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Ronnie Creager Interview

August 15th, 2006 by Crossfire

By Ralph Lloyd Davis Photos courtesy of Etnies

We were going to write an intro piece as usual for this fella but after logging onto his Myspace, we felt as though you can hear it from the man himself. Over to you Ronnie…

Well…. I’m really not sure of what to say or how to explain myself. The only thing i can think of is, that im probably a lot like most of you out there’.

‘My name is Ronnie. I’m just trying to go through life, have fun, stay out of trouble, and support those around me. I have a horrible memory, some call it “selective memory” I think not’.

‘Skateboarding is my favorite thing to do, My heart is made of wood, trucks, wheels, bearing, bolts griptape, magazines, videos… all that stuff… It’s impossible to drive without searching or glancing at the possibility of a potential skate spot. But yes, skateboarding is a part of me and i’m so happy to see it part of so many people out there.

We are all family in a way and friends for life. Skateboarding Is Great! I’m Still learning new tricks but very happy that I’m not loosing any. I like keeping the ones i know consistant. Confidence goes a long way. Be positive, confident and have fun.. That’s what will make you progress more and learn faster. Thank you for all your support / nice comments / words of encouragement. If it wasn’t for a skateboard and all of You, I wouldn’t be here today.’

Welcome to Crossfire Ronnie, let’s have your “5 W’s” – Who, Why , What, Where & When of skateboarding for you…

Who, what, where, why, when skateboarding? Uhh… I think my neighbour introduced me to skateboarding around the age of 4. I guess that’s my first introduction to a skateboard… I just kept skateboarding forever because it’s been fun for me.

You’re from Orange County, right?

Yeah, the City of Orange.

And you’ve lived there all your life?

Yes!

Is it anything like the TV show, The OC?

Pfff… I’ve never seen the TV show. I think I caught a couple of minutes of it once, and they were in Mexico! But, I don’t think so.

Have you ever thought about living anywhere else?

Yeah, I know… Right now I travel and stay in Arizona because they have so many skateparks.

Have you spotted the Muska out and about?

No, I have not. I think he’s in Los Angeles right now. But basically it’s been Orange my whole life, and then travelling around a bit skateboarding. I’m not sure where I’ll be later, But (Orange) will always be where home is.

Can you remember what your first pair of Etnies were?

First pair of Etnies?… Probably the lo-cut with the big ‘E’ on the side.

Ah! That reminds me- I have issue 4 of Big Brother here, and you’ve got an Ad wearing those shoes!

Uh oh! (Laughs) Yup, those are the ones! It’s funny actually, I saw that picture a few days ago because I was going through a bunch of old ads I had kept. I definitely remember that one- I wore those shoes all the time.

Did you cut the Es off the side?

Yes!

Why? How did that trend start..?

I think it was just because the E was so obnoxious! (Laughs) You know, just a huge E on the side. But sometimes I wore the shoes with them, sometimes without… They came off so easy. You just grab a razor blade and “Phyuuu”…

Tell me about your career with Etnies, because you rode for them and then later left for your own gig Nadia…

No. I rode for Etnies and then I switched to Duffs when it had just started with World Industries and Steve Rocco. Then I went back from Duffs to Es, and after that I left Es to start up Nadia, and now I’m back with Etnies.

What happened to Nadia? How comes it didn’t work in the end?

(Sighs) One of the main guys – this guy Jim Ferguson – he basically shut down the factory, stole everyone’s money, stole all the shoes and disappeared!

So, the shoe business is risky business..?

Uhh… It was going good, but (Jim’s)… He’s an asshole! I mean, I don’t know what else to call him. He took everyone’s money, all my money I invested into this shoe stuff and disappeared.

Ali (Boulala) was also supposed to get with the program, and I remember his surprise when it all went belly up!

Yeah. Well, there were two main guys – Jim Ferguson and Patrick Keenan, and they really messed things up for everybody by not paying people… I don’t know it was a really big mess!

Alright, we’ll leave it at that.

Yeah… (Laughs)

Who discovered you? Who was your first real sponsor?

Ummm… Foundation.

What was it like riding for them back in the day?

It was good! I was riding for a shop, Hotskates and we’d go to these Quarter Master Cups contests that were shop sponsored. Josh Beagle was at one and came up and said, Hey, why don’t you come and ride for Foundation?” And I was like, “Yeah, cool!” So, I started riding for Foundation and getting coverage. Then a year later I switched to Blind. Actually Todd (Swank) kicked me off Foundation. It was pretty funny!

