Introducing Mikey Taylor

Introducing Mikey Taylor

Interview and photos by Atiba

Can you relax already?

I’m tryin’ to. It’s all scary.

What is, getting an interview?

I guess. I’ve never had one before.

You’ve never had an interview? Really?

Not really.

Oh. That’s a good start right there.

Okay, let’s go.

Let’s start with the basics ’cause you’ve never had an interview before. Where you from, Mikey?

Newbury Park, California.

Is that where you were born and raised?

I was born in Tarzana, but I reside in Big Buckleville.

And this is not to be confused with the Valley, correct?

Correct. This is the outskirts of the Valley.

Okay, ’cause that seems to happen a lot, right?

Well, of course. Everyone thinks it’s the Valley, but I’m outside the Valley. Good weather, good skate spots—not really blown out. It’s like the hot spot. Huh, Atiba?

Where? Bucklebury?

Yeah (laughs).

Well, there’s a good skatepark there. How old are you exactly?

Twenty. Am I getting old?

Do you feel like you’re getting old in your skate career?

No. I feel like I’m young, but twenty sounds kinda old, doesn’t it?

Do you think the reason you feel old is ’cause you’ve skated with Paul (Rodriguez) and Spanky (Long) the last couple years?

I’ve been skatin’ with little kids forever. I started skating with my little brother ’cause all my friends quit. So I hung out with him and all his friends. That’s how it started. I’m older than everybody. I think everybody thinks I’m younger than I am.

Twenty’s not old at all, man.

How old are you?

I don’t want to say in this interview.

Oh, well, I hang out with you.

I’m only a couple years away from you, so it’s all good.

All right (laughs).

So you’re twenty, and you’re definitely out of school. Did you graduate?

Oh, I graduated—the real deal. Went to school every day, no homeschool needed. Just did it.

Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Out of all your posse, no one really finished school.

Everybody in our crew started getting sponsored and blowing up while they were still in school. Like Spanky, he didn’t have time to go to school—he skates so much. I didn’t really get hooked up ’til I was out of school. My senior year was when I got sponsored and started traveling a little bit. It wasn’t as great as it is for Paul and Spanky and all those guys. It’s like what I do now, but they’re still in school. It was a lot easier for me to go to school ’cause I didn’t have anything else going on.

Do you like the way it kinda worked out?

Yeah, but I wish I would’ve started a little bit earlier. I’m glad ’cause everything works out for a reason. I mean, I got to go to school and do all that. Now I get to do this.

Were you into going to school?

I liked it. It wasn’t that bad. It wasted some time—I don’t do anything during the day but sleep or go skating. It kinda kept me occupied a little. I’m not complaining—I like how it is now.

Were there a lot of kids who skated in your school?

There weren’t a lot of kids who skated, but the kids who did were really good.

Kids who were sponsored?

People like Jim Bates—Newbury Park, sponsored. Van Wastell—Newbury Park, sponsored. Justin Case—sponsored. Everyone was sponsored, and I wanted to be sponsored, too. I think I was a late bloomer.

They were all sponsored before you?

Yeah, I was the last person to get sponsored.

Really?

Yeah (laughs).

Wow.

Everyone else was sponsored, and Justin had this book with all these sponsors, and I took all the addresses out of it and sent my tapes to them.

That’s a pretty good idea, actually.

I never eveknew how people got sponsored.

What was your first sponsor then?

My first sponsor was Duffs shoes.

Is that who Justin was hooked up with?

I sent all my tapes to Justin’s sponsors and didn’t get one call back. I must’ve sent like twenty tapes. I don’t know where I got Duffs’ address from, but they called me back. My mom was telling me the other day that the guy—the team manager—called my house and my dad answered the phone. The guy was like, “Yeah, we got Mike’s tape, and we’re kinda interested.” My dad was like, “Man, people have been callin’ about that video left and right.” And realistically, nobody had called.

He made it look like you were a wanted item.

Yeah. My dad was just hustlin’ for me (laughs).

That’s super good. Were your parents really supportive?

They were supportive when I was like a little kid playin’ around, but when they found out that I wasn’t going to college, I think they tripped a little. Once they saw me makin’ some money, they totally started backing me. It’s come to the point where my mom gets all the magazines before me, and she tells me who’s in it and stuff, you know, like, “Oh, Mike. We saw Evan (Hernandez) in it. Van was in it.” She tells me what everybody does, which is kinda cool.

After you got hooked up with Duffs, who was your first board sponsor?

I got flowed from Maple skateboards.

How did that get hooked up?

I think I saw an ad in TransWorld, wrote the address down, and sent one (sponsor-me tape) out. I got boards from them and shoes from Duffs.

