Johnny Layton Am Spotlight

Johnny is the spleen of the Toy Machine team, alive with modern skills and a style of the most antique order. Like an angel on the edge of its demise, Johnny will blast the world a new twisted hole … one of utter grace and marked craftsmanship. Stay on target!-Geoff Rowley

Interview by Ed Templeton

Tell me about the time you first lost your virginity … just kidding.

(Laughs).

There’s an ad coming out with your dad in it (who was in Iraq), and there’s a tank that’s spraypainted, “Iraq Dad, Toy Machine Bloodsuckers.” Did your dad actually spraypaint that on the tank?

Yeah. You can do whatever to your tanks over there. It’s pretty much like your claim to that tank or something.

Does your dad drive a tank?

I don’t think he drives one, but he’s most likely riding in ’em and protected by those guys.Those guys in the ad with machine guns-are they just there to protect him?

What’s he doing over there?

He’s a contractor, and he’s pretty much like the head honcho guy telling everybody what to do.So he’s rebuilding stuff in Iraq?

Yeah, exactly.

Which is pretty dangerous, because that’s what a lot of the insurgents are targeting, people like your dad … contractors, civilians, you know? It’s kinda sketchy.

Yeah, it’s super sketchy. He’s finally home now, and he’s not going back. He just got home like a week ago.

I didn’t know your dad was a tagger.

(Laughs) He’s not, but I just thought you’d like the photo, and now it’s in the ad-pretty cool.

Do you have a sister?

Yeah, her name’s Lindsey.

Is she hot?

I’m not gonna judge my own sister. She’s a good-looking girl, so I gotta keep an eye on her. She’s seventeen years old.

I saw her-she looks like a female version of you.

Sketchy.

In a good way.

Oh thanks, I’m sure she’ll be glad.

You’re always gone on a skate trip lately. Where are some of the places you’ve been, and what lessons, if any, have you learned from being in those places?

The lessons I’ve learned are just to have respect.

Respect what?

Respect the country and the people. The first couple of trips I went on were to Spain and China. I’d get super frustrated and not realize that these people can’t even understand what I’m saying. Then I went to Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. That trip was really good-I learned that you just have to deal with it. You gotta respect them because you’re in their country skateboarding.

Are the obstacles that you’d find over there any different than the ones here?

I think that you could probably find stuff like that here, but the chance of you getting to skate it is pretty slim. There was a seventeen-stair rail at some mall, and there’s no way you’d ever get to skate it here.

Inside of a mall?

Not inside a mall, but outside at a mall complex.

Why couldn’t you skate it here in America?

There’s no way you’d even get one try … maybe one try, but you’d get rolled.

Is that nineteen-year-old slang for getting tackled by security?

Definitely. Because people overreact here. You’re just tryin’ to skate and they don’t understand, “Just tell us to leave, and we’ll leave. You don’t have to get all harsh!”

I think that’s one of the biggest differences in Barcelona. I was shocked when the cops came to kick us out of the grass gap there.

I wasn’t there. Remember, I left …

Oh, was that the day you weirded out?

Yeah …

Let’s talk about you wierding out. Tell me why you weird out.

I just get stressed out. I have to either focus my board or leave the posse and just do my own thing. I’ll calm down and come back, and I’ll be fine and everybody’s like, “What was wrong with you earlier?” Let’s leave it behind us! I think I seriously have the worst mood swings … for an hour, I was like, hating you. Remember, we were about to get on the plane?Yeah.

And then twenty minutes later, perfectly fine. Why were you hating me?> Because I was getting all pissed at the lady at the front desk because she wouldn’t l us on the plane without our tickets. I’m like, “This is my boarding pass, here you go.” And she’s like, “No, you need a ticket.” “It’s with that guy over there … ” Would they let you back?They told me, “You can’t go back, it’s against the law.” I just stood there and finally found the ticket and gave it to the lady. But you were already stressing on the lady.

I was furious! She was trying to talk to me, and I was trying to talk to you, and I was like, “Lady, get out of my way, I’m talking to him.” (Making a pointing motion) Billy (Marks) was like, “F-k you.” He was getting all pissed, too.

Billy loses it pretty quick, too. So why were you mad at me, though?

Because you called me a … What’d you call me?

