The first time I met Jason Dill was on a road trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation a few years ago. He was hilarious and serious and, during that 7-hour drive from Denver to South Dakota, I learned a lot about him. Stories about his upbringing, Alien Workshop, NYC and beyond kept me laughing, never knowing that one day his angst with the corporate world of skateboarding would lead him to start a company named Fucking Awesome, which is fucking awesome! What we learned about Jason on that trip, was that he’s a loving and caring dude, who loves seeing skateboarding taking off for the youth. Jason is coming in hot with FA World Entertainment and leaving an unforgettable mark on the skateboard industry, doing things his way, unfiltered with no apologies! With no fear and no remorse, Dill wants to keep skateboarding for skateboarders.
JASON DILL INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
MURF: Yo, Dill. How are you doing? Are you ready for this interview?
DILL: I am completely ready for this interview. I just got back from work. I was at the warehouse and now I’m going to talk to you.
Are you in California or New York?
I’m in California. I’ve lived in California now for six years. Right around the time that I met you, when we went out to South Dakota, is when I first got this apartment in Los Angeles.
Killer. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Huntington Beach, California in 1976.
When did you find skateboarding? Did you get into the concrete skateparks at all or were you too young then?
No. I was too young. I feel like skateboarding has experienced a couple of deaths and one of the deaths was at the beginning of 1980. I was four years old and I hadn’t found skateboarding yet. That’s when the parks started to close and that big boom of skateboarding was ending. My family is from the East Coast, from a place called Braddock, Turtle Creek, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then they came to California and had me. I was raised by a bunch of people from back East, and we were always moving. From the time I was born until the time I was 17 and I got my first apartment on my own, I had already lived in 22 different houses, apartments, motels and trailer parks.
Was all of this moving in California?
Yeah. We always lived on Warner Avenue or Beach Boulevard. If you go East on Beach Boulevard, you’d get into Westminster, which was sketchy, but they had super cheap motels, so sometimes we would live in a motel, which I liked. I didn’t realize how psycho what we were doing was, but I liked it because, once I skated, I always had new spots to skate and new skate kids to meet. When I was 8 years old, my dad went to jail for trying to sell cocaine, so he was locked up. One day I looked out the car window as we were pulling up to this nice place in downtown Huntington Beach, which was our new home and, across the street, there were some older kids skating a jump ramp. The kids ended up being Ed Templeton and his friends.
No way! What year was that?
1984. I met Ed and he said, “Do you skateboard?” I said, “No.” Somehow they got a used board together and that was my first set up. Then I learned how to go off that jump ramp. I was eight and they were 13, so they were older dudes. Once I started skateboarding, I was into it. Then I was in a grocery store with my mother and I saw Mark Gonzales for the first time. I was like, “Holy shit!”
Did you know it was Mark Gonzales?
Yeah. Ed and his friends would talk about Gonz like, “He’s the best.” I was like, “I need to see this Gonz guy.” So there was Mark at the grocery store. Mark has a different version of the story. He says, “Dill and his mom were stalking me.”
He tells people that and I’m like, “No. That’s not the truth.” What I’m outlining is that I’ve been in this shit for a long time.
So you guys were skating ramps and street skating at that point?
Yep. Ed and his friends were all about jump ramps, and they were going street skating too. At first, they were like, “We’re going skating and you can’t come.” I was happy to skate the jump ramp because I was a little kid, but then I found other kids in the neighborhood that were my age. There was a white kid named Warren and a black kid named Dennis. Dennis was really good, and he should have gone on to be pro. There were a lot of people that were better than Jason Lee at that time. This one kid, Eric, was so good, but he ended up quitting and joining a gang. When I was nine, I was skating at Huntington Beach High School with Skip Pronier, Arron Devine, Jake Burns and John Lucero. Sometimes Donger and Mike Carroll would show up. Mike Vallely was around a lot too. Once I got older and went to junior high school in Huntington Beach, I remember walking out of school and the H-Street team was in the parking lot waiting for school to get out so they could film.
Was that in ’89 or ’90?
When I started skating at Huntington Beach High School, it was 1985. It was around the time that Mark’s first pro model came out on Vision. It was really crazy for me because I’d be riding on a Gonz board that had no nose. The next year, Ed and those guys were riding boards with the nose turned up. Then the nose got big enough that you could slide on it. Then came nose blunt slides and then came ‘90 and ’91. That’s my generation. I got my first sponsor when I was at Sadlands in Anaheim.
Did you ever ride with Blender there?
I only saw Neil Blender once in my life in person and that’s when I was a little kid. I’m a super uber psycho fan of Neil Blender, and I spent 15 years with Alien Workshop and I know he didn’t work with the company anymore, but I’m surprised I never met the man. He’s very high on my list of important people. So I was at Sadlands, as a kid, skating with Terrence Yoshizawa. He was Lester Kasai’s cousin and he said, “You’re good. How about you meet my cousin Lester?” I said, “Your cousin is Lester Kasai? Wow! I know who that is.” So I went to Lester’s house and his mom cooked us Japanese food. Then they took me to Sadlands and we had a tryout where I had to skate in front of them. It worked out, between Terrence and Lester and a girl named Saecha Clarke. She was a girl skater that rode for Rocco, and she used to give me World Industries boards. So then I was sponsored by House of Kasai. House of Kasai was cool, but I was in Huntington Beach and that was where everything was happening. Everyone was on Independent Trucks and Vision and Lucero’s stuff and Hosoi and Gonz. I rode for House of Kasai for a little bit and, shortly after that, through Tracker, I got asked to ride for Blockhead.
Blockhead had Rick Howard, but I also liked that they had dudes like Sam Cunningham. I thought Sam Cunningham was rad. I thought Frank Atwater was rad too. Frank Atwater was way ahead of his time because he was doing all that crazy wall ride shit. It’s like Tim Jackson in Venice. Tim Jackson was so far ahead of his time. He could be a top pro now with all his crazy wall ride stuff.
So I got on Blockhead and that was the real birth of my skate career.
SKATING UP THE SIDE OF BUILDING IS ALMOST ALWAYS A QUICK BUST SITUATION WHEN THEY CAN SEE YOU THROUGH GLASS WALLS, BUT IT’S ALWAYS WORTH THE SMOOTH RIDE ON YOUR WAY BACK DOWN TO EARTH! DILL TAKES A BACKSIDE GLASS RIDE CLEAR AND FREE. PHOTO © ACOSTA
Did you ride the Blockhead ramp?
Yes. I was 12 years old riding for Blockhead, and I’d be at that house where the Blockhead ramp was in the middle of nowhere in Bonsall, California, and the nearest thing to the house was an AMPM store that was about a two mile walk. It was crazy. I was a little kid out in the back skating the ramp by myself for days, trying to be careful in case I hurt myself. If you hurt yourself out there, you could starve to death. I remember being there one time and there were people at the house, but no one would drive me to the store. I was a little kid, so I understand. So I walked to the AMPM to get my meal for the day, and I came back a few hours later, and I’m walking up this long driveway to the Blockhead house, and there was this strange, corny, weird ‘90s Camaro parked in the driveway. There was a guy that had pads on and he was taking his helmet off and he turned around and he said, “Hey, kid, do you want a Vision sticker?” I looked up and it’s Gator. He’s looking right at me and I said, “No. I ride for Blockhead.” Gator mimicked me and goes, “No, I ride for Blockhead.” I kept walking and I remember thinking, “Fuck Gator, that washed up old fuck. I don’t care about your stupid Vision. You’re years too late, bud!” Two weeks later, Gator turned himself in for murder, so I met him after he killed the girl. Think about that.
Were you tripping when you heard that?
Yeah. Dan Sturt is the one that made him turn himself in. Gator killed the girl and lived a normal life for a while and then I saw him at the Blockhead house. Right after that, I heard about how Gator killed this chick. It was insane. Time doesn’t feel like that anymore, but I remember what time felt like then. When I heard that Gator killed that girl, in that time in America, the air was different.
