Brandon Westgate Interview

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So you’re in Massachusetts right now. What have you been doing since the weather’s been good?
I’ve just been skating Boston a lot, working on a little New Balance part ’cause I got a shoe coming out. I’ve never filmed a full part in Boston so I was kind of trying to go that route. We’ll see how it works.

You’re already onto your next video part? Jesus Christ.
Well, I finished up my Element stuff with Miner and I was telling him that I wanted to work on something for the shoe.

Wait, how long have you been on New Balance? You’re already getting a shoe?
I got on last June, so it’s been a little over a year.

No shit, dude? Time flies.
Tell me about it. It’s insane. But yeah, just been working on the shoe. They just set January as the release date.

Westgate photo2 750pxIf you’re seeing it, that means Gaberman’s finally satisfied—full Cab

Damn, they’re on it quick. And they’re from Massachusetts, too, right?
Yeah, their headquarters is here. But all the skate stuff is in Long Beach.

Do you miss the Emerica guys?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I fuckin’ grew up with those guys. But I got Miner over at Element so that’s pretty dope. I’ve always been closest to him. I always lived out East and I would always fly out and stay with him. I definitely spent the most time with him so it’s pretty tight to have him over at Element.

Do you guys ever argue or go through it almost like brothers?
For sure. Definitely. We get into it sometimes. Plus, it’s like he knows if I’m being a bitch. He can call me out and then I’ll call him out. We’ve known each other so long that we know how each other work. If one of us in a bad mood then it’s, like, Oh great. Now I have to deal with this.

Okay, here’s a fun topic—how long have you been shooting for this interview?
Oh, dude, fuck—maybe since I’ve been on Element which is three years or something. Maybe not that long. Probably two years I would say. Gaberman is the best photographer. I love that dude. It’s kind of the same thing as Miner—I have a real close relationship with him. But I was getting super frustrated because I would be hyped on a trick and he would never show me any of the photos, so I kind of just left it up to him. When he’s satisfied, I guess that’s it.

If he gets hyped about something then you’re probably both gonna be pretty happy.
That’s what makes it the best. He’s always been, in my opinion, one of the best photographers out there. So it’s just like, Alright, I’ll leave it in your hands. But I’m stressing out because I want to start working on something else and he’s, like, “Well, dude, there’s always going to be something else.” And I’m just, like, “Alright, yeah.” But it just feels like we’ve been doing this for a while, you know?

Westgate photo3 750pxBrandon ollies over 176 squares and still has a good eight feet to go. The farmer’s no slouch!

Do you ever room with him? Does it never stop? Is it like you’re either rooming with Miner or Gaberman and then you’re also spending all day with them?
Yeah, but with Gaberman, it’s like he’s the photographer when he’s out shooting but then when we’re just hanging out, we’re just talking gun talk and he’s asking me how to fix shit. We just talk about shit like that, not even anything about skating.

Yeah ’cause both of you guys are pretty hands on. Every time that I’ve talked to him he’s either building something or getting ready to build something or fixing copper pipes or some shit. And I love that both you guys would always volunteer to fix the van whenever it would fuckin’ break down or have issues. Is that a topic of conversation or something you’re both interested in?
Oh yeah, absolutely. And then he’s been gardening for years and I think he’s got a horticulture degree or something. He’s always on top of it. We went to SF and I was rooming with him and Meza and Ryan came in and was, like, “What the fuck are you guys watching?” And Gaberman was showing me this how-to-make-worm-compost video and they were tripping out, like, What the fuck are you guys looking at right now? I was just laughing to myself. It was pretty jacked.

How much of your time is wrapped up doing cranberry bog? What are your responsibilities? Is it still just really seasonal or does it take up a lot of your time in the off season?
Off season I’m honestly not really doing much. After I’m done picking I just shut everything down and pick all of the sprinkler heads up. I’ll take care of some stuff in the winter if stuff needs to get fixed, but you can’t do much when it gets super cold here. January and February, when it gets freezing, it’s just miserable to do anything, then summertime is just irrigating and weeding, mowing and fixing stuff. So if your irrigation breaks you go and fix that or if you have a leak or something like that.

