Malice In Skateboardland
"I never want a job at all, ever."
Interview by Michael Burnett
When I first met James Brockman, he was the kid in the van who never spoke. He ripped, of course, which brought sponsors, video parts, and what passes for fame in the weird world of non-televised skateboarding, but his personality remained largely a mystery. Like many wallflowers before him, James’ debut into social society came at the business end of a Natural Ice twelver and, with almost David Lee Roth-ian intensity, he quickly became not just a partier, but a real loose cannon. The road since has been rocky, though not without success. James continues to shred, punctuated by occasional descents into temporary madness. And though his shyness resurfaced once the tape recorder came out for this interview, by the time we got to the car he was already recounting another wild, drunken escapade, detailed in his high-pitched, sing-songy drawl. Funny, obnoxious, and mad as a hatter, James Brockman is hell-bent for destruction.
What was the first tattoo you got and why?
This Zero one on my forearm, because my friend offered to buy it. I’d just turned pro and I liked that logo, so I just got it.
Did you consider going the chicken route and getting it on your ankle?
No way. Fuck that. I hate leg tattoos and back tattoos. This was the logo on that Exorcist deck I had.
So after that, did you just go wild with tattoos?
I’m not really sure. I just started getting ’em. After you get one it gets way easier to get more.
What does it say on your fingers?
It says “Hell Bent.”
What does that mean?
It’s pretty self-explanatory.
What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations? Not a goddamn thing. James Brockman delivers plenty of both. The overcrooks starts it off. Photo: Shigeo
Do you think if you’d died on one of the tricks in your interview you would have gone straight to hell?
I don’t even believe in hell. Plus, I got those and the one behind my ear when I was completely blacked out. And this one. And this one.
Doesn’t that go against the tattoo artists’ code, to tattoo someone who’s blacked out?
Maybe so. We have friends who do them so we can pretty much do whatever. I couldn’t tell you why I got it.
Didn’t you crash your car at 11 am blacked out?
How did you know that?
You told me.
Oh yeah. I fell asleep at the wheel. I was dropping my buddy Tosh off. I offered to take him home ’cause nobody wanted to drive him home.
What did you crash into?
Another car. But it wasn’t like I even crashed; I just bumped them. It was a stoplight and I fell asleep at the light right before it went green.
Did the cops think it was a crash?
Yeah. I pulled over and the lady didn’t even give a shit but the cops just grabbed me from behind and slammed me into my car. Then I went to the drunk tank.
How many DUIs do you have? Three?
One. Canada says I have two, but I only have one. I can’t get into Canada anymore.
Rule 42: All persons doing nollie noseslides more than 11 steps down must leave the court immediately. Sequence: Camarillo
Have you learned your lesson?
Yeah. I haven’t driven since.
Because you have no license?
You gotta stop doing that shit.
It was just one time out of three years. I learned my lesson.
Did you ride for Germ?
No. That was Tommy.
What was your first sponsor?
Avalanche, a skateshop in El Cajon. I got some boards from Maple ’cause my friend Adam Louder rode for them. I got some Shorty’s boards once, too, ’cause I went skating with Kevin Davis and Muska and shit.
What was it like to live in the heart of Osiris country when The Storm video hit?
I hated them then. It was too much for me. It was everywhere. Adam Louder and Dobstaff rode for them, so later I got on flow.
Why did you leave Osiris recently?
I didn’t leave. I got left.
Was it because you committed a hate crime?
I’ve done a lot of things.
Was one of those things a hate crime?
I guess so. So I’ve heard. I was blacked out again.
Curiosity often leads to trouble and tre-flip lips. We're all mad here. Sequence: BushWhen are you going to stop that shit?
I’m trying to.
Do you and Shuriken still have beef?
Yeah. I’m pretty sure he still hates me. I can’t apologize for that.
If he showed up here at the restaurant, would it be on?
