The Good Homies: Ishod Wair Interview

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Interview and photos by Michael Burnett

How many times have you been to Australia?
This is my third time to Australia.

How does this trip compare to your Skater of the Year trip?
How does it compare? I mean, it compares pretty well. I had a lot of good people on that trip. I love those dudes and I love these guys too. It’s a really good trip. I feel like this trip is just a little bit cooler because on my Skater of the Year trip I was coming off an injury like how Kyle is right now. He’s feeling a little weird about his knee. I was kinda hurt coming into my Skater of the Year trip, too, so now that I’m in Australia and can actually skate, it’s good hype for me. On the other one I was trying to skate and it was just not really working so I was just getting drunk and partying in Miami. Australia is one of my favorite places in the world—Copenhagen and Australia—so coming here is awesome. So they compare pretty good. They’re both right up there. Very good times.

What kind of feedback did you get from your Skater of the Year cover? The no comply over the barrier.
I got some good feedback from it. People were hyped that it doesn’t have to be some fuckin’ crazy trick. It was more like older dudes coming up to me and being, like, “It brought me back to the days when it was just like a sick photo on the mag because now it’s a different time.” So people were stoked on the fact that it wasn’t some mind-blowing thing, you know what I mean? Obviously I would have liked to get some gnarly thing. We tried.

You got the back noseblunt at La Jolla! I just liked that picture because when I saw you do it, it was simple but yet still amazing to me. And then the next year I saw all the kids were doing it.

I saw a lot of people doing it after. I didn’t really see anybody doing that shit. I mean, no way did I invent it but I saw a lot more after the cover came out.

It’s funny, too, I’ve seen a lot of kids draw it. Have you seen that?
Oh yeah, actually on Instagram kids are tagging me. It’s pretty sick.


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Styling out in a kit inspired by the 'Wolf' scene in Pulp Fiction

Kids draw that picture a lot. Something about that picture, kids get excited about. What did getting Skater of the Year mean to you? Has what it meant to you changed from when you first got it to now with a little bit of perspective?

To me, it’s just always really trippy. Just, like, I can’t fucking believe it. Every time I think back to it I’m, like, “It’s so fucking crazy.” I never thought about it because I was up in a small little town in New Jersey skating by myself for a year and some change, maybe just hanging out going to Philly. Next thing I know I’m in California—boom—just streamlined into everything all of a sudden, just all over the place with people that I’ve looked up to my whole life. And, for me, I didn’t dream of being a professional skateboarder because I didn’t think it was obtainable. I always thought cooking was pretty cool. Feeding yourself what you want to and knowing what you’re putting in your body, being healthy and all that. I thought that was good. Even though I wasn’t really healthy, but you know, that would be better for you. I thought about being a psychologist, but then I was, like, that takes so many years.

ISHOD 0015 750pxCooking is cool, so are crooked grind nollie flips

I liked school, I liked learning but I didn’t like doing homework. It’s, like, if I could put the time in without having it cut in to my actual life. I was, like, “Oh yeah, that’s cool because I like learning, but skateboarding’s fucking dope.” So when I wasn’t in school all I would do was skateboard. So I don’t know; it wasn’t really working. With psychology, it takes ten years to get your first degree. But I think the human mind is interesting and I like how people think. That’s why with skateboarding I like to pick people’s brains a lot about what they think, how they do things. Because everybody has a different way of thinking about things and that’s why I also try to pick people’s brains when I’m trying to learn a trick. I feel like there could be one thing that someone says that’s different than anybody else and you’re, like, “Oh, that’s significant.” Skateboarding is very dynamic. As much as people want to be, like, “Ah, it’s fuckin crazy,” and some people just throw themselves at shit; it’s very calculated. The smallest increments and measurements matter. People think they don’t think about it but they do.

ISHOD 0002 750pxLook right! Ishod boardslides to a lipslide motion through a dog-legged hubba rail. Increments matter

That’s why I think you’d be a good scientist. Because between tries you’re constantly analyzing the trick; you’re constantly analyzing the terrain. Have you always been like that?