Yeah. Gnarly. So you’re on Blockhead and it’s getting to the mid ’90s?
Wait. In the mid ‘90s, I turned pro for 101. I turned pro in ‘93 or ’94. I understand how funny that jump feels, believe me. It’s really strange. I was on Blockhead when I was 12 years old. The next year, when I was 13, I got on Black Label.
How did you get on Black Label?
I’m a born and bred Huntington Beach child, so I think I got on Black Label from just being around. I was the little kid that was around Aaron Devine and all those dudes, so they saw me all through the years because we had famous skate spots like Pay and Play where Ed skated at night. People would bring jump ramps behind Huntington High School and, on any given night, it would be Gonz and Jason Lee and everyone. That’s where some beautiful skateboarding went down and that’s where I learned from watching all those guys. I remember going to a Santa Barbara contest at the Powell Skate Zone with the Black Label team and Cardiel had just got on, and he got into the Powell Skate Zone and just flew around the place. It was really cool with John Cardiel when it was just me being a little kid. When I was only 14, they drove me in Lucero’s van to the NSA finals. When I did my NSA finals run, Cardiel followed me on a board and filmed my whole run. The only thing that I remember is that my last trick was a back 180 late back foot flip over a hip.
Wow! Cardiel! Were you pro at that point or were you still amateur?
This was in ’91 or ’92, so I was amateur for Black Label. I had a great time riding for Black Label. The first time I ever flew on an airplane was with Lucero. He took me to a skate contest in Texas. It was me, Lucero and Mike Smith. We went to that Houston park that had all the metal ramps.
Did you see Gibson and Craig Johnson?
Yeah. That’s where Gibson is from. That’s where Zorlac went down. You know all that. It was insane. The contest was in the middle of summer and those ramps were all metal, and I got heatstroke. I remember doing a trick and running behind a ramp and throwing up. I looked up and Rick Kosick was like, “You don’t look good. You need to get out of here and drink some water. You look pale, dude.” I had never experienced a heatstroke before, so I didn’t know what was going on.
Were you riding the vert ramp?
No. I was on the street course on that huge slab of concrete with all these metal ramps. They had a metal mini ramp too. I was 14 and, at that age, I was full of energy, so I was going to skate the mini ramp and the street course. I remember waking up in a motel room and the whole Alien Workshop team was there. It was Lance Conklin and all those dudes. I got up and they showed me the trick at the vending machine where you used to be able to squirt saltwater into the machine where the dollars go, and it would shoot out Cokes and money. Then I ended up quitting Black Label to ride for this company that ended up being really corny. It was called Color. It was Kris Markovich and a few other people. Mark Oblow put it together. It was really weird. When I was 13 and I was on Black Label, I was so happy. Then a few years went by and I was 15 and I guess I got a little bit of an ego and started bleaching my hair blond. I started to come into my weirdness as a teenager, and I quit Black Label and it really sucked. I didn’t want to, but I did. I still think about talking to John on the phone and how mad he was, and I deserved it. John did a lot for me and John was in a bad place at the time. Back then I got on Black Label through Simon Woodstock and Skippy and Gino Iannucci. They had just gotten Gino Iannucci from back East, and we’d hang out when he would come to California. Then I quit Black Label to ride for Color and that was really lame. Then I was 15 and sponsorless. Gino Iannucci moved to California and we started skating with Brian Lotti. We really liked Brian and we thought he was so cool. We talked to Brian about perhaps starting a company through World Industries. We were going to do this company and it was going to be me, Gino Iannucci, Brian Lotti, Kris Markovich and Rob Dyrdek. It was going to be called Program, like Pro Am. It was so stupid. What a ‘90s company. It would have been perfect to run a Big Brother ad right next to Bitch Skateboards.
Yeah. It was 1993. It was weird. So that company didn’t happen because Dyrdek didn’t want to quit the Workshop. At the time, Dyrdek really needed money, so he was thinking about it, and Rocco was more than willing to give Dyrdek money. Rocco wanted Dyrdek and Markovich and all those cool guys. As that was happening, we didn’t know it, but Rick Howard and Mike Carroll were quietly plotting to leave World Industries to go do Girl. When the time came, Brian Lotti was like, “I’m going to move to Hawaii and move into a monk monastery and quit skateboarding.” In the meantime, me and Gino had been filming a lot, so Brian left our footage on Natas’ desk at World and said, “You should put these two kids on 101.” Natas watched it and he called Gino at home. We couldn’t believe it. We were like, “Oh my God! Natas called!” It was the craziest thing ever. Natas said, “Are you guys going to go to that contest in San Francisco next weekend?” It was the Back To the City contest in 1993.
That was the one with the ramp in the fountain and all that?
Exactly. So we go up there and meet up with Natas at a Subway sandwich shop and he was like, “Look, Eric Koston just quit 101 to ride for a company called Girl and they all quit Plan B. Do you guys still want to ride for 101 knowing all this?” We were like, “Absolutely. We want to ride for 101.”
WHATEVER THE CHALLENGE PRESENTS, DILL DIALS THE LINE AND THROWS A BACKSIDE KICKFLIP OVER RAW TERRAIN. PHOTO © ACOSTA
Was that the first time you met Natas?
Yeah. Natas was so young. When I look back on it now, it’s crazy. He was like, “I have my company still. Do you want to do it?” We were like, “Yeah, of course.” I was totally tripping. Black Label was really great to be part of but, when I got on 101, and Natas ended up making me pro and we ended up making those videos in that time period, I knew that was it. That video Trilogy came out in 1996, and that was like my big part. That was the first time I ever saw myself even close to Gino or anyone else in skateboarding that were my peers. That was the first time that I saw myself not like a little kid.
Was 101 cranking out sales at the World Industries level worldwide?
World Industries obviously had the Plan B years before those guys quit. At the same time, I don’t think there was all that much money there. I think Rocco made a nice amount of money, but there’s a reason they made such shitty t-shirts. If you had a pro model, they would only make 100 of them. Also skateboarding wasn’t that big back then. Rocco had such a corner on the market and there were fewer companies then. When World Industries was in their heyday from ’91 to ’94, everything else seemed lame. I made $200 or $300 a month as a amateur and, when I turned pro, I made $1,000 a month. It was not big money.
Did you guys travel with Natas?
Yeah. It was incredible. I went all over Europe with Natas. We went to contests and had the full experience. I was doing skate runs in contests in arenas full of people screaming. It was crazy. At the end of that trip, we were in Rotterdam at this old ‘70s skatepark, and it had this really big hip and Natas did a frontside flip over it. It ended up being a video sequence in Big Brother. That felt like the last time that Natas was tech and up to date with everybody else’s skateboarding. That was in ’93 or ’94. At the end of that trip, I was only 17 years old, and I lost my passport. I didn’t think anything of it because I was young, but two days later, after not having a passport, I’m in Frankfort, Germany and we all wake up and I was like, “By the way, Natas, I don’t have a passport.” He was like, “Well, see ya later.” He just got on the plane and left.
Whoa. Punk rock.
I do not blame him at all. So I went to the American embassy in Frankfurt, which was about a two-mile walk from the airport. They lent me 70 francs and gave me a rushed passport and I spent four nights at the Frankfurt airport by myself and that’s when I bought my first pack of cigarettes. I was 17 and I was stuck in Germany and it was a real learning experience for me.
Were you pro at that point?
I had just turned pro and that was my first experience on the European tour circuit. I had one board out and it was that Winnie The Pooh board.
Describe what it was like going to Europe and touring as a pro. Were you going out of your mind?
