Chris Joslin Interview
Where did you grow up?
In Hawaiian Gardens, California.
I’ve never heard of that. Where is it?
It’s right next to Long Beach. It’s not even a full-square mile. It’s known for its casino. People go there to gamble. It’s not the best place you can grow up.
Kickflip nosegrind— What’s up now, Donald? Photo: Seidler
Have you lived there for most of your life?
Yeah, for 18 years. When I turned 18, me and my girlfriend, who’s my wife now, moved out and went on our own.
What was it like growing up in that area?
It was a quick 18 years. I didn’t spend as much time in the neighborhood because there wasn’t much there for me. The skatepark was really small; I really liked the surrounding skateparks more. Nick Garcia, Darrell Stanton and Scott Kane grew up skating El Dorado. That’s just one of the local parks that we skated.
So there was good skating around there.
Well, if anyone else goes to those parks, they always hate on ’em. I think Torey met me at Eldo one night and he asked me how I skated that place. I was on a program back in the day: I would skate all day and at nighttime I would go there and skate until the lights turned off around 10 pm. Shit was crazy.
You grew up with you mom and grandma. Is that right?
My mom was in rehab until I was three years old and she started to come back around. Grandpa and Grandma raised me for pretty much my whole life. My mom moved in with them when I was about ten years old. She had been sober for about 10 years so they let her live with them again. Apparently, it was bad before she got sober. She slept in the back on a swing. It was gnarly. Once she got sober she had a room in the house again. That was tight.
Your dad wasn’t in the picture?
He died before I had ever met him. It was when I was seven.
So he didn’t live in the house at that point because you were living with your grandparents?
He was in Joshua Tree. I wanna say he was in Bakersfield when he got shot. I met my dad’s parents recently and come to find out there was an autopsy report of the gunshot being from one side of his head but the cop was on the other side of him. There was some sketchy shit going on out there at the time, as well. Ten years later they found out about this and it was too late to do anything about it.
That’s gnarly he got killed by the police.
It’s not so much that they were on a rampage against him. He was found with 2.5mm of dopamine in his system or something like that. He was on meth and drove full force at the cop. He was going to go back to jail for some reason, something about a fight in the trailer park. He didn’t want to go back to jail so he charged at the cops. That’s when they took defense and shot him.
Joslin slows it down with a nollie inward heel Photo: Rhino
That’s heavy. How has it been for you in your life to not have a dad?
It was one of those things where people would say that it’s tragic but it would be more tragic if I had known him for those seven years leading up to that point. Not to say I’m coldhearted or have no feelings, but because of that it gives me a weird warm feeling not to know that feeling. At the same time, it’s all I’ve ever known so you kind of just get used to it.
I guess it’s hard for people to hear that story because they imagine themselves losing their dad and they already have that relationship.
That’s what made me understand it most. Everyone’s reaction to it is tragic and I built an understanding through that over all the years, rather than me feeling it myself. I almost feel bad telling people the story at this point because I see them feel bad.
You don’t want to burden them with that heavy story.
Exactly. I didn’t talk about it until interviews started coming up and people found out that was my story. I was never one to boast about that.
Even though you’re young, you look like you’ve been skating for a long time. When did you realize that you were better than the other kids?
I would never say that but all of my friends were calling it out on me. They would tell me I’m the prodigy child or whatever. This when I was 12. I actually hardflipped the Hollywood 12 at that age but I think it had already been done.
At that age, what’s been done doesn’t matter. When you’re a kid you just
want to huck. So at 12 your hardflipped the 12.
I also ollied the 16. In the footage, I’m in the air and say, “What’s up, Donald?” because my buddy Donald who skated the park told me that I wasn’t gonna touch the 16. When I did it, I had to make sure to let him know, just to be a little shit.
Oh snap! Fakie bigflip to tail drag Sequence: McGuire
Do you still kick it with Donald?
Nah, he doesn’t skate anymore, unfortunately. All I really do is skate and chill with my family.
When did you first get sponsored?
Around that time. That footage was my sponsor-me for Powell. I had buddy, Steven Ban, and he skated for Powell Peralta at the time. He was two-or-three years older than me. When I was 14, he showed the footage to Deville and we went skating with him. We went to the Albertsons’ rails but there’s a drop-in gap that Curren Caples had a sick kickflip down back in the day. I tried to hardflip it in front of Deville but I didn’t land it. I broke my board and had a heel bruise. He was just down so I started skating for Powell at that point. I got a box of three boards and thought it was so tight.
