The Queen of Cali opens up to us in this candid conversation about SoCal skating, his best ever year of skating, local legends and his quest for a lady friend.
HELLO MR CAPPS, how are you?
GOOD MORNING! I just woke up and I’m getting into the morning routine.
Why are you up so early?
My life is pretty boring at night so I go to bed early. I don’t mind though because I get more time to get things done when I wake up.
What’s your morning routine?
Poop, Shower, Clothes, Poop, Bong, Breakfast. BOOM.
Bacon and Eggs is my favourite for sure. I usually end up having some milk and cereal.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in California! I was born in Walnut Creek NorCal and when I turned 7 my family moved to SoCal. Been here ever since.
What was it like growing up there?
Pretty mellow. School in SoCal was kinda gnarly for me, but other than that it was a typical Cali life. Go to the beach, hang out with peeps and see movies. I went to the drag races a lot when I was little, my family is really into that. Skating/Racing really changed things for me, that’s when my eyes were opened to some pretty cool stuff.
Are there differences between NorCal and SoCal?
Oh yeah. The vibe is way different. People care about different things and how you act. I think nowadays though there is a wash, North is accepting stuff the South does and vice versa. SoCal you have to be on point all the time, NorCal is way mellower and less stressful.
Does that reflect in the skateboarders?
Definitely, I think it reflects more in how they like to skate rather than how they skate. NorCal is down for the chill runs and skating with the homies, SoCal wants to race and get faster.
Are you more NorCal or SoCal?
I’m a mellow dude at rest as if I was up North hanging out in the redwoods, but I have been South hustling for so long that I bleed SoCal life and skating.
How did you get into skating?
Growing up, my friends and I had many phases, bikes, scooters, mountain bikes and eventually we stumbled on chopping trick decks into minis. Digging deeper into that led us to Silverfish and from there it was all downhill, literally.
Were you a young keyboard warrior?
OH YEAH. Silvferfish was my stomping ground for sure. I would get into huge arguments about stuff. I have chilled out a lot though since then. Nowadays you can find me ranting on facebook to little kids.
What’s your most successful trolling strategy?
Trolling is easy, you just question the faults of the other side every time they say something. Stay away from defending yourself, it’s all about flipping it on the other guy. If you are in the green (haha see what I did there? SF joke) then others will back you and it’s all cream.
Who was in your grom gang?
All my old homies stopped skating before they did a lot of events, there were like 5-6 of us. Colton Linton skated with me all the time, we just hung out all the time. When I was a grom rolling around, Andrew Mercado was who I was always with. Laguna kids and Peter Kell, we skated often. That was like 2008-2009 ish.
Who is C.Linton?
My best friend in Middle and Highschool. After Highschool, I only got more involved with skating more and more and he was doing real life, so we kind of split paths. I dug around silverfish though and bought his old board back. That was pretty rad for me.
Is it hanging on your wall?
Yep, I have a lot of boards hanging on my walls. I have quite a few boards, been collection top-mounts for sometime now.
What’s your favourite one?
There is no 1 favourite, that’s too hard haha. I have 3 Victor Handmade Race Decks hanging above my computer, and 2 Comet VooDoos, 2005 Shrunken Head and 2007 (Coltons board).
Who is Andrew Mercado?
Andrew Mercado AKA Merchoo Choo AKA Choo Choo (how he races), and a whole lot of other names, is one of the people who helped shape Southern California skating to the way it is now. He was the driver of the infamous Dagger/Madrid/Mercado Van, R.I.P. never forgotten. He would get GMR sessions together, pack the van full to the brim and then some. Back then you could find Tim Del, James Kelly, Skinny Tire Brett Nelson, John Rogers, Jimmy Flindt, Brandon Gonzales, Louis Pilloni, Steve Wu!, Kevin Klutario & Danny Connor when they could, just to name a few bouncing around in the back trying not to get sick from Andrews driving.
The main reason most of those dudes are really good at racing is the Cali Outlaw Series of days past. 2 years packed full of awesome races year round. Everyone wanted to throw a race but Andrew could bring people together. We still have some of the old races every year, as well as a very strong community that puts on tons of events all year long.
When was the Cali Outlaw Series started?
Well, it actually started back in like 2000, 2001? They actually held legit IGSA races down some of Cali’s gnarliest hills. After the funding went away and the series died, skaters were still riding the same hills so it only made sense to keep racing. The spots we race today are conveniently tucked away from people so we don’t get bothered and can race all day.
Is anyone who organised them back then still stoking?
