3.19.2018

chrome ball interview #115: jeremy wray


Gigantic.


You’ve been quoted as saying, “I don’t fear anything.” Is that really true?

(laughs) I don’t know if I ever said that word-for-word but there's definitely a trick to turning off your fear. You just have to believe in what you can do, regardless of how sketchy it seems to anyone else. You have to focus on doing it right, which in turn, overrides any fear you may have.

But doesn’t apprehension play some type of role in things?

Not really, because if you’re thinking about what can go wrong, you’re focusing on the wrong things. And doing that will only increase the likelihood of you actually getting hurt. You should just try paying closer attention to what it is you’re trying to do.


We’ve all seen that kid’s reaction in the Color Video, was that common for you?

No, it’s just because that one was so far outside his normal reality. I mean, I remember the first time I saw an ollie. It was just a little one on flatground in a mall parking lot, but that was enough to blow my mind. So if that was the first time he ever saw someone ollie… can you even imagine? Because back then, that gap didn’t even seem possible to people who skated professionally. He’s just riding down the street on his bike! He’s not expecting to see something like that. Hell, I didn’t even think it was possible at first. It was way too far. Not even on anyone’s radar.

That all just happened because of Jason Dill. On that day, he decided that not only can it be done, he’s gonna prove it. So he starts trying it while Jonas and I sit and watch from across the street. And he’s chipping away at it, but it still didn’t really seem possible… that is, until his last three tries, when both he and his board got over it.

“Oh, I guess this really is possible.”

He ended up hurting his feet on his last attempt but that was enough to prove that it could indeed happen. He told me to take over for him and do it. But that kid didn’t show up until I was already pushing by at full-speed, down a hill to ollie it. So in his mind, it’s first try. Out of nowhere. He didn’t see any of that leading up to it.


Anyone ever try talking you out of something? I hate to bring up the Water Tower Gap already, but did Jonas ever step in, like, “Hey, let’s think about this, bro.” Because you know Sturt’s not gonna say anything.

(laughs) No, it’s usually the opposite. If Jonas is there, I’m typically talking him into doing things with me. Like one time, I was skating that roof-to-roof ledge and he needed an ad for one of his sponsors, so I started coaching him through crooked grinding it because I knew he could do it.

Because if you block everything else out, it’s just a crooked grind on a ledge. You could do it, for sure, if it was on flatground. You just have to focus on going fast enough to where if something happens, you won’t fall in the hole. Because if you go in the hole, you’re done. But he was able to get it done. Multiple times, too.

What’s your warm-up process when it comes to mission-style gaps and rails?

I guess it depends on the size and the length. If it’s something you can ollie, that’s a good way to warm-up. At least, that way you can get a feel for the stairs and the roll-away. But if it’s a really long and mellow rail, you’re just gonna have to jump on. I typically noseslide them first, but if that’s too sketchy, I’ll boardslide it.


But how did you warm-up for the Water Tower? Because I know it took a while to climb up there…

No, I got up there pretty quick. There was a fire escape ladder… which obviously wasn’t down but you could Jackie Chan your way up to it. Jump off the wall and get your fingertips on the bottom rung, then pull yourself up. There was also a locked grate to deal with, but I was skinny enough to where I could climb up the backside of the ladder, turning around again once I got up to the top… super sketchy.

But you weren’t popping flatground ollies up there beforehand, were you?

I’m not sure… I don’t think so. That was all real early in the morning but we were skating so much back then, I didn’t have to do much to warm up. I was just always ready to go.

I had gone up there beforehand to check out how far it was. Because you couldn’t really tell from the ground. It looks smaller from the street, but once you get up there and walk to the edge… oh man, it’s the most frightening thing you’ve ever seen. I really had to wrap my head around everything and know it was possible.

The mental thing is that the wall seemingly gets farther away as you’re coming at it, full-speed. And you can’t stop. That was the craziest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Is that the biggest thing you’ve ever done or is there something else you’re more proud of? And are you tired of talking about it?

(laughs) You know what? The San Diego Sports Arena Triple-Set was harder than the Water Tower Gap. By far. Because the Triple-Set looked impossible at the time. It’s such a far ollie and the run-up is so short. Math-wise, it didn’t make sense. I wouldn’t say that it’s scarier, just physically harder. Because you had to run and jump on your board to get speed. You only got one or two real pushes.

We didn’t have even a proper filmer for that one, either. Atiba was shooting photos and 16mm, we just sat a 3-chip camera at the bottom, filming straight on from the landing. I don’t think that ever got used for anything because the angle made it look smaller. The whole thing with the triple-set is how far it is, not the height.


Wasn’t that done on a whim?

Not really. I’d tried it once before, years earlier, but it was too windy.  We were actually trying it on a different set, on the south side of the building.  I gave it two shots that day but knew it wasn’t going to happen. The downhill take-off at the end of that particular set was also a factor. I didn’t try it again until years later, when I was shooting a Transworld interview. Atiba suggested it, so I got a set-up together that I thought might work… Bones ceramic bearings, 54mm wheels, some thin squishy risers and a deck with a nice, steep tail.

When we went back, we started trying it on the North side this time because it had a slightly better take-off. The set itself is so far that you tend to land leaning back, causing you to manual and shoot out on the roll away. I kept slipping back and even burned a hole in my hand from sliding it on that rough ground. I did that 4 times in a row until I was able to stay square over my board on the fifth try and ride away clean. I remember going to the In-N-Out down the street afterwards to grab a burger before heading back to the Transworld offices to break the news of what had just gone down.

Did you ever consider roll-ins back then?

