Kevin Staab Interview

01.03.12 – Ed Dominick

Kevin Staab has stories. For days and days.

As such, there’s no way to contain even one conversation with him to a single six-page magazine interview. There’s just too much Staab to go around.

So as sort of an extended dance mix to Kevin’s interview in issue #95 of The Skateboard Mag, we present you with a more comprehensive look at this inventor, this innovator, this bionic vertical mainstay from what has proven to be skateboarding’s most awesome and most awkward times.

Enjoy. —KW

        

Kevin Staab Interview
Intro By Tony Hawk
Text By Kevin Wilkins
Photography By Grant Brittain

Kevin Staab was the first punker I ever met. This may not seem like a big deal in a society where dyed hair is average and tattoos no longer turn heads, but it was 1979 and he was only thirteen at the time—I was eleven.

Kevin was wearing a leopard-print shirt, had an absurd haircut, and we immediately became friends. We skated together as much as possible—bouncing trick ideas off of each other and sharing a passion for punk, New Wave, goth, and some really unforgivable 80s music. We’ve been skating together and listening to the same music ever since. He invented fakie ollies, blunts, and might have been the first person to take frontside ollies well above the coping. He always has good ideas for new vert tricks, some of which I unashamedly stole during our years on Powell-Peralta.

But beyond being an innovative skater, Kevin is a genuine, funny, compassionate father who’s been through many hardships that he somehow manages not to carry with him. I can think of no one else I’d rather have babysit my kids because he is pure, trustworthy, and engaging. In fact, when I asked them the first thing that comes to mind about him, they answered, “Pink hair.” I said, “What about his personality?” They added, “Pink hair and happy.” So their first impressions are much like mine: A joyful, caring soul with absurd hair. In fact, his style has become so iconic that I know kids who dress up as Kevin Staab for Halloween.

I hope more kids grow up to be as unique and tolerant as Kevin because it would make the world a better, more colorful place. —Tony Hawk

 
I think people assume that you’re from Del Mar because you skated the Skate Ranch all the time, but that’s not the case is it?

I was actually born in the middle of the desert in Brawley, California, halfway between California and Arizona. That’s where my mom and my dad lived at the time. My dad was a ditch digger and, unfortunately, passed away at a very young age, and my mom moved in with her parents in California. I was pretty much born and raised in California. I didn’t move to Arizona until the summer of ’79.
Were you back and forth a lot?

Yeah. When I moved, I was still on the Del Mar Park team. I was just lucky that I still got to go to contests. My mom would help me to get back out here. My new Del Mar [in Arizona] was the High Roller. That was in Phoenix—Seventh Street and Dunlop. High Roller, man. One of the raddest parks ever. That was the first place I saw Ray Bones [Rodriguez], too. I want to say I was riding an eight-inch Alva deck with Trackers and green Kryptonics. Just another kid at the park.
When did you get on Powell?

My first sponsor was the Del Mar Park team. And then I got on Tracker. I’m pretty sure I was twelve when I got on Tracker. And then I rode for G&S for one day for a Del Mar contest. Billy Ruff put in a good word for me with Steve Cathey and he gave me a G&S Side Cut and some Rollerballs and I was all excited. And then Stacy Peralta showed up the next day and had brought a couple boards that he actually sold to me for ten bucks. Steve saw me and was like, “What are you doing? You don’t want to ride for G&S?” And I was like, “Nah. I think I’d rather get a deal on Powell boards.”
 

Kevin Staab and Stacy Peralta / Del Mar, California / 1983
 
Who were your peers at the time and who was riding for Powell-Peralta that you looked up to?

Cab, McGill, David Z, Scott Foss, Teddy Bennett, Alan Gelfand, Rodney Mullen, and then of course, Stacy. The rad thing about Stacy was, for me back then, I was like, “This guy has put together the most insane group of guys from all over the place. And they’re all the best. I kind of started getting flow from Bones Wheels, and I’m not sure of the exact time, but he finally just called me up and said, “Yeah. I think you’re gonna be on the team now.” And I was like, “Oh my god.” I want to say me and Eddie Reategui got on right around the same time.
Wasn’t Tony riding for Powell at the time, too?

