Chris Russell Interview

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So your sober-ish now. What’s your deal? You seem pretty on point compared to a couple years ago: KOTR 2017, the last Creature video, injuries—a lot of shit happened.
Yeah, man. I broke my ankle the first time after KOTR, then got fat—probably drinking a little too much. Then I broke it really bad the second time. I kind of figured out that wasn’t the route to go.

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What? Partying?
Chuggin’. Especially when you’re hurt and shit. I don’t think everything healed up as proper as it should. I really did it in the second time. I took a break from partying that second time while I was hurt and lost all the weight.

You came back swingin’. That was then and here we are now—kind of night and day. You still party, though?
Yeah, kind of a week here, a week there.

You’re out the door in the next couple days. Where you headed?
Going to Eastern Europe. Just gonna kinda’ pillage over there. There’s a few random little events going on. Nothing crazy, just good times, man.

Who you meeting up with out there?
Bækkel, Greyson, Tom Remillard is going to cruise. A ton of Europe homies.

What are the actual events called that you’re targeting?
Simple Session in Estonia towards the end of January. After that there’s an event in Tampere, Finland. They have a super sick indoor DIY that they built. It’s bad ass! Vert ramp, big concrete, graffiti heaven. They run shows there and everything.

Is it an invite, big cash or just a show of support?
No cash, mostly support. Just break out and dip your toes in something different for the love of it.

What’s been happening Stateside?
I’m down in Ocean Beach, San Diego now. It’s cool, man. I like the vibe down here. There’s a lot more to skate. I like being out of the LA area but it seems like I’m always kind of hopping around. I’m almost never home even when I’m home.
 Russell photo2 750pxFakie ollie footplant over the channel and then back to the prison workout. You don’t become The Muscle by accident

It’s all about duel citizenship—bouncing around, having multiple spots.
Home is where you lay your head, you know?

Describe a normal day in the life at this more mature level you’re currently at.
Wake up—I got a little workout routine I do.

What, like some fuckin’ Jazzercise?
No, more prison workout shit—pull-ups, push-ups, all that. Keep it tight.

You lifting cement blocks?
No, got a pull-up bar at home I fuck with.

No shame in that.
Yeah, for shoulder slams and everything so I don’t keep popping that thing out. Try to keep everything tight and light. Just kinda that: wake up, skate, try to go film a few days a week. You know, casual. Just lurking, doin’ whatever.

 Russell photo9 750pxKeeping it tight and light with a frontside invert over the channel at Bob Gnar’s

What’s up with these new shitty tats? You going for a world record?
Yeah, blast my face next. Might as well. Nah, I just got some thorns on my hands, got some railroad ties behind my ear.

That’s what those are? I thought they were tacks.
Whatever. Nails or whatever they’re called.

Some finishing nails maybe? You got one homie that just works on you?
I got a ton of different people that have done stuff on me.

What’s with that barbwire around your neck?
Do you not know this?

No, why would I?
You mean you have not seen this?

No, I have not seen that by choice.
We haven’t seen each other in a while then.

I was about to ask you who has the worst tats on Creature, but I think you just won!
Oh, thanks, fuck face! I think you’re a close second, dude.

 Russell photo3 750pxFrontside boneless over the board—all up in yo’ face (tats)!

So how did that one come about?
I’m super into tattoos and it’s a traditional way of starting your chest piece, but not so traditional with the barbwire, I guess.

What’s your most regrettable one, besides all of them?
I got this one on my thigh that’s terrible. As funny as it may be, dude, it’s your piece of art on my fuckin’ thigh!

What the hell is it?
It’s a 40-ounce in a bag. The kid who did it never tattooed before. This was back when I was 16. He grabs this tattoo gun my sister got for Christmas and we just start going at it at my house. The kid didn’t know shit. The thing is just all patchy and disgusting.

Wait, your sister got a tattoo gun for Christmas?
Either Christmas or her birthday? I think my parents just got it for her because she really wanted to learn how to tattoo, so they got her some fake skin to tattoo on and a gun and then that obviously transferred over to me and my friends using it.

