20 Questions – Caswell Berry

20 Questions

Caswell Berry

Interview by Skin

I don’t want you to come off in this interview like a grumpy bastard, I want you to be happy—jolly.

I’ll be jolly for this interview.

Okay. Are you ready to go on this now?

Yeah.

Here we go. I’m missing two questions, so we’re gonna have to make them up. I’ve got eighteen here.

Sounds good.

1. How come you’re so hard to get a hold of? It took me six weeks to pin you down.

(Laughs) Well, I don’t know why it’d be hard—I just lay in bed all day.

Do you screen phone calls?

Yeah, I guess so. But not yours.

You lying bastard.

(Laughing) I swear, man! I do if they’re restricted. Remember when you called the first time and I didn’t answer for a good 30 seconds? Well, I’m usually waiting for the other person to say something first to see if it’s a crappy person I want to talk to or not.

2. Why did you quit Toy Machine?

Because I wasn’t really feeling like I was a part of the whole program. All the other dudes lived down south (Southern California), and they’d hang out all the time and I was up north, traveling a bunch. I never really saw or heard from anybody. I wanted to ride for enjoi since it came out, and I was kinda scared to ask Marc (Johnson) at the time. I don’t know, I guess I got an offer and I took it. It worked out for the best because I was more productive.

Is it more fun being with your friends now?

Yeah, it’s fun to work with them, ’cause it’s not really work. It seems like Ed (Templeton) doesn’t have very much of a liking for me anymore. I don’t know, no hard feelings to him. I had a lot of fun on his trips, and I wouldn’t mind hanging out with him again—that’d be cool.

3. How much of the year do you spend traveling? Are you into it or do you prefer to travel less?

Three hundred and sixty four days out of the year I’m traveling, and then on that other day I’m in space.

Are you into it?

Yeah and no. I’m kinda scared of flying, so I have to get heavily sedated.

You do a lot of flyin’, though, right?

Yeah, too much.

What do you take to make the flight?

Well, you gave me some Valium once and it knocked me out pretty good.

Are you still taking them?

I can’t get any. I had one in my pocket that someone gave me a while ago. I’m just waiting for a good time to take it.

Would you prefer to travel less?

Well, since I’m at home not doing anything but lying in bed all day—yeah … no. I don’t know. I’d prefer to be transported somewhere and then I wouldn’t mind so much.

Like in a space walk or something like that?

Yeah.

Here’s a philosophical question.

Oh, great.

4. Why are you here?

Why am I here? Here being where?

There.

Where’s there?

Wherever you’re at.

I haven’t found it. Well, I drove downtown and now I’m walking to a bench so I can sit down and smoke a cigarette.

So you’re telling me the reason you’re here is so you can smoke cigarettes?

Pretty much. And make everybody sad.

5. If you had to pick one of the Tiltmode Army to be stranded on a desert island with, who would it be and why?

First, I’d pick myself, only because then it wouldn’t really matter, ’cause then the other person wouldn’t die with me.

You’re not gonna die. Let’s say you get rescued. It’s like Survivor, I’ll give you a month on the island.

Okay, well then I’d definitely have to bring Warren Jenkins ’cause he’s like a jack-of-all-trades. He used to be a marine. If you needed some sunglasses, he could whittle you some out of a piece of wood. He can find food. He’s basically “The Man.”

What does he do up in San Jose?

He used to be a construion worker, so he can carry heavy shit, too—in case we need to make a boat or something. Now I guess he’s a landscaper.

What about Jerry (Hsu) and Louie (Barletta)? You wouldn’t take those guys with you?

Jerry and I’d probably just smoke ourselves to death. And Louie … yeah, we’d die.

6. You don’t seem like that much of a “material” sort of guy. What do you spend your money on?

Oh, man—candy (laughs). And junk food. I guess cigarettes take a lot of my money. Let’s see here … man, I don’t really have anything to show for my money (laughs). It’s just all gone.

What do you spend your money on?

F—k, man.

You don’t even know, do you?

Probably bills, I guess. I’ve been saving lately, so I’m pretty happy about that. 

What are you saving up for?

Life. Well, probably just to make somebody else’s life a lot happier than mine. Like my mom, maybe.

7. Does high school prepare you for life? And if there were a class that you could come up with that would prepare you for the real world, what class would that be?

I didn’t really go to high school much and when I did, I went to six different high schools. They don’t prepare you for much. They kinda pushed me away. Maybe that’s why I’m a recluse now. Probably Business Ethics and a Day To Day Is Living. Also, if there was a psychologist there to help out, too (laughs).

8. Is everyone into their own different scene or do all you guys hang out together?

It depends. Some nights people have girlfriend duty and whatnot.

You made that sound like a job—girlfriend duty.

Well, it is sometimes. Sometimes you have to let it all hang out. We all enjoy bowling, so we go quite a bit. I’ve been hanging out with myself lately, so I’m my own little group.

