Spot Friction: Tom Karangelov and Jordan Taylor

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When did you guys first hear about each other?

Tom Karangelov: I first heard about Jordan through Cameron Holland’s video Get Radish or from that old SD Loc’d Out montage.

Jordan Taylor: Yeah, I was SD loc’d out.

T: I remember I was on my first Zero trip and some people were, like, “He had a part in Brainwash.”

J: Ah, so you didn’t go to the premiere.

T: No.

T: I know the first time we hung out.

J: Yeah, it was with Andrew Hunter and Alex Schmidt. We came up to skate Huntington Beach and Tom showed us around. I remember I wasn’t even sure if I liked Tom then. I swear. I was like, Does this guy hate me? I couldn’t figure it out when I first met you.

T: Oh, damn.

J: I remember thinking you were really cool, but you also had this other side where I was like, Does he hate me?

T: Ha!

 

What was it about him? Was he quiet or standoffish?

J: Yeah, kinda. He’s got layers.

 

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What’s Jim Greco like? Cool? Correct-a-mundo! And that’s how Jordan’s gonna do this switch drop in, real cool—homemade Hammers shirt and all        Photo: Darwen

 

So how did you break through and become friends? 

J: Russell Houghten was doing a Gravis trip. I jumped on it and they were already on. Tom had already gone on a few trips and I weaseled my way in there. That’s when we became better friends, after that trip. And you lived in Long Beach and so did I at the time. 
I was roommates with Ryan Spencer who was your good friend.

 

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What drew you guys to each other?

J: Mostly his looks. 

T: I think our generation, we would connect through liking Templeton and Toy Machine. Even on that trip, the things you were choosing to skate and the things I was skating were similar. And music and movies.

J: Just everything. It was kind of meant to be, you know? But really, I feel like when we first started searching for spots together, that’s when we became close friends.

T: Yeah, that’s what connects us, fully.

 

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Like a good movie, this slappy 50-50 had a happy ending          Photo: Darwen

 

What are some differences between you guys?

T: Jordan’s indecisive. He never knows what to skate.

J: I’m very indecisive. He got me. Well, I like good movies and Tom doesn’t like good movies.

T: I like really good movies.

 

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Handrails might skate like pumpkin pie, but Jordan wouldn’t know ‘cause he ain’t gonna skate the filthy animals. Oop front blunt to 50-50         Sequence: Darwen

 

What’s the main difference between your movie tastes?

J: Tom considers Crazy Rich Asians to be a really good movie and that is just not true.

T: That’s not what the Tomatometer says.

 

Are you guys just movie buffs or do you have movie making aspirations?

T: Jordan’s the actor.

J: I have movie making aspirations but I don’t know how real they are.

 

Would you consider yourself a thespian?

J: Ha! Maybe now.

 

Did that start in high school?

J: No, it started after high school, in the last five years or so. 

 

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50-50 under to hippy jump over—skating rails without touching rails            Photo: Darwen

 

So what do you do? How does this manifest itself, your thespianism?

T: Oh, we’re plugging Shorts Over Pants?

J: I don’t know where it came from because I used to be super shy and being in front of a camera would be the last thing I’d do. I think it was just my friend who I lived with, we got super comfortable together and when we weren’t skating or doing anything, just hanging out, we’d start using the iPhone and filming the wackiest shit we could think of. Then we were like, Oh, this is so fun. When you’re filming something like that, you lose track of time. It’s kind of like skating in a way. We haven’t done one in a while so we’re falling off but we’re coming back strong.

 

Which of the skit characters are you most proud of?

J: Tom likes the witch.

 

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Check out the big wallie on Tom!         Photo: Darwen

 

What’s her line in that one?

J: “Lotions and potions, divine emotions!” When I put the makeup and wig on, it’s 
much easier.

 

Are you a method actor?

J: Definitely. Ha! No, I’m not an actor. I just like goofing off. I don’t know how serious I really am.

 

Okay, Tom, what’s your secret talent.

