A lot of people can do tricks on a skateboard, but there are a select few who really know how to ride one. Wes Kremer is one of those unique individuals who truly knows how to ride a skateboard. He doesn’t have an agent or a fancy car and half the time he doesn’t even have a cell phone. He skates for all the right reasons—not for the money, the social media following or anything of that sort. He’d be doing the exact same thing whether he was pro or not, just living with his parents and skating with his good friends every day. Although his life is much like every kid who subscribes to this magazine—he is a legend in the making. I can assure you he’ll be remembered decades from now. Wes Kremer is a true skateboarder. I know from 20 years of experience that I’m extremely lucky to be able to photograph him, so please enjoy this interview. —Mike Blabac
So you grew up in San Diego but you have roots in the Bay, right?
Yeah, my grandma has a house in Santa Rosa. Actually, the Bay was the first place I made it to in the States. SFO. Flew into the airport and drove straight up to Santa Rosa.
Nah, from fuckin’ Japan.
You weren’t born in Germany? I’m blowing it.
No, I was born in Tokyo and lived there for the first ten months of my life. Then we moved to San Diego. But actually the first month I was alive we flew to Santa Rosa to go to Grandma’s house for Christmas.
Nice. So you took your first hundred shits in Japan. You’re stoked.
Probably a thousand.
Wes’ first board said “Rad” and he took that shit to heart. Hat-liberating double-barrel ollie. Photo: Darwen
Gap out to switch crooks, making Nash proud. Photo: Blabac
What were your parents doing there?
My Dad got offered a job out there with the law firm he was working for. They had an exchange program where one of their employees from Japan would work in San Diego while my Dad basically switched places, you know. Working in Tokyo as a real estate lawyer.
How old were you when you started skating?
I was about six years old. My next-door neighbor had a Variflex board that said “Rad” on it. I remember cruising around on it for days—always wanting to borrow it and shit. Eventually he gave it to me. I ended up going to the YMCA skate camp and for the first half I was runnin’ the fish tail. Kids kept making fun of me for riding the oldschool board. They were like, “You don’t got the double tail?” I was like, “What do you mean? This is a skateboard.” And they were like, “Nah—this is a skateboard,” holding up their double tails.
"MY NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR HAD A VARIFLEX BOARD THAT SAID 'RAD' ON IT"
What was your first real setup?
After that I got a Nash complete. I think it might have been right when Nash caught onto the double tail. I think the board said “Switchstance” on it.
When you were a kid, who were some of the heavy hitters in SD? Who were the dudes you looked up to?
Definitely fuckin’ The Storm. That came out when I was growing up, so fuckin’ Smolik, Brandon Turner, Kanten Russell, of course. He was killing it. And just all the dudes that skated the YMCA, you know. Chany. Chany’s a G. Alphonzo Rawls, D-Way, Colin McKay, fuckin’ Tony Hawk. Just the dudes that would show up and get me hyped.
Wes avoids the typical route with a switch varial heel, over and out. Photo: Blabac
Kid’s B team to man’s A team. Switch backside 50-50. Photo: Burnett
If skating hadn’t worked out, what do you think you’d be doing right now work-wise?
I’d probably just be taking the typical route. I’d probably be in school. If not I’d probably be lurking nasty on the streets. Getting crusty. Getting crustier.
What is it about SD that makes people so crusty?
Honestly, just the weather. People get too spoiled with the weather. You get spoiled. You post up. You get lazy. They got really good weed here. The nightlife’s cool. You can go out. You can definitely find some ladies. You can go to the beach. You can definitely collect some crust there. Become an instant crustacean. Mandatory. Doing the fuckin’ crab walk with the rest of the crabs on the beach.
"BECOME AN INSTANT CRUSTACEAN. MANDATORY"
Being from SD, did you ever ride for Osiris?
Absolutely. I was on the kid’s B team when I was twelve. They gave me, like, a pair of shoes every two months. I ran the PLGs. They were fuckin’ proper. Some of the best Osiris shoes I ever had were the Jerry Hsu ones.
Did you ever run the D3s?
Oh, absolutely. For sure. Marius moved into the same housing complex as Tony Magnusson, one
of the main dudes at Osiris. Once he moved over there and started kicking it with T-Mag and shit, getting shoes—after that we were hyped on Osiris. And it was pretty much an SD company, so we’d always see the dudes around. I remember seeing T-Bone, Smolik, Kasper. Holy shit, dude, I skated with Kasper one time back in the day. It was insane. We roll up to this triple set, right. I had no idea he was going on the session. I’m looking at it and all of a sudden I see this convertible BMW pull up. I’m like, “Who’s that?” And he pulls right up to the spot, right next to the stairs—bumpin’ this Eminem track. I wish I could say it was that 8 Mile song, but it was some other inspirational one. He gets his board out and he’s like, “Hey, hey, nice to meet you. I’m Josh.” And then out of nowhere—he didn’t even fuckin’ ollie the thing—he starts hucking front threes. He sticks it, dude. Literally sticks a frontside 270 and slams. And after the Eminem song ended, one of the songs from The Storm came on. Like, the craziest, most-techno song in the video. It’s just blasting out of the convertible while Kasper is getting served up, like, literally every try. Unfortunately, at the end of the day he didn’t get it. But I came back with an amazing Kasper
Frontside 180, floated like a tumbleweed in the wind. Photo: Blabac
He’s only fought one person but he’s battled plenty of rails. Half Cab flip boardslide. Sequence: Gaston
You got any crazy Smolik stories?