I was with Tony when he got on Powell. His dad took us up to Marina that day, and I was like, “Oh, awesome! Maybe we’re both gonna get on Powell.” I was so excited. And Tony got on and I didn’t. I didn’t get on, for like, I can’t remember if it was like two or three years after Tony, but he was so much better than everybody. I think Stacy actually gave me an extra set of wheels that day, maybe as a consolation prize. Your buddy’s on, but you’re not yet, but we’ll still hook you up with some stuff [laughs].
The first time a lot of people saw you was in that first Powell video, The Bones Brigade Video Show, skating the keyhole.

Yeah, I think I had three tricks. A grind to tail, I had a blunt … that might have been it. Frontside grind to tail and a blunt.
Didn’t you invent the blunt?

As far as I know, I invented the blunt to fakie. The reason I learned it was because I got second place at a Del Mar contest. Eddie Reategui beat me and he was doing mute blunt 180s. I don’t know what possessed me, but I wanted to learn them coming in fakie. I went back home [Scottsdale, Arizona] and there was only one ramp—it was twelve feet wide, eight feet high, with PVC coping. Half the time I would go up there and miss my tail and just land on my back and my head and roll back into the ramp. There was nothing that I learned easily. But I’d finally made it a couple of times, and when I went back out to Del Mar I was trying them in the pool. When I actually got to do it on pool coping—where you could get up there and the tail would stop—it was a completely different trick. It was like, “Okay, I know what I’m doing.”
 

Blunt To Fakie / Virginia Beach, Virginia / 1986
 
You always wore more pads than seemed necessary.

I would like to think I’m still that person [laughs]. I think Bob [Burnquist] took me out. I think Bob wears more pads than me now. But he should because he’s super gnarly.
You had hip pads, socks pulled up under your kneepads, double kneepads …

I had double hip pads too, buddy.
Elbow pads, wrist guards, garden gloves …

But you want to know about the gardening gloves, right?
Yeah.

If you go back in the early magazines, you’ll see the original Sims gloves that came out that were tan leather and the fingers were a bright lime green plastic. They had those at High Roller. I remember I begged to get those gloves. I got them and they were way too big for me. I think I did like four or five slides on my hand and ripped right through them. So I had to figure out some other kind of glove to get. And you know, I’m in Handy Man and I’m like, “Gardening gloves! That seems like an awesome idea!” And I guess it was because everybody still remembers me for that. I don’t wear gloves anymore. I tried to get rid of the wrist guards, dude—in two months I sprained one wrist, and in three months I sprained the other one. I’d never hurt my wrist in my entire life. So yeah, the wrist guards are back on again.
But you’re not wearing hip pads anymore.

No. I just had to give up a couple tricks that gave me hippers every time.
What tricks?

Miller flips and illusions.
Explain the illusion.

It’s a lien air, and mid-lien air you take the board, flip it toward you, and catch it like a frontside air. When I was lazy about it, instead of leaning forward I would lean back a little bit. I didn’t go up and flip it really quick and pop it to my feet. I would flip it around, drop the board underneath me, and hope that my feet landed on it. That trick came from learning something that I called a mirage, which was a fakie ollie and taking your front foot and kicking it behind you so the board does a 180 and I would catch it like a frontside air.
 

Frontside Ollie / Del Mar, California / 1980
 
So we have the mirage and the illusion. We have the blunt fakie. What other tricks did you come up with?

Fingerflip frontside air. Tony and I were trying to do that at Del Mar, and it might be the only trick that I ever learned that he didn’t learn before me. I think he went to play Defender or Missile Command, and Ridge [Bryan Ridgeway] was out there like, “Dude, you can do this.”

It’s funny, though. The thing I’m most proud of is in the early days of Del Mar, riding the Kona Bowl, I remember fakieing back and forth in the shallow end and trying to do fakie tail stalls, but for some reason every single time when I would get to the coping, instead of pushing my back foot with my tail over, I would suck it in. Brian Schroeder was there watching me and said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing right now, but try to suck your leg in a little more.” And so I just kept doing that and made up fakie ollies.
You did?

Yeah.
No way.