Not really on the organizational side, but some of the riders are still kicking around taking runs here and there.
Who else was fundamental to building the community to where it is today?
Have to give a shout out to Tye Donnelly. He has put on a race every month for the past 5 years I think now? That’s a lot of outlaw races. A lot of those races helped me learn and give me steam for bigger races. It also gave me a way to work my way through the ranks.
What did you learn from lurking with Andrew?
Dam, what didnt I learn from Andrew? We did a lot of driving, and I was a grom so I just asked question after question. There was a lot of new stuff coming out so at times we were all learning about how stuff worked. But he definitely taught me how to act right. How to pull it off, make shit happen. There could be a book of things Andrew opened my mind to. It’s like me just telling you how to grow up, that won’t work, you have to find your Mercado and learn something.
What’s your current rank?
When did you first race?
Bonelli, October 2008. It was the first race for a lot of the guys. James Kelly too, he won Juniors and Open. It was awesome.
“If you are not having fun skateboarding, what’s the point?”
Did you have fun?
If you are not having fun skateboarding then what’s the point? For reals though, on a level of 1-10 we had it on a steady 11 of fun, casually jumping up to 12+ when it got hectic. Which was all the time. A quiet moment was rare. The Van was a magical place.
What’s your favourite Van memory?
All the ones I can remember at one time without help are my favourite. Anything that happened in the Van was for a reason, and there was something to learn from it, positive or negative. The Maryhill Roadtrip ‘10 was so crazy. SOOO CRAZY. Another random memory of laughs was driving out of little TJ after a big session, Van is packed, driving past Tim Del and Brandon, and I throw a full coffee cup perfectly into their window and douse them. Mercado then drives 100+ out of the twisty canyon laughing the whole way.
Why did you want to go fast?
My family is heavily into racing. When I was little I raced go-karts for a bit then faded out. I have been going to the drag races and car meets, shows, events since I cant even remember. Apparently I have been to the Indy 500? Whatever, cars are a little eh to me, but driving one is a whole different story. I’m a pretty competitive person, especially when it comes to strategy stuff. Racing is a game to me; predicting, planning, gambling. Actually going fast, like speed, is just about knowing you are going flat out. Hauling ass is a great feeling.
Do you have a strategy that works for most heats?
It really depends who I am racing and what the road is like. Once I know how the road works I have a strategy for most situations. I know where I am good and where I am bad, who I can work and who I have to work to get.
How does your race history help your skateboarding?
Racing is all about experience. Knowing what to do in any situation, knowing what you can do and get away with. That’s key for sure.
What other races did you do that first year?
I went to Bonelli again a month or two later, the course was updated and so was I. There were a few Cali Outlaws in there as well. Toyland is a fond memory. Tim Del floured the whole inside of the Tactis RV. That was freaking awesome. After that trip I got my first Aerolid. A landingham.
What was the highlight of that year?
I was winning a few outlaws, but there was one race where I had Jeff Budro and Evren Ozan in the finals and I beat them on a gnarly road. That was super legit for me. After that Jeff offered me to ride Sector boards on flow. I was super hyped.
“Topmounts are a California thing. The roads call for it and it’s just how a normal skateboard is. Not dropped, or wedged like an evo.”
You’re only about topmounts & Aerolids?
Topmounts are a California thing. The roads call for it and it’s just how a normal skateboard is. Not dropped, or wedged like an evo. Aerolids is an OG thing to me. Its an honor to wear an aerolid, especially an old version.
So skateboard racing is like highlander – if you beat the team manager you get to join the gang?
Haha if you are an up and comer and you beat some dudes that are sponkored on a legit hill you get some credit. Flow was just a test program for me to see if I would explode with talent, which I didn’t.
Did you pass the test?
In retrospect I could have been on Sector9 sooner than I may have thought, but I was offered a pretty awesome job and ride at Ladera and Gunmetal. I did that for awhile then had the opportunity to be on Sector9 for reals.
What are Ladera and Gunmetal?
Ladera is a longboard company homegrown by Ryan Roberts from Ladera, California. Gunmetal was a truck company created within to lower costs and have something unique during a time when there were not a lot of choices.
Were they your first sponsors?
My first sponsor was Bombquad Longboards. I rode for Big80 which turned into Nersh. Then when I was on Sector Flowgram I ditched Nersh and rode Sector wheels. Ladera and Gunmetal was my first real deal. I learned and accomplished a lot while working and riding for them. Many thanks to Ryan, he hooked it up.
Was sponsorship important to you when you first started out?
