INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOS BY PAT MYERS
If you ever see this kid skate, then you can somewhat get an idea of what it’s like to see a person that surfs and skates. From smashing the lip or destroying the coping to just banging a nollie kickflip or noseblunt, Kale’s unique style stands alone. Kale rips, no doubt about it. Maybe some of the soulless ones should stand back and take note, or learn to surf!
Tell me about your name.
Kale in Hawaiian means Charlie.
How old are you now?
I saw a good shot of you skateboarding when you were a little kid in Hawaii.
Yeah, I was like five when I started.
“HIT THE COPING LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO SMACK SOMEONE IN THE FACE.”
What board were you riding?
It was one of those classic plastic Banzai-style ones. I remember going to Aala Park to skate and all the bigger guys punkin’ me because I was so small. And I remember skating Hahaione Ditch in Hawaii Kai when I was in sixth grade. Then my board got ripped off, because my Grandma lived right next to Wallos. So I started riding a bike.
Yeah. I was like Bo Ikeda that rode for Hosoi Skates. One day, he just stopped riding bikes and started riding a skateboard.
So, you rode for Hosoi?
Yeah, I rode for Hosoi, SkT Culture and Milk, then Channel One. Before that I rode for Alva’that was the gusto. First, Mondo helped me up. That was the first board I ever got. And one time, the Gonz came down to Wallos with Rocco and Steve Rocco gave me a board.
What was that like?
That was funny. I was just skating there one day and the Gonz showed up. He was busting method airs off ’88 bowl. I was trippin’ out. I was skating barefoot, doing big foot plants, so Rocco gave me a board. I was just riding scrap boards and borrowing other people’s boards. Then they had a Wallos contest, and that’s when I saw Mondo. He kicked me down some Skull Skates stuff and I met Salba too. That’s the first board that made me feel sponsored. From there, Jeff Hartsel hooked it up for me. He was here visiting family and he came and skated our ramp in Wahiewa. That was the first time I had ever seen mini ramp tricks. I was trippin’ out. So, they started hooking me up and I met Duncan and T.A.
When was this?
Back when they were the shit. Everyone had dreads, and they all had leather jackets: Murf, T.A., Duncan, Hartsel, Reategui, Johnson, Fred Smith and Danforth.
A bunch of hoodlums on skateboards.
Lookin’ all gnarly. I had dreads, so I was in.
You ripped too, no?
Well, yeah. Island style. Hit the coping like you’re going to smack someone in the face.
You surf as well?
I learned how to skate first, then I was body surfing. Then one of my friends that skated Wallos taught me how. Back then, there wasn’t as much to skate as there was to surf but there were the surf-skaters. I was like, ‘I’m going to surf to skate and skate to surf.’ Surf in the morning, skate in the daytime.
What do you like to ride the most?
Swimming pools. They’re always different. It’s always unexpected what’s going to happen, how good it’s going to be, how long it’s going to last. I’ve got the craziest pool tales.
Tell me one.
A long time ago, when I first started coming to the mainland to skate pools, Duncan had lists of pools that were all skateable that they never rode. So I met up with Ricky Stiles, Brian Wood and Gary Owens to skate the Gun Bowl. I’m like, ‘What’s the Gun Bowl?’ They’re like, ‘You’ll see.’ And this lady is there and she’s speaking Spanish and she pulls out this gun, and she’s just clicking it off. And she’s not speaking any English, so I freaked out and ran out of there. I ran all the way to the car. I guess the gun wasn’t loaded. They were all laughing at me.
Do you skate contests?
Yeah. When I was growing up, we used to have a bunch of them. I remember the first contest I ever skated was at Wallos. It was an underground contest, but they were giving out flyers at Town and Country and it never got busted. There were like a hundred people at Wallos, just raging and drinking beer. But one of my favorites was the Basic Contest. I’ve been to Slam City twice. That’s good.
Do you still play your harp?
I just learned to play the tune to Days of Our Lives.
Are you still throwing the axe?
Yeah, but the handle broke, so now it’s like a little goblin axe. It spins faster. I took griptape and sanded it down.
Do you still have your dog, Shirley?
