Greyson Fletcher Surf Skate Style

SURF SKATE STYLE WITH GREYSON FLETCHER.
INTERVIEW BY DAN LEVY.
PHOTO BY AFFIF.

 

Hey, Greyson. What are you up to? 

We’re going to Woodward, me and Alex Sorgente. We’re going to do a little mini ramp contest up there.

Oh, the mini ramp contest with Ryan Clements.

Yeah, it’s the mini ramp thing.

You and Alex are going up there? It’s on!

Yeah, it’s on! I was just telling Alex that they better not make me and him skate together first thing. That’s lame.

You’ll just have to be like, “I’ll be there in a little while.” Then you can go separately.

Exactly. How do they do that? Do they draw names or something?

I don’t know how that thing works. It looks cool though. That should be fun.

It will be funny for sure. They’ve got a tiny little mini ramp.

I think it’s a 5-footer, so you can do all kinds of fucked up shit on it.

That’s right.

Okay, we’re doing a surf skate story, so I have a few questions. When did you first hear of surf skate style?

When I was growing up, I’d always hear it from my grandpa. It was ever since I was six or seven or so. Even my uncle would say that sometimes. Maybe my dad did too, but my dad was more into skating then. He would always tell people he was a skater. [Laughs] My uncle was all into surfing at that age and my dad was all into skating. My grandpa was more into surfing. My grandpa would always take me on snowboard trips when I was a little kid. He’d bring me up to Colorado and we’d go to Mammoth a lot. It was sick. Everything kind of revolved around surfing first. Even with skateboarding and snowboarding, my grandpa was like, “You want to be able to snowboard in powder and do carves like surfing. If you go skating, you want to be able to carve around like you’re surfing.”

That’s rad. I talked to your grandpa a few days ago and he’s so cool. So let me ask you what surf skate style means to you?

Being able to carve the bowl, instead of just tic-tacing around and doing air after air. It would be like carving a bowl or being able to carve anything and pump around and flow around and grind everything, grind all the corners, and do ollies wherever you want, over hips, and skate everything.

I think that’s pretty dead on right there. You nailed it. Okay, in your opinion, who has good surf skate style?

Well, first I’m going to have to say that John Florence has the best skate surf style, guaranteed 100%. My uncle and my dad have good style too. Bruce Irons has good surf skate style too. I’m starting out with surfing because there’s more skate surf style going on there now. For the skate surf style, it’s Nate Fletcher, my dad, John Florence, and Bruce Irons. I think those are the main skate surfer guys that are approaching surfing with more of a skate style. They’re doing big airs and they have kind of a more relaxed skate style going on. They have that thing where the upper body is not moving as much as all the other surfers. From the waist up, they’re a little more stiff than most surfers. Most surfers turn their shoulders and their hips. If you notice, with my dad and Nate and Bruce, they’re a little more stiff upper body. I think they get that influence from skating. Even when they’re getting tubed, they stand straight up tall and more parallel with the wave. They might call me out on that, but that’s what I think. With skating, it’s harder to find now because of all the street stuff coming in. It’s more like Hosoi back in the day, and some of the older guys. With this generation, you’ve got Alex Sorgente and Curren Caples and Pedro Barros and that whole crew that have a surf skating style too.

Yeah. Some of the really young kids are getting that surf skate style from starting out in the skateparks now too.

You know what’s funny is that grinding a big handrail is more like surfing than anything else to me. It’s a trip. I’ve never dropped in on a really big wave but, to me, grinding a big handrail feels like you’re dropping into a big wave. You’re going straight down the thing fast and you’re going, “Fuck! I really hope I don’t fall.” It’s weird. Grinding a rail feels almost like you’re floating on water to me because your wheels aren’t on the ground. You’re sliding. When you’re rolling on the ground, that takes away every feeling of surfing out of skateboarding, for me, as opposed to grinding on a rail. It’s kind of like the same feeling as taking off and going straight on a wave. When you’re grinding a big rail, your board just smashes into the kinks and it’s like hitting chop or bumps on a wave.

That’s so crazy. I would never even think about it like that.

No one ever thinks that. They all just try to tell me I’m crazy. They say skating a bowl would be more like surfing, but honestly it doesn’t feel anything like it at all. If anything, snowboarding feels more like surfing than skateboarding, but grinding a handrail skateboarding feels more like surfing. You’re just gliding. It’s like gliding across the water except you’re gliding across metal.

There’s no friction almost and you’re gaining speed.

Yeah. Then when you’re hitting kinks, like a double kinked rail, you’re smashing through the thing like it’s a bump on the face of a wave. It’s crazy. Your feet kind of get jumbled up around your board and your board is shaking around. It definitely feels like hitting bumps on the face of a wave. It’s crazy. It’s pretty sick.

I would have never put those two things together, but now that you have, I get it.