No, that’s definitely not my style. You shouldn’t have to build onto something to make it more skateable. Why can’t you just skate it as-is? I guess I’m from a different generation of skateboard purists. I didn’t even like putting wood on landings or bondoing cracks. Because as soon as you start making it easier, it’s not the same.


What’s your personal favorite Jeremy Wray part?

Probably my part in The Revolution, because I was able to go back and get some things that I missed for Second Hand Smoke. I feel like I was pushing things a little more and finding different spots. Everything was a little better than what I’d done before. And I’m really proud of the slow-mo section that followed my part. What Jim Greco would later call, “After Black Hammers.”

I think what would’ve been my favorite part was going to be my next Plan B part after that, but the company went out of business unfortunately. We were supposed to do a Best of Plan B video and the stuff I was filming for that was of a whole different caliber. That’s when we got the Water Tower and the Sports Arena Triple-Set, the Santa Monica Triple-Set and many other heavy-hitters. If all that would’ve ended up in one place, that would’ve been my best part. But when Plan B ended, my footage got broken up and spread out.   

I was going to ask why those legendary clips never found their way into a proper part.

Because I was suddenly in-between sponsors with all that footage, it had to go somewhere. So it got pieced out to some 411s and Transworld videos, with the rest going to Element World Tour… the frontside 360 at the Santa Monica Triple-Set, among other things. I think I’d only been on Element for a few weeks when that video came out. I’d gone on one trip and they’d all been filming for two years.


If someone were to put all those clips together for the part that never was, what song would you want?

Probably another classic rock song, either some Led Zeppelin that isn’t so familiar or maybe another Van Halen song. The early stuff with David Lee Roth is really good.

Well, hopefully somebody takes the initiative. But on the flipside, what would you say is your least favorite part?

I wouldn’t say that it was my least favorite but 4-Wheel Drive was a little different for me. It’s a different side of my skateboarding that people don’t often get to see. More lines, a little more tech, not necessarily going for the biggest things. But I guess that’s not what people want to see from me. They like it okay but would rather see me jumping down stuff.

I was just trying to see if I could put a part like that together and have it stand on its own. It still got last part in the video so it must’ve not been too bad. But it was fun working on something a little different like that.  



You’ve hit almost all of the more notorious gaps out there, which one was the most difficult?

That’s hard because they all have their own little personalities. For example, the Gonz was hard because it had that narrow run-up. There were cracks and you also had to duck under a low tree branch, all while trying to get your speed… I remember Dill hitting his head really hard on that branch after standing up a hair too early.  But also, with the angle of the landing, certain tricks worked better because of the slant. Going the other way actually made it even longer. It had a frontside/backside feel to it.

Carlsbad had the insane uphill landing and it was slick, too, so that’s bad combination. I remember always skating over there from Matt Hensley’s house down the street and ollieing that gap first thing in the morning. Sometimes it would hit like a ton of bricks. I even cracked a set of Thunders there once. Boom, right in two. But other days, it felt lighter somehow, like an 8-stair. Those were the days you’d try something else down it.

The Santa Monica Triple-Set has those wooden planks on the run-up and sometimes there’d be nails sticking up outta there, too. But worse than the run-up was the sandy bottom, which either made you slip out or made everything grittier. We rarely brought brooms with us, either…  just kick it away and hope for the best.


Didn’t you frontside half-cab the Gonz? I thought I saw a photo of it but I don’t remember any footage.

Yeah, we shot a sequence of it. That was back when we didn’t have filmers around all the time. We’d just gone up there on our own for a skate trip. Whoever was around would shoot the photos, but nobody was there to film. I think the Russian twins might’ve filmed some stuff but I don’t think it ever came out anywhere. I never saw it.

I switch ollied the Gonz on that trip, too. I think that was the first switch trick to ever go down there. I was stoked on that. But again, same thing, we got a photo of it but no footage. Maybe those twins still have it somewhere? I never had any way of contacting them.

I always thought Matt Rodriguez did it first because of that ad.

Yeah, I think Matt got his a couple weeks later. But since he rode for Stereo and they needed an ad, he got it in the magazine first. My frontside half-cab was the same day as my switch ollie and I just happened to be riding a Real Kelly Bird board with a Thrasher shirt on. They ran my frontside half-cab instead and let Matt’s switch ollie run for his ad. I know I did mine first but that stuff doesn’t matter anyway. That’s just how it goes. At least this way, everyone got coverage. Makes sense.


Gotta say, I’ve interviewed plenty of others who wouldn’t be this nice about it.

People get upset about all kinds of stuff. I don’t have time for that. Plus, Matt is rad and I always liked the way his ad came out. No biggie.

You must’ve tried kickflipping the Gonz, right?  

Yeah, the first time I ever tried the Gonz was on the trip prior to the one I was just talking about and I got really close to kickflipping it. I got the ollie and the backside 180, the next one I typically went for back then was a kickflip. So I give that a shot and actually landed on it first try… I can’t remember if my tail broke or if I leaned too far back but the footage is in the slam section of the Blockhead video. But yeah, my board was done after that and I didn’t have another one so I went to FTC to buy a new board. I ended getting the Henry Sanchez Terminator because I liked the shape, but it was a slick-bottom. Anyone who remembers those things, they were super bendy and flexy. It just didn’t feel like it had any pop. So even though I loved how the board looked, it rode like hell… that kickflip wasn’t gonna happen. And that was the last day of our trip, we went home after that. A couple of weeks later, Gonz got the kickflip, which I really think was how that was supposed to be.

