Brad Cromer Interview

Cromer Intro 1500px

 

How would you describe your skate scene growing up?
I don’t really remember there being too much of a skate scene at that time. I just skated by myself in my driveway, setting up anything I could from what was in my garage. I am from a small town by the name of Jupiter. It’s on the East Coast of Florida about an hour and a half north of Miami. The house I grew up in was in a woodsy neighborhood with dirt roads. The beach was about a ten-minute drive to the east and to the west was swamps and farms. I had a few friends that would skate with me but most quickly moved onto other interests. There wasn’t YouTube and skate videos didn’t come out very often, so I was just kind of in my own world. I eventually started going to our local skatepark and seeing a few videos and was blown away by what could be done on a skateboard.

Cromer 1 1500pxRapidly rising sea levels means the only creature busting this heavy dock gap in the future will be the gentle manatee

What was popular? Who were the cool older sponsored dudes? Who was the first of your peers to get some sort of recognition?
Where I’m from anything water related was popular: fishing, boating, surfing. I never got into any of that. All I wanted to do was skate. Ben Gore was the cool sponsored guy. Not older, but he had sponsors. There were a few other local guys getting free stuff, too, but Ben was the dude. He was winning all the contests and putting out parts. Brian Delatorre was in that category, too. He was out of Miami. I’d go to contests in Miami once in a while and Ben and Brian were for sure the best dudes there. If we saw them at a spot we’d trip. It was like seeing an alien or something.

Were there any pro skaters or videos that you emulated? Any regrettable early fashion choices?
I wanted to be a different pro every week. I remember doing that with Reynolds, Rowley, Scott Kane, PJ Ladd, Creager, Wenning, Getz—the list goes on and on. I’d watch a part and just go out and set up fake handrails and shitty PVC-pipe boxes in my driveway and pretend I was them. I had the spiked Pig belt at one point. I did the red spray-painted shoes. Whoever I liked at the time, I’d just try to look like them and do the tricks they did. Nothing I regret at all. I was just being a kid, idolizing pro skateboarders.

Who’s the best skater to come out of Florida, in your opinion?
Rodney Mullen for his era, Reynolds and Elissa.

Cromer 2 1500pxCromer skates the spots at hand, and sometimes, the spots on the roof. Backside noseblunt, down with The King

What was your breakout move that gave you the confidence that maybe you could make it a pro skater?
There was no breakout move for me. There was no certain point in my life where I was, like, “Yeah, this will make me turn pro.” I didn’t really even think about it. I just loved skating and that’s all I did. I was am for, like, seven years and still barely thought about it.


How did you get over the hump around age 17 where a lot of kids quit skating? Did you ever get close to quitting?
I don’t remember ever wanting to quit. I had a good crew at that age and we were way too in it to just stop. Sure, a lot of dudes went the other way for girls or drugs or whatever, but I made sure to stick by the right people. We were filming parts, making videos and going on little road trips. Those years might actually be the funnest, most-carefree times for me.


Did you see many pro skaters as a kid? Were there any encounters you will always remember?
My dad brought me to Tampa Pro one year when I was younger. Tons of pros were staying at the same hotel that we were staying at. I was tripping out seeing these dudes in person. But yeah, I was skating flatground out back one night and Jeremy and Jonas Wray came out. Jonas told me he’d give me a board if I beat him in SKATE. I somehow won and he signed a Media board and gave it to me. I was happy as shit. I still have the board at my parents’ house. It’s probably a 7.3".


Why did you want to film this Huf video and shoot this interview back home?
I’ve been living in California for almost two years now. I’ve filmed a few things here and know how it goes and how it’s going to look. 
I didn’t want that. I wanted to film something in the area that I grew up skating—a change of scenery. I like where I’m from. I like the spots, the colors, the trees, the whole look. I want the video to have a certain feel to it—a hometown feel.

Cromer 3 1500pxCruising crust to brick with a tré-flip flick

So how’d it go?
It went well. We got what we could in the harsh conditions that Florida has to offer. It was super hot and humid and rained at least once a day. You have a window for trying a trick. You’re soaking wet three minutes in. Trying a line is deadly. What spots to skate and how to get to each one was not fresh in my brain anymore, either. And it was pretty much me skating solo with two filmers and a photographer. It was tough, but we covered ground and got some good stuff. I wanted this part to not just show trick after trick but more the environment and visuals of where I am.

Cromer PQ 3 1500px

How scary was this kickflip over the water? It looks crazy.
It took a lot of work. I can’t skate gaps and drops like I used to as a kid. The wood planks making up the dock went the wrong way. The bottom part had big enough gaps in it to fit your wheels in. As much as I don’t like using wood at spots, this time it was necessary. I would start at the far edge with my heels hanging off over the water since the run up was super short. It was pretty intimidating, standing up top looking over the water down to the tiny target of plywood nailed to the landing. My board went in probably seven times. I switched back and forth between mine and Tyler’s so one would be slightly dry. 
I finally exploded on the ground, stood up and rode away somehow. It felt good after all the work I put in. The part you pop off of was also a helicopter landing pad.

