Interview // Vincent Alvarez
January 17th, 2020 // Interviewer: Shane Allen // Skate
PHOTOS By KOKI KASAI
Would you say being a pro skater lives up to the hype?
Dude, to be honest with you, I've been doing it for several years now, which is what I've always wanted to do. But I haven't really felt that effect till recently, People sending me messages saying that I inspired them to skate and to learn new tricks and all this stuff. Maybe because I'm able to connect with people differently now through the internet.
But before it was like, I just wanted to keep skating and progressing and learning things. I'm just so glad to be able to get free products, being able to keep learning and just survive off of what I love. That feeling is amazing. But the hype of kids looking up to you, I just started to feel like these past couple of months.
Yeah I know you finally made an Instagram recently, I can definitely see how more connected with your fans you are now compared to in real life.
Yeah, for sure, I never wanted my phone to be my source of employment.
That's probably the main reason why I didn't join for a long time, But especially now, being able to connect with people on a different level is cool.
What's the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is probably staying off of Instagram. [Laughs] Like when I'm skating with everybody I'm away from my phone you know? But like when I get home or whatever or I'm waiting in line at the market or something, what do I do? Let me see what my phone's doing, let me see what this person is doing. It's like, God, it's so hard to stay away from my phone, you know?
You're definitely a searcher for spots that people haven't haven't skated before. What's the craziest experience you've had looking at or skating a spot?
I want to say we were in Costa Rica, we were driving at nighttime. It was pretty late actually and we saw these sick hips on top of a roof so we pulled over to skate them. We start skating them and next thing you know cops have us at gunpoint. I thought I was going to get shot.
They take all of our stuff. Put us in the paddy wagon and take us all to jail. We ended up being in jail until like probably like four or five in the morning, but I guess a local there helped us out and ended up getting us out and all of our stuff back. It was crazy.
Damn, getting in trouble in a different country is not fun. Like pretty dangerous. You don't know what they can do to you.
That one was probably the trippiest. I don't even think we were looking for the spot. I think we were just driving to the hotel.
Yeah unfortunately skateboarding's not the most polite thing to do on someone else’s property. You never know how someone will react to you skating a spot.
Dude for real. I think that taught me a lot. Like you can't just get up on the roof of a business. I've had some crazy run-ins with house spots. I don't want to admit it but it's kind of disrespectful [Laughs] unless they're cool with it. We're ruining your million dollar house outside, is that ok?
What's been the coolest session you've gone on with Ty Evens?
Ahh man. There've been so many, but the one that pops out to me right now, is when we skated Raging Waters, which is a waterpark. There was a show called Built to Shred on Fuel TV, where you'd build stuff and skate it. So for this episode they got permission to skate the waterpark.
We show up and man, and I'm seeing, Rune Glifberg, Anthony Van England, Jeremy Wray, like dude... all these different people that I look up to and would never even dreamt of skating with, and we're all at Raging Waters, which was my favorite as a kid.
Alex Olsen filmed a line of me there skating down the slide. I was tripping so hard man. Skating down the slide, I was like, "Oh shit! I remember going down this slide as a kid." Now I got one of my favorite skaters filming me doing a line down it.
Sounds pretty surreal. Raging Waters, waterparks always looked so cool in footage and fun to skate, but they also looked mad dangerous. Like things could go wrong quick.
Yeah, that was a crazy part of it too. There's like no way to stop unless you just let your board go down the side.
Do you do you have any hobbies outside of skating?
I love building man. Recently, especially these past couple of months, I just been working on this DIY park. I'll just go there to build, I won't even skate it. I like music. I like to have a little jam room I'll always mess around in.
What do you play?
I like the bass a lot.
"... I stopped everything else. I was heavy into wrestling, like WWF and all that stuff, but I was just over it and skated everyday man."
When did you learn how to play?
I think maybe... I was probably 12. Yeah, my uncle, not the same one that skated, my other uncle was super into music and taught me. He was heavy into Rage Against the Machine, but then also Ice-T and Too Short, Led Zeppelin. Yeah, I think that combination got me super stoked on music.
What's your favorite Rage Against the Machine record?
My favorite one is probably Bombtrack, or Killing in the Name ... there are so many.
Yeah, they have one of the best discography's. You see they are going on tour 2021?
Aww man, I never wanted to go to Coachella but I was looking forward to trying to see them this year, then the pandemic hit.
Dude yeah, I remember seeing the flyer and thinking it was photoshopped. Like no way is Rage Against the Machine headlining Coachella.
Yeah I can see a lot of people nowadays who don't know who they are getting into them.
Did you play bass in school?
No, I actually played trumpet in school for about two years. That was fun, man. I liked that a lot. It just got kind of a bit expensive.