I met Eric Bork. He lived in Camarillo, which is only two minutes away from my house. He eventually got me on Santa Cruz. I skated with him a whole bunch. He left and went on this mission, and that’s when Paul rode for City Stars. I was friends with Paul, and it kinda worked out that I’d ride for them.

Did you ever really even have a Santa Cruz ad?

No, never. I was only flowed by Maple, and I was never in a Santa Cruz ad. I rode for City Stars for a little bit, and now I ride for Seek.

Even though it seems like you’ve been around the block a couple times, you really haven’t. Did you ever feel a little self-conscious of doing that?

The whole Maple and Santa Cruz deal, I mean, they gave me stuff, but I kinda felt like I wasn’t really part of it. With City Stars, I rode for them—I was sponsored by them. They promoted me. In reality, it really feels like I only rode for City Stars, and now I ride for Seek.

City Stars didn’t last too long, huh?

I had a blast when it was going on. When Paul quit, everybody kinda left—it sucked ’cause all my friends were there, you know?

That’s the hard thing about being on a team where everyone’s friends. When things change, it can definitely start a chain reaction.

Yeah, exactly. It was my homies. It wasn’t just a company I rode for and only talked to once a month. Leaving City Stars was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

And now you’ve just recently left éS, too, right?

Yeah, I just actually left éS. Hey, Atiba, you’re makin’ it look …

No, you’re just getting the story straight.

I’m just tryin’ to make it, so I have to look at sponsors and my career.

That’s what I’m trying to get at—are you happy where you’re at right now?

As of right now, I feel like I’ll be taken care of for however long I can skate. It was kinda a hard process to get here.

What advice do you have for the kids who want to do that?

When you’re little you want to be on one sponsor forever. When you first start you don’t quite have that pull, which kinda sucks to say. Before I was giving out sponsor-me tapes, I couldn’t be, “Okay, I want to ride for Seek. Sponsor me.” Or “I want to ride for DVS. Sponsor me.” I had to work my way up.

It’s not just given to you.

Yeah, it’s kinda hard going through the process to make it there, but I can’t complain. I feel real happy about all my sponsors now.

You’ve always skated with your brother, right?

Yeah, I’ve been skating with my brother since day one—pretty much every day.

Does that kind of push you—havin’ a brother who skates, too?

Oh, it’s so much easier than having to call people up to see if they’re skatin’ today. He’s at my house every day.

Do you still skate with Paul a lot?

I don’t skate with him as much as I used to—we’re kinda on two different schedules right now. It’s always a blast skating with him. It gets harder when you get older. He’s a homie, for sure.

You guys came up at the same time. Do you think that helped your skating?

Oh yeah, of course. Paul’s always been better than me, so it’s helped me ’cause I’ve always wanted to be as good as him. I’d see him do something, and I’d be like, “Crap. I wanna do that.” Having somebody there trying tricks with you makes it so much easier. I go and then you go. If I try it, then you try it. We’re almost makin’ deals with each other. With me and Spanky it’s like, “All right, do this and I’ll give you a hundred bucks.” And plus with Paul, he does everything so easily, it makes you want to do it. We feed off each other. It always makes it more fun when you skate with your friends.

You just got back from tour, right?

Yeah, I just got back. It was so much fun, actually. It was more like a demo tour, but it was a blast.

You’ve done your fair amount of those tours.

Oh yeah, but, man, I still get choked up at demos. I still get so scared.

Really?

Oh my gosh. I’m a mess, Atiba!

Why? ‘Cause it’s like contest style?

I don’t know. I get nervous when all eyes are on me, and I feel bad if I mess up.

Do you ever enter contests?

I do, but I never do good. No one really knows that I do ’em.

You did good in one contest, right?

I did good in the first contest I entered, but I think it was more across-the-line than beginner’s luck. It was in Vancouver, maybe two years ago. I ended up getting thirteenth or eleventh. I don’t know where I got those numbers, but it was either one or the other. I honestly can’t remember, but I think I did all right, and I haven’t done that good since then. I’ve been trying to stay away from them. It gets me nervous—I’m seriously a mess.

So no more contests going down?

No, I gotta do ’em, you know?

What’s the average day like for Mikey?

Sleep, wake up, and Atiba calls me at around twelve or one.

Yeah, ’cause you don’t wake up before that. Do you think you have a sleeping problem?

We’re saying average weekend ’cause during the week is definitely different than during the weekend.

Why is that? Is it just because of where you can skate?

Yeah, exactly. The weekend is when I’m gonna do the filming thing, ’cause you can skate at any of the schools. During the week is pretty much skatepark (skating). I’ll sleep ’til like two (laughs) and wait ’til it gets dark to skate a skatepark.

Do you guys skate Muska’s a lot?

Yeah, my friend Tory rides for Shorty’s, so we’re kinda there a lot. During the weekend, we just try to skate the street spots.