Is there a famous spot you always wanted to hit but haven’t? El Toro? The Wilshire Rails? Hollywood High?

I always thought that the Hollywood and Wilshire rails were weirdly steep. They send you right into the ground. I like rails that are a little more mellow, even if they’re taller. I like actually standing up on them. I feel like on steep rails, you’re falling the whole time.

As far as El Toro goes, I’ve still never been there. It’s probably not even very far from my house, just never been.


What about that 360 ollie down Love? Did you ever go back for that?

Honestly, it was just rare for me to get out to Philly. We hit it on that Adio trip, which was the first time I’d ever been there when the fountain was drained. But unfortunately, it had rained the night before and the bottom was all wet. We weren’t even going to skate it at all until one of local kids came up to me.

“Are you gonna skate the gap?”

“Well, it’s kinda wet. I don’t think we’re gonna be able to get anything down it today.”

But the kid went and got some newspapers out of the trash to start mopping it up himself.

“Hey, it should be good to go now.”

“Well, since you went to all that trouble… I’ll give it a shot.”

That gap was surprisingly good to skate. Because the marble up top was solid, you could push really fast and when you hit your tail, it’s super crisp. Everything snapped really good, it’s just that the landing was slick. It’s a fountain so that’s water-repellent paint down there. Moisture doesn’t getting absorbed, so you have to land on it dead-straight or you’ll slip out. Going 360, if you had the slightest bit of lean, you were done. On a dry sunny day, it would’ve been better. I just couldn’t straighten it out that day.

But no, I never went back.


As gnarlier skating grew in popularity, how competitive did things get with stair-counting and “ABDs”? I have to imagine it getting a little weird, right?

I know what you’re saying but that stuff’s always been a part of it, there was just now terminology to go along with it. It became more understandable to everyone else, causing it to spread. Now everyone can be a part of the game. But that’s the nature of how skateboarding progresses.

Is that the Blind fence you backside 180’d in Recycled Rubbish?

Yeah, we randomly came across it in LA one day. We’d obviously seen the Blind Video so we wanted to give it a shot. But that fence was awesome… sketchy but awesome. That backside 180 wasn’t my favorite. It slid a little, but it worked.


Sinclair tells a story about going out with the Blockhead team to that five-flat-three double-set… you 360 ollied it while everybody else sat down. Did that happen a lot?

(laughs) All I was doing back then was taking a few flatground tricks and pushing them as far as I could. I was just comfortable with bigger stuff, which I think made me a rare breed. At that point, people were still just ollieing big stuff, not much else. But I felt that there was potential, so I’d start going through different things… I’d already frontside 360’d a few other things that size, I’ll give that a go.

There were a few of us skating bigger stuff back then and whenever we saw each other, it was always fun. Jamie Thomas or Geoff Rowley… we were all in the same boat, typically out there skating something by ourselves. But it’s always more fun to skate with other people. A lot of times you’ll make something you might not have even tried otherwise. Those sessions where everyone puts something down, that’s the stuff you remember. Like when I frontside 360’d the Santa Monica Triple-Set, that’s the day Donny Barley got his switch hardlfip, too. It’s always cool to push each other like that.


Did you know the Beastie Boys thing was going to make it into Debbie?

Yeah, that was Dave’s idea, just messing around in his backyard. He even found that effect on his camera to make it look like the video. I still remember us all watching that video together on VHS, trying to get our parts down. We didn’t even overdub the audio, that’s the cassette playing on a boom box right beside the camera, but it worked somehow. Just one of those funny little things.

Blockhead was an awesome time. Just because we all spent so much time together, hanging out at Dave’s house every weekend. I feel like that’s what makes a good team.

Were you skating the Sports Arena double-set a lot back then? I feel like that’s where you really broke out.

I’d never been there until Questionable came out. That’s when we started skating it. We were down at Dave’s house and he showed us where it was. I shot my Check-Out for Transworld there with Grant Brittain. I got a kickflip on it, which I think was the first flip trick to ever go down a double-set. But you got kicked out of there pretty quickly. You never got to skate there very long before security showed up.


I know your first graphic was the Dr. Seuss dedication but what about that Rain Girl board? Did you always want to do your own graphics?

Yeah, I’ve always drawn growing up… drawing pictures from magazines or my own fake graphics with paint pens. So when it came to do my real board, I figured why not? I already had that tribute to Dr. Seuss graphic drawing from doing it my high school art class, I just had to rearrange everything tall and skinny to make it work as a board graphic.

When it came time to do my second board, I’d found some Morton Salt around the house. Rip-off graphics were popular at the time and I liked that girl with the umbrella logo. Plus, “Morton” and “Salt” are the same number of letters as Jeremy Wray, so it fit perfectly! I drew that up by hand and took it down to Dave. Simple as that.

As such a small company, it seems like riders would eventually hit a ceiling at Blockhead and have to leave. Were you looking for a new sponsor prior to Color?

No, I wasn’t looking around at all. I was actually in the middle of filming for the next Blockhead video when Markovich randomly called about this new company he was starting. He was one of my favorite skaters back then and riding on the same team as him sounded awesome. I really didn’t want to quit Blockhead but that’s the nature of the game. It was a pretty crappy time to leave them hanging but I had to follow that opportunity.


There’s that story of Markovich not waking you up to skate Wallenberg at that SF contest…

(laughs) It was more than just not waking me up, he actually told me, “Wait here, I’ll come get you when it’s time to go” and left me at the hotel!

He got in the car and told Oblow that I didn’t want to go!

Was there some unspoken competition between you two back then?

