We tried to get Lance to write his own intro but between ripping his new, specially made backyard pool and touring the globe to promote his part in the new Flip flick Extremely Sorry, he just didn’t have time. My generation of skaters grew up with the Bones Brigade as inspiration and there’s nothing cooler than hooking up with one of your heroes later in life. Lance Mountain has been thrown back under the spotlight after his recent addition to both the Flip and Nike SB teams and is destroying concrete more than ever. His part in Extremely Sorry had the Copenhagen premier crowd going nuts and afterwards we had an hour or so to chill down and talk about the good old days, the bad old days and what’s up now.
Photo: Pistol Pete Stanners
“I had friends that killed themselves. I had friends that killed other people and went to jail. I had friends that got into drugs and went to jail. I had friends that overdosed and died…”
Bitchslap - Starting at the start. How was it being a young kid and Stacy coming and saying – well your mum sorted it out I heard – ‘Ride for Powell’ which lead to you getting on the Bones Brigade? What I’m curious about is if these Bones guys were just the local rippers or were you like ‘ooh I’m gonna skate with my heroes’?
Lance Mountain – It was really like this. I started skating in ’74 so I skated for a long time but I was never really at the right place with the right dudes. So I kinda was with these older guys that were really good and when they started dropping off, then I started going to the parks on my own and that’s when I got really connected to the whole team. Actually I got sponsored only because I had seen that my friends by not getting sponsored kinda got out of skating. But I was fully-fully influenced by the magazines and the skaters which was Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta. When I got sponsored, I didn’t really get sponsored by any of the good companies and I was like ‘man Powell, I would ride for Powell’ because at that company, it was right when it was coming out. They got Caballero and Scott Foss, Ray Bones. But I never ended up getting on, I ended up getting on Variflex. I went on a US tour as an amateur and we turned pro that year and I ended up skating against Cab and Foss and these guys. To me it was kinda like our career had run it’s course already cos no one was making money so it was more like I got on Powell so I could stay in skateboarding. And Stacy’s offer was ‘you’ll work into my position later’. (Laughs) I take way too long when I tell things.
Aboveabove: The Bones Brigade.
Above: Some old geezers.
BS -So what you’re saying is that it wasn’t for skating talent?
LM – It really wasn’t. It really wasn’t for skating talent cos I had been seen by Stacy and Craig and those guys earlier and they kinda like ‘hmmm, nah not him’. Right then Caballero and Foss came on. They were ams and they went and entered these pro contests and basically Cab beat the pros. There was a whole other group of ams… like, the whole guard was changing right then. Well, Scott Foss and Steve Caballero came on at the same time. They were like equals and Powell sponsored them and there was this big buzz like ‘these are the new kids’ but we were all in the same age group and were all trying to be the new kids too. So there was this amateur series where the companies pick their guys from and Powell picked three or four dudes that they thought were gonna be the dudes I was trying to be one of the dudes and they’re like ‘umm, nah’ and Variflex asked me and I was like ‘If I ever rode for anybody it’d probably be for Powell’ and then I went through a whole year of amateur. And then skateboarding died and everything, so when the whole Powell thing happened it was really after the fact. They had never put someone on the team that rode for someone else before. So it was really like, do I really fit in here and do the other guys want me and did they really think that I was that good of a skater? It put a fire under me. I gotta beat these guys to show that I’m not just a joke.
BS -Have you ever skated anything as sick as Animal Chin?
LM – It was cool. Yea it was rad, but I mean I think I’ve skated things that are radder now, but not for that time. At that time it was the raddest. I always think of stuff like our job as skateboarders is to influence kids or cause them to think differently or get them excited about something and I always felt that ’cause I never thought that I was… like Tony Hawk goes into skateboarding and he had that ability to go ‘my job is to constantly progress and come up with a new manouvre’. Each guy has his own place and I instantly thought my place is to completely try to keep being creative so people can think or dream differently because that was my position. I wasn’t going to be able to come up with the new moves always and also when I grew up I was very influenced by how something looked in a magazine. So that’s how Animal Chin ramp became; ‘What about this? What about that?’ And I think that’s where Stacy saw a little bit of value in me. And that’s even, to this part in this video.
