Justin "Figgy" Figueroa Interview
So you’re from Irvine, which is known as being one of the safest cities in California.
Well, I was born in Moreno Valley.
It’s a little rougher out there, right?
Yeah. Riverside. We were there ‘til, like, sixth grade and my brother got beat up by two black kids ‘cause he was accused of calling them the N-word. That bad word. But I don’t think my brother even knew what that word meant at that time. I think those fools just roughed him up for whatever reason. My dad went down to the school. He was, like, “Fuck this.” So we packed up and moved to Irvine.
So that was sixth grade?
Sixth grade. And from then I think I stayed there ‘til sophomore year then started going to the one-day-a-week school for the kids who just suck at school. American Gothic.
Backside 180 nose grind on the goddamned front porch. Photo: BURNETT
Like bad kids? Just you and the pregnant girls?
Pretty much. Mixed with a couple of those and just the kids who sucked at everything. That shit was seriously hard to finish. It’s, like, one day a week and you get these big-ass packets and it’s so hard to buckle down and actually do that shit. But I definitely did it all. And when I graduated there was just a little fuckin’ teacher back there and she rang a little bell, like, “Yep, you’re done. That’s it.” I was, like, “That’s it? You just ring a little fuckin’ cowbell?” Alright. Goodbye forever.
So at age 14 you started doing that?
And was that because of skating or just because you were blowing it at school?
Both, pretty much. Once you start getting into skating and traveling and trying to do contests and shit like that you kind of lose interest in everything else. In the skate world, everyone else who’s involved is a pile of shit so you just start heading that way too. But I graduated. My mom, she’s a teacher so she was beyond stoked. I guess I can say I pulled that off for her.
So you are a home owner in Oceanside now?
As a matter of fact, yeah.
What’s this place all about? What’s your house like?
It used to be crazier when I first moved in. But last night Richie Belton goddamn Hellrose’d the place and broke everything! But it’s been mellower around here, especially in the last year. The neighbors were pretty sick of what was happening. I spent the first year making my garage into a music facility and tried to soundproof it so when we got back from the bar we could jam all night but that mentality didn’t end up lasting too long.
Was it impossible to soundproof music of that caliber?
I did my best to try to soundproof it but, yeah, in the middle of the night without the cars going by you can obviously hear the bass. Richie Belton bass solo, that’s all the neighbors ever hear!
So you have a front house and a back house. Front house is for the grownups?
I guess. I can fuckin’ cut it off whenever I want. And then the back house is constantly going.
Rocking through a 5-0 kinker, smooth as a Belton bass solo. Photo: HAMMEKE
Are the people in the back house paying rent?
Yeah, but you know how that goes. It’s like you let it slide one month and then it just moves on to fucking whatever. Everyone has somewhat paid their dues, paid me back, whatever.
Have there been any cautionary tales with roommates? Was there anybody that pushed the limits of your generosity?
Yeah, I don’t even want to name names because I fuckin’ back ‘em all. I back them all too much. But so far everyone’s pretty much been on it. There’s a couple people who owe me a couple G’s but whatever.
Isn’t there some weird hole, like, up in the attic that you can sleep in?
Yeah, we have an attic above the jam room. Carpet room. Fuckin’ Joose lives up there. Wakes up, fuckin’ rubs it on the carpet wall, does whatever he does.
Who’s back there?
This kid Joose.
He’s been floating around since he was, like, 14. But he’s an insane drummer.
Do you remember a distinct day when the Shep Dawgs finally got brave enough to show up? ‘Cause they’re a little younger, right?
Yeah, there was an insane chapter when Rowan and Bob and all of those fools finally made it over here. Yeah, they stayed over for, like, a week.
They’d found heaven!
They got a tattoo machine and just turned this place into a fuckin’ straight-up barnyard. It was so gnarly. Fools were pissing the couch every fuckin’ night. Then finally by the end of the week I was talking so much shit on it that I pissed my bed for the first time. I was burning them all week, just, “These little kids pissing all over my shit!” Then I go back on the last night, passed the fuck out and pissed the bed. Could have gotten hit by a car and wouldn’t have felt it.
Do you feel any sort of parental feelings over these kids?
Yeah, I think maybe by default. When you do have to crack the whip, I fuckin’ hate being in that position but you kind of have to when you’re running the spot. Usually when I’m other places it feels good to just be, like, “Fuck you. Fuck this motherfucker!” But when it’s where you sleep you’re, like, “Alright you fucking little punks. Get the fuck out of here.”
