Stoke Levels Rising: Louie Lopez Interview
This video is killing people! Everyone’s limping into the finish line.
Yep, everyone’s getting smoked, unfortunately.
When you have a big video like Holy Stokes do you try to save the big tricks until the end, or do you not even think about it like that?
For the most part, I don’t really think about it like that, but sometimes if I know there’s a pretty dangerous trick I want to try I’ll save it until close to the end date so I don’t get taken out for the rest of the filming time.
Do you like the pressure of making big plans for a trick, like, where there’s a whole crew and a bunch of angles, or do you prefer it to be more spontaneous?
I definitely prefer for it to be spontaneous and whatever happens happens. Luckily for the video parts I’ve had so far I haven’t had to try to get a last trick at the very last second so it hasn’t been super stressful. It’s definitely hard when you’ve got a week and you’ve gotta try to think of something to do. And then it’s, like, “Fuck! I can’t think of anything!”
Have you ever written down a trick list?
I have maybe before I start a video. Or if I try something but don’t get it and know I want to come back I’ll write it down so I don’t forget. It’s super easy to forget things that you want to do. Just a little reminder.
Gap to lip. Don’t ask Louie about his graffiti name. Photo: Arto
Are you so busy these days you mostly do all your skating on trips?
Lately, I’ve been gone so much for the Converse and Volcom stuff and for some contests, that when I get home I need to recharge. I’ve only been home for a week at a time tops for so long. It’s hard to get off the plane and be, like, next day, “Okay, let’s go get it!”
Does home feel normal anymore?
Yeah, it’s nice to be on your own schedule, just do what you want to do. Charge up the batteries.
Let’s go back to the old days. How’d you start skating?
Just a classic story: my cousin had a crappy plastic skateboard lying around and he was my older cousin so whatever he did I wanted to do. So I picked up a skateboard and never put it down.
Rage over the cage. Switch heel. Photo: Arto
You started super young, right?
Yeah, I started when I was about five.
That’s nuts. Do you remember your first kickflip?
Yeah, I remember the exact situation. I was maybe seven or something. I remember skating in the driveway for hours; trying all afternoon and then it was getting dark and I couldn’t get it. And then I tried one fakie flip and it worked a lot easier. So I ended up doing a fakie flip before a kickflip.
Did your dad skate?
Yeah, he didn’t really do crazy tricks but he’d cruise around. He had a Steve Cab board and all this. He kept it mellow.
This is from another video, but JEEZUS does it get any better? Photo: Coulthard
Did you guys skate together?
Oh yeah. When I was younger he’d take me on these skatepark missions. I would skate the whole day, like five parks in one day. When the weekend came around we’d be, like, “Let’s try to skate as many parks as we can!” He was cool enough to do it, so sometimes we’d hit four or five parks in one day. And eventually he started skating with me. For a little bit we were both skating. He was slashing bowls and stuff.
How did you meet Lance Mountain?
I’ve seen Lance since I was really young all over LA. I’d see him at all these different skateparks. We kind of knew each other from that. I guess he wanted to hook me up on The Firm, but it was towards the end of The Firm days. This is what I heard. So I guess once that ended he had me in mind for Flip and he told the owner Jeremy Fox. So I was skating the Vans park and there’s this old guy following me around, watching me in the distance. I was kind of freaked out. And it was Jeremy. Everywhere I’d go he be in the distance, watching.
I remember the first time I met you and your dad, Geoff told me, “If you think David’s little, wait ‘til you see Louie.” And at the time you were the littlest kid I had ever seen who could actually do tricks.
I just grew, like, two years ago!
I was gonna ask you about that. I know we’ve talked about it in the past. You’re taller than me now, but I know until a couple of years ago you looked way younger than you actually were.
Always! People always thought I was way younger. Even to this day people don’t believe that I’m 21.
But when you were 17 you looked like you were 13?
Yeah, when I was 17 I looked 12. I was just waiting for that day when my voice would get a little deeper, maybe I’d grow a little bit. Get more pop.
Did you notice when people finally stopped talking to you like a little kid?
Yeah, I guess people start having deeper conversations with you, talking about the future and stuff.
