Pedro Barros Interview
How does it feel to be back in Brazil?
It feels awesome. It’s always good to come back here and get re-energized. Come back to my Brazil roots, see my friends, see the family. It’s always good. Especially Floripa, you know? This place is special.
What’s your schedule now? How much are you trying to live in the States?
So right now I’ve got the place in Huntington and it’s a good base. If anything is happening in the States I’m usually over there. It’s just so much easier. But there are a lot of contests going on all around so it’s just basically a lot of travel in general.
A world away from the Olympic trials, Pedro lofts a corner air over Florence, Oregon’s gaping mouth Photo: Hammeke
Was it important for you to get back to Brazil to be in that contest last weekend?
For Vans it was, you know, because Vans sponsors the contest. For me, I try to do their contests so they’re stoked with the work, I guess. Especially me now, kind of taking this year also with all this Olympic shit that’s happening, taking my attention a little bit on to being able to skate these contests. This is probably gonna be one of my last years of focusing on that, knowing that I’ve got one more year to go ‘til the Olympics. For me it’s like—I even told Phelper this—after I came back from China last year I was, like, Man, I’m going to do this one more year of contests and take it really seriously and then I know I’m gonna be able to just chill and kind of worry about the shit that I’m feeling like or that I’m stoked on.
Is it important for you to win the contest in Brazil, though, or do you care?
To be honest, every time I skate in a contest it’s important to me to just skate good and show myself that I did the best I could. I know if I win or not there’s gonna be consequences of just whatever was done over there in the park. But me, I don’t take contests as something that are really changing my life, you know? Compared to life itself, the dimension of it, that’s such a small little thing. So it’s kind of like, if I win that’s rad. I’m stoked. Of course it’s gonna be something good, but if not, whatever. I’ll just keep living.
Brazil the redeemer, sunset stale in Rio Photo: Acosta
What’s your gut take on the Olympics? What’s at the heart of how you’re approaching this?
Fuck, it’s so complicated right now, but for me my feeling is skateboarding in Brazil is still something that’s got a stigma, you know? For society and everything and the way they treat skateboarders and treat skateboarding by itself. Especially the government in general. Here in Brazil we have a lot of poverty still, a lot of kids on the streets doing fucked-up shit, getting caught up in really bad habits in life and sometimes having to work in crime to take care of their family and shit. Since I’ve been growing up, one of the things that I’ve most seen change is in those kids’ lives and in society by itself has been skateboarding. Like you said at Phelper’s memorial, you guys did events ’cause that brought memory, that brought some piece of joy to people’s minds and they carried that for the rest of their lives. I feel like skateboarding has that job in society here in Brazil. When you put a park next to a community, when we get an event going, when we get something cool that’s related to skateboarding or just give a skateboard to a kid that’s never touched it before, it just opens a whole new thing in their lives and a new perspective of taking challenges in life and just living it. So for me, I feel like it’s a really big tool for us to help out in a lot of things that need to be helped out in society. Skateboarding has given me everything I’ve got, it’s been in my life since I was born so I feel like if there’s a way that I can maybe give back to skateboarding now as me being someone who lived my whole life on top of a skateboard, got contact with people around skateboarding every place in the world and have learned pretty much everything I know from skateboarding, I feel like if we’re showing that type of spirit and we’re showing what skateboarding really is in a platform like the Olympics it’s a chance to maybe change the point of view of a lot of things, you know? Especially about sports in general, because usually all of the sports that were brought to the Olympics have kind of lost their charm or lost their lifestyle. Because there’s a lot of shit, like basketball, that has a lifestyle. Soccer—there is a lifestyle in Brazil around soccer where people just get together and play. But after it just becomes something so political, like it became after the years, it just loses all that. And I feel that’s one thing we gotta keep in skateboarding: keep the respect for the people at the skatepark who are doing it for the love, for the people who are just riding their skateboard daily to their jobs, or people who don’t even skate and just have passion about it. So I feel like we’ve got to show that in a formal way, and nothing better than people who are skateboarders and live their whole lives to be showing that in a showcase like the Olympics. So I feel like, from my point of view, if we do get there and it’s all fucked up in the end and nothing really changes then, whatever, we tried. But my vision, at least, is to try to do that—to bring something back to skateboarding after what it’s given me.