Oh yeah? How come?

I was calling up to get some boards and Todd had hearda rumour because Rodney Mullen had called me a couple of times like, “You know if ever you need anything, or things go sour, you can have a place over here (World Industries)…” So, I was like “Thanks!” Anyway, I call up Todd and he’s all like, “You’re off!”

Just like that!

Like my favourite company in the world has just kicked me off! (Laughs) Argghhh! So, I call up Rodney like, “Rodney, I don’t know what to do! Todd just kicked me off.”

Was this long after the Barbarians at the gate Tour with Foundation?

That one? I was already riding for Blind when that came out. It was kind of weird because Blind and Foundation paired up to do a video, and I had just got kicked off! Here I am back on tour with them..? That’s probably why I look so unhappy during that tour because it was so weird for me! (Laughs)

What was your best memory from the Barbarians trip?

You know, it was kind of a pain in the ass… I mean, it was cool driving around with those guys and stuff, but it was hard. We’d have to re-film stuff like going back into places and coming back out. The filmer guy was constantly in your face with the camera. I was only 17, and I don’t like video cameras and I hate filming with those things all up in my face. I don’t know how to deal with it. So, it was pretty crazy…

That video was one of the first times I caught a glimpse of Heath Kirchart. Was he really always that quiet and reserved, or did he get wild from time to time?

He is! (laughs) It’s been forever that I’ve hung out with Heath, but I don’t know how crazy he can get..? Mainly I’ve just watched his stuff from various videos, but I must say some of its crazy!

No-one can deny you have an amazing talent with your skateboard, but was there ever a time when you noticed it yourself, like, “I’m actually getting pretty good at this!”?

As far as I’m concerned, I need to get a lot better! (laughs nervously) I need to learn a lot more stuff and get more consistent and learn new stuff. It’s hard.

That’s crazy! But now you say it, I noticed that you learn tricks back to back. In other words, you’ll do it one way and then the other. Is that a natural process for you?

Yeah… Sometimes. Some tricks come easier switch, plus sometimes it gets boring skating regular. Personally, myself I prefer to do stuff switch because it seems harder.

You were one of the first people to push switch skating out there with super clean style!

Thank you! (Laughs) I don’t know…

It’s true! I remember in Trilogy you switch tailslide a ledge like 6 times or something. Was that to see just how many times you could do it in a row, or was it because you wanted to land the perfect one?

You know what? I kept landing it weird for some reason. I was coming off at the end of the stair, and it just seemed like one of those days; you know? Everyone has them: You go out skating and everything comes real easy, and that day I wasn’t really afraid. I go back. I went back to that school a few months ago and looked at the ledge, and I wouldn’t even try and noseslide it now! (Laughs) “Argh… This thing looks sketchy!” But some days some things are easy and other days they aren’t … We went skating today, and I was like “Oh my gosh! Am I supposed to be a professional skateboarder and I can’t even ollie right now!?!” (Laughs)

That could just be fatigue..?

Yeah, but sometimes you have your good days and other times your bad days, so it comes and goes.

Now, you skate everything, but some kids nowadays wouldn’t realize that you can skate double kink handrails and huge gaps and stuff.

A while ago! (Laughs)

Yeah, but you’ve done it and probably still can. If you had to put a kid on the team now, would you be interested in someone who great at one area of skateboarding i.e. gaps or rails? Or would you rather have a kid who is well-rounded and can ride everything?

I think that’s great. If you can skate everything, then that’s pretty good. I’ve seen kids where they jump off stuff and do crazy things, but then you take them to a manual pad and they can’t even nose manual???

Do you think the hammer craze is a bubble that’s just burst and now team managers are sweating it because they’ve got a team full of kids who only know how to skate one thing..?

(laughs) I think it’s going to be around for a while still because there are people doing tricks off really hard stuff that’s basically impossible, and that’ll be around forever.

Almost like stunts..?

Yeah. Fortunately I can’t really get into it. If I jump off something big, I feel it for a couple of days! (Laughs)

Who do you like to watch skate?

The DVDs that I’ve been watching recently are the DVS video Skate More, the Zero Newblood video, the Cliché videos…

You’ve worked with Fred (Mortagne) on the Es video, Menikmati, right?

Yeah, I filmed a little bit with Fred for that video but I don’t want to get into that.

Ok.