Not that I know of.  He was trying to kickflip Wallenberg that day… so, I don’t know…

Let’s be honest, you probably could’ve done it that day.

…yeah, probably. It was in the realm of possibility, for sure. I definitely would’ve been trying kickflips right beside him and one of us would’ve been riding away that day. I wouldn’t have minded either of us doing it but… who knows.

Because I’d been there before but bent an axle on literally my first ollie, so I’d never really been able to skate it. I was really looking forward to going back there with a board that actually worked.


You had to be bummed.

I was surprised, for sure. Definitely unnecessary. Because if he really wanted to get that kickflip, I would’ve tried something else. I guess he was worried that I was going to do it before him or something.

I was mostly oblivious to it all. I was just young and happy to be skating… but Oblow would typically let me know if Markovich was feeling a certain way about something. Kris would never hit me up directly about any of it, he’d just vent to Oblow… Just competitive stuff. Wanting to hold on to that top spot, I’m sure. Not that I was that guy, I just didn’t pay attention to any of it.

Did you ever try that Frankie Hill gap?

Yeah, I was with Kris that day. That thing was massive. As you pushed towards it, you felt like you were about to fly off a cliff, like the end of a trail. You couldn’t see the landing whatsoever.

I tried ollieing it 2 or 3 times and every time I landed, my board stopped completely. It wouldn’t even roll an inch. That kind of impact on those little wheels wasn’t going to work. I was riding 39s at the time and I think Markovich had on 42s… which seemed huge back then. But he was able to get that backside 180 down it, which was incredible.


I’m a fan but why the Northern Exposure theme?

I loved that show! I used to watch it all the time at my Mom’s house. And I thought it was a pretty good song, too. I liked instrumentals. Because sometimes in a song, when the vocals hit, you either like it or you don’t. Instrumentals are more universal. I wasn’t trying to take anything too seriously back then and it felt light-hearted enough. But liking the show was number one. I even had the soundtrack on cassette!

Howl the eternal yes. Did you realize that joining Color was going to get you banned from Thrasher?

I had no idea. The story I got from Oblow was because he’d left Race Wheels to start Color with Metiver, who owned Union Wheels… moguls of skateboarding battling for market share. It had nothing to do with me as a skateboarder, I just ended up on the wrong side of the fence.


But you were still on Spitfire.

Yeah, that was the tricky part, because they wanted me to quit Spitfire for Union in order to ride for Color. They tried to enforce that, too. But I had to tell them straight-up that I wasn’t going to do that. As much as I wanted to ride for Color, I wasn’t gonna leave my first two sponsors in the dust just because you want to start a board brand. But I was able to talk with the Spitfire team manager and work everything out.

I ran that for a long time… until I got the cover of Transworld a few years later. That frontside 270 to fakie smith at the LA High rail. I just happened to get a Spitfire sticker front and center in the photo.

This was around when Destructo was starting to get into the mix. I was talking to those guys because they were trying to build a new truck and needed some help with the design. They were talking about pro model trucks and I wasn’t getting any offers like that anywhere else… I’d already been riding for Thunder for 8 years and never gotten a single ad with them. Plus, I was really interested in trying to design a better truck. I thought that sounded cool.

So I called down to Thunder to let them know what was going on and at least try to have a conversation about everything, but they wouldn’t return my phone calls.

But I did get a phone call after that cover ran.

“Yeah, we saw you on the cover with that Spitfire sticker. That’s kinda weird since you don’t ride for Spitfire anymore.”

“Oh… okay.... well, I guess I presumed that if I didn’t ride for Spitfire anymore, you’d at least give me a call.”

“We assumed that if we didn’t send you anything for two months, you would know that you’re off the team. Oh, and tell your brother that he’s off Thunder and Spitfire, too.”

That was shocking, man. And for Jonas to get the boot? He had nothing to do with any of it!


Crazy… But going back to Thrasher, didn’t you go from having the next cover to getting banned?

Yeah, I shot a photo with Ortiz of a backside 180 down that double-set off Wilshire, an 8-flat-7 or something. I was riding a Blind “Oh Henry” Sanchez board… which was probably strike one against me already.  But Ortiz told me that it was going to be the cover. I’d just been in San Francisco shooting an interview with Jonas and Jason Dill. Thrasher was all gung-ho on a triple interview since they hadn’t done one in a while. It was all set to go… and then I got banned. 

Did that photo ever come out?

I don’t think so. It’s a sick photo, too! I saw the actual slide at the Thrasher offices on one of our SF trips. Ortiz told me that someone said it was “too blurry”... Pulling that kind of excuse. (laughs)

Do you think you would’ve got reinstated if it wasn’t for that iconic tower photo?  

Yeah, because some older things I’d shot were starting to find their way in there. I just hadn’t shot anything new for them in a while. That Tower photo happened to be the first new thing we got.


Color fades quickly due to faulty product, how’d you find yourself on Plan B? 

Well, I didn’t immediately get on Plan B. I had a little hiatus where I was trying to figure everything out. I wasn’t trying to start Color all over again with Prime. World Industries was turning over brands pretty fast around that time and I wanted something that felt more stable. I got a few phone calls from people, too. Real was interested in me. Jeff Klindt even came down to my parents’ house one night to talk about things. This was right after the Stereo video had come out and if the offer would’ve been for those guys, I probably would’ve hopped on that in a second. But he was there for Real. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Real, too. Still do… And that actually felt like it was going to work out for a second, but something inside me needed to talk to the guys at Plan B. Their videos were such a huge influence on me, I needed to know if that was a possibility. Because all I wanted to do was make good videos, too. I’d caught the bug and was ready to do my next one really big.

