Am Scramble 2019: Myles Willard Interview
Myles Willard is as gentle, stylish and powerful as a gazelle. Or maybe a unicorn. Something magical. His poise on the board is stunning. Still, a soft-spoken sort, he’s pretty hard to get to know. Sinclair describes him as cool and smooth as Matt Bennett, which says a lot. Myles already skates like a pro. All he needs is the goofy surprise party.
Photos by Michael Burnett
What did you know about the Am Scramble before you went on it? Were you worried that it was just gonna be everyone going super heavy right out the gate?
Yeah, I definitely felt that it was gonna be gnarly right out the gate and it pretty much was.
Yeah, right? I think the moment where we were all like, Oh shit! is when Gio did the 50-50 shove it transfer.
Yeah, obviously that’s kinda when it hit ’cause it was his first day, first spot, so I’m like, Oh my god. This is gnarly.
So give me some basics, ’cause this is kinda like the amateur issue where you talk about all the amateur kinda things. What’s your job as an amateur skater?
I believe it’s just to try and represent these people and companies that I have involvement with and just keep trying to do my thing.
Do you put a quota on yourself? Do you tell yourself anything like, I gotta get at least one clip a month or one clip a week. Do you think about it like that at all?
I’m always just trying to keep it moving. But I definitely get the feeling that I’m slacking a little if time’s passing between getting a clip or getting a photo.
Do you like a big trip like this with a bunch of people or do you like it just to be you and the filmer and your plan?
I like both sides ’cause I think each one has their perks. I like going out solo, with just Don, for example, ’cause it feels real productive. But I also love being in the mix with a new crew of people and everyone’s trying to go off.
Back Smith across and down, deep in the Everglades
Had you ever met Jack O’Grady before?
I had not.
What was your impression of him?
Watching him skate was insane ’cause he was always chargin’. He took some slams and would always just keep it moving and didn’t slow down. Always fully charged everything. Yeah, he’s incredible. Has all the energy to keep going all day; it’s insane.
His approach kind of reminds me of Pedro Delfino’s.
Yeah, I could see that. Just charging.
Just fuckin’ full blast, full speed ahead every spot. What about Jesse? Did you get to know him on this trip?
Yeah, I got to get to know him a little bit more. Earlier in November we went out to Tampa together, now we got to be on this trip together, but he’s all around the sickest dude. Smooth on a skateboard, does insane tricks that you don’t see everyday. I loved watching him skate.
Yeah, he’s cool. He’d be real quiet sometimes and then all of a sudden he was spitting freestyle fire.
That would always catch me off guard but that was amazing.
Myles keeps it mellow, even around a fully-charged Jack
Have you ever been on a skate trip with a girl before?
This was the first time.
How did Breezy hang?
She was hanging. She was part of the crowd, too. She was in the mix and killing it the whole time.
Does your girlfriend skate?
She’s been starting to recently. I got hurt last November and right when I got hurt she kinda started picking it up. But yeah, she’s been skating here and there. She can hit some front shoves.
It’s so insane watching. It trips me out.
What do you think about women skating in general?
Fuck yeah. Why do you think people bug out about it?
I think some skaters have personal standards or their own view of what skating is or who deserves what. I think people love to compare. But I guess my thing is, I feel like you shouldn’t hold any comparisons to someone on what trick they’re doing and how someone else is doing it. Spots and style come into play and also just watching someone and knowing that they’re genuinely enjoying it. That’s what gets me stoked. Breezy is doing her thing and it gets you psyched.
Well said. Beanwater said it wasn’t until the end of the trip that he realized you were skating switch. Are some tricks easier for you switch?
I think some feel a little bit more comfortable than regular. It kind of just depends on the spot. I think sometimes when I’m looking at a spot and the trick that’s calling, it ends up being like, Oh, this spot’s made for a goofy skater, you know? Sometimes I’ll see the spot and I have a trick in my brain that I want to try and I’ll try to get the spot that matches it. Sometimes the spot will feel like it’s calling for a certain trick and if that trick’s in a goofy-footed position, like if a goofy-footed crook would look good then I’ll try to get the switch crook.
I saw you over there on the bowl at Kona doing some handplants. Is that a new one for you?
I’ve been trying to learn them.
How are they?
It’s hard to hold them. It’s the scariest-but-most-fun feeling, going upside down. But I still can’t really comprehend how people get there and hold ’em. They say on the bigger ramps it’s easier but I can’t comprehend it.
Handplants will have to wait, it's picture-perfect backside noseblunt time for Myles
Sinclair says that you’re really interested in skate history, like watching old videos, looking at old photos and stuff. What do you like to dig up? What gets you hyped?
It kind of ranges but I think in general watching older videos from a time that I didn’t really get to experience, it comes off very genuine. I don’t know how I would describe the look. Visually I’m into film, the look of the VX or the look of the older cameras.
Are there any old videos or skaters that you’re super into that are from way before your time?
Lately it’s been like I’ll watch Hokus Pokus and then—what’s another one I’ve been going to lately? I think I would go back to Jump Off a Building and I like that because of the East Coast section in it. Then I’ll go a little newer. Lately I’ve been watching Real to Reel a bunch. I actually just got the tape from the Secret Tape. Yeah, I got the red tape and I’m super stoked on it.
What parts do you like in there?
I think my favorite one is probably Nate Jones. Yeah, that one’s the sickest.
You know what Frank Gerwer says about Nate Jones?
No, what does he say?
