Jack O'Grady: The Thrasher Interview

Jack O grady Thrasher Interview Opener
The first time I witnessed Jack’s skating, I knew there was something special about him. Raw, fast and aggressive, he’s the physical embodiment of Skate and Destroy. We ended up on the Am Scramble 2019 trip together and, not knowing anything about him, I assumed his personality would match his skating. I was dead wrong. This bloke is one of the most caring and kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. Don’t believe me? Just ask Peg. With a nail-biting video part that just dropped and a long road ahead of him, Jack’s on track to being one of the best to ever do this damn thing. It’s skaters like him that make me wish the Old Man were still around to see the thrills and spills this next generation is bringing to the party. Don’t worry, Jake, the future is in good hands. Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for Mr. Jack O’Grady. —Rye Beres

Make sure you've seen his untouchable Pass~Port part before you proceed

Where in Australia do you hail from?
I’m from Caringbah, which is a suburb in South Sydney.

Do you still live there?
I’ve lived there my whole life up until about nine months ago. I recently moved to Newtown, which is less than ten minutes from Sydney. This is the first time I’ve ever moved out on my own. Lately I’ve been going back to my parents’ house when I’m bored and the fridge is always so full there. I’ll wake up sometimes in Newtown and go downstairs to the fridge and be like, Fuck, there’s nothing even in here.

Are you an only child or do you have any siblings?
I think I’m an accident. I’m the youngest of four. I’m 21, my brother Matt is 30, my brother Adam is 32 and my sister is 34 and she just had a baby. There’s this massive gap in between me and Matt so I’m pretty sure I’m an accident. But who fucking cares—I’m still here.

Were your brothers the ones who got you into skating?
Matt was the reason I started skating. He’d always have his mates over and I’d just follow them around and do whatever they did. They were skating down the driveway one day and I just got on a board and started following them. That was pretty much the first time I skated.

squish smithpopover uni final DZFrom Am Scramblin’ to SOTY trips, Jack is on a tear. Smith pop over, fuckin’ oath    Photo: Robinson

So Matt is pretty much the reason you started?
I mean, he never told me to get into it and we never skated together, but I guess that first time I ever skated was because of him. He did give me his old setup. I think it was just more of a phase for him.

Is he jealous that you’re this big-time skater now?
I ain’t shit, bro.

Once you started skating more, did you develop a little crew?
I would always skate with my cousin a lot. His dad would take us to this indoor skatepark on Thursday nights. I’d sorta just skate with the kids on my street, though. There was this one really weird kid named Gerard who had stuff set up in his backyard. I’d pretty much just skate with him and this kid David around the suburb.

Jack OGrady Thrasher interview 360 FlipThis ain’t no suburb spot, tré flip into the finest crust Sydney has to offer      Photo: Chami

Do those kids still skate?
Nah, fuck no. When I was 11, I started going to Waterloo and that’s when I started to skate with people my age and a little older. From 12 on I started skating with people in my area who were in their late 20s.

Was Dane Burman in your crew?
I never skated with him when I was younger but I’d see him around. One day I was in the park with my friends and this car stopped on the highway and someone jumped out and he had a skateboard. We were all like, Ah crap, a skateboard. All my friends started telling the dude that I could do a kickflip and then I grabbed his board and did one. The dude ended up being Dane and he was like “You know why you landed that? ’Cause you got Fallens on.” He got back on his board and did an eight-trick line. I was so young at that point but once I got older we started seeing each other around more.

How long after starting to skate did you get sponsored?
My first proper hookup was Ruckus trucks and Pig wheels. There were a couple packages where they’d throw in some Toy Machine and Foundation boards, too. This dude Penguin who’d send out the boxes told me to start sending in a minute of street footage every month and he’d send me a package in return. I did that for like three months and then was like, Shit, I don’t know if I can do this.

Jack OGrady Thrasher Interview Boardslide around a corner rail Dave Chami Bent as a boomerang, boardy through the bend     Photo: Chami

Was Pass~Port already around at this time?
It was definitely around but I didn’t know about it when I was really young. As I got more into the Sydney scene I found out about it. My good friend George would film for them so I’d always see Trent around, the guy who runs Pass–Port. In high school all I would watch is Pass~Port videos, like back to back to back, I fucking loved that shit. It was the only boards I’d get. I thought it was just the coolest thing. So when I got on I couldn’t believe it.