Westgate photo4 750pxLike his East-to-West-Coast journeys, Brandon’s frontside flips cover some serious ground

Was the bog a plan or was it just more like, I’m interested in this so fuck it. I can do it?
I always wanted to get into it but I was way more into skating. But then what if I get hurt and I’m fucked forever? What am I gonna do? I’ve always thought about what the fuck I’m gonna do after skating because I can’t be, like, 40 years old and skate. I mean, some people can but I’m gonna have to figure something else out. I don’t have a college degree and it’s, like, what the fuck do I like to do? I actually worked for this other cranberry grower that my dad used to work for one summer and I thought, Damn this is pretty tight. So I kind of just thought of it like that. I’ll just learn how to do this. ’Cause with this type of stuff, not a lot of people want to do it and experience is key so good help is hard to find. So if I can get a job, I can get a fuckin’ job, you know? And now it’s definitely some peace of mind because I have a kid and a wife and all that shit. So it’s like, well, if I need to get a job I can get one. Plus, I like to be out here.

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Westgate photo5 750pxFront blunt to fakie before digging into a worm-compost tutorial

Obviously you like working with your hands, you get to be outside and it’s kind of something you’re familiar with. And you don’t have to leave the county to do it.
It works out really good actually because I live right on a farm. It’s good, but not good, ’cause then I’m always out there fucking around with shit. If it wasn’t in my backyard I might not always be outside. It kind of takes over a bit more of my time than it needs to. Also, the most amount of time that I put into this place was the first two or three years where I was just using really shitty, old equipment and then fixing that and figuring out stuff. This will be my fifth or sixth year and I kinda got all the equipment I need and I’ve gone through it and I’ve got it flowing. And the farm’s not so big that it takes over a ton of time.

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So you’re pretty committed to having the bog. Did you ever consider any other career options? Is there anything else you’re interested in?
I like to do stuff like carpentry, landscaping, gardening, metal work, engine work, you know? That’s why I like the bogs and the farm, ’cause it’s everything: mowing, growing, machinery, there’s carpentry, building stuff—it’s everything all in one. I don’t like repetition, so if I was a roofer I would be over that, just roofing every single day. But there’s a lot of blue-collar jobs around here. I live an hour from the city but I don’t want to drive there. I don’t even know what I would do in the city, work in an office or something? And there’s not a lot of companies out here to really work for skate-wise. The East Coast might be popping, but not that hard.

What’s something about cranberry bogs that might surprise people?
The question I get the most is, “Do they grow in water?” They don’t. The water is only used two times a year to pick it. You flood it up halfway and pick it, then flood it up all the way, coral it and pump it. Then you flood it in the wintertime when it’s really cold to help protect the vine. ’Cause it’s basically a low-running vine. Also, you don’t have to replant it every year. The bog I have is well over 20 years old.

I think it’s those Ocean Spray commercials, dude. They’re throwing everybody off.
Yeah and it’s so funny, too, cause it’s cool that people recognize it but those two guys have never grown a cranberry in their entire lives. That shit just pisses me off to see. I’m just, like, Jesus, look at these clowns.

Westgate photo6 750pxBrandon escapes the bog with a snap-pea fueled back Smith. Delicious!

Do you still eat cranberries or are you over it since you’re around them so much?
When I’m out there picking I eat them all day long. I feel like that with anything. When I’m in the garden with the snap peas I’m just eating them.

Yeah, something about doing that, it’s primal or something. They just taste better.
The cranberries are a little tart but they’re just there and they look really good so you want to eat them.

Do you think it’s important to have interests outside of skateboarding?
I think everybody’s different. For me, I think it is ’cause I like to do more than just skate. You never know what you can do in life if you’re just set in the mindset of only skating. You might not be seeing other things that are out there. But a lot of people just skate and they’re super into that and it works for them. Different strokes for different folks. I never really like to tell anybody what to do.

I always feel like a punk bitch when people ask me for advice. I’m, like, “Dude, don’t listen to anyone older than you. Everyone’s jaded.” One thing that I always wondered about, and I’ve never asked you about this, but did you break your neck right before you left Zoo, during the time that you filmed those two gnarly video parts?
I fractured my back. It’s these things called a transverse process and they’re just like little nubs. So it was my second, my third and my fourth transverse process. And there’s nothing you can do. You just have to wait three-and-a-half months and then you start getting back to skating. But it’s super painful coming back because you gotta build the muscles back up and all that shit. When I Googled it I was just, like, What the fuck? I knew I hurt my back but I kind of felt super vulnerable. My back was really uncomfortable. So I Googled it and I think a lot of people that break those are people that are in severe car accidents. So I was, like, Fuck, I must’ve slammed pretty hard.

