Interview with Eric Koston.
When did you start skating?
1986. My friend Matt- that's who I skated with. My older brother sometimes, but he would kind of go off on his own thing. Every once in a while we rolled with him and the older guys.
Any launch ramps?
Yeah, of course. In the beginning, I wouldn't even go off the top of the launch ramp- I'd always go off the side. I'd put my board in a crack in my driveway so it wouldn't move and learn how to ollie just put the wheels in the crack, and do stationary ollies.
Was there anyone you looked up to for inspiration back then?
My older brother. Mark Gonzales was one of my favorites. I tore-up his interview in Thrasher and put it on my walls.
What did you think when the big clothes / tiny wheels era came around?
The end? The end is near? No, I don't know. You didn't really think about it at the time, you were just rolling with it- you know what I mean? It worked somehow. The skating was pretty bad, but everyone was going down with it- vert skaters, everything.
Everyone was going all slow. It seems a lot better todayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬”like more momentum and style came back in at some point.
Yeah, exactly- it was pretty hideous at that point. There was no control.
What do you think of all the public skateparks that have been opening in the past few years?
Well, they're good, I think. They're always somewhere else- there's nothing like that by my house, really. There kind of is, but they suck. The ones everywhere else- in Vancouver they have all those good ones. Phoenix, too- that whole area. If I had that, it would just make skating easier- you'd have somewhere to go.
How do you think they could improve the designs of skateparks? Do you think they flow pretty good?
I don't know. Some do, some don't- it just depends on which one it is. It's random. No matter what, for street skating you figure out a way. Whether or not you like it, you still do it- even if it's something that's not convenient. Either way, you'll figure something out- that's just the way it goes, you know?
Is there a way they could improve the layouts of skateparks?
You could separate it. You'll kind of need a bank or a transition, quarterpipes, bowls, or whatever on parts of it. Usually, there's not a lot of space where you can have one of each.
They're talking about trying to copy aspects of Love Park, EMB, etc. at the etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest. Do you think that's a good idea?
Yeah, I think it's good, because those spots are pretty much kind of gone now, for the most part. If you can do it right, it's cool.
Are street obstacles better in wood or concrete?
I think concrete is better: more speed, just a better feel- as long as it's smooth. There are concrete parks that are huge that cost all this money, like the one in Calgary. It's a huge skatepark and the whole place is just completely uneven all throughout the entire thing. It's ridiculous- you spend all that money.
Was it all on a slant? Is that what you mean?
No, everything's lumpy, uneven concrete. It would be so much fun, but everything's just badly formed.
Do you remember some of the best parks you've skated?
Even the worst ones in Phoenix were good to me.
"A lot of it's usually the style, how people skate- which is what makes it a little more enjoyable to watch."
Do you enjoy contests these days?
Sometimes I do. It kind of depends on how many people are there- how wild it can get. When you're here at Tampa, you're scrambling- you can only fit so many people in that skatepark. When you're skating this park with five guys, it's so much fun- but when you throw twenty guys in the mix, you gotta worry about everybody else rather than just skating. That can kind of take its toll. My body can't really take it, as well (laughs)- the abuse of three solid days of pounding. They're [contests] fun sometimes, but they wear on me.
How could contests be improved?
Cut down all runs, all the break downs- that might be a way to do it. Just have a qualifier and a finals. A semi-finals, to me, is just a waste of time, cuz you're going to see those people do the same tricks again. It gets repetitive and it starts to lose its appeal. If people were going straight to the finals, those qualifying runs might be a little gnarlier. They're [contests] just too drawn-out. By the finals, you're sore and tired and you're only going to do something that you're going to land, cuz you don't want to fall anymore. You're just sick of (laughs)- when you're worn-out, you don't want to put any effort into slamming your body on the ground any more than you already have. You just end up doing the same tricks to avoid pain. That's when it starts to get watered-down and everyone's just not as excited.
Do regular street sessions prove a skater more than contests?
Yeah, for sure. You can't always land tricks in that one minute that they give you- the pressure and just that time, that moment, "Okay, do it now!"
It's kind of forced?
Yeah, exactly. It's kind of forced and it doesn't always work out. There's no way of saying, "This guy's horrible- he just never makes a trick in his run." You can't judge anybody in sixty seconds.
What's good and bad about being pro these days?
There's really not too much bad about it. I can't complain. I mean, I may complain about things, but it's nothing that's so serious where it's like the worst. There's more good than there is bad. You can't complain too much, or you can't take a complaint that far with what you're doing for a living.
Is it still pretty much good and fun for you in general?