Yeah. I mean, I try to be because—alright, if you don’t make it the board hits you in the shin. You know what I mean? It’s a constant reminder to do better. Like, “Alright, I don’t want to do that again,” so you’re, like, “What the fuck did I do wrong?” Just think about it. Also, with my board, I’ve been kind of modifying my board ever since I started riding for Real and Deluxe. All the guys over there, everybody’s just amazing, the people, and Jim hooks it up. Any idea that I have he’ll try to tweak it if I want this crazy shaped board or this or that. He’ll try to work with me to make something.


ISHOD 0009 750pxHardflip blast in the land of the mentally-ill weenie flashers—Canberra, ACT


Do you still ride the perfectly symmetrical board?

Yeah. You just ride; you don’t have to worry about it; just throw down your board—boom. Unless your tail’s chipped up or something, then obviously you’d have a side to ride. But that’s the good thing about it too: if you fuck up a nose, which is a tail, you still have another one. The pop is the most important thing. No one wants a soggy snapped nose pop. The pop is more important than the kick. You can figure the kick out but the pop is what you need.

ISHOD 0007 750pxForwards, backwards, nollie, slappy – Ishod doesn't worry

So in the last year or so you’ve started getting some coverage skating transition. In the ‘90s the best guys who could skate transition were embarrassed about it and they would try to pretend that they couldn’t do it. It was like a shameful thing. But now some of the best skaters are skating everything. What drew you to skate transition?

It’s funny because Jake Brown was at Bondi bowl yesterday and, I mean, I’ve seen a lot of vert parts: there was the Adio video, DC video, the Flip video, the Blind video, and I was really stoked on his song and he was just doing crazy shit and I just thought vert was sick. It’s like you’re flying. You’re in the air flying. And you can tell by the way they skate they just look weightless and it’s, like, “Whoa, that looks fucking cool.” What drew me to skating in the first place was street skating where people would do flip tricks and I’m, like, “Whoa, that’s fucking cool,” and it is and it always will be to me but I really thought tranny was cool too. And it’s not like I just started trying to learn tranny. I’ve been trying this shit for fucking ever. Also, around where I am, I’m skating X Park in Philadelphia which is like an X Games skatepark. It’s street and all my friends pretty much skate street. So I didn’t have anybody to learn from that was skating any of that type of shit. I didn’t have nobody to ask. I was just trying off the top of my head. I was trying forever and finally figured out frontside airs. Maybe two and a half three years ago, all I could do was frontside airs. My friend John Gardner, New Jersey represent, rides for Creature, dude’s sick. Fuck yeah; love that dude. One of the best dudes I fuckin’ know. He showed me an epiphany with frontside airs. He was, like, “You grab nosebone.” Because when I first did frontside airs I could only do nosebone.

ISHOD 0026 750pxThe frontside air epiphany pays off with a lofter at Bondi

And then he’s, like, “Yeah, I grab stinkbug and kick my tail out and do tailbones.” And I was, like, “Oh shit, you can grab here and go that way too.” And then all of a sudden I started learning all of these grabs from just him saying that. Then I was just skating the bowl in South Philly a lot, Alter Street. I just remember the last time I came here is when shit started making sense. I went on a trip with Ronnie Sandoval, one of the most fluent people I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy; he’s a goddamn legend; he’s fucking crazy. I went on a Krooked/Real trip and I was just watching him skate all these parks. I was filming him and watching the footage after, like, “Oh my God,” and I was just thinking about it. And then right after the trip I went home for a couple days and then I went to Japan with Raven and I was, like, “Hell yeah, maybe we’ll get to skate some tranny.” We were just skating all street spots, getting kicked out quick. It was a great trip but we didn’t really skate any tranny and I was hyped to skate some tranny with him. Then we got to Osaka Bay or Fukuoka and we went to some DIY spot right off the water and it’s like they literally made it so you can’t skate it. It was probably one of the hardest things to skate ever. Raven skated the bowl they made, which was so hectic. No one had ever carved over the steps. He carved over the steps; he’s just doing shit no one had done but they fuckin’ made the shit. They made it hard as fuck to skate for who knows what reason but it was crazy to see. It was good to be out there. But after that trip a year ago, I got back in November, right before my birthday, and went to South Philly bowl every fucking day and was just trying to learn everything. Like, backside airs right over the coping, at first just going to at a bunch. I learned lien to tails. Learning lien to tails opened up a lot because literally lien to tails are the hardest thing ever and I realized at one point I was, like, “Oh fuck, the reason why people do vert tricks the way they do them is because they’re invented on vert. Duh.”