…I like the Chocolate and Girl videos… I like all skateboarding basically! Any professional or amateur skateboarder that you see in a video, or your friends that you go skate with are fun to watch, especially if they do stuff that you can’t do! It’s like, “How do you do that???” (Laughs)

When people watch the end product, they probably think it was easy to film that part and it probably only took a couple of days, but how long does it really take you to put a part together?

It all depends on how much I go out and skate. The average is..? If I have a deadline for a video, then I’ll probably try and film like one trick a week. But, if you’re out skating everyday then you might film one, two or three tricks a day! Filming for videos back in the day was pretty easy. The Foundation video part, or my Trilogy or 20 Shot Sequence parts were probably filmed in a couple of months, like pretty quick. But now, with the Blind video half of that stuff… Wait- maybe not half but a lot of that stuff has been footage that’s been lying around forever. It’s kind of hard though because if I think of something I want to film and get sometimes it can take two weeks to get it! I’ll try the trick for a couple of hours and wear myself out, so I have to come back tomorrow. Sometimes you get it quick, and sometimes it takes a while…

Do you get very involved when it comes to filming video parts? See how a guy’s editing your part..?

Yeah, I think everyone does that. With the Blind video What if? I was there to over see, but I didn’t choose the song for my part. I had another song I wanted to use, but they couldn’t get the rights. I just went I there to make sure because you’ve got to be happy with what comes out. If I want something particular done, then that’s my input.

What’s that trick you do off a bump in 20 Shot Sequence where you nollie and underflip it or something???

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s kind of weird. That was at a school my mom used to work at with a big walkway that came out and a sidewalk in the way at the end. It’s a nollie, and then with your front foot you kick it up and over. So, it’s kind of like a nollie varial flip. I don’t know…

Uhh… Yeah. It still sounds complicated!

(Laughs) Ok! Which way do you skate?

Goofy.

So, you’re right foot forward? Basically, you nollie and with your front foot you kick it like this… (Ronnie demonstrates with the voice recorder)

From underneath..?

Yeah, so like that… (An front foot under-varial flip???) It kind of a weird one for the eyes, but when I landed that, I was like, “Yes!!!” I was stoked on that one!

What was it like back in those days, working with Rocco..? I always look back on that period as being one skateboarding’s best times.

You know what? It’s been a lot of fun. Some of the tours and demos Steve would set up, he would be there and it would be fun. We’d do the demo and Steve would pack our package all weird and get pizzas for everyone… It was a lot more mellow. Some of the demos these days seem more… I mean obviously it’s probably just me, but they seem more professional these days: You get in, you skate, you do what you’re supposed to do, then hang out with the kids and stuff. Back then it was mellower, but back then I was younger too I guess I had a different mentality. I don’t know..?

Have your parents always supported you with your skateboarding?

No, not really. They were kind of like, “You can’t skateboard forever! How are you gonna make money skateboarding? What are you doing with your life???” basically. I got boards for Christmas and stuff like that, but I was basically spending every minute of the day skateboarding and they didn’t really understand. Then I started getting sponsored, and my board came out so I started to get paid, I bought a car. I was paying for that, the car payments, and I had a cell phone… But they really couldn’t understand.

What did they do then?

Well, I explained to them, “Look, I ride for someone and they’re giving me this stuff for free… Look! Free stuff!” It gradually came around on them, but it’s a been a while since this has been happening, and it’s got to the point where they no longer have to worry because they figure I’m doing something with my life- “Our son’s not a bum!” So they’re kind of happy.

Was it always skateboarding, or did you play other sports?

I played a baseball and soccer. My dad put me in the teams and I played soccer for 8 years, baseball for 9, and switched back and forth- baseball, soccer, baseball, soccer… And then, just skateboarding throughout the whole of this time, till I stopped the sports and decided I just wanted to skate.

Were your parents ever worried about you getting injured?

No, not really. They were never worried like, “You’re going to get hurt! We don’t want you to skate!” It was more like I was out of there, skating- Waaahhh! (Laughs)

What did they think when you started to get coverage in the magazines and videos?

Well, I moved out of the house when I was about 17 years old, and that’s basically when skateboarding started happening for me, so they couldn’t really do much. Like they knew I was getting money enough to be able to pay rent, but they didn’t really understand. I don’t really know what they were thinking, but my Mom’s happy now. They have Blind stickers on their cars, and when they go places people will ask them, “How come they have that Blind sticker on there? You guys are like 100 years old???” So they’ll be like, “Well my son skates. He’s Ronnie Creager.” which leaves some people in shock. That will make them cool for a while because people are like, “No way!”, and that makes them proud of me. I have a house now, so they’re starting to realise…

That it’s paying off!