We did like a couple of shows. I think we did like maybe two big concerts, we weren't like going to like the whole football games and all that stuff.
When did you start skating and how'd you get your first skateboard?
From my neighbor, actually Yeah, and then my uncle and his buddy skated and I just got into that a whole bunch.
I want to say it was like right away when I started skating, I stopped everything else. I was heavy into wrestling, like WWF and all that stuff, but I was just over it and skated every day man. At that time we weren't allowed to take our skateboards to school. I remember being at school and just couldn't wait to get out and skate.
Yeah when you tell a kid they cant do something, that just makes them want to do it more.
I started sneaking it though, like in bushes and stuff. I had a little stash somewhere. But then it got jacked. So I was like, I'm not doing that anymore.
Gotta learn the hard way.
What videos were you watching at the time?
My first video that I saw was probably Rodney vs Daewon.
Who'd you have?
Oh dude, Rodney Mullen. I guess to anybody who's new to skateboarding, he's one of those dudes that catches your eye. You don't really have to understand skateboarding to get it. You just look at it and go "Woah!"
Later on, as I got older, I was like, man, I wanna skate more like Daewon Song. Cause he was skating a lot of stuff that was relatable. He would always skate school yards and that's what we always used to skate. He was skating the tables and the benches and all that. I remember seeing him skate roof gaps. That's what made me want to skate roof gaps instead of some big set of stairs.
I was really into Mark Gonzalez just cause he was like around the area too. In Video Days, he had a line at the supermarket I used to go with my parents. That was crazy to think a pro is around here, skating. Like this is rad, you know?
I know what played a big part of you getting sponsored was the King of LA contest. Were you even thinking about that when you were skating?
I think mainly it was being able to skate school yards and stuff with permission. Also, I liked it because the contest wasn't really like a normal run format. It was just like you show up and skate. At the same time I was trying to just meet different skaters from around the area who weren't so involved in the contest thing, but were just rippers.
I was a big fan of Divine Callaway at the time too because he was on Chocolate. I remember being like, man, what if I see him there ... and I did, with a bunch of dudes actually.
Were you skating contests before that?
Yeah, I won a couple of contests actually. This one time I was invited to Woodward East. That was cool, but it was a different scene. I was just always skating streets and never really had a chance to skateparks at all. I just remember it being really slippery. [Laughs]
It was hard to skate my best, it was actually really hard for me. I couldn't really go that fast because I was just slipping out everywhere. That's kinda why I liked that King of LA contest, It was just like skating street.
What trick did you do that stood out?
I think I did a switch 180 fs nosegrind on this like a Wilsher 15 replica rail. That stood out to me the most. Also I remember doing a half cab fs nosegrind on this ledge and I don't think I've ever really done that trick, it was just such like a perfect ledge and I tried it.
It's funny when you're skating and you spontaneously try a trick you don't do, thinking it won‘t work, but you actually come close. But when you are actually trying while focusing really hard, it doesn't work as well.
Another one too, that I tripped out on. I was doing a switch fs 180 nosegrind back to fakie. That trick just came to mind for the first time that day. Then, I remember watching Yeah Right maybe like a few months after and I saw Gino (Iannucci) do it in a line.
What was the story of you turning pro?
I think while we were filming for the Pretty Sweet video, I think maybe I had gotten a lot of footage and I just remember Sam calling me and was like,
"Hey man, we're thinking about giving you a board, would you be down?"
This was like before people were surprising dudes and doing all that stuff.
Yeah. That seems like the normal thing to do nowadays, throw a surprise party.
[Laughs] I was like, wait … no way dude. I even had to step out of my house and talk to him on the phone, like away from everybody, I was super down. They showed me the board when I went to Crailtap. They kind of surprised me with them in person, my buddy was there and pointed them out.
What are you filming for right now? Are you working on anything specific?
Yeah man, we're actually filming for a Chocolate video. It's been going pretty good, dude. Been filming a lot at home, to be honest. I kind of want to film almost everything around here, just showcase spots that no one's really skated and, I looked up to those old Chocolate videos and I like a lot of that stuff was pretty local.
Yeah it's always more interesting when you see someone who's skating something you've never seen before, instead of just one-upping the next dude at the same spot.
Yeah, yeah. That's something I kind of try to stay away from.
Chocolate hasn't put together a proper full-length video in a while, right? How does it feel being a part of that legacy?
It's been a minute. It's unreal man especially being on the team, longer than other dudes. It feels kind of unreal, but at the same time, it feels very real as far as trying to keep what Chocolate stands for, going. It's been around for such a long time, so I want to keep it going and do something new and organic.
Edited by Cameron Skidmore