I made up fakie ollies in the shallow end of the Kona Bowl. And you know who Brian Schroeder is, right? Pushead. I skated with Pushead all the time. And then I remember seeing Brad Bowman doing it in the deep end there, but yeah, I did make that trick up. Then there’s the 360 footplant. I learned that in Arizona and when I came to California and Mark [“Gator” Rogowski] had already decided that he was going to call that trick a Gait-air, but I did that one first.
 

Fakie Ollie / Del Mar, California / 1985
 
So it was another case of people doing the same trick at different times in different places?

Yeah. Like Grosso. They say he made up the roast beef, but I was doing it in Arizona and calling it riding the cow [laughs]. But the reason I did those was because I couldn’t do a stalefish. My hand doesn’t go back there. So I thought, if I’m going to do this trick and it’s going to be ugly, I might as well at least try to get every version of it and try to go as high as I can.
Who invented pop tarts?

I think that I did it first, because I did it so long ago and then I started doing fakie footplants, like grabbing frontside air. So I think I did pop tarts and then took Duane’s [Peters] fakie footplant and started grabbing that frontside, too.
No one really does that one.

No. I think some of the things I did might not have been that cool [laughs]. But then again you didn’t really see that many people doing the illusion, either. But hey, that’s okay. I’m cool with it.
Does it seem like it was harder to be a skateboarder back then?

Well, I think it’s a lot different now. Back then there was a system. You skated. If you got kinda good, you got on the team of the park that you skated at, you’d compete at other parks, and the sponsors would be there. If you were lucky enough, you’d move from your park team to actually getting sponsored. There were no videos sent out or anything like that. You had to go through contests. If you were good enough, hung in there as an amateur, proved your point, and won enough contests, then the team you were on would decide when they wanted to turn you pro.
How’d you first meet Tony Hawk?

We were at Colton [skatepark] one day in the pro shop, and I don’t think I’d even talked to him yet. I just remember we were cruising around and he had a little tray of taquitos and I bummed one off of him. Then we just ended up riding together the rest of the day. I can’t even remember who I was up there with, but his dad ended up giving me a ride home. He was like, “Yeah, you want a ride home?” And that was pretty much the beginning of our relationship, which was awesome because we were just these two skinny nerdy little kids who got along together. I loved riding with him because he would just learn new things all the time. It was just amazing to me. Even as a kid I always knew I wanted to be really good, and the way to be really good is always to hang out with people who are way better than you. And here it is 37 years later and I’m still doing the same thing … I’m still hanging out with the guy who’s the best.
 

Fakie Ollie / Colton, California / 1983
 
Do you feel like you’re still learning stuff?

I am, which is kind of weird. I don’t know what it is. When I quit going to contests, you know, the end of the 90s or whatever it was … vert died out and my sponsors told me, “If you’re gonna get paid anymore, you’ve gotta start jump ramping.” And I had to say, “I’m not doing that.” They said, “Well then you’re not getting paid.” And I’m like, “All right. Well, fuck it. I quit.” So that was pretty much it.

I dodged out of the scene and just skated pools in Arizona. I had a couple local ramps that I went to, but I didn’t keep in touch with anybody shooting photos or anything like that, so I think people just thought I dropped off the face of the earth. I was just over people telling me what to do. I was like, “This is not fun for me anymore.” I remember going to skateparks and if you got on the vert ramp, there were kids laughing at you, like, “What’s that guy doing? He’s got all those pads on and he’s riding vert?” That was a weird time.
How old were you when that happened?

I’m not even sure. Maybe 24?
People are skating for a long time now after they’re 24.

Yeah. I remember being eighteen and people saying, “You’re still skateboarding?” And now the same people are on Facebook going, “Dude, you’re 45 and you’re still ripping? How does that work?”

You just gotta find one thing that you like to do and keep doing it. It becomes something you don’t even think about. It’s kind of my sanity. I need it.
So you’d been skating for Powell for a while and you were entering pro contests and doing well and getting photos in the mags and traveling. What prompted you to jump from Powell to Sims?

Broken promises [laughs]. This is where it gets kind of edgy, because I just had the same interview with Stacy Peralta for the Bones Brigade documentary.

