Recently we had the pleasure of hosting Lizard King and Erik Ellington to do a little cross promotion for their new Supra Footwear pro models. When I heard that they were gonna be coming by the shop, I knew I had to get some questions together for these two living legends. Fortunately for me (and now you, too) they had some time and were more than willing to chat about coming up in skating, Tom Penny and their opinions on internet videos. Tune in…
The Lizard King & Erik Ellington Interview
Where are you living these days?
EE: Studio City, California.
LK: My car.
EE: Where’s the car at?
LK: I gave it to Nuge. (laughs)
EE: (laughs) Where’s it parked right now?
LK: I seriously gave it to Nuge. I drove it to Bakerboys and he needed to go do errands, so I was like “you can take care of my car”
EE: Nice, so your residence is driving around L.A. somewhere.
LK: My home is mobile, it takes gas.
When did you start skating?
LK: Right when I saw the Baker video (laughs). Just kidding. When I was a little kid. I thought you sat on it. Butt boarding. That’s what I used to do, butt board down the sidewalk. It was the shit; I had an Uncle Wiggley board. Do you remember Uncle Wiggley? I had an Uncle Wiggley board with like, sick ass rails and shit.
EE: My first board was a Veriflex, but my first real board was a Rob Roskopp.
LK: My first twin-tip board was a Zorlac. I remember I thought it was like this pirate company cause they had all these sick skulls on ‘em.
EE: Yea, those were sick graphics. Pushead did those.
LK: No way! I thought it was the coolest, like “man I’m a pirate.” I begged my mom for that board forever too, I probably tortured the fuck out of her until she was like “Alright just take the fuckin’ board!” I got clear grip too.
EE: What year was that you started skating? Were you like ten or something?
LK: No I had a board when I was younger than that… I was like six or something. 24 years ago.
EE: I started skating in ’88 or ’89.
LK: I started walking around then (laughs)
Nollie flip, Ellington in full form
When did you turn pro?
LK: Um… I don’t know. (laughs)
EE: I’ll tell you. Actually I was only thinking of Deathwish, but you were pro before that.
LK: Yea I was pro before that.
EE: That’s right, you were pro for Think but nobody knew about that. (laughs)
LK: (laughs) That was fucked up. Very rude of you. (laughs) I don’t even know, I don’t know how old I was. I just remember turning pro and thinking it was awesome.
EE: I remember seeing that double set ollie from San Francisco and I was pretty hyped on that. I think it was in a Think ad.
LK: The ollie up the curb then ollie over the set! That thing was fucking huge man.
EE: That was around the time you turned pro, right? Around 2006 or something?
LK: I’ve been pro for-fucking-ever, bro. (laughs)
EE: I turned pro after the Zero “Misled Youth” video in 1999. So that’s 16 years ago?
LK: See and I just thought I was pro in 1999 cause I was watching your [Ellington] videos, and I was like “I’m like these dudes, I’m just not as good as them yet” (laughs)
Who were some of your early influences in skating?
LK: (laughs) You’re lookin’ at him! [To Ellington] Hey, you’re a good influence! I basically was obsessed with Baker when I was a kid. I liked Jamie Thomas a lot too, Jamie Thomas was like my favorite fuckin’ skater ever.
EE: Mine started probably with Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas. Then Tommy Guerrero and all those dudes, then [Matt] Hensley and Sal Barbier, Mike Carroll, Jason Lee. Then I got into like, Tom Penny and Alex Gall; “Trainwreck”. Now it’s Jon Dickson. Every four of five years there will be someone that comes along where I’m just like “Fuck I wish I could skate like them.” Jon Dickson is one of the newest all-
LK: All-around fuckin’ best dude ever!
EE: Yea, he’s so sick. And then like, Trainwreck, his approach to skating, he’s just super aggressive you know? He would just approach things so much differently.
LK: Basically just get to a spot and fuckin’ try to die.
EE: Yea! But he would just do it, or he would break his board then just grab whoever else’s board was around and smash that too, it was just like he was an animal ya know? So aggressive. Then [Tom] Penny cause of his grace. Antwuan, he’s definitely is up there.
What were some of your favorite videos growing up?
LK: Dude, fuckin’ “Misled Youth”, the “Sorry” videos… when I grew up it was your guys’ shit [Baker], anything that was like, fly and die. I don’t want to say the word “hammers” cause I’m not into it but… “axes” people that wanted to get “axes.” Jumping off shit, going full “axe-mode.” Anybody like that, those were the videos I watched. Like Geoff Rowley… Arto Saari, the eS Meinikmati video. When Meinikmati came out, dude I was just like “holy fuck, man.” Like Arto Saari, “people do that on a fuckin’ skateboard? This is nuts.”
EE: “High Five” was good too, that etnies video? With [Chad] Muska and Penny and all them… or was that…
EE: Yea, I was thinking of that one with Chad.
LK: Yea, like the “Day in the Life” with Chad and he grinds that double kink.
