Jack O'Grady's "SQUISH" Interview
Jack stayed on the road or in the air almost the whole year. After he moved to LA, nabbed the front and stacked a mountain of clips, we caught up with the international playboy to see how he made 2023 one for the books. Don't wanna be the DCOTY? Read up.
Covering four continents, Jack's new part is undoubtedly mandatory viewing from the Pass~Port catalog
Yo, what’s up, c-nt?
Hey, what’s going on? Wait, what did you say?
I said, “What’s up, c-nt?” Sorry, it feels unnatural for me to say that, but I gotta take the opportunity when I can.
No, it’s alright. Say it as much as you want. Watch out around your wife, though, you might get in trouble.
Burnett mentioned that you got hurt. What happened?
It was on the fourth of September. I was skating in SF for my first time, first day there as well. I fractured my kneecap. It sounds really bad, but it's actually not too bad. I was having the best day ever. Me and my friend Raph were there and we had the funnest day ever. Then that night, some of the locals were showing us some hills to bomb or whatever—some SF shizz. I was going down the last hill on the way to the place we were staying. I just got too excited. I ate shit and slid out into a big concrete pillar, then just cracked my kneecap from impact. I didn't do any ligament damage and I didn't break my bone fully, so I don't have to get surgery. The recovery’s pretty much three months anyway, which isn't too bad.
Jack found this rail while searching for an apartment. Kinky back 50-50 before signing the lease Photo: Burkhardt
When can you skate again?
I think I can start rolling around in December. I’m just glad I didn’t do any ligament damage. It’s better doing bone stuff than ligament. So the bone and cartilage is all lined up, which I'm very appreciative for. I haven't been injured for so long, so I was almost like waiting for something to happen, which sounds bad.
It’s bound to happen at some point, for sure. You're just like, Okay, it's going a little bit too good right now. What's this I've seen of you being in a comedy show?
It's from one of my really good friends John Cruckshank. He’s an Australian comedian and electrician. He's electrician by day and comedian by night. He runs his own electrician company called Redfern Electrical. Then he makes clothes, so he’s turned it into something like his own brand. He travels around Australia a lot and has done comedy all around the world. He started filming this series also called Redfern Electrical. It's pretty much just him doing a day in the life. It's funny because you're watching this and obviously it's a comedy, but he's being an electrician, being a tradee and making all these jokes that seem true from his job. I was in the first and second one. He's friends with everyone and I've known him forever. He's been skating in Sydney since day one.
That’s so cool.
Yeah. It just started on YouTube, but hopefully someone picks it up. I definitely think there’s some potential, because there’s so much rubbish on TV these days.
So how are you doing? I feel like you’ve been quite the international playboy recently. Can you go down a list of the places you've traveled to?
International playboy; I would not say that. But yeah, I’ve been around a little lately. I guess it's been like 10 countries, which is pretty crazy. At the start of the year, I was in Sydney, then I flew to Mexico, came back to LA, then we went to Sicily on a WIll Miles trip and also to Marseille. I went back to LA for a Pass~Port trip. I actually flew to Australia for three days to film the Redfern Electrical stuff. Then I flew to London for the 7 Ball premiere and after that, we all went to Copenhagen. From there, I went to Paris with all my friends. Back to LA, then I went to Tokyo and Sapporo for the Hot~Pot tour. Then I went to SF and I’ve just now come back to Australia.
Properly-dipped kickflip. Zor! Photo: Cichy
Since we last talked, you've kind of had a lot of shit come out steadily throughout the year. You've been popping up everywhere. What do you attribute that to?
I’ve just randomly been working on a few different things and they all came out at certain times. Like the 7 Ball Nike video by Will Miles, which happened in the middle of the year. I was just in London like, Yeah, let’s try to film some stuff. And then he just asked me to be a part of it, so I went on trips with them about every two months. Then there were wheels in motion so we did the interview. I’ve just been away a lot, going on trips. I’ve never had a year this busy, but it’s lovely.
That’s a good feeling. So obviously, you have a new video part coming out. What’s up with it and how did it get started?