Mike T. was into it. I didn’t know that half of the team had just left. That was a tough blow, but I was still down, for sure.

Who else hit you up?

The only other one I can remember was randomly getting a call from Jason Jessee, I think for Consolidated. That was an awesome call to get. I love Jason Jessee. Big fan of his frontside ollies, best in the business.

How I ended up on Element later on was kinda funny, too. Because it was just a rumor. I don’t know if it made it into the magazines or what, but I kept hearing about how I rode for Element. I hadn’t even talked to those guys until Johnny finally hit me up about it.

But I feel like you could’ve gone anywhere after Plan B.

I considered Flip for a minute, they just didn’t have any American riders at the time. It was all European guys and they seemed to have their own thing going. I loved what they were doing but wasn’t sure if I really fit in there at the time.


Weren't you an option for The Program? That company Lotti was trying to start through World with Gino and Dill? How real of a thing was that? 

Yeah, that whole thing almost got off the ground right after Color and before I got on Plan B. It was very real. Me, Gino, Jason Dill, Brian Lotti and Dave Schlossbach. We'd all been filming with Dave a lot, building up some good footage.

I think the tipping point of the whole project was when Dave and Brian tried to get Markovich on the team. I was with them when they went to surprise Kris at the airport in San Diego as he was returning home from some skate trip or a contest. But he was riding for Prime at the time. Mark Oblow, who was the owner and team manager of Prime, ended up being there with him on the same flight. Dave and Brian still asked Markovich to ride for The Program, right then and there. When Oblow figured out what was going on, he freaked! He was very distraught that we were trying to steal his top rider. I was able to calm him down a bit... Everybody just ended up feeling bad about the whole thing. It kind of lost momentum after that.


The Jody Morris photo of you ollieing Hensley in the chair, discuss.

That was right after we’d gone on a U.S. tour together. He’d got dropped in as our team manager right as I joined the team. That tour was basically all of us being thrown into a van together with Matt at the helm. I ended up sitting shotgun a lot while he drove and got to know him really well.

That bump-to-sidewalk was a spot we used to skate a lot back then. I think we’d all stayed at Matt’s house the night before and rolled down there that morning. It was skating-distance from Danny’s shop, XYZ. That chair was just sitting there so we put it off the bump and started ollieing it. I was clearing it by enough to where someone could sit in it. Somehow Matt ended up on the throne.

“You better not hit me!”

But I was confident in that I wasn’t going to hit him. I’d already ollied it several times and was getting backside shifties over it, too.

We shot a couple photos of it that day. The photo in his book was actually shot a little early, just a second before it bones down for a backside shifty, but that was a fun one.

Did you intend Second Hand Smoke to be a statement of sorts? Did you film for that any differently than your previous parts?

I was aware of what kind of project it was but I didn’t really do anything different. I knew the level of skateboarding that was required to make a Plan B video work and was going to do the best I could to follow in their footsteps.


Do you make trick lists for parts?

I prefer just going out with people to spots. That’s typically how my favorite footage comes about. I’d much rather go to wherever you want to skate that day and figure something out when we get there. I don’t like being the one calling the shots.

But at some point, you do have to look at what footage you have and figure out what’s missing. Maybe you gotta go out and hit a couple more handrails or a few more gaps? Because you want it to be as well-rounded as possible.

I wasn’t doing lists at that point but I did have one for what I wanted down the Carlsbad Gap.  Because hardly anything had been done down it at that point. It had been ollied, 180’d and kickflipped. Dyrdek did that switch ollie, too, but it was still wide open. So I knew that I was gonna really go after that one. That was my plan anyway, but you really had to work for every single trick down that thing. And also, I didn’t live close by so I didn’t get to hit it as much as I would’ve liked. There were still a few things leftover that I wanted to get.

The hardest one for me was the frontside 360 because, again, the uphill landing and how slick it was… I still wasn’t happy with the one that ran but at least it was unique enough with how I slid out.

The switch backside 180 went down first try, which was a surprise. But because of that, I knew a switch backside flip was possible. But I couldn’t get one that day. Someone else ended up handling that, though, maybe a decade later... all that stuff gets chipped away eventually.


Was Cream your choice?

Yeah, I brought that up as an option. We almost didn’t use it because Richard Mulder had used the tail end of that same song for his Foundation part. If you notice, we stopped my part right before where his section began. That was intentional.

It’s funny because we had a ton more footage to use but after we’d edited all the way up to that part of the song, Jake Rosenberg just goes, “I think we’re good.”

“Well, what do we do with the rest of that footage?”

“I don’t think it needs it. It feels pretty complete as-is.”

How’d that opening line come together?

We were initially trying to film lines down that first set, going right for the hole gap and the ledge. Danny’s the one who brought up going left instead for the big gap.

“Sure, I’ve never tried that before but I’ll give it a shot.”

I normally don’t tre flip down big sets of stairs. That’s not really one of my go-to tricks, because it feels harder to catch and stop rotating. But for whatever reason, I decided to start that line off with one that day.

Sturt filmed it and on most ones, he’d actually run down the gap with me on the frontside flip. It just so happened that on the one I made, he took a bad step. He was pretty bummed on that clip, actually. He didn’t like that the camera shook.

“Alright, we’ll do it again.”

We did give it a few more shots after that but I wasn’t able to get it as good. Because on the one I made, you can see me walk off into the grass. It had just rained the night before so it was all muddy. Stepping back onto my board, I got mud all over my grip, which definitely didn’t help anything. Just a big old mess.