Aboveabove: The first part of Powell’s first feature length skate film: The Search For Animal Chin.
Above: An orgy of handplants
BS -All the different facets of the diamond.
LM – Yea, you need all those pieces to make the right thing work. And Stacy was great at it cos most companies usually had one dude or one famous guy.
BS -The flip team is strong eh?
LM – Yea, and it gives me the same ability to do the same thing again. I’ve always dreamt that, I mean I love pool skating but a lot of times I never thought it was really shown in a neat way and I don’t really think they build pools correctly or whatever so I had an opportunity to do it the way I think it should be done, or could be done, and I think it will cause other people to think differently.
BS -Your part was rad and it doesn’t look old school in the slightest.
LM – Yea it was fun. A lot of it came from stuff I wanted to do, jumping through the thing and stuff. At that pink motel we had the ladders and we tried stuff on it. I tried to jump through it then but the board always hit so I always thought man, I wish I had a place where we could do it. I dunno, it was rad to have this opportunity.
BS -Are you stoked on your part?
LM – Yea, of course.
BS -How many street tricks did you have that you thought might make it into the video got left on the cutting room floor?
LM – I edited it myself, my part. I was going to do a few things, street skating but I just didn’t get around to it. I broke my arm and couldn’t skate for 9 months and it was getting longer than I wanted so we left some of the stuff out. There was 4 or 5 tricks that I wanted to do that I didn’t do and I was going to take out some weak ones and replace but I didn’t get them done.
Above photos: NikeSB
BS -My generation of skaters grew up inspired by the Bones Brigade and you’re seen as one of the pioneers of skateboarding. How does that fit now riding for a company like Nike that people see as a relatively new brand on the skate scene for a lot of us? Do you know what I mean?
LM – I know what you mean, but from my point of view it’s completely different. I started skating in ’74. In ’74 and ’75 I was just kinda playing around but by ’77 it was those dudes. In ’77 and ’78 all those guys wore the blazers so for me it’s like, they all wore ‘em. Alva wore ‘em, Jay Adams wore ‘em. All my favourite skaters. Brad Bowman wore ‘em. All the guys that I believe are the great skateboarders that I looked up to wore ‘em so for me it was exciting. Realistically, it might be different if they didn’t make the blazer, for me. I mean we rode Jordans but Jordans were never a skate shoe to me and we rode them because the companies we rode for said we don’t want to give you shoes anymore and Nike actually gave us shoes at that point. During Animal Chin. But they never had a skateboard program that worked back then, so when people say ‘oh it looks new’ or whatever, I understand that because it’s not like this program that they grew up with but for me it was just like you know, a part of it.
“The period I’m talking about ‘78, ‘79 is to me the golden years. I was a little kid you know like ‘argh’ just being inspiried. I wasn’t even that much younger than the guys, I’m like a year younger than Steve Alba. He won the first vertical pool contest in ‘77 and I’m looking up to him being a year younger because I wasn’t in the mix.
BS -Skating has been through so many fashion periods. Do you have a favourite? Best slash worst?
LM – Right now is my favourite. The next day is always the best until you can’t really do it. Right now it my favourite. The period I’m talking about ’78, ’79 is to me the golden years. I was a little kid you know like ‘argh’ just being inspiried. I wasn’t even that much younger than the guys, I’m like a year younger than Steve Alba. He won the first vertical pool contest in ’77 and I’m looking up to him being a year younger because I wasn’t in the mix. And then the worst time, the very worst time was when it just caved in and started over and it was just a real nasty weird period where everyone had this like ’91, 2, 3, 4, 5 in there. You know? When it properly when weird. I call them the Big Brother years. They’re just real…it’s just my point of view, I know kids really liked it, but just all the nasty stuff and the way they cut people down. It was just a bad time. Pros were very insecure. When pros went to demos no kid ever went to get autographs, they went there to show that they were better than the pros. I was a weird time but it needed to go through that to start over.
BS -But what about the fashion-wise dude? Do you have a favourite? There was some pretty good stuff out there.
LM – Well the end of the 80’s had horrible fashion and then those 90’s had horrible fashion. And right now it’s pretty horrible fashion.
BS -Why’s that?
