Reflections of Pier 7 and the Aesthetics of Dalmatian Bites: The Matt Miller Pro Spotlight
From the November ’14 issue | Portrait/Photos by BLABAC | GIFs from DC Shoes: Matt Miller Shoe Part

To most five-year-olds, being bitten in the face by a dog would generally get filed under traumatic childhood experiences, at best only revisited on a psychiatric couch years later in attempts to stave off a lifelong fear of canines. However, in the case of Matt Miller, this incident would ultimately end up indirectly launching him on the path to fulfilling his life's biggest dreams, including residing in San Francisco, riding a skateboard for a living, and, this fall, having a pro shoe released from DC with his very own name on it. Owner of some of the most explosive pop this side of a TNT-wired trampoline factory, Miller was able to turn an initial settlement for his dog bite of 7,500 dollars into a spot on the Aesthetics am roster, before transitioning to Zoo York, then turning pro for Expedition in 2010. With the imminent release of his DC solo part, coinciding with the release of his aforementioned shoe, and coming off his third year in the arena of the Street League phenomenon. Welcome to the Matt Miller Pro Spotlight. Woof.
– Mackenzie Eisenhour

 

Frontside five-0. PHOTO / BLABAC

Frontside five-0. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

Was it true you were bitten by a dog as a kid and that settlement money sort of ended up helping launch your skate career when you were 18?
Basically. I was real young when it happened. I think I was maybe five or something. There was a hole in the fence for his head to pop out and I went up to pet it and it just grabbed me by the stomach. I guess it pulled me to the fence and then bit onto my cheek. Supposedly I was just dripping blood and my mom was tripping. Long story short, they ended up giving me 7,500 dollars in case I needed plastic surgery later on because of it.

That's gnarly.
Yeah. Then it ended up healing up fine. I just have like a little scar, but I never needed surgery.

What kind of dog was it?
It was a Dalmatian, which are supposed to be friendly, too. It definitely got me good, though. But yeah, that money ended up just sitting in the bank and I couldn't touch it until I was 18, so by then it had pretty much doubled [15,000 dollars]. I had a job since I was like 15, so I had other money saved up, too. But when I moved to SF after I graduated, I turned 18 and got the dog-bite money. Basically, because of that money I didn't have to get another job right away and could just skate every day.

Fakie noise grind fakie hardflip out

Fakie five-0 hardflip out. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

“I guess it pulled me to the fence and then bit onto my cheek. Supposedly I was just dripping blood and my mom was tripping.”

How was it first moving to SF?
I had seen it in videos when I was real young, then I was also lucky enough that a friend of mine who I grew up with's mom got a really good job out in the city, and they had this super nice place right there. So I basically started doing homeschool around the same time and just started going there to stay with him. Plus my dad worked for the airline, so I had free flights. I would fly out all the time until I just decided to get my own place with some friends.

Was it pretty much the Pier 7 golden era when you got there?
Oh yeah. It was just skate land. The old Embarcadero days had passed but everything was still un-capped—all the ledges on Market Street. It was the skate mecca to me. I was at Pier 7 every day, all day. I pretty much grew up there.

Who was running the spot?
[Rob] Welsh would definitely try to skate circles around you. Talk some shit [laughs]. But you would see everybody. Marcus [McBride] was the G—holding it down. Then there were just the local homies, too, that were holding it down. And there were always people coming through from everywhere.

Switch feeble. PHOTO / BLABAC

Switch feeble. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

Who was the first person to kind of take you in?
Welsh pretty much took me under his wing. Before that, I had my whole little young posse crew, too. All the Pier heads.

I have heard that the guys that got the courthouse liberated in LA want to try Pier 7 next. Thoughts?
Fuck. That would be sick. They could put those white bay blocks back in and get the metal edges back on and everything. That would be incredible. Keep the manny pads. There were always haters, though, that ran that restaurant right there. They would always call the cops on us.

Maybe the restaurant could find a way to profit off the skaters, too. Who knows? I never thought the courthouse would happen either.
Yeah. It looks so good. I haven't been yet, but it looks super fun.

Nollie frontside heelfilp

Nollie frontside heelfilp. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

That money ended up just sitting in the bank and I couldn't touch it until I was 18, so by then it had pretty much doubled [$15,000].

