When did you go to The Wakeboard Camp and meet Aaron Reed? Well, prior to that, I went to the World Wakeboard Center at the Hansens’. I met Reed Hansen when he was a little kid, and he was wakeboarding like crazy. He was killing it and Trevor Hansen was killing it. Reed was awesome. He was like 10 and walking around the lake with girls. They had the Letchy Cassette there, and I was jumping the wake behind their boat and they were all really psyched on it. The following year I went to The Wakeboard Camp in Clermont, Florida.
Were you wakeskating a lot in between that? Yeah, a bunch. I was still wakeboarding then too, though, because where I’m from it was cooler if you wakeboard because it’s a little more showy, you know? But I liked wakeskating since I was skateboarding so much. Anyway, I went to The Wakeboard Camp, and I knew who Aaron was. He came on the boat one day when I was wakeskating and he was pumped on it. I ended up wakeskating the rest of my trip there. He told me when I was leaving if I got some stuff together he’d send it to Thomas. So it really all started for me at The Wakeboard Camp, and I have always loved that place since.
You sent Thomas stuff to get on Cassette?Yeah. When I got home, I rode every day, and I put together a video and sent it to Thomas. I was literally videotaping the TV — going VCR to VCR or something.
Really? Yeah, I figured out this crazy way to plug in two VCRs and a camera to edit stuff. We somehow would hit record then press play on a CD player next to us and edit it to music. You had to remember where the song was when you stopped. It was awful.
So Thomas called you? Yeah, he told me to go to Surf Expo. So when I was 14, I went to Expo wearing a Sublime T-shirt because I just got it and I thought it would make me look cool and a pair of shorts from PacSun and some Etnies with the dumb sideways “E”. Kyle Bohannon and I went and walked around the Liquid Force thing for a while and Don Wallace introduced me to Thomas. He was just all: “Oh yeah, cool video, blah, blah, blah. We’ll send you a couple boards.” He ended up sending me a few boards and the first thing I did with them was the trip to Miami for Sfumato.
After your part came out from Sfumato, you really blew up. How did you take that? I was definitely super excited, but wakeskating was always kind of a personal thing for me. I really did it for myself. I wasn’t trying to be the cool guy or anything. People in my high school didn’t know what was going on. I knew in that part I wanted to kickflip over something and kickflip onto something. I didn’t get to kickflip off of something.
What about the frontside flip? To me, that was huge. I saw some guy who rode with Daniel Lovett do a frontside flip online. Back then, it was different than it is now. People weren’t even doing ollie 360s or varial flips in the flats. When I saw that kid do it, I was like “Oh, that’s possible.” I did a few in the Keys, then I did that one on Clear Lake for Sfumato. I think back then Thomas gave me some direction and motivation. He and Aaron have always really guided my riding.
After that part came out, did you feel a lot of pressure? Yeah, I guess I felt a lot of pressure after that one. For that part, I went so hard and felt like even though I was pretty young, the vibe for filming for that movie was pretty monumental. It’s something I’ve never really been a part of since, you know? We didn’t even really know what we were doing. We were just trying different stuff to see what happened. After that, I definitely felt some pressure. Like my Pre Pop part that everyone thought was great. I was kind of almost disappointed in myself. I think I got to a point where I said, “OK, I did that, and now I want to do something else.” I kind of neglected some things at that time to focus on different stuff.
Like what? Well, it was cool to evolve, and I felt my style “got cooler” or whatever, but I just felt like I wasn’t going as hard as I was for Sfumato.