So Pass~Port ended up being your first proper board sponsor?
Yeah, that was the first time being on an actual team.

It must’ve been crazy for you growing up, idolizing and loving this brand and then finally getting on and being a part of it.
Man, it’s crazy. They never even asked me if I wanted to ride for them. They surprised me with a cake and said I was on after a premiere. After the premiere Trent was like, Fuck, what if he had said no? But everyone knew I was down.

And then shortly after getting on you went to Greece with them?
So you know about schoolies? It’s a trip Australians go on after finishing their final exams in high school. All the kids from my school are just the biggest jocks. They’re so chat. For schoolies they were gonna go to Fiji for two weeks and I couldn’t think of anything worse than paying a couple Gs to be stuck on an island with a bunch of jocks. The Greece trip was gonna happen around the same time so I lucked out and just paid the couple Gs and did my schoolies out there and did the Pass~Port trip as well.

jack o grady quote Man, he’s kinda famous but also a junkie
How insane is Greece?
Dude, there’s just so much marble and graf out there. There was this new-age drug there called sisa, which is like meth and battery acid mixed together. We were watching this Vice documentary when we went to Athens and the main junkie they interviewed in it, we would see him every day. He looked so much more weathered from the time the documentary came out until now. We’d see him and be like, Man, he’s kinda famous but also a junkie.

It seems like with Pass~Port you guys go where no one else goes. You went on a trip to the Northern Territory of Australia, too. That must’ve been insane.
We flew into Alice Springs and took a two-week trip to Darwin, stopping in towns every couple days. That was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on; we camped the whole time. I’ve lived in Australia my whole life and it felt like this crazy place I had never been to. It was just crazy—you’re in the middle of absolute nowhere out there. There were so many spots and ditches. No one had ever done a trip there before so we’d just skate every spot like, Who knows if there will be another one? There was heaps of stuff and it just goes to show that no matter where you are there will be something.

Jack o grady thrasher interview crooks long rail Thomas RobinsonJack leaves no rails untouched. Crooked grind, pinched ’til the end      Photo: Robinson

You guys taught skating to the indigenous kids there, right?
Yeah, there’s this guy Nicky who started a skate school and built a park in this little community called Santa Teresa. We brought some setups and did a demo at the opening of the park. The kids out there have nothing and are the coolest, nicest kids ever. You just talk to them and they want to know everything and are so interested and appreciative of everything.

Did that feel like a life-changing moment for you?
For sure; of course. I’m so privileged to ride for Pass~Port and to get the opportunity to do stuff like that. There’s so many little kids and you could’ve changed one of their lives and made them so hyped on skateboarding. I’m so glad Trent’s main goal for trips are to do stuff like that. There’s no better feeling than helping someone or making them happy ’cause it also makes you happy.

jack o grady thrasher interview portraitPhoto: Robinson

Was the Nike North Carolina trip the first time you traveled to the US to skate?
Yeah, that was funny, bro. That was the first time I met Mike Sinclair. The crew on that trip was funny, too—the whole Nike OZ guys and then Zion and Dashawn Jordan. North Carolina is such a funny place. That was a two-week trip and then me, Jason Rainbird and Geoff Campbell stayed and the rest of the Pass~Port team flew in for a trip from North Carolina to New York.

What was your first impression of Mike Sinclair?
Even if you don’t know him and you just see him on the Internet, he just seems like such a funny guy. His voice just sounded really funny. He was so cool and nice straight away. He’d have a big jar of Lemonheads candy, just sucking on them all day.

Jack OGrady Backside 50 50 to Backside 50 50 Dave ChamiFrom the outback straight into the jungle, 50-50 drop to 50-50. Get ’em a slab for this one     Photo: Chami

Have you ever fanned out on a pro skater?
Oh yeah, heaps of times. One time when I was 13 I went to this DC demo at Waterloo. I had just gone to the skateshop and bought this super chat snapback from The Hundreds and thought it was so fresh. I went to the demo after and asked Evan Smith to sign my t-shirt. He starts signing the shirt with this red pen and then just starts signing my brand-new black hat with the red marker. I was speechless—just a little kid at a loss for words like, What are you doing?! He pretty much ruined my hat that I bought with my own pocket money. That was the first time I met a proper international pro and was like, What the fuck is that?

