Fun chasing, Loaded working, Greener Pasturing, infinite self replicating world travelling gnome Ethan tells us about his early days, meeting Ross the Boss, and adventures abroad.
Hello Ethan. How are you?
I’m pretty damn good on this fine LA morning.
I’ve decided I’m going to be blue.
No, pink. Yeah, pink!
Do you own many pink things?
Just the shirt I’m wearing. And my iPod. And… well I guess that’s all. It just seemed like a nice colour.
Listening to anything interesting?
PH Fat from South Africa.
(insert dramatic pause)
Did the sharks get you?
Haha sorry, I got sidetracked. No sharks though, just Longboard Larry! Randomly showed up at the office.
Who is Longboard Larry?
Longboard Larry is a downhome board builder. Responsible for my first true love – the DK Penguin. Uber stoked on the guy since he hooked it up so fat in the beginning of my freeriding and downhill days. This of course was before Loaded made a stiff downhill deck.
What made you fall in love?
Before the DKP I was big into drop-thru boards. Don’t know why, maybe they just seemed cooler back then. When I stepped onto the DKP, it was like my feet found the home they had been looking for. Rode ONLY that board for a solid 2 years until I felt that a shorter wheelbase and a more traditional design was where my style was gravitating towards.
How did you meet?
Through Loaded actually. When I first got on the team they sent me a Bhangra to freeride on. It was way too big for my short stature and so I looked for a smaller deck. Darren referred me to Larry and put in a good word. Before I knew it, I had the DK Penguin before it was released and ended up skating it for the first time in California where we filmed the Loaded Newsletter video “Too Much”.
Are you the West Coast Gnome?
Haha I’m definitely not the shortest kid out here, but I have had to make do with smaller boards and wheelbases for sure.
Is Cindy taller than you?
Just by a bit. She emasculates me a little.
Who is Darren?
Darren is the team manager of Loaded and Orangatang. He dishes out all the love to the Ambassadors that ride for us all over the world. He was a pen pal of mine for a long time before I got on the team. Thankfully, having him on the inside helped get me to my dream job and where I am today.
What did you write to him?
Well, I started out as just warranty issues about my old board. The dude hooked it up super fat with a new deck and some bonus wheels as well. After that I just kept in touch, letting him know about stuff going on in my local area in Texas. When I moved to Oregon, I made a little video and sent it in and bam! Before I knew it, I was on the team.
Is it that easy to join today?
Not so easy these days. The team is big and very full. Sponsor me videos don’t really cut it anymore. Things are much more personal now, it helps to know someone on the inside. The best way to get on the team is kill it at events. Not just on the pavement, but in the crowds with the people. Skate hard, chill harder.
“The best way to get on the team is kill it at events. Not just on the pavement, but in the crowds with the people. Skate hard, chill harder.”
What did you dream of those early days?
Those days, my dream was simple. I wanted to skate all the time and eventually work for Loaded. This dream started when I was 15 and then 7 years later I’m hanging with all the guys who are behind Loaded and am now working next to Kyle Chin. Stoked.
You were one of those groms!
Oh hell yeah I was! But then again, who wasn’t? All you have to do is go back in your memory banks a couple of years and you were grabbing stinkbug and doing double pendys.
Many had dreamt, but few got to achieve the dream – why are you different?
Well, my initial dream after leaving high school was to become an international English teacher. Studying at an international school in Lima, Peru exposed me to the lavish life international teachers live. For some reason I really loved words and grammar. So I went for that in university. The entire time I kept skating, getting better each day little by little. When I moved to Oregon from Texas, I met Ross Druckrey and we established BoomTown. My skills grew exponentially because Ross is a Boss and after a while my life revolved around skating. I saw this as an opportunity to achieve my true dream and seized it. I dropped out of college and skated every single day all day, making videos and posting photos and doing trick tips. I saw skating as my only viable option for survival and happiness in life so I never considered anything else as a possibility.
“I saw skating as my only viable option for survival and happiness in life so I never considered anything else as a possibility.”
Is Kyle reading this over your shoulder?
Thankfully he is not. He’s probably updating the Loaded/Orangatang Facebook page at the moment.
What was it you wanted – the ferrari or the dinosaur skin shoes?
Definitely the dinosaur skin shoes. I’m not too big into cars, so I’d probably end up not putting the Ferarri to good use. Dinosaur skin shoes, on the other hand, are something not every billionaire has. Also, if they could last a couple million years, they’d probably be indestructible for skating.
Has skating made you happier than that lavish lifestyle?
Oh definitely. I spent all my money on rent and then getting to events. I ate instant noodles and potatoes for about 3 years, barely skimming by. Wouldn’t have traded it for anything though. Those were definitely the good days.
When did skating choose you?