I just had some footage in LA. My plan was to make it a Pass~Port LA part. I just wanted to work on that for the rest of the year, and film it in America. Then I had some stuff in Europe and I wanted to make a little video with that. Just to keep the European and American stuff separate. There was some Sydney stuff in there as well that I was gonna put with the European stuff. Then after getting hurt, Orion was cool enough to give some stuff for the Pass~Port part. That was really nice of him. I was stressing a bit ‘cause it was two different projects. Sometimes it looks better to keep things in one country together. But then Trent was like, Fuck it, let’s just put it all together. So I said, “Let’s do it.” I didn’t wanna wait ‘til my knee gets better. I’d rather just start fresh when I can skate again. So it’s everything from Sydney, LA, SF, Paris and Copenhagen.
JO on his TA shit—FSO over the ladder Photo: Atiba
Awesome. I heard that England has adopted you as a second son. Is that true?
I guess you could say that. I went to London four years ago for the first time and just became such tight bros with all the guys that lived there. I guess it’s my second home after Sydney, I would say.
That’s rad. So is Europe a country or what?
That meme is amazing!
Who sent you that?
I think it was Will or Eli.
Oh shit. Fuck yeah, it would have been Eli.
Planes, trains and crooks, Jack goes the distance in DTLA Photo: Papke
Is that a real quote?
Unfortunately, yes. That’s from when I was 17 and went on my first Pass~Port trip to Athens. Yeah, I was very unworldly educated, I guess you could say. I’d open my mouth and just get laughed at.
Is that what got you your first DCOTY award?
Maybe. I’m sure there’s other things, too, but I don’t know. It’s self-proclaimed. I feel like I came up with it on some Pass~Port trip and then started calling Callum Paul DCOTY. I just made it up. But then that quickly got thrown back on me and then I guess I got crowned.
Well, for people who haven’t heard about it, can you explain the award?
Well, the award can be given anywhere—it can be in different countries, it can even be in different cities, but DCOTY is Dumbest C-nt of The Year. I pretty much got the crown for Sydney; Riley Pavey has been crowned DCOTY in Melbourne. There’s a fair few in America, I’d say, so there’s a lot of crowns to be given out.
Who would you award the DCOTY to in LA so far?
Probably Jesse Alba, just ’cause he always says it and I say it back at him. But I don’t know; he’s semi-intelligent, I guess. He’s the most sarcastic American I’ve ever met. He just loves Australians and the slang and everything with it. But I think if he went there he’d lose his mind. It would be really good.
Fat lip in Oz, which may or may not be a country Photo: Robinson
A little bit ago, Pass~Port came to LA for a trip. How was that?
Yeah, man, it was amazing. It was so good to have all my bros here in LA. Jesse and Kris showed us around. We went to Ventura for a night and camped out, which was really fun. We went and skated around LAX airport and stuff, just random places I hadn’t really been to. We went to Rancho, where Jesse’s from. I think that’s what it’s called. We went to
all these different places. It was really sick. The lads went in; it was lovely to watch.
I was surprised to hear that Jesse Alba was hired to be the filmer for that trip. I didn’t even know he filmed.
That’s what a lot of people said to me when I told them that he was filming. But no, the man can point a camera, for sure.
So how did moving to LA come about and how’s it going?
It was just a thing that I thought about doing forever. I guess it’s not really a thing I needed to do, but it’s just something that I always thought about and I’m at that age now where I’m just like, Alright, I’m gonna try this and see if I like it or not. It was definitely hard to leave Sydney. I like Sydney, I love all my friends and all my family’s there and I love being there, you know? So it was definitely very hard to leave. But I’ll go back and forth. I’ll go home every summer and who knows? I might end up living in LA for one or two more years. You never know. Sometimes you gotta get out of your comfort zone and try different things.
Did it stem from the classic skate dream kids have of moving to California?
Yeah, most definitely. It might be different these days—skating is evolving so much and everyone’s blowing up and can do their thing where they’re from and stay there, which I think is so sick and I think that’s how it should be. I know sometimes that’s not the case, though. But it was just a dream when I got into skating—I dreamed about skating for a living and thought it would be cool to move to America one day. But nobody asked me or told me to move here, so I can leave whenever I want to. If I get super homesick I can just leave. That thought is comforting to me.
I feel like you’re pretty flexible at this point. You could go back whenever you want. And I agree—skating is a lot more international now.
Yeah, for sure. And I guess with things like Instagram, you don’t necessarily need to be in certain places, you know? It’s so different from back in the day for other people, the OGs.
Would you say LA is less friendly than Australia, or are people more narcissistic?
I feel like people in Australia are way more friendly. I’m not saying that people aren’t friendly here, but I feel like there’s a lot of fake friendliness.
