Spanky Interview

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How are you doing today, Spanky?
I’m alright.

What have you done so far?
Just been walking the dogs around, giving them some treats and stuff.

So you’re a new dad. How did you become a new dad?
I was in Echo Park and I saw this dog running down the street, basically right by the freeway. There were a bunch of people out on the street and it looked like maybe he belonged to one of them. But I asked around and he was just kind of cruising with nobody in sight, so I lured him in with some dog food that I had brought for Omar, my girlfriend’s dog, and I quickly put a leash on him and walked him around the neighborhood to see if I could find his owners. And then we took him to the vet, saw that he wasn’t chipped and put up signs everywhere and made a Craigslist ad and all that stuff but we haven’t been able to find his family so I might be his new papa.

 

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If your last name is Long you’re not just gonna tap those ledges. 180 to switch crooks over the dragon’s back    Photo: COLEN


Well, you’re in love now, right?
Yeah. I was trying not to get too attached and that lasted about 45 minutes.

Well, dude, now you’re part of the skaters-with-dogs family.
Yeah.

We can start throwing them over fences and stuff.
First I’ve got to find out if he’s one year old or ten before we throw him over any fences. It’s tough to tell with him.

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It’s like Slash. You think he’s, like, 38 but he’s actually 22. So how did you start skating and where did you start?
I grew up in Agoura Hills which is just north of The Valley, like, 40 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles. My brother always had skateboards around and I was skating with neighborhood kids, basically just fucking around and riding bikes and skating or whatever. Then I met JT Aultz and he’s the one who told me, like, “Do you want to be a skateboarder or not?” He showed me my first videos and told me what was wack. And at the time he lived in Agoura but his dad lived in San Diego and he was already flow for Evol and so, to us, he was just already the biggest legend and he could do ten-stair rails and shit when I met him. So he showed me the ropes and taught me how to skate and that’s when I knew I had turned into a skateboarder.

And for those people that don’t know, because you grew up skating with a lot of people that went pro, who were 
those people?
Well, around that same time I was skating with Mikey Taylor a lot because he lived in Agoura as well. So there’s one big one. And then he moved to Newbury Park and that’s when I started skating with Justin Case and Van Wastell and all of those dudes. And we’d all just go back and forth around that whole area and then we met Paul Rodriguez and went to skate camp with him. He was kind of in The Valley but we were all pretty close in proximity and we all became the crew.

Spanky 2 750pxWallride to backside 180—that shit’s definitely not wack        Sequence: COLEN

What videos did JT show you?
He showed me Welcome to Hell which had just come out and then a lot of 411s. But he also had these tapes that had a bunch of videos on them and sometimes it would just be sections of them—it was all just kind of mix taped as I remember it. And he was definitely, like, “This shit’s cool and this shit’s wack,” you know? We were still all kids but he had an actual skateboarder’s mentality instead of the kids in the neighborhood who were just kind of fucking around and just as easily could have picked up a pair of rollerblades or something.

Yeah, older kids gave me videos too. They were mix tapes and they would just be, like, the Prime video and Virtual Reality and sometimes just skate parts that I didn’t even know what they were.
Yeah, a lot of Plan B videos too. Thankfully he was showing me all of that shit and then Mikey and those guys were super into the Girl squad and he was always watching Mouse. It was cool.

 

Spanky 3 750pxNot a one foot. Frontside flip with a Boss-approved catch        Photo: BROACH

So now that we’re talking about videos, we just finished the Emerica video. 
Tell us about this project and why this one’s different than other videos you’ve been in.
Well, for one, in the beginning of this project when I came aboard it wasn’t ever clear that I was going to have a part in the video. It was more like I was just in a place where I had just stopped partying and was really focusing on skating and I just wanted to be out there with you guys. And luckily the van door was open and Jon Miner was, like, “Just cruise out with us; film whatever.” And this was before I even got back on Baker and I was, like, “Maybe I can just film a part and who knows—it could go somewhere or maybe I could have some tricks in your part something.” And then really it’s just been a different journey for me because I feel like over the last two years I’ve been kind of getting my sea legs back and changing my expectations and changing my intentions for this video. And so I’d say only recently it became a definite thing that I was gonna get a part. And so it has felt like this journey where, in contrast to the parts that I’ve filmed before, any sort of pressure or drive was coming from me because I just wanted to prove to myself that I still have some shit left in me that’s worthy of at least being seen let alone in a video of this caliber.

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So I know filming for videos when you’re younger is way different than it is now. Tell us about what it’s like to try to go do stuff now.
I think that one of the benefits of when I was filming when I was younger was that I didn’t have to be intentional about anything. I could just go out when I was young and fresh enough where the tricks would kind of just fall into my lap. You know, when you’re young you’re a skate rat and all those years of training—not training, but just skating so hard to get sponsored and it’s, like, once you do, the parts are already there and you’re so used to your board and your bag of tricks and stuff like that. This is the first time I’ve really been intentional and direct about seeking spots and particular tricks that I want to do which ended up being pretty fucking challenging for me because it hasn’t been natural for me to plan anything my entire life. So yeah, it’s just like a lot of fuckin’ effort. And I don’t know if that will even come across but that just happens to be what it takes for me right now.

Yeah, I feel like I have the same problem as you. I don’t like to lead a session. I don’t like to be the one, especially now, where all the pressure is on me to do something. I kinda do better now when everybody’s out skating and something will just happen spontaneously.
That’s why I’ve always liked going on trips and stuff because maybe you just accidentally end up at a spot and that’s your wave and you jump on it. And this video is, like—we didn’t make many trips. We didn’t go out of the country. A lot of it’s LA and some trips up North and stuff. But you know I’m down to jump in the van every single day and be, like, “Yeah, fuck yeah I’m down to skate.” And then it’s, like, “Okay, where are we taking you?” Then my typical reaction is, “Well, wherever you guys want to go.” So only towards the end of this project it’s been like we’re in the fuckin’ zone where it’s, like, “Take me. I’m ready. Permission to send.”

