Lucas Puig Interview
What’s up, Lucas?
I’m good. Just chilling at home in Toulouse. I just hurt my knee, my ACL. It’s my second time doing it to the same knee. I have to get surgery but I’m waiting until after the Away Days premieres in May so I can travel around and stuff. The surgery is set for June 2nd. They say the longest it takes to recover is nine months, so I’m telling myself that. But we’ll see how it feels after seven months. I will come back stronger than ever.
Fuck. That sucks. But it seems like you have a lot going on nowadays to keep you busy. You’re a businessman now! Hélas is doing really well.
Yeah, I have so much stuff to do. When you’re skating, you always make an excuse to just skate and not take care of life stuff. Now I have no excuse. I’m definitely gonna do more with Hélas.
It’s so important to have other things in life that you can focus on when you’re hurt.
Yeah, when I first got hurt I was, like, “Oh, I’m fucked. No slappies, no surfing. Ugh, I want to die.” Then I was, like, “You’re not a kid anymore. You have these other things too. You’re gonna be okay. It will be good.” I have two partners with Hélas, and they handle things. They don’t need me to be there, but when I am it’s a really good thing.
Tucked up nollie heel to fakie in Bilbao Photo: Rubio
Did you have any idea when you started the company that it would be where it is today?
We started about four years ago when one of my good friends was moving to China. We were just talking and we were really into hats and we were, like, “Fuck, maybe we should do a company.” He had a month before moving to Shanghai so we just made a little plan and started out super small. We started in France and made a few hats for the skateshops and they sold well and they kept asking us for more. So we’d just keeping making more, selling the product, making money, and putting it back into making more product. We’ve been growing really well and we’re all super happy. We feel lucky to be able to do what we like. None of us have a background as a proper businessman, so it’s fun to learn.
What’s next? Do you guys have an office and warehouse?
So, my one friend is in Shanghai, and he has an office and deals with the factories there. Then we have another spot in Paris that’s a little office and warehouse. It’s not very big and it’s sketchy; we need to fix it up and stuff, but it’s good. People can crash there, whatever. We don’t want to grow and get too big. We just want to get better at what we do, help the shops get the stuff they need.
Tell me about Toulouse.
I just love it because I grew up here and I know everybody. Like, not just people who skate. When you’re a pro skater it’s easy to meet people and they give you respect. Like, you’re this cool guy, and that’s great, but it’s hard to make true relationships. You become friends with lots of people, but it’s always about skateboarding, you know. Here in Toulouse my friends are my friends for who I am, not what I am doing. That makes me comfortable. Also, my mother is here so it’s hard to leave her, and I’ve just bought a flat that is very cozy.
Tornados rarely strike China, but when they do they often have a nollie heel involved. Half-Cab nose, nollie 360 heel out Photo: Brook
How old were you when you started skating?
I started when I was ten, always just skating for fun. Then I started to get sponsored and opportunities popped up. My family didn’t have anything, no money or whatever, and I got an offer to go to Japan and everything would be paid for. My mom said that I might not have that opportunity again, so she let me go.
So your mom has always been super supportive of your skateboarding?
I mean, at first she was worried. Like, I’m spending all this time in the streets, and then I’m talking to her about travel to other countries. She was scared but she let me do it. I would say, “We’re going to travel here and they’re going to pay for everything and I’m only going to miss one week of school.” I think she thought it was like a vacation at first, because at the time skateboarding was small in France and nobody thought you could really get paid for it. Nobody thought that it could become a job.
You were one of the first guys from overseas to really make a career. It’s rad that there are more people making things happen outside of California. It’s easier to do that nowadays.
Everybody has a chance now. You can get it no matter where you’re from. You can film and make a video and put it online and people in every little town and country will see. That’s why we have so many crazy skaters now!
The world walks by, barely registering the magic which is this switch blunt frontside heel Photo: Rubio
You’ve been in the game a long time. Have you ever felt burnt out?
I’ve never really felt burnt out on skateboarding. I’m so lucky to not be trapped working a regular job nine-to-five every day with only a few weeks of vacation each year. I just love skateboarding so much. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with the pressure, but that is part of the job and I realize that. Sometimes I want a trick so bad I go crazy, but I’ve never felt burnt out. It’s more like when you get hurt and you’re 30 years old—that can be super scary. When you’re skating good it’s like you’re on a cloud, having fun, getting tricks, just everything is so good.
What’s your approach in filming a video part? Do you have specific tricks in mind for certain spots or do you just let it happen spontaneously?
I mean, I’m skating ledges mostly, so I’ve got 100 tricks clogging my head that I wanna try. So every time I get to a spot I’m, like, “Ahhh, what should I try? I’m lost.” I have all these ideas spinning in my head. There are some spots that I think about because I think they’re perfect for certain tricks, but most of the time I just see what happens. Whatever comes, I’ll take it.
You’ve been all over the world and every place has different ledges: the benches in Southern California, marble in China, granite in Europe. How much does the construction of the ledge matter in what tricks you try?
When I see a ledge that has a space underneath, like the benches in LA, there are certain tricks I’m not going to try. Or even in China, with all the marble, sometimes those ledges don’t slide very well. So you’re, like, “I guess I’m gonna grind today.” I mean, if you put a ton of wax on it, it’s gonna slide for sure; but certain ledges are built for certain tricks. In France we talk about those ledges that have a back on them so you can’t zip out and end up on your ass. Those ones are the best. You can try really hard crooked tricks, nosegrinds, and know you’re not gonna eat shit too bad.
Switch heelflip, on a cloud Photo: Taketomo
Who are you really stoked on nowadays?
