then its Nelly, Karim, Santino [Gagliarducci] and Genesis [Evans] too.

Hugo [Boserup] just got a board. How does it it feel giving that to a friend?

That’s weird too. I mean, it’s really sick, but I don’t know if we’re worthy. There are so many companies and Hugo deserves it, so I think he’d be turning pro for another company if it wasn’t ours.

As an individual, it’s a big accomplishment turning pro. When it’s happening for you, it’s a different experience than doing it for somebody else.

You’ve been in the mix during two cycles in modern skating. First, as there was a shift in attention to smaller pockets, scenes and board companies – like 917. Now, we’re seeing the next generation companies born out of those which began in the 2010s, with Limosine being one of them.

I think skating going in a good direction, honestly. There are so many kids who skateboard and so many niche genres within skateboarding. There’s enough room for new companies, I think. I know kids feel like shit is missing a little bit. Not everybody can relate to what already exists.

People doing new things is going to keep it alive and fresh. I’m hyped to have that outlet to do what we want, and hopefully, cater to kids who haven’t found what they like yet, but think what we’re doing is sick and want to skate our boards.

You’ve managed to spend your whole career in the company of your closest friends. Does that beat anything else you could have gotten out of professional skateboarding?

Absolutely. People are all it comes down to. Who’s going to be there when you can’t skate anymore? The people you know and the friends you spent time with. I don’t really know what else you get out of it. Experiences — yeah — but friends are there every step along the way, the whole time.

Thanks to Cyrus for taking the time ❤️

8 Comments

  1. As someone who’s been psyched on Johnny Wilson’s vids since the early 2010’s, and New York skating in general, especially when it comes to Cyrus & Max – I’m really psyched on limosine. It feels fresh and relatable. I’ll be supporting this company for a long time.

  2. Cyrus is an inspiration. Met him once or twice skating in brooklyn, and his style is impeccable. every flick like an artist’s stroke, it’s really incredible to watch. Glad to see he’s pursing his dream and I have to pick up some limo merch soon.

  3. I swear I bought a Limosine board and immediately switch tre’d — first one ever

  4. Great interview Farran.

    In an era where it’s common to hear a pro skater speak and think “oh god, I wish I knew less about them” or “damn I wish they skated more and spoke less”, Cyrus stands as one of the best. He rips. He’s constantly producing. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s more interesting with every glimpse into his story.

  5. every aspect of this interview kills, worthy of the chrome ball line at the end. thank YOU for taking the time, farran.

  6. What a gem Cyrus is.

    @Levi’s Silver Tap Enthusiast For myself, I’ve noticed it helps to have skaters with interests not only outside of skating but outside of the usual basic bitches – acoustic guitar, photography, travel, etc. And at times a higher education makes for a better interview, since it’s not just rubes screaming “hell ride” and “let’s drink!” but people who have wider lives and experiences – work, school, environment, etc.

    Cyrus looks like he’s perpetually upset but that was real sweet at the end there.


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