How many video parts have you put out in your lifetime? Do you even know? Does it even matter at this point?
I don’t know. I mean, it’s the same thing like this interview with Gaberman and with the Element video. I’ve been trying to hold stuff. That video’s been taking forever to come out, with Miner coming in and there’s just been a lot of change and trying to wrap it up, I guess. You can’t live in the past these days. I’m stoked to just do something in Boston because, dude, there’s a ton of spots there and it’s just a nicer pace than going out West. I was going out West basically all winter, staying with Miner and it’s not bad but it’s kind of refreshing to just leave my house and drive to Boston and skate for the day and come back and sleep in my own bed. And also maybe skate some shit that no one’s skated. On the weekends, the energy level is like—everyone’s ready to fucking get it. It’s crazy.

Westgate photo7 750pxThat black door? It’s ominous as hell. But Brandon’s backside heelflip is quite joyous. Let’s just focus on that

Have you seen all the parts in the Element video?
I’ve seen Jaako’s part. I don’t know if everybody knows him, but anyone that’s seen him skate, they know what to expect. He’s one of the best skaters out there right now I think.

Yeah, I don’t think that many people know about him but they will, huh?
Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. He’s one of those dudes that’s coming up and then with Miner putting everything together it’s gonna be really dope. I’ve seen his part, a little bit of Mason’s, but I’ve seen all of Mason’s footage and he’s also one of the best skaters right now, too, I think. Evan’s part, obviously. I mean, I could just keep saying the same thing because all these dudes are fucking amazing. Madars—they’re all the craziest skaters to see in person and then all the parts being put together by Miner is a really cool thing.


Yeah, Miner’s done it with Emerica, too, where he’s just not gonna take any chances with putting in something that he doesn’t think is cool. That’s probably a really good thing to actually have for the end product where it’s all just really good.
Definitely. Miner’s the king of that: being really precise about what you’re using and how it gets used. That can be a little frustrating sometimes, too, but in the end it always comes out amazing.

Yeah, I know some of the guys right away are kind of—it makes them a little insecure where they’re just, like, What? It’s not good enough? It’s like, I’m not saying that you’re not good enough, but that trick? No, it’s not good enough.
Or if it was filmed by somebody else and it’s shaky. When you’re editing shit you’re looking for all that but when you’re just watching shit you don’t really think of any of it. At least for me, I’m just a skater watching skating. But after hanging out with Miner a lot I started kind of picking up on that stuff and being, like, yeah, you’re right.

You gonna come out for the premiere? I forget who told me that you weren’t.
Oh, Donovan probably. I was just fucking with him, though.

He loved it by the way. He was just, like, Oh my God.
He was, like “Are you fucking serious?” And I was fully running with it.

He fully was, like, “Dude, he’s not coming. What are we supposed to do?”
Yeah, dude, he’s too funny.

Westgate photo8 750pxFrontside 180 from way the hell over there to way the hell over here. BW is lifted and gifted

So you’ve been traveling for years and years. What’s the craziest shit you’ve ever seen on a road trip?
We were on a Birdhouse trip. I think it we me, Shamus, Suski, Shetler, Sumner and maybe Jon Goemann and we were somewhere in Arizona. The whole time, Sumner had this whole no-trespassing thing. He was afraid of getting in trouble with the law. He thought he was going to get deported or something, so he wouldn’t skate schools or anyplace that he felt unsafe. He’d just stay in the van. Anyway, we’re at this burrito place and someone’s, like, “Dude, what the fuck? Sumner’s fucking these dudes up outside!” We go out and he’s just beating the shit out of these two dudes. Shetler hucks his burrito right in one of the guys’ faces and it blows up all over the place. So Shetler’s taking one dude; Sumner’s getting the other guy; Shamus is yelling at them like he’s a parent, “Everybody, cut it out!” Nobody is listening and I was just like, What the fuck? This is nuts! It finally calmed down because I think those dudes were getting their asses whooped. Then Sumner’s, like, “Lets go! We gotta get out of here!” It must have kicked in, like, What the fuck am I doing? So we get in the van and he’s, like, “I’ve got someone’s phone.” It was one of the dudes’ phones and he threw it out of the van. I was just, like, Damn, dude, that was fuckin’ sick. What the hell is going on? I guess the dude was disrespecting his girlfriend and Sumner said something, like, “Hey, man, don’t talk to her like that,” and the dude came at him and they just started fuckin’ brawling. We woke up the next day and Sumner was totally gone. He got a flight out and left a message saying, “I was paranoid. I had to get out of there.” It was just, like, Fuck, dude, this is crazy.

He was kind of a wild card, huh?
I guess, but that was before my time. When I got on he was pretty chill and getting into the church stuff and all that. I think he’s super mellow now.

