With the dissolution of New Deal’s team earlier this summer, the advent and almost immediate dissolution of Populis skateboards, and the soon-after birth of Popwar, a confusion of sorts seems to have rippled through skateboarding over the past several months.
Giant Distribution felt the need for a change with New Deal-the company’s longest-running brand. The team had been dissolved in October, and Populis skateboards was formed with essentially a handful of the riders from New Deal-the exceptions are Chad Bartie, Ricky Oyola, Lincoln Ueda, Fabrizio Santos (who left to join Shorty’s), and Ryan Johnson (who now rides for 151).
Dave Smith is the former team manager of New Deal: “When Cairo Foster left Real in July, he did so to ride for an unnamed company, which later became Populis.” Smith is quick to assert that New Deal wasn’t ended because kids didn’t like the team. “It was more because kids didn’t like the name,” he says. “The name New Deal was holding some of the riders back, though it was a company with a history. Kids know New Deal but just wouldn’t buy it. I don’t know why-I never understood it.
“The idea of a new company was there-it was supposed to be a collaboration between Cairo (Foster), Kenny (Reed), Chad (Tim Tim), and Rob (Gonzales), but it didn’t have a name. And that was a fun time because we’d be on trains in Europe and writing names and ideas on napkins and passing them back and forth.”
Because Foster was keen on the idea of starting something new with the others, Populis quickly formed. However, after only a few months in existence, Foster along with the others felt the need to have a company with a more defined focus.
Graphic designer and artist Yogi Proctor, formerly of Sole Technology and currently the art director of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine, was approached by Giant to see if he had an interest in developing the concepts and art for the company with Cairo, who also doubles as the team manager. Proctor was enthusiastic, and Popwar was born.
The question of the day, then is what is Popwar all about? “It’s kind of like a tongue-in-cheek war on popular culture,” says Proctor, tossing one back at an Irish pub in Carlsbad, California. Cairo Foster, who sits beside him, playing with his food-an order of “Irish Nachos,”-nods his head in agreement. “It’s like a contradiction in terms,” adds Proctor. “This thing called street or urban culture is a huge commodity, and as (with) skating, it lingers around the forefront somewhere.
“Popwar is new, and it’s still forming. It’s a vehicle for these messages-but the messages themselves are still forming. It’s a fun project.”
Proctor, who also worked for Tum Yeto as a graphic artist in the early 90s, explains that the appeal of the brand lies essentially within the psyche of the skateboarders themselves. “Some people are getting played and some are making money, but so what! Skaters are usually smarter and more critical of their surroundings-but there are a lot of people on the cool boat right now.”Vague statements represent broader stuff,” he continues. “That’s kind of what we’re doing.”
Asked whether there’s a certain image that the brand is attempting to identify with, Foster looks up. “We’re looking into how much pinstripe suits cost right now,” he blurts out. “Our riders’ uniforms are blue because I think the whole black thing is all played out.”
Why Populis was so short-lived is also explained best by Foster himself. He’d started Populis for simple reasons: “I wanted to do a company with Kenny (Reed). I wasn’t trying to wreck New Deal, but I wanted to do something new.”The Popwar team features pros Cairo Foster, Kenny Reed, Chad Tim Tim, and Rob Gonzales, and ams Raymond Molinar and Adam Crew. “It would be good to have another pro, but not necessary,” says Foster.
“With Popwar we just want to have fun with it really,” adds Proctor, grinning proudly. “Popwar is a decoy.”
Asked who would be driving the company forward, Foster aand Proctor laugh. “We’re looking to hire a president right now,” says Proctor.
Foster jumps in: “So if there are any kids out there who are interested, please send your resumes in.”
The conversation ended with Foster and Proctor getting distracted by a neon shamrock sign hanging on the wall near the bar. It featured the glowing word “Budweiser” in it.
Popular? Most likely.