A future wife abuser.

Yeah! For no reason. Like there’s no reason I’d ever …

What do you mean no reason? You’d just blown up on that lady! I don’t care about that lady.

If something bad happens to you at skate spots, you focus your board, flip out, scream, and go berserk to the point where I think you’re gonna kill or hurt a civilian, so I was talking about your anger management. I was thinking, “This guy can’t control his anger, and if his girlfriend pisses him off, I can just imagine him hitting her.” So I told you, but I was just messing with you. I think sometimes the line gets blurred for you, and you can’t understand that I’m makin’ fun of you, and you get really, really pissed.

Yeah, I take it too serious and get all bummed, and I’m like, “Don’t talk to me.” I turn my head and try and just avoid everyone. But I’d never touch my girlfriend. There’s a line between being pissed and loving someone, and I’d never touch anyone I loved.

What if she snowballed you?

What’s “snowballed”?Forget it. I think you’ve admitted that you think you’re bi-polar. What is bi-polar?

That’s why I need to go get it checked out; it’s like just mood swings, I think.

Is it schizophrenia?

No, schizophrenia’s something else where you imagine things or you see things.

Schizophrenia is having two or more personalities, but some people have it more separated, like they become a separate person. But you kind of have nice J. Lay and pissed J. Lay. When you become pissed J. Lay, you’re pouting, you can’t be talked to, and you have a big chip on your shoulder. And then nice J. Lay is just regular J. Lay, nineteen-year-old happy kid, stoked on life, gets to skate for a living-you’re happy, you’re fine. The next minute I walk in and say what’s up and you want to kick my ass for saying what’s up to you.

(Laughs).

And I’m your team manager. You’re supposed to be nice to me.

Yeah, but those times only last for a little bit, and then I’ll be back to normal. It’s like complete Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Have you thought about getting medication for this? Yeah, but I know it’s just like Prozac or something. I could probably just deal with it naturally, instead of having to use medical drugs.How often does a kid like you take an Advil or a Tylenol for pain-is it every day?

Probably a normal kid wouldn’t take it daily, but my knees are jacked. So I usually take two because I’m sore by the end of the day.So that’s like fourteen pills a week. Interesting. What about other friends of yours that are your same age? Are they doing the same stuff?

They’re sketchier about it, there’s kids eating Vicodin like it’s candy.Where do they get it?

Grandparents, parents, or just random kids that have it. It’s getting sketchy where I live in Murrieta (California).Where’s that?

Near Temecula-about an hour north of San Diego. It’s full-on suburbia.

Suburban sprawl?

Yeah.

Do you have friends that are getting sketchy to the point that they’re blowing their life yet?

It’s getting close, man.

Give me an example.

A couple of my friends did a beer run …

What’s a beer run?

You pretty much just barge inside a grocery store and grab beer and run out.

So you’re stealing?

Yeah, it’s stealing beer. So my friend waited in the car while my other friend ran inside, got it, and came back out. They got in the car, and I guess someone must have seen the plates ’cause they got pulled over.How old are these kids?

My age-eighteen, nineteen. Both of them got arrested, and both of them had to do community service. They got gnarly fines, and their bails were set at 25,000 dollars. They kind of mellowed out now that they got busted. But in Murrieta, I know of kids that smoke crack, do speed, smoke meth-just sketchy stuff.

Are there fights at the park?

Yeah, when I was in Spain, my friend Mikey got in a fight with some kid who wanted to fight me. The kid was like, “Where’s Johnny?” He was like, “Dude, he’s in Spain.” The kid talked some shit, and then Mikey pretty much beat his ass.

Why would he be after you?

He toilet papered my house in the middle of the night, and I caught him in the act with a bunch of dudes. I chased them down the street, and I beat the shit out of like three of them.

But this kid, maybe he’s been training, and maybe he thinks he can take you now. He’s gonna get his ass beat if he thinks that.

So, tell me about your little run-in with the police in Spain. And this time, tell me the truth!

I was at the hotel just hanging out. Billy and Matt (Bennett) went out to La Rambla to get sketchy. When they got back, Billy had bought a bunch of balloons in the shape of dicks. I was just getting ready to fall asleep, and they’re like, “We got water balloons. Come on, let’s fill them up and throw them at cars passing by the hotel window.”What did they look like filled with water?

