Kyle Walker Interview
So, Kyle, yesterday you went and got the crazy kickflip that’s in this interview. That seemed pretty hectic up there. What was that like?
Well, you know when you’re back for round two, you’re definitely ready to get it over with. Plus, it was windy as fuck and you’re pretty much just hitting a ski jump, so tighten your trucks up as tight as they’ll go and hope for the best. But yeah, thankfully it just worked out within—what would you say, an hour, hour and a half?
It might not be 22 feet but it’s still a long haul. Frontside bluntslide down a doozy Photo: Morf
Probably an hour. But it was only, like, 15 tries, though.
Yeah, let’s just say quicker than normal. So can’t be mad at that.
Is that the farthest you think you’ve ever flown on a skateboard?
Yes, guaranteed. What was it, twenty-two feet?
Twenty-two feet is what I measured.
Yeah, that’s probably the farthest I’ll ever go on a skateboard. But hey, it was fun. Good stuff.
So it’s crunch time right finishing this Thrasher interview. How do you deal with stress? Do you run away from it? Does it help you?
I think I’ve learned to work under stress and pressure just from skating Tampa and whatnot when I was younger. I don’t know why I would get so nervous, but as soon as it came time for my run I would just love it, like, get in the zone. I’d rather be pressured or have something come up to where you can take the chance and come out on top than not even try, you know? So I kind of like it. It gives me something to look forward to.
You just got back from a big trip, right?
Yeah, Barcelona for two weeks. Fuckin’ did the Street League and all that and surprisingly it was really, really fun. It was just like Tampa but you’re older, you know? Just everybody going and hanging out and watching the bros shred—couple drinks.
Did you make it? Are you going to be on the pro tour?
Dude, somehow I got picked. They picked four just to go on every single stop throughout the year and it was me Kevin Bradley, Miles Silvas and Chris Joslin, I believe. We didn’t even have to do the qualifier contest. We were just in it, like, the last day. But nah, I did not make it, that’s for sure.
This is what happens when you grow up studying Reynolds’ technique. Backside 180 the hard way Photo: Burnett
So you get to go to all of them but you didn’t make the finals at the first one?
Nah, I didn’t make the finals but I figured it out; it’s strategy: you do both runs, you plan three basic tricks and then Hail Mary two tricks. I’m not doing no switch bigflip boardslide like Shane. That fool was going off, but it was super fun to do.
You’ve been traveling and going crazy for the last year. Are you ready to add in all of these contests to your schedule?
I mean, at this point why not, right? Plus, the next stop is in Munich and the one after that’s New York, so you can definitely make trips out of it. That’s what we did in Barcelona. It was productive when we were there as well so it’s kind of a win win.
Was that your first trip to Barcelona?
I went there last year with my girl for a little vacay but this was my first time skating and shit. It’s heaven; I’ll tell you what.
Were you one of the kids that when you were coming up it was all about Barcelona?
Dude, for sure. I still have so many 411s and, like, Mosaic, Sorry, Really Sorry—all of that. Plus, we got to go to the wavy spot. Fuckin’ Rowley filmed a clip of me at the wavy spot. That’s some shit I’ll never forget.
He hasn’t passed the GED test yet but Kyle had no problem acing the feeble-pop-shove-it exam Sequence: Burnett
Did you ever try to imitate a pro skater or try to study their technique when you were a kid?
For sure Reynolds. Still to this day he’s my favorite skater. Plus, I got to meet him when I had that Real favorite-skater board collab. We met up, gave him some boards and whatnot and he was cool as fuck. You know when you look up to someone and then you meet them and they’re just what you expect? That’s always so sick.
That’s rad. You were sponsored from an early age, right?
Yeah, I got sponsored real young. I started when I was, like, eight and then my friend Jeff Maines, who was an Adio rep back in the day, started giving me Adio shoes. I don’t even know how old I was—it was whenever the first Kenny Anderson shoe was out. And then Emerica afterwards and I was Zero flow, too, from a Goofy vs. Regular contest, so yeah.
Were you one of those kids that picked it up pretty quick? Were you grinding rails in the first 16 months and shit?
Nah, I was just doing kickflips and crooked grinds on flat ledges for probably a good year. Then just fuckin’ going as fast as I could. But I think it took me a second, for sure. But as soon as I started I was addicted, so I just kept doing it every day. And I played baseball for probably seven years and in between tournaments I would be going to the skatepark and whatnot and then back to the field, you know? Yeah, just ended up one day sticking with skating.