T: I don’t really have one.

J: Yeah, right. You can make anything.

 

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Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, props up a gate to assist a front board. JT, bumpin’ and slidin’           Photo: Darwen

 

I agree. I feel like Tom’s defining trait is that he tinkers and creates. He’s constantly doing arts and crafts. It seems like he can’t ever just chill, 
even at home.

T: I just try to mess with things. I feel like they’re always random and different.

 

Yeah, like making a lamp out of a Super 8 camera or learning how to paint.

J: Tom can teach himself anything. He’s a go-getter. If the world’s ending and zombies are coming, I’m going to Tom’s house.

 

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We should have fuckin’ shotguns

 

Did you teach yourself how to pick locks?

T: Yeah, I saw somebody do it in a movie and then I saw Dan Z do it in real life and then I was like, Okay, if Dan Z can pick locks then this must not be that hard. It was just like, seeing another dude that I kinda know doing it means that I can do it. So I remember buying all the stuff online and just sitting with different kinds of locks and messing with them. But it’s harder to do it in the wild than it is with a brand new lock.

 

Why?

T: Locks out in the wild are rusty and you’re scared that somebody’s gonna come and catch you. So at home it’s way easier. But I think it’s helped on a few spots, for sure.

 

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Wold you give a man a foot massage? ‘Cause Tom’s gonna need one after this crusty noseblunt slide           Photo: Darwen

 

I feel like both of you guys started off with perhaps your dream board sponsors. What did it mean for you to get on Toy Machine and Zero?

J: Man, to get on Toy Machine was a dream come true.

T: We always talk about how our generation of skateboarders, we’re so lucky to have had parts in an actual Toy Machine and Zero video. That’s huge, with today’s Internet parts, you know? We hold that pretty high. I’m stoked on that. Nothing can take that away, once you have a part in a DVD from a company that has that kind of history.

J: Yeah, for me, one of my first videos was Misled Youth and the Toy Machine commercial in that, I was just like, Whoa, what is that? And so I was just hooked from an early age. So to actually get on was a dream come true. That was crazy. It took a lot of time and hard work.

T: It almost feels like a different time of skateboarding. I remember being on flow forever. You were on flow for a long time, too.

J: Yeah, I feel like a different person. I feel like that was a whole lifetime ago.

 

Do you feel like your tastes were different or more conventional? Did that slowly change over time?

T: Yeah, my tastes were more conventional.

J: More conventional, for sure.

 

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You got no problem, Jordan’s on the motherfucker. Frontside 180, exit stage left         Photo: Darwen

 

Did you feel pressure to conform to that style? Like, I’m filming for a Zero video so I’ve got to skate handrails.

J: I felt that a little bit, just because you’d go on these sessions and sometimes you’d end up at the big handrail. And you’re like, Shit, I guess I have to skate this. But it’s kind of just the age you’re at, you know? You’re kind of figuring it all out, being a sponsored skater. Then a year or two goes by and it’s like, Wait, I don’t have to always do this. I can still do what I want to do. But for a second I kind of forgot that, skating for Toy Machine. I would go out on the weekends and skate whatever they were skating, or attempt to.

T: I would go on Zero trips and I’d probably just chill at an 18 rail and be like, Oh my God, Brockman is insaneI would never skate that. But there were so many nights of that—we would go to a double-barrel 20 rail and Dane would switch grind it and we’d just be like, Holy shit.

J: But you’d skate some pretty big stuff.

T: I’d skate the stuff that Jamie would want to skate. But I don’t know—in this part I’ve skated things that I would have skated in a Zero video. I don’t know if my skating changed. What were you skating that was different?

J: As a kid you just skate a lot of handrails, especially growing up in San Diego.

T: Yeah, I remember in our generation learning nollie front feebles because of J-Lay. Now there’s just so many different things.

J: Well, you just do something for a while and then you want to try something new or something you haven’t done. So it kind of just leads you to wherever.

