Interview By Ed Templeton

This whole thing started out by asking skaters on toymachine.com to post a question for Josh’s TransWorld interview. They came out of the woodwork to submit over 170 questions! Of course, you had your typical dumbass ones like, “Did you ever get sand in your Virginia?” But for the most part, the kids asked really interesting questions-I would never ask him some of them. They tended to be about skating, like the questions each pro skater gets asked at demos, “How many stairs can you ollie?” (Like, if you reach that number you can magically turn pro… ) and, “What color top ply on a board is your favorite?” (He answered “green”). To make everything fit in the magazine, we had to cut some of the smaller answers out, but I feel like what we have here is a good look into Josh’s brain. He is young and ever evolving as a person, someone who is constantly learning, reading, and advancing himself both on the board and off. An individual. I’m sure he will look back on this as a great accomplishment in his skateboard life. Enjoy.-Ed Templeton

1. When you were a kid, what made you decide to start skating?
When I was young, there was a kid who lived up the street from me and his name was Aaron. He was an older kid and was always getting in trouble. But he ruled at skating. You’d see him in front of his house cruisin’ down the street doing frontside flips and 360 flips. As soon I saw him do a 360 flip I was like, “What in the world?” That was what made me want to skate. I wanted to be able to do that. That Christmas I got a skateboard.

2. Who were your favorite skateboarders growing up? Who are they now?
Anybody coming out of Tum Yeto was ruling. All those old Foundation videos, and of course Welcome To Hell. Girl’s Mouse was awesome. It’s pretty much the same people that I like now. It’s certain things about people you like. You can’t put your finger on it. Brian Anderson-he just rules. I like so many people’s skating; it’s all about personality. You can be a great skater and do the most amazing tricks, but for a lot of people it might not be interesting. But then there’s someone who doesn’t have a big bag of tricks, but they’re doing them with style, and watching them skate is ten times more interesting, with ten times more feeling. And it’s something that you can’t fake and you can’t put your finger on. Those are the cool things about skating. It always leaves you wanting more. You can’t figure out what it is that gets you so psyched.

3. Were you a sponsor-me-video kid or were you found out from skating local contests and stuff?
I just skated in Chicago a lot. And I skated in contests. I met Patrick Melcher, and he got on Black Label and moved to California. As I was getting older, he was like, “You should try to get on Toy Machine or something.” This was when the team was just Ed and Austin. At this same time, my family moved to California. As soon as that happened, I went to all the spots I could find and just skated and filmed with my friend Ryan. Then Melcher gave my tape to Ed. That’s how I got on. I guess you can call me a sponsor-video kid. I definitely wanted to be on Toy Machine. It was sort of a goal.

4. It must be a serious mission filming for the new Toy Machine and Fallen video at the same time. Do you plan certain tricks for certain videos?
I just wing it. I go to spots, and if I think I can do a trick or something looks fun, I’ll try it. It really depends. When I’m working on an interview or I’m toward the end of a filming deadline, that’s when I really try and think up tricks to do. But mostly I like to just go skate spots. I like it spontaneous-it’s more fun for me. I’m not the kind of person who says, “I’ve got myself an appointment with El Toro this week (laughs).” I feel like I can’t contrive any of it; if you try and force-feed it too much, it comes through in the footage and it seems weird. Certain tricks I do a lot, like Smith grinds and negrinds, so I might start thinking, “What video do I need this for?” I was watching footage and thinking how each trick equals a day of effort, and for me it’s a struggle. I just do it for myself. Hopefully it shows.

5. I’ve noticed in a lot of old ads you were wearing Emericas. Were you ever officially on Emerica? If so, what happened for you to leave for Fallen?
I guess when I was getting stuff from Toy Machine, I sort of started getting stuff from Emerica. I was rocking Emerica shoes; I even went on an Emerica/Toy Machine road trip. Then a friend of mine, Dave Hoang, was team managing at etnies and was like, “Hey man, I’ll give you shoes from etnies.” So I got on etnies. Then the etnies thing got weird-Arto (Saari) got on, and people got kicked off. At the same time, Jamie Thomas came to my house. It was only Jamie and Jon Allie on Fallen so far. He said, “I’m starting a new shoe company, I want you to ride for it.” He came to my house! It was so sick! Of course I said yes, you know? To be a part of something so tight-knit felt perfect. It was sort of like things fell into place.

6. Who or what got you started on playing the banjo?
I think we were on a Toy trip three or four years ago. We went to a pawnshop and there was a cheap banjo there. The footage in Good & Evil was filmed on that trip. I still have that banjo! Austin just got a new one… I don’t know. I still mostly play the guitar, but I like to play the mandolin or banjo or whatever comes along. If you can play the guitar, you can play other string instruments and figure it out pretty quickly.