But there’s funny things all throughout that clip. The entire Plan B team was there that day… we were having a team meeting so everyone was in town. But that’s Rodney doing his freestyle stuff right in the beginning there, which he was down to do for me. We thought that it would be a fun thing to have in the background as I skated by. You can also see Danny and someone else skating in front of me before I make that left toward the gap.  And that person who pops up and runs after me at the end is Colin. It was so cool to have everyone there that day, playing around.

We weren’t really filming it as an intro, more of just trying to see what could come of it. Some of the earlier takes, I was doing a lot more flatground in-between, because that’s a lot of cruising to fill before the big gap. But I’d get 4 or 5 flatground tricks in, miss a nollie heel and have to start all over again. I was gonna be worn out before I even got to the gap. Let me tighten this up a little so I can get there, I can always go back and do it again later with more flat if I want. Because it’s always better to get one and then improve on it versus trying the hardest thing and never getting it.


You’d never done that frontside flip before?

No, I hadn’t. I was about to try it anyway, just not in a line. But when Danny brought it up like that, it’s not like doing it in a line was gonna make it any harder. It was probably more fun to do it that way. But I knew I could do it. I’d frontside flipped a few things already in that range.

I’m nerding out here but that really is one of the all-time greatest lines/intros.

Thanks. That board is still intact, too. Because a kid asked me for my board after I was done that day and I gave it to him. Turns out a friend of mine knows the guy down in San Diego. He still has it, which is awesome.

The insane fakie heel down Imperial and the switch backside flip… was that the same day?

Yeah, that was the same day. I was doing a lot of fakie heel tricks back then. Fakie heel to fakie nosegrind, fakie heel to switch manual...

The hardest thing with that fakie heel is how fast you’re going and how early you have to hit your tail, because it makes the board go steeper. Leveling out while trying to go that far is pretty difficult because you’re going 20 times faster. You just have to relax and catch it like it’s normal, then take the drop.

I was trying other stuff that day, too, like nollie kickflips and switch heelflips, I just couldn’t get them to flatten out. I remember Jonas almost got a switch backside heel but his shoe blew out. Gino was there as well. I can’t remember if that was when he got the switch flip but that’s what he was trying.


I count 2 outfits for all that Hubba stuff?

Most of that was the same day, all the warm-up stuff with the 50-50s and 5-0s. I did split my chin open on one of those fakie backside tails and got all twisted up, so we had to come back another day. But yeah, that was all 2 or 3 days.

Were you doing a lot of shuv 5-0s at the time? An unusual trick, especially down Hubba.

(laughs) For whatever reason, I just decided to try it there. I don’t know if I’ve done one before or since. But I remember as I was trying it, the board kept wanting to go frontside 180 out. Scott Johnston was there and told me me just to go with it, that the 180 out was actually sicker, but I already had it in my mind to come out straight. He was probably right.


What about the La Habra ledge? Didn’t you go to school there?

Yeah, that was always one of those things where you put your board on top of it, pretending to have gotten up there. Because it’s rib-high. We just weren’t strong enough yet. But the more I skated, the bigger and stronger I got. One day, I decided to give the 50-50 a shot and that broke the seal. But you have to start with your back against the library wall and run slightly uphill as fast as you can, getting a couple of good pushes in and try to get up onto that beast. The faster you go, the smaller it gets but you only have so much room. You seriously have to use everything you’ve got to get up there. Your whole body would be sore for days afterwards.

How did Dukes come about?

Mike Ternasky saw what Vans was doing with Steve Caballero and had heard that a few other guys were about to get pro shoes. He could see that shoe companies were about to take over. So he had the foresight to start a Plan B shoe brand. I was already working with him a lot at the office, doing graphics and laying-out ads. He just gave me the opportunity to design the brand from scratch.

I got linked me up with the guy in charge of Duffs’ production and we went through the steps of designing everything, using their resources. We really went to town, too. Designing shoes was interesting to me… from cutting up shoes to skating the samples, trying to figure everything out. It was fun and I learned a lot really fast.

I was originally going to name it Kicks. But right before that became official, Kikwear and a few other brands with “Kicks” in the name came out.



His shoe actually came out after Dukes. I have a notepad where I sketched out “Kicks” with the wheat leaves and that K, because that was going to be our logo before we went with Dukes. So when Kareem decided on KCKs, he ended up using that same wheat logo I’d shown him before. I still have that in a notepad, right beside the Dukes logo.

The Dukes diamonds logo actually came from the Audi rings. I always liked how clean that looked and wanted something kinda like it. So I started playing around with the diamonds one day and interlocked three of them… there you go.

What ultimately happened with Dukes?

Well, we had the first shoe and it did really well, but it’s hard to start a brand on only one model. Things were looking good, though.

The big problem we faced was when Rocco traded off part of his Duffs ownership to retain full ownership of Dukes. After that, he pulled Dukes out of Duffs and brought it to World Industries, which had never done a shoe brand before. And other than Sturt shooting photos, I was the only person working on Dukes. I was literally running that brand by myself, but after we pulled out of Duffs, I couldn’t call on those guys for their technical expertise or resources anymore. It made things a lot harder.

On top of that, World decided to move our production from Korea to China, which was basically like starting all over again. It was just too much and not long after that, Dukes got sold to a Canadian distributor.

And that led to Adio? Right around the time you got on Element, right?

Yeah, I didn’t want to just hop on another shoe company after Dukes. I wanted to start something new again. Jamie had just left Emerica and hit me up about possibly doing something together. He linked up with Chris Miller and Jose Gomez, who were also looking to do a shoe brand. They’d found a backer in K2 that would float the bills while we handled the design and the legwork. No ownership opportunities, but that was good enough for us at the time. We just wanted to make some shoes.


