GAP TO BACK SMITH – TOKYO, JAPAN
So, I just had Dave Chami bombard my inbox with this amazing back-catalogue of photos. When did you guys first meet/start working together?
I don’t remember the first time I met Dave or the first photos we shot together but I think it was sometime in 2008? I think I was still living in Santa Rosa and Dave had moved into SF. I met him through Brennan and soon after we first met we went on a trip to Australia with Krux and Marius
You two have seriously clocked up some miles together…
Yes, we have been all over the world together. For a while he was who I was traveling with the most. Between Habitat trips and Adidas trips it seemed like we were always on a trip together. One of my favourite trips with him was a trip to Spain. It started out terribly with our VX getting stolen but it was mostly up from there. Roberto Aleman took us under his wing and we went to Alacante, Muricia and Bilbao. Skated so many epic spots and laughed a load. We stayed at Roberto’s families place which had a bull fighting ring… and a mini ramp. Dave unfortunately ripped his Achilles’ tendon I believe but despite how painful that is he hobbled around the rest of the trip and never let it get in the way. He’s a tough one.
Any other missions come to mind?
I have had many memorable adventure slash sessions with Dave. A semi recent memorable mission was in 2014. I was in the bay area skating with Brennan, Dave and Marius. Brennan was planning on driving to Agenda (trade show) to relaunch Habitat under our short lived home of Tum Yeto. Dave needed to be down south around that time too so we made a road trip out of it. WES was in SF at the time visiting family so we threw him in the mix too along with Carson and Raffin. Brennan had found an old Frank Atwater photo of him skating this bank to wall somewhere in between so we set our sights on Santa Maria and got in the van after dinner. We drove for hours and got out at this little school in the middle of the night. I was trying to wall ride slash over this little wall and it was hard and frustrating but after an hour or 2 we found success and drove off with a future cover in his camera. Later that trip we got a pin to some ditch in orange California and drive around in the middle of nowhere for hours until we found the place. Hiked down in and found that underground full pipe that we got the Ollie photo in. I feel like on so many trips with Dave, magic just happened for us. This story I feel is a good representation of so much that worked out for us. It usually was on a whim and we just went with the flow and found gold. Dave was always an easy person to travel with, easy going, great sense of humor, skates, and if you were working hard he was too.
I know you don’t mind a battle – at what point do you call it a day and throw the towel in?
This is a difficult question to answer but it has everything to do with the moment. These days I let a lot of battles go for the sake of my sanity and happiness. I think I get focused on the idea of a trick working and discovering if it is really possible. I can picture it, I can sense it but until I ride away I can’t feel it and that is what I want. I have gone pretty dark trying tricks but I don’t have as much to prove to myself lately so the battles are lighter these days.
Tell me a bit more about that photo, looking at it now, the spot looks incredible…
The ditch lies in the dessert outside Orange California. We drove around all morning one day looking for it and it is pretty much hidden from the road. The main part of the ditch is a half pipe with 8 feet of wall ride vert and was what I intended in skating going out there. The full pipes were in a part that was underground. It was where 2 ditches flowed together. It was super dark in there and in order to get the Ollie we had to light up the transfer spot with a camera light and use another one to spotlight me so I could see. The footage is blurry because the camera couldn’t focus well in such low light. It was really cool down there, not very dirty but you felt like a ninja turtle.
The gap back smith on the sheet of glass looks like all sorts of trouble – how did that treat you?
It was ok. The metal was soft and dented easily, it also had a soft rubber liner underneath that made it squishier. It was scary too, not have much sight on the edge and I had to kinda go over the top. But it worked and happiness was found.
Any other tricks in this gallery strike a particular chord?
That rainbow rail photo is another reminder of how things just magically fell together for us sometimes. We were in Muricia skating (talking about skating) a hubba and no one was really feeling it so we decided to check out this park near by and as we walked up we saw this rainbow rail and it was going over a little stream and the sun was shining and it seemed like a halo was shining down in it. The run way was good and it was scary in all the right ways. Epic spot just laying around
“I think I get focused on the idea of a trick working and discovering if it is really possible. I can picture it, I can sense it, but until I ride away I can’t feel it and that is what I want. “
So, new shoe dropped last week – looks damn, fresh. Congrats!
Thank you. I’m happy with the way it turned out. The soft leather really makes the upper have a good comfortable feel.
There seems to have been no end of love for it in the world of social media – that’s gotta make a man feel nice?
It’s great. Endorphins are pumping. It feels great to know people are paying attention and appreciating what you are doing.
How long ago was it that you first had your name emblazoned on an Adidas shoe and what was it?
I think I had a brown and green campus colorway in 2008. Seeing my name on an adidas shoe was so unreal at the time and I still trip on it.
Was the process any different this time?
It was similar but with different designers so that changes the process a lot. This was fun to work on and both Andrew and Noah were on the same page with me so it was pretty easy. I thought that the campus is such a classic shoe and that colorway is not only classic but very classy. I thought using the crinkly leather not only added a dignified look but pairing with the suede stripes really made this cup sole quite soft and comfortable.
You were only out here earlier this year (last year?) – That must have been great to reunite with Dave after a few years – even more so after his near-death motor scooter experience?
It was fantastic. I hadn’t seen Dave since he moved back so I already missed him quite a bit. The scooter accident was so scary even from so far away. I’m happy he had a helmet and that he wasn’t more severely injured. Thinking that he may loose his legs or be wheelchair bound forever was a bummer to hear in the early stages and then seeing him in oz crutching around and then a few weeks ago walking and even skating in Portland was such a huge present to all that love him. He is small but very mighty. Resilient as hell.
You weren’t without injury yourself while you were out here…
Yeah that sucked. I separated my shoulder a week before I was supposed to get on the plane. It was really painful but I was trying to be optimistic. The first few days I could hardly roll around but that by day there was some progress and by the end of the trip, through gritted teeth I was able to get a few clips.
How does being an older gentleman treat you as far as being able to skate to your hearts content these days?
I miss the days of skating to my hearts content. I get worn out easier. I choose my battles a bit more. But really at this point I feel like I know my body and ability better so I can have more fun. I’ve accomplished a lot of personal goals so I don’t feel the need to always be pushing myself.
Throw us some words of wisdom for maintaining a healthy mind and body as we journey into a new decade…
I think food is very key. Eating simply. Good ingredients and the less sugar and processed food the better. Cal-mag is magic powder