INTERVIEW BY BILL DANFORTH
INTRODUCTION BY BILL DANFORTH
PHOTOS BY BRADY WALSH AND XENO
I first saw Ben skate in Orlando at the Surf Expo contest when he was 13. My first thought was, “Who is this kid with the huge bag of old school tricks performed correctly?” Some weathered trade show local said, “That’s Ben Raybourn. He’s the future.” After a few more runs, I knew what the guy was talking about. After the contest, I introduced myself to Ben and met his dad who is a great supporter. I filled Ben in on some of the tricks of the road and told him to get his ass out there and see the world. He did, and here’s the story. – BILL DANFORTH“It’s so much better to go to a town and actually skate someone’s house and get in the scene, rather then just go to a hotel room. With everyone packed in a van, it’s hard not to have a good time. It’s fun.”
What’s going on, Ben?
Ah, yeah. What’s up, Bill?
Nothing. This is your ugly dad.
[Laughs] My ugly dad. Hell, yeah.
Why don’t you tell me about yourself? How old are you and where did you grow up?
I’m 18 years old and I grew up in Rosenberg, Texas. It’s a really small town that sucks for skating a lot.
When did you first start skateboarding?
I first started skateboarding when I got a skateboard for Christmas and my brother taught me how to skate at a drainage ditch outside my neighborhood.
Did that ditch have a name?
No. My brother and I and a couple friends were the only ones that skated it.
Are any of your buddies that you started skating with still skating these days?
Most of my friends I started skating with still skate.
That’s cool. What year did you start skateboarding? How old were you?
I was probably 9 or 10.
Do you remember what your first board was?
Oh, yeah. It was a K-Mart Nash board or something.
How long was it after that until you got your first real good board?
You know what? Actually, before I got the K-Mart board, I rode an old H Street that my cousin had.
Right on. Do you remember the first day you ever went to a skateboard park?
I totally remember. I remember being in awe, because it was a big wooden indoor park. It was huge. I thought it was the craziest thing ever with all the ramps and stuff.
What was the first thing you rode there?
The first thing I rode there was definitely pumping the vert ramp.
Cool. Keep it vert. When I met you in Orlando, you were 13. By that time, you were sponsored. You turned a lot of heads at Surf Expo because people were noticing that you were ripping. Mainly you were doing a lot of old school tricks and it was blowing people away. It was like, “Here’s this little guy doing 540 units and all this crazy stuff. As a breakout skater at 13, all of a sudden, you were doing all these old tricks? Who were your older influences?
I remember the park that was closest to my house in Rosenberg, Texas. This dude named Art owned the shop and park, and he’d been skating since the ‘70s or ‘80s. In the shop, they had a bunch of old videos and stuff. The only skate videos they ever bought were Vision Skate Escape and the Agent Orange video of Gator, and a couple of other good old school videos. When I saw some of that older contest footage, I was super psyched on it.