Here’s the full text from Silas Baxter-Neal’s Brothers In Arms interview in our May 2013 issue which Silas graces the cover of. Silas shared the interview with Josh Matthews, but Silas had a lot of extra words we couldn’t fit in.
Interview conducted on March 7, 2013. Words by Blair Alley
How have you been?
Been doing okay, pretty good, I thought I’d be sipping on drinks with umbrellas talking with you, but I just came home to life. I’ve been building a park/training facility, so that’s been taking up all my time. And also being a dad takes up the rest of my time, so that keeps me pretty busy.
Where you planning on building a park?
We’re actually in the middle of building a park; we’ve been building it for the last month or so.
Oh like kind of a DIY spot, or more of a public park?
No it’s more of an indoor, private park.
So like Biebel and Dylan Rieder’s park?
Yeah it’s similar to it.
Where are you building it? In Portland?
Yeah right by the old Department of Skateboarding Park. Random twist, but it’s right in the back of that building.
No way, is it privately owned by you and a couple dudes?
Yeah, me and Gravette are the key holders, trying to get Tyler (Bledsoe) involved, hopefully soon.
Are you going to film stuff in the park or just to skate?
Yeah I gotta make the sponsors happy so I’ll throw a couple clips out.
Did you guys come up with a snazzy name for it yet?
Not yet, still trying to figure it out. I just want to it built, paint it, then go on from there, you know?
Yeah. Have you guys been without an indoor skatepark for a while up there?
Yeah, The Department went out of business like three years ago, so me Brian, the Habitat filmer, were living here, so we wanted to do a public park. We looked into a bunch of buildings, but kept hitting roadblock after roadblock—we needed something. For a year we hit up sponsors trying to get people committed. Finally we signed a lease so we started building right away. Hopefully we’ll have most of it done in April.
So you’re building it as well?
Yeah, I have two really good friends who are ramp builders, they’ve been doing most of it, but I help whenever I can.
What’s your living situation in Oregon? Are you out in the wilderness or close to the city?
Yeah, Southwest Oregon, just about 10 minutes from downtown on the freeway. Really close to my house there’s this backyard area where there’re a bunch of parks, and hiking trails, so it feels like you’re out there. There’re deer and coyotes in our backyard so it can feel like you’re in the woods, but you’re still pretty close.
You’ve been catching any fish in your neck of the woods?
I haven’t really been fishing recently, I’ve been filming for this video. Hopefully I’ll be able to fish more this summer though.
How deep is your love and pride for Oregon?
I like it a lot. I traveled a bunch; moved to a lot of places. When I was 19, I moved out of Oregon and into SF, then I moved to Colorado for a little bit after that, back to Oregon for a minute, then Sunnyvale, Santa Rosa, Chicago, now back in Portland. I also like Denver a lot too. I like areas that have big city areas, but feel small you know what I mean? Denver has that going on; it’s cheap and affordable. The people are easy going, I’m just drawn to those areas. I have a lot of Oregon pride, I was raised there.
Is there something about Oregon or Portland, that nowhere else has?
I don’t know about nowhere else has, but for me, the reason why I love it so much is it’s just completely comfortable, a lot of my friends grew up here. What I think stands out the most is, like I said all the things you want from a big city; nightlife, events, cool stores, and restaurants. Just really mellow vibes. You also have easy access to any climate, within an hour you can go to epic mountains, if you go east you’re in the desert/sage type of area, you can also go to the coast real easily, kind of have all the terrains within an hours drive. Seeing all the water, and lakes is unique too.
“We were the older generation and he was the up and coming generation, so we had to show them the way.”
How often do you try to skate when you’re home?
If it’s in the summer time, I try and skate a couple times a week. There’s this high school that’s called Lincoln that has a couple good ledges to mess around on when I’m just skating with friends. So I skate there a lot. If I’m filming I like to go out when I’m feeling good and it’s dry out. In the wintertime when it’s raining, I don’t skate as much. Nike has a little private park that I was able to skate every now and again, and I had this key to this mini ramp. I’d try to go skate that every week or two, I skate less than I used to as a kid, but I still skate quite a bit.