My dog has been missing. When I left for the mainland, she got away. Someone found her and then she got away again. I think Shirley is just cruising around the North Shore. She skates, though. She did her first axle grind on Jay’s model at Simon’s.
Who are your sponsors?
I ride for Natural Koncepts Skateboards, Volcom Clothing, Gravis Shoes, Indy Trucks and Diakka. My man Clint Moncata hooks me up.
What influences you?
Mentalness. Thrash music. I always carry a little tape deck; I call it the ‘Death Box’ and it fits right into the death box and the sound carries, the way the pool is shaped. It sounds sick when you’re grinding and it’s blaring. That’s a good motivator.
You skate street, too?
I skate everything as long as it’s got tranny: dirt, palm trees, street boxes, and bathtubs. . .
What about pools in Hawaii?
The pools aren’t as regular as over here, but we get some good ones sometimes. Right now we have an Olympic-size figure eight with the roundest trannies. Jay Adams rode it back then. I told Tony Alva about it and he knew exactly where it was.
Who do you skate with in the islands?
Anyone who wants to go. Right now, I skate with my friend Jason (Tippy) Colonel. He’s learning the tradition. Gary taught me, and I taught him. He called me and said he’d been draining pools up on the North Shore. Gary knows about all the pools. And I skate with my friend John, ‘The Grinch.’
What is your favorite ditch?
Wallos ‘ I like going to the top and taking the ripper line. I launch over the boulders. I bounce off the walls or the neighbors’ fences. I’m always looking for bomb-drops from the houses.
You’re in California a lot?
Yeah, I usually stay at Mad Dog’s house and skate with Salba.
Have you seen any shows lately?
Yeah, I did a heavy metal bomb drop to Agent Orange at SkateLab. The singer came up to me and said he forgot what he was doing when he saw me up there. I made it three times.
Do you still have a girlfriend?
No, I don’t have a girlfriend right now. I have girl friendlies.
Do you ever hear from Jay?
I heard from him right before I left and he told me to say what’s up to all of you. He’s doing good. He’ll be out in two years; he’s got the PMA.
Positive Mental Attitude?
Yeah, you’ve got to be positive. He sounds like he’s doing all right. He’s like, ‘How are the waves? Are there a lot of girls around?’
What’s up with the surf circuit there?
The surfers are cool. They come and skate my ramp and shit. I get inspired from surfers that skate like Christian Fletcher and the Fletcher Brothers and Gavin Bechan’s style all mixed together’they charge mental waves, and then turn around and charge a ramp. They get to travel around the world and surf killer waves. That’s why I always dig Fletcher. He does big ol’ stalefishes on the surf and on the ramp.
Do you like surfing or skating better?
They’re pretty much the same. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. When I’m surfing I’m trying to skate, and when I skate I’m trying to surf. I get pissed off surfing sometimes, because you have to sit and wait for the waves. Skating, you can do 24-7. You can jump on your board anytime and go.
I think more skateboarders should skate like you.
Well, there are just a few of us that really thrive for the backyard thing. We all know who we are; we’re a tight family. We’re the pool punishers. It’s not hatin’, we just do our thing.
Do you skate all the skate parks on the mainland?
Yeah, that’s what I want to do. I have a list I want to hit. I want to make Burnside a traditional stop, once I get the happy schedule.
What’s ‘the happy schedule’?
Fly into L.A., go to S.F., Nor Cal, Burnside, then go to Marseilles, France and then Canada for Slam City. I’d hit all those parks and then go back home and surf. Then I’d put the board down for a little while and jump in the ocean.
Is there any kind of punk scene in Hawaii?
I’m trying to ruckus it right now and put a band together. I want to start some riots. We had some crazy punk bands growing up. I guess that’s why punk rock sticks with me, because I learned how to skate at the same time I was discovering punk music.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In my own house, sitting there rapping with Jay growing old, laughing at the shit we did. And still skating. I just want to be cruising. My life involves a lot of S’s. Surf, skate, snow, fishing. All the good ones. Just try to do what’s natural and make the best out of whatever gets thrown my way. Life is full of slams; you either lay there or you get back up. I’ve been down to where I could have stayed down plenty of times. It don’t feel too good. It’s not only about money’it’s friends, family, health, a roof over your head, food, some tlc, some love, some skate and some surf.