T: You also get inspired by different things. Back then I was hyped on Strange World and older Zero videos and I’d be like, Holy shit, Keegan’s 5-0ing a 16 stair and also skating weird. Then you’re kind of inspired by that. Polar was also becoming more of a thing back then, too. So you’d see Pontus and be like, Damn, this dude’s just kind of cruising around. I feel like he got me super stoked on wallrides.

J: I love Greco—all the stages of Greco. They’re so different, all his video parts.

 

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Jordan, tail drop hop to dumpster 50-50, skate whatever you want to           Photo: Darwen

 

I think he’s the method actor of skateboarding.

J: Yeah, he dives in headfirst. And something about that is so cool to me.

 

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The miracle YOU witnessed, we just witnessed a freak occurrence. Tom K, noseslide to firecracker boardslide         Photo: Darwen

 

Let’s talk about one of the big themes—driving around looking for and fixing spots. What’s your approach? Because you live in a very over-skated part of the country, yet you still find new stuff. 

J: You just drive around and get lost. 

T: It’s pretty insane. A few times a week I’ll hit up Jordan the night before and be like, “Hey, lurk tomorrow?” A lot of the time recently it’s based around random movie sets where they’ve filmed things. We’ve been to the Back to the Future house, the ET house, The People Under the Stairs house, some Kill Bill stuff in Pasadena. We would drive to these houses or sets and get lost around there. It seemed like a cool way to go to new areas. 

J: Just find an area you’ve never been to, drive around, comb it as good as you can.

T: And there’s no technique to doing that, you kind of just have a gut feeling. 

 

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Tom, backside 50-50 to front board—lurking pays off            Photo: Darwen

 

You do that instead of using GPS and Google Earth?

T: Yeah, I feel like driving around and physically looking at stuff is better. I wish we could ride bikes around.

 

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What would you say the success rate is overall?

J: Very low.

T: See, that’s the thing—you’re looking for crazy things that almost don’t exist. I’m cool with something kinda normal. So I feel like Jordan’s rate is really low and mine’s a little higher.

J: It’s almost like finding the spot feels as good as doing the trick. Because you know you can skate it so you’re like, Oh, half the battle’s over. 

 

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Tom’s got his own technique, he don’t be tickling or nothing. Crooks to hippie, through the slot         Photo: Darwen

 

Who do you think has a similar mindset as you guys?

T: I’d say the older generation, like Geoff Rowley. He drove around. Heath Kirchart and Ben Gilley rode around on motorcycles looking for schools. I remember talking to Gilley about that at Black Box and being so hyped on that. They’d ride their motorcycles at night and look for things, and I think you can kind of tell in some of those people’s footage that they’re skating different spots than the normal. Geoff Rowley still does it. That’s how he finds all those ditches. And that’s pretty motivating to hear that a 40 year old does that.

J: I just admire someone from an older generation like Greco who just seems so lost in it all, you know? He just loves it so much that he’ll do whatever it takes. He’ll put the thing on the roof and make it happen. I love when you’re just lost in the process of it. You’re kind of giving everything you have to it rather than just getting in the car and seeing what happens. 

T: I also don’t really like seeing the same things over and over again in skate videos. You kind of get tired of seeing the hot spot even if somebody’s doing really crazy tricks. It’s kind of bland looking no matter who films it or who skates it.

 

How many knobs do you think you’ve taken off for this video project?

T: Maybe 30? I take some off for fun.

J: You probably have a shoebox full of them still, right?

T: Yeah, I have it in the car.

 

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In Barcelona you can buy a beer at McDonalds. Not some paper cup either, a glass of beer. Royale boardslide up and over          Photo: Darwen

 

Is there such a thing as doing too much to a spot? Where is the line between Bondoing a crack and taking flatbars from a skatepark to get a line?

J: I think it is a fine line, but it comes back to, like, is that just being lazy? Like, There’s no more spots in LA so we’ll just build one at this foundation and we’ll never get kicked out and you can always skate it. So is that a skatepark now? But finding something that’s already there and making it skateable might be different.

