The Matt Mumford Interview

I honestly don’t know where to start. I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes, and the only thing I can think of is I haven’t regretted a minute of the three years I’ve known Matt. Whether we’re out skating or at the Daily Double on a mission to Plasterville, there’s never a dull moment. We’ve been through the thick of it and come out alright. Either way, Matt’s always been there for me, to help with advice or money to get me out of a jam. Matt is one of the few real people in this world, and he needs no introduction. So here’s to one of my favorite skateboarders of all time.-Erik Ellington

For a video clip of Matt Mumford Click Here

Where were you born?

I was born in Brisbane, Queensland.

What year were you born?

’74.

That makes you …

Just turned 25.

Tell me how old you were when you started skateboarding.

Probably about thirteen.

Where there skateparks around?

No, there were no parks in my town. I just street skated. A lot of kids had really dodgey backyard ramps, but apart from that, it was just street skating.

Did you care about skateboard magazines and who was a pro?

Yeah, totally. I didn’t really know too much about professional skateboarding in that sense. There was this sports store selling skateboards in my town, so I went there and rented Animal Chin. That was the first skateboard video I ever saw. Through that, I got to know the pros. Also through magazines like Power Edge and TransWorld.

So your first experiences with pros were with American skateboarders? Where there Aussie skateboard legends?

Yeah, for sure. I was more familiar with them first, because of the Australian magazines like Skatin’ Life and Slam. Those were the first magazines I saw, and then I got to see the American side of things, too.

How did you end up getting sponsored?

I grew up in a really small town, but my father lived on the Gold Coast, which is where Chad Bartie’s from. I moved down there so I could skate more, because there were parks there and skating was bigger. I got to know Chad and his father just from going into their shop, and they started hooking me up with stuff. That’s when it started.

At what point did you realize skateboarding was something you wanted to do for a long period of time?

It was always a little bit of a dream, like, “Damn, I’d be stoked to be a pro one day,” but I never thought it would happen. I was into getting sponsored, so I was out there skating my best, trying to get better, but I didn’t know it would actually happen. And then I got sponsored, so the next thing was to try to get on an American company. Then I got on an American company, so the next step was going pro. One step just led to the next.

Is it a goal of Australian skateboarders to get sponsored by American companies?

Yeah, totally. People say, “You shouldn’t concentrate on being sponsored,” and that you should forget about it and just have fun. But honestly, if you’re half decent on a skateboard, you’d be an idiot not to want to be sponsored, get free boards, and get all the advantages that go along with sponsorship. But it’s not for every skateboarder. I’ve seen a lot of amazing skaters who just aren’t into it. Like Wade Burkitt-he’s amazing, and he’s more into skating for skating’s sake. Sure, he takes some benefits from it here and there, but he’s basically just about skateboarding. And there’re a lot of skateboarders like that. It’s for some people and not for others.

Do you look at guys like Wade as a waste of talent?

No, I really respect what Wade’s done. I’m not saying Wade isn’t going to do it one day, but with the route he’s taking, it just doesn’t look like he’s going to do it. I think I respect skateboarders more when they’re so good, but they just don’t want to go that route. When surfers do that, it’s called “free surfing,” so what Wade’s doing is like free skateboarding. It’sure skateboarding-doing it for fun, doing it for nothing.

Do you think to really have a skateboard career you have to come to the United States, or can it be done without leaving Australia?

I used to think you could do it, but honestly, I think you have to come to America and start it that way, then go back and do it. Up until now, no one’s done it that way been a successful pro who’s never left Australia, and I don’t think it’s even possible. America is where skateboarding’s biggest, this is where the photographers and companies are, and it’s hard to rig stuff up in Australia. I’m not sayin’ it’s impossible, but it would be so much harder to do that far away from the industry. It just seems like all the guys in Australia who are super good still don’t get the circulation they should. That’s just the way it happens.

When was the first time you came over here for skateboarding?

It was probably ’93.

How old were you?

I think I was eighteen.

Had you ever been here before?

No, it was my first time. Me and Chad were hooked up through Chapter 7, we knew Mike McGill would give us a place to stay, and we just wanted to shoot photos and skate-just sort of see what it’s like. So we saved our money and came over. America was where skateboarding was, so that’s why we wanted to go. We were here for like two or three months, then we went home.I was working some shitty job in a factory back home, and I wanted to live the easy life. So I’d work, save up money, and come over again. And each time I’d get that much further into skateboarding. I did that three times, then I started getting paid to skate, and it all worked out from there. For a while I had to go home every six months, but eventually I got my visa and stayed.