9. Give me the five most played tunes on your iPod.

Probably Brotha Lynch Hung, “Return Of Da Baby”; Kiss, “Love Gun”; Weezer, “Only In Dreams”; Ween, “Baby Bitch”; Neil Diamond, “Sweet Caroline.”

10. Is giving up smoking something you’ve thought about and what would it take for you to do that?

Um, I’d probably have to be heavily sedated for more than five months.

How many do you smoke in a day?

Twenty to 30.

Could it happen?

Possibly.

You’re smoking a cigarette right now, aren’t you?

Yeah, I am (laughing). Right now, I’m smoking a cigarette. I’m sure it’ll eventually happen, but I might be dead by then.

Is it something that you think about?

I think about it every single day when I wake up. Before I can even open up my eyes, I feel to my left onto my little nightstand and get a cigarette and my lighter, and I light it—then I open my eyes. So yeah, I think about it every morning when I wake up wheezing.

That’s gnarly. You wake up wheezing?

Yeah, every morning.

And then you have a cigarette and it’s gone?

No, it usually takes about two hours before it goes away. Have to clear it up, you know? Haaaacccccck. (Horrible sound of Caswell clearing his throat.)

11. Easy. Next question. When you were growing up in San Jose, who were some of the skaters you looked up to?

I always dug Steve Caballero. I watched a lot of Powell videos, that’s probably why. Since he was from San Jose, I just automatically thought he was the man. As I was growing up, I’d see random people at the skatepark.

What skatepark did you skate?

The San Jose warehouse. They had a street course and a mini ramp with a spine and whatnot. Tim Brauch was always really amazing. I don’t think I ever saw that guy have a bad day in his life. I never saw him throw his board. Crazy Eddie, he’s always been pretty f—kin’ good. Those are the only ones I can think of right off the top of my head.

12. When you were a little kid, you seemed like the Slayer-listening sort of type. Is that a misconception or is that what you were really like?

I think I was probably a little brat. I didn’t really do much except skateboard, go to school, and probably act like a shithead.

Did you listen to metal when you were a little kid?

When I was in fifth grade I used to be into Cannibal Corpse. I’d wear Cannibal Corpse shirts to school. The teachers always thought I was wearing my dad’s clothes and stuff. I guess I was a little hessian back then.

13. Are you happy?

With what?

In general.

No.

With life?

No.

What’s getting you down?

Uh, just about everything. Mainly myself. I look at myself and I feel like I should be happy. Then I look at others and that makes me kinda bummed out.

Why’s that?

I see people doing their day-to-day thing and I know they’re not happy with them, and that makes me think maybe I shouldn’t be happy with mine. I’ve seriously been hurtin’ lately. I been spending a bad amount of time in bed. I stare at my blanket for about two hours, listen to music, and doze off.

You listen to Morrissey too much.

Nah, that just comes on random on my iPod. It’s been kinda hard lately, man. My heart’s hurtin’.

Girl trouble?

Everything, man. Everything.

14. How does one become a member of the Tiltmode Army?

Well, I’ll make this one interesting. I would say that it’s different for every single person. I can’t really get too much into it, but we have a grudging week that we like to call “Hell Week.” We’d have to sleep outside on a set of stairs and wake up at six in the morning when the sun comes out. Then we’re beaten to wake up.

By the higher powers of the Tiltmode Army?

Yeah. And then you’d have to skate the stairs and do whatever trick they told you to do. Then you’d have to eat food that’s good for you, like broccoli. After that, you’d get beaten up again. Anything that’s bad, you had to do it. You have to drink a forty in two minutes. That was my initiation—I don’t know about anyone else’s.

15. Has skateboarding saved you?

From what?

Life. What else would you be doing if you weren’t skateboarding?

I guess it saved me. I don’t know what else I’d be doing. I’d probably be a full-time scumbag or an alcoholic or something by now. Yeah, I can pay rent and I can do a lot of things I want to. I’ve gone through a lot of changes that I wouldn’t have gone through if I hadn’t skated, and I’ve met a lot of people, so I have a lot of good people in my life because of it. It saved me from something or another.

16. Do you focus boards?

Yeah.

On a daily basis?

No, no, no. I’ve been working on it lately, but hot weather turns me towards focusing boards more often. I don’t do good in hot weather. I’ve been really working on my temper lately. I’ve been taking pills and stuff. It’s this pill called Paxil. I take it because I have social anxiety disorder and to keep my temper under wraps. It’s pretty good.

Has it been saving your boards?

Yeah, definitely. Focusing boards, man. Lovely.

17. How does time at home differ from time on the road?

I’d like to say that I’m a lot more comfortable at home. On the road, I have to spend time with more people, be more social, I guess. Or be polite to people if they want something from me, which they always do anyway.

18. Do you have a problem with that? Do you feel that it’s hard to communicate with people?

Sometimes. It’s like having a real job. I used to work at a coffee shop and you had to pretend to have a good day to make their day a lot better. It differs quite a bit. I don’t enjoy it necessarily all the time. I guess I’m the same as everyone else.

19. When do you enjoy skateboarding? When do you get ben Slayer-listening sort of type. Is that a misconception or is that what you were really like?