Right now I’d say Max Geronzi. He’s on fire. Every time I see him he gets better. I’m, like, “He’s done five years of skating in two months.” Ishod, for sure too. He can skate everything. He’s the new Tony Hawk. He’s the best. It’s so hard to think about who my favorites are because so many people are killing it right now.
Skateboarding is in a cool place right now. Lots of people are looking to the past, doing variations of tricks from the past, stuff like that. Are there any tricks you feel are off limits or does it just matter how they’re done?
Nowadays skateboarding is turning around; people are loving the old school. I like it because people are having fun. To me, it’s always been about how the trick is done. It’s the way you do it, not the tricks that you do. I don’t care about NBDs and stuff like that. If it looks good I’m gonna be super stoked on it. I grew up watching the Mouse video, and to me, that video was all about the style and how everyone looked on their board.
You’ve been surfing lately too, right?
Yeah, it just made sense. Me and my girlfriend spend a lot of time at the beach, and I was feeling like a stupid ass just sitting on the beach drinking beer. Like, if I’m gonna spend this much time at the beach I should be doing something. We were in Biarritz and everybody surfs there, so I just went and rented a board, didn’t ask anybody anything, just got in the water and ate shit, got back on the board and ate shit again. Then the next day my friend hit me up and was, like, “Oh, you surf now, come out with me. Let’s go.” We went out and it was kind of big and I ate shit again. I just told myself, “Alright, I need to learn this.” When something looks super easy and you can’t do it, that is the worst feeling. But then I just started going out and surfing everyday, just learning. It’s so good and it’s that same feeling I get from skating. You’re on your own and nobody is telling you what to do. Like, “Fuck, I’m paddling the wrong way, but fuck it I’m having fun!” That’s the reason I started skating. All of my other friends were doing sports with all these people telling you, “Do this. Do that,” and I was, like, “Are you kidding? After school I have to deal with that?” So I stuck with skating and that’s the best decision I every made. With surfing, the feeling is like skating. You catch a good wave or you’re having a good run and you feel like you’re cruising hard like John Cardiel.
Lucas takes flight, albeit briefly, with a fakie varial heel at the Hotel De Ville Photo: Lanni
Is it true you skate without insoles? When did that start?
Man, I can’t even remember. I got a few pairs of shoes and they were too small so I took the insoles out and skated like that. Then when I got a bigger sized shoe I left them in and I was, like, “This is so weird.” So then I took them out and—Boom! Everything flipped so good. For me, it’s about the pop and control. I’m not really jumping down stuff so much nowadays, so it’s fine. Before I would put the insoles in when I had to jump.
You have a new shoe coming out with adidas. Is it gonna have an insole?
Yes! For sure. I might be the only person in the world who skates without them! I’m stoked on the shoe. I just wanted something super thin, something that didn’t just look like a skate shoe, something you can wear everyday. Adidas sent me a few samples of these old school shoes and I was really stoked on one of them, so they just kept working on it until we were both happy. It’s coming out in early July. I’m happy.
You were close to getting on Palace last year. Do you want to talk about that?
Yeah, we can talk about it. It was just a natural thing because I was on the road so much with Chewy and Benny, and every time I go to London I see the Palace dudes. They would just always joke with me, like, “When are you gonna ride for Palace?” I never thought much about it, but then adidas did a collab with Palace and I would wear the gear, and I had a bunch of clips come out wearing the stuff, so all these people started saying to me, “You’re gonna skate for Palace,” but I’d never talked to them about it. Then I talked with Lev Tanju for real, and I really thought about it. At the same time, I’ve been riding for Cliché for 15 years and I have nothing bad to say about them, nothing to complain about. Why should I change companies if Cliché has been good to me since day one? At the time, the Palace thing made sense because I was spending so much time with adidas and Chewy and Benny and not touring a lot with Cliché. But that was just one period of time. I didn’t want to make a decision based on that. I like to stick with the people that have supported me all this time. I don’t want to be the guy jumping from company to company.
Icon skates the iconic- back tail backside flip by the bay Photo: Robles
That’s loyalty. Let’s talk about the recent terror attacks in Europe.
I’m not really into politics, but shit—these things are happening. Your first reaction is, like, “Fuck, I’ve been to those places. I’ve been in that bar or I’ve been in that airport.” You see it at first and you’re shaking and stuff, but then a couple days go by, you go skate, you have a coffee, you live your life. It’s something you don’t forget but you can’t let it control you. If people are going to blow themselves up, then that’s what they’re gonna do. None of us can predict what will happen in the future, so why should we be scared of anything? The chances of something happening to you are small. It’s like getting bit by a shark.
Take me through your ideal day.
Wake up early, make breakfast, drive with my friends to Biarritz, which is like three hours from Toulouse. Get there, surf a little bit, eat and then skate. Ideally, my girlfriend is already there too, so when I’m done skating I go take a shower and have dinner with my girlfriend. After that maybe meet back up with some friends for a beer.
Sounds perfect. I like that your girlfriend knows how to film skating. I’ve seen her filming credit on some of your Instagram clips.
She didn’t have a choice! She had to learn. We’ve traveled so much together and sometimes we pass by spots and I’m, like, “I have to skate this.” I had to be, like, “Can you take a photo? But just with video instead. It’s just the same.” I try and tell her how to film it, but with her I don’t get many tries.
Front crooks to backside nollie heel Photo: Rubio
Does she get over it quick?
Yeah. Like, the maximum is ten tries. After that it’s, like, “Hurry up and finish.” But it’s all good. I love her so much.
So filming with your girlfriend is more pressure than Ty Evans or French Fred?
Oh yeah, man. I’ll be, like, “Here’s the phone. I wanna film this real quick,” and I’ll be trying and sweating and she’s watching me, like, “You look so stupid. Just make it.”
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