Words by Carleton Curtis
Chris Cole is an accomplished gent. The half-man/half-videogame character has won every award there is to win, snagged every magazine cover there is to snag, and landed every trick there is to land. Well, except one (but more on that later). And yet with every passing year, just when you thought Cole couldn’t possibly outdo himself, he outdoes himself. It’s maddening, really. His achievements may be as predictable as Lindsay Lohan going lezzy, but like any audience in the presence of a gifted magician, we fall for it every time. A 360 flip flung down Wallenberg? He couldn’t possibly do something gnarlier… until he does it. Cleaner. As his double-dose part in the new Fallen video demonstrates—as do the following eighteen pages in this mag—Chris Cole will fool and amaze you once again. And you won’t mind playing the mark again, either. Don’t try this anywhere kiddos—not even on your PS3. (interview begins below gallery)
Photos by Shigeo, Seu Trinh, & Dave Chami
What are you up to Chris?
I’m just eating a hot dog.
At the airport, huh. Are you off to the Ride The Sky world tour?
Yeah, we’re all about to board the plane to Vancouver right now.
Did you recover from the madness at Spreckels [Theatre]?
[Laughs] Yeah, I don’t get hangovers. I’ve only had about two hangovers my entire life.
When was the last one?
Ooooo… bachelor party. The only time I get hangovers is if I’m black-out wasted, puking and whatever. I get the hangover when I should be getting the asphyxiation.
Since you’re at an airport, I gotta ask you what took you so long to move out to California?
I like Pennsylvania better, and the east coast better. It’s true. That’s what it is. Anyway, I started to see how hard it was to get as much footage as I need at this point in my career, so it was really impossible to only live in Pennsylvania. I can’t get all of my footage on tour either. It was harsh.
What’s the one thing that Pennsylvania had that you wished California has?
Family. And my friends. Everything would be fine if Black Box [Distribution] would move to Philadelphia.
That would solve all of your problems.
It actually would. I’d be fine, it’d be perfect.
Do you think Jamie’s gonna include that in the budget next year?
I very much doubt that’s going to be in the budget.
Let’s rewind a few weeks and talk about the Maloof Money Cup. Did you have any input in designing the street course?
Let me think… no.
Do you think the pros who were involved had an unfair advantage?
Nah, I don’t think so. Because the dudes that had the advantage skated good. But it wasn’t like they had all their tricks wired on every obstacle, hammering out impossible tricks. It wasn’t like they had a training facility or any of that crap. The rails were all street spots—nobody’s going training at Wilshire or at Hollywood High. Training at Wilshire would be decent, but Hollywood High is different ‘cause that ground is haaaaaaaaarsh.
What’s your take on the Money Cup as a whole?
I thought the course was awesome and the fact the Maloof brothers backed us and put that much money into the sport. But the format was almost impossible. They keep doing these contests with seven dudes at the same spot and you have seven minutes to rip your ass off. You have to run back and half the time people get in your way on the rail, so you can’t make your trick. Seven minutes just isn’t enough time to do anything—you might as well give me a 60-second contest run.
It’s the same deal at the X Games. Is there anything fun about sessioning a double-set handrail simultaneously with ten other dudes?
No. At the end of the seven minutes, you’re about to throw up because you’re just running your ass off.
You’re a guy who bridges the gap into the contest world—where do you draw the line as to what contests you actually enter?
They have to be a best-trick format or a jam format contest, otherwise you’re not going to see me there at all. “Sixty seconds, don’t fall, or else you lose” is not as fun as going out and skating a street spot.
Who’s the best all-around rider on the contest circuit?
I guess it depends on who’s on the contest circuit.
Well, there are a lot of Brazilian dudes… Ryan Sheckler… Greg Lutzka…
All those dudes are good, but if I had to pick, it would be a straight-up street skater. Koston, Reynolds, Dompierre… Koston and Reynolds are so obvious, anyone would pick those two. For good reason.
