INTERVIEW WITH TOM KNOX
INTERVIEW BY SAMUEL CHOWDHRY
PHOTOS BY SETH HUM
During the early ’90s, one skater dominated the street skating scene, often beating numerous top pros and winning the second NSA pro contest he entered – Chicago Shootout. That skater is Tom Knox. Knox has resurfaced back into the public eye as the drummer of Cacti Widders, one of the most energetic and powerful live bands out of California.
Tell the readers how Cacti Widders got its name?
We were driving across the desert to play a show in Arizona in another band we had. We stopped at a rest stop and saw a cactus so infested with black widow spiders that it had exploded.
How long have you been playing the drums and how did the band form?
I have been playing since I was eight, off and on. The band formed from a punk band I was in with our bass player now, and J.D. had a rockabilly/surf band. We just started jamming and it came together. J.D. had filled in on guitar in my band before, so I knew him well.
“We were driving across the desert to play a show in Arizona in another band we had. We stopped at a rest stop and saw a cactus so infested with black widow spiders that it had exploded.”
Who are the main influences, music-wise, for Cacti Widders and how would you describe the music?
We listen to everything from Slayer to the Reverend Horton Heat, Sezter, Metallica and Guns n Roses. I think we’re just plain hard rock.
Some of the instrumental tracks from the new album, such as “Lost in Space” and “Joyride to Tijuana” would be good to use on a skate video. Do you like any of the old surf/Latin music bands like The Alvarados?
Yeah, Santo and Johnny, Dick Dale, there are too many to name. Those songs are actually gonna be in a skate video for “411” instructional series.
Do you think skateboarding is moving in a positive direction, now that it’s more in the public eye?
I can’t stand it being classified with all the other “extreme” crap. The only good thing is that guys can actually make good money doing it now.
I can remember watching the first “Speed Freaks” video and you annihilated the curbs on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia, California. A lot of skaters credit you with being the innovator of combination tricks on curbs, etc. Your comments?
I think I came up with a lot of stuff on curbs and ledges, which guys do on rails now. It’s supposed to progress like that. I know, as a fact, I did ollie blunts before anybody. Tony Hawk saw me do one in Hawaii and freaked out.
Have you been skating the park in Visalia recently?
I’m bored with our park, so I go to the Vagabond pool in Fresno a lot.
Is Santa Cruz reissuing your ghoul deck? Do you have any other favorite decks/graphics that came out on Santa Cruz or Sonic?
Santa Cruz wants to do my first three, starting with the ghoul. Then the Minor Threat, and Black Flag. As far as old school goes, I like the Black Flag board. On Sonic, I liked the baby alien abduction board.
Let’s talk muscle cars. Which muscle cars are the best to drive?
Depends on what you like, GM, Ford, Mopar. I have had them all. Currently, I have a ’66 Ford T-bird with six color flames, 390 c.i.d., c-6 tranny, Ford 9″ rear, dropped 4″ in the front, 2″ in the back. Full custom interior and paint.
I know you are experienced in Aeronautics, but have you ever flown any helicopters or aircraft?
Just small planes, Cessna 150 and 172.
Explain to the readers why it is probably not a good idea to mess with you.
I’ve been in judo for 21 years; I am a second-degree black belt. I am also a purple belt under Carlos Gracie, Jr. in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I just won the American National Championship in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and most recently placed second at the Pan-American championships.
Ever needed martial arts to deal with trouble, at a show or skating around?
The best thing about martial arts is learning how to avoid fights.
What is the best way to deal with people’s bad vibes and put downs, whether you are at work, or skating?
I just ignore them. I don’t care what people think of me; I am the way I am.