Taggin’ in the local graf yard, wall bash yank in the Zuma zone
We know that it’s gonna be some compromises, it’s not gonna be a normal skate session or even a normal contest, but you’re willing to do that to stand up for skating and to maybe help it bring something more to Brazil?
Yeah, exactly. And I feel like also to bring even something to the minds of the organizers of the Olympic games. The competition is supposed to be something healthy to make people be more united, to make people maybe stand out from their lifestyle or their sport. It’s kind of like it’s not about that anymore; people are going to the Olympics just to win medals. I feel like skateboarding could bring such a strong energy and it can show so much about union and how skateboarders cheer on one another and enjoying the other people that are competing against them and cheering them on. I think it might even bring a new perspective to the people and to the other sports and people who are actually organizing it. I mean, that’s what I hope for. I feel like skateboarding has that power. In my vision, that’s my take on it. I feel like at this point I’ve been competing in the X Games for so long—a bunch of contests, so I feel like I’m also gonna treat it like another contest. Of course there’s gonna be so many compromises in the middle of it, but I feel like if we keep true to our essence and who we really are and we showcase that I don’t think there’s a harm that can be done. I feel like we’re bringing out the true energy about it and we can get more out of it than let go. But I feel like we’ve got to be united. It’s such a hard time right now, especially after Phelps passed, you know, he was the guy. I was talking to him. It’s like, man, you’ve got to keep it going because it’s so hard with what’s going on with skateboarding right now. And it’s crazy ’cause it went this route because now it’s totally up to the people who are really in the industry already to keep it going and the skateboarders to be united. So I feel like it can seem like a water divisor, you know, something that can change and go either to this side or to that side but I feel like if the skateboarders stay united there’s no mainstream or company that’s gonna take over us. We’re gonna keep controlling because this has been our world for so long, since it’s been existing. It’s complicated for sure and I still have so much mixed feelings about it. I’m just taking this road and living each day at a time and feeling the signs of life, I guess. If I get there a month before it happens and feel like it wasn’t meant to be then it won’t happen, but if I feel like everything is happening for a reason I’m gonna keep my path going.
When Jake hyped the session, no choice but to go for it or die trying. Treasure Island got it’s first-ever 540 Photo: Bram
So you said this will be your big contest year and then maybe you’ll do some other things. What are the other things you really want to do?
Fuck, pretty much since I’ve been going to the US and I’ve been skateboarding I’ve been kind of put on a road where it’s been pretty much skating contests and keep your shit going. I feel like after all these years of doing that I’m finally breaking out to a point where if I didn’t want to skate contests anymore I could probably keep my sponsors and still make a living out of skateboarding. There was a point where I didn’t really know if I wasn’t skating the contest if the companies would still have me on their teams and I would still be making a living, you know? But then this happened, the Olympics shit happened and it’s, like, fuck, I can’t really give it a break now. It’s gonna have to take until 2020. But I mean, it’s just another year which is chill for me. I’ve been doing this for almost ten years, doing professional contests. I’m 24 now so next year I’m gonna be 25 and for sure what I want is to be able to film more parts and go on more skate trips, even though I’ve been doing so many skate trips all this time. I want to be more relaxed and be able to be more creative with my shit instead of having to spend so much of my energy trying to put together a run to satisfy a judge or some shit like that. When I enjoy it and when I see skateboarding in contests and I see the runs that can actually be put down in 40 seconds I think it’s pretty rad sometimes. Because it’s like, fuck, look how many sick tricks are stacked in one run or how he hits the park. It’s something cool, you know? But for me it truly never has came close to the real session. Like the trips we did with Phelper and P-Stone. We’re just there playing loud music and we’re skating for, like, two hours straight and in those two hours there’s one run after another that is just insane. For me, that’s still the prime feeling of skateboarding. That’s why I feel like after this I want to be able to live that. Like that feeling for longer, a whole year maybe. For me, that’s when the most magical things to come out of skateboarding, the most magical tricks or the most unexpected photos or footage. Just good times with your friends and laughs and good energy. I guess that’s kind of like what I’ve really been doing my whole life, contests has always been a side gig.
