David Langston's "Water Spirit" Interview
Under the influence of Nate Broussard and Guru Khalsa, David became a classically-trained Southside kid. Armed with his homegrown arsenal and some boxes from Alien he ventured West, only to return home a year later. Back in the Lone Star State and with a full-time gig, he hit his stride alongside the revamped Roger crew. With three parts under his belt in two years, I called him up to see how he became so prolific in Texas and what’s the hell’s up with all these river clips.
David backs up his Rogers, hopping Austin's sets and gettin' soaked in the process
How's it going, David?
I'm pretty good. Just watching some videos on the site.
Thank you for your service. I’m always psyched when I can talk to the Roger camp. You all have done an amazing job.
I was just telling my buddy Izzy that we're coming up on 20 years since Wizards of Radical.
That’s insane. I think I still have a DVD. Well, on the eve of this new video, I want to get into it. You have another part, which is your third or fourth part in two years. I don't see how you're this prolific. I heard that when you're on a session, you'll regulate your clip getting so that you’re not totally hot-doggin’ the session—you might wait to land a trick, just so you can stay in the session.
I guess in a sense, that sounds weird to do, but I want the dudes around me to stay stoked. A lot of the time we end up in a position where it’s like, Well, shit, if I land my trick then homie’s about to just skate on his own. So then I might just go through the fun stuff. And then after some time I’d try what I’d get for the clip. I’m not necessarily sandbaggin’ it everywhere I go. Sometimes that'll happen to me where it's flipped, where everyone else finishes their stuff and now I'm the last one left. So, it's just cool to have someone kind of on the same page as you when you're on a sesh like that. It’s just reading the room, though.
Alley-oop backside flip over 13, probably just wanna land that once Photo: Millar
If someone's trying to work on a boardslide, you don't want to kickflip back lip second try. It's a weird-ass look.
And there's no rush on any of that stuff. I'm not like super hungry for my clips or something. I just want to have a good, fun session.
I also heard that you will land tricks that are clip worthy, and then you'll do them again for fun on the same session.
I grew up skating with this dude Eric Visentin, who runs Southside now. He used to always pick me up when I was a kid. He kind of had this thing where if we’re filming something, and I come back over or I have to ask if it was good enough, he’d just tell me, If you have to ask, you're not stoked on it. Just go up and do another one. You're already totally primed up for it. So I've just always had that mentality where I don't even want to see the clip, if I’m maybe not stoked on it. I kind of feel like I should just go do it again—depending on how gnarly it is.
That's a good philosophy: if you have to ask, just get back up there. I heard you were just in London. What brought you there?
It was just a homie trip. Ryan Thompson goes out there pretty often. I’ve been working a lot and saved up some money so we could get out of town.
It seems like you guys all travel a lot and also all work full time.
Working hard so we can play hard, you know?
This is now a more common question than it used to be, but what is your job outside of skating?
Lately, it's been a lot more flexible than it had been. Previously, I had worked nine to five doing a lot of different jobs. I was doing art handling for a while and a lot of carpentry work. I worked in the fabrication shop at the Children's Museum in Houston. It was getting kind of difficult to go on trips like I wanted to, especially at the museum. Then last year, Copenhagen popped up and they weren't gonna let me take my vacation. It was a two-week trip and we had a one-week-max vacation time. So I just put in my two weeks before that, used up my vacation and went out there. Then I've just been doing carpentry jobs, some remodeling and now window tinting with my buddy Austin. He hit me up and he needed help. It's kind of a cool gig. He likes to do the same thing—work hard and then take some time off. We'll go work three weeks straight up in Dallas or something and then take two weeks off. It's just been nonstop lately because I'm working on the road.
Take this gap and shove it. Or in this case, nollie front heel it Photo: Makar
So where do you live?
Technically, I live in Austin now. I work all over the place around Texas, Southern Texas mostly. I’ll go on a little skate trip here and then end up in Austin maybe a weekend a month. I haven’t been able to sleep in my own bed very often, but I get to travel now. I just did almost two weeks in London and now I’m in SF about to skate Waller.
That is the correct way to do this. So you're from Houston. You live in Austin. You work in Dallas. You get around your humongous state quite a bit and I’m sure skate with people all over. Who are some of the bigger figures from Texas that people should know about?
Growing up, like 2000-2002, I was showing up at Southside and you had Nate Broussard, Guru Khalsa, Trace Saylor, Philip Wagstaff—those are some local dudes. Darrell Stanton would pop in and out every so often. But seeing Nate and Wayne Patrick fly around Southside when I was a kid was super inspiring. Nate always had the Toy Machine knuckle board and would frontside flip over our heads on the pyramid, just so stylish. Him, Guru and Darrell were dudes I looked up to growing up. It's been pretty cool to get to know those guys as I as I've gotten older. We see Guru around and Wayne every so often. Haven’t seen Nate in a while, but he’s doing good. We're all just getting older and priorities change.