You’ve been a fixture on the contest circuit recently. So how have you avoided picking up an energy-drink sponsor? You could have the house paid off pretty quick.
It gets to a point where you’re whoring yourself out. I also don’t want to be somebody’s marketing droid, wearing head-to-toe gear. That’s not me and that’s not how I work. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but bending who you are to get that money is wrong. I’d love to pay off my house and support my family for the rest of my life, but at the same time, there’s something in most people—I hope—that makes it impossible to do those things. I can’t stop my run, stand in front of the camera, spin my board and show my stickers, and all that. No offense to any of those dudes who do it, because they’re just trying to pay off their house or kids, but I have a real hard time swallowing it.
How does being a pro affect the time you spend with your wife and kids?
Good and bad. As a professional skateboarder, you make your time for the most part, and you pick when you’re gonna be on the road and when you can hang out with your family. But the other part is two to three weeks of traveling, and during that time your son is growing up doing things without you. Your wife has a 24-hour duty with the kids every waking minute.
You sound guilty. I just had a baby too, and I feel guilty when I’m spending the night at TransWorld on deadline.
That always happens. They’re also the mother and they’re more instinctual. A lot of the time the child needs that more than they need you.
What’s been Wyatt’s first trick on a skateboard?
He does this thing where he puts the tail of his board on a one-stair, like the bottom stair, and he’ll drop in on it. He’ll roll out and everything. It’s pretty tight.
Already shredding the gnar. Let’s talk about Ride The Sky. What was your daily routine like during the final days of filming?
Oh yikes. It was rough. There were certain holes in my part, even though I filmed more than enough for the part. The trickiest part of filming a video is what looks right in certain areas, and you don’t know about that stuff unless you’re editing the part the whole time you’re filming. We found out what looked weird during the last month of filming. So it was go out every single day, get heel bruises, swollen palms, elbows, and hips. Then do it all over the next day.
Was it premeditated that you’d be filming for last part in the Fallen video?
[Laughs] Uhhh, yeah, I guess so. I was gonna gun it to do whatever I could, to make the best video part I could, and if that ends up being last, then awesome. If it doesn’t, that’s awesome too.
Does it feel any different to have the last part in the video, as opposed to say, the third part?
Yeah, it feels really different. [Laughs] It’s an accomplishment though, it’s a good feeling.
Let’s talk about the Fully Flared effect. Did that have any influence on the way you were filming for the Ride The Sky?
Honestly, it made me excited to skateboard. But as far as trying to get tech because of those dudes… that’s not the case. I’d always tell people, as a joke, “I’m gonna get tech for this next video part.” But in this case, I was already working on that stuff for a while and having a lot more fun, not just jumping down rails and gaps anymore. There are so many variables to rails and gaps, but I found a lot more inspiration skating the stuff I skated when I was younger. Like ledges and stuff. I like to have a little splash of that in my parts, depending on my patience.
Does Jamie push you harder than you push yourself?
He pushes, that’s for sure. But if I don’t want something, most of the time he understands. I’m motivated enough on my own that if I say “no thanks”, that’s legit, and I don’t need to explain myself to anyone.
Is that certain trick you were rumored to be trying at Carlsbad going to end up in the final pressing of Ride The Sky?
No. That’s not going to end up anywhere. I never landed said trick as good as I wanted to for the video, so after going back ten times and battling it ten different sessions, I decided it didn’t feel like skating anymore. It just felt like weird work. Like punishment I was inflicting upon myself, instead of doing something fun. I kept pushing and pushing and pushing for something that wasn’t happening the way I wanted to, so I just said, “F—k it.” Eventually you gotta call it quits on certain things.
Does it every stress you out that somebody could be doing the same trick at the same spot and that footage is going to drop sooner?
With that trick, yeah. But most of the time, I’m trying to do something that I hope somebody else isn’t doing. As weird as that sounds, you hope for that. You also hope the people you know will know tell you these things. Like if somebody who’s friends with Eric Koston knows he kickflip back tailed it, you hope he’d tell somebody in my posse that he kickflip back tailed it.