“You know handsome people can’t drive!” I don’t even know what that means. He said that once and I thought it was hilarious. So you had a pretty gnarly injury last year. You finally got out to California, you’re filming for the video and then—bam. What the fuck happened out there?
I came back from a trip back home and the day I got back I went and skated with some friends. I just came in some transition weird and flipped back and sat on my ankle. I forget the exact bone I broke so I couldn’t tell you all that, but I slipped back, sat on my ankle and then next thing I know I need surgery and I’ve never had a surgery before. But I’m super thankful that Mike got me in touch with Dr. Sales and Dr. Previte. They got me back super quick. Luckily Don and I had already been filming a good amount so I didn’t stress too hard. It’s honestly one of the more mellow injuries I’ve had.
Switch back tail, aiming for the slot
That’s great. Mike said you told him that you improved your flick after you got the plate in your ankle.
A little bit. I’ve been trying.
Did the plate help?
I think so. My ankle feels a little different, but it has a solid feeling which is good, you know?
Yeah, so maybe leave it in there for a while.
I actually gotta get them out. Dr Sales recommended I get them out after a year or so. I’m coming up on a little over a year, so they might be coming out at some point.
Fuckin’ A. Who do you think’s gonna get a board first from the Scramble this year?
I think Jack and—what board company is Giovanni on? Primitive, right? Yeah I’ll say Gio and Jack.
Dude, those guys are maniacs. What about you? Is turning pro a goal for you?
It’s been a little tricky. I always wanted to as a kid, but I think the feeling kinda went away when I was about 16 or 17 and started working and stuff. I kinda just loved skating for what it was. But I’ve gotten a re-spark since I’ve been filming for the Toy video and got a Thrasher cover and got to be on this trip. I got that spark again. It made me feel like maybe it could be a possibility. I can’t comprehend it sometimes, you know? I was talking to Don about this the other day, it’s just like the pro stuff. I can’t even believe I’m talking about it. It’s not like I lost the dream or whatever but I think now that it came back a second time it feels kind of stronger. Personally, it’s something else to keep me motivated and working towards. I feel like that’s necessary with everything, you know, to set goals.
We picked Milton. Who was your Skater of the Year this year?
Honestly, my vote was Mark Suciu.
Dude, he’s incredible.
Yeah, the way he looks at everything is insane.
He’s bananas. Is Baltimore as dangerous and sketchy as everybody thinks?
No, there’s a lot of love in the city. I think there’s definitely zones that you have to watch out for, but I feel like most people will treat you with respect if you’re treating them with respect.
I think you’re probably right. Do you think you want to get back there someday?
Oh yeah. Of course. I just don’t got any plans set right now.
Wait. This is switch, too? Switch 50 after a downpour
How’s Mike as a team manager? What does he do to get on your nerves?
He’s the man. He’s never really doing anything that gets on my nerves. He’s always there, always checking up to see if you need anything. He cares, you know, and that means a lot. He doesn’t give out orders or anything. He lets me do my own thing and I feel like he’s always there to support us. But he gives a little push, though, you know? You might be tired as shit but we might still stop at another spot and he might throw out an idea.
Yep, he’ll be like, “Oh, let’s just go check out this bullshit gap.”
Yeah, he’ll go, “Myles, what do you think? Just a suggestion…” and it gets you kinda sparked.
What about dining? Are you feeling Mike’s meal choices?
I’ve been digging the fajitas right now, for sure.
That sizzle. He loves those fajitas.
He gets rid of the guacamole, though. I can’t do that.
Yeah, gotta keep the green. I know you haven’t seen the photos, but who do you think is gonna get the cover of the Am Scramble issue?
Jack, for sure. Actually, I don’t want to say for sure but I’ll say Jack or Jesse.
Suggestions welcome, Myles slides his nose with the Sinclair spark
What was that session like at the marble hubba in person?
Wow. I wish I had better words to explain, but it was quick. It was out of nowhere. Before I know it I see Jesse ollie into it then the doors are opening and I see Jack going through it and it was gnarly. It was gnarly and just super quick and out of nowhere.
I was nervous. I was biting my nails.
Yeah, my palms were a little sweaty.
That was hectic. It was that kind of security guard who kicks you out and then immediately leaves. Like, I thought we were kicked out and then the next thing you know Gio’s holding the door.
Yeah, it was a very soft kick out.
How was communicating with Gio? He seemed like even though he couldn’t always explain things, with his facial expressions you kinda understood what he was saying.
Yeah, and he was always smiling. I’d look over and always see him cheesing.
You’re one of the nicest, calmest people I’ve ever met. Have you ever been in a fight?
Thanks, but yeah, I actually have when I was a lot younger. It’s been a while.
What’s the one memory you know you’re never gonna forget from this trip?
I got two that are kinda sticking out: One was when we were by the river and we were all just taking photos and hanging out. I think that sticks out ’cause it was towards the end and it was a little bit of down time. It was nice. But I also remember one night all of us flooding out of a convenience store and Mike’s surprised ’cause no one had any drinks, no food, no snacks. We come out empty-handed and he goes, “What? No one wanted anything? They’re closed?” And we said, “No, they stop selling beer at ten.” And then he just responds with, “Oh, no one wanted a fuckin’ Gatorade or a water or something?” That one sticks out ’cause we were all thinking one way and Mike sees it the complete opposite.
From the Matt B School of Hubba Excellence: switch backside 180 nosegrind, downtown Tallahassee
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