I forgot [John] Rattray is up there now.
Yeah Rattray is up here too, I hang with him quite a bit. It’ll be a lot more once this park gets built. The idea is to just hang with my family during the daytime, and have a place to go to a couple hours at night. Stay in shape and learn new tricks, that’s kind of the whole idea.
Why’d you take Josh Matthews under your wing? What was it about him?
I’ve known him forever since he was a little kid, maybe 14 or 15, and he was a ripping skater. You’ve met him, he’s super mellow, and funny. Very easy going, has a really great skate mind; just has a real nice approach to it. It’s really cool watching him skate. Out of all my friends he was the only one who actually went for it, always trying to get better, and travel around. I’m not sure if I really took him under my wing, he’s just a skate buddy from forever.
Do you remember being the skatepark Debo to him at the skate park when he was younger?
He reminds me more than I remember it [laughs]. Yeah our whole crew of dudes at the time was like the top dudes in town, so we punked whoever. We would chase out bikers from the skatepark. Put the little kids in check, whatever. We were the older generation and he was the up and coming generation, so we had to show them the way. We chose to do it with harsh words half the time instead of love. Tough love, that’s what I got growing up so that’s what he got from me [laughs].
I know your guys’ sponsorship history has been hit or miss, with Josh getting on éS, and then getting on Elwood, and that went under—was he a Habitat prospect at one point too?
Yeah I always tried to get him on all the companies that rode for you know, just because he was a ripper and my homie. I always saw a lot of potential and future in him. So every time I’ve been on a company, I’d also try and get him on—flow or whatever. It never really worked out ever, it kind of sucks that it never worked out. So actually filming for this video this has been the first time we’ve been on a skate trip together.
Did it feel like a team with all these guys? It seemed like this crew really clicked better than any crew we’ve ever had.
Yeah it kind of did, everyone in the video is really mellow and cool. I only really went on that one trip to Miami. I was in Japan when they went to Spain, so I missed that trip. But I’ve known Josh forever, hung out with Julian for a little bit before. They came up to Portland in the summer time, and spent about 10 days up here. I’ve been on Krux trips with Jimmy, and Walker is a rad mellow dude; just hit it off instantly with him. Tom is a cool dude. I think everyone has a similar vibe, so it was easy working together.
How much time did you spend in Japan?
I spent seven weeks total; I had an apartment with the filmer. So like everyday we’d just go out and film. The rest of the time was vacation with family.
Was it crazy or stressful to film for that adidas Tokyo video in the middle of filming Perpetual Motion?
It was actually super fun there were times where I felt guilty not bring footage back for the TransWorld video. But basically me and the filmer had an apartment right downtown for a month, Pete Eldridge came out for a little bit, Josh Matthews and Marius Syvanen came out for a little bit. We’d sleep in, hang out during the daytime, eat dinner, and go ride our bikes around the city at night. Just trying to get what we could, finding spots, and filming. It was awesome exploring and checking everything out from that perspective of being on foot or a bike. On a train, you kind of board the train at the station, go to your destination, back on the train to somewhere else, so you don’t see what’s in between each station. So riding my bike around I got a better sense of what central Tokyo is all about. Being out all night long is crazy too, just seeing people out at all hours.
Looks like you guys found a lot of rad untapped gems.
Yeah it’s a really unique place with beautiful architecture, and really great spots. It’s still hard to skate though, because we’d get kicked out of spots at like 4 a.m. in 10 minutes. You show up to skate for five minutes, and then you’re getting kicked out. I think the country is financially well off so they can afford to have 24-hour security at all the buildings. But it’s mellow, when you get kicked out the first thing they do is apologize to you, then kick you out. So it’s not frustrating like you’re getting kicked out by assholes.
That back Smith on the glass was pretty rad, were you worried that thing was going to break?