Elaborate on your backside 360 at Love. There was some controversy around that trick because some kid poached it, then leaked the video on YouTube. Do you have any comment on that kind of sh-t?
Yeah, it’s sucks and it’s ridiculous. You’re out there giving everything you’ve got for a trick, then some dude says he’s just shooting a photo of it with a digital camera, you tell him not to film and push him away… You know, you shouldn’t even have to tell somebody not to film. But, you have to tell them and then they act like you’re a dickhead. Now all of a sudden your this big a—hole, but I work hard on my tricks and some dude’s putting it up on YouTube, like “Here, check it out.”
That sucks for you, but imagine how we feel seeing our entire video leaked on YouTube.
Yeah, I’m so off that sh-t. I buy my music, you know what I mean?
What about the rest of your tricks in the video? Which one gave you the most satisfaction rolling away?
Mmmmm… good question. That’s hard. Four years deep, almost everything in there I guess. Everything was a good little battle. To pick one, the fakie ollie front blunt big flip?
That’s your final answer. What song would you have skated to if Jamie and Mike [Gilbert] had no say?
If I could pick any song I wanted? That is a hard, hard, hard question. Probably “Party Hard” by Andrew W.K. Nah, he’d be good but I don’t know which song.
Where’s that dude been lately?
New York, being a motivational speaker.
What is he motivating people about?
Just going out and being happy, doing what you want to do, living life to the fullest.
So “Party Hard” failed to communicate that message?
All of his songs are about partying.
What’s up with you partying with Kenny G?
We went to Gigantour, which is a Job For A Cowboy, Children Of Bodom, and Megadeth tour. We were hanging backstage with the Children Of Bodom dudes, and what’s funny is I put on Kenny G in the car on the way up to the concert. We have this ongoing thing about Kenny G playing these notes that you could pretty much sing with your eyebrows. It’s kind of ridiculous. So we played him in the car, then I’m walking by a little drunk in the hallway, and this dude looked just like him. So I went up to my friend and said, “Why don’t you do yourself a favor and go back there? Kenny f—king G.” So he went to go look, came back, and said, “Dude it looks just like him!” Then Hank, the bassist from Children Of Bodom, goes, “No, that is really Kenny G. His son is a big fan of our band.” And I’m like, “Get the f—k outta here.” So we shot a Hot Wax posse photo with Kenny G backstage while Megadeth was playing.
That sounds so surreal. Maybe for your next video part, you can have Children Of Bodom do a Kenny G cover.
Dude, they would kill it.
Talk about your collaboration with them on your Fallen shoe.
I’ve loved that band for quite some time, and I finally got in contact with them through a couple people at Tsunami Entertainment. I was psyched on their whole imagery because it was so close to what I was doing at the time, so I sent them some stuff. They were really down-to-earth cool dudes, and they’d even wear it on stage. Every time I’d give them anything, even a free T-shirt, they were so appreciative, like calling you up the next day thanking you again for it. So we came up with the idea of cross-marketing the shoe. It came out really cool.
What are the last three albums you bought?
“Weird Al” Yankovich, box set… damn, this is hard. I guess I’ve only been buying songs, not albums. I’ve got all the Bodom stuff except Tokyo Warheart Live. Kate Bush stuff and Elton John stuff too.
Is there a secret to making music sound good?
There actually is. [Laughs] There’s a couple things you can do. I generally like the A chord. I also like doubled-up vocals, you know how the Beach Boys are? They’ve got one dude singing F sharp, one dude singing flat, one dude singing a B. Those are the tricks for me.
Final question time. You’ve pretty much had a model career—solid sponsors, loyalty to your sponsors, consistent coverage, and always raising the bar. Is there anything you would have changed along the way?
It’s an easy answer, but you don’t want to change anything, because—you know—the butterfly effect changes the course of everything that happened. There were a couple things I could’ve not skated for, but whatever. Everything ended up good. I don’t have any complaints.