To me sponsorship was legitimacy. It still is to me now. Before people traveled everywhere and could show what they had there was a lot of “dude you suck you haven’t done well at any races” blah blah. It’s another step in the equation. I do my best to help my sponsors, they help me where they can, I work hard and go to events and then things start moving.
What do you have to offer your sponsors?
I am deeply involved with my local community, I attend as many events possible both local and distant. I am active on social media and rep my sponsors well.
What does a skater do to earn sponsorship?
Skate skate skate. Go to events, brand yourself well. Make friends. Find what you like in the industry and see what you can do to better fit for them and work to it.
Does the pressure of going pro change your enjoyment of skateboarding?
I don’t really consider myself pro yet. I mean I kinda am but not really. Sector9 doesnt make me a board with something me on it, I have not won a huge race, and I dont get paid a salary. But I do put a lot of pressure on myself at races to win and do well, especially at races I have been to before. I just expect greatness from myself and when I don’t deliver what I thought I was going to do I beat myself up about it.
Is being pro pro just about the salary?
You are not pro unless you get paid, but I think you need to have the board and the win to be able to claim it.
What are you riding right now?
I ride the entire Sector9 board line, I find a use for each deck. Ronin Trucks in all widths and angles. Riot cups and tubes make the Ronins feel extra nice. Venom Wheels and Bushings. Vicious Griptape so I don’t slip off and Rogers Brothers Hardware. I also like to use a Kreep Skategood California footstop.
Are those all your sponsors?
I also rep NJK leathers and gloves, Kennys Components and Drake Inc.
I didn’t know NJK had a skate team!
Hah! One day I walked into Kelcey’s office and said I want to be on the team. Hes like, there is no team, to which I replied ”yeah, well I still want to be on.” I then asked him to fit me for a new suit. He asked me what I wanted it on it, I said “No, what do YOU want on it?” That’s how I got the pirate sun on my back and the NJK patch on my shoulder. That suit means a lot to me.
How has your role in S9 evolved over the years?
I don’t think it has changed much. I just keep doing my thing, repping, going to races and naturally I’m getting more done. I have been testing a lot of new stuff coming out lately, the new line is sure to be badass.
What did you get up to in 2010?
Got a new suit, had a crazy Maryhill trip, got on Ladera and Gunmetal.
When did you first get the opportunity to skate outside your city?
After my first race I started going to GMR. My first out of town race was SLO and my first far away race was NorCal at BoFax. I got a speeding ticket on that trip. It was totally worth it though, had a great time.
Great Morning Runs?
I have had so many it’s ridiculous.
What’s been your favourite year competing so far?
My time on Sector9 has been pretty rad, I really kicked it in gear when I started riding for Ronin. I went to the most races this past year than I have before, and racked up more podiums.
What was your first big podium?
Winning SDDRL#10 put me in a good place at first. I won and podiumed at a bunch more SDDRL before I did well at a bigger race than that.
“I have known all the people that run the companies I ride for, for a while. They are my friends, people I actually talk to all the time. I have deep Cali roots so for me it means something to have everything I use made from where I live.”
Must feel good to ride for local companies!
Yeah it’s actually totally badass. I have known all the people that run the companies I ride for, for a while. They are my friends, people I actually talk to all the time. I have deep Cali roots so for me it means something to have everything I use made from where I live.
What’s your role in Venom?
I have known Zak since he started DHing. I am just there to test stuff and bounce ideas off of. I ride the wheels hard and give my feedback on them.
How does riding products designed by friends and made in your ‘hood affect your game?
It makes it pretty easy to get the gear I need most of the time. Its also nice becuase my friends and I usually have a similar line of thought on what needs to be made or changed. Being close to the brands you are supported by can only help you.
Where did your year start off?
Went to a Agenda Tradeshow in Long Beach and had a badass time. Couple outlaws, won my first big race (Sonoma Old School).
How did getting that under your belt help with the year’s challenges?
Just another step. Can’t let 1 win blow up your head. Unless its the champs or something. This is like my 6-7th year of riding, I am pretty salty ha.
What was the next competition you hit up?
The next day there was a race in Santa Cruz, Roscoes Wrecker, that I managed to get 4th at. It was a good weekend for me. After that some more outlaws then DH Disco.
What’s a DH Disco?
Its a big slide jam with ramps that Muir Skate puts on every year. Pretty much a big party while everyone watches people skate a lot better than them.
Are you one of the watchers?
Yes definitely haha. I like watching though. Skating is so badass to watch, especially when its done by people who know what they are doing.
Who’s your favourite person to lurk?
