Interview: Chris Cole Releases Limited Pro Model Boards

Chris Cole has kept a low profile since parting ways with his longtime sponsor Zero Skateboards back in June.  With all the recent social media chatter we got Chris on the line yesterday to get the scoop on his new endeavors, his break up with Zero, and thelimited pro models he will be releasing on October 30 at 4:00pm PST. Read on and set your alarm. TWS

Interview by Joey Shigeo and Jaime Owens
Photo by Chad Foreman

Since your sudden departure from Zero this summer there’s been all sorts of speculation as to what you’ll be doing next. Let’s get the skinny on your new board brand.
It’s not a brand, I’m solely releasing my own board to have something in the market place for people who like to ride my board. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything out. I wanted to get something out there for people who back me. I didn’t think I necessarily needed a board brand to put out a board and that’s what I did.

So is your next step to start your own board company and start a team or are you looking to go to another established brand? What’s the next step?
I just haven’t found a partner/brand that makes sense yet. There are tons of brands out there that I admire and think are great but there are many parts of a board brand and a partnership that can be great or not work out so I’m not rushing to find a sponsor. I want to find the right place. I want it to stick and be my home, and two years down the line, I don’t want to realize that it was a mistake and I rushed into it and have to leave. Wherever I go I want to stay.

So this isn’t an end-all, this is an interim solution?
Exactly.

 

Chris Cole, frontside bluntslide. PHOTO / BARTON
Chris Cole, frontside bluntslide. PHOTO / BARTON (*click to enlarge)

 

Have you been actively talking to other brands?
I’ve talked to some people but nothing very specific.

What about Mikey Taylor? There are rumors that you and he may be starting something. Is he going to be involved with you at all or is that a separate situation?
That’s separate. I’m not sure what he’s doing but I’m sure whatever it is it’s going to be cool. When we get together and skate it’s awesome, but we don’t get into biz.

Who’s helping you get these boards out? Where are you getting them made? Are there any industry people helping since you’re so busy.
It’s definitely takes a lot to get something like this going. Bareback is producing the boards so it’s really good wood and Reign skateshop is doing the distribution. So even though we’re selling it on chriscobracole.com, Reign is actually boxing them up in individual boxes right now and waiting for the orders to ship them out and do all the hustling and housing.

 

Chirs Cole, backside flip noesgrind switch backside 180 out. "The Blackout" Commercial.
Chirs Cole, backside flip nosegrind switch backside 180 out. “The Blackout” Commercial. (*click to watch)

 

Do you guys have a limited number you’re going with, like 500 exclusive, or are you going to be making as many as you need.
No, there’s a specific amount. There are 666.

When does it officially launch?
At 4:00PM PST and 7:00pm EST on October 30th. That’s when they’re officially up for sale at chriscobracole.com.

That’s when you’ll start accepting orders. No pre-books?
Yeah, that’s when you can start ordering. Very excited about it.

You’ve been discrete thus far about your sudden departure from Zero. You haven’t really come out with this story as to how it all went and what led to your decision to leave. Is that something you can go into a little bit?
I got pretty busy with the contest season, touring, just rushing around and doing all that stuff. And things changed over time, people and brands change and go through growth and directional changes. Eventually Zero and I grew apart.

 

Chris Cole, backside kickflip. Photo / BLABAC
Chris Cole, backside kickflip. Photo / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

 

Knowing that you were ready to do your next thing and growing up and having Blackbox and Zero do so much for you, is it weird to see that brand go through so many changes recently just in itself?
Yeah, it is. It’s tough. I think there’s a lot of ownership that people have in the skaters that they like and the brands that they like [too]. You get some ownership in that, yourself, being a fan. And being really close to it, it’s tough to see the changes in the world of skateboarding. There are good things that are coming out of digital media and there’s bad things coming out. It’s a big change that we all need to figure out how we navigate [through]. It’s an interesting time for everybody but skateboarding is where my heart is so it’s interesting to watch skateboarding go through it as well.

What’s next after the 666 boards sell, which we assume won’t take very long, what’s the next move?
I continue to work with a possible partner that may make sense. I’m just going to do what I do and skateboard as a pro and all the other stuff is a secondary part of it. Without the first part, the second part doesn’t come. I have to be a skater first and then all the opportunities that come along with skateboarding may come along if you’re doing the first job right.

And without having to oversee an entire brand it leaves you open to still skate?
That’s really kind of tough. You really can’t do both.

 

cole_inwardheel_noseslide
Chris Cole, inward heelflip noseslide. From ‘DC Shoes: Chris Cole For The Cole Lite 2’ (*click to watch)

 

Obviously Jamie’s walked that line for many years. What have you learned from him and your experience of working with him? Are you guys still on good terms?
Yeah totally. We’ve toured for so many years and we’ve been friends for so long, that doesn’t disintegrate over sponsorship. That’s not how that works. But he has walked that line for a very long time and what I’ve learned is that you can do one at a time. There was a long time where he stepped back from skating and focused on the brand and was growing the brand and the skateboarding part suffered. He realized that he just wanted to skate so then he started allocating the work to other people and started skating more. So that’s it, you can’t do both. It’s too much. Maybe you could do both if you had a full team around you who were taking on a lot of the work and you had no family, no wife, no kids, nothing to fill in the time, and all you were doing was skating. Working, skating, working, skating. Once you have anything outside of skating and working, it doesn’t work anymore.

Did P-Rod’s decision [to start Primitive Skateboards] influence you in any way?
Yeah, I got to watch what Paul did and he was talking about doing it for quite some time.  His idea was different but he had such a huge following and it made sense to take the brand that had already existed and release a full board brand off the brand he already owned. I feel like that this is newly charted territory what we’re doing. I feel like a lot of people are going to start doing it. Because now social media is bigger than the brands they ride for. Skaters used to rely on the brands to do an ads in magazines and there was no way for skaters to front that money and do their own thing and now it’s like the skaters reach more people than the brands do. It’s like “Who’s doing who the favor?”  It’s not about favors, but in P-Rod’s circumstance it’s like “I might as well ride for my own brand. I have more followers than this brand. Why don’t I make my own?”

Chris Cole, frontside boardslide kickflip out. Photo / SHIGEO (*click to enlarge)
Chris Cole, frontside boardslide kickflip out. Photo / SHIGEO (*click to enlarge)

Like Marc Johnson’s analogy that building a brand is like building a house, is this is a similar move?
I think Marc nailed it when he said that. He put it the right way. It’s like you build a house and put a roof on it and then it’s not your house. Well you know what, I guess I need to build another house.

Now knowing all of that, you may go to another house?
Whatever makes the most sense, time-wise, market-saturation-wise, partnership-wise. This is my life. This is what I love to do and I love to do it with other people. There are things that brands can bring you. Like going on tours and things like that where you couldn’t do on your own. And it’s cool to be part of a team.

Would you say the industry shakeups contributed to your decision to do this?
I think it’s that there is the opportunity to do it now more than ever.

 

"The Blackout"
“The Blackout”

 

Chris Cole’s pro model “The Blackout” will be available in sizes 8.0” and 8.25” and will be hand-signed and numbered and is available now. Check out chriscobracole.com for more info and to order on Thursday Oct 30th at 4:00PM PST. In the meantime revisit his ‘Chris Cole For The Cole Lite 2’ part from DC Shoes:

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