John Cardiel on his morning bike ride. Shot a minute after this interview.
Your station is probably less isolated nowadays as lockdown measures are slowly easing. Skate parks once closed are thankfully opening and we are all making sense of the altered reality which greets us. Being out there and skating will forever be the cure for all ills so we hope you are all getting it in. That being said these posts have certainly added value to our downtime so we intend to continue bringing you recommendations from epic humans in this format. Isolation Station posts will still pepper the blog but the feature will soon be rechristened.
This week I had the pleasure of checking in with John Cardiel. It was early evening my end as John commenced his morning bike ride on the other side of the Atlantic. It was a pleasure to talk to him, pure positivity emanating as he peddled away and spoke about his selection. John’s energy is as infectious when you speak to him as it is when you watch him on a skateboard. From Video Days to Thrasher, Jamaica to Waco, there are some great picks here for you to check out. Read on to hear more from one of the best to ever do it.
BLIND SKATEBOARDS: VIDEO DAYS
You picked Blind Video Days. What is important about this one to you?
Basically everything, the fact that they broke away and did their own thing. Created this team, all of their graphics at the time were just so amazing. The video itself was just so breakthrough with Guy Mariano and just everybody dude, Gonz, all of them really. It was just a real refreshing look at things, skaters taking back their own and just doing it, and forwarded by J. Lee and Mark Gonzales, it was like nothing but respect and honour you know.
Do you remember seeing it for the first time?
Oh yeah, it was fucking unreal. Mariano’s noseblunt slide in front of the grocery store and the way he popped out and rolled away, it just blew my mind that that was possible. Gonz boardsliding the kinked rail, these things were so monumental that it just pressured you to have to do better.
Was it shocking to you?
Yeah it was shocking and telling. It was letting me know that this is what’s going down you know.
You’d seen Gonz skating in the flesh before this came out?
Yeah for sure, I’d seen him at contests and demos and stuff like that
One year after this video came out you would find yourself in the UK with Gonz and Ron Chatman and others
Yes and that was quite an experience man. Just to see the raw talent of him, his spontaneity and his ability at all angles of skateboarding, all ways. It’s just amazing, he is the truest skateboarder that I could ever witness and it was just really awesome.
Just to see the raw talent of him, his spontaneity and his ability at all angles of skateboarding, all ways. It’s just amazing, he is the truest skateboarder that I could ever witness
His part in that video has everything you could wish for in it
Even down to jumping down Wallenberg it’s nuts
[Laughs] Straight up, pushing. There’s always a wind there, that faces west and there’s a gnarly wind that kicks up, always wind. If you get it without wind you got lucky. People have gone back and forth to get it without wind. But I’m sure Mark just rolled up and was like snap and just…
Yes! Because with the board, I bet the wind was fucking with his shit you know.
There is so much in that video. Rudy Johnson does a manual roll tre flip I always trip out on.
Oh right, yeah completely. I trip out on Mark Gonzales vert part really. No disrespect to Rudy 100 percent but just Gonz! Gonz! Gonz! His vert footage really tripped me out, honestly it looks like some Bruce Lee shit.
He does the best backside lipslide.
Oh my god, he hangs it out so long. He just drags it along it’s so sick, that back foot just hangs out.
I love the stuff in London too. The front shuv then frontside 180 fakie fifty down the rail at Shell Centre
Yeah no shit, you could tell by the fucking sidewalks.
Were there any tricks in the video you were inspired to learn particularly because of it?
From this video what I took away was more spots and what you could do at spots. I was never really one to steal anybody else technique, I always thought I could forge my own way of doing something so I didn’t try to emulate too tough. But certain things you could see in a video like a frontside invert, let’s say Lance Mountain doing a frontside invert over a channel. That to me is unbelievable, like how the fuck do you do that? So I would just try and try. Not necessarily learning from him but yes inspired by definitely and to this day I’ve never done a frontside invert over a channel. Inspired nonetheless.
So Blind Video days is still one you would watch today and everyone else should too if they haven’t seen it?
Oh yes of course. Just for the simple fact of the paving, the cutting of trails, the pioneering was fucking gnarly dude.
DELROY WILSON. GOOD ALL OVER
Was it hard for you to pick just one album from your huge collection?
Yeah man. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of oldies. During this time of spending a lot of time at home I’ve been researching the foundation of things. These rhythms that were created in Jamaica from Studio One and Coxsone Dodd are just such foundations, the music and rhythms, there are so many. But Delroy’s album just has some really good ones on there so I just ran that one a bunch of times. There’s a song called “Who cares” that’s really good, I just enjoy it man.
Delroy Wilson was kind of a child prodigy before this right?
To be honest my knowledge of folks isn’t the toughest but I just appreciate the music
I was nodding along to “rain from the skies” this morning
How did your journey into discovering reggae begin?
Just growing up. I was probably in second grade and got introduced to some Bob Marley and some Peter Tosh. Kind of just smoking weed and listening and it was a trip, and things started making sense to me. That just strung off to the whole genre. I started buying some Culture albums, Mutabaruka, Steel Pulse and it just started branching, Mikey Dread, all this stuff started to blossom and come alive.
It was speaking of things that made sense to me. It’s hard to explain but when I listen to it, I’m not fighting what they’re saying, it’s cool and it resonates so I’m open to it
It was speaking of things that made sense to me. It’s hard to explain but when I listen to it, I’m not fighting what they’re saying, it’s cool and it resonates so I’m open to it. It’s just a different vibe. When you’re listening to different kinds of hip hop, I love all genres of music and all types of things but there’s something about the reggae that just does it for me.