Imagine trying this with a cracked board—this DCOTY did. Boardslide through ’em all Photo: Atiba
Is California different from how you pictured it as a kid watching it in videos?
I guess the thing that’s weird to me, especially in Echo Park, is it can be very crazy living in a place where you’re just surrounded by skaters 24-7. I don’t know if I really like that. I didn’t think it would be that crazy, but it’s like you go and get a coffee or go to get food and you just see all these random pro skaters and stuff. It’s pretty weird.
Who have been some pro skaters the you’ve come across?
Oh, this one is pretty good. I live opposite this manual pad that people skate in Echo Park. The first morning I woke up there, I made a coffee and looked out the back window and saw Andrew Reynolds skating. I sat and watched him skate this manual pad for like two hours. I thought it was so funny—an out-of-towner moves to America and watches Andrew Reynolds skate from his window.
Big O for a big can of Australia's finest export Photo: Burkhardt
Welcome to LA, baby. Eli showed me a pretty ruthless slam of yours. I don’t know if you wanna talk about it, but it’s probably one of the worst ones I’ve ever seen.
Yeah, that’s the worst slam I’ve ever had. I’m still scared to Smith rails because of that. It just fucked up my confidence. I was trying to skate this spot in Redfern that I’d already skated during the day. When my friend Orion and I watched the clip, we didn’t like how it looked. I was like, We can just go back. But the spot’s pretty sketchy. It’s in the housing commission pretty close to Waterloo skatepark in Sydney. There’s a lot going on there and it’s such a dumb idea to go there at night and light it up, but we did. I tried one, got close, then tried one more and I guess I missed because of the light. It’s a nine-stair rail but there’s a gutter before it so you have to go fast and then ollie really early and get on the bottom bit of the rail. I was confident ’cause I’d already done it, so I think I was going a little bit slower than I should have been. And then, yeah, I just clipped it or missed the rail and my legs got caught up and I fell back and hit my head. I guess I was knocked out for a little bit—not too long, maybe 15-20 seconds. I had the wind knocked out of me, too, so I was making funny noises. I hit the fuck out of my back. I obviously didn’t really know what was going on and then I sorta came to. I knew what happened—it’s not like I didn’t remember, but then I was fucked. I was very concussed. Everyone there was obviously very concerned, but I think I was oblivious because I was so concussed. It’s scary thinking about it now but it wasn’t scary when it happened because I was so out of it, you know? They were like, Alright, let’s get him to the hospital, but we had all these lights and shit. So we had to put all the lights in the car and then there were all these junkies walking up and trying to attack me like, Oh, are you alright? It was a fucked area; you shouldn’t be there at night. And then when we were driving to the hospital I kept repeating myself, but I wasn’t aware of it. My good friend Sam Coady—who shot my Thrasher cover—he drove past us on his way home from work. I remember looking at him and not really saying much, but later he told me that I looked absolutely fucked—I was going in and out of consciousness. So we went to the hospital and I felt a bit better. I stayed there for an hour or two. They scanned my head and back and I was fine; I just had a massive hipper. But yeah, it was a very scary one—it was scary for everyone there and the footage is fucking absolutely gross. But it happened and it’s the worst one yet. Now anytime I hit my head I think I freak out a bit. I’m like, Am I concussed? Am I repeating myself? That freaks me out.
Clipping up in Sicily, a good noseslide never gets old Photo: Griffiths
But I mean, yeah, it happens, brother.
Orion must have felt like shit.
Yeah, he did. And then he freaked the fuck out. He thought I was dead. I think his heart stopped and he definitely freaked out. But it’s no one’s fault.
Call me a coward, but sometimes I look at pro skaters and what they have to do for the job—like basically putting their life on the line—and I’m so glad I don’t have to do that. Are you ever like, Fuck, what did I get myself into? I’m about to sack it on a Tuesday type thing?
No, I don’t feel like that. I feel very appreciative of where I am and all the friends I have from skating and who I’ve met. It just is what it is. It’s just what I enjoy. It’s what motivates me and what I like to do. There’s good and bad with everything.
Forget Wilshire, Squish flew 7,500 miles to skate this driveway gap. Ollie Photo: Burkhardt
Yeah, I assume it comes with the territory, and I’d say the good seems to outweigh the bad for most people.
Yeah, for sure.
Do you ever get tired of being classified as Australian and that being the thing that always gets talked about? Do you ever feel like you’re put in put in a box by the skate industry?
