Guess Who’s Back

Stereo is back and ain’t a damn thing changed. For the most part.

When Chris Pastras and Jason Lee announced they’d be supplementing their incomes by once again becoming professional skateboarders and relaunching the Stereo brand, everyone wanted to know just who was going to be supplementing their positions on the team. It took a few months, but Stereo now has a new team—a team that few expected.

For the first Stereo team trip, there were no mega-pros stolen from other major board companies. But at the same time, there were no unheard of fourteen year olds handrailing new jacks either. It was simply Chris, Jason, a Midwesterner named Clint Peterson, an Englishmen named Benny Fairfax, and the road from L.A. to SF as Stereo took its first solidified team excursion between the art openings of Stereo Presents: Then And Now, A Multi-Channel Extravaganza, a show featuring the works of Chris, Jason and Stereo’s past and future.

Chris Pastras

Was everyone who went on the L.A. to SF trip a confirmed Stereo rider at the beginning of the trip?

No, the trip was a testing ground somewhat. I can’t stress how random it was—we didn’t know if those guys were going to be on the team. We just went for it. It wound up working way better than we ever imagined. Both the guys passed with flying colors, and we all got along super good.

How’d you find Benny?

He rides for WE clothing in Europe, and we (Jason and Chris) work and ride for WE. So we went out there and met him, and he was just a really cool guy. I kept seeing coverage of him in the European mags, then we went skating with him once and liked his skating, so we just decided to give it a shot.

What was it about Benny, who’s relatively unknown to American skaters, that signaled to you that he should be riding for Stereo?

He has a really cool personality. That was the first thing that struck me. And his skating was a huge complement to that. If I don’t like someone’s attitude or presence, I don’t want to be around them regardless of how good of a skateboarder they are. But his skateboarding and his attitude are super great.

And how’d you find Clint?

I’d been on some trips with Osiris—I’d put him on (the team) a while back. He’s an easygoing guy with a good personality, and he f—king rips. I just had an idea that I wanted a certain type of person to be on Stereo and they both fit that mold—definitely Stereo Sound Agent material.

Did you have qualms about taking Clint from the Consolidated establishment?

I just felt like it was a huge opportunity for both Stereo and Clint. Stereo is going to be a lot more focused on him. No offense to them. It’s a chance for Stereo to shine and a chance for Clint to shine equally. And he’s my friend, so of course I want him to have the best opportunity.

How is the new Stereo different from the old Stereo? Do you want there to be a distinction between the two?

For one thing, Jason and I have matured. We’re not trying to rehash the old Stereo, just do what comes natural, and for us that happens to be Stereo. We had all the right ideas back in 1992, but not the materials, connections, and/or the focus to really take it to the next level with our vision. We were both drunk off our asses, and the skaters were just total stoners who didn’t do much but film what you saw in the videos. We were a mess. It might not have looked like that on the outside, but I didn’t know how to manage a brand at all. We were winging it. It’s insulting that people assume we’re going to try to do the same thing. Does Benny look like Carl Shipman to you? No. Last time I looked, Clint doesn’t look like Ethan (Fowler).

We’re just trying to make a good skateboard company and have good personalities. That’s the main tie-in, that we had characters with the first Stereo. We never really put people on for their skatebrd ability alone. If they weren’t someone you wanted to hang out with or had a shitty personality, they didn’t get on the team. This is eleven years later, and these are completely different people. I don’t feel we’re up against the old Stereo, because it’s 2004 and we’re just doing what we all want to be doing.

We know it gets harder to skate as we age, but what does the new “Chris Pastras, professional Stereo skateboarder” have that the old one didn’t?

Fewer hangovers and an education.

 

Jason Lee

Do you remember the last skateboard road trip you were on?

Munster, Germany—1995. I wanted to enter the contest like everyone else, but somehow thought I was getting old, so I backed out, and that was pretty much the end of it for me. I went to Ireland, traveled around a bit, and then went back home, never to skate again, or so I thought.

What was it like to reenter the skateboard world and build a new team with a fresh perspective on skateboarding, yet with little knowledge of the current crop of skateboarders?

It was exciting, yet confusing all at the same time. On one hand, it was nice to have the same perspective that I’ve always had, but on the other hand, it’s been a bit frustrating realizing that things are different, no matter what. I guess my point is things were different back then—a little less serious and a lot more about skateboarding in more of a pure sense. I want to bring back that element of fun and individuality, and I think skateboarding is ready. Stereo feels right for where skating is now.

Is it easier or harder to wake up on the road after a previous day of skating?

You know, the less boozing today versus older knees. Harder, but I’m getting a little more in shape the more I skate.

How is the new Stereo different from the old Stereo?

I’d say at the heart of it all it’s pretty much the same, which is a good thing. We didn’t want to change anything, we just wanted to continue from where the original Stereo left off, instead of looking at it as starting over.

Why not go out and grab more of the original guys who were on the team?

Aren’t they all old like me? Are they all still alive and well? I miss the original Stereo boys like Mike Daher, Greg Hunt, Ethan, Carl, and Matt Rodriguez.

