The Year I got SOTY: Andrew Reynolds

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Turtle Boy Reynolds, about to grab the world by the balls, 1998

How old were you in 1998?
Oh my God. Can somebody else do the math on that?

What year were you born?
Seventy-eight. So in ’98 I was 20. Yeah, 19 or 20.

So this is when I first met you and you were living in the apartments on Warner Avenue, right?
Yeah, probably, somewhere in Huntington for sure. I can’t really say exactly.

At this point had you just moved out of your parents’ house and moved out to California?
Pretty soon after I turned 18 I drove to California to live in Huntington.


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What was your living situation after moving from Florida to California?
I was very fortunate, actually. Somebody from Birdhouse said, “We want you to come out here and be pro and skate so we’re gonna get you guys an apartment in Huntington.” And it was with some other guys that were up-and-coming ams or whatever. So I actually got in my car, my mom contacted a furniture store or whoever, had my bed delivered and everything, like a bed delivered to the apartment. Somebody opened it up and put the stuff in my room and I drove from Florida to California to an apartment with a bed. So the first night I was in my new apartment I had a bed with a box spring and a mattress and everything.

Wow! Just like home. Who were your roommates?
It kind of rotated out a few different people but the main ones were Brian Sumner, 
Ali Cairns, Jim Greco, and, like, Chad Bartie was there for a little while. But it was mostly Jim, Sumner and Ali Cairns and me. And our friends lived all in the same zone. There was an Arizona/Zero/Toy Machine kind of connection with all of them and then we had our Birdhouse guys and sometimes some Flip guys would be around or something like that. So it was two different groups of people but we all became friends and lived in the same apartment complexes and stuff like that.

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Was there an adult in charge? Was there an authority figure at all when you moved out?
Well, no. I mean, I was 18 years old. We were still kids but, you know, there were a few people who worked at Blitz if we needed anything as far as, like, skateboarding or stuff. I mean, you know, we’re 18. We were fine but, like, still kids, you know?

Were you the only one with a car?
Sometimes. Yeah, I had a red Honda Civic that I got when I turned pro and then when I got a little more money I got a Cadillac.


Renyolds 2 750pxBreaking in the big rail at Uni with a back board 

So you didn’t go crazy at first when you moved out of your parents’ house as far as personal behavior, right?
No, you know, I kind of made a conscious decision that once I moved out I wanted my lifestyle to be kind of similar to Tom and Muska, how they lived. I kinda knew, like, “Okay, now I’m out on my own, like, I can drink beer and smoke weed everyday and it’s not a big deal.” I knew that, you know?

And you were looking forward to that?
Yeah! I was, like, “Yeah, this is gonna be awesome—skate every day, smoke weed every night.” But at that time when I first came out it was more like skating and filming all day and at night we’d have some people over and smoke some weed. It was super casual, you know?

When you got Skater of the Year I think that was the year that The End had come out. When did you realize you were filming for that video? What was that like?
It was pretty cool. I just kind of put my trust in what Tony wanted the video to look like. I know he comes from, you know, Ban This and bigger production kind of stuff. I mean, he wasn’t trying to make it look like Powell but I think that’s just what he came from. So he’s, like, “I wanna make something that’s filmed on film, a little bit different from what’s happening right now.” So I just trusted him on it and just tried to get footage.

Were you filming with Jamie “Mouse” Mosberg most of the time?
Yeah, Mouse, the whole thing. But you know what, J Strickland was really eager in those years to learn and pick things up. Mouse actually gave him some lessons about how to load the film, how to film with 16mm and control the settings and everything and Jay picked it up. I would say three or four of the tricks were filmed with J.

Yeah, where did he come into play?
He was friends with Heath. When Heath came back to Birdhouse he said, “I got this friend who would be a good team manager for Birdhouse.” So that’s how he kind of got his job at Birdhouse. He was the team manager and he was just super involved with learning and taking photos and filming. He just wanted to learn, you know?

What was it like doing the skit with the orangutan in The End?
Kind of something that I didn’t want to do. Like, if it was now, if I knew what I know now in life I would have said, “No, that’s cool but let’s figure out something else that I want to do or let’s try to come to some kind of compromise or something.” But back then I didn’t really speak up about that type of stuff as much. I just kind of went with the flow. I didn’t like it, though.

When you look back at yourself at that age, what were you like personality-wise? How were your social skills and stuff?
Not good! I mean, I can get really honest here if you want, but I was like an honest person that had good manners the way I was raised. I enjoyed simple things: skateboarding with my friends and hanging out but I was very insecure and scared to talk to people and wanted no confrontations whatsoever. And just kind of a follower and later figured out I was an alcoholic. You know, it’s stuff you learn growing up, like, speak up for yourself. 
I don’t know, no one told me that you need to, like, feel feelings and not just stuff them down inside. I guarantee no one else is gonna talk about this in their interview.