Did you catch any heat from your coach or your dad for quitting baseball?
No, my parents backed me. They were down. I remember them telling me that some parents would be, like, “You’re really taking him skating? What if he gets hurt?” Thankfully they weren’t the parents being, like, “Oh, you’re staying in baseball. You’re crazy; you’re not skateboarding.” They just let me do what I wanted to do, so that’s probably why it all panned out because they weren’t forcing anything, you know?
Yeah, that’s nice. Especially in Oklahoma because the vibe there is not exactly like the vibe in California as far as skating goes.
Dude, not at all. Kids out here have skate classes in school. At home that’s unheard of. That’s crazy.
So what’s this photo I keep seeing on the Internet of you as a little guy and you’re with some older kids and they look like they’ve got guns?
I think that was when éS was in Oklahoma for King of the Road back in 2003. We took them out to this guy Sunny’s house and just had a good time shooting guns and whatnot. I think Justin Eldridge was there. But yeah, we were definitely squadded up, strapped with some guns.
Have you been around guns your whole life?
Yeah, my dad has hunted forever. And in all honesty, I would go hunting but I just didn’t have the patience for it. I’ve always just wanted to be doing something so I would end up taking my Game Boy and then end up passing out. But I’ve always gone to the farm where my dad grew up and shot guns ever since I was young. My dad has this license where he can carry his nine millimeter on him anywhere he goes.
I was gonna say, when we saw him at the Bass Pro Shop, wasn’t he strapped?
Yeah, he doesn’t play. It’s not like every day you’re gonna see someone getting robbed or a store getting jacked, but you never know. But if and when the time comes he’s gonna be the one to help out, you know? Better safe than sorry.
So what was your relationship with Real? Did you get hooked up with them pretty early?
Yeah, this dude Shorty from Black Box hooked me up with Zero when I was super young and then I went to a Goofy vs. Regular and Darin Howard was there and ended up hooking me up with Thunder and Spitfire. And I already skated Reals before I got on Zero. That’s all I skated, that and Baker. And then he asked me two or three months later if I wanted to ride for Real and I didn’t hesitate. I just started riding for them then.
How old were you?
I was probably, like, 14 or 15 because I moved out to California with Trevor and Clint when I was 16.
Kyle should consider changing his last name to Flyer after this kick flip floater Sequence: Burnett
Did you drop out of high school?
Yes, I did.
How did your mom take that?
She was not that psyched. I started home schooling at, like, mid-eighth grade. And, I mean, obviously from a parent’s point of view I can see it. If my kid was, like, “Ah, I’m fuckin’ over school.” I’m sure she was, like, “I really don’t even know if this will work out,” you know? So I’m sure it was crazy for her but thankfully it worked out and she still tells me to this day, like, “I can’t believe everything worked out.” Everything happens for a reason so looking at it now, yeah, if my kid was trying to drop out and move to California I’d be, like, “You’re tripping. You better finish school.” But still to this day, I think I’m gonna try and get my GED. My girl and my mom and my girl’s mom are, like, “You should probably just get that.”
Maybe just go raw dog the test. No studying. Just dive in there and see how you do.
Fuck, and then just flunk it and feel really shitty. But I think I’ll go and get it one day for sure.
You’ll get the graduation model with the mortar board on the board.
Oh shit. I set myself up for that. But yeah, thankfully everything panned out so I’m not trippin’. Kids, stay in school. But if you feel it’s right, fuckin’ go for it.
Did you tell me that you grew up going to church a lot?
Yeah, I did. I would go to church every Sunday and then I’d go to Wednesday class sometimes with my homies. And it wasn’t, like, a serious church so I think that’s what made it fun.
Are you a spiritual person?
Honestly, for a while I kind of wasn’t but a lot of things have happened within the past two or three years and I’m, like, “Damn. Thank you, God, for this.” I’m not crazy spiritually but I definitely believe in God and there is something out there, you know, that gets us through day by day.
So you just put out some back-to-back video parts and you’re about to put out another part with Real. You guys kind of got in this tradition of going on a couple of trips and just putting the footage out. What’s the vibe on those trips?
They’re just fun. It’s not like there’s a crazy deadline, you know? It’s just let’s get the homies together and go on some trips and whatever we get we get. And then I swear the past couple times we’ve done it, it just turns out to be like a whole 20-minute video or something, you know? So it’s not like we’re stressing trying to get it. We’re just going out every day and having fun.