Tailslide to ollie in—is that Terminator Butt-Head? Sequence: Bram
That’s what it’s all about.
I guess that’s kind of the feeling, so hopefully get more on the road, be able to film more, be able to do more of my own projects and shoot more photos. I’ve known you for I don’t know how many years, over ten years, and we never really got together to do a session of photos. It’s crazy how fast shit goes. I’ve got so many friends in skateboarding and so many people I’ve got love for and sometimes I don’t get to spend time with them because I’m spending my time doing other shit. I want to be a pro skateboarder doing the shit I really care about.
Phelper approved Photo: Bram
So you’ve been doing all the contests but the real reason why you have this interview is ’cause you have a video part that you’re sharing with Ronnie Sandoval and Geoff Rowley. How does that feel, to be in the Geoff Rowley Vans video?
Dude, that feels so insane. Geoff is like a myth. Geoff’s always been that type of person that you look at like, Fuck, it’s Geoff. You almost get shaking, I mean, the first times I saw him it’s, like, Whoa, it’s Geoff, Geoff’s here. I couldn’t believe it in the beginning when they were, like, “Yeah, Geoff wants you and Ronnie to have a part in his video, just you two,” and I was, like, “Fuck, that’s crazy, right? Just us two out of everybody that’s on the team, we get to film this project with Geoff?” So at the same time I knew I was gonna be going through this crazy contest period in my life, but I was, like, Man, I’m gonna give my best to be able to get the coolest shit possible and get in this mix, you know? So we went on a few trips together; we did a couple road trips. Being on the road with Ronnie, who’s been one of the people I’ve been spending a lot of time with this year, and he’s such a magical skateboarder. The way he does it is just so unique. He’s always had his own touch and style in skateboarding. And also sharing those moments and that type of time with Geoff, for sure is like a dream come true and just being able to be a part of another movie with Vans. I did the Propeller; it was insane. I didn’t really know the dimensions of what that was going to turn into at the time. That’s pretty much the part I’ve put out that I’m most known for. So being able to work on this film, I know the quality and the way it’s gonna come out, it’s gonna look good and makes you feel proud. It relieves the stress from doing all these contests because at least I know people will get to see another side of my skating outside of a 45-second run.
Sailing a stale with heavy photo incentive. Pay the man Photo: Burnett
These are questions from Peter Hewitt: There are some unwritten rules in skateboarding. What is a rule you think that all skaters should know?
I feel like every skater should know of the rule of the true feeling of skateboarding. The true feeling always comes from yourself. You can’t really lie to yourself. You can’t fake it. Deep inside you’re gonna know it. Phelper always said it. You can win this, you can do that, you can get to all of these places with skateboarding, but in the end it’s all about you on your board. It’s about being with your friends and that feeling that skateboarding brings to you—it satisfies your soul in some kind of way. If you don’t have that, you’re pretty much faking it. Something’s not right. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you’re an insanely good skateboarder, you could be skating on a longboard, but if you can see that spark and that joy, and it’s real, I feel like that’s something that should be respected. Everyone has their own way of living life, their own challenges, their own problems, and knowing that a piece of wood with four wheels can help you in so many ways, it’s amazing. So rule number one: don’t pose it. Gotta be true to yourself.
Even if he don’t win gold, Pedro’s still got the highest air at the Flumes. That’s gotta be worth something Photo: Burnett
Who was the skate bully when you were a kid in your area?
I guess all the older skaters I grew up around, like V’s dad Leo. He was always a pro skater and one of those sour kind of people sometimes. I’d be skating with him and do this sick run in a session, getting little backside airs but at the time I didn’t really know how to do many lip tricks. I could barely do a 50. He would be, like, “Man, you can do all these airs but you can’t even do a 50? You’re bailing your 50-50s towards the platform? You don’t bail 50-50s towards the platform! You gotta commit!” He was always giving me shit. Nothing was ever good enough. He was such a bully, that motherfucker. He was the age of my dad. Phelper has always been a fucking bully too!
What about now?
Now I just give myself so much shit. Nothing’s ever good. Myself, for sure.