It’s trippy, right? It makes sense but it doesn’t make sense. Most people would never get that. You can’t feel your wheels on the ground, so it’s like you’re floating. When you’re surfing, you feel like you’re floating too. When your wheels are on the ground, it takes everything away from the feeling that you’re surfing. You can feel yourself rolling, so it’s a different feeling.

You’re gripped, so you can control your slides and control your board too.

Yeah. When you turn on a surfboard, you’re using your rail to turn and, in skating, you’re using your trucks. When you skateboard, and then surf a whole bunch and you stop skating for a while and then you go back to skateboarding, it almost feels like you’re not turning. It feels like your board is just going straight almost. You’re not turning on your rail, so it doesn’t feel like you’re really turning. I mean, you’re still turning, but you’re not turning that well. You’re not really using your board to turn. In surfing and snowboarding, you’re using your rails to turn and you’re going rail to rail. In skateboarding, you’re pivoting off the baseplates on your trucks, so that feels completely different.

This is the best description yet.

Your skateboard is small and heavy and your surfboard is big and light. Snowboards are big and light too. Snowboarding feels a lot more like surfing, just carving. It’s pretty sick, especially when you hit a berm. It feels so good. I always wished I could surf like I snowboard and I could just snap it like I do on my snowboard.

Well, snowboarding in powder, there’s a whole other level too.

Yeah. It’s sick. You get the same effect too. You’re spraying snow and you’re spraying water. It’s kind of the same thing. I like to see it explode. In surfing, you see the lip explode and in snowboarding, you see snow exploding everywhere. It’s crazy.

It’s frozen water versus unfrozen water. It has the exact same properties. With skateboarding, every once in a while you’ll get some coping dust.

It’s like chalk. With snowboarding and surfing, there will be so much water that you can’t even see what’s going on sometimes. I’m not claiming that I can do a turn like that surfing, but water   definitely gets in your face. In snowboarding, snow is just everywhere. With skateboarding, you might get a little pebble here and there off the coping sometimes, if you’re lucky. That’s just what I’ve thought over the years from surfing and skating and snowboarding. Trip on that, dude. I’ve been thinking about it forever.

You were kind of born into it too. Okay, here’s another one. How has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?

I’d say that skateboarding definitely influenced surfing by bringing more technical and advanced tricks to surfing. Surfing created skateboarding, but skateboarding is evolving surfing. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll give you an example. People weren’t doing airs on surfboards before people were skating. No. There’s no way. Airs were first in skating and then my dad was doing airs. My dad and Jason Jessee were always skating together and they were doing airs. Then my dad was doing airs on surfboards. Airs were first in skateboarding. Surfing may have created skateboarding, but skateboarding and skateboarders evolutionized surfing. Also, surfing helps your skating a lot. It helps smooth out your style and brings more power to your skating. It makes you think about skating in a whole different way. If you’re skating tranny especially, you’re going to think about it differently. You’re going to have more power and more speed and you’re going to do more carving and more grinding. Instead of just doing backside air after backside air like a lot of the vert guys, you’re trying to do long smith grinds through the corner or you’re trying to grind every corner you can and grind every hip and hit the weird stuff. You take weird and unpredictable lines.

Yeah. Do you think that surf skate style is important today?

I think it’s important for me because my family grew up surfing and it’s been around me since I was a little kid and it’s going to be around my kids one day and it’s already around Nate’s kids. I was just born into it because my family is a bunch of surfers. A lot of guys out there, like Pedro and Alex and Curren, are starting to skate a lot more like that for sure. It’s definitely surf skate style. Surfing is definitely influencing skateboarding and skateboarding is definitely influencing surfing. With guys like John John and Bruce Irons and Nate Fletcher and my dad just getting barreled and  coming out and blasting airs, watching guys like that makes you want to get out of the water and go skateboarding. It looks like they’re having so much fun. I think that the airs that surfers are doing now are gnarlier than the airs that skateboarders are doing now, so we have to come back again, boys! Look at John John’s alley-oop! I don’t give a fuck what people say. Surfing airs are really dialed in right now. John John’s alley-oops are crazy. They are off axis, no grab, almost like snowboarding, like strapped in.

It’s nuts, right? You can slide off a surfboard so much easier than a snowboard, and with skateboards, we have griptape.

I think once you get used to it, you can handle it better. A lot of that comes into play because the board is long and it’s light and it gets caught by the wind pretty easily. With certain wind directions, it can stick the board to your feet and, if you know what you’re doing, you can have your board stuck to your feet so good.

You have to deal with the environmental aspects to get there in surfing. With  skating, it’s a different game altogether.