Holy shit, I’m crying and laughing over this story.
I had to get a black paint pen and paint over the red ’cause he had just butt fucked it.

Who was a major skate inspiration for you as a kid?
Fuck, I’ve always been so down for GT. I’d see him in Mind Field or random videos just going fast—they way he ollies or grinds something just looks so fucking cool. Him doing a frontside air, you can’t really touch that, mate. He’s still one of my big inspos.

Is that where you get your power and ATV abilities from?
I’d just wonder how he skates everything from a gnarly bowl to a rail and be like, How do you do that? It’s just so cool.

jack ogrady quote Who the hell is this kid spewing everywhere?

So was it a mind fuck when you got to go on the Milton SOTY trip and he was there?
There was a Nike trip I had gone on before and he was there. We went to Manly for a week and I was staying with Jason Rainbird on a couch together in a room with Grant and all those guys. We all went into the city one night; Chima was having a party on the rooftop of his house. I was 14 or 15 and had two beers and was so drunk. GT passed me this massive spliff and I had never smoked weed before. I tried to be cool and hit the spliff. I took three massive puffs and was just done. Ten minutes later I just started spewing up all over the rooftop. Sammy Winters’ girlfriend was helping me out but everyone else was like, Who the hell is this kid spewing everywhere?

How was that Milton SOTY trip for you?
That was a really good trip. It was gnarly ’cause it was in the middle of the fires we were having. It was fun doing the drive from Sydney to Melbourne ’cause usually that drive is pretty buggy, but with them it was sick.

I remember word was getting back to the States that you were the MVP of that trip.
Not even. It was just nice to have them in Sydney where we could take them to heaps of spots, which was fun.

Jack O Grady lipslide corner rail by Thomas Robinson Lipslide through the corner, open the door to your mind     Photo: Robinson

They probably brought a new eye to the city as well.
For sure. People in Sydney are usually hucking but when you bring a whole crew it’s motivating.

That grind you did on the trip kinda went viral.
Bro, I got sacked on that and had literal blue balls for a month. My nuts were purple and swelled up. My gooch was bruised as well.

And then you went straight to a wedding?
That was a couple days after but it was so bad by then. Before the wedding we went to the pub and I told everyone and people were taking photos of my balls in the suit.

Do slams ever take you out or affect you?
If I’m trying something and know I can do it, why would I take a slam and stop? I’m not just gonna take a slam for nothing. I know I can do things so whatever happens just happens. If I know I can do something, slamming is just a part of that.

Does fear ever kick in?
Everything is in your head while trying a trick, but it’s all just confidence.

Jack O Grady Thrasher Interview frontside noseblunt newcastle  Thomas Robinson Around the pole and into the rough stuff, frontside noseblunts are all about confidence     Photo: Robinson

Were you more afraid of almost getting hit by the car or trying the trick in that new Nike Melbourne edit?
I was pretty over it. I had already done it once but Geoff wasn’t ready and barely missed it. Geoff is a perfectionist and wanted it again. While I was trying it again I was like, Fucking hell, but at the end of the day you’re stoked it came out good. I couldn’t see the car until the very last second. Brass and Raf were telling me no, but I was already running and it was too late to stop. That’s happened to me a few times.

Was that whole Nike edit filmed during COVID?
I think Geoff had a lot of Melbourne footage and had been wanting to do something with it all. People from Sydney would come up sometimes. During COVID only two people would be going out so it’d just be Geoff and Ben Lawrie riding their bikes around because you couldn’t be in the car with someone.

 Jack O Grady Thrasher Interview Kickflip San Diego Rhino DZWe think Danny Dicola would approve of this kickflip     Photo: Rhino

Is it a bummer to work on a project and not get to have a premiere or anything?
It definitely sucks but you can’t be that sour guy ’cause everyone in the world is in the same boat.

I mean, shit—it’s either the Opera House or YouTube for your guys’ premieres.
Dude, two words—Trent Evans. I don’t know how he sorted it out but it must have been a lot of phone calls and emails. I had never even been into the Opera House before that night. It’s very formal in there so every single person dressed up and it was funny to see skaters in suits.