Do you remember making the decision to move to the States?

I didn’t even really decide, it just sort of happened. I kept coming back for skateboarding, eventually I ended up staying for good. It wasn’t like I said, “Well, I’m going to live in America.” This is where skateboarding is, and right now it’s better for me to be here.

Run through the list of companies you’ve skated for.

Chapter 7, then Shaft-which was the same thing-then Invisible, then Zero.

How did Zero hook up?

I had just gotten back from being in Australia for four months, and I was bummed out because Invisible was going in a direction I didn’t really want to go. I wanted it to turn around and go a different way, which was probably unfair of me, but it wasn’t going the way I thought it should be going.

What direction did you think it should have been going in?

I wanted the company to have a different image, but being a rider and not a head guy, I didn’t have much input in that type of stuff. So, I was a little bummed out, and it was sort of coincidental that Jamie came to me and asked me to ride for Zero. I already knew Wade, who was on the team, and he’d already talked to me a couple of times about it. So I’d been thinking about it, and I liked the way Zero was going; I liked the feel it had. It sort of came knocking on my door at the perfect time.

Were you nervous about being able to perform at Jamie’s level?

I didn’t really think about it. Actually, it got me super amped and sort of worked for me. It was like, “Holy shit, I finally landed on a company that I’m 100-percent psyched on!” I was super stoked they’d even consider having me on the team. I always thought I’d be psyched to ride for that company.

Has your skateboarding changed since you got on Zero?

Well, yeah, but I don’t think that has anything to do with Zero. I was going in that direction anyway, or that’s how I felt. I think it has to do with time-your skateboarding’s always changing. Zero might have influenced me a little bit, but that was basically the way I was skating before.Who was on the team when you got on?

Well, there was Jamie Thomas, me, Scott Copleman, Wade Burkitt, Erik Ellington, Adrian Lopez, and Hairball Aaron Harrison.

Did they vote you onto the team?

I guess. I know Jamie talked to everybody about it.It’s got to feel good to have everybody accept you like that.

Yeah, totally. I think the only person that was little bit skeptical was Erik.Why?

I don’t know. I just heard he was a bit off it, and so I still chew him out about it all the time. He wasn’t against it, he was just a bit skeptical. That’s what I heard.

So, was there a weird vibe because of that?

No, not at all. I didn’t know that until after we had done the first video. But Erik’s sketches on everybody.

You’ve had some shitty luck with injuries …

Well, just one-my ankle. I’ve had other injuries, but as far as reoccurring ones go, it’s been my left ankle.

When was the first time it really got tweaked?

I broke it a long time ago, when I was riding for Chapter 7. I tried to ollie some stairs, and I sort of half-assed it. Then I broke it again filming for the first Zero video. I had to get pins in it that time. Then I re-injured it again filming for the new video. I didn’t break it, it was just a bad sprain, so I guess the pins they have in there are doing their job. I’ve been out for a couple of months, but now it’s good. I’ve just got to take care of it and do rehabilitation at home.
Most Australians have nicknames, what’s yours?

I don’t want to give out a nickname. I’ll get to some bloody demo, and there’ll be kids calling it out.

What route do you think you would have followed if you hadn’t become a pro skater?

I would have kept skating, for sure. I think I’d have been skating for some company back home, just keeping it mellow. Maybe I’d be surfing or something. If I’d never come to America, I’d be working a job somewhere, maybe in the skateboard industry. I definitely wouldn’t be having as much fun. Living this life is so great; you don’t have to worry about anything, you’re doing something you love, and you’re getting paid for it. That’s everybody’s dream.

Do you consider your skateboard career a successful one so far?

In the sense of achieving my goal of being pro it’s been successful, but as far as where I want it to go, no. I have this lingering injury, and I feel like I’ve been sort of left behind. I feel as though I have a lot more to accomplish. I feel like I haven’t been pushing myself to my limit; I just want to skate every day and do as much as I can. It’s not actually a goal-like I want to make this much money-it’s the satisfaction of seeing all the stuff I’ve done, and overcoming fears, and just skating to the best of my ability. That’s when I’ll be happy.

