Interview and Photos By Gabriela Levy
Our homie in the field Gabriela Levy got to chop it up with the Worble crew in San Francisco after their blowout premier at the Independent. The Worble have been doing it right the whole time, from their early video efforts by cutting in home video footage to kick off their parts, to doing a full fledged rock star tour with their house band, Cobra Man, headlining every premier. Nobody has rocked a tour bus like that since Muska was on Shorty’s. Gabriela sat down with the multi-faceted squad to talk crew ethos, rider criteria, and to just figure out…what the hell is exactly going on with one of the most interesting crews in modern skateboarding?
So how is everybody doing? How’s everybody feeling?
Steve: We’ve only been on the road, for what four days at this point? This is the first concert. So premiere number one was a success, I would say. Better turnout expected.
Tom: Yeah, a sold out show.
Steve: A lot of people were pretty hyped, not just casual fans but pretty intense fans. So I think we’re all feeling pretty good about that. Energy is still pretty high. We’re a little exhausted from skating yesterday and getting a little worn out. But yeah, excited to keep it going.
Did you guys hit any spots around San Francisco these past few days or what have you guys been doing in the Bay Area?
Janthavy: All right, so we had a quick warm up sesh at Waller Street, which was really nice. We got our bodies all warmed up. And then we went to Pier 7, which is apparently a very famous local spot. We spent about the whole day there. Everyone else just just skated. And did we get clips? No. Did we have fun? Yes. Did one of the boards go into the restaurant? Yes. Did three of us get burnt? Yes. So now we have three lobsters on the trip, and then the rest of us are golden. Been eatin’ poke and skatin’.
Tom: Before we even got to San Francisco, we went up to see our friend Brian Gaberman. He has a place in Sebastopol, and he’s got a really beautiful farm. We stayed there for two nights, we camped out. It’s so nice to just get out of LA. We hung out with his ducks. Took his sons out with us skating. We went to Gloryhole, which is a drainage hole, with about a 30 foot diameter…
Janthavy: 28, to be precise.
Tom: … Which is in, I don’t remember where it is.
Mitch: You mean an undisclosed location.
Eunice: Don’t blow up the spot, man!!
Tom: An undisclosed location in the core of Sacramento. But that was the first spot we skated and it’s just so much fun. It was like 100 degrees out and we battled through it, we hiked to the spot. We skated that spot first and we just had an amazing time there, and got a lot of fun group footage.
Steve: But we also went to Deluxe, talked to everybody there, went to the Thrasher office, met everyone there. A lot of just going around and meeting people who have supported us.
Tom: We have 11 people in the van right now. So it’s finding a balance between skating, preparing for tour, and also stopping by local shops, meeting the employees, meeting the owners, and saying what’s up and hanging out. It’s all a balance. But yeah, meeting people while we’re on the road and building relationships is definitely a priority.
Is there like a mission statement behind Worble or is there a specific list of values that you would say Worble aligns with?
Tom: If you want to get sort of philosophical about it, a lot of us grew up on the east coast, like upstate New York and Vermont. Others in Arizona, Australia and California. But I guess as far as Worble roots go, we grew up in Vermont where there’s more cows than people essentially, the concrete’s horrible. There’s barely any skate spots. To think about how good someone like Cookie is, who’s basically one of the best skaters in the world in my opinion, to think that he grew up in such a rural area, that skill is incredible to me. Worble specifically was sort of founded on this philosophy that the skateboard is a medium for engaging your environment. In our case, it was the natural environment. Skateboarding in Vermont is much more similar to surfing than it is to skateboarding in California, because we’re grinding trees, skating on dirt roads, doing all this stuff. Now that we’ve moved out to California, it’s been much more focused on the community and the friends we’ve made. I think community is a huge value for us.
Steve: It evolves with the people who are participating in it. I would say it’s not structured to any one specific message. It is what everyone is together.
Tom: It is, we kind of take it as it comes. When we first moved out to LA, like myself, Steve and Alex, who were the original founding members who are in the room currently, we brought on other skaters, photographers, and videographers. But Eunice was the first one in California who we brought on, so I’m curious to hear what Eunice thinks about Worble.
Eunice: From seeing Man Ramp at the Cobra Man show, and New Driveway… you just feel so good when you see the Worble videos. It’s become like a big family now.
Awesome. What would you guys say was the highlight of the evening?
Poppy: Crowd surfing.
Janthavy: Everybody crowd surfed.
Poppy: I crowd surfed like four times. People just kept throwing me up and I was like “No, I’ve had my turns!” Janthavy and I were in the crowd, we were like in the middle of the mosh pit and Janthavy was at the front, we would just pick random people and be like “Get up there!!” I would help lift them up and they would be like “Wait, no!!” and would just get them up, and I had to keep catching the microphone on the stage because people would knock it over. But it’s pretty fun, just the whole concert I think was the highlight for me.
Janthavy: I think just being with everybody and watching the video and seeing all of our hard work, that end result, and that rewarding feeling together…
We’re just sitting and watching it, just screaming every time a clip would get on we would be like “COOKIE!! EUNICE!!”
Poppy: Like, “That’s my BIHH!”
Janthavy: I know, I kept saying I would stop, but…
Poppy: And people kept looking back at us like, “Who are these people?”
