The Follow Up: Alex Midler "You Good?"
Interview by Alex Papke
What’s up, Midler? Where are you at right now?
I’m good. I’m up in Mammoth right now. I’m so tired. I wanted to do this sooner than later.
What are you doing up there?
Well, we saw that it was about to start snowing so we just drove up last minute. Actually, the day after the premiere we drove up here. It’s me, little Sunny, Sorgente, KB and my homie Ethan. It’s been snowing all day and the past couple days so it’s been good.
Not a bad way to celebrate after this last part. This whole You Good? project was based around Red Bull wanting to do a video with you, Zion and Jamie because you’re all close friends. How long have you known those dudes?
Well shit, I think I met Zion in Minnesota at a King of The Groms contest. I think I was around nine. Then I met Jamie a little later on, maybe when I was 13. I think we met at Tampa Am; it feels like a really long time ago but I’m not completely sure.
Had you heard of them before you met them?
No, not at all. When I met Zion we just became instant friends and then we ended up being on the Woodward show together. We kinda just clicked from the start. And Jamie, I didn’t even know who he was. But then I saw him one year at Tampa win the best trick doing the tré flip lipslide on the gap to rail wearing the pink shirt. I knew him, but I didn’t know how good he was until then.
Skinny bank, precarious crook—Midler takes the plunge in Portugal Photo: Matreno
I remember the pink-Hurley-shirt days. How did skating for this big energy drink company come about for you?
I was about 14 and someone at Red Bull had contacted my parents about it. My parents didn’t tell me for a year. They kept it a secret. They didn’t really know what was good at first and I guess you can’t even wear the hat until you’re 15, so that was a big part of it. Once I found out, I really wanted to do it. My mom didn’t think I would want to do it, so she just never really brought it up. It took off from there.
Were you skating for anyone at the time?
Yeah, that was when I was riding for Real, Spitfire and Thunder. I think I was riding for Etnies, too.
Since it was your mom’s call, do you think she was hesitant to have her kid start skating for a brand where you’re essentially drinking caffeinated sugar water every day?
Yeah, for sure. The first time I found out what Red Bull was, I was nine years old and I was drinking them at Woodward a lot. I came home to my mom and was like, “You know what drink we need to have at the house? Red Bull!” At that moment she was so hot. She told me how I can’t be drinking that and how it has too much sugar. I don’t know. I guess when I got older it didn’t really matter, but back then it was a big deal.
Sugar water keeps Midler going, taking this feeble backside 180 all the way home Photo: Matreno
Were you hesitant when it was your call to skate for them or not?
Well, I didn’t even really know what it would mean back then. I just thought it was another opportunity to skate with people who I look up to and do more things in skating. I was pretty down at the start.
How often do you even drink the stuff?
Not every day, sometimes not even for months. It just depends. Like when I drove up to Mammoth this weekend I drank three in the car because I was driving through the night. But on a normal day it’s not like it’s part of my daily routine.
It’s cool you have access to a physical trainer through Red Bull, though. Not everyone has that.
For sure. For most people, all they see is us wearing this hat but to someone like me, who is skating every day and constantly hurting my body and putting myself at risk, it’s nice to push my limits knowing that if something bad happens that I’ll be taken care of. Red Bull has my back on that, so there’s a lot of opportunities that come about through it.
For someone skating for an energy drink sponsor, I heard you’re a pretty tired dude.
It’s not as bad anymore, but I went through a period of time where I would just sleep in a lot. I would be on trips and have a lot of problems with waking up late. But I worked on that this year and now I wake up pretty early, but definitely on the way to spots, after I just got done battling a trick for an hour or two, I’m gonna take a nap in the van. Sometime I get caught slacking, sleeping in the van or maybe at dinner. Sometimes you gotta do it.
Wake up at the spot, back Smith a crusty 13 and go right back to sleep ’til the next one. All in a day’s work for Midler Photo: Matreno
Hey, sometimes you gotta sleep through a dinner or two. You were playing a bit of catch up for this part because of an injury, correct?
Yeah, we had ten months to film for this video, which realistically isn’t that long to film for a video project. So the beginning of last year I actually fractured my knee. I almost had to get surgery but got really lucky and avoided that. That took me out for three-to-four months and that was right when the video started so I was already on the sidelines at the start. I missed the first trip to Taiwan so I was almost playing catch up at that point. The first trip I went on, I felt like I had so much pressure on myself to do crazy shit. I could just feel the vibe where everyone else had two minutes of footage and I had zero.
And you still pulled off having a fucked-up last part.
Filming for the video, my goal was never to have last part. That was just something that happened at the very end that I’m forever grateful for, but it wasn’t something that was on my mind. I just wanted to skate and travel and do the best that I could. I think the injury for sure helped out because I put all this pressure on myself to go harder at the start. Once I came home from the first trip I actually had about a minute and a half so some weight was lifted.
It looked like a majority of your footage was filmed on that first trip to Portugal. Aren’t the spots pretty tough to skate there? I saw a few wood run-ups for that crusty ground.
I mean, some of the spots are crusty but there was a lot of stuff that was surprisingly pretty smooth. We would just have a bunch of spots on the phone every day, pick through them and there ended up being a lot of stuff to skate out there. It was non-stop mode in Portugal.
Even if the spots aren’t ideal do you still just go for it since you’re there?
When it comes to these trips and you’re all the way across the world, you’re probably not gonna be going back to them for this video. Personally, once I’m just so far into a battle I can’t stop. I develop a connection with the trick and it becomes personal, so if I’m beating myself up and it’s been two hours I’m not gonna stop. I either can’t walk or I’m completely over it. I don’t give up easy.
