Jonny Manak



Why don’t more people call Michael Jackson, Mike Jackson? Maybe we should call Jonny Manak, Jon Manak. He’s somethin’ else. He’s got the right lust for life.  Love,  J. Jessee

What’s your name?

My name is Jonny Manak. That’s my name.

What’s your real name?

My real name is Jonny Manak.

What’s your middle name?

My name is Jonathan Michael Manak, if you really want to get technical.

Johnny Michael Manak?

No, Jonathan… If you’re gonna be tough and throw in the middle name, you’ve got to throw in the proper first name as well.

Jonathan Michael Powers?

No, it’s Manak.

Have you seen that graffiti on the side of the road on the I-70 right over 880 in San Jose? It says, “Jonathan Michael Powers!”

No, but I play in a band with a drummer named Eric Powers. Eric Powers is also the name of the drummer from Great White. He has no connection with Clay Wheels, though.

What about Bun E. Carlos?

(laughing) I don’t know.

He was Cheap Trick’s drummer, man!

Who cares about Cheap Trick, dude?

They suck.

(laughing) They suck so bad.

No way. In their time, they were probably pretty cool. I only like “Surrender.” It’s Top 40.

I like Cheap Trick because they look like they should not be in the same band together, but they are. That’s kind of funny. That’s kind of like saying, “Fuck you!” to the we-all-play-in-a-band-so-we-all-have-to-look-the-same type of thing. It’s like the band uniform shit…

Is that what you guys do?

Nah! I don’t play in any band that dresses in uniforms! Come on!

That’d be hot though. Uniforms are cool, actually.

We all might be wearing 501s and black t-shirts, but I don’t know if you call that a uniform. That’s just what we all wear. We all just happen to look alike, but that’s not on purpose.

That’s cool though, because then it’s more bonding. What about…

Why do I skate? How long have I skated?

Have you ever felt fat?

Yeah, I feel fat whenever I eat.

Are you self-conscious about it?


Do you choke on cheese?

No, but I eat cheese everyday. I eat cheese at least three times a day.

That’s weird. I thought you were allergic to it…

Nah, I’m a “cheesetarian”.

Have you ever had Cheez Whip?

Yeah. I used to put that Easy Cheese in a can in my backpack and carry it around. When we were kids, we’d skate all around and carry that Easy Cheese everywhere. If we went to McDonald’s you got Easy Cheese on your burger without having to order cheese. If we had candy or Gummy worms, we’d put Easy Cheese on it. It was so awesome.

That was smart.

All of the skaters that went to Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, [CA] carried Easy Cheese in their backpacks. We were all nerds and we all loved cheese. Then we started this fake band called Easy Cheese. We only played one show, but we recorded a demo. That was the first band that I ever played in during high school.

What was it called?

Well, the real name was Dysfunctional Swirl, but then we started calling it Easy Cheese because we were all eating Easy Cheese. It was pretty weird. My first real, real band that I ever played in was when I was ten years old. I was the lead singer and we were called Peanut Butter Wolf.


Yeah. Then my brother became a world famous deejay and that’s his deejay name: Peanut Butter Wolf. He played the Coachella Music Festival with Iggy and the Stooges and all those big buzz bands.

What’s a big buzz band?

It’s those bands that you hear everyone talking about.

Like Rancid?

No, not like them, but they’re big enough to be there.

Like Green Day?

Put it this way, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys played at Coachella, so there were some pretty big bands at the show.

That’s pretty cool.

I was pretty stoked to see my brother on stage like that. It was pretty rad. He’s cool. He’s my pal.

How much older is he than you?

He’s a lot older than me. He was born in ‘69.

That’s not that much older…

I was born in ‘77!

He’s only 33.

I’m only 25! That makes him eight years older than me. That’s a lot of years when you’re a kid. Eight years ago, I couldn’t even drive a car!

He could still kick your ass this whole time?

I don’t know. I would never fight my brother, but he’d probably kick my ass.

What if he took a swing at you? What would you do?

I’d probably be stoked, because whatever I did to make him take a swing at me would probably be something really cool. I’ve never done anything bad enough to make him take a swing at me. I love my brother.

That rules.

I love my sister Amy, and my brother-in-law Carlos.

What’s up, Amy and Carlos?

What’s up, Amy and Carlos?

It’s like we’re on TV.

And I love my mom and my dad.

Where do your mom and dad live?

My mom lives in Salinas and my dad lives in East San Jose. I love my step-dad that lives with my mom because they both help me out a lot.