Not decked? We’ll let this one slide. Front rock, artsy AF Photo: Acosta
Has social media made your life better or worse?
For me, I’m just rolling with it. Maybe it makes it better in some ways, like maybe you can get a deal out of some shit. Maybe it’s another way to make some money out there. But in the end it’s just so many people giving out their opinions. They weren’t asked for their opinion. Nobody asked! It can be frustrating at times. The expectations can be super high. But in general it’s just a thing you gotta keep the balance with. It can be pretty harsh. It can be overwhelming sometimes. It can make you feel on top of the world because you’re getting so much praise from people but then at the same time you can have so many people talking shit on something that’s not even true. It’s some crazy shit we’re going through right now. People just have to learn to live with it.
Do you have any interest in handplants?
That’s been my dream trick for awhile now but I can’t do it. I need to go to a whole week of treatment just to figure it out.
Fakie ollie the (formerly) spinning volcano at Tigard, OR’s dinosaur park Photo: Hammeke
What’s your favorite trick you can’t do?
Body jars, like a real one. That trick’s gotta feel so good. And handplants! A proper frontside invert. Anything where I could put my whole weight on my hand and stall it for a few seconds.
Front lip on some sweet street coping. ATV FSU Photo: Burnett
What trick do you despise?
Just party tricks—any trick that doesn’t feel good or look good but people do it to impress the crowd. I even did one when I was a kid—the pizza flip! That’s where you grab frontside air and grab the nose and spin a varial between the legs. It looks so fuckin’ horrible! Oh my God, dude.
Do you have a quiver at home or are you a one-board type of guy?
I’m a one-board type of guy.
Gettin’ high on ’shrooms? Nah, just backside ollies. “Sup, Rye?" Photo: Burnett
Who are your favorite skaters from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and today?
For the ’80s it’s gotta be Leo Kakinho, the person who introduced skateboarding to me. I’ve always admired his style and approach to skateboarding. From the ’90s I’m gonna have to go with Cardiel. Two-thousands is gonna be TNT and Heath Kirchart and Nilton Neves from Brazil, Carlos De Andrade, too. I loved the 411 Brazilian videos in those days! Nowadays it’s gotta be GT and Raven. GT especially, going on trips with him and just seeing his approach on top of his skateboard is insane.
If you’ve seen the vid you know this is no joke—5-0 up the E to Smith. Pedro power! Photo: Hammeke
Is vert dead?
I don’t think anything in skateboarding is dead but for the ten years I did the vert contests I felt like the vert skaters maybe weren’t that united. It was more about trying to compete and figure out this winning run. It maybe wasn’t about having a fun session with your friends or working on creative tricks and making video parts. Vert isn’t just about the technical tricks and the 540s, it’s also about a dude soaring across the ramp, end to end, like Hosoi used to do. I feel like the format of the contests kind of killed that side of it. It’s definitely not dead, it’s just not feeling that appreciated right now. I feel like if there’s a vert ramp we’re going to shred the shit out of it and have a fun session so it’s never gonna be dead. And then dudes like Jimmy Wilkins! When you see guys like that it’s so impressive. It’s gotta be more like that and not just a contest run and how many 540s they’re doing. Skateboarding in general! We gotta keep it real, not just a contest thing.
How did you get yourself to jump bowl-to-bowl at the Combi?
Sometimes you use the energy of the people to get that feeling of wanting something. You don’t want to even try if you don’t think you can make it. You don’t want to try some crazy shit in front of a big crowd and not be able to do it. Like Omar, in the beginning of the week was, like, “Man, you gotta do this; you gotta do the metal thing!” and I was, like, Fuck, you know. We were getting to the last run of that contest so I had one more run and I remember, I think Tom was winning, and I was, like, Fuck, dude, I’m not even gonna trip on trying to win this right now. I was in second and it was best two runs counted. So I had one really good run that was like the highest score of the contest but I needed to make another run. I was, like, Fuck, I’m just gonna go for this in the middle of the run because I know if I don’t make it, it’s gonna be what gives me the energy to do it. So I just did that and then everything just happened pretty much on autopilot. People were just, like, “Get it, get it,” and I was trying it. Lincoln was there. He helped out with some tips because he knew how to air that shit so good, the wall that you need to air before you do the transfer. So yeah, I guess the energy of everybody for sure helped.