Were you hyped to work on One Step Beyond after what happened with your “Best of Plan B” footage?

Oh, I was definitely looking forward to it. The only problem with that one is that I was coming back from a knee injury and had missed the first 8 months or so of filming. So I had to film my entire part at the tail end of the project, which only gave me about 3 months to do it in.  

You filmed that part in 3 months!?

Yeah, because that’s all the time I had. It was a strict deadline, too. They thought the Flip video was going to end any possibility of our video being successful, so we had to get ours out first. They pushed us hard, too. Shooting schedules and everything, it was crazy. Whether you liked it or not, you were filming that gap today... That was the most grueling video I ever worked on.

Who’s Porsche was that?

That was a rental. They’d seen me do stuff over my buddy’s convertible and wanted to get more of that for the video. Only that Porsche was a lot wider. The first car I skated there was a little blue Austin Healey, which was basically like a super-sized picnic table.


That you backside heelflipped.

Yeah, it was the perfect size for going off that bank. And it just happened to be the right day, too. The day with the Porsche was really windy. And not only was it wider, it was really narrow between the windshield and the backrests. It was just way harder to skate.

I always thought ollieing that Austin Healey longways would’ve been cool. I gave it a shot but it just felt too out-of-hand. I didn’t want to kick my board out into my buddy's windshield.

How’d you find a perfect skateable rock in the middle of nowhere?

(laughs) I found that out in Utah while hiking around with my camera. Not too many people know that I shoot a lot of photography because I don’t really put it out there but it’s something I’ve always done, especially being around so many amazing photographers. Not that I shoot many skate photos, it’s mostly natural light stuff because I don’t usually carry a flash.

So yeah, we were out on a trip and came across this crazy Dr. Seuss wonderland. I didn’t have a board with me but I just knew by walking on it that it was skateable. Later on, when we were starting to talk about intro ideas for the Adio video, I brought it up. We were in Vegas with Kenny Anderson and it didn’t seem too far away so we headed that way, I just didn’t factor in that we wouldn’t exactly be on the freeway the whole way there. These were country roads and eventually dirt roads, so it took twice as long. We got there way later than we planned and had to stay overnight in a hotel, but it all worked out. The people with me were tripping on hiking a mile out with all that camera equipment, but luckily, I was able to find it again and it was skateable. It really was a shot in the dark with my fingers crossed.

I was just out there again with Bob Burnquist and Ty for Flat Earth and there’s so much more to get out there. There’s a cover out there just waiting to happen that I’d love to go back and get.


But on opposite end of that spectrum, what about that roof ledge? How'd you find that? And what was your process with breaking that in? Wasn’t that all aluminum?

Yeah, it was roofing tin.

That was just a local business. We found it because we were big into roof gaps at that time and were initially looking at the hole up there. So we climbed up and while the gap wasn’t any good, Paul Luna goes, “What about this ledge?”

We were stoked, because that’s not something you see every day.

As far as the tin goes, you just had to hit it lightly. If you ollied too hard into something, you were gonna stop. You’d dent the tin because that material is softer than the metal on your trucks. You dig in. But if you light-foot it and go really fast, it’ll let you go. Just don’t stomp it down too hard.


You were on Element early enough to see it grow in a very different direction… not all for the better. Do you feel like you stuck around there too long? Did you ever try looking elsewhere as things started to turn?

Yeah, in hindsight, I definitely stayed there too long. I remember starting to see guys leave one-by-one… Reese and Kenny Hughes. I don’t know what their circumstances were exactly but it sucked seeing them go because they were of my generation. They were the team when I got on, and suddenly I was like the last of the Mohicans. As they shifted focus towards their new riders, my support became less and less until it became pretty obvious that I wasn’t a priority anymore. I was doing my best to stay loyal and ride it out, but in the end, it was clear that there was no turning the situation around.

Of course, I thought about riding for other board brands, but it was difficult because I’d already ridden for Plan B, now I ride for Element. At the time, everything felt like a lateral move. I did go down and meet with Jamie about possibly riding for Zero, which actually went well but we never made anything official. I was really just reaching out to see if I had any other options, considering what my future at Element was looking like.

But it was right around that time the market crashed. Companies were starting to struggle, teams were getting trimmed… the wrong time to be looking for a new sponsor. They can’t even afford the riders they have, let alone putting on somebody new. You don’t want to start a brand during a time like that either, so I just had to weather the storm. I did the best I could but that storm just went on for a bit too long.


I’ve heard it called “The Element Blackhole”.

I just don’t think they realize what they’re doing. They buy people up and get them to quit all their sponsors to ride for all their products, but as soon as they’re done with you, you’re left completely on your own. You have to start all over again and it’s difficult building or rebuilding relationships after that. That’s why so many people vanish afterwards.

They want the best team, but as soon as you get there, you realize there’s no filmer. There’s no dedicated photographer. Everything is on you. They expect you to get editorial because that’s advertising that they don’t have to pay for.

When Dan Wolfe was there, that was something real. That was a relatable thing for a company. But after he left, they didn’t fill his spot and there weren’t any projects to bring everybody together. Nobody was hitting me up to film, ever. Luckily, I was doing that on my own. My part in Elementality, Vol. 1 was supposed to be for an Adio project. I filmed all that with Roger Bagley after One Step Beyond, just to keep going. Because I still had tricks in mind that I wanted to get.

I finally got a call one day as they're literally editing the video, asking if I have any clips. This was actually the first call I ever got from them pertaining that project whatsoever.