Sailin' a big kicky in the parking-lot wasteland, now that's radical Photo: Millar
Which makes all the footage you guys put out pretty impressive. If Nate was your hometown hero, was Bueno a big company for you?
We were absolutely stoked when Wizards of Radical came out. I was just sitting here with Izzy flipping through old Bueno graphics. We’ve always been big fans of Sieben. I think everyone down south is. Bueno was something that we related to. To us, it was huge. People in our scene making it feels like we all made it. We are always bugging Sieben about how nostalgic we are for those Bueno days and those graphics. He might not want to go back to an older style, but we're all so nostalgic for it.
With a few tweaks, this bank could look like a cool Bueno graphic. Ride-on noseblunt, right between the eyes Photo: Khalsa
You want a big half skull on the board.
Yeah, and all his kind of stringy, sketchy figures that he used to draw all the time. He would do these figures on stained wood panels. Me and all my friends remember and would love to see that style on boards again. It's been super cool working with Sieben lately. He’s a really prolific guy. He's been a huge catalyst for everybody here. I mean, that's why I set up a homebase in Austin, just so it pushes me to be there more often. It kind of brings down the barrier to entry of getting on the session.
It seems like all you guys are really hard workers. Three of the hardest working people I know are from Texas. Mike Burnett, Michael Sieben and Ted Barrow all seem to have inexhaustible minds. I think something’s in the water down there. Was the little kid in you stoked to see Sieben get a full part together for this video?
They kept it pretty low-key for a while, even among our crew. I didn’t see it ‘til the premiere. It’s kind of unbelievable to have a part in a video with Sieben. It's so cool. We’re totally geeked out on that.
So as for skaters from your area, Guru, Nate and Ben Raybourn, they all had to go to California to pursue skating. Did you ever have hopes of making it on the Coast?
I actually moved to LA for a year in 2011. I was living with my buddy Matt. I was riding for Alien at the time. Chad was hooking it up. Guru lined that up for me. That was right after Mind Field. Things were going well there. I think I was just a really shy kid at that point. Going out there, the sessions are a little bit different. You kind of go on missions and worry about what's been done. I was feeling maybe a little bit overwhelmed by how serious everyone seemed to be taking it. And it had never really been that for me. I remember telling my buddy Carter that I didn't want to have a NASCAR board. I just felt cringy about the whole thing. It always felt kind of cringy to put stuff out with my name on it, as if it’s some kind of flex. I went for it a little bit, we filmed a pretty cool video and I ended up just moving home after a year. I wasn't really sure what to do with myself. Skating didn’t feel like it was it. Maybe if I had been in the van with somebody, which I would say, that was on me to get in the van. I didn't really find the appreciation for the opportunity until a little while after that. So I definitely had some regrets around not taking it more seriously when I had good opportunities when I was young. I remember going out with Rhino when I was maybe was 18. We had talked about putting something together for the mag and all that was just so intimidating. I just backed off from it. It wasn’t until things fell apart around COVID that I got really back into skating and tapped in with the Roger dudes.
Crooked grind in the river-ready attire Photo: Millar
Triple angles, just in case Photo: Millar
I think with a few more years hindsight, you'll see that it was a good move.
Yeah, some of the best years of my life were after I moved back from LA and just strictly had fun with my friends. For so many years, it was really a wonderful time in my life. I was living in a skate house with a miniramp in the backyard. Then I started to understand a little bit better about hopping on opportunities once those opportunities ceased to exist. I had a little bit of a late start, but I have a pretty strong work ethic now and I know I'll be fine no matter what I want to do. I've gotten pretty lucky—just a lucky guy in general. I feel so lucky to have such good friends.
It's not just luck. I mean, you don't get good at skating just by chance.
That’s just from pure love of it. I've had this dumb little phrase in my head. Like, a little kid will come up and say something about, Dude, you're ripping. I just have this funny thing I say, "It's fun to rip.” So what I’m saying is, I hope you continue to rip and it just gets more and more fun.
You can tell how much fun David's having by how hard this switch heel is Photo: Davis
You're still a jumper, which is fucking crazy. If I do the math, you're 34, so two years ago you frontside flipped a 13 stair when you were 32 years old. Is that right?
The one that was in the Sucker Punch? Not to count stairs, but it was a 14.
Oh, I'm so sorry. It’s even bigger than I thought!
There's a 14 out here that I tried to skate multiple times. We might end up going over there and seeing if we can just get this trick. I just watched Zane Timpson's Heroin Sufferlove part, and he front threes the Lincoln 14.
That set almost killed Jerry Hsu.