How old was she when she got it?
She’s two years younger than me, so she was 14.

Damn! Mom didn’t care! Your parents were all about it?
They gave the pass on that one. It was pretty funny. I guess they didn’t think that one through.
 Russell photo4 750pxHe grew up on metal but graduated to concrete—ollie up to front feeble. You can almost hear the coping crumble

Did she ever tattoo you?
No, she never got to that.

Well what was your first tattoo, a Sublime logo?
Yeah, right on the tramp stamp. No, I got the old Tom Knox Black Flag graphic—the cop beater.

Hopefully you don’t ever go to jail.
Yeah, well, they’ll know which side I’m on.

That’s pretty punk for a kid.
My mom watched me get that one.

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a tattoo?
I actually paid a good amount for my inner arm piece. I think it was $450. It was expensive but the guy was a gnarly portrait artist. Six-and-a-half hours worth of work, though. It takes up my whole inner bicep area. It was pricey but worth it.

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Would you ever get a face tat?
No. Face tats on dudes look wack. Face tats on chicks—that’s what’s up.

It’s growing, though. You have them finishing nails behind your ear. 
That’s gettin’ close.
It’s close but it’s not, though. You might as well be a SoundCloud rapper if you’re getting face tats now, dude.

It’s true. No Skeleton Key tats yet?
Oh, I got one Skeleton Key tat on my left leg.

 Russell photo5 750pxNot your typical spot to serve up an egg, The Muscle plants one on the slide before hitting the streets

Is it a portrait of Darren wearing a George Washington wig?
Yeah, in nice lingerie. No, it’s actually one of the OG logos—the chick in a garter belt wrapped around a key.

Well, you seem pretty inspired. Do you have any favorite tattoo artists you want to work with in the future, be it for a board graphic or getting drilled on?
Yeah, I got a new board coming out with my favorite artist right now. His name is Rob Borbas—he’s a super gnarly tattoo artist from Hungary. Yeah, man, he’s doin’ my next board which is sick! I’m just into the dark, gritty, grungy kind of stuff, man. I grew up on metal and punk and all that. It’s kind of 
where all my tattoo ideas come from and all my board ideas.

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So you never had a Sublime album?
No! I was never into Sublime. I hate Sublime.

Well, that was the soundtrack to your general zone growin’ up, right?
It was totally! I was never into that shit, though. I got down with a lot of different type of music growing up, but I kind of shunned the Sublime kind of person.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of what we are looking at in this mag. What trick scared you the most?
Shit, probably the scariest was the tailgrab nosegrind revert at Washington St. I tried it one day for hours and it wasn’t coming through. I was just kind of throwing it away. I knew it was on the horizon and that I could definitely do it. We came back some weeks later and knocked it out. It took awhile, though—like three hours, dude! The one I held onto, I almost over rotated. It shot me straight into the hip. That cradle, man, is a tricky bastard.

What made you think tailgrab nosegrind revert in that thing?
I don’t know, man. That’s a trick I like. I watched Mike Frazier do it when I was a little kid in some old video. I was, like, Fuck, I think that could go down.

 Russell photo10 750pxScraping the chemtrails with an air to fakie at The Yard in Palm Springs

What about some street skating? I’ve seen some clips here and there. I know you got some hybrid shit.
“Got” is an overstatement. Yeah, I’m maybe just figuring it out. It’s rough. I’ve been skating some park rails and stuff. Maybe I could front lip something pretty big out there. It’s calling me, but it’s still pretty fresh. I’ve only been riding rails the past few months. It’s fun, man! You just get smoked on ’em, dude. It’s a whole different animal. Mad respect to all the rail warriors.

Who are some of your favorites to watch on the street side?
Milton is a fuckin’ maniac. The guy is just unstoppable! That guy does not get scared. 
He doesn’t hesitate. I love watching Nick Boserio. He skates street how I would like to skate street: it’s not something super technical, but it’s fast and pissed off. That, to me, is the best shit—the aggression and going fast at something and getting a really rad line.