So you guys got another one coming out and you got a shoe coming out, right?
Yeah, somehow I have a shoe with Vans. That drops July ninth 2016.
Holy cow. So after Propeller here comes the new shoes and it’s yours?
Yeah, right? I don’t even know. Every morning I put them on just, like, “What the fuck?” I just got a bunch ordered for my family and friends, too, so seeing them rocking it, that’s gonna be the icing on the cake right there.
When you see your grandma in a pair of your shoes that’s when you know it’s real.
Afraid of big waves but not big rails, Kyle surfs a Smith 180 out with no lifeguard on duty. Unless that lady is a lifeguard but we kinda doubt it Photo: Burnett
What does it mean to you to have a shoe on Vans? That’s not a small deal.
Yeah, it still hasn’t fully hit. I feel like whenever we go to a signing and I see it in the store or I see other kids at the park wearing it, that’s when it’s fully gonna hit. It’s, like, every time I talk about it I get speechless. That’s shit’s just crazy but pretty much I couldn’t be any more thankful for them giving me this shoe, you know? Like, even when I went in and they told me, “It’s not just a colorway,” like, I’m designing a full shoe—I felt like I blacked out for ten minutes.
You blacked out and you woke up and you’d accidentally drawn a D3.
Ah shit, that would have been amazing.
You are friends with Na-kel and those guys—people are really feeling them. What’s it like going out with those guys? I mean, you’re pretty famous as far as pro skaters, but I feel like those guys are almost a phenomenon.
Yeah well, I know they grew up with like Tyler and Mikey that makes Illegal Civilization and they all just grew up in LA, and LA is obviously a big-ass city, you know? So I’m sure everybody just sees them doing what they’re doing now and they’re shining right now. And I know Nak went on tour with Thebe—Earl—and he was on stage with them on every stop like a hype man, you know? That’s his bro and he knows every word so they’re just gonna do it together. But I don’t know; it’s cool to see. We can go anywhere in LA and someone will probably notice them, you know? And they’re with the fashion stuff so that’s definitely stand out-able, you know?
Do you care about being that recognized?
Honestly, I don’t. I come from Oklahoma. I’m trying to stay low-key. But yeah, they’re doing their thing; they’re shining.
Yeah for sure. Would you ever wear those Lucas Puig short shorts?
Nah, but I back his style. Me and Peter Ramondetta came out with a Pushing Oklahoma thing awhile ago and I was wearing some short-ass Hawaiian shorts and got a lot of talk about those, so fuck it. I back it, though. Lucas is fucking ill. More power to him.
So your girlfriend just moved out to California. Does she keep up on everything in skating?
She doesn’t really know anything. Which is a good thing but she’s learning. She helps me keep up with my days—where I’m going so that’s good. Shit’s getting hectic. It’s good, though. I’d rather have stuff on the calendar than nothing at all, you know? Keep it going while I can.
Have you ever gone out with a girl who skates?
No, and I probably would not.
I respect if you’re doing it, and if you’re happy then do it.
A little too close to home, though?
Yeah, just a little.
What kind of music do you listen to? Are you strictly hip-hop?
Nah, I like it all. I mean, of course I’m gonna listen to a lot of rap but I don’t know. Fleetwood Mac is good. Fuckin’ Slayer. It depends on who you’re in the van with, you know?
What’s the closest you’ve come to dying?
Well, I got hit by a car. If I had been, like, two seconds earlier I would have gotten hit directly in front of the fuckin’ Range Rover, so I would say that’s pretty close to dying. And then, like, three weeks after I went to the beach with Reese Salken and literally almost drowned. Swear to God. We got caught in a current and—Reese is from Virginia and I’m from Oklahoma—that’s two boys that don’t fuck with the ocean. So we got caught in the current and we didn’t know what to do. And it was, like, a set of nine or ten-foot waves and then we’re panicking, you know? And then by the time we’re about to scream for help this lifeguard comes out and is just right next to us and I’m, like, “Oh my God. We’re about to die. Fuckin’ thank you.” And we just get on his back and try to start kicking and it took, like, ten minutes to get in. That was pretty close to dying. Like, I would go to the beach now but there ain’t no way I’m going over head high again after seeing that shit.
Hey, Kyle, you about to catch that frontside flip? “Bitch I might be” Photo: Morf
Those rip currents get sketchy.