Yeah! They know I’m taking care of myself, I’m smart, I’m not taking drugs.

What would be your advice to a kid who’s in the same position as you were at 17, about to leave home in pursuit of a career in skateboarding..?

Ohh… I’d basically say go for it! But, don’t blow off your other perspectives! Skateboarding is great and if it can happen for you it’s definitely a perfect way to take care of yourself now however long it lasts, but it can’t last forever- Unless of course, you are one of those main skaters that are making a lot of money… But if you’re sponsored and making a bit of money, then it’s a good idea to save money and get ready for the future. Skateboarding can definitely take care of you for a while, so later when you can’t skate because you’re set up. Everyone needs to do something else than just skate. So yeah, go for it, skate, have a good time and be smart!

What do you do in your spare time? What’s your plan B?

After skateboarding..? Well, I like golf a lot, so I’m going to go to a college and try and get my Teachers card so I can teach professional golf. That’s basically all I have planned for now. I’d like to get more into real-estate stuff but you need a lot of money for that stuff. So, golf is one of my favourite hobbies in the main time when I’m not skating.

You’ve been playing for a long time, haven’t you?

It’s been about 6 years. I still suck! (Laughs)

Do you play with any other skaters?

Uhh… I have. I played with (Eric) Koston a while ago, and I played with Atiba, Rune (Glifberg)… Any of the Etnies guys that play golf. I’ve played with Ryan (Sheckler)a lot.

Do skaters make good golf players?

Yeah, totally! But a lot of them are skating all the time so they don’t get much time to play golf. Skaters are pretty talented and pick up stuff pretty easily.

How difficult do you think it is to be a pro with no defined image? I mean, you have clear target markets be it the punk or hip-hop fashions, but you’re just a skater in a jeans and a t-shirt. Was that difficult at times?

Yeah, I’m just a skate rat with a t-shirt and blue jeans! (Laughs) I don’t know… People find images and ways to distinguish themselves. You see them with their little bits of flair and it kind of helps to relate to that person.

Who did you look up to when you were a kid?

You know what? Every video I watched growing up just had me in awe of everybody. I could name off names, but I’ll leave so many people out and remember them tomorrow. I just go skating with the Etnies guys, look at them like, “Wow!” They are here skating and the motivation never gets old. It’s insane, it’s like I’m a kid again! Bastien (Salabanzi) was skating today, Ryan was skating, Rune (Glifberg) was ollieing this set of stairs, and I’ll just sit back like, “Damn, these guys are gnarly!” (Laughs)

Do you think Blind will ever take part in the Thrasher King of the Road contest?

We want to. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that are willing and fun. I don’t think we’d come close to winning, especially if there were loads of stairs and rails to do. Like if it came down to it, someone could probably do it for the team, but it would be fun.

Do you guys hang out much together?

Yeah, totally! Everyone travels a lot, but we’re all very close.

What was it like getting on Blind in the beginning because that seemed like a rather transitional period for the company – From Video Days to 20 Shot Sequence?

For me it was awesome because Blind was one of those teams that you couldn’t touch. It was way too high up there on a pedestal, and I could never be on the same level as those guys! It’s kind of weird because I feel like I belong there now because I’ve been with the company for a while, but those first 6 years I was like, “What am I doing here? I don’t belong here, I suck!”

So who made the call?

What, like how’d I get on?

Yeah.

I called up Rodney and told him Todd had just kicked me off and I didn’t now what to do. Rodney asked me who I wanted to ride for, like take my pick, so I said Blind and he was like, “Ok!” (Laughs)

Simple as! What was it like back in those days with the World park? Was it really as scandalous as the rumours say it was?

Yeah. I’ve heard a lot of stories that came out of that place, but I was only around there for a little while and got to skate it a handful of times. It went away pretty quick, but I’m sure some crazy stuff was going down. It was amazing to skate!

How did you experience the changes in the Blind team as time went on?

(Sighs) With so many changes, it’s been hard a few times and kind of weird at other times, but Blind has always taken care of me. They have always been there and it’s just been good. They give me stuff to skate, they send me places, take care of stuff and it’s been going on 15 years now and it’s fun! Hooked with Dwindle, I get to go on tour with some gnarly skaters, like Sheckler, or Lavar (McBride) back in the day!

