Check In: Henry Sanchez

Have you been skating at all since your part in Sight Unseen?
Actually I skated for DGK for a little bit. And then I had an ankle injury, so I had to avoid certain tricks. So I was skating switch, trying to make it work. But I had to drop a lot of my tricks because of my ankle, and then it just got held up from there. And then I had some attitude issues with Stevie [Williams], and in hindsight it was pretty much all my fault, so that didn’t work out. So I just stopped skating. I just gave up on it. But about four years ago I started back up for a little bit, just for fun. I recently just got a box from Stevie—a DGK box—and I’ve been skating a little bit, but I don’t have a lot of time to do it. But it’s still fun. I have a little spot by my house. But the thing that sucks is that when you go through these phases where you quit for a number of years and then try back up, it’s like starting over, like, “Damn, I can’t even tre flip, but it’s not that hard.” You get so frustrated. But if you keep at it after like two weeks you’re doing tre flips like nothing. But that first day, I can’t even stand on my board [laughs].

Here’s that Sanchez part from Sight Unseen.

So going back to the early ’90s, do you think skateboarding would be the same if EMB never existed?
You never know that. I don’t want to say it could be or it couldn’t be. Anyone could’ve done that, or maybe they were doing different stuff and it could’ve gone in a different direction. I do think a lot of the stuff we did though definitely contributed partially to the direction of skateboarding. Back then if you were good, you were a pioneer. Nowadays if you’re good, you’re just good. There are so many guys who are good and it’s so mainstream now, so there are so many more guys doing it. So back then we kinda had it easier than they do now. Nowadays you have to do some crazy stuff to make a mark [laughs].

“Back then if you were good, you were a pioneer. Nowadays if you’re good, you’re just good.”

Who do you think was the most influential back from those days? Or who your favorite to watch?
My favorite? Probably Mike Carroll, Matt Hensley, [Sean] Sheffey. There are so many dudes. Basically Hensley and Carroll were my top two guys. Mike Carroll was a huge influence because he was there every day, whereas anyone else who was close to that was in videos and I never saw them. So Carroll had an extra influence on me. It put a fire under my butt to get good. I was like, “Oh shit, I wanna get good like that.” And then Hensley, when I saw him skate, I just thought it was rad how original he was, and the angles that he brought to tricks, just how creative he was and how raw it was to see him backlip some of these benches with Doc Martens on. I just thought that was really cool, and still do.

What was it about EMB that brought everyone together?
Well, it was easy. It was very trouble-free. We didn’t have to meet up at a certain spot and then catch the bus here and there and get kicked out of places all day. It was just a place that we could go, and you were guaranteed you could skate there all day. And so once it started getting known, we all started going there every day. And then it just snowballed. It got mad crazy, in a good way. There were a lot of negative things too, but that’s just people being young—like board jackings and stuff like that. But anywhere you have a bunch of people congregating in an urban environment like that, that stuff just happens. But as far as the skating, Embarcadero was cool. More so than the immediate attention it got, it was cool to just hang out with the guys. The feeling you’d get every day. We were young, we didn’t have any responsibilities, and it was like our glory days.

Do you still stay in contact with any of those dudes, besides Stevie?
No, not really. Sometimes if I got to the city [San Francisco], I’ll call the guys up and see what they’re up to. A lot of the guys got out of skating. The ones who are still in it are the obvious ones that everyone knows, like Chico [Brenes], [Mike] Carroll, [Mike] York, Karl [Watson], and all those guys. That’s another thing that’s cool about Embarcadero too: a lot of guys didn’t make it, but so many guys did. It’s so awesome when you look back at it. You’ve got Mike and Greg [Carroll] hustling out, Nick Tershay balling out, Karl owning his own company, York owning his own company. It’s pretty awesome, so I’m proud of all those guys.