So obviously we have a rad team and an awesome filming situation with Miner and Bucky. How has it been with Miner on this project?
It’s been a fucking treat this time around, honestly. We’ve been working together for—I don’t even know how long it’s been. Thirteen years or some shit? And we’ve both grown and changed a lot, we all have, and it’s been rad. I think he’s seen that I’m on my own trip and he doesn’t have to drag me through this part because it wasn’t a given that I need to film this part for them or anything, you know? His intensity is still there and so he still motivates us and that makes you want to try shit that you maybe normally wouldn’t try because he’s just got that big-brother effect on you. But it hasn’t been the sort of clash that it was in the past. I just actually feel motivated by the pressure. And his pressure has lightened up and it’s more effective.

Spanky 4 750px 2Switch noseslide kickflip out, definitely in the fucking zone    Photo: BROACH

Yeah, Stay Gold Miner is so different from Made 2 Miner.
Yeah.

Yeah, I like that Miner knows how to put the right amount of pressure on each person and he kind of knows what we’re capable of even when we don’t, which is pretty awesome. He definitely makes really good suggestions.
Totally. And in the end I just also feel fortunate to work on projects with somebody over the years where I can just, like, fuckin’ fully trust his vision and judgement. So I’ve stopped fighting that and been, like, “Alright, he knows what’s up.”

Let’s talk about your sponsorship history. It’s pretty awesome. What was your first sponsor?
My first sponsor, I’d say, was Sixteen skateboards, besides my shop sponsor which was IG in Agoura. I got flow for Physics wheels and I was on Sixteen skateboards.

Explain what Sixteen was.
So Sixteen was a company out of Climax Distribution that was like a little-brother company to Invisible skateboards. But basically it was a kids’ company. I think it was like the original little-kids’ company. Supposedly the fuckin’ gig was you ride for the company until you turn 16, then you hopefully move on to the adult league.

Spanky 5 750pxNot ready to throw his dog over a fence just yet but down to huck himself. Switch wallie 180    Photo: BROACH

It’s like a foster skateboard company? They just let you loose?
Yeah, basically. That’s probably what it looked like too when we would show up at spots or something, like we were in some sort of Big Brother program.

And then who did you ride for after they kicked you off Sixteen?
Well, the guy who was running it left and then he ended up working for World and I was flow for World Industries for a second. And, actually, Herman was flow for them at the time too. And that was kind of a weird time for me because Mikey Taylor had moved out and JT had moved out and it was during high school and I didn’t really have a bunch of people to skate with. That was my first lull of many. And then I just started skating with Mikey again. For whatever reason I was able to get with those guys and skate with them in Newbury Park or in The Valley and we started filming with Scuba Steve and Heath Brinkley and then those guys got me on City Stars. And that was when we all rode for City Stars for a little bit. It was me, Mikey, Justin Case, Van Wastell, Devon and Javier. A bunch of people. That was pretty fuckin radical, that whole era.

And then how did you get on Baker? And were there other companies you could have rode for too? Were there other companies after you?
Well, yeah, so then at that point, that was right around when I started getting stuff from Emerica and then Mikey and Paul and all those guys left City Stars and I was on the team because I was those guys’ friend. Like, I never fit in with any of the City Stars guys and I think Kareem kind of liked that. But at the same time it was kind of a given when they left that I was out too. And at that point I was without a sponsor for a second and just going on Emerica tours and kind of jumping on trips with whoever and it was a really rad time where there was a lot of traveling in skateboarding so we were in Europe all the time and stuff like that. And I was skating a lot with Ed and I was really considering getting on Toy Machine and at the same time I was skating with Andrew a lot and those were both my fucking total mega heroes. And I just ended up going on this Baker trip and it just became obvious on the trip. They were, like, “So is this really even a question?” And then I was, like, “Yeah, alright.”

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After this Emerica video is all done and everything, what are you gonna do? 
Are you gonna keep filming?
Yeah. You know, I feel like this really has been one of those projects where every month I’m over most of the footage from the month before. So my B-sides and C-sides might be filled up but my part is, I’m guessing, pretty to the point because I feel like I’ve finally gotten to a level physically where I’m stoked. So we’re gonna work on the Baker video right after this and I just want to keep it rolling because I feel good right now and I still feel like I’m conditioning myself more and more, which just takes longer as you get older. So it’s weird that it would take two years. But right now I feel like a different skater than I was two years ago so I just want to keep chasing that potential and I’m stoked to do this as long as I can, as long as anyone gives a fuck. But I’m excited to work on that part.

Spanky 6 750pxLeave wheel marks, not handprints. Textbook frontside wallride    Photo: ZASLAVSKY

I feel like everyone’s, like, “Are you just gonna chill after this video?” And I did that after a big video part before and I just kind of lost everything because I took an extended vacation. So I guess I’m gonna start filming for your friends’ section in the Baker video.
Yeah! Dude, totally. I mean, I’ve realized that when I take a break from beating myself up all the time and going outside and sort of letting all that steam out—whatever it is that we do on a daily basis, I just need to be out there doing that. If I’m not physical and outside I’m just a mess, so I’ve come to really appreciate that. And so this project’s been fun. I just want to keep working on projects, even if the age of all these long video parts that take forever is coming to an end, I know that it’s in my best interest to be out there pushing myself physically and mentally.

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