Cody Chapman's "Bubble" Interview
Cody recently put down the bottle and filmed a hellacious Lakai part. Rye Beres hits up his good homie to chat about Uma’s origins, art inspirations, mental-health and busting for Bubble, as seen in the July ’23 mag.
Powering through with the penultimate part, Cody makes his mark in this must-see from Lakai
In your last interview we left off with you hinting at a new board brand, so how did Uma come to be?
Uma started with a phone call. Evan called me randomly. He didn’t really give me any details, he was just very straightforward and was like, Yo, I’m thinking about starting this company and I’d be super stoked if you’re a part of it. We want you in. If you don’t wanna do it then we’re probably not gonna do it, so what do you think? And I was like, Well, fuck. When do I have to decide? And he was like, I’ll give you a couple weeks to figure it out.
You were already off Doomsayers at that point, yeah?
Yeah, I was just free flowing. I was buying boards or getting hand-me-downs from friends. Luckily, everyone I know is sponsored and they were fuckin’ blessing me. So I wasn’t getting boards and Evan knew that. He was doing the Grimple thing, so he was kinda floating as well. And yeah, he just gave me a call and said I had two weeks to decide. Then two weeks went by and I called him and said, Fuck it, let’s do this.
Raven Tershy was supposed to conduct this interview. Wonder how he would’ve captioned this photo? Probably something like, “Gwaaaannnn!!!” Nose press grab, pop and drop Photo: Papke
Were you and Evan homies at that point?
We were super tight. We met on that Spitfire trip right after I turned pro for Doomsayers. We went on that trip and that was the first time we really connected and became homies. We kept running into each other after that, too. He was in the Bay when he was filming for that Grimple shit, so we were hanging out. Our relationship wasn’t much compared to what it is now, though. Now we pretty much talk every day.
And when someone like Evan calls you up to start a board brand, are you speechless? Are you tripping a little bit?
I mean, obviously you’re tripping. It’s Evan. I didn’t realize how famous Evan is until we started this shit. Everyone knows that fool. Especially because of the King of the Road and Vice shit. He’s popular. People that don’t even skate are like, Oh, you’re Evan Smith! But of course I was definitely shocked. Why would he call me out of all people? I’m kind of a curve ball, that’s for sure. But I’m so thankful for Evan. He’s put me in the best position I could be in in skateboarding right now. So yeah, I was hella nervous and I didn’t know him that well but I’m super stoked where I am now.
“If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” Cody free birds into the night sky—crooked cop Photo: Ballard
I feel like a few of you weren’t 100 percent on the name Uma at the beginning.
Yeah, we definitely weren’t 100 percent on the name. It was a mix up at first, for sure. But now, Uma is pretty fuckin’—it’s easy to remember. It works.
That’s how it is with any brand, you know? You think when Baker was starting up—or any of these well-known brands—they knew if the name was even gonna stick?
Of course, yeah. You’re gonna stress on a name. But that’s the thing—everyone’s always gonna have an opinion. Hella people probably don’t like the name and hella people do, but that’s just life. That’s anything and any situation, you know? There’s gonna be doubts and all you can do is just keep going. But I feel like we’ve built the name to be something as a team and as a family.
The front foot came unstuck but this lofty back three still came around. You just never know
Well, I think no matter what the name is, you see a brand and you can tell—you’re like, Oh that’s actual friendship.
And that’s what we’re going for. That’s all we wanna do is just skate with our friends every day and meet up with homies and travel. That’s the goal. And luckily we can all meet up with each other, be idiots, blow it and laugh it off the next day and know that we’re doing this shit.
Yeah, and then get some bangin’-ass footage.
And yeah, get bangin’-ass footage, ’cause we have Roman and Evan and we’re the nuttiest. And then Maité Steenhoudt—everything she does looks great. Styler. But yeah, let’s just say when you’ve got Evan on the road and the crew together, clips are coming together.
There’s a skate stopper in the middle of this rainbow ledge. Did we just ruin the clip? Eh, fuck it. Backside 50-50 Photo: Hernandez
Oh yeah. Good vibes always, dude. Come on.
Always. Energy’s high, dude. The Uma van is hot. There’s a lot going on in there.
What do you think Maité thinks of all you guys?
I feel like she’s just a lover, you know what I mean? She is just stoked on really anyone. If you can match her energy and keep up with her, she will go with you nonstop until she passes out. Then wake up and repeat. So I think she likes us. I think it’s fam, you know? She is just living her life, dude. She’s stoked.
I think it’s great how art and music and that whole world really drives Uma, you know?
Hell yeah. We’re all into different shit and we get to put our brains together and do that. Evan is such a good musician.
Uma might be a silly name, but this kickflip is deadly serious Photo: Hernandez
That’s another thing that’s so amazing and fun about those trips, is the level and outpouring of creativity. It’s like you guys are playing music or you’re drawing in all the books. Fuck, man, it’s so rad.