I believe I rode for Powell for six years. Everything was totally awesome as an amateur. Stacy actually kept me amateur a little bit longer. I think I had won every contest for a year. One of the turning points for me was the Whittier Turkey Shoot contest. I remember Stacy leaving right before the finals, and he was like, “Hey, man. Do good.” And then he was like, “I think Steadham is gonna win.” And when he came back, he was like, “Did Steadham win?” And I’m like, “No. I did.” That was kind of a funny thing. So I’m thinking he’s going to want me to turn pro soon. And then I remember the next contest was at Upland … my last Upland contest, which I was very happy about [laughs].
You didn’t like skating Pipeline?

I liked skating there when I didn’t fall down. It was awesome if you were making a run, but if you fell down you were guaranteed … I mean, I still have a scar on my knee that never went away from when I was thirteen years old because the bottom of that pool was like sandpaper. That thing hurt you, but it was awesome! That was the manly pool. So it was another one of those situations: Stacy leaves before the finals, comes back, and that was it. I’m pretty sure that was my last amateur contest. I won that one and then, like, Steadham turned pro the next day.

Then there was the Booney Ramp contest in Arizona. I kept thinking, “Man, I really want to turn pro, but I don’t know when I should do it.” And that decision was pretty much made like this: I took a couple runs and I went to go up the ladder and Fausto [Vitello] was standing at the bottom of the ladder, and he goes, “Hey, Staab. You pro?” I was like, “No.” And he was like, “Well, if you think you’re walking up that ladder again, that means you’re turning pro.” And I said, “Okay. I’m turning pro.” So that’s how I turned pro. I told Fausto I was going up the ladder and I was pro and that was it. That was my first pro contest and I believe I got seventh place.
 

Frontside Invert / Encinitas, California / 2009
 
But what about the broken promises?

Things were told to me as I turned pro. Basically, when my board was going to come out. You know, that’s the whole goal. I had a sheet of paper that I’d written my goals down on. Here are the tricks I want to learn. Here’s the company I want to ride for. If I pass this point, I really want to be on this team and I really want to have my own skateboard. And I really want to have a graphic that people will not forget.

When that Ray Bones graphic came out with the skull and sword … that changed everything for me. I remember staring at that thing going, “This is insane. You can make stuff that’s just the coolest-looking thing ever.” I was that kid that it didn’t even matter what the shape of the board was, or how big it was—I wanted the board because it had a cool picture on the bottom. I rode tons of Caballeros with that bearing on it ’cause it was insane. I was so little. And when Alan Gelfand’s board came out, I was like, “I don’t care. I want the tank graphic. I want the Alan Gelfand board.” I played with army men as a kid. It was too big for me but I got it anyway.

I think that was another reason I really wanted to ride for Powell. I thought to myself, “If I get to have a graphic on this company and I get a board, it’s gonna do really well.” So I went to about four pro contests and then I was at one of the Del Mar contests, talking to Stacy, going, “So, when’s my board gonna come out?” And he said, “Well, let’s see how you do in the contest.” I remember saying, “Well that’s not really fair. How can you say that? Like if I don’t do good in the contest you’re going to hold me back longer and I’m not gonna get my board?” It seemed like a weird thing to me. It put a lot of pressure on me. I think I got seventh at that contest. Afterward I remember going out into the parking lot, and George Powell and Stacy had the RV out there and I asked Stacy, “Hey, is my board going to come out or what?” And he went in and talked to George and came back out and he’s like, “Yeah. We’re going to do a board for you.” It might have been like February or March. This was like in October and I said, “No. I want my board out before Christmas.” ’Cause I knew my friends were killing it from the Christmas sales the year before. So he said, “Well, let me go in and talk to George.” When he came back out, he was like, “No. George said that this is when it’s going to happen.”