Well, it was a mix of a lot of things. I had just started taking acid and mushrooms. I wanted to see what it was like, so I smoked cigarettes and took acid. I didn’t have the normal 17-year-old experience because I quit school the year before. I had been sent to a continuation school where they lock you up, so you can’t leave. Basically, the whole school was pregnant chicks and Mexican kids and me. I got out of there and the first place I went out of the country was Tokyo. I was 16 and I was with that clothing company, Droors. They sent me there with Rob Dyrdek and Jeremy Wray. I remember I called my mom from the lobby of a Japanese hotel on a pay phone. I said, “When I get home, I’m not going back to school.” She got real mad. I said, “Number one, what are you going to do about it?” She said, “You’re not 18, so I could send you to juvenile hall.” I was like, “Mom, we come from nothing and I’m here in Japan. Who else has done this in our family? I don’t want to get sucked down with this bullshit in our family. I want to get away.” And I did. It was tough. Shit. It’s tough to talk to my mom about it now. As you get older, you surpass the age that your mom was when she had you and you get into a position where you start to feel like it’s not a mother-son relationship. Now I’m guiding her and I help her and I pay for everything. I know she didn’t want me to drop out of high school, but it was a bigger thing than that. I needed to get away from the experience of being a nomadic family of gypsies. It was crazy. Why did we move 23 times? Why were we always being thrown out of places? I wanted my own life outside of it all. That’s when I went to New York. I was 16 when I went to New York in ‘94.
Were you still on 101?
Yeah. I was still on 101. I’m pro and I’m in New York City and I thought, “Okay. I made it. I’m here now.” It was incredible. It was five years after Basquiat died, but there were still plenty of things to see and I got to see it all. I kept going back to New York and it finally stuck and I stayed there. I was a small child when I first went to New York, but four years later, I was living in a really nice place and I was doing good. It’s weird that it only took four years, in New York of all places.
Who was the crew that you were skating with then?
When I first got to New York, it was Jeff Pang, Ryan Hickey, Mike Hernandez, Chris Keefe and Jones Keefe. Danny Supa and Javier Nunes were my age, and I would go stay at Danny Supa’s house in the Bronx. That was fun. I remember staying with Danny a lot. We were both little kids, and everyone was older. Keith Hufnagel was absolutely incredible at that time. All of the Keefes were great. Gino would be around. Everybody in New York had a huge, tremendous influence on me.
Did you ever meet Kessler?
Absolutely. I knew Kessler well. In the last year of Kessler’s life, I was standing in front of my friend’s funeral on Second Avenue and Andy came up to me. He knew my friend too and Andy put his hand on my shoulder and he said, “You know that kid loved you, right?” I was crying and I was like, “Yeah.” He goes, “Dill, he loved you and I know you loved him. That’s what it is.” He gave me a big talk like, “You’re not doing good. I can see it. Look at you. You need to clean up. You’re a mess.” I’m like, “Yeah. I know.” I was on drugs.
Was that what your friend died of too?
So Andy was familiar with that situation.
Yeah. Later that summer, Andy was surfing in Montauk and got stung by a bee and he died from the allergy.
One of the things that I got to experience through Mark Gonzales was getting to know Andy better. I think, on one hand, Andy was like, “Fuck Dill.” You know what I mean? You could see it. He was like, “Here comes this cool kid from California and he thinks he can just come to New York and roll up.”
A BACKSEAT DRIVER’S EYE VIEW OF A LIT UP JASON DILL CONCRETE WALL RIDE COVERING SOME DISTANCE. JD HIT AND RUN! PHOTO © ACOSTA
Kessler was great. The way he hated street skating was funny.
It’s so funny because he was the original street skateboarder.
I know. That was Andy. We were all into vert skating, so it was great.
Totally. It was interesting. Over the years, I got to go through Central Park and talk to Andy and Mark. They were talking about things that happened in 1978 and all this crazy shit that went on. I was just born then and they were already out here killing it. Andy Kessler was great. Harry Jumonji is another one that is great. Let me tell this story. This is me meeting Harry Jumonji. I was in New York at the age of 16 and I would go place to place on my own. In ‘94, St. Marks wasn’t super dangerous, but it was St. Marks, so it was dangerous. The first time they took me to Washington Square Park to get weed, I was the only white kid and I didn’t want to admit to it, but I was scared. We went there at night and I thought we were gonna get killed. I kept thinking about The Warriors and I was thinking people were going to come out of the trees and kill us. The gangs were going to converge and we were going to get killed in a gang fight.
It can go down.
That’s what it felt like. You just felt like mayhem was going to happen and somehow the mayhem was going to hit you. So I’m walking down St. Marks and I’m doing my best little white kid tough guy walk with my board and I had my eyes to the ground. All of a sudden, I hear, “Oh, who’s this? Is this the little pickle? I hear everybody talk about this little Dill pickle.” All of a sudden, I’m face to face with Harry Jumonji. You have to understand, when I was 16, I was super short. So I’m looking up at Harry and he goes, “Little pickle. You’re a little guy, huh? You probably don’t even have any hair on your nuts!” Harry tapped my young cock and balls and patted me on the back and said, “Oh little pickle!” And then I just walked away. What I realized later is that Harry has been in and out of jail and he jail baited me. That’s the experience you probably get on the first day of serving a long time in jail. [Laughs] I was grateful for the experience. I was freaked out, but I was grateful. To become close with Harry later, that made me happy.
[Laughs] So we’re in the mid ’90s now.
Yeah. It’s 1994, and I was 16 years old and I walked into the Supreme store on Lafayette Street and it changed my life. The store was completely empty. There was only a few Supreme shirts and stickers and the rest was Real shirts and Thrasher shirts. I walked in and there was Harold Hunter and the first thing he said to me was, “Jason Dill, put me on 101.” I was so shocked, like whoa. Then I went in the back of Supreme and met everybody. Being friends with Gino and riding for Black Label a few years before that gave me entrance to New York in a really good way. The year before that I was up in SF skating Embarcadero and Peter Bici and Chris Keefe came up and said, “Hey, you’re pickle. You’re Dill. You’re friends with Gino.” I was like, “Yeah, I’m Pickle.” All the guys from the East Coast called me “Pickle” and they still do, like Keith Hufnagel, Jon Buscemi and Alex Corporan.
[Laughs] No way.
Yeah. When I was at Embarcadero, I saw these two kids from New York, and they were like, “You’re friends with Gino. Come stay with us.” Boom! I’m staying at Ron Allen’s house in Oakland with Peter Bici and Chris Keefe. He did a company called Fun and he sponsored them. Two nights later, I find myself once again alone at someone’s house. That happened to me a lot. I’d have nowhere to stay and then, all of a sudden, I’d be by myself at someone else’s house. So it’s 9pm and someone knocks on the door at this house on Telegraph Ave, which was sketchy then. I opened the door and it was Mike Vallely. I was like, “Mike Vallely, how ya doing?” I’d known Mike from skating at Huntington Beach High School with Ed Templeton. He was like, “Oh, wow. How are you doing?” He’s like, “Where’s the nearest store around here?” So we went to the store and this dude came up to Mike and was trying to ask him for money and Mike was like, “No, man.” Then the guy got aggressive with Mike and I saw Mike turn into crazy Mike. He was like, “I said no!” He got real tough with the guy. I was like, “Oh, man, Mike Vallely just flexed on this dude at a gas station.” It was interesting. What I’m outlining is the interesting teenage childhood that I had. Also in 1994, when I was in San Francisco, I found myself at night with nowhere to stay and I met Greg Hunt for the first time. He let me stay at his house and he gave me the Miles Davis autobiography and I read it and it changed my perspective on things. I got to meet all these older people and there were these series of events that all led me to be who I am now. I was getting away from a lot of things and trying to find something.
Were you hooked up with the Indy crew?
No. I ride for Indy now but, when I was a kid, I was all over the place. I’ve ridden for every truck company except for Gullwing. I was on Tracker. I was on Thunder. I was on Venture. I was on Indy back in the day and I got off Indy. I’m fully on Indy now. It’s been six or seven years since they put me on their team officially. Fausto was always really sweet to me. Whenever I would see Fausto, he would pull me in and say, “How have you been? How are you doing?” He would always tell me that I had a good future. Fausto was really good to me. I remember thinking, “Why is he so nice to me?” I think he was nice to me because he had seen that I rode for Lucero and Natas, his heroes kind of, so I was stoked. I only knew him a little, but, when I would go to DLXSF or Thrasher, he was so nice to me, and it felt really good for Fausto to recognize me. I was just some little kid in SF always drinking and surrounded by the gnarliest people and he’d say, “Okay, little Dill, you’re doing good.” During that time period, I had been living in New York and then I was back in California, and I rode for 101 and then I got caught stealing from World Industries and they let me go. I was stealing to pay my rent, but they let me go, which I understood.