It seems like every time a company folds these days, the best riders from whatever company end up at Expedition or Organika or one of the other Kayo brands. Are you guys the caretakers of the huddled masses?
[Laughs] No, not at all. There are still always tons of people hitting me up to try and get on. I think that they have people that they are interested in, and if those people become available, then that's when they put them on. That's what happened with me. That's what happened with Zered. Kayo is the shit, though. I love it.

Talk about Welsh making you "the water boy." "I buy, you fly."
Oh yeah. It was one of those where he thought he was killing it because I was getting him waters, but really I was surviving off him. He would pay for both of us if I went and got it, so I basically lived off of that for however long that went on. Thanks, Welsh [laughs].

Can you finally make Rob your water boy now?
I take him out to some dinners and stuff.

What's his role down there?
He's the brand manager.

Switch heelflip. PHOTO / BLABAC

Switch heelflip. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

You guys pretty much followed each other through board sponsors from day one right?
Yeah. Since Aesthetics—from skating with him at the Pier. The day that I basically first got sponsored was when Welsh noticed me at the Pier. After that, he wanted my footage. He talked to Sal [Barbier] and all those dudes and I started getting boards and everything was going good. I went to Barcelona with some friends right after that and came back and the whole Aesthetics team had moved to Zoo York. 

Can you finally make Rob your water boy now?
I take him out to some dinners and stuff.

What's his role down there?
He's the brand manager.

You guys pretty much followed each other through board sponsors from day one right?
Yeah. Since Aesthetics—from skating with him at the Pier. The day that I basically first got sponsored was when Welsh noticed me at the Pier. After that, he wanted my footage. He talked to Sal [Barbier] and all those dudes and I started getting boards and everything was going good. I went to Barcelona with some friends right after that and came back and the whole Aesthetics team had moved to Zoo York. 

Switch 360 flip noseblunt-slide. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

Switch 360 flip noseblunt-slide. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

“It's a dream come true for sure. It's been a cool process, too, just learning how to do all of it, seeing the whole design process as it goes through all the stages.”

Damn. 
It was crazy. I didn't know what was going to happen. But then Jeff Pang [Zoo TM at the time] hit me up and told me like, "Yeah, these guys are telling me I should give you a call." I was just like, "Oh shit!" And I ended up getting on Zoo.

So you've been teammates with Rob and Joey [Pepper] for like a decade.
Fucking unfortunately [laughs]. No. Those dudes are the best. I wouldn't say Rob was the first person to ever hook me up, but he definitely put me on the map. Thanks, Rob.

I always felt like your style was sort of from the school of Kalis. Were you a big Kalis fan?
Definitely. Who wasn't? Who isn't? But my whole shit was plazas, LOVE Park, ledges, and all of that growing up. I've always been into that side of it and Josh was one of, if not the best at it. It's still pretty crazy sometimes because I looked up to him so much as a kid and now we're homies. I still trip out on that. He killed it so hard.

Switch frontside noseslide. PHOTO / BLABAC

Switch frontside noseslide. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

I believe you're turning 30 on September 8th this year, right? Thoughts on the dirty 30?
I think it's all how you feel, you know? I don't feel it, and I don't think I look it. But it is what it is. I'm hyped. I don't mind.

These days 30 is your average rookie pro age.
I know, right? A perfect example though for me is somebody like P-Rod. We're the same exact age, and that dude is basically the best. He's a young dude, and you just picture him going for another 10 years at least.

Koston is turning 40 next year and I'm guessing his Chronicles 3 part will be as gnarly as ever.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, look at [Andrew] Reynolds, too. He's almost the same age as Koston and he's still jumping down stuff that's as big as anyone. It really just depends on if you skate every day, you know? I have some friends that are 30 and are like, "Fuck, I'm 30. I can't even ollie up a curb!" But those dudes don't skate every day.

I think that after 25 you kind of have to start at least taking a little care of yourself.
Oh, that's for sure, too. I'm already hurting sometimes now. But I gotta eat well, stretch, and do all the things possible to keep myself in good shape and all that.

No Reynolds ice bath yet?
Oh yeah. I already do those all the time. More like I'll just soak my leg in there or something—not always the full-blown bath deal.