What’s his name?

His name is George. I call them ‘Ma’am and George’ like in that TV show, “Webster”. He didn’t call her mom. He called her ‘Ma’am’. I’m short, small and old like Webster. Webster’s old, but everyone thinks he’s a kid. I’m older, but everyone thinks I’m in high school because I’m so young-looking and short.

Not to rain on your parade or anything, but rumor has it that you’re 25.

Word on the street, huh?

Well, just a little word… Back to George, your step-dad… How long has he been with your mom?

He’s been with my mom fifteen years. He’s so cool. He put me through college and helped me get a degree in producing bands. My parents and my grandparents helped try to get me a future. Instead of going along with their wishes and getting a job recording bands for $60 an hour, I skateboard and play music.

Okay, go on. Have you ever entered contests?

I enter every Tim Brauch Memorial Pool contest and any contest that has to do with pool skating in the area.

That’s cool. How’d you do at the last contest?

I got an ‘honorable mention’. I guess that means I skated okay.

How many people were in it?

There are usually about forty dudes. It ranges from guys like Chris Senn to Pete ‘The Ox’. Brewce Martin was out for the last one. It’s all the gnarly guys that aren’t afraid to jump in a car and drive a couple of days to skate pool contests. It’s all of the guys that know what’s up with skateboarding and are totally down to do whatever it takes to skate a pool. It’s cool, because we’re all skating for Tim and that’s what really matters. That’s why it shouldn’t matter what place you get in that contest, because it’s not a contest about winning. A lot of people may look at it that way, but if they do, they’re lame because that has nothing to do with it. It’s a way to celebrate Tim’s life and to remember Tim.

Maybe they don’t understand.

I just noticed a few of the guys there, and I’m not going to name any names, are just out to win the prize money.


I’m not naming names.

You tell me and I’ll name ‘em.

[laughing] Nuh-uh. I ain’t naming nothing.

All right.

Like when they did the Neil Heddings benefit, if some guy won a thousand bucks for the contest, and didn’t give that money straight up to Neil, then he is a kook. Those kinds of people deserve to be burned at the stake. Why did you start skateboarding?

Why did I start skateboarding?

Because when I was three years old, my brother got this blue plastic banana board. It was one of those little cheap store brands. Anyway, my brother used to tie it to the seat of his bike and just drag it around the neighborhood. You could hear his skateboard bouncing all over the street. We rode that board all over the neighborhood. By the end of the day, I had scrapes and blood all over, which I thought was pretty cool. Then I used to ride down my driveway on my skateboard. I knew it was a good day if I made it to the bottom of my driveway and made that turn at the bottom. There were bushes at the bottom of the hill, so if I didn’t make that turn, I went right into those prickly-ass bushes. Anyway, that was fun. I loved it. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a skateboard industry. I was just riding down this hill in my front yard for years. That’s all it was. There were no other skaters in my neighborhood. I didn’t know that skateboarding was a sport. I thought it was just a toy that you could buy.

It still is.

Yeah, but when I was eight years old, I saw that movie, “Back to the Future” and on the way home, I made my mom stop at Toys R Us. That’s where I thought you bought a skateboard, at a toy store. I didn’t know there was such thing as a skate shop that sold skate stuff. We went in there and there was a board for $40. It was the “Executioner”, the big old one with all the bumpers. My mom wouldn’t buy it for me, because she said it was too expensive. Instead, I got the super skinny $20 Nash with the two suns and the grip tape. It didn’t even have a graphic on the bottom. It just said Nash on the grip tape on top. It was like a banana board. To me, skateboarding was just riding. It was fun. I didn’t know that you could fly curbs and do airs in pools, which people were doing at the time, but it wasn’t on TV like it is now. I didn’t know about that shit. For Christmas, I got a Rob Roskopp board. The Roskopp 2 with the arms coming out. That was my first pro board. Then I started skateboarding for real.

Okay, you’re in two bands?

I play guitar and I sing for Clay Wheels. I also did a project called The Resistoleros with Sammy Town from Fang. That album is out on Steel Cage Records, on the East Coast. Clay Wheels has some new songs. We’ve got songs in some skate videos like the “Thrasher” video, “Playing In Traffic.”

Can you sing any of them right now?


Okay, great.

I also play lead guitar and backup vocals in the Cliftons.

Has there ever been any jealousy between your bands?