LM – Cos everyone’s… I like it. I like horrible fashion because funny and weird stuff is part of skateboarding but if you look back on it, if I look back on it today, ten years later, to me it reminds me of WW… the wrestlers. WWF wrestlers where they all chose their character so someone knows who they are and it’s just so manufactured now when before it wasn’t manufactured. It just happened to be that weird dude. So now it’s like there’s guys coming in to it like ‘man I gotta get onto something’. It’s funny to me.
BS -But the skate and snowboard environments have always been a little bit in front with street fashion.
LM – It might be in the front but it’s still taken from something else. It’s conscious. When you see someone invent a type of skating or a trick or whatever you’re like ‘that guy is the best’. The Gonz really is known for creating a type of skateboarding and people mimicked it and out of it came some really good guys but out of it came a lot of Gonz clones. And every season has that. Koston came and there was a lot of wanna-Koston-be’s, you know. Which is fine, it’s great but it makes Koston that much better, but it keeps changing and it all dies off and Koston is gonna be the guy that got remember rather than all the guys that wanted to be him.
BS -But it’s inevitable because you’ve got an idol and you think he skates well and so you pick up on how they do it.
LM – And you’re always more drawn to these characters. I’ll say it per fact: When Stacy and Jay and Alv and those guys came out, they were not the most technical skateboarders. There were guys who were technically way better, but as boring as all could be. And these guys came on and were interesting and rad and did things neat and looked radder then they created their own kinda…. did that make sense?
LM – It’s kinda like when Rodney Mullen was doing what he did and no one really cared back then but Gonz came and kind of mimicked him and what he was doing and made it interesting. Rodney on the other hand is so good that he’s been able to stay through it, cos he made it all up. These are good! (eating Danish candy called Spunk)
BS -I noticed in the film and I also had this question written down, you’re like 45 right? There’s a focus on that. Your past seems to be quite a predominant part of your present. What’s that like?
LM – It’s just the way it is. I mean, I’m not going to run from my past. Every time I have an interview or whatever there’s gonna be a Powell question or Bones Brigade question or photo and I’m not going to go like ‘oh yea, no that time sucked and Powell Peralta didn’t happen’. No, it’s great. When I go see a band, you wanna hear the stuff you know. Like I don’t really know the dude, I don’t really know these bands that much. I wanna hear the stuff I hear on the radio – if I’m to be very un-associated. And I know that the majority of people are un-associated with what I did, or do. So you kind of link it all together. I dunno, I’m a dreamer too… but I also want it to be… I don’t think I’d do it, and maybe I’m fooling myself, but I would not do it unless I thought I had something more than that to offer. And I don’t know if I do or don’t but I’m going to try until people say no.
Photo: Pistol Pete Stanners
BS -Well your part shows that you do.
LM- In the 90’s they told you ‘no, you don’t’ and so I fought through that and not a lot of skaters fought through that.
BS -There was a higher turnover back then.
LM – Well they just said ‘we don’t want you, we don’t like you guys, you guys are no good, these are the new guys’. Tony stayed through because of his ability on skateboarding and did what he did and Steve Caballero stayed through. One of the big things was that he had a good shoe contract on Vans and he was very advertised and known and seen and he skated great. He’s a rad guy cos he’s an older guy that learned how to skate all this new stuff. Whether or not he did it as good as these guys, he learned it. That’s a phenomenal feat. The thing is, you know, you’ve got like two jokes and you’ve got to figure out how to keep telling them cos you don’t got three jokes. (laughs)
I asked to be on Nike. And when I asked they were like ‘Oh sure, we had no idea you’d want to’. I’m like ‘What do you mean you had no idea I’d want to, I’m shoeless
BS -Do you get tired of talking about The Firm?
LM – I’m probably good with everything. I mean the reality is that was fifteen years. I think I rode for Powell for seven.
BS - What was the best and worst things that happened during that time for you?
