text_KEVIN WILKINS photography_HERMAN JIMENEZ portrait_ATIBA
The hardest thing in the world is figuring out what you want.
The doing mostly takes care of itself, but seeing your way through a life of everything between here and there can prove to be annoying at best … and impossible at worst.
So when all of you woke up on that fateful day and just knew “I want to skateboard,” you suddenly found yourself at the front of the line, lifetimes ahead of the rest of the planet’s sheeple. But you know who was already there, waiting for you with a bag full of bigger flips, inward heels, and lateflips? Nick Tucker, that’s who.
Early on, while the rest of us were figuring out stuff like haircuts and weekend plans, Tucker was shredding in the front row. But the ripping sound you heard wasn’t just natural steez, sure-footed confidence, or a smoothness so innate that it infects everyone around him, it was the clean tear of the universe getting out of the way for someone who knew that all he wanted was a life in skateboarding.
And the rest—as you can see here—is easy.
Do you know where your last name comes from?
I have two last names.
Yeah, I do. Here’s the story. My mom and dad were never married. They were together, they separated, and I got both of their last names. So my first last name, which is my mom’s, is Tucker. I have no idea about that last name. I just know that it rhymes with fucker. And Paquette is my dad’s last name.
I looked up Tucker. It’s German and it means towel maker.
[Laughing] That works, I guess.
Is anyone in your family in the garment business?
Not that I know of. Most of my family was in the military or they’re retired military people. I’ll just go ahead and say no. My grandma, who, unfortunately, passed away, used to make homemade Japanese style blankets and stuff like that. The name Tucker could derive from that.
Is the reason your family was in San Diego because they were in the military?
Maybe. My dad was in the Navy. He retired when he was in San Diego. That was his home base. They really like the area, it’s a beautiful place. I guess that’s where they wanted to raise their children. The rest is history.
Do you have siblings?
I have one brother. He’s 36 with a wife and kid. No sisters, though.
How’d you get into skateboarding?
I grew up on a block in San Diego in the North Park area. I looked out my window one day and saw these guys—who are now my friends—skating outside. I had no idea what they were doing. Skateboarding just looked so interesting, getting off the ground and doing ollies and stuff. I was like, “Mom, what is that? Can I do that?” And you know, moms are just like, “Yeah! You can do whatever you want!” So she got me a board and that was it.
If someone has a board you can’t help but want to investigate.
Yeah. And I was so little. I had no circle. So they became my instant circle, which is crazy because they helped me get where I am today.
Were they older than you?
There was one person named Munchie who was maybe a year older than me, but after that, the age gap was pretty big. They were in their twenties.
You still see those guys?
Yeah, I do. They have regular jobs and they’re holding it down with their families. They’re still in the same zone, though. San Diego area. I go down there and reconnect. There are quite a few of them, so it’s hard to keep tabs on them all. I don’t know where everyone is nowadays, but there are a few I still keep in touch with.
What’s the skatepark in that area?
Memorial Skatepark in Logan Heights.
Was that finished while you were living down in SD?
Yeah. I didn’t really discover it and start skating it until about five years after it opened, because they enforced a pads rule. You had to wear a helmet and all that stuff. I probably started skating there when I was eighteen or nineteen.
So now you live in LA?
You get to see and skate with all the heavy hitters. Who do you still fan out on?
Well, every time I get in the van with Paul Rodriguez I kinda have to tell myself, “All right, man. You just gotta act like you’re supposed to be here and this is meant to be.” I always feel like I’m in the presence of a celebrity in a way. I just gotta remember to be myself [laughing]. I do trip out, like, going to skate Biebel’s park, you know? He’ll text me and say, “Hey, do you want to skate the park?” I never ever thought that would happen or that I’d get close to skating with these guys. I’m blessed.
Is it true you and your friends used to talk about how great it’d be to skate with Paul one day?
My good friend Corey White and I would sit there in Chula Vista at his parent’s house—we were probably fourteen or fifteen at the time. And just like every kid, we’d watch Paul's YouTube videos and basically analyze and study him—we idolized him. He’s our hero. We’d say, “Imagine if we could skate with him or even just go to The Berrics.” Just dreaming big, dude. Now that this is the reality and we get to skate with him, it’s insane to see that progression.
Your friend Corey works at The Berrics?
Yeah. And he’s doing exactly what he dreamed of doing since the get go. That’s also something we talked about. He’s doing their YouTube. He’s holding it down on their behalf. It’s cool to see squad going up [laughing].
Did you have one thing that you’d always watch before you went skating? Like, that one video that always got you hyped?
