Great chat with a NorCal skater about graduating from grom life, the influence of a legendary generation and the joy of skateboarding.
Hey Malachi, how are you?
I’m doing good just chillin’, just got back from Catalina Classic that was a rad time! everyone there killed it!
What did you enjoy most about it?
Being on a island, the course, being there with all my friends that I’ve skated with forever. Having the Five Mile Family there to chill with. Also the event was really well run.
Your family stretches across 5 miles?
Hahaha – na, I ride for Five Mile Longboards. They’re under resource distribution with all the guys that put on the race, which is rad. Everyone over there are really good dudes.
Are you also a Shocker?
Hahahahahahaha – Sara is more than a shocker; she’s like a Shocker gone wrong. If Five Mile had a name for what they are it’d be black sheep. We’re all a little different and out there, it’s pretty awesome.
How is Malachi different?
I get pretty stoked off of dark humor and I think I’m the last of my generation that learned how to foot brake and predrift before stand up slide. Not to mention a hotel floor felt better than a bed to me for a long time. Saying a dirty joke at the wrong time is probably my trade-mark too.
Hit me with your best bad joke.
I guess the best joke I know is that we can be professional at bombing hills haha. It’s pretty rad to go to a skate park and have no one know who the fuck you are but on a hill you have street cred.
We gotta make that term stick.
How come groms are learning stand up slides first these days?
I feel it’s because that’s all that’s in videos. People haven’t been putting out as much grip and rip, pre drift… I think it’s because people thought it was played out for a while. I still love it and get really excited watching someone blair through a corner.
Do videos have that big an influence on the scene?
Without videos no one can see what’s going on in other areas. No one would have seen what the Bay was doing without Darryl Freeman’s part and Bombing Calremont, Second Nature, Bay Sessions and all the Caliber media over the last two years. The videos have been insane, pushing the sport forward. It’s like a competition of who can put out the best stuff! Major shout outs go to Skate House too, they really pushed the scene.
What’s your favourite type of skate media?
Anything fast with hard skating and good music – not a lot of trees and scenic shots, just raw skating and the real feel. I watch a lot of “skate videos” – not downhill; free ride stuff. Watching a John Cardiel part or all the old Mark Gonzales and World Industry videos really gets me going!
Where do you see skate media going in the next year?
I make videos called ”Bad News”, hopefully I’ll make some stuff people dig. ”All raw and b-roll shot gunning beers and blow up dolls” was our last one. I want people to show skating and a skater’s style instead of trees and nature shots. Not all videos need that but they’re rad.
When did you start skating?
I started skateboarding when I was a little guy. My uncle got me stoked on it and gave me some skate shirts. I pushed around from when I was 6 till I found downhill. Uncle John saved me from being bored! It was my way of life when I was 14; that’s when I found downhill and I’ve never stopped, I just kept wanting to skate everything I could.
What got you into it?
There was a shop called Tactis sk8 in Loomis, the town I grew up in. I stumbled in one day and watched the Coast and Landy videos from Evolutions 4 and the Madrid video with Sean Mallard bombing GMR. I was hyped! Dan got his son Keith Henderson and my friend Hayden Conroy to take me to a hill and I bombed it – went through a hairpin, high sided, ate shit, and got hooked.
Your Uncle skates?
My uncle is the man! He’s 6’4, two hundred-something pounds and can still tre-flip, kick-flip, heel-flip, skate a bowl, whatever you want. Skate rat forever. Taught me a lot and kept me from being a total idiot growing up.
What would growing up have been like without a skateboard?
Probably in a lot more trouble. I have way too much energy, skating was a productive way to release it instead of getting into worse trouble than skating got me in, haha.
Where are you from?
I was born in Santa Cruz and grew up all around Nor-Cal. Loomis is where I live now, right at the bottom of the mountains.
How big an influence is your Uncle on you?
Shit, he moved away and he’s still one of my best friends to this day! Always has great advice and keeps me laughing.
Do you skate with anyone else from his generation?
Well, I guess all the older guys in the scene are from his generation, so out at events everyone’s his generation, and those guys are who keep me hyped the most. They’re the best to skate with. They smacked me in the head so many times growing up; I don’t know where I would be today without the older guys in the community.