Multiple. I fought him on my 21st birthday. Only fight I’ve ever been in in my life. The only time I’ve ever squared up on someone.
Oh, dude. He was just being faded, of course. We were at the Brick Alley bar. His homies used to bartend the spot. Smolik would go there so much that the place ended up going out of business from all the free drinks that he was getting. Anyway, I share my birthday with Shuriken Shannon’s girlfriend Ashley. So Smolik’s talking to Ashley and he’s like, “Aaaah, it’s your birthday, bitch.” And he gives her, like, a little slap on the cheek. And she just went fuckin’ ballistic and started throwing every drink she could grab on him. So this all escalates to outside and a brawl starts between B Turner’s girl and one of Ashley’s friends. They start fighting and a fuckin’ clump of hair gets pulled out—the size of my fist. It flies off like a tumbleweed in the wind. Shuriken was gone for this and he comes back and his girlfriend is freaking out. He gets told what happened. So he goes up to Smolik and is like, “Yo, why the fuck you gotta do this, Smolik? You’re an idiot.” He’s getting in his face and he backs him into a bush. Smolik just sinks into the bush—gets stuck like a turtle on his back, you know. Shuriken gets his girlfriend and they leave. I roll over to Smolik and help him out of the bush. I’m like, “Dude, what the fuck? Why you gotta kook it like that? What’d you do?” He’s like, “Aww, I just gave her a little slap for her birthday.” And then he starts doing it to me. And I just give him, like, an open-hand palm to the fuckin’ face. Pretty much just grab his face with my hand and slam him down. He kinda gets knocked over. And then all of a sudden, he just springs up and gives me this death stare. And then he charges towards me, swinging and shit. I’m ducking and kinda laughing. And then one of them connects with the top of my head and I give him another slap. Same shit. He’s on the ground again in a daze and I’m like, “Yo, we’re cool; we’re cool.” Luckily his homie pulled up and I pushed him in the car and was like, “Get this fool home. Get this fool outta here, dude.”
"GET THIS FOOL HOME. GET THIS FOOL OUTTA HERE, DUDE"
Speaking of B Turner, any word on his current situation? Is he still incarcerated?
Yeah, he’s still in there but supposedly he’s getting out in July—which is now, so—I haven’t heard the latest on him, but hopefully he’s getting out in the next couple weeks or sooner. I miss him. He’s a legend.
Rumor has it you’ve kicked it with a famous rapper’s kid. What’s the story?
I was up in LA and this homegirl that I went to high school with hit me up out of the blue. She’s like, “Yeah, I’m staying out in Beverly Hills.” I’m, like, “Let’s meet up. Let’s kick it. Whatever.” So I took the bus to where she was. Right when I fuckin’ roll in there’s, like, a couple sitting on a couch and homegirl just stares. So I go and meet the couple. I’m, like, “Wussup, man? I’m Wes.” And then the homie’s just like, “Yeah, wussup? I’m Rome.” Turned out to be Lil Romeo. We ended up going on, like, a double date and shit.
You went on a double date with Master P’s kid!
Twenty-two years after Danny Way rolled away from a backside 360, Wes returns to the Sports Arena double for a flared-out switch 360 flip. Photo: Blabac
Sometimes you gotta stop and smell the switch backside flips. Photo: Darwen
Remember when you and the homies got Jason Jessee to throw the Skate Mafia sign? How was it getting to meet him for the first time?
Oh, dude, Jason’s a G. He’s sick as fuck. The first time I met him we rolled up to his warehouse and it was like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was insane. So much shit. From motorcycles to guns to fuckin’ vintage cars to a cigarette machine from 1932 that was from the Empire State Building. Which I have now.
Oh yeah—you got it? That’s rad.
Yeah, and all his old boards. It was cool getting to see where he lives. He’s gnarly; he’s cool as shit. Always into, like, something different. And it was amazing to watch him skate, man. I’d never skated with him till I went up to the Sonoma bowl. He was doing carve grinds and shit. I was hyped the way he
was throwin’ them in there and shit. Holdin’ it down and going fast. He was just cruising but he will annihilate. Stalled-out fuckin’ handplants in your eyeballs. And then he’ll fuckin’ whip out some chainsaws and hack down a tree.
A lot of dudes these days skate street and transition. Have you always skated tranny?
Actually, the way I learned how to skate was by dropping in on ramps. I was pretty young when I started, like, six or seven. I remember the first day I was at the skatepark, I’d seen people dropping in on the mini ramp and I was, like, I guess that’s just what you do. So I put my tail on the coping and did what I thought you were supposed to do and then—all of a sudden—just woke up on the flat. Pretty much just fell straight to my dome. Seeing stars. But that’s how I started skating. Just dropping in on every single ramp at the park.