Yeah. I was 19 years old. Around that time, Gino went and rode for Chocolate, and I got an offer to ride for Sal Barbier’s new board company called 23. I didn’t have any options really. It’s not that I thought the offer was bad, but I was gonna ride for the first thing that was offered to me. I wanted to ride for Alien Workshop, but I think that I put in a call to them and I got turned down.
What year are we looking at now?
This was in ’96 and ’97. In 1998, I went to a contest in Canada and I hung out with Dyrdek and the Alien dudes. I went from place to place with them and I skated really well and they were really impressed. When I got home from that contest, a new issue of Slap had come out and it said in the talk section. “Jason Dill now rides for Alien Workshop.” I was so shocked and scared that it said that. I was like, “Oh god, did I say something to someone? They’re going to read this and think that I said this.” I was freaked out, so I called Alien Workshop. The first time I met Chris Carter was when I was 12 years old at a contest in Arizona. I was swimming in the pool and he was walking by. I was with Bryan Ridgeway, and he was like, “Carter, this is little baby Dill.” So I had met Carter, but I didn’t know him well. When I called him regarding what it said in Slap, he said, “They called us and I told them to run it. I thought it was funny to say that you rode for the company so, yeah, do you want to?” I was like, “Absolutely. Holy shit yeah!” I was so nervous about calling and then I was on the team. It was unbelievable. I got on Alien and 15 years went by.
Sick! What was it like riding for Alien Workshop?
Those days were the best. From 1998 to 2005, I had such a good time. I was in New York and we were making videos. Every two years, we’d make a really great video. We were just clocking away. Photosynthesis took from 1998 to 2000 to film. Then we did another video called Mosaic that came out in 2003. That time period was the greatest time in my life. I was flying all over the world and it was amazing. That time period in New York before 9/11 was great. There were no rules. It was less constricted and traveling was easier too.
DILL FRONTSIDE OLLIE TO LOCKED-IN 50-50 AT THIS BANK TO FENCE RAIL. PHOTO © ACOSTA
What was the vision for Alien Workshop?
Their mentality was that what you see on television and what you see that makes this country up, it’s all shit. Fuck it. You have to separate yourself from this ridiculous sheep-like society. They wanted to and did make the most serious skateboard company. There’s never been another serious skateboard company like that. Everything was super serious and visually artistic and that was a big influence on me. Everything they did had to be very thought out.
Was that something they involved you in?
No. When I got on the team, they had already been operating for eight years and they had already made Memory Screen. I got to come in and see the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, and sometimes I was involved. In Photosynthesis, I filmed some of the Super 8 stuff. They would give me a camera and tell me I should film stuff. I should have done that more often but, when you’re young, you’re only able to replace the cartridge on the Super 8 thing so many times before you’re over it. Luckily, I have photos from those trips to Europe because I’d steal disposable cameras from the store. I ended up taking a lot of photos, and I’ve produced a couple of pretty underground photo books. I just wish I had taken more photos.
Yeah. The ‘90s started off with the philosophy of World Industries and, all of a sudden, it went more to the philosophy of Alien Workshop that was mysterious and different. I remember seeing it and I knew Blender started it.
Yeah, you knew Blender and Claar.
Yeah. I was stoked because Alien was mysterious, just like Neil is, and it was unlike any other company.
Yeah. They did a great job. When you go back and look at the early boards they had, like the first Blender board and the first Claar board, they were using shapes that Grosso uses now. Blender is such a big deal to me. He was such a tremendous influence on me, in drawings and everything he ever did. When he would pop up in those Powell videos, that stuck with me. I remember Blender being with Lance and O and playing music and throwing the body off the roof. Blender is the best and his skateboarding was so different and funny. I love Neil Blender. When I got on Workshop, it was a really big deal for me. I was really happy.
When you were there at Alien Workshop, did they ever talk about Neil?
Nope. Never. He left. He didn’t want to be there. He said, “I don’t want to be here anymore and I don’t want you guys using my art anymore.” I wasn’t there, but that’s what I heard happened. They’re in Dayton, Ohio, and it’s gnarly out there. There’s a train track, a graveyard and a bar down the street. It’s fucked up, but what a history and what a company. It was a great ride and it was so cool. The imagery that Alien put out was incredible, and I’m so glad to have been a part of it.
What was happening toward the end of it when you were leaving?
This is interesting to be talking to you about this. I’m not sure that you realize this but you and our buddy Walt had a bit of a hand in what I now do. I don’t think that anyone would ever think that. They might say, “How the fuck did Jim Murphy and this Indian man, Walt Pourier, influence Dill?”
At the end of my days at the Workshop, in 2011, I really started skating again. Before that, I had been hospitalized for drugs. I’ve never been to rehab, but I got talked to by enough doctors that were like, “Cut this shit out.” So I thought that I should leave New York and go live with Anthony Van Engelen in California and see what happens. So I came out here and Anthony said, “Come on this Vans tour.” I was skating on this Vans tour and we’re in New Zealand and it was cool. We skated our asses off on that tour. We filmed a section for a TransWorld video called the Cinematographers Project and we had a really strong section and Dylan Rieder had really strong stuff in that. I’m really proud of that section, and we were pushing it and doing it on our own. We were like, “Let’s go here and do this.” Anthony and I kind of guided the team. We were guiding Dylan and a young Grant Taylor. My argument was, “How do Dylan Rider and Grant Taylor ride for the same team, but no one sees them together? This is bullshit.” They went on the tour and we were like, “Do this.” They were like, “Okay, but the money…” I was like, “Fuck the money. We’re on tour.” I was mad. I kept saying, “What are we going to do when this guy is on TV? He’s selling all these boards to help support this company but, when he’s on TV, that’s going to end it.” I started to get frustrated. To the defense of myself, who the fuck am I, coming around so late in the game, to say what I don’t like about Alien Workshop, after I’ve been drunk and on drugs for a decade straight? I get it. There was a bit of “Fuck you, Dill. What the fuck?” The thing is that Mike Hill was being forced to make Alien Workshop product for Zumiez and Active and those conglomerate mall stores, and those chain stores will say, “These new shirts are great, but make me the shirt with just the logo, and do it in red, green and blue, because we’ve done our marketing analysis and those are the colors that sell to 14-17 year olds. If you do those colors, we’ll order 5,000 instead of ordering a couple of hundred.” That was happening every day and it’s still happening now. That’s how it happens, but that does not happen with my company. There were a lot of things that I was not happy with at the Workshop and it didn’t feel like it felt before. Another thing is that Alien Workshop had just gotten bought. We were sold to Burton and then Burton got rid of us. At the end of my time at Alien Workshop, they were housing Alien Workshop in Irvine, California, next to Metal Mulisha and the Berrics gear and O’Neill, because they had been bought by this shitty California conglomerate that just sucks up companies and produces shit out of terrible Irvine. For anyone out there, if your company goes to Irvine, I think that’s the beginning of the end. If you move your company to Irvine, you might as well just pack it up. It’s all done. Or you’re laughing all the way to the bank because you just sold your little company to a huge company.