Yeah. It’s crazy. With skating, it’s whatever you’re more comfortable with. Your skateboard is heavy though and it’s almost kind of awkward to do airs with. A surfboard is more aerodynamic and the skateboard just kind of clunks in the air and that’s why you see a lot of guys grabbing. Surfboards keep updating and getting newer technology, but skateboards have just stayed the same mold for a while. I’m happy. I like my old wooden skateboard. Call me dumb or naive or whatever. I think skateboards now are as good as they’re going to get. I think skateboards are not going to get better. Carbon fiber and bamboo, everyone has tried that. The skateboard material and shape we have right now seems to have reached its peak. I’m just going to stick with my good old wooden skateboard. With surfboards, you can do so many different things. With skateboards, look at our wheels. We’ve had the same formula for wheels forever. Look at the surfboard. They have stock plastic ones, and there’s fiberglass and carbon fiber in boards now in different spots.

What about the stuff your dad is doing?

It’s sick. It’s like a carbon fiber mix. I don’t even know what it is, but it’s insane what my dad is doing. Those boards won’t break. It seems like that kind of innovation works a lot better with surfboards. Technology works better in surfing than skateboarding. I don’t think we can beat the wooden skateboard. I think we’re stuck, Dan. [Laughs]

I’m okay with it. [Laughs]

Me too. I don’t want the skateboard to change.

Yeah. I love wearing boards in and, when they’re done, I can look at them and the proof is on the board.

Exactly. Everything leaves different marks too like grinds and front feebles. Those are similar marks, but they’re on different sides. Every little mark on your board is a different trick that made it. If you set up a board for one spot and you get razor tail and can’t really skate it anymore, you can see all the front feeble marks on your board or a bunch of smith grind marks or a bunch of lip slides marks. With front tail or back tails, you get a bunch of different marks on your board too.

Totally. Okay, here’s a question for you. Since you were born into the Fletcher family, did you feel any extra pressure to be good at riding a board of some kind?

I never really felt too weird about that except when I was younger. I never really had too much pressure, but I would think about it and I’d be like, “My dad is a pro surfer. My uncle is a pro surfer. My grandpa is a pro surfer. My great grandpa is a surfer. My aunt Joyce was the first woman to win the girls tour in surfing. Just thinking about it would freak me out, but they never pressured me too hard. They didn’t really pressure me at all really.

You found skateboarding was more your thing just naturally?

Yeah. I always skated a lot and my dad was stoked on skating. He loves skating and he’d skate a bunch. Where we live in California, the waves are not always pumping, like Hawaii, so my dad would skate a lot and hang out with Jason Jessee and Christian Hosoi and Omar Hassan and Duane Peters and Jay Adams and all those guys. My dad had me skating a bunch too.

That’s rad. Do you remember if there was a day where you decided that you were going to be a skater, like, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to be a skater.” Or did it just happen?

When I moved back in with my Grandma Dibi and my Grandpa Herbie, I started skating a bunch and I was working at Astrodeck. When I was 21, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to be a skateboarder now.” Stuff just started lining up for me. I’m more happy being a skateboarder. I was never not a skateboarder, but it sounded like a cool job too.

How old are you now?

I’m 26. My body is getting older now. It reminds me every morning. I don’t care though. I’m down. Sometimes I’ll just cruise around and skate a little bit and then I’ll have a heavy session skating with my buddies, like Alex, who has been living in San Diego, and Tom Schaar who is 17 and Cory Juneau who is 18. I’ll skate for four hours and I’ll be like, “My back hurts so bad!” I’ve thrown my back out a couple of times. My back and my knees and my ankles hurt so bad and I get so sore. They’re like, “You need to go back out and surf again.” I’m like, “Okay, guys.”

Do you stretch or do yoga?

No. I’m not that old. [Laughs] A lot of people my age do. If I wasn’t stupid and lazy I would. Seeing as how I’m a little ignorant and lazy… I’m too lazy to stretch. I’ve tried, but working out for me   doesn’t work out.

When you surf, that works different body parts than skating.

Yeah. I surf a bunch. I’ll go surf for three hours whenever the waves aren’t ankle high. When the waves are good, I’ll surf for four hours.

Do you surf with your dad and grandpa?

Yeah. Sometimes we’ll surf. We want to get a surf trip together and go to the Mentawais or somewhere. That would be insane. That would be the sickest surf trip ever – me, my dad, my uncle, my grandpa, John Florence, Bruce Irons, and get a couple of homies like Alex Sorgente and Pedro Barros. We could bring some skaters and surfers together. That would be the ultimate trip for sure.

Definitely. Well, I think we got it covered. Thank you so much for doing this.

Of course, Dan. No worries. Thank you very much. Have a good one.

Greyson Fletcher is the son of surfskate icon, Christian Fletcher, and this frontside bonker off his dad’s board reps the father son connection. Photo © Affif

JUICE MAGAZINE SURF SKATE STYLE STORY:

The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #75 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

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