LM – The best things is the guys I met, the skaters. From Ray to Xavier and the guys. And it allowed me to stay involved. In reality when skateboarding caved in and all us guys at that time said ‘what should we do?’ I had friends that killed themselves. I had friends that killed other people and went to jail. I had friends that got into drugs and went to jail. I had friends that overdosed and died, you know what I mean, all this stuff cos not too many people could deal with it and all I was, just praying like, ‘what should I do, what can I do, this is what I spent twenty years in, my whole life since I was a kid, I wanna stay involved’. I was 29 and I skated since I was ten so it was nineteen years I’d worked on skating and thinking this is gonna be my future hopefully so it’s a pretty big hit. A lot of people and houses and families and no way to pay for them. I was just like I wanna stay involved and be relevant and wanna do what I love if possible so The Firm the provided that in a way cos there was really nothing I could do. The worst part of it was ultimately that I wasn’t – and I knew that going into it – I’m not a business man, that’s not my passion. You’re not good at something that’s not your passion and a business man or guy that owns something, I think the most important thing is that they love trouble shooting, cos the problems always come. And I wanna avoid problems because they make me sad. So I was not good at it. But when it’s all said and done and we get through to the other side and we can relax, I’m like ‘I get it I get it’. I got everything I wanted. I was put in the right position, I met all the new skaters, chopped photos and I just inter-linked it to skateboarding and it brought me to this point where I’m sitting here. I mean I skated the whole time. I still have the opportunity to be around and you have to keep doing things to have that opportunity. Ultimately, you can stay around even if you’re not a good skater if you want to. There are ways. You can figure it out. Same way I got on Powell after my career was over. They were looking for someone to complete the package who wasn’t maybe the most technically gifted guy, they were looking for a dude that could pull it together and I was kinda the common dude that people knew. I dunno, that’s what happened. The owner of Flip was like ‘you shouldn’t be owning a company, you’re supposed to be skating, why don’t you be a skateboarder.’ And I was like ‘that’s what I’ve been waiting for someone to say for 15 years’. But I’m not the type of guy that goes out and asks, which I’ve learnt to do, ’cause I asked to be on Nike. And when I asked they were like ‘Oh sure, we had no idea you’d want to’. I’m like ‘What do you mean you had no idea I’d want to, I’m shoeless(laughs). I have no sponsors’. But if you have a company you don’t go around to people asking ‘hey you wanna sponsor me?’ you know what I mean? (laughs)
Photo: Pistol Pete Stanners
LM – I didn’t have to do anything.
BS -I just thought it was funny cos you’re crew from the old days, same team and all, and he put you in the 9th version.
LM – Yea, well he put Cab in the first version so Cab made a hundred something grand out of it. I got in the 9th one and got like ten grand or something. Which is a lot of money. Thank you Tony. I don’t know what I did. From what I understood, he constantly wanted to put the Bones Brigade in it and it just never worked out and they just called me up and were like ‘hey do you want to be in the game?’
BS -Do you play it?
LM – No. I’ve never even seen it. I’ve never seen the one I’m in. (laughs hysterically)
BS -Yea I thought maybe you would know what custom moves your guy can do, like maybe the wooly mammoth?
LM – (laughs) No one can do the wooly mammoth but Neil Blender.
BS – I thought you’d have a say in what he could do, maybe some sadplants or something.
LM – Yea I don’t even know, from what I understand I don’t really have a guy. I have, he’s like a scout right?
BS -Dude, I don’t play it either sorry.
LM – Oh you don’t? I don’t think my guy is a dude you can pick and choose but there’s this pool guy that is supposedly like a mean dude that no one likes or whatever and I’m the guy that the skaters can meet and I take ‘em to him. Yea, the diplomat. I’m like the connection to the underground skateboard thing or something. But I don’t even know.
BS - Can you tell me about the story behind the (Craig) Stecyk skull graphic on your Flip board and on the Blazer?
LM – Let’s see. Ok, so when I got on Powell (pause) Peralta. I wasn’t gonna have a board and I was just gonna work into Stacy’s job at some point so I started entering contests and doing decent so Craig and Stacey decided to put me in the video, The Bones Brigade Video Show, to link the guys together and I didn’t have a deck or a pro model, I was always riding the Ray Bones. Somehow they made me a specially hand painted board basically so I rode something special in it. And then when the video came out, obviously shops and kids said ‘hey is he gonna get a board? Is this his board? Can we get his board?’ So Stacey said do you want a board now and I said ‘Of course, I’m getting married next month and I have no money’. (laughs) I was like you know, let’s use this graphic. I think they didn’t really wanna use it so they had Courtney Johnson draw up a bunch of graphics and I didn’t really like a few of them. The first one was my head and it was going to be blowing up with all these ideas and weird stuff coming out but I didn’t really want my face on a graphic, kinda weird I thought. Then he drew the caveman ones and I was like I want the caveman ones. A few years later I tried to bring the graphic back and they wouldn’t really have it for whatever reason.