Yeah its pretty sturdy, I’ve seen footage of it before, and I wasn’t sure what it was all about like you couldn’t really grind it. It actually had an aluminum border around it, so my trucks weren’t really hitting the glass so I wasn’t worried. I hit the glass a couple times with my board just to see what it felt like and it felt fine. I think the hardest thing though was the aluminum rested on this rubber that was between the metal and glass. Whenever you put too much weight on it you would sink in the rubber, and just fly [laughs] It was a cool spot. Dave killed it on those photos.
Yeah all the photos from that article are super sick.
Yeah I think he was just psyched to be out there. He’s an awesome photographer.
What’s your good luck charm for gambling?
Positive vibes man. Scared money don’t make money.
Just go big at all times?
Yeah you just gotta believe you’re gonna win, if you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it. If not then just back away, you know? But if you think it’s a good time to go big, then go for it. But you also gotta know that winning means you’re losing at some point. You can’t let it bum you out. When you’re gambling you have to expect to lose, people don’t win all the time. You just have to try and win, if you don’t that’s part of the whole equation, and still enjoy it.
What games do you play? Which ones are your favorites?
On skate trips I play dice, or cee lo whatever. In Portland all the bars have these video pokers/video lottery machines, where you can play poker or things like that, or you can play these five cent line games, or like the slot games where they spin the wires. A lot of those ones are pretty fun. It’s kind of like a video game thing. I’ve been trying to play a little bit more blackjack, just because I think there’s more of a science to it than just dumb luck. I’ve been playing that and trying to figure it out a little bit.
Yeah I mean not entirely counting cards, but kind of knowing what you’re doing, knowing when to hit, knowing when to fold. There’s just a little bit more science to it than other gambling games. I mean you can count cards, then you can win pretty much most of the time, but that’s really really difficult and I don’t really have that mathematical mind. So I think if you just kind of play by the rules, you have a better chance of winning.
Have you seen the infomercials for the books you can buy, or DVDs that teach you how to win at blackjack?
I’ve heard of them, I listen to this program called This American Life, and they did a whole radio program on counting cards and stuff where they interviewed all these people. They talked to the people from that MIT group that cracked the system and made millions of dollars, and I guess there’s this church group—I think they made movies out of all this too, but there’s this church group that got together and they taught each other the rules and they were doing it to raise money for the church, so they weren’t gambling necessarily. They were just working in a way to make money for the church; they ended up making millions of dollars as well. It’s definitely possible to beat the system.
“I always tried to get him on all the companies that I rode for… this video this has been the first time we’ve been on a skate trip together.”
So on the day you got your last trick, the 50-50 to 50-50. You then went and won like $500 bucks on a video poker machine?
I think so, yeah I think I won a couple hundred bucks that night playing video poker. I was celebrating with the machines, and they were lucky to me that night [laughs].
What’d you have for breakfast?
I don’t know, I don’t remember that stuff. Something good hopefully.
Just a good day.
It was a good day. It was an awesome day. I was psyched.
Dave said you were looking at that rail for a while, how did you tell yourself it’s possible to try such a hairy trick?
It’s near my house so sometimes when I drive home; I would just drive by it. At first I was looking at it thinking it was a double set or like a gap to rail where you just gap out to the second one. I was just standing there, kind of not really considering it just thinking it would be crazy if someone would do something like that. And then it just stuck in my head, so like I would be coming home and just go a different way just to drive by it, and then stop to look at it. Then I showed it to Brennan [Conroy] and he looked at it and said “Oh you should it.” And I was like I don’t know, I’m scared I don’t know if I can do it. I didn’t want to claim. So he was like “If you don’t want to do it I’ll ask Mark [Suciu] if he wants to do it.” I was like, “F—k that I don’t want him to have it [laughs].” When Jon [Holland] came up, I was like, “Let’s see what this thing looks like.” So the first day we went there, I would ollie onto the first rail not really trying to do much at all, just to see how it felt like to get on that first rail. So after doing that for a little I said ok it actually feels like it was possible. So we came back the next day, and kind of just started going for it and that’s that.
That’s some good motivating by Brennan huh?
