JEREMY WRAY INTERVIEW
Jeremy Wray is so good at skateboarding. It's as simple as that. I can't think of another skateboarder - apart from possibly Danny Way - that has been as consistently mind blowing over his career. Refusing to choose between technical skating and throwing himself off of buildings, Jeremy does both with style. He's been on some of the best teams, was in the first ever 411 and his Second Hand Smoke part that is two decades old is so good that if it came out today, people would still be hyped. All this whilst remaining a humble solid guy. ABD/Chromeball and Jenkem already got deep with him, so go read those - but we wanted to talk about his new company that he's doing with brother Jonas.
Hey Jeremy, cheers for doing this man. Let's start right up to date - what's up with Wray Bros? How did that all get started, was it just time to do your own thing after the Element debacle?
Wray Bros brand has been in the making for a while now. Jonas and I have always ridden for different board companies throughout our entire careers. We finally have an opportunity to ride for the same company and also run it how we see fit. We won't be making the same mistakes a lot of your old favorite companies made and start making crap product just to turn a bigger profit. We stand behind everything we make and we will be around long after most people you know have quit skateboarding.
How are things going man - would you ideally like to make it some huge thing or do you prefer the small company vibe?
We are starting small and dreaming big. If we make sure all of our products are up to our standards they are going to sell. The more we sell the more products we can make on the next round. Before you know it we will actually be competing with the big companies but on our terms. We will not compromise.
Is Wray Bros affiliated with any wood factories or distribution companies at the moment or just doing it on your own?
Right now we are getting our boards produced by DSM in El Segundo. We have access to the same raw materials, molds and construction techniques as some of the biggest brands out there. Our boards are top notch as far as the quality of the wood, glue and production. We are doing all the distribution on our own at this point. It's a lot of work but it's something we wanted to do to build solid relationships with all of our retail outlets.
Who is on the team at the moment and who do you hope to put on? I gotta say, now he is a free agent - I would love to see Creager on there.
The team consists of Jonas Wray, Paul Luna, Pat Channita and myself. The four of us go way back and are as tight as it gets. I would do anything for those guys and they would all do the same for me. It will just be us four for the first few years. Keeping it small and in the family now will enable us to grow later when we feel we are ready. So at the moment we are not recruiting anyone in the pro ranks. We will certainly do our best to support any up and comers that rip and are down for our brand, but everything in due time. We have to support our core before we can think about expanding. As far as Creager goes, he is also a homie of ours and we go way back with him as well. And although we would love to have him join in the fun over at Wray Bros, I'm pretty sure he has a plan of his own in place. We will all just have to wait and see what he does and where he lands. Creager rips!
What is coming up for Wray Bros? The boards look tight from what I have seen. You going to make clothes and that too? I'd love to rep that Marlboro graphic on a tee.
Ha! The Marlboro graphic was something that I mocked up as a sample while we were still testing out wood shops. Immediately after Jenkem mag ran the interview/article on Wray Bros we got a Cease & Desist letter from Phillip Morris, so the board never even hit the shops. We were going to do our best to stay away from rip off graphics altogether and use only original artwork, so we came up with our first round of logo boards to kick things off. When it came time to do our pro models though, it was pretty clear that some more spoof graphics were in order. We'll just be staying away from big tobacco from now on. Everything else is fair game as far as we are concerned. We will be making some clothing, griptape and a few other accessories. We will be keeping it simple and clean and try not to get too crazy with it right off the bat. Stay tuned to wraybros.com to see all the latest stuff we put out.
You guys gonna bring out a video anytime soon? I know you got loads more sick parts left in you man, and damn I'd love to see some new Jonas footage, he was always sick.
We are working on a lot of fun video projects with Paul Luna at the moment. And although a full length street video is definitely in our future, it still may be a long way off. We will be releasing a few promo parts just to get the ball rolling for everybody and put out as much new footage of everyone as we can. Pat dropped a skate park promo part that got everyone hyped on going filming again. His skating is so precise and controlled. It was refreshing to see new footage of him and definitely inspired the rest of us to follow suit and get shit done. Luna has been killing it lately with his filming and editing skills. Really coming into his own as a one man media mastermind. Everybody is finding their rolls and really starting to shine. This year should be pretty exciting.