I wouldn’t want to fight him. I like Shuriken and I respect him. I just opened my big mouth when I was blacked-out drunk. And right after, a dude socked me up while I was sleeping. I can’t explain it ’cause I don’t really remember what happened.
Do you make a conscious decision to go on a bender, or does it sneak up on you?
It’s a decision.
How many days can you go?
I can’t count. I’ve gone for more than three days before. When I was younger. Pretty much felt like a zombie.
Are you gonna have to quit cold turkey some day?
I don’t even think that far ahead.
Ambition, distraction, uglification, derision, and a backside 180 rotation rendition. Photo: Rhino
How’d you learn switch 50-50s so good?
I learned them at Santee park, obviously. That was the place everyone skated—Dobstaff, Louder, Kevin Davis.
Who was your East County fave?
Adam Louder. He lives in Arizona now and is married.
Will you ever get married?
Me? Fuckin’ no. Don’t believe in it.
Have you ever had a steady lady friend?
Once. It was stupid.
What happened to your front tooth?
It got knocked out. By the ground. I tried to kickflip front board this rail at Redondo High and slipped out, and then Schloshbach put the footage on Real TV. I’m sure everyone’s seen it, which sucks.
Has anyone ever recognized you from that?
When I was in high school kids recognized me from that. I hated it.
How much did your gold tooth cost?
It was the same amount as a white one.
Is it a display of your wealth?
No, it’s a drunken decision my friend and I came up with after I got jumped and got the first one knocked out again.
After this triple-triple heel James should think nothing of falling down stairs. Photo: Burnett
How come you didn’t get on Toy Machine?
It just never went anywhere.
I think it was because you never talked and they thought you were weird.
Is that why?
Are you pretty shy?
I used to be shy. A lot of partying changed that.
Has partying helped?
It hasn’t helped, but it’s changed my lifestyle.
You told me you’ve never met a girl when you weren’t drunk.
Yeah. The last four girls I hooked up with I fell asleep on. True story.
Sounds like the best date ever. Who’s your favorite Pissdrunk?
Dustin Dollin. That dude’s awesome.
How’s the new Zero video, Strange World, coming?
Couldn’t tell you. I’ve been trying to go for it.
Were your parents supportive of you when you started skateboarding?
I guess. They weren’t really around.
Where were they?
I’d rather not talk about it.
Since one good turn deserves another, James adds a kick to his spin. Bigflip. Sequence: Camarillo
I’d say my top one is Iron Maiden. Second, Judas Priest. Fuck yeah. Rob Halford is awesome!
Were you dismayed when you found out Halford batted for the same team?
I don’t give a fuck. Priest rules.
What’s the best Priest album?
I really like Painkiller.
If you could live in any cartoon, which would it be?
Alice in Wonderland, fool! Duh.
Are you the Mad Hatter?
It sure fuckin’ feels like it. I’ve loved that cartoon since the first time I saw it. It’s a lot of nonsense. It just brings joy when I watch it. That and The Exorcist. I watched that three times in two days. I love that movie.
What do you and Jamie Thomas talk about when it’s just the two of you?
I don’t think I’ve ever really talked to him except when I was getting in trouble for being an asshole, being a piece of shit.
Who’s your favorite skater on Zero right now?
Baby Jamie. Jamie Tancowny. That guy rips.
Smoking the monster out of a hurricane. Photos: Bush
Why’d you start skating?
My dad’s girlfriend’s nephew skated and we started hanging out, so I started skating with him.
What was your first trick?
The first flip trick I ever did was a kickflip, but it was a kickflip sex change, that’s just how it worked out. That’s just how it happened. My friend was like, “What the hell did you just do?” I think that was the first.
I know you really love movies. What are your faves?
I like way too many movies for that. There’s seriously so many. I’ll say one, The Stoned Age.
Is that the one with Brendan Fraser in it?
What? Fuck no!
Oh yeah. That’s Encino Man.