I remember my first box only had one board and I was so hyped.
I still love getting boxes.
At any rate, when did you start jumping off stuff?
As a kid, I didn’t have the most pop. I still don’t have the most pop. I could do a 360 off of a ledge before I could do it on flat. That was how I learned flip tricks. I’ve always known how to slow tricks down. As a kid, doing tricks off of things made them easier.
Do you think you skated more than most kids? The things you’re notorious for is doing tricks really quickly and consistently. Do you think that’s because of how many hours you put in?
Yeah, more so routinely practicing.
Was it practice or was it something that you liked to do? Was it a conscious effort?
I learned a lot through skateboarding: confidence, determination—I didn’t even know I was practicing. I was so young that I just thought it was fun.
You have a burning drive. Where does that come from?
I think that runs pretty deep, back to childhood. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years. I grew up around a lot of older people. I don’t like partying. It’s the fact that it’s the only thing I’ve ever known. When you find something you’re good at, you really pursue it. I was never too good at a lot of things. I played baseball; I played basketball; I was in taekwondo for three years but none of that was good for me. I found a love for skateboarding and that just took me. Every day I had the skatepark to go to. It was all that was on my mind. Maybe I didn’t want to be home.
No liquid courage necessary on this non-hammered hammer—bigflip Sequence: Karpinski
Did you feel like part of it comes from trying to prove to someone that you were worth something?
I was talking to a buddy recently about how I didn’t grow up with a father figure and how when my friends would call me golden boy, that recognition was sick.
Like you needed it.
Yes, like I was lacking that.
I think you’ve put out ten parts in the past two-to-three years. A few of the videos have over a million views. Kids like to watch you jump down shit. There’s not very many people that have shined so bright in such a short amount of time. Didn’t you do an Etnies part in a month?
Yeah, we did.
What drives you to be able to do that?
I really don’t know.
That’s a few tricks a day to do that in a month.
I kind of just built my confidence up. If anyone asks me, I’m not going to decline it. For anything in life, if you go into it with the thought of completing it, 99 percent of the time you’ll succeed. I’m 21 years old and I just had my first kid. I’ll be honest with you, that is not something I thought would be happening a few years ago. When it happened and the opportunity came around, I was like, “Let’s do it.” I’m only going to succeed if I try. For me, at least, if I just have confidence, I’m just going to do it.
So basically you had confidence in everything you were going to do for these parts and just did them.
The month we filmed that Etnies part in, it was planned. If we could do it in a month, let’s do it.
You’re the first guy to do that in a month. I’ve filmed a lot of video parts and that’s not normal. There’s the video part that was going to be your LRG part but it was filmed in 12 days in China.
That trip was based off of it being first LRG trip, which ended up being my only LRG trip. That didn’t work out.
Heading down the right road with an overhead heelflip Photo: Seidler
Since we’re there, why didn’t that work out?
I was 19 and at that age I wasn’t so good with alcohol. I had a couple trips where I was probably pissing people off; I’m not going to lie. I remember skating to a spot, hitting a crack and broke a bottle of beer, cutting my whole arm open. They’re probably looking at me like I’m a fucking idiot.
So you were drinking that much on the trip and getting all those tricks?
I was hammered every day of that trip.
You can skate hammered?
I did at the time. The only time I skated a kinked rail was in Sacramento and I Smith’d it. I had three Pacificos before I did it and it gave me the liquid courage. I left my grandma’s house at 18; I was out on my own at 19. I felt like I had a lot of weight on my shoulders at the time and wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know how to deal with it and turned to alcohol for a bit. The good thing was that it got to a point where we would go to signings and demos, just getting drunk and skating. I was also going out of the country a bunch. It was a whole mixture of things.
Well, you can drink in most of those countries at 18, right?
Yeah, and I kind of have a past of this. I went down the wrong road for a couple of months, chose to hang out with the wrong people in eighth and ninth grade. I stopped drinking hard from 16 to 18. I went on my first DC trip when I was 16. I went to Madrid with them and Copenhagen for a week. In Copenhagen, I remember waking up in a Shell gas station one morning after taking shots at the bar with Boulala and Dollin. It scared the shit out of me to drink for a bit. Fuck that. I don’t want to wake up at a gas station and not know where I’m at. I refuse to go back out there.
You don’t want to get stuck in the same black hole?
Nope. Plus I’m not good at having one or two drinks and just chillin’.