So Alien Workshop got bought and sold a couple of times. By the time I got out to see you guys in South Dakota, and had all those boards sent out from the Workshop for the kids on the Native American reservation, I was not happy on the Workshop. Then I got to spend that time on the reservation with you and Walt and meet all the kids. I got to meet that lady, Bonnie, who was kind of the grandma to 20 kids that had committed suicide. She told me, “Not all of them are my kids, but they are all my kids.” I said, “I get it.” Being with Walt and you on the reservation, I woke up one morning at 7am, and Walt was like, “We’re going to Wounded Knee.” When I walked through that cemetery, I just started crying. It wasn’t white guilt, it was just human compassion. I’d read all the books about our history and it’s just really sad. I know Walt would not want me to talk about the negative aspects of going to the rez, so I won’t. It’s just feelings and what comes through. We did a lot of driving and talking and walking around. You guys talked to me a lot and I talked to you guys a lot. I asked you guys a lot of questions and I’ll never forget it. You guys were driving me back to the airport in Denver and it was quite a long drive. We were listening to music and that Link Wray song, “Fallin’ Rain”. You were sitting in the front seat and you turned around at one point and said, “I think you’ve got to do your own thing, man.” At first, I was like, “Yeah, whatever. I’m not going to do my own thing. I can’t handle that. I’m too nutty.”
I remember you were saying to me that you and Anthony were not happy at Alien Workshop and you had just come out with that Warhol graphic.
Exactly. They would just make too much of it and then they would make Warhol longboards and we were like, “Whoa! What are we doing anymore?!”
I thought about it and who you are and the attitude you had, and it was just like what happened in the late ‘80s when World Industries came into it. You needed to be like Rocco because you were like, “Fuck all this shit!” I was like, “You should do your own thing.”
At first, I didn’t believe what you were saying.
DILL ANGLES DOWN A BACKSIDE SMITH GRIND WITH STYLE. PHOTO © ACOSTA
I just saw you wanting to go the way that Rocco went and saying, “Fuck all these people!” Then I was thinking to myself, “Dill still needs to make a living, and I don’t know if doing his own thing will make him any money.” I didn’t know if I was giving you bad advice, but you were not into the Workshop anymore. It seemed like it was time for you to do your own thing.
Murf, I apologize that I never have given you credit until now, but I think you know with my actions and what I do. I try to do as much as I can for Walt and the kids, and that’s out of gratitude to you and him, and those kids too. I haven’t talked to many people about this. It’s like, “Wait. You’re telling me you’re driving down the highway in a truck with Walt Pourier and Jim Murphy, the Alva pro, and Murf is telling you that you should make FA?” No. You didn’t say I should make Fucking Awesome, but you told me I should do my own thing and I looked at you like you were crazy. I never wanted to do my own company because it sounded like the biggest pain in the ass ever.
It is the biggest pain in the ass ever, but I love it. I love it like it’s my teenager. It’s like, “I love you and you’re doing great in school and I just want you to keep going.”
Well, I watch all your FA stuff come out and I’m like, “He’s really going for it. That crazy fucker is actually doing it!”
Yeah! I learned a lot from the way that Rocco did shit. You have to catch them with the colors and the set up. You have to catch them with things that when you see it, you go, “Is that what I think it is? It is! Holy shit! They did that!” So I knew from that, but, going back one more time, I thank you. I thank you and Walt. Walt was like, “You know you’ve got to think about this brother.” I’m like, “You guys are trying to tell me to make my own company?”
I told Walt that you were probably going to go broke with our advice.
Oh, dude, at the time, it was really funny. I had just spent four days on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the poorest county in the nation. I got invited by Walt Pourier to come out there and, at the time, you guys were making the illegal skatepark. You guys just renegaded it and did it, so you guys had this bowl and a very rough skeleton of that quarter pipe and the street part. There was a parking block and I loved skating that parking block. It was such a good parking block. Basically, I had a completely spiritual experience while I was there. You can’t be there and talk to everyone without feeling it. When you listen to an elder Indian man laugh, it sounds like the Earth. It really does. I have a lot of problems with white people and, obviously, I’m a white person. Here’s another thing that people don’t know about Native Americans. They didn’t get horses until way later because the horses came with the Spanish. Once they got the horses, what did they do? They became the greatest equestrians of all time. I try to explain this to people. Horses have been around a long time, but can you ride a horse standing on your head while shooting a bow and arrow?
There are other things like the word, “wasichu”. I learned this from a book that Walt gave me. Walt gave me two books that changed my life. Wasichu is the word for white man. I don’t know if it’s the same word for every tribe, but they all understand it if you say it.
Well, what it literally translates too is ‘the person who keeps the best meat for himself’ so they interpret that as meaning white people.
Yes! In the book, it says, ‘He takes more than he needs. He keeps the best meat and most of the meat he doesn’t even use.’ That’s brilliant. That’s the thing with reading literature of a translated language. It’s so beautiful. So being out there on the rez, I was catching pretty heavy emotions.
Well, you were so full of angst and anxiety about your situation. Walt is usually the guy talking for seven hours straight, but this time, you were the guy talking the whole time. [Laughs] It was such a good time because I learned so much about you and I had never met you before. From all that talking, I could tell you had the passion. I was like, “You have to do your own thing. You’re a grown man now.”
I was no spring chicken. I was like 35.
You were clean and it was time to do your own thing and go your own path.
Once again, I thank you. I took that whole trip home with me. When I got back on the streets of LA, everything outside my house looked insane. I was like, “Whoa!” When you’re there on the rez, and you eat your first meal at the prairie course, it’s great. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were at that place and they have great iced tea. So you’re there at the gas station and the park and you’re experiencing society there and then you come back to LA society and you see everything differently. I was like, “What am I doing with my life?” When I was on the rez, I met all those kids, like Joe and Leroy and Emily Earring and the little guy, Jake, who was almost doing Mctwists. You guys drove me through Whiteclay and that was before the alcohol ban. What’s it like there now?
Well, they cleaned up Whiteclay, so there is no alcohol there now.
That’s what I thought. To remind the readers, Whiteclay was a town of 12 people and they had two liquor stores and they sold four million cans a year of malt liquor. The numbers were staggering.
Yeah. They shut Whiteclay down and you can’t buy liquor on the rez, so people started to go to a town 45 minutes away. Now the problem is that more people are getting killed driving there and back.
Whiteclay was interesting because the Indians that just wanted to get fucked up would live there in abandoned houses and just freeze. It was crazy the way that people lived there. So when I was on the rez, Walt put two books in my hand. One of them was a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me. This book is full of so much unfortunate, real history of America. I will be reading it for the rest of my life, and I’ve read the book twice already. There is so much information in it that I’m going to always need to go back to. For instance, Columbus got to Haiti way before he got here. When he was in Haiti, he cut all of their hands off and made them perfectly susceptible to being colonized by the next group coming in. Then there are the terms that you hear, like the Natives are crazy and they’re savages and all that. It’s unfortunate that the word savage gets thrown around so much these days because that’s not a good word for Native American people.
The reason that they were called that was because pregnant women in Haiti would throw themselves off cliffs. What would drive someone that mad? Well, if you take a pregnant women that already has five kids and you cut her husbands hands off because he won’t bring you gold, you have created this insanity. Let me just say this for all the readers that may not have a soul. I can’t stand for anyone to say, “Oh, you’re just talking about white guilt. You think the Indians were all peaceful before the Europeans got here.” No. That’s not what it was like, but these people didn’t waste a speck of dirt. Whatever they consumed, they consumed all parts of it and they were on such a high spiritual plane from the West to the East to the South to Canada. There was a lot of shit going on that was psycho. I just have a real problem with people trying to say, “Oh, you thought it was all peaceful.” No, asshole. At the same time, it’s probably the same asshole that has no idea that there have been like 31 movies made about Helen Keller, but no one seems to know that she went on to university and got degrees and ended up protesting the Woodrow Wilson administration. She’s the first woman to ever protest in front of the White House, and she happened to be a woman that couldn’t see or hear or speak. It was amazing. So that book that Walt gave me really woke me up.
I hear ya.