Not necessarily. No, I’m proud to be who I am and proud to be Australian, but I guess it’s just annoying when I don’t know someone too well—I mean, I’m in the States and I sound funny to people, but all you guys sound fucking insane to me. So if I’m with my friends and they’re making fun of how I sound, I just make fun of how they sound right back. But then if there’s someone that I don’t really know and they’re like, Oh, what’s up, mate? Or, What’s up, you fucking c-nt? That pisses me off, when you don’t really know me and you’re trying to talk like an Australian just ’cause I’m Australian.
Yeah, I could see how that could be really annoying.
But other than that, no.
So how old are you now, 23?
I turned 24 in August. Fuckin’ old head, eh?
Well, I was gonna ask about that—I feel like you’re at the age now where you have a generation above you but there’s also a new generation coming up behind you. Which do you more identify with, the older or the younger crew?
I don’t know how I feel. I feel young sometimes and I feel really wise sometimes. It just depends on the day, you know? I’m just talking shit when I say old head. I don’t feel like an old head, but I am getting older.
Switch frontside flip or maybe a switch Muska. Praying for the latter Photo: Robinson
I was just thinking about it because sometimes I feel like, Oh, the young kids with TikTok—all they care about is looking wet with their fits, and then I’m like, Oh goddammit, I’m an old guy yelling at a cloud.
You don’t have to be old to talk shit on stuff. You can do that from a young age. But nah, I don’t really think about it. But age is just a weird thing when you think about it anyway ’cause it’s just like, Well, I’m this age now and I’m in this mindset. And then in two years you’re that age. You’re obviously growing and getting older every second, so it’s weird.
Young heads are obsessed with their outfits. Who’s got the wettest fits?
Gotta be Jason Rainbird.
So I heard you’re quite the romantic. What’s a good first date look like for you, maybe concreting a spot or something?
You reckon? Nah, that only happened once, but that was funny.
Let’s hear the story.
I was speaking to this girl for two days just on Instagram; we’d never met before. And then that morning I went to buy concrete and all the stuff to fix a big crack at a spot. I went to get groceries and I was gonna make dinner and then just fix this spot solo. But then this girl, she asked me what I was doing that night. I was just like, Well, I’m gonna make dinner and then I’m going to go to a footpath and put concrete in the cracks so I can skate on it later. And then she was like, Oh, that sucks. Sounds like you’re occupied with your footpath situation. Then I was just like, Fuck, maybe if I just went on a date I could also fix the spot. It was funny because it’s such a random activity. So I was like, You can come if you want. I was just joking around, but she was like, Yeah, I’m down. I can help you out. I was cracking up; I was like, Fuck, this is gonna be so funny. We’d never met; I went and picked her up and then we went to the spot I wanted to skate. I had all the stuff in my car so I just mixed all the concrete up in the back of my truck and then we were just chilling, talking and then I poured the concrete and we were just talking shit the whole time. It was funny; it was so random but it was just an activity which is better than just sitting down and doing nothing.
I bet she appreciated the spontaneity of it.
I think it was pretty funny for both of us. It was cool.
Back 50 transfer into some handy work Photo: Atiba
Did you end up skating the spot later?
Yeah, I did. I skated it three days later and I sent her the clip.
Wow, she got to see the process from start to finish. Are you still with her or no?
No, no. But she’s my friend; she’s cool.
I spy with my little eye a sketchy 5-0—and some shitty graffiti Photo: Griffiths
Were there any big battles or crazy stories for tricks that are in the new Pass~Port part?
The first one that comes to my head is this back 50 I do in East LA. I was with a few of my friends and we just drove past it while skating around. It’s this janky rail that goes between two big apartments and there was a car parked at the bottom. It was a bit shit, but looked skateable. So we came back the next day, and there was big bits of foam stuck onto the rail, like big foam knobs. We were just looking at it the day before, not even with our boards. Also the rail was actually cut. Someone tried to fully fuck it. The foam came right off though. I could wedge the rail into the ground, so it sort of worked. I was thinking, If come back another time, they’re probably going to fully fuck the rail, so I have to do it today. It took a while and this guy came out, looking at us real weird. Then this truck tried to park in the landing. We asked him to move and he was being weird. Then this other guy starts coming down the stairs, to talk to the truck. They never said anything to us, but they just looked at us really weird. The trick took me about two hours. Then my friend Tim was pissing by the car and the same guy from earlier was like, What the fuck are you doing?! Get out of here. So we get out of there. Justin Reynolds was with us, but when he turned around to go back down the block, he looked at the rail and these guys both had hacksaws and they just started cutting out the rail in broad daylight.