You’re about to cross the line! Ughh! I’ll just go off the last three movies I’ve watched: Stoned Age, Drop Dead Fred, and Lost Boys. They’re all excellent.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I don’t like people touching me or getting close to me. That’s probably the worst thing ever. When they touch my face, it drives me nuts. Please don’t touch me.
So is it hard to be around Jimmy Carlin?
Would you rather high five, shake hands, or give the knucks?
I hate giving the knucks. High five, for sure. The knucks are 100-percent embarrassing.
Are you mad that you’re going bald?
No, I’m just gonna run with it.
But you cut your long locks.
I didn’t do that on purpose. I asked for a trim and I got this. I was like, “Just do something,” and she pretty much buzzed the fuck out of me.
Up above the world he flies, like a tea tray in the sky. Backside 360 ollie. Sequence: Burnett
I don’t know. I hope not.
Are you gonna grow it out again?
We’ll see what happens. I’m gonna see how it runs.
Have you thought about Rogaine?
No, but you know what’s funny? My dad bought me a whole four-pack of Rogaine foam shit for my birthday! I was like, “What the fuck is this? Get outta here!” Nice birthday gift.
Is your dad bald?
No, but every dude on my mom’s side of the family is. Shitty bald genes!
Where does your money go?
I spend it on my friends. I don’t buy extravagant things; I just have fun with my friends.
Do your friends still skate?
Used to. My friend Mike and Chris Larue still skate. Adam still skates, sort of.
Do your brothers skate?
Yeah. They mostly like to get stoned a lot.
Are you into weed?
Fuck no. It makes me sleepy. I think every one of my roommates loves that stuff. I always want to be doing something. It pisses me off because it just makes me want to go to bed.
What are your thoughts on Jereme Rogers’ retirement?
I don’t give a fuck. That guy’s a fuckin’ douche.
How do you think his rap career will go?
Are you fucking kidding me?
It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward, so James launches this heelflip frontward. Photo: Shigeo
Do you like any rap music?
Yeah. I like a couple of songs from Brotha Lynch Hung, Andre Nikatina, and Ludacris. I like that Brotha Lynch Hung song, “The Baby Killer.”
The one Cardiel skated to?
Now I’m gonna look like an idiot ’cause I didn’t know Cardiel skated to that.
It was in an Anti-Hero video.
That song’s awesome.
Are you skating exactly like you want to right now? Is it work or fun?
I only try stuff ’cause I want to do it. I’ve been lectured so many times for not doing shit that it feels good to be actually skating. For so long I felt like I forgot what I wanted to do, and I’ve actually been having the best time of my life these last few months just trying shit and doing what I want.
Are you back on track?
No, but I’m enjoying trying stuff and pushing myself again. We’ll see how it goes.
This economy is in a tailspin.
Don’t give a shit.
What would you do if you had to get a job?
Not gonna happen. I wouldn’t do anything. I never want a job at all, ever.
But what if you had to?
You don’t have to.
So would you take on a hobo life?
Ride the rails? Crap in your pants?
If I have to. All I know is I’m not getting a job. I don’t even want to think about it.
6/30/2016Last night Zero skateboards threw a party in Long Beach celebrating 20 years with photos, decks and team alumni. It was a great way to showcase the legacy and impact that Zero has given to skateboarding. Here's to 20 more!
3/28/2016Jerry Hsu returns to the cover of the mag with a tech-gnar masterpiece–nollie backside 180 to fakie 5-0. Welcome back, Jer!
1/12/2016James Brockman tells you why he rides Impact Light boards while getting a few tricks for Zero.
1/11/2016You seen that part yet? Unreal. Evan is a one of a kind skate wizard. He’s a bit of a mystery, so here you get to know the guy behind the magic.
9/30/2015Jamie’s been around the block and more, paid his dues, and is one of skateboarding’s most iconic dudes. Check out his 20 Year Anniversary interview from our October mag.