Which ones have been the biggest influence on you?
DT, all of Team Green Scoot and Raggie have been cool to me since I started. Mercado, the biggest oldest turd out there; Dubes – that guy’s shut me down a few times when I was being a twat; Vegas Mike Snyder, he has had a big hand in helping me grow up, and even when I’ve really messed up he always treated me the same – all around good guy; Danny Connor, one of the best dudes around, the Kenny Powers of downhill the past and future, haha; STRIKER coast founder and one of the radest guys out there; and Eli Smouse! Michael Nahemow, one arm bandit, the youngest old guy I know – keeps me stoked!
What is team Green?
A group of mobbers, bomb any hill – green hair and gnarly as hell.
Is your hair the same as your last name?
Hahaha! No, I wish, but I had a cheetah euro trash mullet once. Really wanted to be fast like a cheetah for Laguna Seca and Catalina last year, didn’t quite work out – haha.
How did all the history around you shape you as a skateboarder?
Everyone around me since the birth of my skateboard life always drilled into my head ‘speed is the ticket’; if its not fast its not worth doing! So, like Charlie Sheen says, I only have one speed: go!
Who is the Charlie Sheen of downhill?
I’ve been told I am by like one or two people, but that’s only because I’m pretty sure I’m in the top 5 worst (best) groms ever. I made sure people knew who I was, whether from skating or doing something stupid; not intentionally, just from not knowing that being that dumbass not a good idea. To anyone reading: this I’ve learned! I am sincerely sorry.
There are a lot of guys out there I’d say have passed me up. I’m not sure if naming them would be a good idea, they might not know they are a Sheen yet.
Why did you want to be known?
It was always to make people laugh. I really just wanted to be known for my skating. After some hard work and falls it eventually happened that way, so I’m stoked!
What kind of stupid things did you do?
Some are unmentionable. I remember telling a pregnant trailer park lady at Maryhill not to drink beer because she’d have a dumb baby, and she chased me down and I ended up juking her out and then her and her three big corn-feed men came looking for me so I went stealth and changed my stuff. I’ve instigated some stuff over the years; nothing too bad but pretty obnoxious.
It’s true though. Alcohol can make your baby push MONGO!
hahahahahahahahahhahahah that should be on the label like a hazard: your baby will have bad style and will be teased for life
How did you find the light?
The older guys I have so much respect for; they really do care about us young guys. After being around for a little and getting some bad deals, a few of them sat me down and put me straight. I’m really thankful for that, and if you’re reading this, thank you! You know who you are.
Are you still a shitty grom?
I wouldnt say so; I’m 18 so I’m still a young guy but I work a job and pay bills. I had life sneak up from behind and hump me into submission. I think it happens to everyone – just have to stay stubborn and never give up.
Is being 21 enough to stop being a grom?
I think attitude and the way you present yourself labels you as a grom. I know some groms that are like 30, they still don’t know how to handle or take care of themselves. This is a shout out to all those guys: you know who you are, just stop! You can do it, be a man (or woman) or at least not a Barney.
Would you still skate hard if nobody got to know about it?
Oh yeah! I skate by myself all the time and I don’t want anyone there. Skating is my escape and passion, I’d do it without a sponsor or with one. I’d race with no sponsor. I do what I love, and that won’t ever stop!
What is the soul of Nor-Cal skating?
The soul of Nor-Cal skating is all the history and the style. Everyone loves going fast, whether its a fast standup slide or a fast pre-drift through mountains or a fast fall – everyone just loves going fast. We pride ourselves on style, and I don’t think anyone owns knee pads or elbow pads here. And this is where it all started for a lot of people; Cliff Coleman mobbing Bay hills to Darryl Freeman doing one of the gnarlyest parts to this day, all stand up on a street board and kryptos. To JM, Noah and Rizzo getting crazy doing the Bombing Claremont video and Second Nature. One of my first trips was Cliff Coleman’s birthday, mobbing around in Mercado’s van all around the Bay, bleeding through my pants because I fell so much. I left a little piece of myself on every hill in Berkeley back then! Liam actually sent me down a hill there for my first big crash – I’ll always be hyped on that day, the heart and soul of it all. Everyone here is just so hyped to skate down anything and everything.