Once you’ve reached that point, where will you go?

I don’t know. Skateboarding sort of fell in my lap, and hopefully something else will come my way. I’m not really planning anything right now, I’m just trying to concentrate on what I’m doing today. Sure, I’m hoping there will be some opportunities down the track. I can see myself getting into skateboarding, maybe going back to Australia and working with some sort of distributing. I don’t really know, but I feel as though something will come my way.

At what point do you become a citizen of the United States? Is that something you’re working for?

I heard that once you’ve lived here for five years, you can become a citizen. I might even just stay here. I’m not real sure. I’m definitely holding on to the fact that I’ll go back home and live there. I’m just out here right now doing my thing. But once it’s all done, I’ll probably go home.

Does it feel like you’re on an extended work trip?

Extended holiday, more like. That’s the thing, once I go home, it’ll be a reality check. I’ll have to go back to work, or I’ll have to do something, but whether it’s a cushy job or not is the thing. I guess you could say I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Erik Ellington, Adrian Lopez, and Hairball Aaron Harrison.

Did they vote you onto the team?

I guess. I know Jamie talked to everybody about it.It’s got to feel good to have everybody accept you like that.

Yeah, totally. I think the only person that was little bit skeptical was Erik.Why?

I don’t know. I just heard he was a bit off it, and so I still chew him out about it all the time. He wasn’t against it, he was just a bit skeptical. That’s what I heard.

So, was there a weird vibe because of that?

No, not at all. I didn’t know that until after we had done the first video. But Erik’s sketches on everybody.

You’ve had some shitty luck with injuries …

Well, just one-my ankle. I’ve had other injuries, but as far as reoccurring ones go, it’s been my left ankle.

When was the first time it really got tweaked?

I broke it a long time ago, when I was riding for Chapter 7. I tried to ollie some stairs, and I sort of half-assed it. Then I broke it again filming for the first Zero video. I had to get pins in it that time. Then I re-injured it again filming for the new video. I didn’t break it, it was just a bad sprain, so I guess the pins they have in there are doing their job. I’ve been out for a couple of months, but now it’s good. I’ve just got to take care of it and do rehabilitation at home.
Most Australians have nicknames, what’s yours?

I don’t want to give out a nickname. I’ll get to some bloody demo, and there’ll be kids calling it out.

What route do you think you would have followed if you hadn’t become a pro skater?

I would have kept skating, for sure. I think I’d have been skating for some company back home, just keeping it mellow. Maybe I’d be surfing or something. If I’d never come to America, I’d be working a job somewhere, maybe in the skateboard industry. I definitely wouldn’t be having as much fun. Living this life is so great; you don’t have to worry about anything, you’re doing something you love, and you’re getting paid for it. That’s everybody’s dream.

Do you consider your skateboard career a successful one so far?

In the sense of achieving my goal of being pro it’s been successful, but as far as where I want it to go, no. I have this lingering injury, and I feel like I’ve been sort of left behind. I feel as though I have a lot more to accomplish. I feel like I haven’t been pushing myself to my limit; I just want to skate every day and do as much as I can. It’s not actually a goal-like I want to make this much money-it’s the satisfaction of seeing all the stuff I’ve done, and overcoming fears, and just skating to the best of my ability. That’s when I’ll be happy.

Once you’ve reached that point, where will you go?

I don’t know. Skateboarding sort of fell in my lap, and hopefully something else will come my way. I’m not really planning anything right now, I’m just trying to concentrate on what I’m doing today. Sure, I’m hoping there will be some opportunities down the track. I can see myself getting into skateboarding, maybe going back to Australia and working with some sort of distributing. I don’t really know, but I feel as though something will come my way.

At what point do you become a citizen of the United States? Is that something you’re working for?

I heard that once you’ve lived here for five years, you can become a citizen. I might even just stay here. I’m not real sure. I’m definitely holding on to the fact that I’ll go back home and live there. I’m just out here right now doing my thing. But once it’s all done, I’ll probably go home.

Does it feel like you’re on an extended work trip?

Extended holiday, more like. That’s the thing, once I go home, it’ll be a reality check. I’ll have to go back to work, or I’ll have to do something, but whether it’s a cushy job or not is the thing. I guess you could say I’ve got my fingers crossed.

CATEGORIZED: Features