Not too dickish. Matt blew one up to see what it looked like, and it popped.

So you could say they were shitty dick balloons?

(Laughs) Yeah. Billy filled one up pretty big, like the size of a bowling ball-a lot larger than the ones we filled up the two nights before.What story were you on?

We’re on the floor right above the lobby, real obvious. A car drives by, and Billy throws this giant one out the window. We had this little technique down where we’d have Billy throw the balloon, then Matt shuts the window, and I shut the blinds real quickly so it wouldn’t be as obvious. We heard it smack the car-we thought it hit the top of the car, but I guess it hit the windshield, and the people slammed on their brakes and came up to the hotel. We heard some commotion downstairs, and we were like, “F-k it, these people are gonna leave, they can’t point us out, ya know?” So we laid down, acting like nothing happened.

Were you pretending to be asleep?

Yeah, but after a bit we got up and were hanging out, watching Robot Chicken, and listening to music. All of a sudden the phone rings, and we’re like, “Oh, maybe it’s Ed.” Billy picks up, “Hello?” It’s the front desk, and they say, “Yeah, we have the police here, and we’re gonna come to your room and talk to you.” We’re like, “Oh, shit!” because the room smells like hash. The cop knocks on the door. I answer the door in my boxers, trying to act like I’m sleeping.

The cop says, “You guys threw a water balloon.” We totally deny it. He asked for our passports, and we gave him our information. Then the cop comes back, and he says something to Billy like, “You know your mind is not too smart.” They said that they were going to come back to make us pay for a broken windshield, because that’s what the people were claiming, that their windshield broke. Then you come in like, “What the f-k is going on?”

Billy was trying to keep it from me. Billy doesn’t want to get in trouble, but I knew if we just told you the truth, you would’ve been like, “Dude, we did the same thing.” And you did do the same thing in Australia with Emerica, but you guys played it off good and had Marc (Johnson) answer the door naked. We were gonna make Matt answer the door naked, just to try and throw it off, but the Spanish cops would’ve just been like, “Dude, put on some clothes!”Any other interests besides skriend waited in the car while my other friend ran inside, got it, and came back out. They got in the car, and I guess someone must have seen the plates ’cause they got pulled over.How old are these kids?

My age-eighteen, nineteen. Both of them got arrested, and both of them had to do community service. They got gnarly fines, and their bails were set at 25,000 dollars. They kind of mellowed out now that they got busted. But in Murrieta, I know of kids that smoke crack, do speed, smoke meth-just sketchy stuff.

Are there fights at the park?

Yeah, when I was in Spain, my friend Mikey got in a fight with some kid who wanted to fight me. The kid was like, “Where’s Johnny?” He was like, “Dude, he’s in Spain.” The kid talked some shit, and then Mikey pretty much beat his ass.

Why would he be after you?

He toilet papered my house in the middle of the night, and I caught him in the act with a bunch of dudes. I chased them down the street, and I beat the shit out of like three of them.

But this kid, maybe he’s been training, and maybe he thinks he can take you now. He’s gonna get his ass beat if he thinks that.

So, tell me about your little run-in with the police in Spain. And this time, tell me the truth!

I was at the hotel just hanging out. Billy and Matt (Bennett) went out to La Rambla to get sketchy. When they got back, Billy had bought a bunch of balloons in the shape of dicks. I was just getting ready to fall asleep, and they’re like, “We got water balloons. Come on, let’s fill them up and throw them at cars passing by the hotel window.”What did they look like filled with water?

Not too dickish. Matt blew one up to see what it looked like, and it popped.

So you could say they were shitty dick balloons?

(Laughs) Yeah. Billy filled one up pretty big, like the size of a bowling ball-a lot larger than the ones we filled up the two nights before.What story were you on?

We’re on the floor right above the lobby, real obvious. A car drives by, and Billy throws this giant one out the window. We had this little technique down where we’d have Billy throw the balloon, then Matt shuts the window, and I shut the blinds real quickly so it wouldn’t be as obvious. We heard it smack the car-we thought it hit the top of the car, but I guess it hit the windshield, and the people slammed on their brakes and came up to the hotel. We heard some commotion downstairs, and we were like, “F-k it, these people are gonna leave, they can’t point us out, ya know?” So we laid down, acting like nothing happened.