BS - It was way ahead of its time dude. It’s funny cos that Misfits logo was huge back then and they’re a similar style.
LM – So I always wanted to use it but skateboarding doesn’t really have enough money to pay artists a lot for graphics so I was like I’m not going to use it on my own and I didn’t really have anything to offer Craig. It always felt like an insult if I was gonna ask him and pay the going rate which was peanuts. So realistically when the Nike thing started, I got on Nike and they were like ‘you got any ideas?’ and I was like ‘I got this idea!’ I didn’t even know if Craig would go for it but he was like ‘yea!’
BS - You know, I’ve got that shoe too, but I didn’t wear it today cos you know how it is man, you’re going to meet the guy and you’ve got his shoe on, it’s pretty cheesy.
LM – Yea, I love that shoe but I found myself not wearing it that much cos it’s like soo orange. I have some. I’m gonna wear ‘em more.
BS – So that finally gave you the platform to get it out on the board as well.
LM- I just thought going through Nike, cos they just do things correctly, it can be done right. I just thought it would be cool and I think it turned out nice.
BS – Do the kids dig your board shapes right now?
LM- Skateboarding is so broad. Each country you go to has a different scene. I picture the big board with the wheel wells or even the pink board, it’s not going to sell in Europe, one or two guys might want to collect it or whatever but for actually riding, the only people who are actually gonna ride a board like that ride bowls and concrete. But the thing is there’s starting to be scenes on it.
BS – Yea they’re tearing down the big park here.
LM – Yea I worked on that design actually. I’ve seen that a couple of times. But basically Flip said ‘we’re leaning away from that’ cos there’s a bunch of dudes with street boards and they were like ‘just make stuff that you like and you wanna ride’ and it’s better that way. You’re not trying to make something you want to sell, you’re making stuff that you want people to get into.
BS – If you were in Celebrity Death Match versus Mike Vallely, who would win?
LM – What’s celebrity death match? Do they really fight? Mike would win cos I’d just stand there and go, and he’d hit me. I wouldn’t fight him.
BS - I so knew you wouldn’t know it man.
LM – No, I would win cos his puppet wouldn’t be as good as my puppet. Mike’s awesome.
BS - Aren’t you in a band?
LM – Nah I got kicked out.
BS – By your son?
LM – Yea. About six months after we started. I was terrible. So weird, I never thought he’d play music but he just picked up a guitar when he was about sixteen and I was like let’s play again. We had punk bands a lot. I was in this bagpipe band when I was a kid. I got kicked out of that cos I was no good. As soon as I wasn’t cute anymore. And then we had like punk bands at the skate parks forever. Not even punk, just bad bands. It was fun. So when my son started playing I called my buddies that were in the band back then.
BS - So as a last thing can you offer any parental advice? How do you get them to skate and play in punk bands?
LM – Just do you best to try to not to want him to do it. Deep down I didn’t want him to be a skateboarder. You always want better and so however it came across his rebellion was I’ll do music, which is the same but worse (laughs). Same but harder. It was funny thought he would go off to Ed Templeton and those guys who are my friends and be like ‘My parents don’t understand me!’ and they were just laughing ‘You’re parents are you!’
BS - So do you have anything you wanna add, anything important I’ve left out? You know I reckon you’ve done a lot of interviews man.
LM – Yea I just let the guys ask what they want and if it goes where they want it to go, it goes there.
BS – Well you’re a talker so it’s cool.
LM – I’ve been trying to learn, my wife is always kicking me under the table.
We spent the next 45 minutes kicking on the couch outside the theatre, where inside the second screening of Extremely Sorry was playing. It’s so refreshing to interview such a rad and pleasant dude, who’s been in the game for so long, but who also has retained such an honesty and vitality and full understanding of skateboarding. Tomorrow is another day, and you can bet your ass Lance Mountain will be skating.