Yeah I don’t know if it was his entire purpose, but I think Mark could have definitely done it. He’s a miracle maker. I wouldn’t put it passed him.
What was it like finding Hubbaland in Miami?
Oh that was surreal. It’s kind of a funny story. Danny [Fuenzalida] was busy with a shop contest in Tampa, and he told us to go meet up with a buddy of his named Bagel. Bagel is tight. He’s a f—king cool ass dude—we met up with him and we were talking about showing us one or two spots. And he’s like “Oh yeah I was looking at this kid’s Instagram, and saw this photo of this hubba I haven’t been to, we should go check it out.” We saw the first ones kind of like it was a 5-stair with a long hubba that went passed the stairs. And we were like oh these are sick. We started cruising around the rest of the place, and it was like oh there’s another one and another one. It’s just this weird area, I don’t know what it exactly is, it’s just been built and it kind of looked like it could be a resort too because it had a couple buildings there, but everything was empty—it was completely brand new. We didn’t skate it much the first night, because everyone was beat, but then we went back a couple nights later with like brickrub and clearcoat to fix them up, and it was epic. It felt like you were on another planet because nothing was around and everything was empty, and everything is all lit up and empty. It was cool and pretty surreal.
Did you feel like you were the veteran for the Perpetual Motion crew being the oldest?
You know I don’t really know, I mean not really. I didn’t really think of any hierarchy, like you’re the young dude and I’m the old dude. There wasn’t a whole lot of anything like the ‘young dude’ or ‘veteran’ I think everyone fit in pretty well where they fit in. Everyone was equal.
Who do you think has star power in that group? Where do you see those guys in the next five years?
They’ll still be ripping, probably be skating better than they do now. I don’t really know where anything will be in five years, it’s all changing so quickly. It’s hard to have a really solid answer for that. But I imagine they’ll be ripping, and working for their next video parts, and making their way along you know. Like all of us are trying to [laughs].
What was it like seeing your finished part at the premiere?
Hazy [laughs]. I was fairly inebriated at the premiere so I need a second sober viewing. It was cool seeing it up on the big screen, it was cool to hear the people psyched on it. It was nice to hear the response afterwards, people telling me they liked it or what not so that seemed cool.
Did you have any favorite parts in the video?
I’m biased so you know I love Josh, so his part was awesome. Everybody had awesome parts. Walker did some crazy stuff in his part, his part was really, really good. Julian’s part was heavy, gnarly, and good. Tom ripped it up, did some stuff I wasn’t expecting him to do. Jimmy is always very entertaining to be around and to watch. He’s a wizard, and can do anything on a skateboard. Honestly I have to see the whole video over again to actually remember people’s parts. But I remember each part got me psyched, like I wasn’t there for most of the filming for any of it, so it was cool seeing what everyone has been doing, and what they came up with.
So you didn’t have any preconceived notions of who was going to have last part?
I kind of knew Julian was going to get last part because he’s ripping so heavily, and in Oregon it was obvious he was going for it. In Miami he was going for it too, I’d seen some photos and heard some things so I knew his part was going to be super heavy, so I expected him to have last part for sure. But besides that I didn’t know what to expect from the video.
What’s the new nickname for Jimmy Carlin that you came up with in Miami?
New nickname for jimmy? Is this something somebody told you?
Jimmy said you came up with it, and he was psyched on it.
I might have already forgot it.
Oddbody, oh yeah yeah! he is Oddbody because he’s got weird torso dimensions, and his arm aren’t quite fully proportioned to his body. That’s actually, Adam Crew came up with that, he refers to other people, that’s like a whole genre of people, like a whole subcategory, of people, the Oddbodies. There’s like Longbodies, Oddbodies, and Squatbodies.
That’s such Adam Crew terminology, too funny.
The Squatbodies are the dudes that like have everything in the right proportions, you know like arms and legs, but they’re like short smaller versions.
Like human toebock.
Human toebock is an Oddbody I think, Adam is a Longbody.
He is kind of lanky. If you can change one thing about skateboarding what would it be?
