From the 15 YEARS OF ENJOI feature in our December 2015 issue, here was Rodney Mullen's full raw text interview used to mine quotes for the print edit. We’ll post up more of these over the next few weeks.
Hey Rodney. Thanks for getting back, glad the talks went well (Rodney just finished giving a talk at Apple).
Yeah. I think it's just the fear of failure. I feel like I'm on such a high wire with some of these characters. I feel so out of my element that I overcompensate. You work so hard and then you realize like, 'Oh, that wasn't so bad. But I'm glad I gave it 110% you know."
So for enjoi's 15-year anniversary—I spoke to Marc (Johnson) and he definitely credits you with believing in his idea and giving him a shot at Dwindle in the beginning.
Absolutely. I'm honored that he would say that. I'll put it this way, to the direct statement of believing in him—yes, I did. When Plan B was ending I was essentially given a directive to do something. And I went up to Vancouver and I had met Marc. It think I had met him in San Diego at this little contest. Like a CASL contest or something.
What were your thoughts when you first met him?
I met him and I was just such a fan of him. You could see that he was different. So we connected. And Marc was just through and through loyal with everything he was doing at Maple. And my goodness (laughs) I have experience with people stealing riders. I know that feeling. And so I appreciated both sides but it was like, "Look, if ever there's a time" type of thing.
And that time came?
Yeah. So when Plan B was ending I went up to Vancouver with Chet (Thomas) and Gershon (Mosely). I had been a longtime friend of Chet's. But in my heart I was like, "Gosh, I want to do something with Marc so badly." I couldn't really do anything with Daewon at the time. You know how close we are. But we had just done the video (Rodney vs. Daewon, Round 1 ['97]) and he was set with what he was doing (—Ed Note: Artifact had just started).
Exactly. So Marc finally agreed to do something after really giving it considerable thought. A-Team started and it was really just Steve (Rocco) being half-in half-out. During that time he had already kind of checked out and it just shows. He was brilliant but he wasn't really all in. For the life of me, I felt awkward wearing the (A-Team) shirts. Marc finally came to me in this heartfelt way and just said, "You know man, I'm just not feeling this." And I'm like, "I'm not either."
Chet went to do Darkstar boards and Gershon went to Blind?
Chet (Thomas) through and through loved Darkstar so I know he and Steve (Rocco) were close. And basically I told Marc, "You could have carte blanche. I mean I could make that arrangement and you have it in you. I know you do. So you do whatever it is and I will help you build it in any way I can. But I'm not that guy either." And Marc was just like, "Right on." And so enjoi was founded. That's how it started. It should have been that way from the beginning, but I guess it had to go through the A-Team phase first.
He seemed like he just had an eruption of creativity when enjoi started. The graphics just came out like rapid fire.
Absolutely. And that's his nature. And each one was fundamentally different. God. That's just who he is. That stuff just comes out of him.
It's crazy too because 15 years later this brand is still carried by his initial seeds that he sewed.
Correct. Absolutely. I'm with you 100 percent.
What was the reasoning for you leaving to start Almost?
Anyone who knows us knows how close Daewon and I have been. When I didn't know what to do with my footage, I went to Daewon and Daewon was ahead so we were like, "Great, we'll do Rodney Vs." And no one should have a problem contributing a little bit. That was the Genesis of that. We just continued on our way, and you know what happened to World, and Daewon was doing Artifact and he was into it but you know, it just didn't have the same sort of wings.
When did it actually go down?
When Marc… I think it was within 24 hours—when Marc was just like, "Guys, there are just so many things I don't like about being a brand manager and the pressure and stuff." And I was like, "I hear you." So he was going to do his thing and move on. So from that moment on, as much as I love Jerry and Louie and those guys—those guys are unto their own over there—and I was none of that. I immediately called Daewon and let him know like, "Hey, there's going to be a shift. I'm close with all those guys but Marc was my anchor and I'm sure they feel the same way. I'll be the third wheel on that team anyways, so if you want to do—I know you're going your direction with Artifact but I would love to do something new with you. But if we do it's going to have to be all new." He was down right away and you know the rest of that story. It became Almost. But that's the reason why I left. And again, this was within 24 hours of Marc leaving.
I never knew that it was that close. Do you have any favorite moments on tour with enjoi?
They were such good times. Like in the Bones Brigade I was just a messed up kid. Then I went to World and I'm just a fish out of water—like "What am I doing here? I don't street skate. I don't do anything." And so they retired me. And then Mike T (Ternasky, Plan B founder RIP) came along and then I'm like, "Oh my gosh. I don't belong on this team. You're making a mistake. Don't do this." But Mike T. believed in me. When he died it had such a profound effect on me. And by then I was learning a little bit how to actually skate. By the time I had that footage (Rodney vs. Daewon) I was staring to get like, "Okay, I can actually do some of this but I feel like I've been trying to learn freaking crooked grinds and how to ollie five stairs forever." It's embarrassing. And although I have at least something to build upon that isn't just freestyle—I didn't feel like my skating was my own.
You talked to Marc about all of this?
I was telling Marc all of that at the time. And so ultimately that Opinion video part (Globe, Opinion ['01]). That started as Marc's footage. That was my footage for Marc and enjoi. Marc just set me aside one day and he told me like, "Rodney…" My goodbye to skateboarding was supposed to be when I did the Plan B part (Second Hand Smoke ['94]) after Mike T. died. I had that little freestyle section. That song (Aerosmith, Dream On ['73]) was about getting old. That was supposed to be my goodbye and thank you. Like, "These are my roots, these are my ends, and wow, big deal I can kickflip 8 stairs." And I was done.
I never knew that was supposed to be a retirement part.
It was. Absolutely. And then all that other stuff happened and Marc just goes, "Rodney, you have so much. Just be yourself. Don't worry about catching up or skating some kind of ‘street’ spots. Just do what you want." And now I had the tools to learn. So to me, right there—that was one of the funnest times. And again, I think that's why that Opinion part, which was really my enjoi part—that part was by far the most popular thing I've ever done. And of course the Hill brothers (Globe owners) encouraged me and gave me carte blanche. But it started with Marc. He gave me that.
Going on tour with those guys I had a feeling that I actually belonged to something. On my own, I felt like I had something to contribute. My friendship with Marc was so genuine. And Louie has this maturity to him, and the same is true with Jerry. Being with those guys was one of the funnest times I've ever had on tour. Marc was so good too because he would tell me like, "Hey, you don't have to take responsibility or do anything around here. Let me." I was just like, "Whoa. This was the first time I had experienced that since I was like 15." Just being one of the guys.
That's so rad. I know Marc was very appreciative. He was definitely signing your praises.
Oh, that is great. Please send my best to him. It just makes me so… Ugh. People still come up to me today and go, "Hey, I love what you do on enjoi." They still think I skate for enjoi, because it was such a powerful signature. And I don't even bother to correct them, like I'm so stoked! (Laughs.) Thanks Marc.
Rodney’s Globe Opinion (2001) part with all of his enjoi footage.
Read the full feature in our December 2015 issue on newsstands now.