INTERVIEW BY DAN LEVY
INTRODUCTION BY DAN LEVY
I have grown up watching video parts and reading interviews of Tommy Guerrero. Listening to his new record A Little Bit of Something, I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite records to date. When speaking with him I met a humble guy who thinks on his feet and embraces life. Besides being an accomplished musician he also owns a skateboard company called Real, founded in 1990 with legendary skater Jim Thiebaud. He also owns Forties clothing, another company within Deluxe. Tommy is responsible for many moments in skateboarding that have set the standard for skaters all over the world. Here is A Little Bit of Something, with Tommy Guerrero.
How did you hook up with Mo Wax?
It all started with a skate video I made called “Kikos”. I did the soundtrack and then met this one guy named Randy Holmes. He was a skater and wanted to release the soundtrack as a record. Then they had too many irons on the fire so they had to pass on the project. We put it out and later on they came back to me and said we want to put out your next project. Then I got caught up in the b.s. with Seagram’s buying Universal, A&M and Island and my contract was with A&M. That’s when MoWax contacted me and I quit, so I got stuck dealing with the lawyers from A&M. It took me almost a year to get my contract back. Once I got through that, I started to record new stuff.
“That’s kind of funny because that progressed out of necessity. I mean you’re flying down the hill and you see something in your path. You think, “Oh shit. if I don’t get over that I am going down.” I think that’s how it all got started.”
Do you consider music as much a part of your life as skateboarding?
Definitely. I grew up playing music. When I was about thirteen I started playing in my brother-in-law’s band and that really shaped who I am today. It has always been a part of me, whether I was in a band or not.
What does skating mean to you now?
What skating means to me now is a broken back and broken ankles. I’ve been going through this back problem, so I haven’t been able to really skate for the last couple of months. It’s a bummer. If I can’t skate I go crazy, and it’s the same way with music. I get agitated. It’s like you’re losing part of who you are.
What is the fastest you have ever gone down a hill? I’ve seen footage where you ollie pot holes at an insane amount of speed. What are you thinking at that moment?
Yeah, that’s kind of funny because that progressed out of necessity. I mean you’re flying down the hill and you see something in your path. You think, “Oh shit. if I don’t get over that I am going down.” I think that’s how it all got started.
Being around people like Jim Thiebaud, Gonz, Dune and Jason Lee and other eccentric skaters and artists, how did that affect you growing up?
It all effects me very positively. I’m around so many great people that it’s extremely inspiring and motivating. It’s empowering. It’s like ‘these guys rule. What are you doing here?’ It just makes me want to get on the ball. I feel very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. This is like my second dream come true. My dream was to skateboard and now I want to play music and make a living off it.
What’s it like touring?
It’s great. It’s essentially the same thing as touring on a skateboard tour. Drive, drive, drive, get out, do what you need to do, pack everything up, get back in, go to the hotel, wake up the next morning, drive, drive, drive. With skating you’re a lot more tired whereas music, I can’t say it is more demanding mentally, but it is definitely demanding, that is for sure. It’s hard to overcome all of these people just staring at you on stage. It’s different then when you’re skating. You can sort of tune everybody out and get in your own world in that manner, and I do that a lot of times when I play live. I just zone out and get in my own world.
If you could play a gig with anyone who would it be with?
The Latin Playboys.
What are they like?
They’re a couple of guys from Los Lobos. You’ve got to go check it out.
You are one of the few skaters who has grown up in the industry. What has been the most consistent for you throughout the years and what’s in store for the future of skateboarding?
I think that aspect of skating is actually the skateboarding itself. The consistency is the people who have been in it, their dedication. You see the trends come and go, but you know the people who are going to stick around. You know who the sponsors of whatever-dot-cool are trying to profit off of. But, we will watch all of that shit fall off and you know I’ve been there and been through it. I was like, ‘ok fine, they use me, I use them.’ What is going to remain is skateboarding. Everybody is still going to be out there-if they’re getting paid a billion dollars or they’re getting paid a nickel, they’re still going to be out there doing it. That’s the one thing about this industry, it’s business. It doesn’t matter if you are selling shelves or lugnuts because it’s business. You have to realize, that’s business and this is skateboarding. You can never take anything away from that. When I go down the hill by myself, nothing else matters.