Right then Brandon, as this is primarily an interview based around shoes – how many different pro shoes have you had over the years, and what do you see as being the main differences between each?
I’ve had three pro shoes. I think the main differences between them come from what I liked at the time. The first one I didn’t know really where to start except that I liked mid-tops. The second one I just wanted real basic. The third one is the one I’m most proud of. I worked real close with August (Benzien – Emerica footwear designer) who explains everything and really taught me a lot about shoes. He helped me to pull everything I wanted together into something really different and super functional.
Can you give us a step-by-step breakdown of the design process you usually go through when working on a new shoe?
I basically had a bunch of ideas, little things I wanted in a shoe. I started by choosing a low-top, and a general direction toward a more sporty look. I gave August some photos of shoes that I liked certain elements of and he drew up some different concepts with the ideas I had, and I chose the one I liked most. We made some samples that I skated and then we made all the tweaks and adjustments to make them look right and skate perfect. The process took about two years in total.
How deeply involved are you with the whole design process?
I’m involved in everything from start to finish. I choose all the colourways – August comes up with a bunch and I pick my favorites.
Can you talk us through the features of The Westgate please? In your eyes, what separates it from the other shoes currently available on the market?
It definitely has a different style to it, which I like a lot. The sole has the perfect balance between thick and thin. It also has flex-grooves in the bottom to help bend with your feet to make it break in real easy. There are lace loops too, which give you a different lace look, and helps to save your laces. It’s got plenty of breathability, and was designed to be as functional as possible whilst keeping it lightweight. I think what really separates it from other shoes, besides the look, is the way the sole’s designed to keep it lightweight and give it flexibility.
Other than ones you’ve designed yourself, what would you say are your all time favourite skate shoes?
My favorites shoes of all time were the Emerica Ellingtons, and Jerry’s first Emericas, the midtops.
Can you remember the first pair of skate shoes you ever owned? What are the main differences between that very first pair and the shoes you currently have on your feet?
I don’t remember my what they were called, but I think they were etnies. The main difference is how thick and bulky they used to be.
How did filming for MADE – Chapter One come about? Did you set out with the intention of creating a short, powerful video alongside Leo, Collin and later Jeremy, or did you all just realise you were independently gathering hefty amounts of footage and decide to pool it into one project?
I had filmed a few clips with Miner when he switched to HD, and he said we should make a little part. He told Leo and Collin about it and they were stoked on the idea. So we all just started filming a bunch together for it.
From your perspective, how did the filming process work? Did you mainly film for your part on trips with the team, on your own missions around Massachusetts and New York, or a mixture of both?
It was a mix of trips with the team and single missions. Emerica had trips with the whole team over the course of filming. Me, Collin, Leo, and Miner went on a ton of filming missions together. And I did some missions were I cruised out to Miner’s and stayed at his house and filmed in SF. When I was home I would go and skate Boston and New York.
How happy with you on how your part came out? And what was the one trick or piece of footage that you are the most pleased with?
I was really stoked. Everybody put so much hard work and time into MADE, and Miner put so much hard work into filming and editing the whole video, it came out amazing.
I think the bump to tailslide kickflip is probably the single trick I’m most stoked on as I went back to that so many times and the last time I went I was so over trying and decided I wasn’t gonna be able to do it. Tried for a couple hours and ended up getting it.
Since filming for MADE ended, how have you being mainly spending your days?
I rolled my ankle toward the end, so that took me out for a bit. My girl and I went on a road trip from Long Beach to Portland after the premiere, which was so fun. Other than that I’ve been going to New York to work on a video for Zoo for their new clothing line coming out, Kings of New York.
Can you give us an amusing ‘behind the scenes’ style story that happened whilst you were filming towards your MADE section?
Miner and Jeremy were staying at my house and we were trying to skate this spot in Boston. There was this curb at the bottom of the rail Jeremy wanted to skate. We decided to take it out so we loaded my truck with water, cement, wheelbarrow, shovel, sledgehammer, and a leaf blower. We took turns beating it with the sledgehammer, mixed three bags of cement to fill the hole and used the blower to clear the whole area. We all had gnarly blisters on our hands from the sledgehammer. It was the most work that I have ever put in at a spot and some how we didn’t get in trouble at all. Jeremy came back the next day and nailed the trick.
Out of everything you’ve done over the course of 2013, what have been your top five personal highlights?
My girl and I got engaged, which I’m super stoked on.
Our road trip was kick-ass.
I’m stoked on finishing MADE and how the whole project turned out.
My shoe that I’ve been working on came out amazing.
The whole year has been the best.
Lastly, and ending on an obvious one – looking forward to the next twelve months, what does 2014 have in store for you right now?
I’m just gonna keep skating and probably start on another video project.