What’s your goal as a professional skateboarder today?

Well, I’m not sure how much of a “pro” skater I am, but I like skating again and plan to keep it up for the fun of it and maybe some traveling and coverage here and there—low-key.

If it weren’t for Stereo coming back, would you have bothered coming back to professional skateboarding?

No.

What does the new “Jason Lee professional Stereo skateboarder” have that the old one didn’t?

Your mom.

Benny Fairfax

What were your thoughts on Stereo as a kid?

Hmmm. I suppose I kind of missed out on that when I was younger. I grew up skating in a small town where no one really knew about skating, and it was hard to get hold of American magazines and videos. We were probably more interested in sitting on our boards and rolling down hills.

What was the last Stereo board you had before they originally went extinct?

I don’t think I ever had a Stereo board.

How were you notified that you were officially on Stereo?

It’s official?

What is one thing that surprised you most about going on tour and hanging out with Chris and Jason?

Just that they’re so enthusiastic. They have a laugh whatever they’re doing.

Do you feel you have to fill the shoes of Carl Shipman in the sense that you’re the only Euro rider?

As we’re both English, some people might see it like I that. I try not to think about filling anyone’s shoes or living up to expectations. It’s overwhelming enough without worrying about that sort of bollocks. Besides, Shipman’s a beast and he still kills it.

What does it mean for someone from Europe to be on an American team?

I suppose a lot of people see it as a step up to ride for an American company (coming from Europe). Other than some small independent companies, the skate industry—in England anyway—is run by the distributors who distribute the American companies. Skating as a kid, the winters were horrible and there were barely any spots. This was before many people knew that hotter parts of Europe had amazing spots as well. But America always seemed like the dreamland. With sunshine and perfect spots, what more do you need?

Clint Peterson

What were your thoughts on Stereo as a kid? And when you found out they were making a comeback?

I was fully influenced by the feel and aesthetic of Stereo back in the day. They made skating fun in its darkest days. When I got word of the comeback, I knew it was going to be something special, and now that I’m a part of it, I’m as stoked as I’ve ever been. Skating with Chris and Jason is amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

What was the last Stereo board you had before they originally went extinct?

The Matt Rodriguez with the sun on it. I’m a Matt Rodriguez fan. And I had a Dune board from Blue. That was one of my favorite boards.

Chris says the tour was a “tryout” of sorts. What were your thoughts going into the tour?

Overall, I was more excited than nervous. I had been skating with Jason only once before that, so to go on a trip with him was kind of crazy. We had a couple cars and I rode with Jason. The tour was very different than any other tour I had been on. Everyone got along really well. Benny and I breezed through tryouts and were accepted into the international league of Sound Agents. But I was definitely excited.

How were you notified that you were officially on Stereo?

After skating with Jason, he and Chris asked Benny and I if we would like to become Sound Agents, we proudly accepted—the rest is history.

Was it hard to leave a company like Consolidated?

Yes. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. They know I wish them the best, but sometimes you have to move on. They understand.

What is one thing that surprised you most about going on tour and hanging out with Chris and Jason?

Their ability to sing duets in Russian.that sort of bollocks. Besides, Shipman’s a beast and he still kills it.

What does it mean for someone from Europe to be on an American team?

I suppose a lot of people see it as a step up to ride for an American company (coming from Europe). Other than some small independent companies, the skate industry—in England anyway—is run by the distributors who distribute the American companies. Skating as a kid, the winters were horrible and there were barely any spots. This was before many people knew that hotter parts of Europe had amazing spots as well. But America always seemed like the dreamland. With sunshine and perfect spots, what more do you need?

Clint Peterson

What were your thoughts on Stereo as a kid? And when you found out they were making a comeback?

I was fully influenced by the feel and aesthetic of Stereo back in the day. They made skating fun in its darkest days. When I got word of the comeback, I knew it was going to be something special, and now that I’m a part of it, I’m as stoked as I’ve ever been. Skating with Chris and Jason is amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

What was the last Stereo board you had before they originally went extinct?

The Matt Rodriguez with the sun on it. I’m a Matt Rodriguez fan. And I had a Dune board from Blue. That was one of my favorite boards.

Chris says the tour was a “tryout” of sorts. What were your thoughts going into the tour?

Overall, I was more excited than nervous. I had been skating with Jason only once before that, so to go on a trip with him was kind of crazy. We had a couple cars and I rode with Jason. The tour was very different than any other tour I had been on. Everyone got along really well. Benny and I breezed through tryouts and were accepted into the international league of Sound Agents. But I was definitely excited.

How were you notified that you were officially on Stereo?

After skating with Jason, he and Chris asked Benny and I if we would like to become Sound Agents, we proudly accepted—the rest is history.

Was it hard to leave a company like Consolidated?

Yes. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. They know I wish them the best, but sometimes you have to move on. They understand.

What is one thing that surprised you most about going on tour and hanging out with Chris and Jason?

Their ability to sing duets in Russian.