When I was 9 years old and my brother bought a flexy Sector 9 board. I tried out street skating, but it was such a pain in the ass to push around the rough cement of Plano, Texas. When he got a board with bigger and softer wheels, getting to my friends house was instantly easier and incredibly fun. Too bad everything was so flat. It’s been 13 years since I first started skating and I’ve loved it the exact same ever since.
Did you ever quit?
What did you and your bro get up to?
Well my brother was always travelling. He was sort of the inspiration for me to get out of Texas and see the world and have crazy adventures. When he got the board, he eventually left to go study in Tasmania so he left it to me. By the time he came back I was already better than him haha. But back in the day we always got into mischief. We liked building things that went BOOM or just going out to somewhere new and exploring. When we both were living in Peru we liked getting into sketchy situations and seeing how things would turn out. Never got robbed, only shot at twice.
What sort of BOOM?
The explosive kind.
Lucky you’re small enough to be a tough target!
It has definitely helped me in the past. Now it seems to be hindering me since everyone keeps thinking I’m only 15 or something haha.
What’s the opposite of jailbait?
Well, I guess it would have to be FreedomRepulsor. Get it?
Was anyone skating around you in the beginning?
Not really. Where I lived, there was literally no community at all, just 3 friends an I. When I moved to Peru, I met the community there that had been bombing hills on sketchy setups for almost 30 years. After moving out here and going back to see family and friends, the number of people skating has increased dramatically. Way too many names to remember in Peru and a solid core group of people in Texas.
What took you to Peru?
My Dad moved over there when I was younger. My brother ended up going there since he was getting in a lot of trouble back in Texas. I eventually followed his footsteps, trouble and all.
Was skating an escape from a dark lifestyle or a gateway to worse?
It was more like the mode of transport from mischief point A and trouble making point B. As time went on, I guess I just wanted more people to skate with so I got friendly and less rowdy as to not scare so many people away.
“(skating) was more like the mode of transport from mischief point A and trouble making point B.”
What were the highlights of your time there?
Skating crazy roads in the middle of the desert. Getting lost in the middle of nowhere. Huge rich kid parties, seems to be a big thing down there. And being able to do anything I wanted! I wouldn’t go home for days on end.
How much had you improved at that point?
When I started skating in Peru, dancing was really big. Loaded was just coming on to the scene and the Adams were making huge waves. In my last year we started hitting big and scary hills, on Evo’s and Krypto wheels.
What were your learning tools?
My biggest tools in the beginning were watching videos, just like any one else. It wasn’t until I moved to Oregon that I had someone who was miles better than I was to learn from. Ross Druckrey was probably my main tool for learning everything I know today. Once I finally caught up to him, we pushed each other on what we thought was possible, influencing each others style the entire time we hung out together.
How many challenges did you complete?
Not a single one. I found what I liked to do and just got better at that instead of trying to get a million little tricks in my bag.
Who is Ross?
Ross “The Boss” Druckrey is an old friend of mine that I met in Eugene, OR. We started a little crew called BoomTown which included Alec Whitman and Carmen Shafer. The dude rides for Sector 9 and goes bigger and faster than anyone I know, all in switch.
What were the most important things you learnt from him?
He taught me how to go big and fast. Taught me how to skate switch and general board control while going fast. We were big on Mark Short back in the day, so we tried doing lots of 360’s like him. Eventually it all turned into mobbing down a hill and throwing a 360 then ending in a big backside check.
Have you got to ride with Mark or Will?
Yeah I skated with both of them a long time ago at Danger Bay 10. They both rode in the slide jam. It was raining, Mark was riding hard wheels and a Nemesis and bombing the whole hill and doing 720’s. The dude is beyond unreal.
What is your style?
I usually just like to put my headphones in and just flow down the hill. I’ve never been big on going the fastest or proving anything to anyone. I just like to feel like I’m flying.
What was Boomtown’s role in the community?
Our main goal was to get more people skating in Eugene, where we lived. We went about this by holding events on a safe undeveloped neighborhood hill with perfect pavement. We ended up getting more kids skating elsewhere than our own town, it never seemed to get much bigger than Ross, Carmen, Alec and a few others. Eventually, our role in the community became consistent events throughout the summer. We held about 3 slide jams a year and then started doing Gnar Slalom racing through cones, then a Boarder Cross. After I moved away from Oregon and Seattle, Ross took over BoomTown and is still holding events up there, keeping it super real for all the stoked North Western kids.
Must have been fun skating in a town named after a Ghostbuster!
Never thought of it that way, but it did seem a little ghostly at times.
What events did you put on?
Slide Jams mainly. Then Alec hosted a couple races in some hidden hills. Then a couple of gnar slalom events, which is take a decent downhill run and make it even more technical by putting cones, banked walls, pump ramps and throwing 3-4 dudes down at the same time.