EE: Then Tom had the part in “High Five”. He had the last part, so sick.
LK: The first video I ever saw was “Fulfill the Dream”
EE: Was that the first video you ever saw?!
LK: Yea. And I remember instantly just being like “Holy fuck dude.” I only bought Muska or Steve Olson boards. Steve Olson was my favorite skater. Steve Olson rode off that roof to boardslide the rail and I was like “That’s how I wanna skate!”
EE: Somebody new kinda reminds me of Olson… Rowan! Rowan reminds me of Steve Olson a lot.
LK: We were talking about that at Baker Boys before we left, me and [Scott] Copalman. I just wanna see him [Rowan] put on some glasses and skate for a minute. (laughs)
EE: You know who’s a new one of my favorites too? Tristan. Tristan is the shit.
LK: Yea I like T-Funk. All those kids I don’t know ‘em really well, we’re on similar teams or whatever but I don’t get to hang out with ‘em too much.
EE: If you get along with somebody it makes you like ‘em that much more, too.
LK: Like Dickson, you’re hanging out with Dickson and you’re just stoked to hang out with him.
EE: Or it could burn you, it can kinda go the other way too. Like if you really think somebody’s sick then they’re kinda lame you’re like “Oh shit.”
LK: Instantly like “Fuck that dude!” I’ve got some “fuck those dudes.” I’m not gonna say that list but they know who they are. Pretty sure I’ve told them. (laughs)
EE: I’m probably on that list. (laughs)
LK: (laughs) you’re a good dude. Quality. Quality person.
Lizard, kicky nosestall revert. Pants on point
Do you see a big difference now in kids coming up now versus when you were coming up?
LK: If you can’t kickflip when you’re born you’re a fuckin’ loser so that’s pretty fuckin’ weird. Come out of your mom’s vagina and you can’t land a tre-flip, you’re not sponsored and you’re careers over. I feel like there’s shitloads of robots but there’s still kids with style.
EE: You know what, I think that without the social media and all this crazy shit so much in your face, there wasn’t quite as much emphasis on getting sponsored. Like in the 80’s and 90’s. I remember going like, “yea it would be rad to get free boards or something.” But now it’s out there so much, like basically a kid can start it out as a sport in school. Like you want to achieve this, achieve that.
LK: If you don’t have a gold medal by sixth grade you’re not gonna make it.
EE: Kinda like it’s a little more homogenized or whatever.
LK: Like tennis. You gotta get ‘em while they’re young, start training ‘em. Otherwise they’ll never be a champion!
EE: That’s what it is. Because it is in the X-Games or going into the Olympics or whatever. So it makes it a little bit more packaged and commercial. When I started skating, vert was on the verge of dying and street skating was kinda coming in. For years there was only street skating in magazines, vert skating was basically dead. There were no pool photos in magazines. Now it’s rad because there can be a dude that skates vert only, or X-Games only or street only and there can be photos of all that in a magazine and it’s accepted as everything. At the same time there’s so many parks and shit where a kid can grow up skating and after two years be able to skate transition, or a pool if he’s taken to it or whatever it is.
LK: More opportunity to shred.
EE: Yea there’s skateparks on every corner, which is pretty awesome. I wish I had grown up with that.
LK: When I was 17 and moved to California [from Utah] was right when Utah started building all these parks.
EE: That’s how it was when I left Arizona, too.
LK: I moved and I came back and was just like “What the fuck dude” where there was this shitty ledge before there would be two pools, a pyramid, all this shit. And it’s all perfect. That’s why young kids learn so quick now.
EE: They can skate everything, all day long. From like perfect bowls to skate: small, medium, large- to five stairs, eight stairs, everything.
LK: We used to have to skate 45 blocks to go skate a curb, to get kicked out and skate to the other curb spot to do a couple flatground kickflips.
EE: Whoever kept with skating though all those kinda things, like the adversity’s you were faced with street skating like dealing with security, which everybody still does to this day, but it wasn’t so easy. So the people that still skated wanted to skate. Nowadays it’s so fuckin’ easy to go session some park, they get bored with skating, and they’re done.
There are kids that pick it up and put it down super quick.
EE: Yea, right, the turnaround rate. Kids will pick it up and put it down a lot more than they ever did before. Or maybe we just didn’t see ‘em. Cause if you were skating for a couple years, back in the day, you really liked it cause you had to. You like, fought for spots.
LK: Now you can be like a once a weeker. Got a couple hours on a Sunday, go to the skatepark and fuck off for a bit then go back to your regular bullshit life. (laughs)
Whereas like if someone was skating street back then they might be like “Fuck this I’m just getting kicked out of spots, I’m done with it”
LK: You had to be a skateboarder. You don’t have to be a skateboarder to skate anymore.
EE: You had to truly love it and have passion for it.