You’ve done a handful of magnanimous maneuvers up the Space Shuttle Challenger triangle memorial. Did you ever think twice about skating this sacred stone?
Hey, thanks. I never thought of it in a damaging-a-monument type of way. People have been jumping into that thing and grinding their trucks on it for years. I don’t think me riding across it with just my wheels is going to do any more damage than has already been done. I’m too scared to grind down it anyways. Going up was less scary for me.

Is there anything you won’t skate out of principle?
I try to be respectful of peoples’ personal property. There has been times where I’ve been at a spot and stepped back and been, like, “Damn, I’d be pissed at me too if I was in their shoes.” “These kids are just fucking up this planter of mine” or whatever it is that we’re tearing up. I usually know my grounds of what’s right and what’s wrong, or at least I think I do. But then again, that’s just part of being a skateboarder.

What’s your approach to dealing with cops and security guards?
For cops, I’ve learned to just keep your mouth shut—tell them what they want to hear. Talking back and getting smart with them isn’t going to get you very far. Leave if they ask you to leave. Then just go back a different day and do it all over again. You can speak a little more freely with security guards—talk a little shit, let your anger out on them. Blame not getting your trick on them or whatever you want.

Cromer 4 Sequence 750pxBrad’s last body varial. At least he went out with a bang, kickflip-wise.

What kind of people do you think want to become cops?
I know a few people that became cops. One worked at our local skatepark. I guess it could be anyone that decides they want to be one. And then there’s some people that want to be a cop to feel in control and powerful. I’m not really feelin’ cops right now. I just watched a documentary called Making a Murderer about crooked cops fucking over people just ‘cause they can.

What profession do you think you’d be good at besides skateboarding?
I think about that all the time. Because that day will come sooner or later where I can’t physically do what I do now. Before I was getting any paychecks from skating I worked on fixing up boats. They’d bring them into the boatyard with a giant crane, put them on stilts and we’d just work on them for months until they were in good condition again: scraping off rust and barnacles, repainting from front to back—all sorts of shit. It was not an easy job but for some reason I really enjoyed it. I liked waking up early as fuck and fixing boats in the blazing heat. I felt like I was worth something. Seeing the finished product from when it first got taken out of the water. Like, “I fuckin’ did that.” I also worked at a skateshop for seven years and worked at a movie theater when I was younger. I’ve been spoiled with the almost-nonexistent schedule of being a pro skateboarder. I think whatever I do after this will make me appreciate what I do now even more.

Cromer PQ 1 1500px
You do a lot of rad indy fast plant tricks. How did you get started with those? Are there any variations or obstacles still in your sites to plant?
It’s funny you ask this, because I’ve seen a lot of fast plant variations lately. Maybe too many. I’m always trying to figure out what’s next—what’s the next move. What’s not really being done right now or what would be fun or feel cool to do? Learn it, film a few, and then move on. I get turned off by tricks when I see people doing them. I’m not trying to be the different guy. I just wanna be doing my own shit. With that being said, I’m done with body varials and fast plants.


What word do you most overuse?
Dope.


Are there any slang terms you would never use? Steez? Butters? Etc.?
I say dope every other word. I don’t know why but it just comes out. It doesn’t sound weird to me. I’ve heard it rub off onto other people. Maybe it’s just where I’m from or something. But yes, there are words to me that are equal to nails on a chalkboard. I can’t stand the word fool. No offense to anyone that uses it. It just hurts to hear.


How do you see skateboarding changing now that everyone has the power of mass media in their pocket?
I see everything changing, not just skateboarding. It’s crazy now. Some random kid can just pull their phone out of their pocket, follow whatever pro they like, ask them a question on one of their pictures and they could just get written back to—just like that. When I was younger, I had to drive three hours to the Skatepark of Tampa once a year and beg Gershon Mosley to sign my poster to interact with a pro. Everything’s so in reach now. You don’t even have to talk face to face with people anymore. Couples at dinner aren’t even looking at each other. Pins tell us how to get to spots. There are apps with spots already uploaded with fuckin’ pins to them. You just press buttons and get what you need. Everything’s on a silver platter laid out for you now. It’s amazing but so trippy at the same time.

Cromer 5 1500pxSmith grind in the garden. Fuck yo’ Zen

Have you ever become ill from too much social media?
All the time. I actually feel sick from it all the time. When I turned pro my phone was lighting up nonstop for weeks. Kids tagging me in posts and hashtags and congrats texts and phone calls and this and that; I freaked out. I was very grateful but it was too overwhelming. I didn’t skate for over a month. I sat at my parents’ house and did nothing. I Men-in-Blacked skateboarding out of my head. I felt insane. It’s hard to explain. I had crazy anxiety from all the attention and just lost it. I lost all my emotions. I felt blank. I was prescribed some bullshit medication to help me with the way I was feeling but it made me feel even worse. One of the side effects was loss of appetite. I felt the effects of that very quickly, so I weaned off of whatever I was taking and slowly regained myself. I got my mind clear and slowly started getting out and skating again. I felt weak and out of it. I’m sure there was some sort of depression mixed in there as well. It came out of nowhere and disappeared out of nowhere. It is probably the most bizarre experience I’ve had in my life, but I’ve learned a lot from it.