Were you pretending to be asleep?

Yeah, but after a bit we got up and were hanging out, watching Robot Chicken, and listening to music. All of a sudden the phone rings, and we’re like, “Oh, maybe it’s Ed.” Billy picks up, “Hello?” It’s the front desk, and they say, “Yeah, we have the police here, and we’re gonna come to your room and talk to you.” We’re like, “Oh, shit!” because the room smells like hash. The cop knocks on the door. I answer the door in my boxers, trying to act like I’m sleeping.

The cop says, “You guys threw a water balloon.” We totally deny it. He asked for our passports, and we gave him our information. Then the cop comes back, and he says something to Billy like, “You know your mind is not too smart.” They said that they were going to come back to make us pay for a broken windshield, because that’s what the people were claiming, that their windshield broke. Then you come in like, “What the f-k is going on?”

Billy was trying to keep it from me. Billy doesn’t want to get in trouble, but I knew if we just told you the truth, you would’ve been like, “Dude, we did the same thing.” And you did do the same thing in Australia with Emerica, but you guys played it off good and had Marc (Johnson) answer the door naked. We were gonna make Matt answer the door naked, just to try and throw it off, but the Spanish cops would’ve just been like, “Dude, put on some clothes!”Any other interests besides skateboarding?

Not too much, I’m not really into like cars or anything. I’m into music, but I don’t play any musical instruments and I don’t go see too many shows.For a nineteen-year-old kid, I was shocked by how much stuff you have on your iPod, you have a giant selection of music that I wouldn’t expect. You have the music tastes of a 38-year-old music freak.

Really?Yeah, you’ve got a lot of weird bands on there. You’ve got skate-video rock, classic rock, alternative rock, all the stuff kids like nowadays … Dinosaur Jr. Plus you’ve got these crazy noise bands-way gnarlier than Sonic Youth-like Hella, Lightning Bolt, and MindFlayer.

I can’t even put that stuff on in the van, because everyone freaks out-except you. I listen to some hip-hop, some rap.That’s what I mean-you have a lot of different stuff. I’m pretty amazed, because when I was nineteen, I was musically retarded. I was only into Jane’s Addiction. There was no such thing as an iPod yet, and I only owned two CDs. Now that I’m old and crusty, I have a lot of stuff, but you’re nineteen and you have everything. That’s pretty cool. That tells me that you have an open mind on that front.

Let’s talk about skateboarding, since this is a skateboarding magazine. Another thing that I don’t expect out of a kid who’s only nineteen is to be able to skate tranny. All the kids these days grow up skating only street. We get to all these weird bank spots and transition spots in Barcelona, and you skate them just fine, like you were born on them or something.

That’s the funnest stuff to skate. I’d rather skate that than be jumping on a rail or jumping down stairs, but I’ll do that, too, ya know?That’s one of the reasons why I was so amped to put you on the team, you were well-rounded, and I don’t think a lot of people are well-rounded these days.

It really does help you to have more board control. If you’re comfortable skating transition, it’s that much easier when you’re getting onto a rail or trying tricks down stairs or even on those weird banks in Barcelona.You’re just going to naturally think differently. All that stuff crosses over-you’re crossing over stuff that you might want to do on a ramp and trying to do it on the street and vice versa. It just makes you more comfortable with your board and as a whole … All right, who wins in a fight, Bruce Lee or Darth Vader?

Um, considering Darth Vader is Darth Vader, I’d have to say Darth.All right, what about Spiderman or Skeletor?

Skeletor’s sick, especially after watching Robot Chicken. Skeletor, for sure.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Scarface.

Have you ever read a book?

Dude, I cannot remember reading a book-maybe in high school. I think I read 1984. Ever since high school, I haven’t even picked up a book. My girlfriend reads a lot. I just never read.

If you had to have only one band on your iPod for the rest of your life, what band would you have on there?

I’d have to say Black Sabbath.Who would you want on the team if I said, “J. Lay, you can put anyone on the team right now, steal them from whatever company.”

You know I’m just gonna say Geoff (Rowley), because Geoff’s just the gnarliest guy.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

You, for one. My dad, my whole family, my friends, all my sponsors, my girlfriend, ’cause she’s super supportive-she’ll let me go skate when I want to go skate.