Yeah, we’re definitely passing around the sketchbooks all day in the van and drawing on shit. That’s the funnest part, you know? We’re just drawing on everything, making music.
I don’t know if y’all get this feeling, too, but I feel like sometimes people see the Uma team and think you guys are a little messy at times.
Oh, that’s for sure.
So, I gotta ask, how long have you been sober now? Six months?
Not that long. Like four. But yeah, I took a little break from drinking.
Stumped on what trick to do? Dump trucks are always a go Photo: Hernandez
And what lead to that?
Pretty much just burning a lot of good bridges. It’s just a reality check in life. I was partying a lot, burning bridges with people because of drinking. I wasn’t eating. I don’t know. I don’t wanna make myself sound like a fucking idiot right now.
You’re not gonna sound like an idiot. It’s the truth.
Okay, so pretty much I stopped drinking—first of all to see if I could do it. Because I was an everyday drinker. Secondly, because, like I said, I was burning good bridges due to alcohol and letting that get the best of me. And then you get bummed out or sad or mad about something and your go to is drinking. So instead of not thinking and battling with that, I was like, Oh, let’s actually deal with these emotions and see what’s up and see if how I react is me or the alcohol. And since I’ve stopped drinking it’s kinda crazy how much good shit’s been happening. Since I stopped drinking, life’s been fuckin’ coming together real well. And it’s not that I’m an alcoholic or nothing like that. I was still productive; I still got shit done; I just thought it was time to tighten up. But physically, too—I wasn’t eating and I was just emotional and needed to get my appetite back and get back on the program. My body was aching. I was getting to a point where I couldn’t skate unless I had a couple beers in me. And that’s just a shitty one—you wake up feeling like shit and you’re only way out is back in, and I didn’t want that. So here we are, 100-and-something days sober.
Straight up and over the famously crusty Con Ed banks Photo: Papke
Dude, that’s fucking amazing.
Yeah, it feels good, dude.
People make alcohol out to be this cool thing, but look at where a lot of our friends have ended up, you know?
Especially me. I’m from Santa Cruz and it’s an easy town to get sucked into drugs and alcohol, and I come from a druggy, alcoholic family. So that’s another path—watching so many friends go down that and coming back home and everyone’s in the same shit. Like, there’s so much going on out there, I didn’t wanna get sucked into that routine. And I didn’t wanna end up how my fuckin’ folks were, you know? Luckily my folks are sober and shit now, but watching that, it definitely was an eye-opener where I saw myself kinda getting there and I was like, Okay, fuck that. I’m better than that, you know?
But look at you now, dude. You’re doing good. You got all these photos and this is your first big interview in the mag.
I know. I’m stoked, dude. I gotta thank Papke for making that happen. He called me and was like, I just talked to Burnett. How many photos do you got? Can you get a couple more? I was like, Ahhhh, let’s fuckin’ do this! Gang gang.
So tell me about with this Lakai project you’ve been working on. It’s a full-length video, right?
It’s a full-length, yeah. We were talking like, Should we do a blended video or a full-length? And then everyone just ended up having enough footage—a couple minutes each—that it turned into a full-length. We’ve been filming for it for a while and then within the last like six months we’ve been really like, Okay, we’re doing a video. Everyone’s got footage and everyone’s been fucking getting shit now.
We asked Cody to sketch us a backside flip. We got this steezy photo instead. Not complainin’ Photo: Ballard
Have you guys traveled much for the video?
Yeah, we went on a couple trips and I’ve been hurt on each one. Besides this last trip when we went to Texas, that was the first time I wasn’t hurt. So we’ve gone to Mexico and New York and then we just did Texas and a couple other spots. But everyone’s been kinda grinding on their own, honestly. Then the van’s been driving around LA a bunch.
Rick comes through with a helluva cameo. Front shove to front nose Photo: Papke
Does Rick Howard have any footage for the video?
I’m not gonna say anything. He’s got one clip, I do know that, and it’s a good one. I’m trying to convince him to get another.
Dude, he better.
Hell yeah. We need to get some surf clips of Rick. Fuck it.
Who do you think is the most underrated dude on the Lakai squad?
Underrated? I’d say there are people who are underrated in different ways. I mean, Vincent is underrated ’cause that fool skates more than anyone in skateboarding. He’s Skater of the Year, every year. That fool is underrated but he’s also not. Everyone knows about Vincent so I can’t say he’s underrated.
I feel like Manchild is deeply underrated.
Yeah, Manchild’s definitely underrated. I saw his footage and you guys are gonna trip the fuck out. Everyone thinks Manch is just partying ’cause he’s having a good time and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about him. I love that about him and that’s something that I try to take from him, but everyone just thinks he’s been goofing off. They’re gonna see this shit and be like, Damn, this fool’s been working.