What about the local watering hole? There’s some really upscale bars around here, right? Isn’t there a place called Larry’s or something?
Top shelf, strictly. I swear right when we first moved into this house we were going down there so much. It was definitely firing for a good six months. There’s live music. It smells like feet. It’s pretty sick.
O-Side’s kind of known for being the last gnarly town in San Diego. Have you encountered any crime or street justice?
That’s definitely happened. So this was probably two years ago. This place isn’t that big. When there’s 30 people here that’s a zoo. That’s a circus. So whatever, fools are wilding out in the front and the back and the cops show up because fools are jamming and I’m talking to the cops and it’s whatever, probably the 17th time they’ve been here to write me a little certificate saying we’re being loud. So they’re, like, “Where do you think you’re at? Do you think you’re in the middle of the desert, man? Like, park it, shut up, turn off the music!” Meanwhile while they’re scolding me I hear a fight break out literally ten feet away behind the gate. The cops are talking to me, like, “Do you even have this shit handled? What the fuck’s going on back there?” And I’m kind of holding them off, like, “Hey, you’re not allowed back here. I’ll handle this. I’ll keep it down, whatever, just let us go.” There’s a full fight happening. I could hear it, they could hear it, it’s like the worst luck possible. Yeah, so I come back in and I rip these two fools apart, kick one of them out, the other one is chilling and then I turned the music off somewhat so the cops won’t show up for the rest of the night. Next morning me Bob, Ryan, Peanut, we’re all in my room. It’s pretty small and we’re watching skate videos. I hear someone walk in the door and we see this dude Fat Carlos, fuckin’ O-Side legend, whatever, he’s been around for eons and he’s with his homie Dozer. So Fat Carlos and Dozer cruise in and we’re, like, “Yeah, fuck yeah. What’s good?” And they just walk straight into my house, into my room unannounced then we realized what happened—the dude my friend Peanut got in a fight with was Fat Carlos’ little brother. And without even saying words Peanut just gets up, like, “Oh no,” and just gets the hammer to the nose and kicked on the ground a couple times then they kind of just said later and walked away like nothing happened. Just business. Yeah, and I kind of just sat there and I’m pretty embarrassed. But then again what the fuck are you gonna do? Two semi trucks walk into your house, like, you can’t get in the way of that shit.
Switch kickflip into a natty Euro. SD week daze. Photo: RHOADES
Frontier justice. The frontier of O-Side.
It was pretty sick realizing how it is around here. Peanut ended up apologizing, shook his hand and then they got drunk together.
So you recently took 100 days off of drinking alcohol. How was it?
The first couple months were kind of craze but when I can just shut everything off, since I’ve got my own zone, it was fuckin’ mellow. It was whatever. Even before I did it I thought it was gonna be way gnarlier than it was. But kind of keeping it mellow telling my friends, like, “Yo, don’t fucking party in the back for however long.” I didn’t give a time period but I just cut fools off, like, “Nah, you gotta take this shit somewhere else.” It’s whatever.
And that was to get ready to really concentrate on this Emerica video?
Yeah, well I think the hardest part about not boozing was just doing music stuff. You actually kind of care and you’re not taking risks. You can hear everything way more clear and it’s really fucking harsh to tell you the truth.
So it was harder to play music not drinking than to skate giant handrails not drinking?
Yeah, definitely. But then again, even on trips when you are drinking you show up at a spot, like a big rail or something, and you’re already so fired up that you’re kind of fearless. It’s like you can get away with it. But I think I was getting away with it more when I was a little younger. I’d go on these long music trips and then come back and go on a real skate trip and just end up in the hospital. It was, like, “Alright, dude. You make your own bed, you fucking sleep in it.” Obviously it’s not gonna work out every fucking time. It’s not gonna be you’re miraculously rolling away, somehow making tricks all hammered. It doesn’t last for that long. You gotta pull the trigger at some point and just, I don’t know, quit it all. It was good to know that I can do it. I can cut this shit off whenever. I don’t think it’s a problem like that. I don’t know what it was like with all the older bosses like Reynolds and all those dudes. I think it was a totally different circumstance for me.
Kicky front board an oversized rail in wildly undersized shoes. The ingrown toenails are off the Richter. Photo: BURNETT
Speaking of the hospital, most recently you ripped a metal light off of a ledge with your body?