Was that the first video premiere with a dress code?
Geoff was off of the idea of wearing suits. Like, We can’t wear suits; it’s so fucking lame. But you had to dress like that to get in anyways. Our friend presented the video and he had this nice gold jacket on. It was hilarious.

jack ogrady Thrasher Interview quote COVID sucks but it’s been kinda great being in Sydney and being stuck with all my mates

You’ve been working on a new Pass~Port part, right?
Yeah, ever since Kitsch finished up I’ve been slowly chipping away at a part. We did a premiere tour after Kitsch and that’s when I started filming for the new part. So now I’m just back in Sydney filming for it. COVID sucks but it’s been kinda great being in Sydney and being stuck with all my mates. I feel like everyone found out a lot about themselves during COVID. I definitely found out a lot about myself. I mean, all this shit has happened but you can’t be negative.

For once we actually have time to sit down and think.
Yeah, just reflecting on yourself.

And being at home this long you can focus on filming, because usually after coming home from a trip you just wanna chill. Now you can actually be at home and take time to film stuff.
Trips are nice, though. You can just produce easy ’cause you know you’ll never come back to that spot. But being at home just makes you think more creatively at spots you’ve seen forever.

Jack O Grady Thrasher Interview switch crooks Thomas RobinsonJack keeps it interesting back home, switchin' stances for a crusty crook      Photo: Robinson

Were you at home with your parents during the first quarantine?
I came back from Oceanside because people were calling me like, Get the fuck out of America. I came back and quarantined at home. My parents’ room is at the back of the house and mine is at the front, but my mom was like, “You know you aren’t allowed to go to the fridge and touch stuff.” I went two weeks without contact from the other side of the house. I was basically in jail in my own home. I started waking up and painting portraits of my friends Tully and Keegan.

I heard your paintings are incredible.
Nah, Nah. I hadn’t painted in years until quarantine. I can’t just sit down and paint for hours and hours so I’d just paint every few days for a couple of hours.

Your dad built you a ramp at the house, right?
Yeah, he’s the best. He’s done so much for me. Our friend had a ramp in this warehouse and they needed to get rid of it so my dad was down to get it. Dude, the ramp has no flatbottom—it’s just a U-pipe. There was only enough space for it on this little patch of grass and it fit perfectly. During quarantine I cut a hole in the ramp and made a hump so there’s this mini channel in the middle of it. We built a quarterpipe in the driveway so you can hit the mini, go over the bump into the drive, hit the QP and then back into the mini.

Jack O Grady Thrasher Interview gap to frontside lipslide Thomas RobinsonGap to lipslide past more flat than his ramp's got     Photo: Robinson

What’s up with the Wet Truck?
So you know you can’t just buy a car and give it a name—you gotta get in a funny situation and then it gets its name. Well, the first day I got my truck I met up with my friend George who was with Kevin White, Robert Neal and some guys. I pulled up and they were all, “Aye, aye, look at the Wet Truck!” Ever since then it’s just been the Wet Truck.

What kind of vehicle is this Wet Truck?
It’s a Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive. It’s a very square car.

What’s the deal with you losing your license?
Bro, I’m so fucking off it at the moment. I’m losing my license for the second time in a month, for three months.

Geez, dude, for what?
I got two speeding tickets and one red-light camera. I lost all my demerits points and got three fines. I got a letter from the RTA which told me I was gonna lose my license on a certain date which was three weeks away. In those three weeks I got caught by three more cameras. If you get caught by a speeding camera you can have someone else take the fines for you, so if I got someone with the three demerits I’d only lose my license for three months instead of the six months. Gabbers ended up taking them for me, which I’m very thankful for, so I gave him some extra money to take the demerits. I got my license back right before Christmas and got a letter saying I had the chance to get my full license and get all my points back. But they realized it was me and not Gabbers so then they told me my one-demerit fine was gonna turn into four demerits and that I was gonna lose my license for another three months.

jack ogrady quote I’m actually a good driver ’cause I have control of my car at high speeds

Fuck, man, you gotta start driving better.
No, I’m actually a good driver ’cause I have control of my car at high speeds which you guys don’t.

You’re a dog lover but didn’t you get bit in the face by a dog as a kid? Aren’t you terrified?
It was my own dog Mickey. She was a German Shepherd. I was left alone with her in the backyard while she was chewing a bone and I ripped the bone from her mouth and she just attacked my face. My mom is a nanny and would always have newborns at the house and Mickey bit someone one day and so after that my parents decided to put Mickey down. It’s so gnarly. If we talk about Mickey at family dinners, my brothers and sister are like, “Oh, you mean the dog that Jack killed?”

