The Am Issue: Jon Sciano

Luckily, very few people notch their first drop in at the threat of a beating. But given how Jon Sciano skates today, I’m not quite sure the practice should be frowned upon—actually, perhaps it should be mandatory. A quick and efficient way of weeding out the weak links before they even start. Whatever life experiences shaped the amateur skateboarder Jon Sciano is today, they must have done something right. On the cusp of starring in Lakai’s first official full-length since Fully Flared, the following Q&A covers his “man up and make the phone call” to Julien Stranger to respectively quit Antihero, his thoughts on MJ leaving the Flare, and the road from being forced to drop in on his brother’s quarterpipe to Deathwish.-Mackenzie Eisenhour

jon-sciano-crooked-grind
Crooked grind. San Francisco, CA. PHOTO / O’Meally (click to enlarge)

What’s been going on lately?
Just trying to finish up this Lakai video. I think the deadline is in August. It won’t be as big a production as Fully Flared, but it’s a full-length video and we’re definitely going to do something different. I think it will be a lot slimmer parts, but it should be sick. [Aaron] Meza’s editing it.

Sick. So no explosions in this one then?
No. No explosions planned for this one.

How did you find skateboarding in Oviedo, Florida?
Through my older brothers. They would watch me all the time when I was little. I had five older brothers and some of them skated, so they would just take me with them while my parents were at work. They kind of forced it on me [laughs]. I remember not wanting to skate—like one time I didn’t want to drop in on the quarterpipe, but they would give me an ass kicking if I didn’t, so I had to drop in.

That’s rad but gnarly at the same time.
Yeah. I was bummed at the time. But when I did drop in, I remember thinking like, “Oh, this shit’s tight kinda.” I got my first taste.

jon-sciano-frontside-lipslide
Frontside lipslide. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. PHOTO / Muller (click to enlarge)

First video part you memorized?
We only had one shop where I grew up, so I never saw a lot of magazines or videos. But I do remember my brother had this Black Label video where the guy steps in front of a bus. He steps in front of the bus at the beginning of his part and then after the last trick he steps back. I think his name was Peter.

That was Patrick Melcher.
Yeah, that’s right. I remember seeing that part though and just going, “Holy fuck.” That was like my first-ever sight of skateboarding put together in a video.

I wanted to ask about your reasons for leaving Antihero. I was told you did it the right when you quit the team. Can you break it down?
Totally. I respect those dudes full on. They took care of me for so long. Julien Stranger himself. I just respect him so much. But I just knew after about a year or two of not being on the board as much as I wanted, their team just has some of the best riders in the world, and I just didn’t see myself at the level they were at. I called Julien and pretty much told him. I’m never up there in SF, and I have a lot of buddies here in LA that ride for Baker Boys and stuff. I’m skating with them and hanging out with them, so I just made the decision to get Deathwish boards instead of Antihero boards.

Is that where you’re at now?
Yeah. It’s pretty much the same thing. Jay Thorpe is hooking me up, and I’m thankful for that.

That’s pretty rad though to call Julien and be straight up like that. A lot of people might not have done it that way.
I was sweating bullets, dude. I told him when I got on the phone like, “I’m fucking so nervous right now. But I got to do this…” And so sick, he was like, “Dude, Jon, don’t even worry, man. We all got your back. We wanna see you go wherever you want to go.” He was sick. He told me a story about when he quit Underworld Element [circa ’93]; he never even called his team manager and stuff. So he said he really respected the fact that I called him.

“I DIDN’T WANT TO DROP IN ON THE QUARTERPIPE, BUT THEY WOULD GIVE ME AN ASS KICKING IF I DIDN’T, SO I HAD TO DROP IN.”

That’s a stand-up move. Speaking of leaving companies, as a Lakai rider, any thoughts on MJ leaving?
I have thoughts on both sides of it. Marc Johnson was a close buddy of mine. He still is. But I see both sides. I totally agree with what Mike [Carroll] was saying how it sucks for the teammates and the workers to find out at the premiere. But at the same time, I think it could have gone a different way. I don’t think anybody at Lakai was mad at Marc for the reasons that he left; I think it was just the way that he did it that pissed a few people off. But I try not to get into that stuff.

Do you care at all about the broader skater-owned versus corporate shoe battles?
Yeah, I care. I fully back skater-owned. I fucking hate corporations. It sucks though. In this day and age you can’t get away from them. I don’t think they’re leaving any time soon. I just try to think of it in terms of my buddies, like Ishod [Wair] and Jake [Johnson] and all these people that skate for corporations—I like to try and think of it as them just taking these corporations’ money without having to be puppets. But nobody ever gives you money without expecting something in return. At least we have some true skaters in there though, so kids just won’t be growing up looking at robots. It sucks though. You see the people that pioneered this and laid down the bricks for this whole sport, and we’ve already lost half of them and now the most important ones are about to go.

I was told your dad is a tattoo artist in New Orleans. Any favorite tats from Dad?
My dad has a tattoo shop in Harvey, Louisiana. It’s called Wicked 13. I finally got some work done from him a few years back. He did my right arm—I got the four horsemen of the apocalypse. And then he also did a Lemmy tribute tat on my left leg. It’s just a portrait of his face.

I read your recent interview where you said you were about to hang it up to become a welder down there. Is that still an option? What was making you want to say “fuck it”?
I had a rough two years. A lot of it was involving drinks and fights. The first cause was when I hurt my collarbone. But that sort of set off a chain reaction because I couldn’t skate as much. I had a hard time getting out of that rut. I seriously called up Lakai and was just going to tell them to give my check to my teammates that are out skating because I’m sucking right now. I was pretty decided on just going and getting a whatever job somewhere. I didn’t think I was living up to what I should. But they talked me out of it, and it made me realize to stop being a pussy [laughs].

jon-sciano-frontside-noseslide-frontside-shove-it-out
Frontside noseslide frontside shove-it out. Los Angles, CA. PHOTO / Peters (click to enlarge)

Just a bunch of drunken incidents?
Almost all the incidents were friends getting into situations and then me wanting to stick up for them. Then me realizing I was too drunk to do anything and then it leading to me getting the shit kicked out of me.

I was told you are a solid pool player. Side-hobby hustle?
I love pool. I’d like to say that I’m all right, but I know a few fools that can beat my ass. I play for some money here and there. But I try not to, because my bank account isn’t too big.

What’s your current living situation?
I live in Echo Park. We got this sick little house. It’s between like a gas station and the highway, so there’s no neighbors.

Best three ams out right now?
Ronnie Sandoval, my homie Bryce Mandel, and he was pro but should go pro again—Yonnie Cruz.

More Am Issue interviews:
Ronnie Sandoval
Bobby De Keyzer
Dane Brady
Cole Wilson
Cyrus Bennett
Frankie Spears
Jake Anderson
Mikey Curtis