Yes. That was like the second day. That was my first trip after the Vol. 4 trip, which was like three weeks long. This was probably three months ago. Yeah, I broke three ribs and one of the ribs hit my lung, put a little hole in it. So this was in Boston and the first hospital I went to they’re, like, “Yeah, we’ve got to get you the fuck out of here.” So they put me in an ambulance and sent me to a bigger hospital and they told me I couldn’t fly for, like, ten days. I stayed in there for two nights and, yeah, my chick came and picked me up and from there and I stayed in Philly for a week. I literally thought that I was gonna be done filming for the video. I was, like, “Alright, well, that’s that. I’m so rocked right now and bones take so fucking long to heal and you can’t do anything. You’ve just got to sit and try to take a piss without it hurting or laugh without it hurting. I was trying to look up ways—how the fuck can I make bones heal faster? And the first thing it said was no tobacco so I stopped smoking spliffs, no booze, obviously, tried to eat good and it worked somehow and the last month I was able to skate. I muscled out the hardest tricks for my part clear minded. Felt pretty good.
Nice. You had a string of misfortune in the last few years right?
Yeah, my accident history is embarrassing compared to most skaters. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I don’t think a lot of these motherfuckers have been through half the shit that I’ve been through with ankles and ribs and just stupid shit that probably could have been avoided if I was being smart about it.
What are the big ones?
Um, the ribs. The ankles have been so repetitive. Your feet just slip off and it happens like that. It puts you a whole month out and the more you do it the easier your foot kind of rolls.
Speaking of your feet, are you still shoving your size 13s into size 11 shoes?
They’re definitely 11s. The ingrown toenails are off the fuckin’ Richter!
And it’s just because you can’t stand looking down at those fucking surfboards?
Yeah, and I know they don’t roll over as much in a smaller shoe.
So for this video how many times have you been to the hospital?
Probably, like, five times. For the ankles, the thumb, broke the fuck out of my thumb, the ribs, the arm.
The lung. How do you hurt a lung skateboarding?
Exactly. But coming out of it I feel fucking fine. I feel like I’m good to go. I feel like I could go jump down O-Side hubba if I wanted to.
In the pines, front nose. Photo: RHOADES
And you just got your last trick for Made 2. How’s it feel?
It feels fucking insane to be done. Like everything, going and fucking partying with the boys.
So that’s the end of your sobriety?
Yeah, for now. Towards the end of these videos when I’m going out to try to get these tricks I feel bad for the people who are involved in it with me. Because it’s not easy whatsoever for me to pull this shit. There’s certain points where fools can just pull the trigger. I feel like it used to be like that for me. But now it’s like I’m a fucking mental case. I’m sure everyone’s got their own shit, like, all these fucking older dudes I know that put the same fucking pressure on themselves. Everyone goes through it. Everyone has their battles, but it’s to the point where I don’t even want homies to cruise because I feel like I don’t want fools to see how fucking in my head I am and how gnarly it is. But in the end, when you can fucking pull though, it’s like the best high you can fucking possibly have.
So how do you finally get over the hump to land a wild trick like the one on the cover?
I think what happens, I have to get to the point where I’m so mad that I’m not doing it. Like, so mad that I wish instead of having to do the trick I could get hit by a fucking truck so I could just stop. Like, “Someone drive their car in here and hit me with it!” If it’s to that point then I’m just blind and then I blink and I’m rolling away. I don’t even realize that I did it. It’s just, like, “Oh, I did it. I can’t believe that just fucking worked out.” It’s like at that point I just want to get in a fight and get stomped on and get beat the fuck up rather than not land the trick. Or in order for me to do it, like, someone come up and punch me straight in the fuckin’ jaw so I can feel some pain or just eat shit already or something. It’s fucking weird, man; it’s crazy. It’s different every fuckin’ time I step on a skateboard. But I’m completely addicted to it.
Have you ever taken a drug that made you feel like you saw hell?
Yeah. I definitely went to the DMT, dude.
So DMT, that’s the drug that makes you feel like you’re being born and you see God and stuff?
Yeah, you see God and Satan and you have to conquer that and then once you do you realize nothing in life matters and you’re fearless. I feel like those dudes, you don’t have to drop names, they’ll smoke that stuff and then they’ll go skate the Mega Ramp. They’ll go defy the laws of physics literally and pull off miracles.
What made you want to do that? Like, “It’s a Tuesday. I wish I could see God and Satan?”