“Well, yeah, I have this whole part.”

Considering that they were my main sponsor at the time, I just gave them all my footage for that part.

So the next project rolls around, same thing: One call as they’re editing the video again.

“What do you have for us?”

Things were different by then. Roger was busy filming shows for MTV and I didn’t really have a filmer anymore. So although I was skating regularly, I didn’t really have any footage to show for it.

So did you just walk away?

Well, there was a pay-cut here and a pay-cut there... usually with my pay getting cut in-half. They would talk about doing a Legends Division but that never happened. Then they took my pro board away completely. I got sent on less and less trips.  It was like they decided not to give me any real opportunities to be productive or even advertise me as part of their team at all. I guess I didn’t fit their company mold anymore. In the end, I really had no choice but to walk away.


So I guess that brings us up to speed. What’s going on with you now? I know there’s Wray Bros…

Right now, it’s back to the old days of skating with my buddies. Jonas and I, Pat Channita and Paul Luna all banding together for the Wray Bros. brand. Taking turns filming each other at local spots and making fun little edits for social media. Getting everyone involved and skating together again.  

Obviously, it’d be nice to have a solid shoe sponsor or something, just to film for a real project. Something to work on that’s really going to get out there. Because it’s a big switch to go from working with guys like Ty Evans to giving your buddy a GoPro for a clip. There’s a clear difference in the footage you’re getting, even if you are doing the same caliber of skateboarding. It’s just not going to look the same, considering the camera equipment being used or having someone less skilled at filming behind the lens.


Do you feel that you have another banger part in you?

Yes, given the opportunity. Definitely. I’m in prime fighting shape right now and ready for the next challenge. While some people might cringe at the thought of having to film another part, I’ve actually always enjoyed the process. Once you start getting out there and bulding up some good footage, there’s really no better feeling than seeing it all come together in the end. There's a real feeling of accomplishment with every new part.

I'd love to see something new from you, man. It really would be great. So as we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to add to all this? 

I’d just like to say thanks to my family. My wife and kids. All of my sponsors and everyone I skate with. Let’s skate again soon. And keep an eye out for the Wray Bros Brand. I’m doing all of the graphics again and we have some fun stuff popping up soon. You can look us up at WrayBros.com or find me on Instagram at @jeremy_wray and also @wraybros for anything related to our brand.

Special thanks to Jeremy, once again. 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Jeremy Wray Interview that I've always wanted. Thank you, both.
Cameramen should be lining up outside Jeremy's door. True legend.

Anonymous said...

A True Techinition & a Gentleman.

Anonymous said...

It's hard reading this and the Creager interview. These guys can still kill it. Somebody throw them a bone, please!

reggie said...

I would have liked to hear more about growing up and skating with his brother ... rad interview though

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mcidraque said...

Legend all around, hyped to read he's ready for some more. Hope it happens somehow. Saludos!

JarretBerry said...

damn that was a great interview. you guys covered alot of history right there!! thanks for being a true legend Mr Wray!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! You have interviewed my three greatest inspirations as a young skater back in the day: Jeremy Wray, Shiloh Greathouse, and Ronnie Creager. Have read these interviews over and over again. They were/are innovative, stylish, and true legends in skateboarding, but unfortunately, they didn't get their due from the industry, which is something that I just don't get. My advice to all is to try and support them in what they do so that they can keep going. Have been fortunate enough to have a local shop here in Canada that stocks Ronnie's Etcetera insoles (my flat feet thank them!) and was able to buy one of his HSD decks, which was absolutely amazing! Tried to order from Wray Bros as well but they don't ship to Canada unfortunately.

Warm Up Zone said...

Jeremy Wray on Flip?!?
Jeremy Wray on Zero?!?
With all due respect to Wray Bros Brand, is there not anybody in skateboarding who can market this legend?
Plan B has room for Duffy and Sheffey but hasn't approached Wray? I'm baffled and dismayed.

Zero is filming a new video right now, Jeremy. Give Jamie another call.

50spence said...

Seems like the most humble dude ever.He did it first,but so and so got the glory? Eh,whatever....Second Hand Smoke was the first video I saw where I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing.Definitely brought back some memories of the Transworld Spotlight Atiba shot...Hope he did (financially) well during the Element days...He’s one of the guys skateboarding owes something too.

Anonymous said...

Bruhhhh....Imagine another skate part....bruhhh I can't even fathom....a legend still bangin out clips....confident as fuck. That ending got me stoked. I'm gonna film another part too like it's all good. Bob's your uncle.

Anonymous said...

Put him on FA or Hockey...

Anonymous said...

Hey Chops, out of curiosity, are these reruns of the ABD interviews that got taken down? I have been wanting to re-read Drake's interview for a minute now.

chops said...

Thanks everybody.

Anonymous above, I think you asked about this a while ago, sorry about that. I noticed a few months back that the ABD site was down (with the exception of Chico's interview) and while I was going through them in hopes of reposting them, I felt that several of these subjects deserved revisiting... hence, Creager, Wray and a few others to come. I don't plan on revisiting all these guys and I definitely need to repost them all here. I'll get around to it. Sorry for the delay.

Adam said...

"But I guess that’s not what people want to see from me. They like it okay but would rather see me jumping down stuff."

Nope - any Jeremy Wray footage is good footage in my book. Power & finesse on all terrain.

Adrian said...

Can somebody please point me to some footage of the "Frankie Hill gap"?

Anonymous said...

Will never forget his original 411 part, legend.

Anonymous said...

Adrian

Last trick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoAJO92VCYs