Speak into the mic.
Testicles 1-2! (Laughter!)
Great! Ok Lee, it’s the 8th July and you’re in Lyon, France. How did you get here? When? Why?…
I’ve only been in Lyon about 2 or 3 days, but in total I’ve been in Europe about 5 months. I just got kinda sick of Los Angeles, sitting in traffic, trying to skate a shitty handrail that Johhny Wickerbean already did a nolllie boardslide down! So, I decided to just be a gypsy for a while and spend some time in Europe.
Where have your travels taken you through Europe?
No where exotic really. I’ve been spending most of my time in Barcelona on the beach… And at Macba! (Laughter!)
I guess you still get to see your friends because of the strong influx of US pros during these recent times.
Yeah. I’ve been hanging out a lot with Paul Shier, and a lot of guys I know that came out from San Francisco like Brad Johnson. The DVS guys came out… I’ve also been spending time with a lot of the local Spanish skaters, so it’s good. I’ve been brushing up on my old ‘Espagnol’.
You mentioned earlier that you were tired of skating in the States. Is this because of the constant competitiveness of it over there? Do you find Europe more laid back?
Yeah, I mean in America, skating wise, the mentality is that you’ve got to push! Push! Push! Do this trick! Do that trick! Get this out there! In one way it’s good, but on another level it’s just too extreme, you know? I think the European lifestyle, in general, is a lot more laid back. People are relaxed and like to chill. It’s more about enjoying each moment of every day, instead of trying to make a buck.
With the recent blow out of ‘Johnny Hammertime’ skaters and skating, do you feel a little left out because your image is at the other end of the spectrum? Or, is this a relief that takes you out of the spotlight and lets you enjoy your skating more?
Well, I definately think that people weren’t paying attention to the whole City Stars thing until we got the little kids on the team (Ed. Mike Taylor, Paul Rodriguez…). But, me personally, I didn’t do a lot for a long time. I was pretty lazy and I was kinda just into partying. I was kind of out of it, so I really don’t know… But I think the whole handrail craze is coming to an end! People are just starting to respect style and creativity, which are the most important things about skating.
Definately! You spoke about Paul Rodriguez being on the team back then. Did you get to witness this wonderkid firsthand and watch the progression?
Oh yeah! Paul was already really good when he got on City Stars, but he was still just a young kid and really humble. He’d pray before every trick… Now he’s just a bit caught up in all the money and hype of fame, glitz and glamour, and trying to be a gangster. He listens to too much Hip-Hop! ( Laughter!) It’s music, that’s it. It’s just like a movie: it’s there to entertain you and then the movies over.
Watching the recently released FTC Trilogy, there is quite a bit of footage of you back then. What was it like in San Francisco during that time?
The scene was a lot of fun. Some of my best times in my life, just coming up and skating Embarcadero. Watching the progression of certain skaters like Jovantae Turner, Mike Carroll, or Henry Sanchez. People like that really push me to progress with my skating. It was a great time! Obviously we were getting into a lot of mischief at the same time, but I don’t regret anything.
Looking at then and now, who inspires you today?
Back then, it was obviously my peers that I was around. Karl Watson, Marcus McBride, and then all the older guys I mentioned earlier like Mike Carroll, James Kelch, Jovantae… All those Embarcadero guys, those are the ones I looked up to. Nowadays I’d say whoever is just being creative and doing something else from the norm. It’s like every skater wants to learn every other trick that every other skater does. They only want to skate the spot that’s famous! ‘Let’s go to this rail that 30 other people have done tricks down!’…
Do think the whole one-upmanship is to blame for this phenomenon?
No. I think that a lot of skaters are kinda stupid to tell you the truth! They think that if Jaime Thomas grinded this rail, then if I lipslide it, I’ll be famous aswell! So, they’re going to go to the same spots, do the same tricks, and all of a sudden one person does a nollie flip noseslide and the next thing you know, every little kid in the world ca do a nollie flip noseslide! Someone does a switch bigspin heelflip, then all of a sudden every fuckin’… It’s crazy! Most skaters lack creativity and ideas. I don’t know, I find it strange, you know?
You’re recognized as a technical street skater, but do you ever skate other things, say pools or transition for example?
I like to skate whatever is put in front of me. I’m not saying that I’ll be a maniac on it! (Laughter!) But, I’ll definately skate a mini ramp. Bowls I’m not too good at, but I’ll push around, man… That’s what skating is about: trying to learn. Fuck! Take a slam if you have to!
During your travels over the last 5 months, have you got any good stories to tell, or crazy happenings that occurred?
I wish I could say ‘Yeah!’, but I can’t. No, not really. Nothing too abnormal. I’ve just been taking it easy and that’s about it… Oh! I did meet a girl. (Laughter!) … I met a girl at a club and she said, ‘Meet me at the beach’, so I went and when I got there she was topless with a thong on! So, for me to be an American in Europe and meet someone that you’ve just met on the beach in that form was very odd… (Laughter!)
But it’s a nice surprise!
Yeah! I was like, ‘This is great!’ That was awesome!
As you’re in France at the moment, what are your plans for the near future?
My plan is to stay here a bit longer. Maybe visit a couple of friends in Switzerland and go back to Barcelona in a week or two. Try to wrap up some more filming for the new FTC video which I’m going to have a full part in, the last part. So, I’m looking forward to that! I’m looking forward to… I don’t know actually, I’ll take it as it comes. (Laughter!)
Ok, have you got anyone one you want to give a shout out to?
I want to say ‘Thank you’ to Kelly Bird over at Lakai and Sam Smythe over at Chocolate and Girl. I’d like to thank Diamond supply and FTC Skateshop, and Autobahn Wheels.
One last thing, the last time we met you gave me some stickers with these little mushroom things on them. What was that?
Oh, that’s Angel Biotek! It’s still running, it’s my friend Shelby Woods who does it, but he’s got a lot on his plate at the moment, so… I mean, it’s still going, but you’ll have to wait a minute.
One very last thing that I ask every person I interview: If you were sent to a desert island and could take one book, one object and one CD with you, what would they be?
Ummm… I don’t know. (Laughter!) I’d take my I-pod! (Laughter!) Isn’t that what JB said?! My I-pod and a bottle of Jack Daniels, because you wouldn’t last long on the island, so you might as well make it a party!
That’s it! Thanks Lee!
Thank you man, and thanks to Crossfire!