7. Do you learn certain styles, like finger picking for banjos? Is it different?
It’s kind of the same. I like a lot of finger picking because I really like John Fahey. He’s one of the main finger-style guitarists. His songs are really amazing. If something really catches my ear when I listen to music, I’ll sit down and figure it on the guitar. John Fahey opened up a whole style of playing for me. You use almost all your fingers while finger picking, and when you apply that to the banjo it’s really good.

8. Do you have a favorite book?
One that Austin recommended to me called Bound For Glory. It’s an autobiography of Woody Guthrie. He’s a folk musician from around the time of the Great Depression. He told stories about growing up in a really amazing time in the U.S. He went through a lot of things and met a lot of people. It was really interesting, all the things that he’s done. Just like the song Bob Dylan sang for him. It definitely affected me emotionally. The guy just left his house and left on his own with no money. Hopping trains and just getting by with the help of other people. That’s inspiring.
I also really like the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It’s about a guy who’s being honest with himself and questioning God. He comes to realizations about things that most people don’t. That book is really raw and honest, and that’s why I like it. I like a lot of the books that I had to read in high school too, like Catcher In The Rye.

9. Do you feel like you’ve been seeing the world enough?
Definitely. I’ve been to Russia. I don’t know many people who can say that. I’m psyched on that-skateboarding gave me that experience. That’s so much to be thankful for right there. I’ve been gone so much in the past six months. It seems like a blur. I’ve been to Spain, Australia, all over the U.S., especially since Toy Machine and Fallen are both working on projects. And RVCA is starting to do trips. We’re going to Italy in September. There’s going to be three teams I ride for doing a lot of stuff. But I like it. It gives me an opportunity to skate things I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Traveling the world as a skater is the best way to experience the culture and people of the country. You get over there and you’re not stuck in a hotel somewhere. You’re getting together with people from there and they’re taking you to all kinds of places in the street. The amount of adventures we have in just one day is ridiculous! We get a good view of a place rather than going there as a tourist.

10. What are your political views?
My opinion is that the way politics are set up, the choices are too black and white-there’s one extreme right and one extreme left. I feel like a lot of people have mixed feelings on different issues, but because there’s no third or fourth or fifth option, they have to choose from one of the two extremes. It ends up being left or right. That isn’t right. I wouldn’t call myself a Republican or a Democrat. I didn’t vote last year. I don’t know who I would have voted for. So this year, I’m going to pay closer attention.

11. Do you ever get in arguments or fights with preachers over skateboarding?
I actually have a few times. It’s such a hard thing, because if you look at their perspective, it looks like we’re ruining stuff. If you talk to any skateboarder who loves skateboarding, they’re going to want to keep the spot clean and good. They’re going to want to be able to skate it again.
In the Good & Evil opening credits, we argued with a priest in Kansas City. That situation was just out of control. For one, if anyone’s ever read the Bible, they know that the way that guy was reacting, especially him being a “man of God,” was wrong. Why is someone going to turn to religion when that priest is obviously a psychopath? We were so mellow, it was out in the street, and there were no houses. There was no reason for that guy to freak out. The rail was already scratched up and stuff. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

12. Isn’t a preacher always right?
There’s no a way a preacher is always right, because sometimes they molest kids. Just because you say you believe in God doesn’t mean that you really do. God looks in people’s hearts. If you’re a pastor and you do crappy stuff, I’d think that you’re in trouble with God because you’re ultra contradictory.

13. Do you preach to other people?
No, it’s a personal thing. You can call me a non-denominational Christian. I read the Bible. Like Jesus said, “I will sit at the door and knock. If you answer, I’ll come on a fellowship with you.” It’s sort of up to you. But if there’s someone who wants to ask me something and maybe I could help them, I would.

14. In an old interview, you said you had done some questionable things with drugs in your late teens, early twenties. What was it?
Everyone makes their own choices and everyone has to go through things to figure out what they believe. I’ve had my doubts and have gone through periods of time where I didn’t think about God. I started acting like a heathen. It happens to everyone, there’s no way someone can be perfect because we’re all imperfect. It’s a natural thing and happens to everyone. I wasn’t using cocaine or anything, just mushrooms and weed, but in excess.