You mentioned drawing in sketchbooks on trips. People might not know this, but you’re kind of an artist, my brotha.
I mean, I draw. I be drawing. I wouldn’t say I’m an artist; I just draw all the time. I always have since I was a kid. My brother’s really good; he’s a comic-book artist.
1-800 Mullets by Manch Collage: Papke
Yeah. Shout out my brother. He rips, dude.
Did he get you into art or did both of you grow up drawing?
My dad was a skater and a punker, a pro skim boarder and shit, so art was always around. I feel like it’s a part of that—music, art and everything. Me and my brother always drew growing up together. I don’t know what really sparked it. My mom was super artistic as well, and my grandma. I remember going to my grandma’s when we moved to Arizona. She bought this house and hand painted the whole inside. Yeah, so I guess just growing up, dude, my family was big on art.
What’s your brother’s name?
Casey Harley Chapman. All of our names start with C, so all of our initials are CC. Check this out: my brother’s middle name is Harley and mine is Davidson, so our middle names together are Harley Davidson.
CHC: Cody Hardflip Chapman. We’re gonna need that birth certificate changed after this one Photo: Papke
No way. What the fuck?
So when I’m riding my motorcycle and everyone’s like, You’re corny. You’re a cornball, I’m like, Nah, I been done this.
Was that intentional or was it a coincidence?
It was for sure intentional. Yeah, dude, my dad was all into that shit.
What type of stuff were you drawing as a kid? Was it like, Oh, I fuck with comic books, so that’s gonna be my thing?
Nah, honestly comic books was my brother’s shit. Now that you bring this up, I guess my brother was the inspiration for me drawing. He would draw these little action-figure-type characters and I’d redraw those. We’d always be drawing the same shit but his always looked way better than mine. So I think my brother is my inspiration.
Grinding a nosepick in a rare graffiti-free pit Photo: Papke
Once you got more into it, were you influenced by specific artists or styles?
Pretty much just moving back to Santa Cruz there was a lot of art and shit in the Bay Area. I don’t wanna say it, dude, but yeah, I was inspired by graffiti. Dammit. But I’m not a graffiti artist.
Not all graffiti is how most of the world sees it. Barry McGee comes from a graffiti background and look at where he’s gone.
I feel like I went through phases, dude. I definitely got super into Barry McGee and all that shit. But yeah, definitely Bay Area art. There’s a lot of shit around here. And then I kinda got into graffiti and characters. I’ve always done like stupid letters and characters and shit. I guess right when I started smoking weed at a young age I’d just get really baked and just scribble on the page and make all these faces and dumb shit blend together. Stoner art. So my inspiration was smoking weed, I guess.
That’s hilarious. So what’s Cody Chapman looking like right now?
I’m sitting in Santa Cruz in a truck that I just bought two days ago, on the cliffs, staring at the wharf and the boardwalk and the ocean, smoking a spliff. I’m drinking a sparkling water ’cause that’s what sober people do, right? I feel like this interview—I’m a pretty corny person. I don’t have much to talk about.
Pressure flips were a big thing in The City 30 years ago. Cody brings a big one back
You’re like the corniest dude I know. Corny Chapman.
Yeah, that’s my new name.
That’s your sober alter ego.
Yeah, honestly, I’m just smoking so much more weed now that I’m not drinking. I got really baked before this interview.
Hitting new heights at Bobs for Raney’s first photo in the mag. Can we getta C’mown! BSO Photo: Beres
I ate a bunch of Mexican food before this and feel like shit right now.
Oh, dude, I haven’t eaten yet.
Dude, don’t eat Mexican food. It’s gonna fuck you up.
You never know, though. It might be just a game changer.
Let’s end this on a serious note: If there’s a kid reading this interview right now who may be struggling with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues, what kind of advice would you give them?
Honestly, it sounds corny, but just keep going. Life’s so beautiful and we lose so many good friends to stupid shit and it’s such a blessing to be able to stand here right now. There’s always something to keep you moving, be it skateboarding, art, music, just going on a walk, whatever. Just keep your brain moving, hang out with your friends, try your best to be around people. But it’s not easy. It’s not gonna be easy, but just fuckin’ keep going, dude. It always could be worse. You gotta count your blessings.
Is there anything that you feel like you need to talk about or anything you want to say to wrap this up?
I don’t really know, dude. There’s not much going on besides just skating and living that life. Life’s going great. I’m blessed and thankful. I’ve got great people in my life and I’ve got a lot of fuckin’ support.
Well, shit. I love you, Cody. I’m hyped on everything you’ve been doing. I can’t wait to see your part and I’m proud of you, my brotha.
Thank you, Rye. I love you too. I appreciate you and thanks for the opportunity to do this shit. I never in my life would have thought that Thrasher would wanna hit me up for another interview.
Blessed and thankful—what more could you ask for? Off the top rope straight to an ice cold NA. Good on ya, Cody Photo: Papke
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