Yep. And Thiebaud will love this one: the same week I got hurt—yeah, I had, like, three fuckin’ bad things happen really close to each other. I guess bad things come in threes, right? Alright, so I was trying to get super healthy and Thiebaud recommended beets. I’m sure beets are really good for you, but I had never had one in my entire life. So I got this crazy-ass smoothie with extra beets.
Beets? Like those red vegetables?
Yeah. And I found out that I’m really allergic to them. So I drank this smoothie and about five minutes afterwards my neck and face start itching and I’m, like, “Hmm, alright. This is fuckin’ not normal.” Then I go and look in the mirror and there’s a couple bumps and I’m, like, “Whoa, this is weird.” I go to take a shower, like, “Oh, it’ll be good by the time I get out.” I look in the mirror and the bumps look like they’re times three. I go look at my homie, like, “Yo, do I look alright? Do I look weird?” And he just takes the biggest swallow and says, “We should probably go to the ER.” My whole face was looking like a balloon. So we rushed to the ER and I can’t even talk—I can’t even spit—and they tell me to go sit down and fill out paperwork and I’m, like, “Are you shitting me?!” And then the nurse came out and hooked me up to Benadryl and I was good. But yeah, I had a couple instances of almost dying. And yeah, those fuckin’ sucked, dude.
Three in a row.
Yeah three in, like, one month. It was crazy.
You think you’re gonna stay out here for a while or do you imagine you’ll eventually get back to Oklahoma?
That’s funny. Me and my girl always talk about this but I’ll probably be out here for a little bit longer. My ideal scenario would be to find a shitty house out here in a good zone, fix it up to where it’s triple or double, you know? Sell that or rent it out and then get a nice house in let’s say Oklahoma. Or I don’t know how expensive Denver is, but I back Denver. Because you know how it is, like, I could go buy a house in Oklahoma. Let’s say I pay a million dollars out here. I could go back to Oklahoma and fucking have triple or double, you know? Like, a pool, a hot tub, a sauna at my house—not an apartment. Yeah, I’ll probably be migrating back. Not any time soon but one day. Definitely not in Tornado Alley, for sure.
Isn’t the whole state basically in Tornado Alley?
Kind of. It mainly goes through where my parents stay and certain smaller towns out in Oklahoma. Like, the city’s not that bad.
Fuck, man. That stuff’s scary.
I know. But then I think about that and I’m, like, “Hmm—I might just stay in California.” We’ll see.
Do you have goals? Do you have a five-year plan?
I’ve got plenty of goals, man. After this spot I’m in now—I’ve got a one-year lease—my goal is to get a house out here, so I’m gonna do that and then who knows. If I win at Street League I’m going to buy my mom a car. Yeah, you gotta keep goals, though. If you don’t have goals or a plan you don’t know where you’re going. Or start a fuckin’ beer company and become very wealthy skateboarders like the homies at St. Archers. They killed it. You never know.
When you were out in Barcelona you had a “Free Gucci” jersey. Are you happy he’s out?
Oh yeah. I’m sure everybody that loves that music knows that’s he’s out and is as happy as could be. But yeah. Do you know Gucci Mane? Do you ever listen to him?
I’m vaguely familiar but not really.
Good shit. Very good shit.
He damn sure doesn’t want kids anytime soon which is good, ‘cause kids don’t need to be around dudes getting this kinky. 50-50 Photo: Burnett
What does he say? How does he speak to you?
How does he speak to me? Fuckin’ stay in your shit, stay motivated and get this money. So, pretty much it’s just hype music.
Is the stuff they say in hip-hop songs real or is that all make believe?
There definitely are people out there really doing what they say and then there’s a bunch of people just rapping about the same shit but they’re phony and don’t actually do it. I don’t really have any relation to any of the drugs or any of the gangbanger stuff, but that shit’s just hype. Yeah, it’s just fun music. Going to the shows is just fun—all the homies together.
Totally. Well cool, man. What else should I ask you about? What did I miss?
Maybe I’ll get a new dog next year.
Oh yeah, you got a dog now?
Yeah I got a little Boston Terrier.
That’s the practice child, you know?
Shit. Yeah, I’ve realized that. No real child anytime soon, though, that’s for damn sure.
What are your plans for this summer?
Keep it going. Every month on the calendar is filled up so just staying busy skating.
What are you looking forward to the most?
Munich will be tight. I’ve got a Dew Tour out in Long Beach and I’ll get my parents and family out here so that will be amazing. Fuck, stay busy. That’s pretty much it.
Nice. Well, congratulations on the shoe and all the video parts and thanks for doing this interview.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love y’all.
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