Cromer PQ 2 1500px
Damn, that sounds pretty heavy. These phones are fucking us up! Under what circumstances do you lie?
I don’t lie very often. You’ll most likely get fucked over down the line if you’re just spitting out lies, but a white lie can definitely help in a lot of situations. Nothing huge, just something small to keep things cool for the time being.

Name something popular in skateboarding that you could give a rat’s ass about.
I mean, there’s a lot of shit going on in skating that I just kind of tune out. I don’t wanna be specific. But yeah, lately I’ve just been trying to take in the good from it all—just paying attention to the shit I want to see and pretend nothing else exists. I had to unfollow hundreds of people recently for that reason. I don’t need to see everything that everyone’s 
doing everyday.

Describe your perfect day skating.
It could be anywhere, with my friends or by myself. Some days just go smooth like that and you never want it to end. Most likely just skating flat, or over a bench or some random log or something. You can’t plan a perfect day; they just happen sometimes. To me, it’s not getting a bunch of footage or doing some insane trick. It’s just feeling like nothing matters at the time. You’re not worrying about how you should probably go to the dentist or making your appointment at the DMV. Just being out with a clear mind is a perfect skate day for me.

Do you ever lose your temper? What really pisses you off?
I do but it’s rare. I can lose it for sure when my feet won’t do what my brain wants them to do. Those days do happen. It’s usually the smaller things that just add up. Like my shirt fits weird or I’m missing a bolt or the crew is too big. Sometimes it’s fun going out with a big crew but most the time it’s a mess. I call it “the retarded transformer.” You just have so many people together that it’s impossible to decide where to skate, where to eat, no one can agree on anything and the day is over. It’s like the screwing-in-a-lightbulb saying.

Didn’t you almost die in SF once?
That would be when the van that I was in was T-boned by a train. I had just driven across the country from Florida to California on a three-week filming trip with my friends. I hopped out in Arizona to meet up with some Krooked dudes to start working on the 3D video. I flew to SF from there and my friends called me, like, “Yo, we’re here. We’re going to go to Double Rock to drink some beers and skate.” They picked me up. I was back in the van. We had the crew back together and we headed to the Bayview area to go to the Thrasher park. Maybe a mile from the park the GPS told us to take a sudden left to get there but there were new train tracks and I don’t think that the GPS knew and we turned right in front of it. We slid forever since it was raining out. Windows smashed, people bleeding, screaming—it was fucked. We all got out safe for the most part. The driver had some pretty serious eye damage from glass and two other friends were sent to the hospital for a minor concussion and deep wounds. If the ground wasn’t wet I think there could have been some fatalities. But all in all we got out somewhat safe and that was that.

Cromer 6 1500pxAlan Losi never had to deal with the madness of social media. Frontsider into the future

You ever get FOMO?
A little bit. I think everyone does. For example, I have a lot of friends living in New York and once in a while I’ll be, like, “Fuck. I should just live there.” Sell my car and just rent some tiny overpriced apartment. But I think for now visiting is enough. There’s also times where I don’t give a fuck what anyone’s doing anywhere. It’s off and on for me. Sometimes I just want to live in a tent as far away from humans as possible.

What do you least like about your skateboarding?
I feel like I do too many kickflips or kickflip variations. I’m so sick of seeing photos of myself kickflipping. But then again, that’s one of the funnest tricks for me. That and frontside flips. Reynolds could do only those two tricks for the rest of his life and I’d be more than happy as a viewer. But yeah, I’m not him or anything close. I gotta figure out some other shit.

What companies out there are doing interesting shit?
FA and Quasi. They are very distinct new companies. They are showing who they are, what they are about and exactly how they want it to be seen. And it’s working. They aren’t going by any guidelines of what their board graphics or ads are supposed to look like. I think that’s why they stand out to me at the moment.

When does skateboarding seem like a job?
When you feel forced to go skate. That’s when I don’t like it. Yeah, there’s photo deadlines and video deadlines. I see those more as goals to accomplish for myself. But there are times where I’m out for one reason or another and am just, like, “This feels forced.” I’m not trying this trick for myself. I feel like I’m supposed to. For me, that’s usually when I end up getting hurt.

Thanks for the interview. This was great. Last question: what’s your five-year plan?
Shit. Just this question gives me anxiety. I try not to plan things, but yeah, there’s a few things that I want to get done in the next five years. Move to somewhere that I’m comfortable—that’s very important to me. I’d like to make my girlfriend my wife, stay productive with skating, put shit out while I can. I don’t ever want to milk skateboarding. I’d like to visit Iceland. Get better 
at interviews.

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