Do you think that runs in the genes?
Yeah, I have a highly-addictive personality. When I found skateboarding, it was like an addiction.
I’m twice your age and it’s cool that you’re figuring these things out already. You’re obviously at a point where you’re married and have a kid—
It doesn’t only hurt me now.
There’s more at stake.
You can lose a lot more. I was scared to go on rollercoasters for the longest time because the stakes were so high. Now that I have a kid, I’m going on ferris-wheel rides again.
You’re filming for a new Etnies video, Album. There’s rumors of you and El Toro.
I tried tré flips and landed on it multiple times. I broke three trucks in one day. Broke the first one, wheel bite, landed on my hip. Had another complete ready, same thing happened. Genius Devin pointed out that I had two good trucks, so I put those two together and I bent the truck on the roll away. If I was to do it, I would have to go back. Technically my truck bent and bent out of frame. My back was breaking. The powerslide of the roll away made me come off of my board. But had my trucks not broken, I would’ve rolled away.
While the kids at home are screaming “Lyon!” Chris is out kickflipping multiple rails. Who’s winning? Photo: Seidler
Are they going to use the semi roll away?
Probably not. I gotta go back.
I was there at the Sports Arena triple set for that contest. You did a big spin first trick?
Tré flip was first. The big spin was first try, though. I got lucky. Big spins have become a first-try thing over the last few years.
Do you back 180 first or just big spin?
Ollie and then big spin. It’s muscle memory. Around the time I tré flipped the Davis gap, that’s how tré flips were for me. That’s a reason why I haven’t gone back to El Toro to do the tré flip. Maybe I should try to big spin it because of the battle in my head.
You have to do both.
Fuckin’ right? Why stop there? Kids are commenting to kickflip the Lyon 25. Slow down, everybody. Jaws ollied it and now they want me to kickflip it? They can’t just let shit live.
You’ve been known for doing flip tricks really fast. Like the big spin on Sports Arena, you clipped the last two stairs.
I think I clipped one stair on the tré flip and two on the big spin.
Did you care?
Nah. That was a cool day. I had to drive down to SD and I was stuck in traffic for, like, thee hours. I got there as the triple-set contest started. I didn’t even get to skate the double set. I had to ollie the triple for a warm up.
At some point in the past few years that you’ve had a few ACL mishaps. What’s the story there?
Oh, man. It was a misdiagnosis. It was the ligament next to the ACL but the doctor told me I pretty much had torn my ACL. I was wearing this crazy knee brace. The knee cap had been dislocated as well. The muscle structure brought that back to place and it happened to chip the knee cap. They showed me X-rays and everything. That’s another thing that made me believe that it was my ACL.
No trucks were hurt on this backside 360 kickflip Sequence: McGuire
When did you figure out it wasn’t your ACL?
Long story short, a doctor waited a year to tell me how much I owed them. Dude waited a year and told me I owed him two grand. I was 18 at the time, not making much money. I kind refrained from contact for a couple of months. He ended up lowering it to $1,400. Around that time, I started working with my manager and he had to get involved. I ended up paying $1,900 and called it quits there. I never went back to assess that. That year I did the physical therapy and over the years got my knee strong as fuck.
You were back to skating and you didn’t even care about it.
My right knee is chillin’ now. I actually had to do a bunch of physical therapy on my left to compensate from before. Now my right ankle has spurring. I probably have arthritis in my spine.
What’s next? Do you want to make video parts until you can’t? Do you even care?
I want to make enough money to retire happily. That’s exactly what’s on my mind right now.
What do you mean by retire happily? Buy a house? Pay for everything—
When I can’t skate, I want to make sure I have enough money to support my family until I’m dead.
Do you have any other passions in life, like business or anything else?
Since I’ve been injured and have a kid, I’ve been trying to learn the piano or play the guitar. I’ve been trying to write poetry in a way. I like rap, but I don’t sound good rapping. So when I write some of this shit, I send it to a friend of mine and my wife just to say it. Just because I can now. She’s pretty stoked on it but one day it’ll be something cool. Right now I just don’t have the confidence in it.
You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you have plenty of time to figure it out. If you had any last words to any kids jumping down stuff like Chris Joslin, what would you tell them?
You’re only going to survive if you get these shoes when they come out after this video. Just kidding. Even outside of skateboarding, just make the right choices. You’ll know when you’re making mistakes.
The Golden Boy stands all alone in the fakie flip zone Photo: McGuire
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