Nollie over to 50-50. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

Nollie over to 50-50. (DC SHOES: Matt Miller Shoe Part)

“He's always been one of my favorites. Even before I knew him—back in the day I called him the East Coast Koston.”

Your DC shoe should be out right about the time this comes out, too, right? How is that feeling?
Fuck, dude. I'm straight hyped. I can't even believe it, to be honest. It's a dream come true for sure. It's been a cool process, too, just learning how to do all of it, seeing the whole design process as it goes through all the stages—making tweaks here and there. I'm just super hyped on how it came out after all that, too. The shape when I look down at it is basically exactly what I wanted. The colors and all of that, too. I'm hyped.

What was some of the main stuff you were into for shoes in general?
Pretty much just a shoe that isn't super super thin to the point where you can't jump down anything. I've worn shoes like that, and I just never could skate in those without hurting my feet. At the same time, obviously, I didn't want something that was just huge. So that was kind of my main goal going in. I wanted something slim that looked good when you look down at it, but something that still had some protection and support.

What was your take on this season of Street League? Obviously Nyjah had a good year. What did you think?
It was a fun time. I don't ever have a bad time at those things, so I was happy to be there.

How many years have you been in there now?
This was my third year of Street League. It's mellow. I definitely still get nervous sometimes. You can't fight that. But the more you do it, the more comfortable it gets. I remember at the very first one that I was in I was so nervous, but eventually you just stop worrying about it and have fun. That's all I go in there telling myself. I'm just going to have fun. I don't want to be there if I'm having a bad time.

Nollie 180 switch crooked grind. PHOTO / BLABAC

Nollie 180 switch crooked grind. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

I always thought it was cool that you seemed to skate it a little differently than everybody else. 
Oh, thanks. I can't really do anything but skate it the way I would skate anything else I guess. But if you say so [laughs].

I just like watching when people have different approaches in there. Like Dylan [Rieder] would kind of skate it his way, or you might skate it your way.
I guess that it's closer to how skateboarding is in general like that. The more styles and approaches that you see—the wider range of people are going to enjoy watching it.

Did it change having fewer stops for it this year?
Yeah, actually in some ways that was better, too, because you could balance filming for other stuff and handle all the other things you wanted to do. Honestly, I've just been trying to finish my video part, so the shorter year worked for me. I was able to concentrate on that.

Switch backside 180 to five-0. PHOTO / BLABAC

Switch backside 180 to five-0. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

The part is for DC? For the shoe?
Yeah. I'm going to have a part drop along with the shoe—pretty much like a single part deal.

How far along is it right now?
There's already enough for a part. In my head the deadline is pretty much the day that the shoe drops, so it will be out around the first week of October. Maybe a week after that. But somewhere around then.

Being a TWS part alumni [And Now ('08)], how gnarly do you think Zered [Bassett] is going to get for this Outliers part?
Well, considering that I'm watching him get his trick for it right as I say this—he's going pretty hard in the paint [laughs]. He's always been one of my favorites. Even before I knew him—back in the day I called him the East Coast Koston. He could just skate everything and absolutely rip. So talented. This part is going to be sick.

Switch backside noseblunt-slide. PHOTO / BLABAC.

Switch backside noseblunt-slide. PHOTO / BLABAC (*click to enlarge)

Best memory from the And Now  days?
So many. We did a trip to Australia and China all in one go. That alone was incredible. It was just… I don't even know if I can pick a highlight. I think just being with that crew of dudes—dudes you don't normally travel with. Especially like, we had Richie Jackson with us. I got to meet him and ended up becoming good friends with him. I became really good friends with David Gravette. [Nick] Trapasso. Everyone. I still hang out with almost everyone from that video.

I love that when it's people you would never expect to be skating together.
That's what a lot of my friends would say. After that video, Gravette invited me on a Creature trip, too, which was so much fun. I love skating tranny. I'll still go down to Washington Street and skate with homies down there.

Where would you ideally see Matt Miller, aged 50—ideal day in the life?
Age 50. I'll hopefully not be working because I saved up enough money. Just chilling somewhere relaxing. I don't need much. As long as I'm happy with my life, I don't need much. I don't want to live to work. But even just if I could do something I enjoy for a job, I wouldn't mind.

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