When you were 17 and looked 12, was it weird trying to meet girls and stuff?
Definitely. I went to school until the 7th grade, so I wasn’t in high school so I could meet all these girls or anything. Meeting random girls—it was definitely a battle. Trying to talk to a girl and spit game, but my voice sounds like I’m 12, that’s not gonna work out too well. You know?
It’s weird because Elijah Berle looked 25 when he was 14, smoking cigs, like, “Hey, what’s up, dude!” and then you at 14 looked like an eight year old. Such a trip.
Yeah, I was trying to fit into small t-shirts. I had to go to Volcom and find the youth section.
Did you ride mini-boards for awhile?
Yeah, probably until I turned 15. After that I stepped up to 7.5 or something. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I stepped it up to an 8.25.
You’ve been on Volcom forever, right?
Yeah, since I was 12 or something.
Like it’s a curb. Boardslide to 5-0. Sequence: Capstone
Is this your first serious part?
No, I had stuff in True to This and I put out a Volcom part online and stuff. I had a part in Extremely Sorry, too. This one is the first major production, though. I guess this is my first full-length part where I can show my skating a little more. Before now I was still growing and not yet reaching my full capability.
And I’m sure you didn’t really have a say in what went in some of your earlier parts too.
Yeah, this has been cool to work closely with Russell and really get involved in the process.
Did you ever get freaked out, seeing some rowdy shit as the youngest dude in the van?
I definitely was in the van when I was younger and been told to look away. Fortunately my parents have always been pretty open with me so it wasn’t like I was super sheltered.
Was it hard when Geoff and Mark left Flip?
It was definitely a little bit of a bummer when the guys who’d been there since Sorry left, but right now there’s a new crew of younger guys and we all get along really well. I guess it’s the newer generation. You don’t want people to stick around if they’re bummed, so it’s all for the best.
Speaking of the younger guys, what’s Ben Nordberg really like?
Nordberg is definitely a little misunderstood. It’s not like he’s out there lollygagging. I think a lot of people would like to see a little more street footage and maybe some blood. They want to see him bleed. Yeah, he can huck some stuff. I’ve seen it.
Is it true that you should never go full Nordberg?
Yeah, you should never go full Nordberg, ‘cause then you might fall asleep on a mini-ramp.
Speaking of mini ramps, I hear you’ve got a bowl at your house you skate every day for hours.
Yeah, I’ve got a bowl, but I guess it’s one of those classic cases where as soon as you get something at your house you don’t even end up skating it too much. I skate it every now and then. It’s good to have, but when I’m home I’m usually trying to roll out with the crew.
You bought the place across the street from the house you grew up in, right?
Yeah, we’ve got quite the posse. My grandma lives in the way back. That’s my aunt’s house. The house in front is the house I grew up in. And then I bought the house across the street and me and my grandpa share that. I did some construction and built some walls so now we each have our own equal space. So we’ve got the crew. It’s never boring. If I ever get lonely I can just walk across the street.
Your family must be close because a lot of dudes your age want to move as far away from their families as possible.
I’m the complete opposite. It would be hard for me to be away from my family. It’s not like they’re holding me back from anything. We all just love each other’s company and it works out nice.
Don’t fight it. Back tail at 605. Photo: Jones
Back to Nordberg, is he the one who made you cut your pony tail?
Nah, it’s funny. I was at Street League in Barcelona and I was skating around and Alec filmed a trick of me and my hair looked like a mushroom. It was blowing around. It was really pissing me off. I was just over landing tricks and having my hair in my face. Or getting a photo but you can’t even see anything but a poof of hair. I got home from that trip at midnight and I woke up my dad and was, like, “Dad, can you just buzz my hair right now?” I was either gonna do it then or never. So my dad hooked me up and buzzed it all off.
There’s a few Volcom dudes with ponytails in the closet. Cutting those things is like a right of passage over there. Never forget Caswell’s pony tail.
There are a few times where I wish I had my long hair back, but not when it was super long. That was crazy.
I thought you were an Indian at first, like a Navajo or something.
Yeah, Indian or a Hawaiian. But now I’m good with the buzz cut.
Was it a trip when you had those Smart Water billboards all over the country a few years ago?