My team captain at that time at Tracker was Brian Ridgeway. He was like, “Dude, you can probably go anywhere else if you want. I’m sure Brad Dorfman would want you to ride for him.” So I started thinking about it. I mean, besides [Jeff] Phillips being one of my idols, favorite skateboarders, and the coolest person, he was the only other dude on Sims. I started thinking, “Okay. If I stay on Powell and the board comes out later on, I’m behind Cab, McGill, Tony, Lance, and Steadham. I’m behind all of those guys. I might be lucky to get maybe two ads a year, but probably just one. Or I could turn around and ride for Sims and have the back cover of Thrasher every other month.” What seems like a better idea? I had the chance to ride for Vision, too, but I didn’t want anything to do with that. I wanted to ride for Sims because of Phillips. So I talked to Brad Dorfman and he said, “Yeah, as soon as you get me the graphic, I’ll put the board out.” During that time I was hanging out with Gregor Rankine, and he was like, “Yeah! Yeah, I got some ideas!” And he kind of drew up this little cartoon thing. I really liked it but I needed to do some changing. When I showed it to Brad, he was like, “Nah, we need to switch it up. Let me put you together with an artist.” That’s when I started working with [John] Lucero. I already loved Lucero, because when he did his jester graphic on Madrid, that florescent green board, I was like, “This rips. If I can get him to do my graphic the way I want, it’s going to be insane.” I remember every two days getting that manila envelope in the mail and being like, “Okay. It’s really close! We need brighter colors.” I think he started off like a bald dude, and I was like, “No. He needs crazy hair. He’s got to look like a mad scientist, too. And I want these bubbles and I want my name to look like an explosion!” I had it in my head and he created what was in my head.

So when it finally came out, I called Lucero and said, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.” And Brad saw it and was like, “Okay, let’s do this.” And the board was done a month after this whole process happened. My board was out before Christmas and things started going great.

The thing that sucked is that I did miss traveling with all my friends. I’d still hang out with Tony all the time and at all the contests, we’d still do that, but it was really fun being around all those guys all the time.
 

Lien Air / Del Mar, California / 1985
 
And six or seven years is long time.

It was. It was a lifetime. I was promised a board on Powell and then two other people got boards before I did. I’m not putting names in that one, but people from our generation will know. I don’t want to say anything bad about Stacy, but he had to make business decisions during that time, and it was the career decision that I chose because I wanted more than what was happening for me at that time.
There’s been multiple and very big changes in skateboarding since that time, but that was a big one back then. Vision was exploding, Sims was under that same umbrella, and Schmitt Stix was there, too.

Yeah. And the whole entire time I rode for Sims I rode Schmitt boards, because Schmitt makes the best boards. And absolutely nothing has changed because I’m still riding his boards. When you get something right the first time, there’s really no need to change it. I mean, there are so many things that change back and forth, and I’ve tried a lot of things, but every time I go back to that board I’m like, “That’s it.” I don’t even want to change that one out.
You rode that train for a long time.

I did. I rode for Sims until, basically, they were all done. Everything was kind of folding, and the next thing I kind of remember was Brad telling me it was going to go to … I don’t know if this is right, but I want to say that it was going to go to Santa Cruz and I was going to be in charge of creating a new team. I thought, okay, this is awesome. I believe Santa Cruz was buying the name from Brad Dorfman at that time. But that’s not what happened. I got a call from Bob Denike and I asked him if it was happening, and he was like, “Nah. And we don’t want you anymore, we don’t want [Eric] Nash anymore, we don’t want nothing to do with vert.” So that was it. It was just like another FU to me.

It’s kinda funny. There was a lot of weird stuff that went on then. People were like, “What are you gonna do?” Here we are making all this money and we’re traveling around and we’re living this insane life and then it’s all gone. Like, we gotta go get a job right now? What the heck are we gonna do? I remember an old quote, a really bad one, but I remember somebody saying, “It just seems like old skaters either kill somebody, kill themselves, or become a musician.” I was like, “Well, I’ve already started a band, so I think I’m gonna go that way [laughs].”
Before Sims shut down, were you aware of things slowing down, were you worried about it, was it something you tried to push against, or were you just riding out this huge wave of vert and travel and money?

I still just loved skateboarding. But things were ending. It was more of a jump ramp thing and the whole street thing was starting. I was not very good at that.
But it wasn’t street that we recognize as street skating today.

No. I remember the first contest I went to. It was Huntington Beach, and Gonz was doing like eight-foot airs off four-foot-high jump ramps. It was going on in Arizona too. They’d do demos at skateshops, bring out a couple jump ramps, and people would do 360 airs and judo airs and all the stuff you see in the early videos.