"THAT'S HOW I STARTED SKATING. JUST DROPPING IN ON EVERY SINGLE RAMP AT THE PARK"
You think you’ll ever spin a 540?
Fuck—I was just thinking about that recently. Thank you so much for asking me that. That might be the inspiration to actually learn it. I stumbled across this video of Tony Hawk on Snoop Dogg’s show on the Double G network. Snoop asks Tony what his favorite trick is and instantly Tony answers, “The 540.” I was, like, fuck, dude. I wish I could say that. I’d love to spin a proper 540 over coping.
Are you working on a part with DC for thrashermagazine.com right now?
Yep. They’re fuckin’ putting one together for me.
How’s it coming?
You know, I’ve been training the past four years, practicing all my tricks in the gym. I’ve been drinking my Muscle Milk. I’ve been using HGH. I’m bench pressing, like, 215. Dude, I think it’s gonna have a good fuckin’ outcome, you know. If you watch it on steroids you’re gonna enjoy it. If you’re a normal human being you might not like it.
Until Wes spins that first 540, a wallie late shove-it is gonna have to do. Sequence: Gaston
Wes slapped this backside flip to the bricks like a drunken teammate. Photo: Blabac
Do you feel like each video part you put out needs to be gnarlier than the last, or do you just go with the flow?
Honestly, I think you’ve got to feel like you’ve personally progressed, but I never put pressure on myself to the point where it stresses me out. I try not to think about it. The best thing you can possibly do is just skate. Because that’s what you’re fuckin’ supposed to do in the first place. When you start thinking about it too much, that’s when you start stressing yourself out and just end up thinking about it more than actually doing it.
So you and the Mafia get hooked up by Raw rolling papers, correct?
"IF YOU'RE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE IT"
So if there’s three joints laying on the table right now for you to smoke, which one are you gonna choose: the Tulip, the Windmill or Das Boot?
Das Boot! Mandatory boot. Gimme a fuckin’ Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face.
You still driving that Volvo wagon? You got any plans for a new whip or are you just gonna run that thing to death?
I think she’s got another couple hundred K on her. She’s at like 220. She’s still livin’. She’s still got a strong engine and shit. It’s been in the family since ‘92.
Blender would be proud.
Damn. That’s what’s up. He’s a G.
All that time in the gym is paying off. Frontside flip into the crust. Photo: Blabac
DC shoes seems to be really supporting you in your travels and life in general. What’s the most wild-out DC trip you’ve been on so far?
There’s been many hectic ones. The last one we did was insane. We went to southeast Asia. We did, like, Manila, Singapore, Jakarta and then over to China with, like, Beijing and Shanghai. Ended up going to the Great Wall and shit. We did a couple demos and in the Philippines there was, like, a couple-thousand heads, so this mall was just poppin’. And the setup was so janky. There was a quarterpipe and where the coping was there was maybe like a foot gap from the deck. Just a pit with all these nails sticking out of the fuckin’ ramp and shit. If your leg got caught you might not fuckin’ see it again. It was sketchy, dude. So deadly. Like, you’d roll up a ramp and they’d just cave in. And everything was freshly painted but the paint didn’t get a chance to dry ‘cause it was humid as shit. That was a hectic one. Of course I was just crusty beyond belief. Just trying to skate through that shit. I actually puked mid demo. I was stoked. Someone’s fully in the middle of doing a trick and I’m just in the background blowing chunks. It was heavy.
Give me a highlight from the very first Skate Mafia trip you went on.
Oh my God. Just being on the trip in general. I shot Tyler Surrey with a Roman candle and the fuckin’ flare got stuck behind his shirt and burned a giant hole in his back. Luckily he’s the mellowest dude and didn’t retaliate.
"PEANUT PER DIEM"
You were only 14 when you went on that trip, right?
Were your parents at all concerned?
Um—yep. But for the most part they knew I was in good hands.
Did they know you guys were partying?
Nah. But honestly, that trip introduced me to the wonderful world of skateboarding. We had to do at least one demo or autograph signing a day to survive because nobody had any money. So all the money we made went to gas, food and beer. Actually, no food. Just beer. We’d pass around a bag of peanuts. Peanut per diem. It was heavy. But good times. Best shit of my life.
Last question, Wes: are you Skate Mafia for life?
We don’t say it for nothing.
11/18/2019Smoookes new video part premiered last night at Volcom’s HQ. Beer, tunes and weed—all free?! What a time to be alive!
11/06/2019Jacob Rosenberg's short film documents legendary skate photographer Mike Blabac and the bonds he's made with his friends/subjects. Worth a watch!
10/11/2019Once again the world’s greatest skate and music fest roared to life in the Big Apple with a diabolical new ramp, epic bands and Yuto, Greyson and the Vans Wrecking Crew throwing down all weekend long. Missed it? Sucks to be you.
9/13/2019Stevie Williams’ legacy in skateboarding is one-of-a-kind, so it only made sense for DC and DGK to throw him a celebration for the re-release of his classic DC shoe.
9/06/2019Join Andy Roy, Wes Kremer, Jason Jessee, Cody Chapman and more of the Hard Luck team September 11th at Sonoma Originals skateshop.