Who was the ring leader among your group of friends?
I mean, in that exact moment in time Ali Cairns was our really solid dude who was like a grandpa, you know? And he’s English too so it always sounded really proper. He’d find some really smooth way to convince you that smoking weed in the morning was a benefit. I heard him say one time, he was coughing from the weed in the morning and coughed something up and he’s like, “Ah, it’s just what I need in the morning to get that out.” But yeah, it’s like, “This guy is amazing!”

Renyolds 3 750pxNobody had seen kickflips quite like Drew’s 

How did that bowl haircut come about?
Supercuts. Now looking back on it, you know what, it’s part of my wanting to clean up a mess, you know? My personality, if the house isn’t clean I spaz out and I’ll clean the whole thing up. I’m always trying to clean up a mess of some sort. So I look at it now as like, 
I couldn’t just let my hair grow long and down; it would freak me out. I’d have to, like, 
“Oh, I’m getting a haircut today,” or “I’m gonna shave,” or “I’m gonna clean up the car.” I don’t know. That picture of me holding up my hand to the camera looks so stupid! Oh my gosh. What is that?

You know why you look extra crazy in that? That was the week after you got your nose broken.
Oh yeah, it was all swollen and stuff?

Yeah, your nose was gigantic. I have a few fat face photos from that time.
Yeah, I remember we shot some pool photos.

Was it weird to you years later when all these kids like Herman, Spanky and Leo all showed up with bowl cuts?
You know, I think if you have a certain kind of hair that just, like, falls that way, if it’s a certain length there’s just nothing you can do about it.

No, I think they were strictly going for bowl cuts because they wanted the Andrew Reynolds look.
Yeah, I think it’s kind of a Penny thing too, you know? Like an English kid with a little bowl cut.

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Oh yeah, was yours influenced by Penny?
Honestly, I never thought about my hair. I just went to Supercuts.

I’ve got photos here from the same time period and all of a sudden your hair’s died black. What made you decide to go dark? Was there a shift in your lifestyle?
Nah, I’ve been dying my hair since I was, like, 15 actually. Me and my sister used to dye our hair and stuff at home just for fun. 
I don’t know, just bored, probably just wanted a change.

You think you might have fried it out with all those dye jobs?
Well, my hair started falling out probably like mid-twenties. I’d wake up after very hard, hard nights of partying and then my hair would be all over my bed and I’m, like, “Does this have something to do with drug use or is it just hereditary?” But I think it’s just hereditary.

Renyolds 4 750pxElissa, Mule and Bainesy; Warner Ave neighbors 

The Toy Machine Turtle Boy graphic is Ed Templeton drawing you, right? How did you react to seeing yourself as a cartoon turtle?
I kinda liked it. I mean, because Ed to me is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. So I didn’t feel like he was really making fun of me or anything. When I looked at the comics, the original comics, and read it I was in a jacuzzi with all these girls and stuff. I actually knew it was funny, you know? I’ve always been able to kind of look at myself in not too serious of a way.

So when The End came out, were you happy with your part?
You know, some of the songs were a little weird, which now I think are cool, because the song and the part kind of come together as a package thing. I see that now. But no, I think more than anything the response I got from people off the part made me have no doubt. Everybody loved it and everybody’s telling me they like it a lot and I felt like I tried really hard. So yeah, I was happy with it for sure.

Did you notice a big change in how people were treating you or reacting to you? Like regular kids and industry people after that video came out?
I mean, there was a couple opportunities that came, you know, for more money. And right then around the same when we started Baker I noticed there were more people starting to notice us and trying to dress like us and stuff like that, yeah. But it wasn’t just me; it was like a group thing, you know?

You also got on Fourstar right around this time. Did that mean anything special to you? To get those guys’ approval?
Yeah, well, because Fourstar to me at the time was, like, very elite. It was, like, “Wow! You gotta be really good.” Their ads are always so sick. So I went on a trip with Guy and I think he just liked that I killed demos, really. And he told me, he’s like, in these words, like, “Man, you’re fucking it up at the demos.” I’m, like, “Shit, thanks man.” Then he reached out, like, “You should be on Fourstar.” I was, like, 
“Hell yeah.” So I wish I actually would have stayed on Fourstar through everything but I made some weird decisions.

I remember when you got on it was unusual. Kind of like when Brian Anderson got on Girl, it was when that camp started letting outsiders in.
Yeah, it was cool. They gave me a lot of ads.

You were probably the only one with photos.
Yeah. That’s what I was thinking too.

What was your situation with ladies at this time, at age 19?
Oh, nothing. Nothing. I didn’t know how to talk to a girl until I was probably like 35. I just learned at 35 that they want you to talk to them.