Well if I could change one thing about skateboarding it’d be to change how much it hurts [laughs], or how difficult we make it on ourselves. Skateboarding is awesome, progressing is awesome, but I really hate the mental breakdown you have, because you have these ideas that you think are going to work out, and then when they’re harder than you expect them to, you just have a mental breakdown. I don’t really like that part of it, it bums me out. Anything you put yourself into you want to be difficult. You want to overcome barriers, but sometimes it gets to be too mental in a way. So I guess that’d be the main thing just like how hard we make it on ourselves mentally, it kind of sucks.
Then it maybe wouldn’t be as addicting?
I think it still would be without having to freak out like a 16-year-old girl, because you can’t land a f—king trick, you know. We all do it. Whether it’s the coolest-headed dude ever, still has those moments of breakdown. Maybe it is needed, maybe you’re right. Maybe every good thing needs a bad side to it as well. And maybe its necessary you know, like the ying to yang or whatever. That’s the part to change for me, just the breakdowns. But everything is cool. Skateboarding is awesome, even right now it’s awesome too. It’s cooler than it’s ever been. Everyone’s cool [laughs].
What do you think is the best way to release a video these days?
I don’t know. That’s like the million dollar question everyone is trying to figure out right now. I really don’t have a clue. I think if you’re going to put the energy into the edits, and after effects motion graphics, I think you owe it to yourself to put it out on DVD. If you’re putting all that energy into it, it just sucks to throw it out to Internetland and watch it disappear in a couple months. But I also think that because of the state of skateboarding and media in general is so temporary, people are media addicted in a way that it’s necessary to always be posting content. I think all the online parts and edits serve a purpose, they can be really fun, they can be really cool if you look at them as in a project as opposed to a video. Honestly I think doing theme video parts, kind of like the idea behind my Japan thing was to do like a theme—all in Japan, all at night. Trying to do a theme project, and then release it on the Internet and not spend four years filming for it, just spend the time we allotted for it, and just put it out when you’re done. I think that’s the right approach when doing Internet parts. If you’re going to want to come out with an epic part, I think everyone needs to do it whether if you’re an am or pro, every couple of years you need to come out with a really good video part, and I think those deserve to be on DVDs, because you put a lot of time and effort into them. And for the people who edit it, do all the motion graphics and doing all the after effects and all that stuff. People put a lot of work into that stuff, and there needs to be a physical final product. It’s just a balance of just finding what your project is and how much time you want to invest in it. So I guess the answer to your question is that there is no right way to do it, there’s different ways to do it.
Right, everyone has there own approach and their own end results.
A couple years ago when the internet craze was hitting really heavily it was frustrating, for a lot of people and for me as well. Just seeing the death of a video in a way. I don’t think it’s ever going to fully die. And I think it just allows, because of the Internet, it allows you to do cooler projects that don’t need to be the gnarliest video part. You don’t need to spend four years on a video part, to have a well-received video come out. You can just spend a month doing something, try to keep a consistent theme to it, and keep an idea behind it and treat it more like an art project than a sponsor-me tape and then people will like it. People watch it for a period of time, and then the next project comes up.
Which leads us to our final question: What’s your next video project?
I really don’t know at this point. I was hoping to have nothing for a while [laughs] honestly. But doing the Japan video and TransWorld part I really want to give myself a lot of breathing room. And just get a chance to check back in with my life and family, spend some time at home and just skate, learn new tricks. I think Habitat is working on a little project. No one expects a full part from me, they understand what’s going on with me and they’re cool about it. I think they want to focus more on like [Brian] DeLa, and Mark, the newer guys. Hopefully Marius.
I’d love it if he filmed a whole part; I’d love to see an epic part from that dude. That’s the one dude on the team I really want to see an epic part from. So hopefully he can get the attention, time, and motivation to film. It’d be cool to have him and DeLa put out sick parts. So I think that’s the next Habitat project that I’ll be involved in some way or another.
“Every couple of years you need to come out with a really good video part, and I think those deserve to be on DVDs.”