I lived in Arizona so there were tons of backyard pools to ride. My friend Sam and I, on the weekends, would just drive down alleys in his little brown Subaru and I would sit on the roof and look over people’s fences trying to find an empty pool. We’d find them, find out if anybody was home, empty the pool, go grab lunch and wait for it to dry, then come back and session until the neighbors came and got us or we heard the cops. I just wasn’t going to contests anymore. That scene had ended.
 

Indy Air / Houston, Texas / 1986
 
Do you think contest skating held people back?

For some people, yeah. But there were definitely other people … let’s say, Lester [Kasai]. Perfect example. Lester was like a time bomb, man. If that guy made like two airs in a row, the next one was going to be nine or ten feet high. And if he made that, he’s definitely gonna fall on the next one unless he’s going to land like a twelve-foot air. But you know, it was really exciting to watch things like that. Phillips was one of those guys, to me, that I would watch and it never seemed like he ever held anything back. He could do an invert and then pump in to a five-foot air. That stuff just didn’t happen. I remember Stacy telling me, “You need to try to get the energy of Phillips. It’d be awesome if you could learn that.” And I’d go, “I think everybody would like to learn that. It’s not like I’m not trying. I’m a little scrawny kid, and I haven’t really figured out that pump yet [laughs].”
When you got on Sims, Lester wasn’t riding for them anymore?

I’m pretty sure Lester had already gone to Tracker and started Kasai Designs.
Did you also have a board on Shine?

Yeah. It was a little bit after 90. I actually made a couple 90 boards, and then I remember calling Joe [Johnson] at like 2:00 a.m. and I was like, “I got it, dude! I got the name of the company!” And he was like, “It’s like two in the morning. What’s the name?” And I said, “Shine! That’s what happened to us. We got shined!” He’s like, “Okay.” It was awesome. He drew the graphic, the little sun with the black eye. And it was nothing. Like another simple thing but that was my whole theory behind it: we got shined. There’s no more Vision for you, there’s no more Sims for me, so let’s do our own company.
The boards were big and they worked for big guys, but then things started getting smaller. Ramps disappeared. That kind of skateboarding just stopped. Street skating became the focus for existing companies, and there were companies that started completely with only street skaters. What were you doing then?        

I was riding pools in Arizona, I started a band called Ice Cream Headache, and I was still designing clothes with 90. I was pretty busy. I had an office, 90 started doing really well, I started doing a lot of snowboarding then, too. I had the idea that if this clothing is doing so well, I know all these snowboard guys. Maybe I should try to make snowboard clothing. At the time, I was the only skateboard company to make snowboard clothing. The best was, I made these jackets and I sent them up to Breckenridge where my friends Matt Goodman and Andy Hetzel were living. I was like, “What did you think of the jackets?” I think it was two days later they were like, “The jackets are awesome, everything’s cool, but because they’re not Gore-Tex they’re not breathable. So what we did was cut them up, duct tape them together, and they make really awesome shower curtains [laughs].” So my first year was kind of just learning. By the second year I figured out what to do and started taking the designs that were doing better on the T-shirts, turned them into embroidery, and then put that on the snowboard stuff.

I had guys going, “How do you have a snowboard company and you live in the desert.” I was like, “We have Flagstaff right up there. We have Snowbowl.” The second year we were in business I sponsored the whole snowboard park up there. I was flowing all the right guys clothes. I had friends in Utah who worked in shops, and I couldn’t make enough stuff. It was going crazy. I had to get all these sewing machines. At that point I had this huge warehouse with like 30 sewing machines, and people working on them all day. I had an embroidery machine. I had an automatic press and two nine-heads. Things were going crazy.
And you had a top hat and a long-ass beard.