Why was it important to mix it up with cones and ramps?
After a while, sliding seemed to get kind of bland. In the beginning kids were still learning how to do standups, but by the 5th slide jam, everyone was pretty much pro. We had to keep it fresh. Since a lot of skaters in Oregon have roots in street and park, we threw some ramps and added some extra hazards to make it interesting.
Sounds like you had a good gig going, why’d you leave?
It was the greatest of gigs. I truly miss those days. I had to leave because making money from videos and doing events wasn’t cutting it. I was tired of eating potatoes and instant noodles, so I moved to Seattle and started working at Motion Boardshop.
Has bacon found its way into your diet now?
Constantly. My shopping list usually goes like this:
“I left a big box of wheels some where in Eugene, if you find it, it’s all yours!”
Do you ever go back?
There was a girl up there I would go back for, but that’s all over now. Whenever I get the time I try and get up there, but it’s hard to take time off work unless its for a specific event like Cathlamet or a big BoomTown Jam. But I left a big box of wheels some where in Eugene, if you find it, it’s all yours!
You chose Adamina over her?
Haha well you sometimes have to leave what you know and love to experience bigger and better things in life.
“…you sometimes have to leave what you know and love to experience bigger and better things in life.”
Were you making money from videos?
Yeah, a bit here and there, just barely enough to pay rent.
How did you get involved with MBS?
Haha, Ross… Dude got sponsored by them, then I went to an event with him up in Seattle and that same night I got put on the team too. It was the uniting force between us besides BoomTown since we rode for different companies.
Who would Ethan be if he hadn’t met Ross?
Probably an English teacher somewhere in Asia.
What did you do for MBS?
I ran the store front most days of the week. Did trick tips, product review videos, and ran the Skate School for local kids.
Was the Seattle community different from Oregon?
Washington and Oregon were pretty well mixed together. People in Seattle were more downhill oriented while Oregon was much more into freeriding. That was probably Ross and my doing haha. Now everyone shreds everything these days.
What was next after Seattle?
After Seattle was travelling around South America for about a month and half. Then Greener Pastures Off Shore, then travelling around Spain and Mallorca. After that my goal was to get to Los Angeles and help out with Loaded and Orangatang. Now I’ve been here since May, 2013 and plan on staying put for a while.
What were you riding in 2012?
2012 was the year of the Chubby Unicorn for me. I redrilled it since it was a bit longer than I like and created (what I like to think as) the first Tesseract haha. That was also the year I started riding for Caliber Trucks. It was a pretty damn good year.
Do the trucks work for what you like do on the board?
After trying out pretty much all the cast trucks, I felt the most comfortable on Calibers. After a while, I joined the team and was incredibly stoked when they came out with precisions. Now with the new street trucks coming out, I pretty much have all my bases covered on any board.
What was your role in the development of the unicorn?
I rode it. Haha. At that time I didn’t have much input into product design, I was just given prototypes and rode them till they were dead.
Who gets to name loaded things?
It’s a collective effort for sure. Sometimes something just comes out of the blue and sounds good or weird enough to stick. With the Cage, Kilmer and Keanu, we just sort of settled. But the Kegels… Now that has a powerful meaning behind it.
Is weirdness the central element to being part of Loadrangatang?
Absolutely. Creativity has always been strongly attached to weirdness. Getting more kids skating is a focus of ours, pushing them to be creative is also a driving force of what we do and why we do it. People may think weird is… well weird, but it’s way more fun than being normal! And we’re having a blast over here.
Did you document your South American travels?
I did, but then I seemed to have misplaced the SD card that had all the footage and pictures I took. Pretty bummed because I met a lot of cool kids in Chile and Argentina and of course Peru.
How was 2012?
It was a pretty solid year. It was also the beginning of my transition between Oregon and Seattle. Probably a little bit darker and gloomier compared to the year before and now. Leaving your friends and family behind is always really hard and can put a strain on your brain.
Did you have a fun summer?
This summer was kick ASS! Got to get to know Malibu like never before. It was my first serious skating since recovering from an ankle injury I got from Greener Pastures Offshore.
Have you found new family in Cali?
Well the Loaded and Orangatang crew are pretty much the only family I’ve got out here. Couldn’t ask for a better circle of friends and dudes to skate with.
How did you get involved with Greener Pastures?
By pure luck, in my opinion. When Patrick Switzer asked me if I wanted to be a part of the project, I instantly asked him “why me?”
What was his answer?
I honestly can’t remember, probably was too shocked after hearing him ask me to join haha.
Had you been involved with any projects like this?
No, not anything of this scale. Never flew so far around the world to film on such epic roads and hang out on an island for about a month.