No, I don’t think so. Maybe. I don’t really see any of my other bands coming out to any of the other shows but I’d feel kind of weird, too. It’s like cheating on your girlfriend.

Do any of the guys in the band skateboard?

Every band I play in, there’s at least one skateboarder. I guess that would be me in some of the bands, though.

Who in The Cliftons skates?

Alby Wasted and I both skate. Oh, and Ray Stevens skates.

He’s in what band?

He’s in the Clay Wheels. Actually, that’s his band; I play guitar in his band.

Ray’s cool.

Yeah. Eric Powers the drummer in Clay Wheels skates a little bit.

What kind of guitar do you play?

I play a ‘67 Mustang. I also have a ‘63 Gibson Melody Maker…

No way. What color? Cream?

The Melody Maker has a dark burst that starts out yellow and then fades into a really dark color around the edge, like the old DogTown boards. It has the airbrush look. I’ve also got a Blues Hawk and then that S.G. that I covered in pink fur over here when we were working one day. I still owe Mike Fox $250 for the Melody Maker.

Who’s Mike Fox?

Mike Fox is God! He knows how to play guitar and fix guitars better than anybody. He’s the nicest guy. He played in the Drunk Injuns, The Dwarves and Los Olivados. Mike is amazing. He should be rich and famous, but he’s not.

Yeah, he’s rad. He worked where?

He worked at Starving Musician Repair Shop, but they laid him off.

What kind of shit is that?

I don’t know.

What’s your favorite band to play in?

I don’t know. Clay Wheels is definitely the most solid band I play in, as far as talent, musicianship and songwriting. Clay Wheels has lots of talent.

Does Ray have a regular job?

Nah, Ray Stevens is a genius. He figured it out to where he could just play music and not have to work. God bless him.

God bless him. 

Clay Wheels is fun because there’s no stress and we get to play surf instrumentals.

But you guys don’t surf.

Yeah. So? We surf on concrete.

No, you guys shred.

We shred?


We’re skate rock.


When you’re skating a pool and you’re listening to surf music, you don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy surf music. It’s music. It’s meant for people to listen to and enjoy.

No, I just want to force opinions on people.

I know. You’re making me say things that someone’s going to be pissed about. Someone will come up to me later and say, ‘Dude, I heard that you said this about that, blah, blah, blah…’

No, no, no. Okay, when they come up to you, just hug them and say, “Everything’s cool. Sorry I said that”. Just hug them and say, “You know, you’re right. You learn something every day, man. Every day is a school day thing.” Kiss him on his neck and just kind of push him away a little bit.

Or I can kiss him on the lips and then punch him in the face.

No, man. No need for that.

(laughs) Okay, I won’t kiss him on the lips then.

Yeah, save that for Riker’s Prison barge, keister bunny.

(laughs) Keister bunny!

Okay, so you’re really obsessed playing with the bands you’re in and skateboarding still feels all right?

Skateboarding is fun as hell. I love all skateboarding. As long as it has four wheels and eight bearings… it’s on. I don’t care if you skate curbs, handrails or ledges. I prefer to skate pools, but I’ll skate everything else, too. If all that was left on Earth was backyard pools and there was no other form of skateboarding left, I’d be mad, but not that mad.

Well, you never know. That could be soon, with all these terrorists.

No, but what I’m saying is that if the whole world was made out of pools with different trannys, different deathboxes, different lights, different obstacles, I wouldn’t need to skate anything else.

Do you have anything else?

I don’t know if I thanked anyone, but Jason and Heather Jessee, the Automodown crue, Justin and Joel at Sessions, Bob at Circle-A, Brent, Henry and Myche at Systems, Mark Waters at emerica, my homies behind the lens – Greg Hall, Morgan Delaney, T-bone, Arron Jones, all the guys in the bands I play in, Ray and Eric with Clay Wheels, Alby, Billy Bob, Vern, and Alec with The Cliftons, Sammy, Ike, and Brian with the Resistoleros, Dave and Dave with The Odd Numbers, and Johnny, Pete and Fozzy with the Texas Thieves, my family, Terri and Dan at Juice Magazine, Shitbird Dave, the BMC, the TMA, Fresno crue, and to three guys who inspired me the most… Tim Brauch, Jason Adams and Chet Childress…

Manak’s sponsors are:

The Driven Skateboards, Shitfire Wheels, Sessions Clothing, Circle-A Skate Shop, Halos Bearings and Hardware, The BMC, and Emerica (flow).

For the rest of the story, order Juice Magazine #57, by clicking here. 

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