Yeah! That was my thing, man. My influences came from certain skaters back in the day. Tony Alva was one of my favorites, for sure. I got ideas from him. I’d be really excited to turn the page of the magazine and actually have to stop to look at something. It’s Tony Alva standing in a pool with like lipstick on, holding his board, and just looking badass. I was like, “Wow. You can do different things.” One of the things Stacy said to me when I was turning pro was, “You can figure out how this thing’s gonna work best for you, but you’re either gonna have to get lots of shots in the magazines, you’re gonna have to be a contest skater, or you’re going to have to figure out some sort of an image that’s gonna work.” So as these things are going through my head, I had already decided I was going to grow my hair out. Right before I was going to go to Europe, my mom was like, “You can’t go over there like that. It’s not presentable. You gotta go get a haircut.” And I was thinking, this is gonna be awesome. So I went and got my hair cut and cut the back and just left these really long bangs. That was my thing. I didn’t even think that much about it, but lots of people started rocking that do. You can see it in the old Powell videos. And my first ad on Powell … I remember Lance and I were out in front of his house, like we had to break my board in half. So we drove over it. We were trying to break my Tracker mags and we couldn’t do it. We had like a sledgehammer out and we had to just completely destroy my board. I think this was [Craig] Stecyk’s idea. We went to an alley and lit a trash can on fire, and I was sitting next to it with my broken board and my hand on the side of my head with my blond bangs hanging out. Stacy was like, “Oh, you figured it out. There’s your image.” But that was just me. I was influenced by all the different punk bands that I listened to and all the different clothes that they wore. I just took a little bit from everybody.
 

The 90s
 
Are you sober?

Right now, yeah.
I mean on a daily basis.

Oh, I like beer. I like coffee. I like tea. I like dark chocolate. I like playing Angry Birds. And I love all Haribo gummy candies [laughs].
You don’t seem like you’re a really heavy partier anymore.

No. That was the 90s. Let’s just say I was late bloomer. In my teens I was skating, and when skating mellowed out, I was playing in a band and I was going out. But that Kevin doesn’t exist anymore.
How old is your son?

He’s nine and my stepson is eleven. Basically, I turned 35 and I was like, “Man, I gotta clean up. I want to have kids.” I wanted to have kids forever, but I never met the right chick. But now I’ve got the most awesome kid. He is so rad. His name is Ethan John Sebastian. My fiancé is Jessica and her son Andrew just turned eleven. We’re like a miniature Brady Bunch that lives in Carlsbad. I like to say we live in the Bermuda triangle of happiness. I live five minutes from my boss’ house, five minutes from our warehouse ramp, and five minutes from Bucky’s [Lasek] house.
 

Frontside Boneless / Del Mar, California / 1985
 
Are those your two spots: Bucky’s and the Boom Boom ramp?

I don’t skate Bucky’s enough. That’s one problem that I have. But yeah, I basically live in the warehouse.
Explain who your boss is.

That would be Tony Hawk. He’s my best friend, too. It’s kind of a crazy thing to be working for somebody that you’ve been best friends with for the last 36 years. I have the best job in the entire world. I wear lots of different hats and whatever needs to be taken care of, that’s what I do. There’s always a lot of stuff going on, a lot of stuff happening in the office. I help with things that need to be taken care of there. But the best part is that I ride for Birdhouse, and I still get to travel with him whenever there are vert demos. I still get to do all that stuff, too, and I still go on all the Birdhouse tours, which is just the coolest thing in the world for me. I get to do more fun stuff now than I did when I was actually competing in the 80s. It’s insane.
Do you feel like you’re skating better now than you were back then?

Personally, I do. As a competitive skater, I trained myself to be that person. I never tried to give it all, all the time. I knew what I had to do. I knew how to make a contest run. And that’s what I trained myself to do. Then when that didn’t exist anymore … you know, just riding pools and stuff, when I finally ended up moving back here in the early 90s, it was kinda hard. I came out here and I was hanging out with Tony, but I was wasn’t riding the ramps. I rode pools in Arizona, so I kinda lost some of my so-called vert skills. I remember going to the YMCA for the first time, and for the life of me I couldn’t even make two backside airs in a row. And then it was getting back the inverts and the grinds. But this time around, I didn’t care. My goal this time around was to be able to go as fast as I could and as high as I could. And if I fell, it was okay because I could take another run. I have this whole new mentality. This whole new mindset. If I’m gonna make something, it should just be really awesome. It’s easy to make something half-assed and go a little bit higher than usual, but it’s way more fun to push the limits all the time. You know when you’re really high in the air, even if you don’t make it, it’s still a fun feeling.
 

Frontside Ollie Into Corner / Encinitas, California / 2011