He gave me Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Black Elk Speaks. Those two books got me. It was heavy and I was thinking about the history of the world and what happened, after the industrial revolution, with race relations and slavery. Woodrow Wilson became president and set back race relations by like a hundred years. There were black Postmaster Generals and then he got in office and took away all these black’s jobs. I was getting freaked out about the history. Within all of that, you had jazz, Miles Davis, Coca-Cola, James Dean, James Brown, Modernists… It’s like this. The amount of trash that I can make on a day-to-day basis bothers me. I don’t drive a car. I think cars are cool, but I guess I’m not normal when it comes to feeling guilty about just being human. After being out on the rez, I was just coming to a crux of thought about all these different things, and I felt like a wasichu myself. I felt guilty and ungrateful and I just wanted to be back on drugs, but then there was something else. After being on the rez, I had all this new information and existence felt futile. It was like, “What is anything when you see how badly people can get treated in your own country?” When I saw the situation those kids were in, I was like, “Fuck anything to do with Ronald Reagan and all that bullshit.” A short time after being out there, your words echoed in my head, “Do your own thing. Grab it by the balls. Go for it. You’re creative. You make shit. Do it.” So one day I woke up and called Anthony and said, “We have to quit the Workshop and we have to make our own company.”
What did Anthony say?
He said, “Where are you? Let’s meet right now.” I told him the plan and I told him, “There are a lot of things I’m going to do that you are not going to like. I’m going to steal people from other companies and I’m going to make stuff that looks a certain way and I’m not going to budge and I’m going to do things that you will not like. Rule number one in doing this with me is that you can’t get mad at me.” He broke that rule a lot. [Laughs]
What was his reaction? Was he like, “What are you talking about?”
No. He knew. We both felt the same way. We both felt like that company was getting soft. Skateboarding is getting soft. It’s all at the mall and we don’t want that. Also there’s the deal of riding for a skateboard company and that being your identification. Who does Tony Hawk ride for? Birdhouse. Eric Dressen is on Santa Cruz. That’s not going to change. The skateboard company they ride for is their identification, and I saw that slipping away from the industry. I thought, “We’re just going to have a bunch of pros that ride for shoe companies. That’s going to be really stupid and that’s not going to look good. The board companies need to keep it together. The board companies need to be our identification. When I was telling Anthony he couldn’t get mad at me, he was like, “Okay, I get it.”
JASON LAYS UP A VERTICAL BACKSIDE TAIL SKID WITH A SMOOTH QUARTER PIPE ASSIST. PHOTO © ACOSTA
How did you come up with the company name Fucking Awesome?
Well, in 2001, I started making my own shirts. At first, it was just called Dill. It’s funny because my partner, Mikey, who invented this stuff on Canal Street in New York when he was 19, was like, “Shawn Stussy is set. He’s chilling. He’s rich and he didn’t invent a thing.” Mikey was like, “You can make your own thing and it could be sick one day and you could have all the money you need and we could have fun like we’re having now forever.”
So if you establish an image and style like Stussy did, you could make it happen.
Yeah. Mikey was totally right. He was like, “You have a weird name and people will like it.” I remember making the first shirts and then Supreme New York was nice enough to say, “Yeah. We’ll carry your stupid shirts.” You could get the shirts at Supreme in New York and then I was like, “I want it to be called Fucking Awesome.” We were in England in a taxi cab and I was like, “We should make a real actual company and it should be called Fucking Awesome and we should do shocking looking things and reference things that I like.” I learned a lot from watching Supreme make their lines over the years, so I thought that I could do something like that. We started out with stickers and shirts and that went on for a while.
This was all selling out of Supreme?
Yeah. In 2002, when I was doing Fucking Awesome, I asked James Jebbia, “Hey, James, will you call Ten in Japan?” Ten was in charge of Supreme Japan, so I asked if James would call Ten for me and ask if he would carry my shirts. James said, “No, but you most certainly can.” I said, “Oh, okay, I get it.” Shortly after that, Alien Workshop said, “You need to go to Tokyo for this tour.” I was like, “Perfect.” So I put some of my shirts in my backpack and went to the Supreme office in Tokyo and had a meeting with Ten and I pulled the shirts out of my backpack and showed them.
So you had t-shirts that said Fucking Awesome on them?
Yeah. The shirts had all these different designs. Some were the logo and some were artwork, and so they put my shirts in Supreme Japan too.
What is the typical reaction to Fucking Awesome? Is it teenage boys that are like, “Oh, sick, Fucking Awesome!” Do chicks go into Supreme with their moms, and are their moms buying it for them?
Well, it’s weird because now their mom is younger than me, so they come from a new generation. That’s what’s happening now, which is interesting. I just spent a month in Miami because I needed to get away. I run this company and my life is really hectic, but right now everything is mellow. So I went to Miami and, in Miami, nobody skates. No one gives a fuck about you in Miami and I love that. No one is talking to you about politics. In Miami, everyone around you is trying to relax and do their thing. You’re just trying to relax too, so it’s hard to get pissed. This one night I was eating on this street called Washington at this diner. I was sitting outside and this Latin kid comes up and says, “Wow, you’re Jason Dill.” I was like, “Hey, how ya doing, kid?” The kid was like 18 and he asked if he could get a picture. Over his shoulder, I see this woman coming up and, in my head, I was like, “This is a hot girl.” The woman walks up and she’s my age and she’s his mom. She was like, “It’s nice to meet you.” She had no idea who I was, but she was stoked that her son recognized this person. I was like, “Mom, I’m a skateboarder that your son recognized.” She was like, “Oh, it’s all good. I’m into skateboarding.” It was so interesting to me. This woman was probably younger than me and her son was coming up wanting to take a picture.
That is crazy. So no one has a problem with a company called Fucking Awesome.
When it comes to the company being called Fucking Awesome, maybe a while ago, there was a bit of resistance, but not anymore. Now with me being older, just recently, when we mail stuff, I don’t want our packages to say Fucking Awesome. It’s on our checks though. It says Fucking Awesome with the logo. With most business stuff, I want it to be under the moniker FA World Entertainment because that’s the way I look at it. I don’t only make this for skateboarders. I make this for the general public. I make lighters. I make hats. I make ashtrays. I make chairs. I make rugs. Those are products that aren’t only for skateboarders, and I have a real issue with people saying, “All these people wearing Thrasher t-shirts don’t even skate.” What the fuck do you care? If we were in the movie business and we just made Amityville Horror 4, we’d be stoked if everyone was running around in Amityville Horror 4 t-shirts. If you made the movie Ghostbusters, you were stoked when everyone was running around in Ghostbusters t-shirts.
In New York City, I see these 17 year old girls in a Panera restaurant and they’re wearing Fucking Awesome hoodies.
You know what? I really appreciate you saying that. To this day, if I’m in a taxicab, and I see someone on the street wearing my shit, I still get that feeling like, “Fuck yeah! It’s in the wild. Look at it go.” Now I see it more and more. I make this for those girls. I make it for the dads. I make it for the grandmas. It doesn’t matter to me. I like the product I make and FA is at a big tipping point right now. My phone rings every day and someone is on the phone saying, “Hey, FA is doing really good and we were thinking we should collaborate.” I always say no, but the phone is always ringing now. I’m like, “Wow. It’s really crazy.” So if you see Rihanna wearing a Fucking Awesome shirt, don’t get mad. It’s Rihanna. She’s a modern pop star, and I love Rihanna.
Are you at that level where Fucking Awesome is getting into Hollywood at all?
No. I’ve seen photos of Rihanna wearing a Fucking Awesome shirt, but we never send it to anyone. We have a flow team that would blow you away though.
Who is on your flow team?
Matt Mooney in New York City is a kid I’ve known since he was nine years old. There’s another kid in New York that I’ve known since back in the old days. There’s this kid, Lucy, and there’s the girl from Florida that skates, Beatrice Domond. She’s sick. She’s getting better every day and that girl rips. So, no, we don’t send our shit to Hollywood people. On one hand, I get it when people say they don’t want famous people wearing our shit because we want to keep it for us. At the same time, it doesn’t change what I make and what I’m putting out there. If one of those Jenner sisters wears it, I don’t like that, of course.
It’s just hilarious. You see all of them wearing Thrasher shirts and hoodies.
I love that Thrasher is so big right now. It’s funny.
It’s all over New York City.
