Recently wed in Japan, one-time hobbit mud-hut dweller, and slated for two breakthrough debut video parts under the flags of Habitat and à‡S respectively, Silas Baxter-Neal is and always has been a man on the go. With a little time to spare for our vicarious vacuum lives, Silas took a breather to tell the world what’s up on his front.
Where are you living right now?
I live in Sunnyvale, California right now. I just moved here in February. I was living in Portland for a little less than a year then up and came down here. So far it’s great-good weather, more sh-t to skate. I like Northern California a lot. I didn’t really want to move down to L.A. I had lived in San Francisco for two years before and I like Nor Cal vibe, but I was kind of over the hustle of the city. So we looked around and Sunnyvale has been a good fit.
Did you move down with your wife?
Yeah. We got a spot together. Right now she’s trying to find a job and just hangin’ out. I used to go visit her as much as I could in Japan-she’s from just outside Tokyo there. But now we’re together here so it’s sick.
Which video do you predict will drop first-Yà‡s or Inhabitants?
I think Habitat will. But it’s kind of crazy. Their deadlines are so close. They’re both saying fall of this year, but I’m guessing Habitat because à‡S has just gone through so many changes since they started the project.
I was reading an old interview you did and all your favorite skaters are pretty much known for being full-speed type dudes-Barley, Strubing, Busenitz, et cetera. Do you apply that to yourself?
Yeah. I like going fast. Sometimes you get a little out of control and it gets sketchy, but I just think it looks so much better when someone does something going fast. It’s also way more fun to land a trick going fast. You get that adrenaline rush.
What is the secret to a perfect tre flip?
Yours seem pretty legit. (Laughs) I don’t know. Sometimes they work better going fast. Spread those legs, pray, and then catch it. I don’t know.
Growing up in Eugene, Oregon did you come of age with all the cement parks?
Yeah, in Eugene we had about six concrete parks alone. So the daily operation was like, hit up one of the parks and warm up in the morning, and then go skate street after that.
I guess it was around 2000 right?
Did they just all start popping up?
Yeah. It was like all of a sudden Dreamworks, Grindline, and all those guys just started going nuts building parks everywhere. We couldn’t believe it. It was like a miracle. It was insane. It really helped the scene, too. It became a total destination for people to come through.
I feel like somehow the Oregon parks were given an immediate green light for photos in mags. Like, they’re so good that all of a sudden park photos could be used where as most parks were a no-no for a photo. I think it just comes to the Northwest being known for having all those parks. They’ve been deemed acceptable. It’s like you’d go to Barcelona to skate a certain type of terrain and you go to Oregon to skate the parks. Like in Texas, you’d expect some ditches and in New York you’re looking at some wheelchair ramps (laughs).
Coming from growing up in a hut with mud floors, no electricity, running water, or any of the things a lot of people take for granted-do you think that stuck with you?
Well, it was a long time ago. So I’m not really like this hobbit hippie anymore, but from having that in my background, it just makes me realize that you can live almost any way you really choose. Like I could just as easily be that dude in a hut or the guy in L.A. with the suit and tie and all that. It makes me realize that it’s not that hard to slide to either side of the spectrum.
Let’s say you turn pro, eventually get a shoe, and are just sitting on stacks of cash. Could you be that guy with a $200,000 car living in the Hollywood Hills?
Probably not. Actually, definitely not. I just don’t really need thosee things. I think if I did eventually have the money, I would probably end up buying a house out in the countryside somewhere-just stay on the fringe of things and not be in the middle of the madness.
So no “SBN” diamond necklace?
You never know. Maybe on my grille (laughs). But probably not. I don’t know, I’m at a point right now in my life where if I were to start making that kind of money I would rather be putting money away to retire and just have that peace of mind.
Is money inherently good, bad, or is it just a matter of moderation and mindset?
I think money is a good thing, you know?
It’s just kind of what you do with it that defines whether it helps you or sinks you. I think a lot of people in skateboarding are making a lot of money right now, and I just wonder how long it’s gonna last. Who knows what’s going to happen, with injuries and stuff like that?
You could be ass-up with nothing pretty quick. I’m more into a saving-for-the-future kind of mindset.
First legit setup?
I picked out a Shuvit blank, some Indys, and Spitfires on my eleventh birthday.
Uh-oh. That was before the whole blank board controversy. Definitely (laughs).
Where do you fall on that whole thing?
I see both sides of it. Being involved with making money off skateboarding, I kind of tend to lean against buying blank boards. I mean there’s so many companies out there and there really are so many talented skateboarders that don’t make enough money off it-we’re not all rolling in the dough, but at the same time I remember what it was like to be a broke little kid and you just want to skate and it’s a blank or nothing. It’s a hard one. There’re no easy answers. Maybe some of the stuff Jamie Thomas does like giving discounts to shops that don’t carry blanks is a step in the right direction.
First video part you fanned out over?
Welcome To Hell. All of it. I must have watched that thing a thousand times growing up. Just everyone in there is amazing-Barley, Thomas, Brian Anderson, Maldonado, everyone.
Where do you see yourself settling down in the long run?
When I buy a house, I’d like to settle down back in Portland or Denver. Those are my favorite cities.
Do you have anything in mind that you would pick as a graphic if you get a board?
Maybe a squirrel (laughs). I’m always watching the squirrels. But Joe Castrucci is an artistic genius, so I would trust him regardless.
What sets the Workshop/Habitat brands apart from others in your view?
I think a lot of it has to do with them being in Ohio and being a little removed from the whole industry. I think also the people there have just been really dedicated. Mike Hill has been there since the beginning with (Chris) Carter. Growing up, I always felt that Workshop was a brand not really geared at kids but just skateboarders. And the people involved aren’t all dressing the same and are all pretty diverse which makes it something special. I think Habitat inherited that, too.
Having seen so many cultures, what can you summarize for our readers about human beings in general?
I think wherever you grow up, you sort of think that there’s a certain recipe to how you’re supposed to live your life for it to be “right.” I think what traveling does is show you that there are infinite recipes and you are free to live however you want and none of them are “right” or “wrong.” There’s a niche out there for anything you might want.
Thanks to everyone for the support. Be aware of everything that’s going on around you. There’s a lot of sh-t going on right now and people don’t realize how much power they actually have. They get jaded and think things are just the way they are and we can’t change them. Support what you think is right, and don’t just walk around saying this sucks and not do anything about it. Basically, you can’t say “F-k Bush” and then go shop at Wal-Mart.