She doesn’t try to P-whip you out of skateboarding?

No, ’cause she knows …

She’ll get D-whipped right back? No, she just knows I have to do what I have to do.

A Few Quotes:
“I have to either focus my board or leave the posse and just do my own thing.”

“There’s a line between being pissed and loving someone, and I would never touch anyone I loved.”

“We were gonna make Matt B. answer the door naked, just to try and throw it off, but the Spanish cops would’ve just been like, ‘Dude, put on some clothes!'”

“I’d rather skate that than be jumping on a rail or jumpinng down stairs.”boarding?

Not too much, I’m not really into like cars or anything. I’m into music, but I don’t play any musical instruments and I don’t go see too many shows.For a nineteen-year-old kid, I was shocked by how much stuff you have on your iPod, you have a giant selection of music that I wouldn’t expect. You have the music tastes of a 38-year-old music freak.

Really?Yeah, you’ve got a lot of weird bands on there. You’ve got skate-video rock, classic rock, alternative rock, all the stuff kids like nowadays … Dinosaur Jr. Plus you’ve got these crazy noise bands-way gnarlier than Sonic Youth-like Hella, Lightning Bolt, and MindFlayer.

I can’t even put that stuff on in the van, because everyone freaks out-except you. I listen to some hip-hop, some rap.That’s what I mean-you have a lot of different stuff. I’m pretty amazed, because when I was nineteen, I was musically retarded. I was only into Jane’s Addiction. There was no such thing as an iPod yet, and I only owned two CDs. Now that I’m old and crusty, I have a lot of stuff, but you’re nineteen and you have everything. That’s pretty cool. That tells me that you have an open mind on that front.

Let’s talk about skateboarding, since this is a skateboarding magazine. Another thing that I don’t expect out of a kid who’s only nineteen is to be able to skate tranny. All the kids these days grow up skating only street. We get to all these weird bank spots and transition spots in Barcelona, and you skate them just fine, like you were born on them or something.

That’s the funnest stuff to skate. I’d rather skate that than be jumping on a rail or jumping down stairs, but I’ll do that, too, ya know?That’s one of the reasons why I was so amped to put you on the team, you were well-rounded, and I don’t think a lot of people are well-rounded these days.

It really does help you to have more board control. If you’re comfortable skating transition, it’s that much easier when you’re getting onto a rail or trying tricks down stairs or even on those weird banks in Barcelona.You’re just going to naturally think differently. All that stuff crosses over-you’re crossing over stuff that you might want to do on a ramp and trying to do it on the street and vice versa. It just makes you more comfortable with your board and as a whole … All right, who wins in a fight, Bruce Lee or Darth Vader?

Um, considering Darth Vader is Darth Vader, I’d have to say Darth.All right, what about Spiderman or Skeletor?

Skeletor’s sick, especially after watching Robot Chicken. Skeletor, for sure.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Scarface.

Have you ever read a book?

Dude, I cannot remember reading a book-maybe in high school. I think I read 1984. Ever since high school, I haven’t even picked up a book. My girlfriend reads a lot. I just never read.

If you had to have only one band on your iPod for the rest of your life, what band would you have on there?

I’d have to say Black Sabbath.Who would you want on the team if I said, “J. Lay, you can put anyone on the team right now, steal them from whatever company.”

You know I’m just gonna say Geoff (Rowley), because Geoff’s just the gnarliest guy.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

You, for one. My dad, my whole family, my friends, all my sponsors, my girlfriend, ’cause she’s super supportive-she’ll let me go skate when I want to go skate.

She doesn’t try to P-whip you out of skateboarding?

No, ’cause she knows …

She’ll get D-whipped right back? No, she just knows I have to do what I have to do.

A Few Quotes:
“I have to either focus my board or leave the posse and just do my own thing.”

“There’s a line between being pissed and loving someone, and I would never touch anyone I loved.”

“We were gonna make Matt B. answer the door naked, just to try and throw it off, but the Spanish cops would’ve just been like, ‘Dude, put on some clothes!'”

“I’d rather skate that than be jumping on a rail or jumping down stairs.”r jumping down stairs.”