It’s all over the world. If we flew to Jakarta right now to go on vacation, we’d see people in Thrasher shirts. It’s everywhere. I was talking to Tony Vitello about that recently. I did a Thrasher thing where I made an FA/Thrasher thing because every time I turn around I see people take our stuff and make fraudulent FA stuff from it, or they just copy it completely. I was talking to Tony and I was like, “You are getting the fuck bitten out of you guys. Every time I turn around, some asshole has found a new way to write their name in Thrasher writing. He was like, “Dill, it’s getting bad.” I said, “Well, let me make a thing. I want to make a thing.” If you look at the FA/ Thrasher thing I made, it says Thrasher trash. I made it look like someone had taken our shit and cut it up and fucked with it. We are living in a very interesting consumer age.
Can you explain how the Thrasher thing got so big? Was it just because of Rihanna wearing it or is it bigger than that?
I think it’s bigger than that. It started with Palace. I think the triangle Palace logo is what started this. I think people started to wear Palace that didn’t skate. It went from that to Kanye West wearing it and then Kanye started wearing Vans. He started wearing Half Cab’s and Sk8-Hi’s. After that came the Thrasher t-shirts and hoodies. It was girls like Rihanna and whoever else wearing it. Now we’re in the middle of whatever this is. It’s very strange. It’s insane. It’s so crazy what it looks like outside right now. I’m just happy to be part of it.
Everybody is wearing Vans now too. I get on the subway and everyone is wearing Vans Old Skools.
Vans is kicking ass. Vans is most certainly kicking ass. Vans and Adidas are beating everybody up right now. Vans and Adidas are really doing it right. That’s another thing. I’m not opposed to big shoe companies being in skateboarding. In the ‘70s, I would have wanted to ride for the Pepsi team. You want to know why? Because I think the Pepsi team uniforms in the ’70s were sick. If one of my kids wanted to ride for Mountain Dew right now, I’d be like, “Fuck yeah.” I know Mountain Dew is owned by big evil Coca-Cola, but I don’t give a shit. If you want to ride for an energy drink company, I don’t like that because I don’t like the way that looks. I just don’t like the Red Bull and Monster look. I don’t like the way the green M looks, you know? Monster and Red Bull are so 2000.
What do you think of skateboarding these days when it comes to the Olympics? Do you have a problem with the Olympics in skateboarding?
No. If you were to look at my skateboard career, it wasn’t a lot of contests. I did a bunch of contests when I first went pro in the ‘90s, because then you had to do the contests. Now I like watching Street League. I like watching it get to a big level. For me, I just wanted to be in the streets looking a certain way. That was my whole deal. I wanted to be in the streets making video parts. I wanted to be on the cover of Thrasher and I wanted to be in the streets. I got to do that a couple of times, and that was all I wanted. I wanted to do a good shoe deal and be in the streets. I never cared about being on TV or the X Games or any of that crazy shit, but I was glad that it existed. It’s the same thing I feel now. Every one of the kids on my team, whether it’s Sage Elsesser or Sean Pablo or Tyshawn Jones, there’s a certain way that they skateboard that is so naturally beautiful and poetic to me. That’s why they’re on the team. The complete opposite of them is the Olympics. I don’t even know what the Olympics is going to be. Is it going to be like the Vans Park Series? Is it going to look like that?
I love the park series. I’m just saying I don’t necessarily want to watch the Park Series if it’s athletes from every country and there’s some jackass that’s not as good as this guy from Hawaii or LA or wherever. I love watching the Vans Park Series. That Cody Lockwood dude is super gnarly.
That little girl, Brighton Zeuner, is great! She’s a huge fan of FA, and she’s going to read this and be super stoked. She won the Women’s bowl contest and she was like 13. I got word that she thinks FA is the best company, so “Hi, Brighton!” I showed my old lady, “Look at this little girl skate!” Have you seen that girl, Rayssa Leal, ripping the park with a ballerina uniform on? She looks like a little fairy with wings and a tutu and she’s heel flipping stairs and smithing the rail and lip sliding it.
Yeah! I saw that.
She’s putting out more footage and I’ve never seen anything like it. We’re getting into a realm now to where you see skaters at Union Square in New York City and at least one of those girls wearing Supreme and Thrasher and Fucking Awesome can tre flip. We’re getting into that territory of the future. It’s no longer the future. It’s here and I love it. I absolutely love where everything is.
Do you guys do tours? Do you get on the road and go to Europe with the team?
It’s mainly in America because we come from Alien Workshop where we’d be doing demos at fucked up places in Ohio or Kentucky. If you go on YouTube to our FA World Entertainment channel, you’ll see the videos that we make all consist of traveling. Over the last five years, we’ve made four or five different videos. Hockey is the other company and there is FA. Hockey made its third video and people really like it and it’s all traveling.
Killer. What is Hockey?
Hockey was the answer to this question. “What do we do about Donovan and John? They’re still on the Workshop and we can’t just leave them there.” They were young and they felt loyalty and allegiance to us because we brought them into the Workshop. They were like, “You just brought us here. Why are you leaving?” It’s true. We had just put them on the team, and those two kids have done some astonishing skateboarding. Holy shit! Donovan and John are incredible skateboarders, so I just pulled it out of my back pocket. I was like, “The name is Hockey and the team is just the two of you.” They were like, “What?”
[Laughs] That’s hilarious! Where does that name come from?
I really loved that movie Slap Shot with Paul Newman, and it was the influence of those crazy Hanson brothers that were always fighting. When Donovan and John would go to amateur contests, like the Damn Am Arizona, I would see footage of Donny and Donny was a fuckin’ asshole. He would be skating the course and he would power slide and check somebody, and they’d jump off their board. He was like “Get out of my way, bitch!” He was just checking people and being a dick and dropping in on people. I was like, “This is amazing. They skate like bad kids. They’re skating like hockey players.” John is so big that people were like, “Oh shit, get out of his way.” John was like, “I’m coming through. Get out of my way.” To me, it was like, “You guys look like hockey players and you skate like hockey players.” That’s what made me think of Hockey. Also when you do a company, whatever name you come up with, you gotta be worried that there might be something else out there that might be too close to it. With Alva, it’s the guy’s name. With something like Fucking Awesome, we own that artwork, but no one can really trademark Fucking Awesome. It’s too general. But the art is ours, we own it. It’s our deal and who is going to come along and do that now? Who is going to make a skateboard company called Hockey? [Laughs] No one.
Exactly. When I saw it, I was perplexed. I was at Walt’s house and he said, “Dill just sent me something and it says Hockey on it. For a while, we were like, “What is this? I don’t know.”
That’s so funny. You guys had no context, and then this package arrives and it’s Hockey with the FA.
We were like, “What are they smoking over there?”
It looks like it just came from Play It Again Sports in the package. That’s what I wanted it to look like.
It’s brilliant. It’s so not skateboarding but then again it is so skateboarding, because it’s that attitude.
Hockey is a funny one. I do that company with my friend Benny Maglinao. Benny rules. He’s brilliant. Benny came along and started helping us on the Mine Field video, and that was in 2009. He was a very young man when he got brought on to film for Mine Field for Alien Workshop, and I always knew that Benny was great. When I met Benny, Greg Hunt was like, “Hey, Dill, Benny likes Gram Parsons.” I was like, “What?! Wow! I don’t know many people that even know who Gram Parsons is.” I said to Benny, “You like Gram?” All of a sudden, me and him were talking about The Flying Burrito Brothers and all this shit, so we got along really good. I love Benny. He’s great. So I brought Benny on and I was like, “You’re going to do this company.” He was looking at me like, “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m like, “You’re going to bring me the graphics or I’m going to bring you a graphic and you’re going to draw it, and I’m going to say, “Put this here and put this here.” He was like, “Really?” I said, “Yeah.”
[Laughs] You know it fucks with people’s heads when you’re talking to them.