I lurk everyone. I like to socialize with the out of town Cali peeps. Or my racing buddies.
What kinds of skating give you the biggest smiles?
Going really fast always gets me hyped, or knowing I just nailed a section of the road. Riding close with your buddies is the most fun.
Where did you get the most smiles so far this year?
GMR and Laguna Beach for sure. Many runs were taken with the homies.
What was next after the Disco?
Catalina, Jakes Rash and Brittania for me.
Was this your first time racing in Canada?
Nope, I had gone in 2011 and 2012. That was a lot of fun.
How did you do in those races?
Catalina I got 8th, which was pretty awesome. Jakes rash I went out first round which really made me mad because I thought it was a course I can do really well at. Brittania was gnarly with the rain, I’m glad to have made it through that race without getting hurt. I got a tattoo on that trip too that had me stoked.
Do you have any skate tattoos?
I have a Dagger and wording on my left shin, and a Gunmetal tattoo on my right calf. I also have a condor on my other calf that is somewhat skating inspired.
Daggers are NorCal right?
Daggers are everywhere. It’s a joke gang started from an old movie, Thrashin. The dudes from that time and movie just kept it going.
Do you ever get up to their ‘’Locals Only’’ antics?
I have yelled at people at GMR when they get out of hand before. Just general mischief.
Where did you want to finish on the IDF list?
I wasn’t really worried about it because I wasnt going to the Europe races which would make a big difference with my points.
What IDF races did you hit this year?
Angies, Maryhill, Whistler. Went out first round at Angies. Made it to second round at Maryhill. Made it to second or third round at Whistler.
Did it hurt to go out so early on your local?
No, its a really gnarly hill. I was glad to leave that race without getting hurt right before Maryhill and Whistler.
Do you have a history of horrific injuries?
Nope, I am pretty lucky when it comes to hurting myself. I sprain a lot of things, pretty often but nothing permanent or gnarly.
What’s your favourite race?
Catalina is a ton of fun, so is Maryhill. This was my first year at Whistler and I definitely had a blast there, super fun road.
How did you celebrate your buddy winning it?
Haha right after everyone wanted a piece of Jimmy. We had dinner then partied it up at the club. So many shenanigans that night.
Where’s your favourite race party?
Maryhill used to be the best. Now I would say Catalina is pretty rad. Whistler has a good zone to party in, lots of choices for bars or restaurants.
Have you skated outside North America?
Nope, haven’t travelled too far from home yet. Next year though I hope to go to Europe finally.
What’s with the prison stripes?
Chris Chaput made a suit for Paskapoo a long time ago that had stripes top to bottom. I thought it was pretty awesome so I made my own. Since then the stripes have become my thing.
Do they mean anything to you?
I really like black and white and stripes. Like my favorite colour kinda thing.
What’s your superhero name?
Aww man I have never thought of something like that before. I dont think of myself as anything close so I never put the time into it.
How about MAX CAPPS a pop in your ass?
Haha that’s more of a phrase than a name. I have been called the Cali Condor before. Or the Queen of Cali but that’s a Laguna joke.
I knew you’d have one!
Haha, sometimes you have to dig around my mind, its pretty empty in there sometimes.
Is there a story behind this Condor?
I don’t grab rail and spread my arms really wide when I go through turns, like a big Condor.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Working at Handplant Skateshop is Laguna Beach, or just hanging out at home. Skating is what I focus most of my time and energy on.
Where would you like to be in 3 years?
I would like to have a decent job, my own place and a lady friend.
And some bacon?
Always have to have some bacon, mmmmm bacon.
Pick 3 numbers beween 1-13.
1, 3, 13
If you had to be a dad would you rather be Homer Simpson or Randy Marsh?
Randy Marsh. Way more awesome stuff goes down in South Park. Plus he has a med card.
1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
Magneto. Control over metal would be pretty badass.
3 – what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
uhhh, that might be better to not asnwer haha.
13 – what happens when a zombie bites a shark?
The shark would turn into a zombie as well, but anything a shark bites, its going to eat so it’s not like it will be infecting a lot of things.
MAX CAPPS, it’s been super awesome digging through your brain this morning, thanks for your time. Maybe catch you at Kozakov next year?
Hey Gbemi thanks for taking the time to listen to me ramble. I hope I will be at Kozakov, it will be my goal for the whole coming year to get out there.
ANY LAST WORDS?
Thanks to my Mom and all my sponsors: Sector9, Ronin Trucks, Venom, Vicious Grip, NJK, Kennys Components, Drake Inc. Team Van and CALIFORNIA!!!!!