Yeah, it was definitely a trip; something I never really expected. But how many times can you say that you’re on a billboard? Some people would not be down, but I thought it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I know it wouldn’t be for everyone, but for me it seemed like a cool thing. Why not?
You and some of the Flip bros are on Rockstar these days. What do you have to do for a drink sponsor like that? Doesn’t it have a lot to do with wearing the hats?
It’s actually really mellow. You have to wear the hats at contests and shout them out on Instagram every once in awhile. It’s easy and they’re really supportive. There’s even talk of getting a park and stuff for us out here.
You’ve been doing pretty good in contests lately, right? Have you always skated contests?
Yeah, I started skating contests when I was pretty young but it was never anything super serious. I always liked getting to skate with kids from all over who I would only see at the contests. If there was contest in Riverside or whatever my family would make a little trip out of it, get a hotel and spend the night.
It was super fun.
Fakie ollie, switch crooks. Philly glove weather. Photo: Jones
Nowadays, you make some good dough. Do you take it more serious?
Yeah. I like to be feeling good, but I’m not there training or anything. I like to skate with the boys and have a good session. I think with contests it also depends on the day. When you get a day when you’re not skating good, it’s not too fun.
What do kids ask you about most often?
Mostly they are asking for product. I actually got a funny one the other day. A girl contacted me on the DM from somewhere really far, like, somewhere far away in Europe and asked me if I would go to the prom with her. That was pretty funny.
Do you reply to kids on social media?
Yeah. I try to reply as much as I can. I can’t reply to every single one. If people tag me in a photo I always like it. I know if I was a kid and someone I looked up to or admired reached out, even with a little gesture, it would mean a lot. It’s not hard to do. All you gotta do is double tap it.
You’re one of the most even-tempered kids I know. Do you ever lose it? Have you ever gotten into a fight?
No, I’ve never even actually been in a fight yet. It seems like it’s hardly ever worth it when people fight. Luckily, I’ve never been put in that situation.
You switched shoe sponsors awhile back. How’s it going over at Converse?
It’s going good. It was a little nerve-wracking at first because I didn’t know anyone on the team too well, like, “Damn, who am I going to room with?” But it’s been really cool to get to know everyone. It’s a solid crew. We’ve been having some really great trips. It’s only
Have you ever hooked up a friend to get them on a team?
I’ve definitely put in the good word here and there. I don’t know if he’d admit it, but in some way I helped Ant Travis get the filming job at Volcom now. We filmed an online part for Volcom and it just went from there.
You were the first person I saw do a combo on a kink rail. How did it occur to you that it was possible?
I don’t know. You just board slide or something and it works out and you’re, like, “Well, I could try something else.” You just experiment, I guess.
Backside Smith, off the top Down Under. Photo: Mapstone
Any combos you want to try?
Maybe a board slide pop in to back 50, but at some point it gets taken too far.
Who was your first favorite skater?
Honestly, when I was a kid I’d got to the skatepark in Torrance and I’d always see Daewon there. I had this Matix shirt, that had “Song” on the back and I always used to wear that shirt whenever I’d go there. I’d have to say Daewon, ‘cause he lived in Torrance or somewhere near me. Same zone, kind of.
Who blows your mind now?
I’d say skating with Alec is insane. He’s super mellow but you’ll get to something ridiculous and he tries it and most of the time he does it. He’ll just hop on the craziest thing straight away, like no fear at all. To me that’s pretty impressive. He does a lot of stuff at spots where it’s, like, “That shouldn’t be done.” Like, go to this kink rail and board slide is cool, 50 is cool, but that’s not good enough for him. He’s gotta front feeble it or something mind-blowing. His confidence is insane.
Do you see a time where you could be over skating? Would you pull a Heath Kirchart? Do you ever look to the future?
I can see where he’s coming from, especially for someone who did the shit that he did. When you get a little older you just want to skate. You don’t want to have so much weight on your shoulders. But for me, I just want to keep doing this for as long as I can. It’s really insane to be able to skate every day and not have to work a real job. I’d like to do that for as long as I can. You get to do whatever you want and have fun with your friends. Sounds like a pretty chill deal
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