15. You can’t be a Christian and smoke weed?
I don’t want to say that. I don’t know if that’s true because the Bible doesn’t say marijuana is forbidden. It doesn’t say anything about marijuana. It comes down to your conviction in your heart. There are a lot of periods of time in my life where I can’t remember stuff straight. It affects my memory. That’s a reason not to do it. Another would be the paranoia. I would be getting what Hunter S. Thompson called “the fear,” and you just freak out. I’d get anxiety attacks sometimes even without marijuana. But I know other people who smoke weed and it affects everyone differently. It doesn’t seem like it’s right for me.
I think that alcohol is a lot more dangerous than weed because of the effects it has on you. Alcohol is a very subduing substance, but with marijuana, people can still articulate themselves. With beer, it seems as though people just go bonkers with it. And if you smoke a lot of weed, you just fall asleep. I observed the things that weed was doing to me. I observed the good ts of places in the street. The amount of adventures we have in just one day is ridiculous! We get a good view of a place rather than going there as a tourist.

10. What are your political views?
My opinion is that the way politics are set up, the choices are too black and white-there’s one extreme right and one extreme left. I feel like a lot of people have mixed feelings on different issues, but because there’s no third or fourth or fifth option, they have to choose from one of the two extremes. It ends up being left or right. That isn’t right. I wouldn’t call myself a Republican or a Democrat. I didn’t vote last year. I don’t know who I would have voted for. So this year, I’m going to pay closer attention.

11. Do you ever get in arguments or fights with preachers over skateboarding?
I actually have a few times. It’s such a hard thing, because if you look at their perspective, it looks like we’re ruining stuff. If you talk to any skateboarder who loves skateboarding, they’re going to want to keep the spot clean and good. They’re going to want to be able to skate it again.
In the Good & Evil opening credits, we argued with a priest in Kansas City. That situation was just out of control. For one, if anyone’s ever read the Bible, they know that the way that guy was reacting, especially him being a “man of God,” was wrong. Why is someone going to turn to religion when that priest is obviously a psychopath? We were so mellow, it was out in the street, and there were no houses. There was no reason for that guy to freak out. The rail was already scratched up and stuff. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

12. Isn’t a preacher always right?
There’s no a way a preacher is always right, because sometimes they molest kids. Just because you say you believe in God doesn’t mean that you really do. God looks in people’s hearts. If you’re a pastor and you do crappy stuff, I’d think that you’re in trouble with God because you’re ultra contradictory.

13. Do you preach to other people?
No, it’s a personal thing. You can call me a non-denominational Christian. I read the Bible. Like Jesus said, “I will sit at the door and knock. If you answer, I’ll come on a fellowship with you.” It’s sort of up to you. But if there’s someone who wants to ask me something and maybe I could help them, I would.

14. In an old interview, you said you had done some questionable things with drugs in your late teens, early twenties. What was it?
Everyone makes their own choices and everyone has to go through things to figure out what they believe. I’ve had my doubts and have gone through periods of time where I didn’t think about God. I started acting like a heathen. It happens to everyone, there’s no way someone can be perfect because we’re all imperfect. It’s a natural thing and happens to everyone. I wasn’t using cocaine or anything, just mushrooms and weed, but in excess.

15. You can’t be a Christian and smoke weed?
I don’t want to say that. I don’t know if that’s true because the Bible doesn’t say marijuana is forbidden. It doesn’t say anything about marijuana. It comes down to your conviction in your heart. There are a lot of periods of time in my life where I can’t remember stuff straight. It affects my memory. That’s a reason not to do it. Another would be the paranoia. I would be getting what Hunter S. Thompson called “the fear,” and you just freak out. I’d get anxiety attacks sometimes even without marijuana. But I know other people who smoke weed and it affects everyone differently. It doesn’t seem like it’s right for me.
I think that alcohol is a lot more dangerous than weed because of the effects it has on you. Alcohol is a very subduing substance, but with marijuana, people can still articulate themselves. With beer, it seems as though people just go bonkers with it. And if you smoke a lot of weed, you just fall asleep. I observed the things that weed was doing to me. I observed the good things and the bad things, and the bad things outweighed the good things.

16. And how much was music an influence for taking mushrooms? Were you sitting there going, “Dude, let’s listen to Pink Floyd right now and take some ‘shrooms to really experience the soundscape”?
Huge influence (laughs). I look up to many musicians because they are so brilliant. Why wouldn’t you want to experience their trip? Paul McCartney is an amazing musician, and he smoked a lot of weed and did LCD.

17. That’s a strong force in kids. I can see a kid thinking about an incredible skater or an incredible musician and wanting to do what he does, so they can get on the same level.
But at the same time, every single person is different. You could be like The Muska, smoke weed, and grind a triple-kink first try. It might help your mental state to be able to do such a thing. But then someone else would smoke it and just want to go home and sleep. It makes you want to test it out to see what it would do for you. That’s another thing that sucks about weed-it puts you on the wrong side of the fence with the law. People on the other side of the fence are sketchy people. Weed will get you in with those people. It can lead you to all kinds of crazy stuff. Lets say you’re fiending for some weed one day and smoke a blunt with some thugs and there’s crack in it. You’re like, “Damn! That was really good. What was so good about that?” It was because there was crack in there and then boom!-you’re on crack.