Janthavy: It’s just that feeling of being together and knowing how much work we’ve put into this video and watching the end result. It’s really amazing. It can get stressful where you’re like, “Ah, deadlines are coming up,” and it’s all fun, but still, you’re pushing yourself. So to see it all come together is really nice. It’s just fun to have all that energy surrounding you and be with your friends. It’s just one big family. The energy… that was the highlight. The energy of this whole thing.
Tom: Preparing for this tour and getting everybody in the same place at the same time is really difficult. And on top of trying to finish this video, we were filming Janthavy’s clip in the Gloryhole like two days ago. So it’s been stressful for different people for different reasons. And you start to question, “What are we doing all this work for?” So tonight was really special. And when you see a room full of 500 people and everybody’s energy, and you have all those contributors in one place, it’s just like, “Oh, yeah, this is what it’s all about.”
Janthavy: Just hearing people say, “Keep making videos!” was really nice.
Steve: I’m like, “it’s hard!”
Would you say that you’re the team manager, or who would you say is the team manager of Worble?
Tom: Steve and I kinda split those duties. Earlier on, I would kind of handle everything and once we kind of grew and there was a necessity for more organization, more communication, so Steve got much more involved.
Janthavy: He’s our banker.
Tom: We all wear many many hats. Especially Man Ramp.
Steve: When we get close to a deadline, you really have to do your best to communicate with everyone because things can slip through the cracks… forget to talk to people, forget to schedule sessions. Probably 25% of this video was filmed in the last few weeks. Thanks to everybody on this team because they’re really easy to communicate with and work with, it makes the job of being a team manager pretty easy when you have so many great people involved.
How do you go about deciding who gets to be on the team? Are there certain criteria?
Steve: That’s a great question because we’ve never had any specific criteria. It’s been more of a process of who’s down, who’s contributing, who’s naturally a part of it. We’re actually getting Sponsor Me videos now that are really freaking good. Like the guy Jared Smith, who you saw on the video, he just sent us a bunch of footage. And to get footage of that caliber as a Sponsor Me Tape, that was pretty exciting. We’re gonna fly him to LA, hang out with him more in person and get more involved. But yeah, people who can take initiative and can actually jive with the vision and the feel of the company.
Tom: When we brought Eunice on, she was kind of in an adjacent friend group, and when we started skating with her more it was like “Oh, Eunice is fuckin’ sick, she has the right energy, she’s an amazing skater, she fits the vibe.” We’re never like, out there looking. Mitch was my intern at skate camp in 2014. We just started working more and more together, and now he’s filming with us. Joél I met through mutual friends. Now we’re roommates and he’s on tour with us taking photos. It’s an abstract thing. It’s like, “This feels right. They’re down with the vibe, we’re down with their vibe.” Worble in general has never been a very intentional thing. We didn’t intend to call it something. We’re just like, “We make content. We need to make a name.” We intend to make clothing, but we have a name and we make content. We intend to make skateboards, but we have content and all this stuff. We didn’t intend to bring on Eunice or Poppy or Janthavy or Joél or Mitch, it all just happened.
Steve: It’s like the reverse way of how you build a business.
Tom: It is. Which makes it really difficult to do things like this tour, because you have to schedule and be intentional. Finding a balance between intuition and intentionality is where we’re at right now.
What advice would you guys give to somebody who would like to be in your shoes today?
Alex: Just keep having fun. And don’t take skateboarding too seriously, because that can ruin people’s passion. We actually talked about this with friends, about skateboarding being too serious and just enjoying it for what it is and just keeping it simple and not too complicated.
Janthavy: I think a common theme when we discuss it is that we all just love skateboarding. Having good energy and being around each other is what we enjoyed the most. To keep doing that, like following that feeling and following your passions, not putting too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy life with your friends. That’s advice I would give to someone. Enjoy your life and follow things that make you happy. That’s what I would say.
Poppy: It’s figuring out all the ways that make you happy and having fun and surrounding yourself with the right people, whether it’s your skate team or expanding and making new friends who you can relate to. So whenever you’re skating, you’re just having fun, you can relate to all these people and try out new things, like filming or learning new tricks, or going to new places, it’s just all adventure.
Eunice: Skateboarding isn’t about being the best because no one’s better than Cookie.
Tom: That’s a loaded answer.
Does anyone have any final thoughts or comments or want to touch on anything that I may have missed on asking about?
Steve: It’s not always about how well you can skate. It’s about how well you can make other people want to skate. And I think people in this crew, when people watch them skate, they want to pick up a board and go outside and roll around, and that’s the best thing you can do as a skateboarder.
Tom: Just to tie everything together, skateboarding is a neat thing, because it’s not quite a sport, it’s not quite an art, but it has a combination of those things. It’s not about being the best technical skater. It’s about expressing yourself in a way that makes people want to skate and everybody here expresses themselves in such a unique, fun, incredible and impressive way. I think if other people want to do something similar to what we have going on, then find something that if you love it enough, you’re gonna do it every day. So yeah, just finding what you love the most. Whether it’s skating itself, whether it’s shooting photos, whether it’s shooting video, whether it’s making art, if you love it enough, then you’re gonna do it regardless. If it’s about money, fame or clout, it’s not gonna work for you. The skateboarding industry and the culture in general can sniff that out so fast. So I think it’s just about being true to yourself, as cliche as that sounds. And everybody in this room right now are the most genuine people I know, they are very true to themselves in that sense.
Alex: Be authentic and be happy.