In Brazil they don’t even have a word for shirt. Trophy back noseblunt Photo: Acosta
Sheesh. Is that the scariest transfer you’ve ever done or has there been scarier ones?
Oh no, I mean that shit was probably for sure the scariest one in the way that it’s just like that thing is so vertical, it just throws you so much into the air. And if you go too much to flat you’re gonna be falling like 12 feet straight to flat plus what you air, so it is something where you’re, like, Fuck, I don’t want to be flying off this just to flat. I wouldn’t say it’s the scariest shit I’ve ever done skateboarding in general, but it’s for sure high up there.
Streetstyle applications to classic ‘crete. Pedro slaps a quick lip at Stockwell, UK Photo: Burnett
Could you do a 360 over it?
I was thinking, to be honest I left that place and I was, like, Man, next year I’m gonna come back and all these kids are gonna be doing 360s over it and shit. I feel like it’s possible, you know. I feel like you’ve got to be really wanting it. But usually if you can fly something straight you can do a 360. It even helps you boost a little bit more. So I feel like it could be done.
Would you believe Pedro did a first-try 540 immediately after this Indy 360 over the Brooking’s bowl? Neither did Hammeke! Sequence: Hammeke
Here’s the last question, it’s from Peter: If the Hellride Crew is going to Antarctica, will you go?
Oh, fuck yes. I’m on it. Fuckin’ Hellride Crew, we’ll ride together to hell if we need to. So I fuckin’, I feel like I was put in this whole, where I’m at right now in skateboarding, the people I know, the shit I’ve done, the biggest one responsible for that was Bruno Brown and Phelper and P-Stone. So when those dudes hit me up, when Bruno hit me up to go to this bowl in Brazil where Phelper and he would be and I got to meet those guys, it was like I was only ten I think or 11, I’m not even sure, but it was like Phelper always made sure he had my back taking me to the places around the world that I’d never really imagined I was gonna be going. So they’re my family and in some type of way whoever’s family to Phelper is family to me. I guess that we’re all together and we all breathe the same energy. I think one of the first Thrasher trips I did was Phelper, P-Stone, Pete and GT. We went to Portugal. But it was one of the best trips still to this day, so I would go anywhere.
Dodgy BMX additions feel the front blunt battery of Barros at Romford. Anytime, anywhere, Pedro skates it like he means it Photo: Burnett
I just watched that video the other night.
Yeah, dude, that was such an epic trip.
Do you feel a responsibility to bring new guys into the crew and to keep it going?
It was crazy at Lower Bob’s, when we were at the contest and Trixie and Tony approached me, like, “Man, let’s make the Skate Rock Brazil happen.” It was always Phelper moving to get the shit going, to get a company to put some money out so they could do shit and I feel like, for sure, we’ve got to keep that going. That’s the spirit we got to keep going. For me, every time I saw a video, even if I wasn’t on a trip, those were the videos that got me most psyched, most amped, to skateboard—even in moments in life when skateboarding wasn’t making as much sense, it wasn’t fulfilling that hole that sometimes needs to be fulfilled. Sometimes you just get caught up in routines and doing this and that. Those were the videos that I’d be, like, Fuck yes, that’s what we need! That’s what I need right now! So I hope I can use that strength and that love I have towards skateboarding to keep those things going. Because it is really magical when you get to see a crew together that shares the same energy. It’s like you can get a band and have the best musicians, but if they don’t share the energy and the vibe and it’s not real and it’s not there—you can see there’s something missing and I think that’s the same thing with skateboarding. When you see a session with the people who have that energy it doesn’t even need to be the most technical tricks or the gnarliest shit, but you can feel that spark; you can feel that fire. So I feel like that’s one of the responsibilities.
That’s why we do it.
Thank you guys for always doing that. It’s such a blessing for me as a skateboarder and for skateboarding in general.
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6/24/2016If you haven’t booked that trip to New Zealand yet, you’re gonna want to by the time this is over. Cheers to everyone who took care of us on the road.