When I did do it I had a cast on my foot. It was my third ankle surgery. My foot was going out of place when I’d kickflip. It was terrible. This was the last surgery I had on it and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to skate again or skate normal and I didn’t want to tell anyone that. I didn’t want to tell my sponsors that because, whatever, I’ve devoted everything to this. Look at me, with all of these shit tattoos! I don’t know what else I’m gonna do in life! So I was kinda freaking out and my friend BB had been wanting to do it too. I hobbled in on crutches with BB and you gotta sign a waiver. It’s fuckin’ intense. You have to sign yourself up just in case anything happens. So the doctor guy puts on this weird music with some weird Zen-type meditation feel going on before you do it. Then the guy—he’s legally allowed to have it and he puts it in this little generator thing and it blows the smoke out into a bag. It sounds fucking insane, I know, but it all happened and it was all real as shit. So then you suck on this bag. You suck all of the air out of this bag and within seconds you get to watch yourself leave your body and it seems so fucking real. It’s, like, I think it’s more intense than acid or mushrooms or any of that.
The tré flip tailgrab gets a rebirth. Is that you, God? Sequence: RHINO
So you left your body and then what happened?
I feel insane even talking about it, dude. Sorry, Mom. But I literally left the room, like, I’m leaving and I could watch the house that I’m floating up from into the sky. I go past the clouds and I literally see what I think is God. Literally, like, the figure that you would see in the Bible, like, that dude with the long hair. I don’t know if that’s what we’ve been taught what God looks like. Maybe that’s why it looked like that, then Satan was this red dude with no hair.
When you saw God did it feel good?
Not really. It was kind of like looking at both of them just like—
Were they hanging out together?
Somewhat. They were kicking it. They were just next to each other and I pretty much had to accept what was happening and realize that I wasn’t scared of both these motherfuckers, like, “You guys don’t phase me whatsoever!” And then after that point I felt like I’m not scared of these fools like I can go on the rest of my life being fearless of everything.
What did Satan look like?
I don’t know, maybe fuckin’ Lee Dupont. But red. I saw hell too.
What? Wow! Was there a feeling of horror when you saw hell?
Yeah. I mean looking at these two, you’re terrified. I was terrified at first and then I literally said, “Accept what’s happening and just power through it—just muscle it and you’re good.” This sounds fucking insane. You’ll never even know unless you go sign the waiver and go fucking drop in.
How did it end? Did it have any long-lasting effects on your outlook of the world?
Yeah, I think if everybody did that, the planet would be a whole better place. It makes you feel like nothing matters and the fact that you get to wake up and cruise around is the sickest thing. Be grateful for that and just be stoked. When shit gets intense in life I think if people just go do that and it just grounds you. And how much pain I had about my ankles and skating and shit, it just brought me back to life, like, “Dude, you’re gonna be fuckin’ chilling whether you’re skating or not. You’ll be fine, you’ll figure it out.” I feel like it sounds childish. It definitely kind of changes the way that you look at shit.
So yeah, you’ve got a house, you’ve got some dogs, a girlfriend, you got a hit video coming out. How’s things looking for you?
I want to keep it going. After Stay Gold my back hurt so bad that I didn’t skate for, like, three months. Bake and Destroy, that’s when the ankles started. Couldn’t skate for pretty much a year after that. I’m actually leaving this video part feeling healthier than I’ve ever felt, which is still blowing my mind. It’s insane. But I don’t know. I want to hit the road with the homies whether it’s for skating or music.
I know there was a time when there was a lot of rockers in skateboarding but now it seems like it’s just you guys in O-Side. You don’t see as many long hairs these days. Do you worry that the rock ‘n’ roll revolution has become more of an acquired taste?
I hope more people get turned off by it. It just makes our shit that much more personal, like, “Yeah, that’s our fuckin shit! Hate it!”
What do you love most in life?
There’s a lot to be grateful for. The fucking sand that’s a block away from my house. O-Side, the Rhoades family, Lito, the Boulevard. My goddamn parents. Mom and Dad, sorry for the hell I’ve put you through. Love y’all. Jon Miner, everyone at Emerica. Gibby my dog. I don’t have much to complain about. Everything in my life I’m pretty fuckin’ stoked on. Collin fuckin’ Provost ‘til the end of time. Jake Phelps, I’ve got your back, dude. I’ll kill for you. Burndog, Jesus Christ, you’ve put up with my bullshit for awhile.
Biggie front board fakie. Figgy lives to see another day… again. Sequence: RHODES
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