ISHOD 0003 750pzxVert tricks were invented on vert. Got it? Air to fakie the box at Five Docks, scraped not ollied

So you don’t worry about ollieing into it anymore?

No. You just got to scrape and scoop out because all the tricks that were invented were invented on vert. They were meant to be done on the vert ramp. So obviously people can ollie and do lien to tails on a quarterpipe—that’s smaller—but you stay in the ramp. And if you think about it, the way your trajectory goes, if you’re going fast enough up—whatever goes up must come straight back down because of gravity and the laws of physics. So when there’s a little bit of coping there and it bonks you out the faster you go, if you go out with the right trajectory there’s no way that you can hang up. Because people are scared of hanging up. That’s a thing with quarterpipes. People ollie and hang up because it sends you onto the deck. With vert, whatever goes up must come down and you go the right trajectory up, like Pedro Barros perfect example, he is going straight out, no bonk. And sometimes he lands low because he’s going so far out and the coping sits out a little bit and it sends you out a little bit so you won’t hang up. So if you’re going the right speed, if anything you’ll land low but not hang up. So I never really do lien disasters or shit like that. Lien disasters are hard for me because you want to stay in the ramp. A lot of times I’ll try lien to tails and I’ll go up and be, like, “Oh, my tail’s not gonna hit,” and I just let go because I’m going too fast.

ISHOD 0006 750pxTucked-up, boned down Indy blaster

Are you gonna learn Mctwists?
I don’t know about grabbing mute. I was trying to learn mutes to try that but I like to take things slow. For me, it’s like every day that you ride your skateboard I feel like you get a little bit better. Unless you get hurt for a substantial amount of time, it sets you back, but you’re watching, you’re looking at people do it. The progression is always there, you know? I feel like every time I ride my skateboard I get a little bit better so if I try something and it’s really fuckin’ hard and annoying, I want to have fun. I want to land shit. I don’t want to be trying this trick for fucking three hours. I just want to be, like, “Alright, do I think this is gonna work?” And maybe depending on if I’m filming something, I’ll try something for hours. But if I’m just at the skatepark, fuck it, dude. No.

ISHOD 0014 750px'Was that a method?' Ishod kept asking. Table topped at Belco

So the Mctwist will happen when it happens?
I feel like there will be a time where I’ll start to spin a little bit, ‘cause I’ve been trying backside 360 airs to fakie. And I do launch outs where if you catch me on the right day and there’s not a lot of people around I’ll be doing little fly outs like a little grom baby trying to grab my board and figure 
it out. Like, should I grab this or should I grab this? I just try to pick away and chip at it. Like I said, every time I skate I feel like I get a little bit better so I just put something on ice for a month to six months to a year and then I come back and sometimes it works and I’ll just do it. Like—boom— sometimes it just works first try, sometimes it takes a couple tries and sometimes it doesn’t work and I gotta put some more ice on it. Chill on it more, you know what I mean? But I just try to come back to it. I don’t forget. People have said things to me my whole life. I remember asking questions and listening to what people say when they give advice. It’s very crucial. So when people say things to me and they’re trying to help me out and give me advice, I pay attention wholeheartedly. It gets right absorbed into this brain. I fuckin’ listen to shit. I fuckin’ know.

ISHOD 0028 750pxIt gets absorbed into his brain. And then comes back out as kickflip melons at Bondi

I’ve noticed that with you. Because some people might think, “Oh, he’s such an athlete. He’s not paying attention. He’s in his own world.” But you’re thoroughly engaged.

Yeah, I’m fully paying attention to shit people say.


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Grant’s the same way. You might think Grant’s just some animal from the way he skates, but when you talk to Grant he’s fully paying attention and he’s a really smart kid, you know?

