A lot can change in a couple years.
When Nyjah told us he was going to "just do it" this year, we were hyped. Then we realized he wasn't talking about Fade To Black 2 for an exclusive AYC release. Then we were significantly less hyped. Swooshed again. Damn. Not that we blame him. I mean, shit—who's turning down LeBron money? If AYC's about taking it from the streets to the yacht, it'd be a little hypocritical for us to be mad at that. But we weren't letting him off easy, either, so we made sure to get one more budget-ass tour on the books before his private jet left for Portland, just to give him one last taste of the working class.
Words by Dan Reed
Photos by Cameron Strand
Since AYC's 2013 West Coast Tour was our first big rollout after launching the brand, it seemed like an appropriate place for a send-off. Plus, we've got a lot of new blood on the team and figured it was time to break them in on a trip that wasn't all mai tais and jet skis. This was a far cry from Stephen Lawyer's first trip with us to Hawaii, but he's one of those guys who seems at home in pretty much any setting—and is infuriatingly good at making a skateboard do whatever the hell pops into his psychedelically enhanced brain. He's also a day-one Shep Dawg, and he and Riley Hawk being homies shows you exactly how great skateboarding is at bringing all types of people together. Dirt rocker and designer boy—it's kind of like going backstage at Coachella and seeing Jack White kicking it with Drake. And just as entertaining as that sounds.
Riley was laid up with an injury for this trip, but was cool enough to come along anyway to keep up morale and make sure there was enough Sabbath on the playlist. It's crazy to think that the first time we did this trip, Riley was still an am and Jaws was just along for the ride as a homie.
This was AYC's first two-Wilson tour: Asphalt OG Derrick Wilson brought his usual, effortless style and held it down for Long Beach in classic fashion. Cole Wilson, AYC's newest addition, came straight off the Bro Style. This was far from the glamorous AYC trip he expected from the magazines, but he didn't bat an eye, locking down more tricks than anyone while generating enough empty beer bottles and cigarette cartons to fill a small swimming pool. Epic.
Flow homies Thomas Dritsas and Miles Lawrence came along for the ride as well, putting in work in hopes of making the next tropical session. Somebody (we won't name names) slept on a golden rule of telling the team manager before the trip if you're hurt in case your shredding doesn't go as planned. It's all good, though— Blake Carpenter didn't know you couldn't bring your girlfriend on his first trip, and in the swoosh of an eye, he was making that Serena Williams money.
Left And Leaving was also the first AYC trip for our new team manager, Jerome. We like to have an eclectic mix in our crew, and anyone who can keep a train with this many different personalities on the tracks deserves some serious respect. Plus, he's a white dude named Jerome. That's not easy.
Nyjah thwarted all of our plans for making him grind it out one last time by skipping the van and only flying in and out for demos and signings. Sure, we could hate on that, but when oceans of kids roll out every time he shows up and he skates like a goddamn Shaolin master, what can you say? If you can back it up, live the dream. Stevie Williams' most impressive trick of the trip was managing to somehow miss both of his flights and never make it out to join the tour. Message received: no more desert trips.
A lot can change in a couple years. Teams change and so does the industry that surrounds them. One year you're a controversial upstart who no one thinks is going to last, the next year you've got so much juice that you're suddenly the farm team for the heavyweight champion of the world. It's easy to get caught up in the changes, to get too focused on the scenery and forget the road you're on and why you put your foot on the gas in the first place, and to remember that some of the most crucial things don't change—like a bunch of guys in a sweaty van, music blaring, talking shit on their way to go do what they love to do more than anything in the world. Huge shout out to all those who came out and shredded with us and all the shops that graciously hosted us. We will see you all soon.