When was the last time you saw Lavar?

I saw Lavar in a magazine about 5 months ago. I think it was Slap..? He was looking pretty big, but he’s always been really tall, like 6 foot 5! Nah… Maybe not 6’5, but tall.

I don’t know what happened to that guy, it’s like he just quit..?

Yeah, I don’t know… I toured with Lavar so much back in the day, watching him go to demos and stuff. I mean, Lavar was seriously one of the most talented kids that I’ve seen skateboarding. Like insane! It was just so easy for him, and then he just stopped, and I think a lot of people do when they’re really good at something… People just stop like it gets boring for them or something..?

Have you ever stressed out in situations, like when you have to tour all the time or deal with responsibilities like filming for a video or something, and just flipped out and wanted to stop all this?

Oh yeah! All the time! (Laughs) I stress all the time, I’m a serious stress case. I worry all the time… It gets hard because I have two dogs at home and I travel so much, and it costs a lot of money to put them in boarding homes. It gets stressful, but… I have to do it. But it’s fun when I get to travel and get to go to places like this, Paris. I took so many photos today, and saw so many weird things.

You’ve travelled all over the world, haven’t you?

Almost. (Laughs)

Where has been your favourite destination?

Geez!… I’ve had a few good trips to Australia. I like Australia.

I think anyone who has been there says that!

Yeah! (Laughs) I like it because living over there is easy. I like it here too, but sometimes in Europe it can get hard because you can’t find people that speak English, which sucks for me because I have a hard time learning languages.

Do you ever take time out of your skateboarding schedule to try and take in some of the culture?

A little bit, but it’s really hard to do that. Today has been non-stop, like go here, do this do that… I pass these places like, “Ah! I want to go there!” but can’t. It’s usually get in, skate, do a couple of things and leave. It’s not like today we’ll go visit a museum or some place… There’s not too much of that stuff.

What are your plans for after this? Are you heading back to the States?

I go home tomorrow. Then the Dew contest tour starts next week, so I’ll go on that. Then it’s basically contests and stuff after that…

How stoked were you to get 1st at the Globe contest last year? It’s like we hadn’t seen you at a contest for a while and then ‘Boom!’ you win one of the biggest!

Yeah, I know! (Laughs) It’s weird because I’ve been trying for so long to do good in a contest that it was like, “What???” The judges definitely messed up, I don’t know what happened…

Contests have changed so much from say the first Slam City Jam in Vancouver on a tiny street course, to the massive Globe deal in Australia.

Yeah, it’s crazy! You’ve got all these kids looking at you… I get really nervous; sometimes I feel like I have ants all over me and I can’t feel my hands, my feet won’t work right… It’s like, “Cool, I’ve got to go out there and I can’t even ollie! The kid are going to think I suck!” (Laughs) I watch Ryan skate and I don’t know how he does it??? Sheckler is insane! It’s like he goes out there and makes everything first try and feeds off it. Bastien’s gnarly and it doesn’t seem like any of that stuff fazes him in front of all those people. I don’t know, I just kind of shy away from that stuff. Contests are weird; a weird, weird situation… (Laughs)

What was your best year for the contest circuit then?

Hopefully this year! (Laughs) You know what? I never plan to win any of them, but I just want to go out there and pretty much skate as good as I can. If I just tried to go out there and win, I’d watch these other guys skate and I’d be like… (Hesitates) I don’t know! It would be too hard! These kids are doing kickflips to bluntslide on the flatbar, and my best trick on that is a backside lipslide??? (Laughs) I can’t compete with these guys!

Do you think video killed the skateboarding star?

No, I think videos are pretty much how you become ( a skateboarding star)… That’s how you start. Anyone who has ever reached stardom has had a video part and come out and shown the world how they skate and what they can do.

Yeah, but what I mean is that there are so many videos dropping at the moment aren’t there days when you just want to skate for yourself? I know you don’t like cameras…

Basically, when I go out skate, that’s all I do- skate. I’ll film when I have to, but otherwise I’ll just do my thing. I probably skate 4 or 5 hours a day, be it at the park messing around or learning a new trick. That’s the best feeling in the world! When I go out filming, I’m just like, “Argh! This sucks…”

Well Ronnie, I’m done. Any last words?

Sweet! Happy skateboarding! That’s all.

Cheers!

Thank you. Wooorrdd….

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

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