INTERVIEW by MERK
PHOTOS BY TIM MOTT AND COBURN HUFF
What do you get when you mix together epic countryside, friendly skateboarders, 300 days of sun, a strong DIY ethic, a huge backyard scene and municipal skateparks that are second to none? Colorado! Here are just a few of the core people that make it happen in Colorado. We could fill the whole mag, if we were to interview everyone, so sit back and enjoy and then come on out for a visit. – MERK
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Evanston, Illinois, but I grew up in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
When and how did you get into skating?
In 1976, my older brother got a Skateboarder magazine from the Lil’ General store in Mississippi and he took a roller skate and made a skateboard out of a spray-painted neon red 2” x 4”. There were lots of kids in our neighborhood and everyone used to bomb the steepest driveway all riding this one board. If you actually made it all the way over the curb at the bottom of the driveway, you were stoked. That summer, I got my first store bought board for my birthday. It was an orange GT Hot Banana from Kmart. I went through a few crappy boards that winter. I think it was the next spring that we went to a hobby shop in Evanston, Illinois, and got our first real skateboards. Mine was a Fiberflex with ACS trucks and Power Paw wheels. That changed everything.
Why did you start Conspiracy Skateboards?
In 1993, I lived in Austin. I’d been making screen printed rock posters and band shirts for a few years when my friend, Dana Buck, called to get graphics to print on decks for his skate shop in Dallas called Buckitheads. At that time, he couldn’t get big boards for the shop, so we talked about starting a new vert board company, because that’s what we all skated. We decided, being from Dallas, that Conspiracy was a perfect name for our skateboard company.
Tell me a little history of the Colorado skate scene and where it started for you?
I went to Denver in 1998 to paint a mural and met some local skaters that said the City of Denver was planning to build a 40,000 square foot cement skatepark that was going to be free to skate. There were others parks in the state too, so I packed up my shop and moved to Denver. There were a bunch of mini ramps around, and a park in Colorado Springs that was worse than the ones I’d skated in the ‘70s. I didn’t get to skate the Boulder Blue Ramps because it closed down. Then the Vans Park opened and free parks started popping up everywhere. It took me a while to get Conspiracy up and running again, but I had to do it. There was too much to skate and no board companies in Colorado.
Why do you think everyone in Colorado is so friendly?
I was always a pessimistic person, until I moved out here. It’s hard to be angry when everything is so good! There are a bunch of older skaters from all over the country here. I think there’s an old school vibe and everyone is just having fun together. There’s less attitude and more fun.
What is the best and worst part of Colorado?
The best is there is lots of stuff to skate, good people, blue skies, mountains and cool weather. The worst is no ocean.
Who are the people most responsible for getting all these skateparks built out here in Colorado?
There are different people for different projects. Colorado was one of the first states to do public skateparks. The city governments and the Colorado Lottery had a lot to do with it. Ashley Mott started the Colorado Coalition for Public Skateparks (CCPS) and she busts ass pushing the cities in the right direction when they want to do a park. For years, the cities were listening to non-skaters pushing the crappy modular park systems, or landscapers that said they could build skateparks. CCPS has brought in companies like Grindline and Team Pain to make a proper skatepark.
What is your favorite spot to skate in Colorado?
I like any Team Pain creation. James Hedrick is leading a great crew of builders/skaters to a new level of park building. They’re making them look like art or cement sculptures. At the same time, they’re super fun to skate. In 2000 years, archeologists will be digging this shit up and studying it, wondering what it was used for. If I have to pick one skatepark, it would be Roxborough. It’s got a little bit of everything and it’s less crowded.
Why do you think there is such a healthy backyard scene here?
A lot of the backyard spots are owned by skaters that grew up skating in backyards. It’s what we know and love. There are no crowds and no groms to run over. Colorado is the retirement home for old skaters.