The only thing maybe is getting so busy where you can't skate on your own or with your friends- just a session wherever on a ledge or curb.
Because you schedule is full?
Yeah. I'll get home and I don't even want to skate, cuz I've been on some trip or contest where all I've done is skate. When I get home, my body needs a rest.
How do you feel about how skateboarding has grown so huge and mainstream lately?
I can't complain. It helps everybody, obviously, who makes a living off of it, financially. It's not because of X Games and all that stuff- kids are into it. There are more kids, it's just appealing to them now- I guess it's that sort of cycle. But now it's at an all-time high that no one's ever really seen before. It's good- that's how all these parks are showing up and giving us places to skate, although it's killing most street spots. But you can keep looking if you want to put in the effort.
It's better to go to a lot of spots at night.
How do you feel about so much staircase and ledge coverage in magazines and videos?
I would like to see more [varied terrain], but I don't know if kids would like to see more. Obviously, they like to see more stairs, more rails. I wouldn't mind seeing other stuff like that- it's just different, funner variety.
Do you ever session small stuffÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬”curbs or parking blocks?
Yeah, flatground always. I need to just warm up and adjust to skating for the day. Curbs, yeah, like a little manual sidewalk or a good red curb for slappies.
A lot of pros say they still do slappies.
There are so many people that don't know how to do slappies. They ride up [the curb] like a quarterpipe and keep all the wheels down.
Do you ever skate backyard pools?
Yeah, occasionally. There's actually one pretty close to my house in Hollywood- about five minutes down the road. It's kind of steep, though, but it's fun. It's been around for a little while. The houses are abandoned.
Do you just slash around or try to pull some tricks in pools?
Slashing around is funner, just riding all the different transitions- going in from deep end to shallow, carving around, maybe a rock 'n' roll, carve grinds.
Do you have any goals?
I don't know if I really look too far ahead as far as goals to reach. I don't put too many expectations on myself as far as that goes. I just try to do what I like to do and take it from there. If anything for the future, [I'd like to] just be able to keep doing what I'm doing for a living. Obviously, I won't be able to physically at some point, but what I'm doing now is fine.
Are there any tricks you've been thinking about trying, or is it all spontaneous?
Sometimes it's spontaneous. Sometimes you know where you're going to be, you'll see something and that'll give you an idea of what you're going to do trick-wise. There are tricks that I think about that I want to do, you know- it's just a matter of when and where. I don't really try to map it out like, "Today I'm gonna nollie hardflip nose blunt slide on this rail," cuz it doesn't always work when you do try and think like that. It's like you check something out, then you try it and see how it feels. If it works, you keep trying it until you make it- whatever trick it may be. It can be disappointing (laughs).
How did you become affiliated with ES?
I started riding for etnies before ES was around. I think Rodney Mullen was the connection in the beginning, probably around 1993. He got me a pair, cuz they used to send him shoes back when I rode for 101 and he rode for World Industries. It took off from there.
When ES started, you switched over. What do you like about ES?
To me, it's the best shoe company as far as skateboarding goes. Just the whole program- the team, the people who run it, just everything. As far as design, I'm always thinking about that kind of thing. I'm pickier about stuff like that and I always keep thinking of different designs or how you can make it. It always changes, cuz it's always progressing as far as just thinking about all that stuff. Right now, it's starting to come-together to a point where I think it should be- my shoes along with the rest of the line- for everybody's sake. I like where it's going. I feel the company's potential.
How did you first get a pro model shoe on ES?
That was their idea. It just started like, "You want to start designing a shoe?" That was right about the time when ES started.
Did any older shoes inspire the design of yours?
No, I don't think anything really did from what I skated in before- probably just more what I was into at the time. That's kind of just how it goes.
Was your shoe mostly your design or the designers at the company?
I would usually try to draw it from scratch- which I had done with all of my shoes- and then work on the design with Franck Boistel. Just have them do it- the proper way of getting all the specs right from my drawing to get it produced, basically. I don't like Franck to change anything and he understands that, too. Which is like, "Just redraw this exactly the way I drew it." Just kind of take it from there and figure out everything else- materials and dimensions.
Who are some of your favorite skaters of all time?
That's a tough one. A lot of people. Mark Gonzales, still. When you think about it, people that may not even be skating now, like Jason Lee- his whole style- and Rick Howard, too. Just the way they've always done stuff, the way it looked. People now, like Brian Anderson and Andrew Reynolds, too. It's kind of all over the placeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬”just certain things about certain people. A lot of it's usually the style, how people skate- which is what makes it a little more enjoyable to watch.
More than just bustin'?
Yeah, just doin' a gnarly trick.