I saw that at Bust or Bail with the kickflip back lip. That was crazy to watch you try. Does it help having a crowd there to fire you up or would you rather it just be you and a filmer?
If I was filming that I would have left awhile ago and come back the next week. But with everyone there and them having to knob it after, it was just like some of the spots in the video. Even though it’s in my backyard I’m only gonna get this one chance so I have to do it now. And to be able to walk up the stairs after being completely dead and just having Arto right there, patting me on the back telling me I got this, it’s pretty cool for me as a kid who grew up watching Arto skate. Arto is a legend.
Back lip on a spiderweb rail. Luckily Midler didn’t stick Photo: Matreno
Was it as much of a battle with your last trick in this video? Break that day down for me.
Well, we were driving to the next city and it was in the morning. I was completely sore from the day before and that’s why I was wearing shorts—I was not planning on skating that day. We went to this McDonald’s and the rail was across the street. Jamie told me I had to do it. It was better for backside so he wasn’t doing it. I didn’t even think it was possible at first, but I got a shoulder from Jamie and tried drop-in grinding the first part and then tried ollieing to the side to see how far I would travel to the next rail. Once I drop in grinded it and tapped my trucks on the next rail, I was all in it. But yeah, it was pretty early, first spot of the day.
How do you bail on something like that?
Most of the bails on that were mellow. I would just jump to the side once I put my trucks down on the second rail if it didn’t feel right. On one of them I thought I was gonna land, but my back truck slipped off and I kinda went to my butt on the rail. I slipped down and went right to the stairs. That was probably the worst one, but there was one where I almost sacked. I saved it and it was just my thigh. I pulled myself off.
Sore or not, Midler stepped to this drop-down 50-50 and then jumped in on a quick pick-up game Photo: Matreno
Kind of like how it looked like you were sacking at Bust or Bail.
A lot of those looked worse than they were, but in reality my feet were on the ground before or I was grabbing the rail. I feel like there are different techniques to get out of sacking a rail, you just have to know what you’re doing. To tap into rails that have that consequence, you gotta have a process of how you’re going to approach it. You can’t just go straight into doing it, you know?
Do you think having Jamie there helps that process?
Yeah, for sure. Jamie is always trying to get someone to skate the spot. If he thinks it’s good, someone is skating it. If there’s a crack, he’s the first one saying we need to get out the Bondo. He’s always just giving off positive energy and always has music on the session to get you stoked. I feel like a lot of the things I try to film, he’s so talented he could probably do the trick way faster than I can. So if I’m not getting close to a trick I’ll ask him for advice on what I’m doing wrong. Like on that front crook, I kinda wasn’t getting on top and the first person I thought would know how to do it was Jamie. Having him there was really helpful and he gave me some pointers that made it possible for me to roll away.
Yeah, Coach Foy, for sure.
What about Z?
Zion is just a big energy ball. He’s someone that I can bounce around with. He’s always dancing around, keeping the energy going all day. I feel like he picks on me so much, and then I end up picking on him. It just turns into, not a rivalry, but we’re always just fighting about something that’s never serious. He’s just funny. On trips I’ll be sitting in the van and then out of nowhere we’ll be in a huge fight about nothing and it usually goes nowhere. Zion is always bringing the motivation to the spot. All these guys have been around this shit long enough that they know how to bring the support.
What about Ira? Was this the first thing you worked on with him?
Actually, the Woodward show was the first thing I worked on with him. Each of the kids was paired up with filmers, and I got Ira and James Buchmann. So I got to spend a good amount of time with both of them when I was younger.
I heard he taught you how to use a can opener when you dudes were in Portugal.
Nah, basically we were in Portugal and they had this manual can opener at the Airbnb. The can opener I grew up with was electric so I was used to using that one and I was trying to figure out this one for a second and couldn’t get it. Ira made a big deal out of that. I actually sent them a video two days ago of me opening up a can of beans with a can opener that wasn’t electric. They didn’t think it was even real.
Barley’s trick on Midler’s level. Where do we go from here? Photo: Matreno
That’s what happens when you don’t get manual can openers as a kid. Do you think being in the limelight at such a young age made skating harder for you now?
I think it makes it a little harder. When I was a little kid I got so much attention so quick but not for a very good reason. When I started to grow up a little bit and I wasn’t a little kid anymore, that was really hard for me because I had to start over and figure everything out a second time. And switching up things with sponsors, I made a couple of weird decisions at a young age, but I think all of that, the things I went through with skateboarding, helped me in the long run. Regardless if it’s about a sponsor or about my love for skateboarding, all of those things have made me feel like I need to push myself further and helped me become who I am today. It’s a long road when you get noticed when you’re a kid and then you’re in the spotlight. I just had to put my head down and keep doing what I liked to do.
Sometimes putting your head down is all you can do. What are you working on now?
I’m working on Jolly’s new video. It’s an IC video but with all the homies too. Ishod has a part, Robert Neal has a part. It’s gonna be somewhat an IC video, but it’s gonna be like how IC was before it was necessarily a company. Not everyone rides for them in the video; it’s just homies.
Stoked to see what you’re cooking up next. Last but not least, anyone you want to thank?
Sunny wants me to thank him. I guess thank you to everyone who’s supported me this far. Most importantly my brother Todd for putting skating in front of me when I was a little kid and my parents for the non-stop support. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my parents. They’ve done so much for me. And thank you and Thrasher for doing this, I’m hyped.
Homies for life Photo: Matreno
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