One-hundred-fifty-five percent. True. ‘Cause he knows what the fuck he’s doing. You can tell by the Nike SB video when it was the ams and him and shit. It was before Debacle. He ollied off some bank that sloped up to a higher bank. He ollied off the top bank into the other one and he did a powerslide and then he stepped off the powerslide with his front foot and kicked the board out and just kind of walked out of it. And that right there lets you know that he knows what the fuck he’s doing. You know what I mean? Exactly. Right there. Boom. Like, powerslide, alright. And he just kicked his board out. You know what the fuck you’re doing, man. You have control.

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Frontside flip outside the skatepark boundary. He really knows what he's doing

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Have you ever experience racism within skateboarding?
Not actually being somewhere. It’s all some random Internet shit where some kid creates a fake account or is trying to get attention. But not just straight out the gates at a park. Not really. I feel like skateboarding is pretty universal. Kids are competitive and shit but I usually see a pretty good melting pot with the kids coming together hanging out. I feel like skateboarding brings people together. It’s something people share. There’s a joy in it that can’t be replicated where people are just, like, “Oh, you do that too? Cool. Hell yeah.”

ISHOD 0023 750pxThere's a joy that can't be replicated in dancing with your bros, too

I feel like the new generation is the most accepting. I feel really good about the kids now because they love all kinds of skating. They love all kinds of music. They don’t have the hangups that people used to have.

Yeah. And it’s a beautiful thing. If someone dropped me in a city randomly, I mean like right now, kids would know me and be, like, “Oh, you’re Ishod.” But it’s like if I was some random kid and I go to the skatepark—even that chick that was at the skatepark with her board—people would be nice to you just ‘cause you skateboard. I mean, she’s a chick and we’re gonna be nicer because she’s a cute chick at the skatepark. Also, everybody loves a cute chick. But you know, it will be, like, “What up? I’m just here skating. I’m from wherever,” you know? You can meet a couple cool people at the park, have a good time. People aren’t gonna fully alienate you, you know?


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Nosegrind into the curve at Bondi


A lot of people think that you might be the greatest skater alive right now. What would you say to any ambitious kid that wants to be great or that wants to get really good at skating?

I would say just have fun because that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve just been trying to have fun and learn. 'Cause just learning tricks and having fun skating with your friends is the best. These days are amazing but you know, the old days when you actually didn’t have to do anything were too. Also, in comparison to the rest of your life, the older you get the shorter time feels. This is a good analogy: so an Instagram story, when you have one, it’s long. When you have two, it’s half the time. When you have three, it’s three-quarters of the time and when you have fuckin’ 500 of them you have little increments. So over the span of your life if you look at a year, one year is this long to you so technically the increments of time within your life get shorter because the time that you’re on the planet is longer.

ISHOD 0013 750pxTime flies, except when you've got a hipper

I feel like when you’re a kid there’s a cloud over you where everything’s new and you appreciate everything and then once you start recognizing things, life moves faster.


Like, “Oh, I know this, I’ve done this before.” Your first trip to Australia is one thing. Your 18th trip to Australia is something completely different.

Yeah. But think back to when you were back with your homies in the summer. Summer literally felt like a year. Summer was forever. Now with summer your, like, “Two months. Oh shit, summer went by. Goddamn it. Winter—shit I’m going to California because it’s fucking cold right now. Goddamn it.”

ISHOD 0016 750pxLove it for what it is

Are you saying kids should appreciate the good times? You should appreciate what you have?
Yeah, I’m just saying have a good time and kids are a little bit too worried about getting sponsored. If it’s meant to be and you love it, it’s meant to be. You just gotta be normal. If you’re flexing on the whole fuckin’ thing—you’re flexing on the situation—people are gonna see that. It’s gonna be weird. You just gotta hang out man, love skateboarding for what it is and have a good time and just ride the wave.

You can have fun skating even if you’re not sponsored or pro.
Exactly. That’s the thing also, I’m hyped on a bunch of my friends that just skate back home and they fucking kill it. I’m just, like, “Damn, you guys are really fuckin’ sick and I appreciate you for loving it for what it is.”