Pioneer: Salman Agah, Full Interview—The Sultan of Switch

What do consider your best skating? Was it captured in a video part, or was it just a time you were skating a bunch with no cameras?
I don’t know. It’s all relative. I skated yesterday. I’m gonna be 40. It’s real easy to be a good skater when you’re young and in your prime. There were things I used to do that I now perceive as impossible. I feel like my peak though, I was really at my best right after the turn of the millennium. I wasn’t really in the limelight, but between 2000-2004 was probably the best I’ve ever been at skateboarding. I just felt really good on my board. Then I had a big motorcycle crash and that kind of ended that run.

When was this?
I had a big crash in ’04. It took me really long to come back from. I fractured seven ribs, separated my shoulder, punctured my lungs. I was thrashed.

Are you still riding bikes?
I’m actually going to ride tomorrow (Laughs.) But now I surf a bunch. I’ve been surfing every day for the last few years. I ride motorcycles for fun.

Vans ad for Salman’s shoe. Circa 1994.

What was your peak achievement in your mind?
Honestly, I was really into skating vert for a long time. I used to go to Woodward a bunch in the late ‘90s and skate with Tom Boyle, Neil Hendrix, and Mike Frazier. I used to skate Max (Schaaf)’s ramp a bunch too. But for me, doing Caballerials on vert, or doing head high backside airs—when I was a kid—all I wanted to do was skate vert. When I finally got to learn that stuff later it was really the biggest accomplishment for me. Just a backside air, in front of the foot, late grab proper backside air overhead on vert is a huge accomplishment.

You never got into switch stuff on vert?
I actually did do a lot of switch stuff on tranny but I never filmed it. Kelly Bird used to give me a lot of shit, like, “Why don’t you film this stuff?” I didn’t really care at the time. Another random one, I think that was inspired by Guy Mariano, was in one of the Real videos I do a backside 180 to switch frontside crooks and pop out in the middle of the block. That was pretty monumental and fun for me at the time. It was just a personal one.

Salman’s part in Black Label’s Label Kills. 2001.

You still have a board with Black Label right?
Yeah. I usually have about two or three come out a year.

And you said you still get out to skate a little?
Yeah. I skated Paul Schmitt’s pool yesterday. I basically street skate around LA.

Pizzanista is going good it seems?
Pizzanista is cranking dude. A lot of it is really thanks to the skateboarding community. I have a lot of patrons and support from the skate industry. We were just in Los Angeles Magazine too. I’m stoked.

Are you happy having your own thing now vs. The Berrics?
I like doing my own thing. My settup with The Berrics was cool because they were actually just clients. In a sense I was already working for myself. But having my own thing is great. I can’t complain.