Do you think you have a temper when you skate?

Oh man, I’m kinda psycho, I guess (laughs). I flip out when I can’t land stuff.

Anger management needs to go down?

I have anger management. If I get mad, I’ll break my board and feel better. I’m doing good when I’m relieving my anger, but if some kid on the street was watching me throwing my board every which way and screaming at the top of my lungs, they’d be like, “Get on!” I don’t even know who to blame for my temper—my dad, maybe?’s not just given to you.

Yeah, it’s kinda hard going through the process to make it there, but I can’t complain. I feel real happy about all my sponsors now.

You’ve always skated with your brother, right?

Yeah, I’ve been skating with my brother since day one—pretty much every day.

Does that kind of push you—havin’ a brother who skates, too?

Oh, it’s so much easier than having to call people up to see if they’re skatin’ today. He’s at my house every day.

Do you still skate with Paul a lot?

I don’t skate with him as much as I used to—we’re kinda on two different schedules right now. It’s always a blast skating with him. It gets harder when you get older. He’s a homie, for sure.

You guys came up at the same time. Do you think that helped your skating?

Oh yeah, of course. Paul’s always been better than me, so it’s helped me ’cause I’ve always wanted to be as good as him. I’d see him do something, and I’d be like, “Crap. I wanna do that.” Having somebody there trying tricks with you makes it so much easier. I go and then you go. If I try it, then you try it. We’re almost makin’ deals with each other. With me and Spanky it’s like, “All right, do this and I’ll give you a hundred bucks.” And plus with Paul, he does everything so easily, it makes you want to do it. We feed off each other. It always makes it more fun when you skate with your friends.

You just got back from tour, right?

Yeah, I just got back. It was so much fun, actually. It was more like a demo tour, but it was a blast.

You’ve done your fair amount of those tours.

Oh yeah, but, man, I still get choked up at demos. I still get so scared.

Really?

Oh my gosh. I’m a mess, Atiba!

Why? ‘Cause it’s like contest style?

I don’t know. I get nervous when all eyes are on me, and I feel bad if I mess up.

Do you ever enter contests?

I do, but I never do good. No one really knows that I do ’em.

You did good in one contest, right?

I did good in the first contest I entered, but I think it was more across-the-line than beginner’s luck. It was in Vancouver, maybe two years ago. I ended up getting thirteenth or eleventh. I don’t know where I got those numbers, but it was either one or the other. I honestly can’t remember, but I think I did all right, and I haven’t done that good since then. I’ve been trying to stay away from them. It gets me nervous—I’m seriously a mess.

So no more contests going down?

No, I gotta do ’em, you know?

What’s the average day like for Mikey?

Sleep, wake up, and Atiba calls me at around twelve or one.

Yeah, ’cause you don’t wake up before that. Do you think you have a sleeping problem?

We’re saying average weekend ’cause during the week is definitely different than during the weekend.

Why is that? Is it just because of where you can skate?

Yeah, exactly. The weekend is when I’m gonna do the filming thing, ’cause you can skate at any of the schools. During the week is pretty much skatepark (skating). I’ll sleep ’til like two (laughs) and wait ’til it gets dark to skate a skatepark.

Do you guys skate Muska’s a lot?

Yeah, my friend Tory rides for Shorty’s, so we’re kinda there a lot. During the weekend, we just try to skate the street spots.

Do you think you have a temper when you skate?

Oh man, I’m kinda psycho, I guess (laughs). I flip out when I can’t land stuff.

Anger management needs to go down?

I have anger management. If I get mad, I’ll break my board and feel better. I’m doing good when I’m relieving my anger, but if some kid on the street was watching me throwing my board every which way and screaming at the top of my lungs, they’d be like, “Get on!” I don’t even know who to blame for my temper—my dad, maybe? I don’t know (laughs).

What else are you into? You’re into cars?

I’m into the whole race-car scene, I guess.

Like what—NASCAR race cars or …

Honda burners. All my friends have Hondas, and we go out to the races every weekend.

Let’s hear about the races.

What do you want to hear about ’em? 

I don’t know, what goes down? Is your car super fast?

It’s not super fast, but it’s not slow, either. It handles. I go to the races, roll up, and don’t tell anybody what’s in my car—they think it’s slow. It’s just, “Should I put some money down and come home a little richer?”

What, can you really make money off of it?

Yeah! No. Well, the thing is … in their area, it’s pretty much all talk. The kids just want to scare you out of racing. They’d be like, “Whoa, man, a hundred bucks,” or you know, “200 bucks.” Then it’d be like, “Okay, maybe his car’s fast—he’s betting all this money.” But in reality, they’re not even that fast.

How much do you think you could make on the average at the races?