So this a good kind of roots album for people to start their journey with?
Yeah for sure. I was just going through these old Studio One sounds. If you find any albums that were made on the Studio One label you are pretty much guaranteed to hear something good. Delroy’s album was just amazing at the time and he is just such an awesome singer. Unreal, foundation.
Was it a documentary or the Netflix dramatisation about what happened in Waco, Texas that you picked?
Yeah it was the Netflix one because that’s where I watched it, I got sucked into that one. I just never really knew the story of what happened in Waco. The story that I got was that some dude was out there going nuts and holding all these people hostage and the cops were trying to get them out and save the people or whatever. The whole opposite story of what was really going down.
Being a kid at the time all I knew about it was what the media fed us. Very much a “they got what they deserved” narrative.
Right, right and that’s exactly how I felt too. Until I watched this shit and was like damn, these folks were just trying to do their own thing. What is the problem here? Unless they are really breaching real laws and doing things that are wrong then handle those things as they come. But the whole thing was just brutal dude.
these folks were just trying to do their own thing. What is the problem here?
So it’s worth watching this to find out the real story?
Yeah I got wrapped up in it. I thought “I’m going to see what this dude was up to” you know and so I started watching it. Then I was like fuck! I’m not for what he stands for or where he was doing per se but I feel for his human right to believe and do what he wants to do. If people were agreeing and he created this atmosphere then so be it, if they are subscribing to it it’s their bad or their good.
Like so many things it sounds like a story was spun to make us believe that the powers that be helped all of us.
For sure, it’s classic right? Figuring this shit out a couple of years later is always a funny one. You’re like okay, I was wrong about that, they convinced me otherwise.
The news media is gnarly.
Yeah super gnarly.
Let’s move on to some good media can we talk about Thrasher?
Yeah 100 percent.
John picked the latest copy of Thrasher but this is Dave Hackett on the cover in October 1988. Read on to find out why
Instead of picking a book you picked the latest Thrasher as far as reading material. This is just a constant right? Monthly inspiration.
For sure and I’ve got to give it up to Michael Burnett man. Basically he has just taken the reigns from when Jake [Phelps] had passed. He is keeping it real and changing up some of the interview styles and doing things which are keeping it fresh. It’s fucking amazing to me, I really congratulate Mike Burnett for maintaining the energy
The legacy lives on.
Yes sir, for sure.
I read your piece where you said we should be asking “What would Jake do?”
Right? Well I believe that 100 percent. Regarding skateboarding alone, we fucking barge and we do what we want to do and you need to maintain that energy, that’s skateboarding for real. Following rules and being complacent is not skateboarding. When I say “what would Jake do?” It means to me that you just fucking do it, do it and keep doing it. Keep fucking going hard, straight up.
we do what we want to do and you need to maintain that energy, that’s skateboarding for real. Following rules and being complacent is not skateboarding
It’s an institution, it’s important that it is still a tangible thing.
For sure, we count on it, it’s the bible dude [laughs].
What was your first ever issue of Thrasher?
I can’t really remember the first issue that I got but I remember seeing Dave Hackett on the cover doing a slash grind in a pool. He was all laid out
Arms back behind his head.
Yeah man that always rings out to me in Thrasher. To do that trick you’ve got to let it all hang out, there’s no control. You’re just kind of grinding or just kind of hitting the lip but that’s a fucking snap. You’re thrusting it and giving it 100 percent and it shows. That one always rang out to me because I can feel it when I look at the photo. To me that’s what I want to do, I want to feel everything, I don’t want to just accomplish the trick, I want to do it.
Can you give us a lesson that Jake passed on?
There’s no frosty cold ones when you’re dead how about that? You’ve got to keep living man. He would also always say that any time you are six feet above this is a good day so I will always take that. I love Jake, it’s been a rough one missing his energy and phone calls. I grew up with him as a mentor, not the best situation at all.
But things are in good hands.
Yes for sure. For me skateboarding is in such a fucking good place and the progression is so fucking lightning fast, it’s just amazing. I think Jake would really get a kick out of it as we all do. Yes it is in very good hands, as long as skateboarding and skateboarders can sustain it and are still vigorous its fucking going down.
Thanks for your recommendations John. I have been asking people when closing these things a few questions about right now. Firstly how has the Covid-19 situation affected you personally?
Yeah it sucks, we were supposed to have been in England in May and this shut us all down. Can’t get in the van and go on trips. Hooking up with your friends from far away is out. Doing simple shit is impossible, everything is locked off. You wake up and try to get motivated to do something and you’re shut down, it’s closed, can’t do that. It’s a little bit irritating. Just trying to keep the joy, keep it going, trying to figure out different ways of doing shit.
And getting out on your bike obviously.
Yes for sure, all the time. Me and my good friends we still go camping and still do our thing, still handle shit, you just have to do shit a little more skate vibes
Finally we are at a point in time where the Black Lives Matter movement can no longer be ignored. Are you hopeful a change can come and systemic racism can come eventually come to an end?
Man I feel like the whole world is taking a real look at things. Everybody is kind of asking themselves about how they can do better and I feel like that is a good thing. More positivity, more change and more good vibes.
Do you have any advice for readers out there?
Don’t read the comments on any posts [laughs]. Comments suck, people are feisty out there, I hate that shit. More strength though, say what you want, fuck ‘em.
Interview by Jacob Sawyer
If you enjoyed this selection be sure to check out all of our previous Isolation Station posts.