Oh, my god. Brian Emmers made me a VHS tape. He had foreseen this whole thing all along. At the time, I didn’t get it. I was like, “Okay. Cool video. Thanks [laughing].” But in a way he implanted these skateboarders in my mind: Mark Appleyard, Paul Rodriguez, Mikey Taylor, and Guy Mariano, and just showed me the way through this video. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. But now I understand. And in many other ways, he mentored me and basically kept my head on straight. I thank God for him. Brian Emmers is the man.
You still have that tape?
You kind of gave me goosebumps just now, ’cause right before you asked that I was thinking, “Where is the tape?” I don’t know. Hopefully my mom has it.
Watching something like that over and over can have a big effect on you. Like later you might see a person or a spot and you’ll remember …
And it’ll bring back these memories and emotions. Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s crazy you say that. Up until three months ago, you know, you guys [The Skateboard Mag] had that Guy Mariano cover party? And I’d never really talked to anybody about that tape. But for some reason, Guy and I ended up at the bar. And I just told him the whole story about the tape, about how Brian Emmers is my mentor, and how he, Guy Mariano, is Brian’s hero. And that’s how it all came about. I got to relive that. It was crazy to talk to him this many years later and tell him that.
It’s cool that it came full circle like that. Almost like a thank you.
Yeah. And Guy’s the most humble, amazing dude you could ever meet. He was like, “Wow, man. That means a lot.” And I was like, “This means a lot [laughing]!”
Sometimes it seems like skateboarding wants to abandon or ignore its past. But do you consider yourself a student of the game?
Most definitely. I feel like I’ve been doing my homework and studying all these amazing skateboarders since I was young, and I still am. Every day. That’s a part of the game. You gotta learn and want to learn. I’m stoked to be able to have these people and these tools to help me further my education in skating.
Are there any forgotten tricks you’d like to see brought back?
It’s like this: If you see Shane O’Neill do any single trick, you’re gonna think it’s tight. He could do like a pressure flip. I’m not saying pressure flips are weak or anything, that’s just an example. It all depends on the person and how it’s executed. And if you’re having fun you can do anything you want. If you make it look fun and you’re having fun, who’s gonna hate?
It seems like you have a few tricks in your bag that are more traditional than contemporary—late shove-its, late flips, back-foot flips—stuff like that.
I’m just trying to keep up, to be honest. Everybody can do everything.
In all your travels, is there anywhere else you’ve found that you thought, “Man, I could live here?”
You could pick parts of places and have reasons why you could potentially stay there for a couple years and try to get used to it, but LA’s awesome. I love LA. I love everybody here. But San Diego is just home. You know the saying, “There’s no place like home.”
What’s up with the Primitive video?
We’re just trying to get the ball rolling. Honestly, we’re just trying to make sure that everything is good to go. Obviously, that’s not too hard with Paul, Bastien [Salabanzi], a dude as amazing as Carlos Ribeiro, not to mention Brian Peacock. But as far as the video goes, we’re all wrapped up in separate projects right now. I’m working on a video part that will be coming out on The Berrics soon.
You’re sitting on a bunch of stuff?
Yeah. I have quite a bit. I’ve been skating a whole lot with Kyle Steneide, otherwise know as StenGod [laughing].
Is Bastien going to have a Primitive part soon?
Yeah, he’s got some footy he’s sitting on, too. I can’t wait to see that.
I’m sure Paul’s sitting on a couple parts worth of footage right now.
Well, man. He’s P-Rod, you know? He’s more than paid his dues. He’s got video parts on video parts. He’s paved the way forever. He’s influenced generations. He has footage that’s ready to be put out, but he’s busy with everything. He’s prioritizing family, business, skateboarding, and other things, so he’s sitting on it and just waiting. He’s also doing the Brainfarm video [We Are Blood] with Ty Evans.
That’s his main focus right now.
Tell me a little about the independent study program you did in high school.
That was a big mistake. I mean, thank God I started traveling around seventh grade, but because I started traveling at such a young age, my mom enrolled me in independent study and we both thought, “Okay. I can do this. I can balance this out.” But in all reality, you gotta stay in school. You just gotta get it done, ’cause it’s tough, man. It’s hard to juggle those two things by yourself. It’s not more work, it’s just more difficult because you don’t have a teacher to tell you, “Okay. Do it this way,” and teach you. You’re kinda just teaching yourself. My mom was helping, but she’s not a teacher.
Did you finish up?
Yeah, I did. Barely. I squeezed through. When your parents say, “Trust me. You gotta do this. You’re gonna thank me when you’re older.” You’re like, “F that. No way.” But now you’re like, “Oh, shit. I should have listened.”