What about your arena—some pool-block destructors? The past couple years brought a slew of new dudes that can really lay it down in the parks and pits.
The list goes deep. Everybody’s got their own little thing goin’ on which I dig a lot. Nobody’s really heard of him but J-Worth is probably the best backyard pool skater I’ve ever seen. The last few times I’ve gone out with him my mind has been melted. Cory Juneau is on the list. I really like to watch him skate. I love Pedro Barros.

 Russell photo6 750pxHe’s on the straight and narrow but occasionally gets a little twisted—switch loop in Wonkaland

Who’s your main competition out there in the Park Series? Pedro?
Yeah, Pedro. He’s the dominant force. Zion, he’s probably the most athletic skater I’ve ever seen. He skates street so good then he shows up to the park and he’s skating better than almost everybody there too! It’s something to be reckoned with. I love Zion. He’s an inspiration to watch.

You have a few of these scheduled contest events a year, right?
Yeah.

Where will you go from there? Has the Olympics called yet? How do you feel about that?
I like competing, man. It’s pretty fun. I think it can get old if the format doesn’t change or evolve with what we’re doin’. What I’m really worried about is kids coming in, training, training, training, you know? Don’t get one photo in the mag or give a shit about filming a part—won’t go out there and bleed for the sake of skating, won’t go out and suffer. That’s the thing I see a lot more—not thinking they got to do shit but go skate a contest and train. People are going to look at the Olympics and think that it’s the end all of skating.

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Fuck it, all you really have to do is not watch it. Back to the real world, what’s Russell like to do when he’s not bleeding for skateboarding? You seem to have good taste in dining. Do you consider yourself a good cook?
Yeah, man! I might look like an asshole or a dirtbag but I got some refined taste for some food, dude. I think my mom is solely responsible for that, bringing me up proper. She was always a super good cook. Food was so important to her and she passed it on to me. I can whip it up in the kitchen! We travel so much, too, you can’t be a fuckin’ picky eater. I hate the dudes that just want to go eat McDonald’s when we’re somewhere weird or new. I’d rather go eat a peppered dog turd before I go eat that shit.

Yeah, you can’t eat like a toddler your whole life. That shit will kill you. As you continue on this straight-and-narrow path and doing your mom proud, who is the last person you would want to run into tonight walking the streets of OB to disrupt this streak?
There’s a few. You know what? Greyson does extremely well at draggin’ me into some dark shit! He doesn’t live around here but if that dude popped up in OB you know things would go south quick, and I mean south like Tijuana. I love him. He’s my partner in crime.

Russell Seq1 750pxYoung man, old trick—Chris channels his inner Frazier and takes the tailgrab nosegrind revert to the top rope at WSVT. Not bad, kid. Not bad at all

What’s happening in the depths of Creature? You think I would know but it’s so vast these days. Can you leak any info on a new vid in the works?
Man, I don’t know. I think everybody is collectively working on something themselves. I know Milton is about to drop something; I know Gravette is about to drop something; Kevin is working on something. Everybody is kind of in full throttle and I think it’s rad—everyone is on their own mission. We got pillagers all over the world. It’s so fuckin’ big it’s turned into an army and everybody is holding down their own regions. A ton of stuff is all gonna be collectively dropping in the next year.

What was the last civilian job you had, if any?
When I was 16 I wanted to make some dough on the side so I started working at this restaurant as a host. I’m probably the last person you want to see showing you to your table.

What dive was that?
Nah, they’re cool. I actually still go there. It’s called Martha’s in Hermosa. All I can say is I definitely got chewed out working there.

That’s it then? You never had a paper route or anything?
I don’t think they let kids do that anymore..

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Yeah, that’s probably way before your time. What about ten years from now? What are you going to be looking at?
Hopefully I’m still doing this shit. I’m still young, man! Everybody forgets I’m only 22. I feel like everybody thinks I’m old! Ten years from now I’ll be 32 still doin’ this shit. I think I’m holding it together, dude—a path to longevity.

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