Was it intimidating being so young surrounded by so much gnar?
If anything it made me want to go harder. Seeing how much fun everyone was having, I just wanted a piece of that – that speed, going 50! I just wanted to feel what they were experiencing.
What do you feel when you go fast?
Freedom, pure freedom, adrenalin and happiness. Nobody can tell me what to do; I’m on a hill, blazing down it ‘till the end, and then I go right back up do it again and try to go faster than the last time.
Is there a big grom community out there?
Oh yeah, even in our community, and they’re crazy-good. Insane to see how good these little guys are. I mean a lot of them haven’t had the big fall yet. That’s your make it or break it in skating; if you can’t take a fall you’ll quit.
Who did you ride with as a micro grom?
Ricky Garland, Hayden Conroy, Keith Henderson. I was tossed into the scene pretty young so I skated with everyone I could, but those were my local homies. We skated every day – they’re still out doing their thing: skating, and we still skate to this day.
What was your big fall?
First big one was Berkeley. Liam told me to unsight this hill, I did and hit something. Board shot sideways and ground my back off, I lay in bed ‘till my road rash dried up – got back on my skateboard and got way better, because I knew that’s what would happen and I could take it. Since then I’ve hit guard rails, bears, trees, the pavement, a lot! Broke helmets but it doesn’t stop me. You just have to keep going and remember that the feeling of skating is worth it!
You hit a bear and lived?
Yeah! While skating my favorite mountain run with my friends Davis Vannasing and Ricky following in the car, it the ran out while we were mobbing down this straight. I was right behind Davis; he dodged and I rammed straight into it, flipped over it and landed like a cat. Got up in a full sprint! I guess it got stunned because Ricky said it turned and ran straight back down the hill.
It was funny when I told my mom and she asked if the bear was okay – I kinda wondered how much she cared about me after that, hahaha!
What events made an impact on you growing up?
Maryhill, Bonelli, all the outlaws, any event I could scrounge enough to get there. I’ve had some times where I knew I was the biggest scrub!
Whats special about Bonelli?
Bonelli was my first race and I did horribly, so naturally I wanted to do it again, and last year I got 6th in open so I was pretty stoked.
Do you compete?
Hell yes, that’s my favourite! The goal is to be one of the best, not so you can beat people but beat yourself, conquer yourself, be the best you can be. That’s how I look at it. I always want to beat myself down the hill, and if someone’s ahead of me then beat them I guess.
Like Mark Short says – beating the ideal imaginary skater.
That guy is insane! Every time I see a video of him or when I see him skate I get so inspired. He had that thing that just made me wanna skate, and he goes fast!
What do you want to be the best at?
Being fast. I just want to go as fast as the hill will let me. If someone goes faster than me, I didn’t go as fast as the hill could let me and that bums me out haha.
How did your first season go?
In 2011, I saved up and worked all winter and spring to get my own suit. I got to at least quarter finals for every race I went to, I’m pretty sure. Then because of that I got invited to both Laguna Seca and Catalina and got my ass handed to me! But it’s all learning. Traveled around last year a lot, did well at some races did bad at some, it was a good year, haha. This year has been a little different than last year.
What did you learn at the end of that season?
Not to give up! Not to stress yourself out, stay focused, surround yourself with positivity!
Who gets invited to Laguna and Catalina?
Laguna Seca was like top 50 in North America or something like that, Catalina was if you’ve made a name and proved yourself in the scene to get invited; at least how that’s how I saw it, and I feel really fortunate to have been able to race both.
What were you riding that year?
Five mile war horse, navigator trucks, road rider wheels. I’ve recently changed my set up from that; Five Mile has had my back for a couple of years and has supported me through good and bad times. I no longer skate with Road Rider, so that’s left me open to skate new wheels and its been pretty rad: a different feel for me, and I’m pretty stoked on it! Found a wheel I’m pretty hyped on.
What’s your new favourite wheel?