18. You’re a child growing up in India and you’ve never had a chance to see Christianity and you get killed. But your whole short life, you were taught to worship Ganesh-a zoomorphic Hindu deity with an elephant head and extra arms. Do you go to hell? I know a lot of Christians say that person will go to hell regardless, because they didn’t find Christ in the Bible. Where do you stand on that issue?
The first problem with that is that people assume that other people are going to hell. God judges the heart and judges according to what people know. God made that person who lives in India, and he’s going to judge them fairly. You can’t help where you’re born or how you’re born or how you’re raised. God is supposed to be fair and righteous and just. It would be unjust to send someone to hell for not knowing enough.

19. So a Hindu who knows about Christianity but still chooses to be a Hindu could go to hell? I know you’re not saying this is absolutely what happens, but what do you believe? Do you believe that person would go to hell?
I really don’t know. I don’t know what God’s standards are on letting someone in. When everyone dies, the Bible says there’s going to be a great judgment. There’s the end of the world and I believe that when you die, you go into eternity because you’re no longer susceptible to time. And you go to eternity where God is perfect and righteous and holy and he can’t be in the presence of sin. When I die and God says, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” I’m going to say, “Because I admit that I’m a sinner. I accept your sacrifice for my sins.”

20. Do you believe the end is near?
People have thought the end is near so many times. The temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. But I do believe that it’s possible for it to be near, because a lot of the prophecies in the Bible, almost all of them, have been completed except the temple in Jerusalem being completed, which is the great tribulation. The Jews are waiting to build their temple. They have all the stones and they are ready to build it. That’s one of the only things left to happen. I’m not getting worried. I know God knows my place on Earth and everyone has to die sometime.


od things and the bad things, and the bad things outweighed the good things.

16. And how much was music an influence for taking mushrooms? Were you sitting there going, “Dude, let’s listen to Pink Floyd right now and take some ‘shrooms to really experiencce the soundscape”?
Huge influence (laughs). I look up to many musicians because they are so brilliant. Why wouldn’t you want to experience their trip? Paul McCartney is an amazing musician, and he smoked a lot of weed and did LCD.

17. That’s a strong force in kids. I can see a kid thinking about an incredible skater or an incredible musician and wanting to do what he does, so they can get on the same level.
But at the same time, every single person is different. You could be like The Muska, smoke weed, and grind a triple-kink first try. It might help your mental state to be able to do such a thing. But then someone else would smoke it and just want to go home and sleep. It makes you want to test it out to see what it would do for you. That’s another thing that sucks about weed-it puts you on the wrong side of the fence with the law. People on the other side of the fence are sketchy people. Weed will get you in with those people. It can lead you to all kinds of crazy stuff. Lets say you’re fiending for some weed one day and smoke a blunt with some thugs and there’s crack in it. You’re like, “Damn! That was really good. What was so good about that?” It was because there was crack in there and then boom!-you’re on crack.

18. You’re a child growing up in India and you’ve never had a chance to see Christianity and you get killed. But your whole short life, you were taught to worship Ganesh-a zoomorphic Hindu deity with an elephant head and extra arms. Do you go to hell? I know a lot of Christians say that person will go to hell regardless, because they didn’t find Christ in the Bible. Where do you stand on that issue?
The first problem with that is that people assume that other people are going to hell. God judges the heart and judges according to what people know. God made that person who lives in India, and he’s going to judge them fairly. You can’t help where you’re born or how you’re born or how you’re raised. God is supposed to be fair and righteous and just. It would be unjust to send someone to hell for not knowing enough.

19. So a Hindu who knows about Christianity but still chooses to be a Hindu could go to hell? I know you’re not saying this is absolutely what happens, but what do you believe? Do you believe that person would go to hell?
I really don’t know. I don’t know what God’s standards are on letting someone in. When everyone dies, the Bible says there’s going to be a great judgment. There’s the end of the world and I believe that when you die, you go into eternity because you’re no longer susceptible to time. And you go to eternity where God is perfect and righteous and holy and he can’t be in the presence of sin. When I die and God says, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” I’m going to say, “Because I admit that I’m a sinner. I accept your sacrifice for my sins.”

20. Do you believe the end is near?
People have thought the end is near so many times. The temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. But I do believe that it’s possible for it to be near, because a lot of the prophecies in the Bible, almost all of them, have been completed except the temple in Jerusalem being completed, which is the great tribulation. The Jews are waiting to build their temple. They have all the stones and they are ready to build it. That’s one of the only things left to happen. I’m not getting worried. I know God knows my place on Earth and everyone has to die sometime.