It might be a blessing in disguise because now no one else gets to skate it.
Backside 50-50 before the hacksaw closed it down for good
So it’s coming down to the end of the year. Some people call it SOTY season. What are your feelings about people all putting their parts out at the end of the year?
It’s definitely a thing, for sure. Some people have been skating forever and then in the last month everyone comes out of the woodwork. I understand why people do it. I wasn’t in my head at the start of the year like, I’m gonna make this part and bring it out at the start of December . This wasn’t really planned that way. Even that one part wasn’t a thing until about three months ago. But my contract with Nike is up in the middle and next year and I just thought it would be smart to bring out all my footage that I've been working on. It's just like showing my stuff to them. So I wanted to start fresh for the next couple years. I don’t really wanna sit on it any longer. I just want to bring it all out and it just happened to be this time of the year. I’m not saying, Oh, it’s just random. But I’m not gonna bring it out in a month and a half. I might as well bring it out now.
You're a fan of skating. How do you in your head decide on who you would pick for skater of the year?
It's just all on the person, the person's demeanor and just who you think skated the sickest that year. Like when Grant Taylor won it, it seems like he just brought out a sick part and just skated the sickest through the year. It just makes sense. It’s just a natural thing and not all these people going nuts. I think it's just someone who obviously works hard, that's true to themselves, and that's not doing it like a big competition. It’s not like, Who’s the best? If one person is doing all this crazy stuff and has five parts, it's like, That's amazing that they can produce all the stuff . But then there might be a guy that you've seen 30 seconds of footage from that year, and you're like, Holy fuck! It just might slap you in the face. That might be it for some people, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I get that. I’m glad I’m not the one picking it. It’s easy for one person to say who their favorite is, but it seems hard to make it for a whole magazine.
Yeah, for sure! But now it’s this big thing where people bring out all this stuff and the public is like, Yeah, but that person’s in all this other stuff . Everyone’s got a different opinion, so I think it’s hard for the people picking it. There's definitely some sick contenders this year. If you'd asked me, I would have to say Tom Knox. It would be sick to see a British lad win it again. And Tom's got a couple of kids running around. He's just the man.
He’s come out with some good shit this year. Who are your favorite SOTYs off the top of your head?
Like I said before, Grant Taylor was a really sick one. I really liked in that video, he's just going to the airport and then Phelper just rocks up with a sign with his name on it. He says, “You driving?” Then he flips the sign and it’s got Grant’s name on it. A really sick one is AVE. Obviously, he was a bit older when he got that. He just worked so hard. It's cool when someone a bit older gets it. I thought when Chima brought out his stuff, he shoulda got it. Not because it’s his last big part—I’m sure he’s got more in the tank—but he was at a sick age to be doing it. It’s sick when people are at a certain age or point in their career and when they achieve that, it’s like a cool cherry on top.
Yeah. Are you doing a premiere anything for your part?
No, I'm actually not. I don't really like doing a premiere just for myself. I mean, when I turned pro in Australia, we did like this big party. We had a premiere and that makes sense. But it's not like, Alright, guys, let’s get together in Sydney. Come watch my part, just me tonight. Everyone's watching and then you're just sitting there. Let’s just put it online and people can watch it.
Yeah, I get that. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for doing this again, Jack.
Oh yeah, thank you.
At this point you’ve had multiple video parts and covers under your belt. You’re living in LA, traveling the world, getting paid to skate. It seems to me like you’re on top of the world. Does it feel like that to you?
I’m very appreciative of where I’m at, for sure. I’m enjoying it. I’m having the time of my life. It’s lovely.
That’s great. Are you still itching for anything else? Is there anything on the horizon or anything you wanna conquer in your 20s?
I guess there’s certain things—I would love to be able to help or create some of my own things or work on certain projects. I’d love to help out with random ideas and have a say in things—just stuff like colors or pro-model things. I think it’s cool when people get to design their own stuff. I’d love to do more stuff like that.
This is a fun one on the way out—for everyone that would wanna live like Jack, give me a meal a movie and a song that you fuck with the most right now.
I’ve been making steak with spinach, red pepper, cucumber, onion, feta and balsamic vinegar with the steak chopped up in it. As far as something to watch, probably an episode of the new Love is Blind series or Married at First Sight . And then for a song, “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s.
Oh, that’s great. There you go.
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