I don't know if I'd say it's unfortunate, but those are the kind of spots that get me stoked. I don't know why. I've always had fun jumping. We didn't really have great ledges in Houston and Austin. We never had a plaza. We never had a meetup spot like a Muni. We didn’t have handrails or hills. So I’d just go to buildings and jump down the stairs that are in front of them. We're just like a parking-lot wasteland, so you just jump between parking lots and off stairs.
If you want to go to Wallenberg, I think we could help you out.
We already tried to do that this this weekend. I wanted to go skate Wallenberg, but they were all going to Death Match and the trick I wanted to do just got done supposedly, so I gotta figure something else.
Channeling the water spirit Photo: Makar
Dylan Jaeb, he’s a hell of a talent. There's still tricks for you, I’m sure. As long as it’s not frontside 360.
Yeah, ABD regular and switch. I got one in mind, though.
So you found your love for filming parts again. It seems like the Roger operation is building up. Looks like you have some new distribution?
We just got hooked up with HLC distribution. They’re setting up a shop in Hutto just above Austin. They’re also set up in Spain, so we have European distribution. Then going to the new distributor pushed Sieben to have a larger catalog. We had been doing larger runs with fewer graphics. I think we’re switching a little bit to make more graphics. So we just dropped a quick strike, like a smaller drop just get the boards out. I’m skating samples right now, but I’m really stoked for our future at Roger. We’ve got some cool ideas for video projects. I think we might go to the Vladimir Film Festival next year in Croatia. So we have some trips in mind. I’m not askin’ about the numbers too much, but I feel like things are continuing to get better. I hope people like this new video coming out.
A brand is basically graphics and videos, and you’ve got a good combination of both.
Yeah, it’s great excuse to have some fun.
The lofts ain't just apartments here, kickflip out to the street Photo: Makar
Well, getting into the part, this an amazing clip where you back 180 over a bar. You look like a skater that could’ve been anywhere in the last 20 years, but you get mobbed by these kids and one of them has a huge beanie on that looks like he came from a Slipknot concert in 2004.
It was in Dallas where 4Down has a skatepark out there. They do a bunch of fundraising for the community. They give out food. They had a miniramp at the fairgrounds. We were cruising around and I saw this spot at the fairgrounds. A bunch of kids from the event came over and were trying to ollie the three stair. And then we gave that kid a board because he was a Roger. He was a Roger if I ever saw one.
Is it funny to see the kids dress like we did when we were kids?
Yeah, it’s super cool! That kid was so funky! There’s a lot of personality. Maybe it’s what he’s seeing in the scene. People are going a little baggier, which is cool. We were just impressed by his kit.
What about an impressive kit? Photo: Millar
I love to see it. I wonder if they listen to Prodigy on Spotify. There’s something about seeing time warp in on itself where they could just be in the disposable camera pictures we took as kids.
Yeah, do you remember that clip of Tom Penny skating a miniramp at a contest? He does a full-Cab late shove and an indy in the baggiest shit you’ve ever seen. That’s what it reminded me of a little bit. I think that kid found some identity in skating.
So in this video, Water Spirit, you skate into some kinda beautiful urban rivers. Like one that looks like it’s at an office building, it looks pretty shallow!
That one was maybe waist high. Like, don’t dive, but you’ll be alright if you slide when you bail. We showed up after a full day of skating and everybody just wanted to swim. It was just the perfect platform to skate off, so how can you resist?! I liked the idea of actually trying to land a trick into it and put four down.
What do you do with your board after it goes in?
I think that board was actually still fine. I just put bearing lube in my bearings and kept that running. I think the last trick was on a fresh board, though. It's actually kind of scary. That was the only try I went for on that one. It was kind of sketchy.
A brand new board is a small price for an ender. Ollie in, ollie out Photo: Makar
Yeah, kicking out and rolling your ankle is a real possibility. It’s always hard to find a suitable ender.
There's something with enders these days that where we’re not trying to push skating any further than it already is. I mean, I'm happy with skating 20 years ago. It doesn't need to go much further for me. I was joking with Calvin when we were editing and I was just saying, “Yeah, we don't even know what's cool anymore. Maybe we should just let Cosmo edit the video.”
Cosmo approved Photo: Makar
Yeah, let the kids have a swing. I’m sure it would be a banger. So where do you go from here? What are your hopes and dreams? Are you trying to buy a house? Are you trying to get a shoe contract?
I’m just trying to enjoy my skating and enjoy my life as it is, while it is.
That’s the most zen thing I’ve ever heard.
I mean, I’m 34 and I'm not so worried about the age, but I know that the window is closing for when I can jump down a 14 stair. Not that I even want to do that necessarily, but I want to enjoy where I’m at. I’ve skated for 23 years and it’s never been a job. My body feels good and I’ve got plenty of friends, so I’m just gonna keep running it.
Well, we'll keep tuning in.
Why would you fakie flip a 12 in your 30s? 'Cause it feels good. Once again, thank you for your service, David. Can't wait to see the next part in a few months Photo: Millar
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