Yeah. In the back of my head, I was like, “This isn’t going to work. I’ve brought all these people into this situation and we’re all going to lose our jobs. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought of, and this is the stupidest name of a company ever.” Then it’s like, “No. We’re doing great. It’s going to work.” Even with quitting Alien Workshop and making FA, I remember six years ago I was damn near in tears on the phone with my old lady. I was like, “People are starting to quit their companies to ride for FA. I can’t do this. What am I doing?”
Wait. People were actually quitting other companies to ride for you?
Yeah. I had already quit the Workshop and told everybody, “This is going to be FA. We’re going to do it.” Then people started quitting the companies they were riding for to ride for FA. The first person we got was Terp. He came with us. Then I started working on Nakel. I was like, “Do you want to ride for FA? You ride for Real and you’ve got to do this.” He was so scared. He didn’t want to quit Real. He was worried. He didn’t want to bum anyone out or get 86ed. Once shit started to unfold, I realized what I had taken on. I was in the back room of my house talking to my old lady in tears like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. What the fuck did I do? This sucks. I’m going to ruin their lives. This is horrible. How can I do this?” At the time, I was doing the math in my head because I’d only made boards for me and Anthony. It was just our two class photos of us as kids and these two other black boards with the Fucking Awesome letters embossed coming out of the boards that everyone likes to copy now. One thing I love about making skateboards is walking into a skate shop and seeing how hard everyone is trying. I love it. They’re all trying really hard.
How long did it take for FA to blow up? Was it instant or did it take a few years?
I think right now this is a tipping point for FA. At first, people I know through work or someone on the street, would come up to me and say, “FA is doing pretty good. This is sick.” Of course, I’d say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Now it’s like, “Dude, FA is doing really fucking good! Holy shit!”
You didn’t think it was going to do that well, right?
Yeah. I get this a lot in New York or Los Angeles. A kid will come up to me, and by kid I mean anyone from 18 to 30, and he’ll say, “I don’t want a picture. I just want to ask you a couple of questions. Is that okay?” I’m like, “Sure.” Then they’re like, “I want to make my own brand. How do you do this?” I’ll always answer and then I say, “What do you do for a living now?” This kid came up to me three nights ago at a restaurant and, when I asked him that question, he said, “I’m a sushi chef.” I said, “Well, you might want to stay in that business. You might not want to make a clothing company.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Well, any other art that you might be interested in, you should maybe pursue that because, at the end of the day, I’m just making a bunch of art that I sell on t-shirts. I’m not saying that my art should be in a gallery because everything I make is for sale.” The kid looked at me like I had two heads. He was like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “Okay, kid, never mind. Maybe you’ll figure it out down the line. If you want names for your company, look at old movie actors. Take one of their last names and you’ll be alright.” [Laughs] I always try to give some advice to a kid that’s taking the time to come up to me. A lot of times, they’re nervous, and not all these kids skate. Some of these kids have never touched a skateboard. They’ve just seen me in this culture bubble and they know about the brand.
They want to see how they can make money without having the 9 to 5 job?
Yeah. That’s every kid nowadays. They ask, “How do I make a clothing company that starts out on Instagram and next week I sell it for $10,000,000?” I’m like, “That does not happen.” It’s a really wild unreality that a lot of young people are living in right now. It’s really fucked up. I can’t imagine being young right now. I have never been so happy about being this old, honestly. It’s like, “What? Are you kidding me?” You know what’s right around the corner? I was trying to explain this to my mother and this is a good way to wrap up this interview. Right around the corner is this. The other day we were at my brother’s house and my mother is watching TV and I was explaining to them that I was watching a panel of scientists talk about the plausibility that we could be living in a simulated reality. There could have been human life that lived before us that got so deep into design mechanism and had their own technology breakthroughs and they made their own virtual reality and we are a result of it. Now I do not believe this.
It’s a theory.
It’s people like Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about it. He doesn’t believe it, but he’ll have a two-hour discussion about it on YouTube. My mom is looking at me like I’m crazy and I’m like, “Mom, I don’t believe that we live in a simulated reality.” Right when I said that, on the television, there was a brand new commercial for NBA 2k18. It’s a brand new NBA video game. I said, “Mom, is that a computer game or is that real?” These video games look so real now it’s insane. My mom goes, “That looks real to me.” I go, “Exactly.” We do not live in a simulation now, but we are coming up on the ability to simulate complete reality. We are seeing the beginnings of it where people can’t tell the difference on the screen of a video game if it’s real or not. People think it’s sick. The games are bitchin’. Yeah. The games are bitchin’. That’s great, but what we are right around the corner from? You need to look at that it like this. What was the first video game? The first video game I ever saw was two bars and a ball in the middle. It was a screen that was green and black. It was an early version of Pong. Basically, what my mom is seeing on that video game is just the very beginning. Virtual reality is going to suck up humanity to where you can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. It’s almost like the younger generations, the kids right now living in America, are getting prepped for it. It’s like, we live under a presidency of complete bullshit. Everything is always a lie. It’s a strategy. It’s a strategy of chaos. Confusion causes chaos. Divide and conquer. If you’re a child and you grow up with a president that’s lying every day, when you’re 25, you might live in a completely isolated virtual reality inside of your apartment attached to a screen and having tubes that feed you. [Laughs] I probably sound insane, but I’ll tell you this. I can’t remember what year it was but I had a TransWorld interview and I was on drugs at the time. It was the worst position I’d ever been in doing an interview. I did a full blown TransWorld spotlight and they interviewed me over the phone when I was in New York City. At the end of the interview, I went off about the NSA and wire tapping and how they’re listening right now. Now it is what it is. Now do I care about that shit? No. I don’t give a fuck if the NSA knows what I’m jerking off to or looking at or seeing. If you’re listening now, take all my info. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me, but I said all that in an old TransWorld interview and everyone thought I was nuts. Then, a couple of years down the line, WikiLeaks came out and proved it. I’m not saying this is some prophecy. This is only from me reading too much, but it’s coming. Virtual reality is going to swallow humanity. I left my mom with this, “We do not live in a virtual simulated reality right now, but will it matter once you can’t tell the difference?” That’s where life will get weird. If you can’t tell the difference, what does it matter? Have you ever put on one of those VR headsets?
I put a VR headset on in New York and it was super primitive, but I was under water looking at fish. I was like, “Holy shit. I’m under water.” I didn’t have the full sensation, like my skin wasn’t wet, and I didn’t feel my ears plug in, but all of that is coming. You’re going to be able to sit down with your favorite porn star, perfectly made woman, and eat a whole meal and drink wine and get drunk and do drugs and have sex with her. You can do anything you want with her. It’s all you. You’re making it all happen. There’s no one else involved. It’s all very interesting and it’s all going to happen. If you put your hand in your pocket, everything that you’re touching and feeling is because your synapses are all triggering and sending it back to your brain. You could have a thing that presses those buttons, so instead of your hand going into your pocket, it could be your hand going up a skirt. It’s all synapses. Once again, this is my huge tirade and it comes from earlier where I said I’m glad to be this age. I’ve never felt so good to be older. Yeah. The world is going to get really insane. People think it’s insane now and it’s just going to get more insane.
We’ve both lived a pretty crazy life. We know how to live life and we’ve traveled the world and been underwater and actually looked at real fish.
Yeah. We also got to be the last generation that answered the phone at home and took a note for their mom. Kids don’t do that now. We’re very lucky. I feel very lucky to have been born right before the birth of video games. I got to watch that happen. I got to watch TV talk shows turn into everybody’s version of what they now call the news. The news used to be a thing when we were kids. The news used to come on at six o’clock and you’d watch it and it was just the facts. It was like, “Here is what happened.” That was it. There was no arguing and no one came on and said, “No, Peggy, that shit didn’t happen.” That shit did happen. Now we live in a 24-hour news feed and no one knows what’s happening. I just feel lucky and I’m sure glad to have done this interview with you, Murf, for Juice.
Right on, Dill. Thank you for giving me the time. That was fucking awesome, bro.
It was my pleasure. Thank you.
Congratulations on your success.
Thank you. I so appreciate it.
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