Pioneer: Sean Sheffey, Full Interview—Power From The East

Reeese Forbes was saying he had a vivid memory of you skating contests during that time and doing absolutely everything switch. Like rolling in on a vert roll in switch and switch backside flipping the pyramid.
Yeah. That was all from skating the hills switch. I could do all those big roll-ins. I had already pushed myself to practice it. Also it let me hit certain obstacles in ways you could only do if you rolled in that way.   

Sean’s Mouse part that ends with the first straight on rail 50 (1996).

Biggest check from your DVS shoe? Where those pretty big at that point?
Yeah. They were. I got one for fifty grand.

Jesus. Was that kind of the peak financially for you?
Yeah. But we did really well with the boards on Plan B as well. That was awesome too.

Best memory of Keenan (Milton)?
I did this Matix/DVS tour with him in Australia. He switch crooked grinded that 7-8 stair rail into the square in front of the train station (Melbourne Gold Rail). Everyone was there. It was all granite. And he was really put to the test. It was that nice round rail. He did the switch backside shove it too. It was just beautiful. He had so much finesse. Just one radical memory I have.

Where did you get that blue wig?
(Laughs) It was at a club in San Diego. Mathias Ringström’s girlfriend at the time gave it to me. Yeah. I kept it for some time.

Did it get pretty rugged? Did you wash it?
(Laughs) No. It never got that bad. I think the longest I wore it was for that Vancouver contest.

Reese mentioned that too. He had a vivid memory of you rolling in switch on that roll in with the blue wig on.
Yeah. It was pretty crazy.

The near all switch period from the Girl shared part in The Chocolate Tour (1999).

When did you start to distance yourself from skating?
I had hurt my knee not to long after that. I wasn’t really able to focus. Alcohol and drugs kind of took over at that point. I lost my schedule. It went from partying on the weekends to partying every night all week, then just to drinking all week without skating. I would party before and just skate every day. I really didn’t foresee my alcoholism. Now I understand that I had an addiction that I couldn’t see. I was always able to rely on my skating so I never faced it. I think the knee injury was actually a blessing because it allowed me to understand that.

When did you get it together and finally get sober?
A couple of times in jail. When I was locked up I couldn’t drink or use drugs. They have drugs in prison and they make their own alcohol—but it’s usually gangs that run that. I was never a part of any gangs in there or got forced into it. I was kind of known as a skateboarder in prison too. A lot of people had kids that skated or skated themselves, so I didn’t have too much of a hard time.

How long were you in there?
I did about three sentences in County, which were like four months, six months, and a seven-month stretch. Then one time I did a twenty-month sentence straight through were I did nine months in county and eleven months in Federal penitentiary.

The dudes knew who Sean Sheffey was?
For the most part (Laughs). Some of the guards did too. That helped a lot and it kept me out of trouble. So I got to stay sober in there and just train and run a lot. I knew then that if I was given the chance, I could do that on the outside. A day or two after I got out Jake (Brown) picked me up and just told me straight up, “We want to work with you. We want to get you back into skateboarding. But you can’t touch drugs or alcohol. This can become your life again.” I set out to do that and that’s where I’m at now. When I went in Bill (Weiss) was sending me boards and packages and taking care of me while I was on the streets. Rodney (Mullen) was always there for me too before I went in; just telling me, “Hey man, just keep it together. Let’s work this out.” I started getting packages and skating non-stop. And before I knew it, I had a board out again. That feeling, I can’t even tell you. When I saw the board. It just feels so good man.

Almost 20 years later Sean ollies his son Julien again for his Blind welcome back ad. 2011.

Are you skating full force now? I heard you were learning new tricks? Working at Black Box and just ripping from what I hear.
Yeah. Every day man! I get to skate every day. Right now it’s going on 16-17 months of skating every single day. Since I started working here, we have the training facility and the outside stuff too. I’ve been able to film a bunch of stuff. Being on Blind, and seeing the talent of my teammates pushes me to skate that much harder. I just learned switch front feebles on the round bar. Kickflip to frontside and backside tails. I learned switch back tailslide kickflips.

That’s so rad.
Last week I did my first kickflip crooked grind on like a regulation marble bench in the park. Real steady and good. I’m still excited about that.

Have you skated with Ron Allen since you got back on it?
I saw him down here at one of the tradeshows.

He put out some footage recently and he’s still ripping at like 50.
He’s living as young and as healthy as ever. He’s always awesome.

How do you feel looking back on it all? That’s a pretty adventurous story.
I wouldn’t change a thing. I really wouldn’t. I experienced that life. I don’t have a taste or desire to go back to it. But I learned a lot from it. It was exciting. I got to travel the world and skate and meet amazing people. I look forward to doing it again, only this time with a clear head. Teach the kids and up-and-coming rippers how they can do it right hopefully. But thanks for doing this. You stoked me out. Good memories Mackenzie.

You stoked me out Sean.