T: I also think it depends on the person who does it. I like watching Jim Greco darkslide a fake five rail. It’s just kind of cool. He’s kind of done everything; he’s paid all his dues; he can just do whatever he wants and I’m cool with it. He wants to darkslide a handrail and he’s not gonna find one in LA that’s small enough? He can do whatever he wants to get his idea across. I respect that. But that’s so weird. Why is that? We don’t like when Berra took flatbars from the Berrics. It was almost like he was cheating.

J: I feel like it’s almost the look of his.

T: Yeah, if you spent the time to make it look real, that’s almost unfair, too.

J: It’s just a fine line. I would feel like I was cheating if I went full Berra.

 

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Uncomfortable hunks of metal

 

Never go full Berra. 

T: I wonder what Berra would say if you asked him about that?

J: Yeah, ’cause moving a table, like you said, is that cheating? Or moving a trash can to a bump, is that cheating?

 

Yeah ’cause there’s always gonna be some amount of manipulation.

T: I just think that bringing brand-new, spray-painted yellow flatbars from the skateparks is a bad look. Like, in a video where people travel the world and put in a lot of hard work, it’s kind of weird to be like, I need a ledge line and fake it twice in one video. I think he does it twice. But I mean, that’s always everyone’s example ’cause it’s the easy one.

J: And he’s kind of the first one to really go for it, I think. Yeah, and Greco skates that ledge that he made but for some reason I didn’t mind seeing that in Baker 3.

T: I guess it’s the person who does it. That has a lot to do with it, and how fake it looks.

 

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If the bank frightens you, you should cease skating scary spots. Tom K, nosegrind and down          Photo: Darwen

 

Skateboarding careers are notoriously short. I feel like you guys, on the other hand, have had a slow-and-steady burn throughout the years. What do you attribute your longer-than-average careers to?

J: Hard work, for sure, but it’s also just a little luck, you know? Kinda right place right time for certain things.

T: Yeah, I feel lucky, for sure, but I also feel like we both have been filming video parts for, like, nine years straight. I don’t really take a break from filming.

J: We’ve both put in the work, I think. But a lot of people put in the work and don’t catch that break so I really do feel lucky. It easily could have not lasted this long.

 

Do you think trends have changed in your favor at all?

T: I feel like there’s a place for everything in skateboarding these days. So if you like skating big handrails, there’s a place for you. If you like wallies, there’s a place for you. So it’s kind of cool. You can do anything you want. So yeah, it has changed in our favor because when I first started skating I remember it was like you had to learn how to nollie into handrails. That was something you learned. You have to learn front feebles. But now kids skip steps and that’s fine.

J: I feel like if you’re confident with what you want to do or you don’t change what you want to do, I think that shows. Someone who’s authentic like Dennis Busenitz just skates and you can almost tell he doesn’t care. He’s just skating. That is always gonna be timeless. So I admire people like that. I’m no Dennis Busenitz but I try to learn from someone like that.

 

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Photo: Burnett

 

I think as long as you’re actively trying to push yourself—whether it’s learning a new trick or trying to find a new spot—people can tell. People can see that.

J: I think putting in the work goes a long way. Just try to do something different and stand out. ’Cause a lot of stuff is repetitive after awhile. 

 

How long do you think skating will last?

J: Oh, forever, dude. What are you getting at?

T: Couple more months. End of the video. We’re kind of nightmares to deal with.

J: We’re high maintenance. Hopefully as long as we feel like we still have something to give to it, right?

 

Would you ever be a professional spot consultant if the price was right?

J: Yep. That would actually be super fun. That job is about to happen, or it probably does for certain companies.

T: Does Thrasher need one? Should we start doing it? Hit us up. Put my email in the mag.

 

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Like Caine in Kung Fu, driving place to place, looking for spots, getting in adventures. That’s what Jordan and Tom are gonna do. If it takes forever, they’ll skate forever. Noseslide to high jump, on the path of the righteous man          Photo: Darwen
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