There’re tons of people racing for serious cash, but that’s when it gets sketchy. If somebody loses, you’re either lookin’ at a fight or guns. We try to make it not too crazy. Maybe like twenty or 40 bucks on a race. If somebody loses, it’s not, “Okay, let’s bail. Somethin’s about to go down.”

Have you seen stuff like that go down there?

A few weeks ago a friend was racing this guy and somebody lost. The homies wanted to fight. And two of my other friends were at these races, and there were like gunshots goin’ off. It gets kinda sketchy sometimes, it just depends on where you’re at. But it’s so much fun, though. I took your brother for a ride in my car.

Yeah, he was feelin’ it.

Yeah, he knows what’s up (laughs).

Do you put a lot of money into your car?

Uh, yeah, actually, I kinda do. I bought it for five-grand, so it wasn’t really that much. I don’t make payments, I just bought it.

You just buy the body of the car, right?

Yeah, pretty much. I bought the body and then everything else I swapped out. I swapped out the motor, the suspension, and everything else. It’s pretty fun. You can buy a Honda for like three-grand and then turn it into a fast car.

Are you one of those dudes who’d be into BMWs, or are you strictly Honda kicks?

Not yet, man. I don’t want to blow all my money on this bomb car. Maybe later on in life when I got cash to blow.

Now that you’re turning pro, what are you doing with your money? Are you trying to be wise with it?

I got some guy to be wise for me. He gets money from me every month.

Oh, you got a money manager?

Yeah, I got a money man. I can’t even spend it if I want to. It’s cool, though. I don’t want to be done with skateboarding and only have boards with my name on them to show for it.

Do you have any idea what you want to do after skating?

I have no clue. I’m havin’ so much fun doin’ it now, I don’t even want to think about it. My whole thing is to play it by ear and see what happens. I love skating, and that’s what I want to do. So that’s what I’m doin’. Maybe in five years I’ll have an answer for you. I feel like a little kid still, I don’t really want to think about it.

ybe? I don’t know (laughs).

What else are you into? You’re into cars?

I’m into the whole race-car scene, I guess.

Like what—NASCAR race cars or …

Honda burners. All my friends have Hondas, and we go out to the races every weekend.

Let’s hear about the races.

What do you want to hear about ’em? 

I don’t know, what goes down? Is your car super fast?

It’s not super fast, but it’s not slow, either. It handles. I go to the races, roll up, and don’t tell anybody what’s in my car—they think it’s slow. It’s just, “Should I put some money down and come home a little richer?”

What, can you really make money off of it?

Yeah! No. Well, the thing is … in their area, it’s pretty much all talk. The kids just want to scare you out of racing. They’d be like, “Whoa, man, a hundred bucks,” or you know, “200 bucks.” Then it’d be like, “Okay, maybe his car’s fast—he’s betting all this money.” But in reality, they’re not even that fast.

How much do you think you could make on the average at the races?

There’re tons of people racing for serious cash, but that’s when it gets sketchy. If somebody loses, you’re either lookin’ at a fight or guns. We try to make it not too crazy. Maybe like twenty or 40 bucks on a race. If somebody loses, it’s not, “Okay, let’s bail. Somethin’s about to go down.”

Have you seen stuff like that go down there?

A few weeks ago a friend was racing this guy and somebody lost. The homies wanted to fight. And two of my other friends were at these races, and there were like gunshots goin’ off. It gets kinda sketchy sometimes, it just depends on where you’re at. But it’s so much fun, though. I took your brother for a ride in my car.

Yeah, he was feelin’ it.

Yeah, he knows what’s up (laughs).

Do you put a lot of money into your car?

Uh, yeah, actually, I kinda do. I bought it for five-grand, so it wasn’t really that much. I don’t make payments, I just bought it.

You just buy the body of the car, right?

Yeah, pretty much. I bought the body and then everything else I swapped out. I swapped out the motor, the suspension, and everything else. It’s pretty fun. You can buy a Honda for like three-grand and then turn it into a fast car.

Are you one of those dudes who’d be into BMWs, or are you strictly Honda kicks?

Not yet, man. I don’t want to blow all my money on this bomb car. Maybe later on in life when I got cash to blow.

Now that you’re turning pro, what are you doing with your money? Are you trying to be wise with it?

I got some guy to be wise for me. He gets money from me every month.

Oh, you got a money manager?

Yeah, I got a money man. I can’t even spend it if I want to. It’s cool, though. I don’t want to be done with skateboarding and only have boards with my name on them to show for it.

Do you have any idea what you want to do after skating?

I have no clue. I’m havin’ so much fun doin’ it now, I don’t even want to think about it. My whole thing is to play it by ear and see what happens. I love skating, and that’s what I want to do. So that’s what I’m doin’. Maybe in five years I’ll have an answer for you. I feel like a little kid still, I don’t really want to think about it.