Renyolds 5 750pxPiss Drunx Greco, Boulala and Dollin, just getting warmed up
How did you find out that you were Skater of the Year?
Well, I know you were talking a lot about The End and that time period but I filmed a video after that where I kickflipped that five block in France. It was a Transworld video, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was a little random part after The End and I kickflipped this five block in France and it was a Birdhouse ad that was a sequence. And Jake told me, these are Jake’s exact words, he’s, like, “When I saw that kickflip, just that alone, I said ‘I’m giving that kid Skater of the Year.’”

What’d you think? Did Skater of the Year mean anything to you at that point?
I mean, it was cool. It’s definitely gotten a lot different lately. People are way more into, like, who’s getting it. When I got it no one cared. There were no polls, no potential three or four guys that might get it. Nobody cared. It was like somebody called me from Thrasher and told me. There was no special surprise or anything. Somebody called from Thrasher and was, like, “Yeah, we want to give you Skater of the Year.” I was, like, “Oh, cool.” There was a party in SF. And it was in a little bar, there was probably like 50 people there. That was it.

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Back then there was no way to get the word out. We’d have to put a poll in the magazine and kids would write in their choice with a pen and cut it out and mail it in.
Yeah. Right now it’s cool, though. I like all of the Skater of the Year stuff. To me, Skater of the Year is more important than who’s gonna be president. I love it and I pay attention to it. It’s fun.

Yeah, who was your pick this year?
Kyle Walker.

Figgy did awful damn good, though.
Yeah, that’s the thing: I’d always prefer a Baker guy getting it—always. Of course that’s what I want. But the amount of parts that Kyle put out and the amount of single tricks that are going to be remembered—he killed it. He went completely off, you know? So well deserved.

Where’s your trophy?
It’s on this little bookshelf. It’s got a little Santa hat on it right now.

Do you think Stella could be the first girl Skater of the Year?

Renyolds 7 750pxMariano approved, Baker bound. Switch crooks at Bricktown into the future

What’s it like to have a child who skateboards?
I mean, it’s cool. Part of me wants to let her have her own experience and skate with her friends and stuff. It’s actually—if any parents read this they’ll understand—if she got into something that I didn’t really like that much it’s harder to get behind it, you know? It just is. If she’s, like, “I want to go to the skatepark,” even if I’m not gonna skate I’ll be, like, “Good. Fine,” because I might roll around or something. But if she wanted to start snowboarding—she wanted to actually start snowboarding and she was pretty good but I was, like, “How am I gonna make this happen?” That would be so much harder, you know?

Are you gonna learn handplants from her?
No, she can already do things I can’t do. It’s crazy. She’s learning to skate tranny like how Lance Mountain skates tranny. She’s learning a technique that I didn’t learn so it’s really fun to watch, actually.

How soon after you won SOTY did you decide to start Baker?
I mean, on the trip up to SF to go to the party, to get the trophy and all that, we were already Baker. We had Baker stickers on our board and it was J Strickland, me, Boulala and Jim. We were already the Baker family just ready to make the stuff happen.

And Boulala was supposed to be part of it right?
He is part of it.

Well, I know, but he was supposed to be on the team?
You know, he has a strong dedication to Flip since they took care of him from a little kid. He knows he’s Baker. He rides Baker boards now, actually. He is Baker.

Renyolds 6 750pxWeekend at Bernie’s, SOTY edition

In your SOTY ad from Birdhouse you look like Weekend at Bernie’s. You can’t even stand up. How long did that situation go on before you just totally hit the wall?
What, you mean drinking like that? I mean, I was 19 then and I was already drinking like that, like in that photo. That’s a great photo. There’s another one of me on the ground. You know, from then until 24 years old, for the next five years. I guess from 19, the next five years was a journey trying to learn that I can’t put this stuff in my body like other people. I tried from 16 or 17 ‘til 24 years old to drink like a normal person but it just doesn’t work for me.

People understand.

Totally. Now looking back on it, where does getting Skater of the Year factor into your life? Do you ever think about it?
Yeah, I have the trophy at home and I see it every day. It’s really amazing, actually. Like, I’m one skateboarder in the whole entire world of skateboarders that has this thing. Nobody can ever take it away even when I’m dead. 
It’s like, “Yeah, you did that.” So it’s amazing; it’s a great feeling. I didn’t try for it. That’s what’s kind of weird about it now, like, when I see people trying too hard for it I’m, like, “Yeah, it’s not gonna work like that.” People, I see, it’s like a plan. It’s like a marketing plan. Like, if you do this and you do this and you wear enough Thrasher and you go up to San Francisco and do the sickest shit at the spots up there—it’s like, no. Just fucking kill it and if you get it you get it.

I like that attitude. Much better than that first thing you described. Do you have any other thoughts about Skater of the Year or you being Skater of the Year or that time of your life?
It was an honor. It was really cool and I’m super proud. I love Thrasher and I love that I have that in my story.