LK: Can you imagine the amount of people that just buy their kids a skateboard now that are just like “I’ll just go drop ‘em off at the skatepark.” It’s their baby sitter. “I’m gonna drop this fool off, do my own thing for a bit, then come back.” The kid doesn’t even have to be into skating.
When you were coming up did you expect to have a long skate career?
EE: Oh I didn’t even know. It wasn’t something where I was like “oh my career is gonna be so and so long” but I do remember though when Hensley retired I was super into Matt Hensley. And I was shattered. Like “oh my god he’s retiring” but that was like the thing, 22 or twenty whatever, that seemed really old. And I think the industry considered that pretty old at the time. I remember Sal Barbier was retiring and he had a shoe and it was crazy, but that was normal. To retire at about 24-25. That’s the way it was.
LK: I was like “I’m gonna be getting paid forever!” (laughs) “Someone send me another check! I’m out here!”
EE: Now people can turn pro at 24 and its normal. Nowadays the people like Tony Hawk, or Tony Alva, Christian Hosoi, Lance Mountain and all those guys are all out there still killing it, still pro, still going on trips, signing autographs and doing their thing just like they were doing back in the day. And it’s a rad bar to be set. It’s rad; they’re still really passionate about it.
What are Supra trips with Tom Penny like?
LK: Fuckin’ Tom Penny is the best skater ever, dude. Every morning it’s a whole new excitement to see what he’s gonna be wearing cause it all matches no matter what. He looks tight. His gear has gotten so baggy that we want him to tighten it back up a bit though.
(laughs) I like the baggy Penny.
LK: Oh we want him baggy, but not that baggy.
EE: Its crazy to see, we were just in London with him and we skated South Bank. To see him skate around South Bank was such a treat.
LK: This guy rolled up and I guess he’s known Tom for twenty years or something. And someone was like “Oh what’s different about Tom now?” and he was like “Nothing, still doing his thing. But actually he does have normal shoes on, normally he skates here in Timberlands.” How cool is that? Skating in Timbo’s just doing tre-flips and switch frontside flips and shit just not giving a fuck. That’s why he’s so talented, cause he can skate however, whenever, basically.
Yea, it seems like he totally doesn’t care what’s going on in skating.
LK: He cares about skating.
EE: He’s not trying to follow anything, he just loves to skate and he’ll do it when he wants to. And he wants to skate all the time so… yea. He’s fuckin rad to be on trips with. It’s still that thing, like we go on trips with him a lot. But if he gets stoked that you did something I still get really giddy even though I’m 37. I could be 50 or 60 and if Tom Penny says he’s psyched on a trick it’s like “Ah dude! Yes!”
LK: Like, go in a corner “Yes! Penny said what’s up!”
EE: It’s sick. That feeling will never go away.
What’s it like working on full videos versus shorter internet videos?
LK: Fuck the Internet.
EE: I dunno. I think the internet videos are whatever. If you go on a tour it’s a cool outlet to be able to use the tour footage and stuff. But I’m at disagreement with all these like, internet video parts. Just because, to me, it takes a little bit of the impact away. You know, you work for something and you want it to be kinda archived as like a DVD or something that sits on the shelf and looked at like five years from now. It’s hard to go dig up a video part online and appreciate it. Sure you can YouTube it or something like that. To me it seems like there’s less value put on it man. I dunno. I could talk shit about it all day but I don’t really feel like-
LK: Lets not stoop to the internet’s level. The internet just sucks.
EE: It’s cool to use for what it is. But I think that sometimes it can be like… it gives people too much.
LK: Watch porn. Don’t fuckin’ put out four hundred video parts a day. Check out some chick getting fucked, then make a new skate video a couple years down the road. There’s things that it’s for and things that it’s not for. Rubbing one out is perfect.
People forget about internet videos so quick.
LK: It’s annoying man!
EE: yea, people forget about it quick. You see a big project like the new Vans video that just came out and its rad. They worked for years on that project. We worked for years on “The Deathwish Video”. And you see a difference in the quality of the product that comes out. It’s not just some half-assed garbage put out.
LK: It’s amazing. Like, actually amazing. It like, makes an impact on your soul or something. You get the video and you’re like “fuck yea dude!” not like “Oh cool. Haha. Next.”
EE: The value in waiting for something, it teaches you patience. It’s like, people don’t have patience anymore. I’m a victim of it too, like, “Now! Now! Now!” But I remember the feeling I got when I got the Plan B “Questionable” video. It’s like, you were waiting for so long and when it finally came out you lived by it.
LK: When only the shop got a copy first and no one else got shit. So then you’re at the shop, watching the video. Then they finally get copies and you and your homies hoard the copies, then you’re just at each other’s house watching the video.
EE: It teaches you appreciation. And the internet has a tendency to invalidate that appreciation.
LK: I still appreciate the porn. Whoever invented that, thanks. My shoulders a little sore, my elbows a little crinkity, but you know what, I’ve come multiple times.
(laughs) Rad. Thank you guys, this was awesome. I really appreciate it.