Jack O Grady Thrasher Interview  boardslide cathedral final Thomas RobinsonJack applies his driving methods to this boardslide: faster = safer     Photo: Robinson

Nothing bad happened to your face?
It was just two big indentions in my cheek. My whole life my mom would say, “Mickey went to a farm,” but around seven or eight I realized people would put their dogs down. But for some reason I still thought Mickey went to a farm.

Are you a lover or a hater?
Nah, I’m a lover, for sure.

JackOgrady Nosegrind Thrasher Interview Kiama Sam Coady Nosegrind on the top rope with all the homies watching over him     Photo: Coady

Speaking of loving, didn’t you date Dustin Dollin’s sister?
First of all, it’s not Dustin’s sister. It’s his wife’s sister. I dated her for a little while. Dustin would come to Sydney every Christmas with his wife and her family and one year Brune just DM’d me and I hung out with her the whole time they were here. It’d be funny having heaps of family dinners with me, Brune, Dustin and Blanche.

So was it weird when you were Dustin for Halloween?
Nah, that was pretty funny. I was staying at Josh Pall’s house in LA. Halloween was coming up and he’s the one who told me to be Dustin. I got Franky Villani to draw on all the tattoos and I made these custom shoes for the costume, too.

jack o grady Thrasher Interview quote Slow down. Ya’ gonna get a speeding ticket on that thing

So people who follow you on social media have probably noticed the old lady you’re waving at in your Stories. Who is this mystery woman?
Peg. That’s my girl! She’s this woman who lives around the corner from my parents’ house in Caringbah. Her husband died ten years ago and ever since then she just sits in front of the house with her walker and waves at everyone. She’s 96, bro. When I would skate home she’d always be like, “Slow down. Ya’ gonna get a speeding ticket on that thing.” We went on this skate trip to Brisbane and went to this shop where you can make badges and I made Peg a badge and gave it to her when I got home. A week later she was still rocking the badge and was like, “Yeah, this nice lovely girl made it for me,” and I was like, “No, Peg, I made that for you!”

She’s a legend. Do you have big plans for 2021?
I’m just trying to wrap up this Pass~Port part which comes out in about a month. I might head to Melbourne and work on a Nike thing with Geoff. At the moment I’m trying to work on my athlete’s visa and come to the States for a couple months or hopefully do the move out there. We just started working on this Spitfire OZ video as well with me, Rowan Davis, Noah Nayef, Ben and Riley.

Jack O Grady Thrasher Cover April 2021 2000pxOnly a few months in, Jack achieves big things. April, 2021 is a cover to remember     Photo: Coady

It’s crazy we did the interview today because it’s the one-year anniversary of your friend passing away, correct?
Yeah, my good friend Tully West unfortunately passed away a year ago today. Me and all my mates are gonna meet up today and have a couple beers. He was just an amazing person. He was one of the first guys I met on my first trip to Melbourne. All these guys lived at this skate house called “The Hooouse” and I ended up staying there for a month. They all brought me in but Tully was the one who really brought me in. He was so sincere and sweet when he didn’t know me and I’ll never forgot that.

Do you think a passing of a friend brings everyone together?
One-hundred percent. I think it just shows that you gotta tell your mates you love them and to appreciate every moment you get with them because you never know what’s gonna happen. I remember ages ago it used to be the Sydney heads and then the Melbourne heads and now it’s just one crew together. Things like that just make you cherish every moment with your mates. Make sure you tell them you love them.

jackogrady Thrasher Interview quote Life is such a beautiful thing and you forget to appreciate it sometimes.

On one end you just wanna sit around and be sad at a situation like that, but for us as skaters it almost feels like fuel to the fire. Like, It’s time to get some for our friends.
For sure. It’s like, What would this person want you to do? They probably wouldn’t want you to just sit around and be sad. It definitely motivates you to do anything you can possibly do. Life is such a beautiful thing and you forget to appreciate it sometimes.

It sucks that we can’t even recognize those things on our own sometimes. Like it took a global pandemic for use to realize we need to all respect each other.
Man, everything that happens in life is just lessons and you learn from that and move on.

squish martinrail make final DZGlobal pandemics can’t stop Jacky Boy—50-50 at the legendary Martin Place. Take that, COVID     Photo: Robinson
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