I think I was probably a little brat. I didn’t really do much except skateboard, go to school, and probably act like a shithead.

Did you listen to metal when you were a little kid?

When I was in fifth grade I used to be into Cannibal Corpse. I’d wear Cannibal Corpse shirts to school. The teachers always thought I was wearing my dad’s clothes and stuff. I guess I was a little hessian back then.

13. Are you happy?

With what?

In general.

No.

With life?

No.

What’s getting you down?

Uh, just about everything. Mainly myself. I look at myself and I feel like I should be happy. Then I look at others and that makes me kinda bummed out.

Why’s that?

I see people doing their day-to-day thing and I know they’re not happy with them, and that makes me think maybe I shouldn’t be happy with mine. I’ve seriously been hurtin’ lately. I been spending a bad amount of time in bed. I stare at my blanket for about two hours, listen to music, and doze off.

You listen to Morrissey too much.

Nah, that just comes on random on my iPod. It’s been kinda hard lately, man. My heart’s hurtin’.

Girl trouble?

Everything, man. Everything.

14. How does one become a member of the Tiltmode Army?

Well, I’ll make this one interesting. I would say that it’s different for every single person. I can’t really get too much into it, but we have a grudging week that we like to call “Hell Week.” We’d have to sleep outside on a set of stairs and wake up at six in the morning when the sun comes out. Then we’re beaten to wake up.

By the higher powers of the Tiltmode Army?

Yeah. And then you’d have to skate the stairs and do whatever trick they told you to do. Then you’d have to eat food that’s good for you, like broccoli. After that, you’d get beaten up again. Anything that’s bad, you had to do it. You have to drink a forty in two minutes. That was my initiation—I don’t know about anyone else’s.

15. Has skateboarding saved you?

From what?

Life. What else would you be doing if you weren’t skateboarding?

I guess it saved me. I don’t know what else I’d be doing. I’d probably be a full-time scumbag or an alcoholic or something by now. Yeah, I can pay rent and I can do a lot of things I want to. I’ve gone through a lot of changes that I wouldn’t have gone through if I hadn’t skated, and I’ve met a lot of people, so I have a lot of good people in my life because of it. It saved me from something or another.

16. Do you focus boards?

Yeah.

On a daily basis?

No, no, no. I’ve been working on it lately, but hot weather turns me towards focusing boards more often. I don’t do good in hot weather. I’ve been really working on my temper lately. I’ve been taking pills and stuff. It’s this pill called Paxil. I take it because I have social anxiety disorder and to keep my temper under wraps. It’s pretty good.

Has it been saving your boards?

Yeah, definitely. Focusing boards, man. Lovely.

17. How does time at home differ from time on the road?

I’d like to say that I’m a lot more comfortable at home. On the road, I have to spend time with more people, be more social, I guess. Or be polite to people if they want something from me, which they always do anyway.

18. Do you have a problem with that? Do you feel that it’s hard to communicate with people?

Sometimes. It’s like having a real job. I used to work at a coffee shop and you had to pretend to have a good day to make their day a lot better. It differs quite a bit. I don’t enjoy it necessarily all the time. I guess I’m the same as everyone else.

19. When do you enjoy skateboarding? When do you get benefits from it?

At home with friends, landing tricks, and putting stuff together.

When do you get your satisfaction out of it?

I’m finding it really hard to enjoy it more and more, but sometimes when you hurt yourself it’s pretty fun. When you’re with your friends cruisin’, it’s always a good time.

In a way, do you feel like this is a chore?

Yeah, it’s a job, you know what I mean? When it becomes your job, you have to do it. You’re being pushed into doing a demo or a certain trick, and it’s superficial skateboarding—backup skateboarding. You’re like, “Well, I know I can do this trick and I won’t have to work for it so I might as well do it.” You’re just doing a replication of something you’ve already done. It’s hard to explain. I try to enjoy it as much as possible, but it doesn’t come out the way I plan it.

20. Who’s the most underrated skater in San Jose?

My friend Rex Castillo. He’s in the Tiltmode video. He’s really underrated—he rips. He’s the best ever. benefits from it?

At home with friends, landing tricks, and putting stuff together.

When do you get your satisfaction out of it?

I’m finding it really hard to enjoy it more and more, but sometimes when you hurt yourself it’s pretty fun. When you’re with your friends cruisin’, it’s always a good time.

In a way, do you feel like this is a chore?

Yeah, it’s a job, you know what I mean? When it becomes your job, you have to do it. You’re being pushed into doing a demo or a certain trick, and it’s superficial skateboarding—backup skateboarding. You’re like, “Well, I know I can do this trick and I won’t have to work for it so I might as well do it.” You’re just doing a replication of something you’ve already done. It’s hard to explain. I try to enjoy it as much as possible, but it doesn’t come out the way I plan it.

20. Who’s the most underrated skater in San Jose?

My friend Rex Castillo. He’s in the Tiltmode video. He’s really underrated—he rips. He’s the best ever.