Was this your first time skating in Europe?
Yes it was. It was my first time ever in Europe. Everyone is so fashionable over there. I wore the same outfit over and over and I don’t think I ever washed my clothes.
Must have been hard for your fans and potential lovers to hug you through the smelly haze?
No offence, but I swear most people in Europe smell like your average dirty skater. Felt right at home.
Did you enjoy your time here?
Spain is pretty damn sweet. Wish it wasn’t winter when I was there, but Barcelona is a city I always want to go back to. Beautiful city and lots of skaters with way too many sketchy and awesome hills.
The island was something completely different though. It was hotter than hell and the roads were steeper and longer than anywhere I’d ever been. Found one road that was at a 40% grade. You could slide down the whole thing.
Had you ever had that much fun on your skateboard?
I played Monopoly on my skateboard once. Greener Pastures was easily twice as much fun.
“I played Monopoly on my skateboard once. Greener Pastures was easily twice as much fun.”
What made the island special?
The location; giant volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean with desert landscape in the south, jungle in the north. Awesome. The people; a bunch of rock-fever ridden tan people looking for something to drink between surfing and skating. The roads; well you saw the footage, that one kind of explains itself.
Which of the guys had you skated with before?
Levi Green several times, Maximillian Gradlmiller at Giants Head, Kody Noble in LA and Patrick all over the place.
Did you enjoy shooting your episode?
Oh hell yes! Camilo and Dandoy are brothers from other mothers! I just wish I could have gotten a raw run or two before the crash.
What was the highlight of the trip?
Definitely going out to Carnival. The streets were packed with girls wearing skimpy costumes and booze and dancing everywhere. Don’t remember too much of that night, but what I do I can’t tell you about.
I hear a lot of the girls were actually dudes.
That is definitely a possibility. Thankfully I’m a wanderer when it comes to parties so I don’t get trapped into unexpected sword-fights.
Where else did you get to skate last year?
Uruguay was a new one. The community there is really stoked and pretty good considering that the hills are hard to get to from MonteVideo. Canada for Giants Head as always. Massachusetts as well for Central Mass. Other than that just, a whole bunch of California.
What took you to Uruguay?
Loaded and Orangatang sent Kyle and I down there to help host an event and hang with some of the local riders and distributor.
How was CM4?
Pssshhh… Pretty solid on all fronts. Mike Girard knows how to show people a good time. Even in Massachusetts.
What’s keeping you busy at loaded right now?
Making videos in-house and helping out with team management. I also tend to do lots of random things around the office wherever help is needed. My favourite thing to do is product testing. So many awesome wheels to try out that I just can’t mention in this interview haha.
Are you coming back to Europe this year?
Well I would definitely like to go to Spain again, mainly Barcelona since I was injured while I was there and couldn’t do much skating. Other than that, I don’t really know. Mallorca again to hang out with Bruno in his castle. But I’ve mainly got my eyes set on Asia and all the crazy little countries they’ve got over there!
What makes Barcelona so lovable?
The layout, the architecture, Axel Serrat, Fortrate Distribution, and of course the people.
You’re planning to visit Ayumi?
I’ve always wanted to go back to Japan but can never seem to find the time or money. Next year I’m really trying to get to China and Korea. For what reason? Just because.
Seems like you guys have been having a lot more family focused skating!
Oh definitely. I love being part of the Loaded team because everyone is so close.
Who entertains the visiting Europeans?
That’s my job. Strip clubs and gambling are always a must for visitors.
What gave you the biggest smile last year?
Becoming full time at Loaded.
Does moving to California guarantee full time skate employment?
Well I can’t be skating everyday, but I do get my fair share. Even though I’m not always in the hills, I’m always dealing with skating and stoked kids every day. So yeah, I guess so.
Is this a job for life?
I would definitely like it to be!
Do you have any resolutions?
Eat more vegetables and seriously consider going vegetarian.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Conquering the biggest mountain around me on my motorcycle. As well as flying my helicopter over the freeway and seeing how low I can get to cars. Also the knock out game. Yup, that describes a typical non-skate day while playing GTAV.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-17.
6 – if you could have any super power what would it be?
Ability to self-replicate. Infinitely.
6.1 – what’s the most fun thing about being Ethan?
It’s okay to make stupid jokes because it’s expected.
9 – what would you choose as your last meal?
A never ending, all you can eat buffet.
Super dooper extra cheese whopper stoked we got to do this. Love the goofy chats. See you in Barcelona sometime gnomey!
Hell yeah buddy! Thanks for the time! Tell everyone to be expecting me because I’m coming like a tidal wave and Barcelona is ocean front property.
Any last words?
Get weird. Create fun. Skate fast. Go sideways.
Eighteen Cubits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu6z3YbVMmk