You ever think about college?
I’m just going with the flow, right now. I’m just riding this ride and then we’ll see later on.
How old are you?
I just turned 24.
Was there really a time where Paul told you about how to fall?
No. I kinda just watched him and applied that to my own skating. He tumbles. He’s catlike. He uses his momentum to get out of injuries. Like I said, I do my homework. I applied that to my skating and I haven’t had any unfortunate mishaps lately [laughs]. I don’t want to take any light off Paul, but Tony Tave is one of my favorite skaters too, and I watched how he bails and I actually asked him, “Yo, I heard you did gymnastics when you were younger.” And he was like, “No. That’s not it. I just skate.” And I was like, “Okay. Word.” ’Cause he kinda does the same thing. He’s a tumbler.
Is Bastien’s graphic a lion?
It sure is.
And Paul’s is an eagle?
And yours is a wolf?
You guys are skateboarding’s Animal Collective. Tell me about the Wolfpack.
You and your homies out skating. It could apply to your females, too. If you and your homegirls go out for the night, you are a wolfpack that night. You’re getting it. You’re out there. That’s really all it is. Wolfpack is anything. Your crew. You’re just running with the pack. It could be anybody, anywhere.
These wild dogs somewhere in Africa remain with their pack for life. They hunt together and they protect each other as long as they live.
It’s like Drake says, “I’ve got a small circle. I’m not with different crews.” Who you grow up with is your crew. You stick together through thick and thin. That’s your Wolfpack, too. It has a lot of different meanings.
You started off years ago building a YouTube channel on your own. How long ago was it when you started that up?
I can tell you the exact date: January 9, 2012.
Your approach to it seems more like a brand or a skate company would do as opposed to an individual skater. Was that on purpose?
Corey White told me, “You should start a channel.” But I didn’t know how to do it. My other friend, Corey Cabrera, he films, was like, “Here. Let me show you how to do this.” He already had a channel going. So I just started uploading random, fun videos. I still don’t really take it too seriously. It’s just like a log. Just to have stuff to look at every now and then.
It’s like your reel.
Yeah. It’s a timeline, I guess.
Seems like you interact a lot with people on Twitter and Instagram, too.
Of course. You gotta reach out to anybody. If they ask you a question, you gotta answer. The way I see it, I don’t compare to a celebrity in any way, but if I reach out to an artist, for instance, Lil Wayne, and he responded, I would be ecstatic. That’s the type of shit that would make my life. Like, “Oh, my God! Back in 2013, Lil Wayne responded to me.” I guess that’s the kind of energy I want to put out there. Just to show people that everybody is reachable. We’re all human. We’re all just regular people who are given a talent, I guess, and just ran with it. Anybody could do the same thing.
What’s the biggest difference in traveling with P-Rod and traveling with Smolik?
[Laughing] Dude! Sk8mafia days, and Smolik and all those guys, those are the greatest times of my life. Smolik brought me up, too. Him, Dan Connelly, and Josh Priebe gave me a shot. Going on tour with them and the rest of the guys was crazy ’cause we were all just kids wilin’ out. Like, “San Diego’s in the house!” We’re going to Barcelona and all this crazy stuff. Memories were made [laughing]. With Paul, it’s kinda the same. It’s rolling around with your idol, your hero, and seeing how he interacts with people. All that is crazy. You heard about it. And now that I’m actually able to see it and be there, it’s unreal.
Seems like you appreciate what’s going on. A lot of people act like they don’t or they act like they expect things to happen their way.
You’re never entitled and skateboarding doesn’t ever owe you anything. And this is a quote actually from Paul, I heard him say it a few years back: “Skateboarding doesn’t owe you anything.” That’s that.
Anything we missed that you want to cover?
I no longer ride for Supra. I’m sure people know that by now. I just wanted to thank them for all the great memories. They toured a lot and they brought me along. Although I don’t ride for them, I just wanted to say thank you to them. I still got love for all of them and everything they have going on.
Can you talk about what you have going on now?
I’m just skating.
No shoe sponsor right now?
No. I’m just trying stuff out. Just skating. I don’t want people to think we had any bad blood or anything and I wanted people to hear it from me. And thanks to everybody who supports me, ’cause it’s just skating.
Yes. We’re supposed to be farting around and having a good time.
Straight up. That’s where it all started. I’ll just say thank you to everybody who supports me. Whoever has grinded with me this whole time. For all the love that the kids give and the love from the industry. And to you and The Skateboard Mag, of course.