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I never saw him fight anybody but I would always hear about it.
I saw a video of him throwing someone through a wall at a restaurant.

Through a wall?
I think so. Back in the day Shamus had access to all the Birdhouse footage and someone had filmed him—I don’t even know what the situation was. I just remember seeing Sumner throwing this guy through a wall. I don’t know if he kicked him or what, but basically the dude got blown through the wall.

That’s fuckin’ amazing. Way better than a window. You’ve been traveling with Evan Smith quite a bit. Have you ever microdosed with him? ’Cause he’s on acid all the time. Do you ever feel obligated or do you ever want to join the party?
I never have but I’m always curious ’cause he seems totally normal, so I just always ask him a bunch of questions. It doesn’t seem to affect him at all. He’s kind of just killing it, you know? So I always ask him dumb questions ’cause I’m curious. Like, Damn I want to try that shit sometimes ’cause it looks like it works really good.

It definitely works for him. So the East Coast has been getting a lot of exposure again in skateboarding. Are you pretty stoked on that?
I’m always stoked on that. I don’t feel like I’ve really represented the East Coast in the best way. I haven’t been a dude that’s strictly filming East Coast parts and helped in that way. I kind of just like to skate and wherever everyone’s going I’m down for. I’m not the type of dude that’s only on the East Coast saying fuck the West Coast. I’m just down for whatever but I’m always stoked when the East Coast gets some love.

I think that’s probably the best way to be. Do you have a favorite East Coaster?
I would say Zered. He’s just been around forever and when we were on Zoo I got to see so much unbelievable shit. He’s probably one of the most underrated skaters ever. Best switch, tech, tranny—he can do anything. And he’s always lived in New York so I think he’s the dude that’s held it down the hardest.

Westgate photo9 750pxSqueeze-play kickflip into a roller coaster with no retirement in sight. Can’t wait to see the part, B!

You got any advice for East Coasters that don’t want to move to California to make it happen?
Ah, dude, I traveled to the West Coast a bunch so I don’t know. But I think that times have changed and maybe it’s a little different, so I would just stick to what you’re doing.

What was the best advice that you got in the van as a kid?
Fuck, dude, I got a lot of advice but I think it was more just watching people. When people were fucking up or getting wasted, it put it into my head that I didn’t want to be like that. So I just kind of watched people and tried to not fuck up too hard. I’ve also been around long enough to see pros be pro and on top of it then go to being not pro and having to get a job and being miserable. So I saw that and didn’t want it. ’Cause they were killing it, making tons of money and then all of a sudden they’re just not pro anymore. You got to get a real job and you’ve got a mortgage and all that shit. Seeing that I was kind of, like, Oh shit. You can’t skate forever.

Yeah that’s true. You mentioned trying not to be the skater past 40, having to rely upon it. Who do you think are some of the exceptions?
I think Reynolds has got to be up there. He’s probably close to 40 and he’s a total skate rat. He loves it. He’s got his own company; his daughter is skating; it’s the sickest thing to watch. It’s inspiring.

How will you know when it’s time to bail?
I don’t really know. I guess that’s the thing—maybe when I make a video part and people are just over it. ’Cause that’s all I’ve ever done and that’s what I like to do is film. Or maybe if the companies I ride for tell me they’re over me. I’m sure there’s got to be a sign. Or if I’m filming a part and I’m not happy with it at all. I feel like there will be a time where it’s just, like, Dude, I’m just out here suffering.

I always think about Heath. He went out with a fucking bang. I didn’t think he was slowing down but he thought that he was so that was it.
I watched his Epicly Later’d and he was talking about how everyone was killing it and he felt like he wasn’t and he was just kind of over it at that point. Dude, what’s up with all of these depressing questions?

We’ll switch gears. Is there anybody you’d like to say thanks to?
Well, thank you for getting me on Element and helping me out. You were killing it when you were there. And I definitely want to thank Gaberman for all the years shooting with him and all the good times. I love that dude. Miner as well, for putting the whole video together. I love that guy, too. I’ve been working with him forever and I think people are gonna be pretty stoked on the whole video and the team and what he put together. Hopefully everybody enjoys it.

Nice. And it’s out in October?
I think the premiere is October 2nd.

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Excellent. Thanks for doing this, man. Hopefully people will be stoked on it.
Hopefully people don’t think it’s my retirement interview. I’m, like, Fuck, I’m already getting all of these questions?

Westgate photo10 750pxWestgate ollies in and walks the plank on this devil of a drop in. Arghhhh!