A round one, haha! I’d have to say Divines; I’ve ridden them since before I rode with Road Rider and they were the first wheel I put on my board after. I was really excited to be able to ride them again. It’s cool when you skate something you want to, not because you have to.
When did you first get sponsored?
I’ve always been a shop rat for Tactis and big Dan Henderson. He really took care of me and got me all my gear – of course after I worked in his shop and earned. Without him I don’t know where I’d be today! I have a lot of love for that guy. First company was Five Mile almost two years ago when I was 16.
Did skating change after you got a sponsor?
Not really. I just had more of a reason to better myself and represent the companies I rode with better. A lot of people stop working at their skating after they get sponsored. They act like they made it or something and they don’t have to try as hard. That’s not my style. I never thought of it that way; I don’t feel like you’ve made it unless you’re as good as you can possibly be, and that just never stops: you can always get better. The worst thing I think I’ve done is pressured myself and pushed myself so hard I couldn’t focus and didn’t race as well as I could’ve. A lot of that isn’t from sponsors, just thinking and dwelling on things too much. The best thing to do is relax and keep your eyes on what’s really important.
If you could support yourself through professional skateboarding, would you still work?
Of course, to be a professional skater! The people who make it put their time and life into it. That’s my goal: to skate and work in the industry. I can’t go a day without doing something related to skating; I get all grouchy if I don’t skate, haha.
How was the 2012 season for you?
The 2012 season was a big one for me, and it was my first time traveling a lot. Not only that, but last year I learned a lot about racing and what not to do. Again, do not over think things; it’ll destroy you! I got to go to a lot of races though Laguna Seca, Catalina Classic, Maryhill, Cathlament, Buffalo Bill, Calgary Worlds, Bonelli – I did well at some and crappy at others. Last year showed me a lot, and I grew up a lot from it. I’m really thankful to have been able to travel and skate as much as I have.
What lessons did you learn in 2012?
I learned not to lose sight of myself and to keep focused. I learned you shouldn’t get caught up in the bullshit, and you should see the big picture. 2012 was a eye opener for me.
When are we gonna see MG in Europe?
Hopefully some day soon! I’ve heard way too much not to make it out there. Way too much to skate and too many people I need to meet there.
What are your plans for this year?
My plans for this year are to get everything straight; keep skating and working, saving up keeps the family and lady happy, and go wherever skating and life takes me.
Where would you like to be in 3 years?
I would love to be working for a company I skate for, to have everyone around me hyped and positive, and keep the people I care about happy and in my life. Hopefully have a degree in marketing and still be skating and making videos – keep an eye out for Bad News Media!
Choose 3 numbers between 1 – 15
3, 9, 10
3 what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
9 what would you choose as your last meal?
Mashed potatoes and fried cat fish with lots of gravy.
10 who’s your favourite skater?
I have a lot! John Cardiel, Mark Gonzales, Ben Rayborn, Andy Roy, Steve Olson, Lance Mountain, Omar Salazar, Neil Blender, Natas, Jason lee, Sean Mallard, Jason Jesse, Stu Graham – anyone bombing hills and skating hard. It’s cool to go to a session or the skate park and see someone destroying it harder than everyone else.
Bro! It’s been great getting to see life through your eyes. All the best on the rest of your journey.
Yeah dude, thank you – it’s been a good talk, I’ll have to make it out to come skate with you as soon as I can.
Any thank yous?
Yeah, I’d like to thank Dan Henderson of Tactis Skate.
Dan Kasmar and Cody Shea from Five Mile.
My mom and family.
Paul la Grassa of Navigator for backing me up for a while.
Connor Welles; he got me to a lot of races last year and helped me out a lot.
Michael Nahemow for giving me a place to crash whenever I need it, and his suit to race in.
Josh Torez for putting me in Bay Sessions videos and all the times I’ve crashed at his place.
Hayden Conroy for everything he and his family have done for me; they’ve helped me a lot.
Everyone I’ve skated with and who has helped me grow up throughout the years.
I’d like to thank my girlfriend Marissa and her family for helping and supporting me; I’m really grateful for them.
Shoutout to DJ Yoga