Talking of Jonas, although he was hooked up by a lot of companies - do you think Jonas should have been bigger back in the day - or did he prefer to be out of the limelight? I was always a fan.
Jonas is a lot better than most people even know. Only the people that got to skate with him regularly got to witness how truly talented he really is. In the early years while I was filming for Blockhead, Color and Plan B videos, Jonas was riding for Black Label and although he had quite a few ads for them, they never released a full video around that time. He later rode for Platinum while I was on Plan B and we got to tour together and film plenty, but Platinum closed up shop before their video ever saw the light of day. So the only videos that came out where you get to see more than a few tricks of Jonas were the Spitfire video, XYZ Stars and Bars, the Duffs Wonder Years video and maybe Transworld's Transmission 7 video. After that the footage gets even more scarce due to more sponsors that just never got it together and produced videos. Jonas was skating and ripping through it all you just had to be nearby to know. I'm stoked that we are going to have a chance now to showcase his talent a little bit more and people will finally see how good this kid really is. A true natural
What is your take on the daily video updates that occur these days - Too much to take in, or a sick constant motivation?
Most of it is just filler that might not have made the cut into any real video anyway or filmed with an iPhone just to document the tricks that went down that day. It's good to see everyone skating and being productive by any means necessary, but it doesn't mean you have to try to compete or even keep up with that. Put out as much footage as you want, just don't let that chip away at what might have been a sick part by letting everything leak before it's time. At least that's my take on it.
How much do you watch of it and keep up to date with what everyone else is up to? With Instagram and stuff it's hard NOT to know where someone is or when their last poo was...
I think it's safe to say that I follow what's happening on Instagram pretty regularly, but there are so many people posting so much stuff that it's nearly impossible to see it all. So I guess I feel lucky when I catch a few really good posts before they get buried by a ton of crap photos of everybody's lunch.
Who are a few of your favourite new guys that are out there ripping these days?
Even a few years ago I used to know but now it's getting harder to say. Everybody rips! Kids are incredible these days. Even the unsponsored kids at any local skatepark are skating at a professional level. As far as names that you may have heard of, I'd have to say, Greyson Fletcher and Ben Raybourne are amazing to watch in person.
Ok, I just want to chuck a few quick random questions in here if that is ok:
You see much of Dill of these days? I know you guys used to be super tight.
Unfortunately, we don't cross paths all that often. I would love to get a chance to skate with him more. He is a hard guy to get ahold of. I had an email address for him for a while that I don't think he ever responded to. No phone number. You kind of just have to skate with people that skate with him and you might have a Dill sighting. I've heard if you roll by Supreme in LA you have a good chance of running into him but I'm rarely out that way. Hopefully we will be able to reconnect and session like the old days sometime in the near future.
What would you say was a bigger mistake - quitting Thunder or getting on Element?
I honestly don't look at either of those as mistakes. I rode for Thunder for 8 years and never even got one ad. My biggest regret about quitting Thunder was that not only did they eventually kick me off Spitfire for leaving Thunder, they kicked Jonas off Thunder and Spitfire because I left, which is bullshit. He got sponsored by them before I even did! As far as Element goes, they were an underdog company coming up in the industry when I got on. I saw their potential to be a contender in the future so I joined forces with them and their already incredible team at the time including Reese Forbes, Kenny Hughes, Tim Oconnor, Mike Frasier and many more. After years and years of questionable decisions by the people in charge as far as the direction of the brand and lack of loyalty to the riders that helped them achieve their level of success it was just inevitable that we were eventually going to part ways. I don't regret getting on Element when I did but I do regret being loyal to the brand long past that loyalty not being returned. Live and learn the hard way.
Who chose the music for your SHS part and did you know you'd have to get a certain amount of hammers to accompany the tune?
Me, Jacob Rosenberg and Paul Luna all sat in the editing bay listening to some potential songs I had brought on cassette tapes. Although I did have a few others that I liked as well, the Cream "White Room" song was the unanimous winner. When it came time to edit my footage to the song, we laid down the track first and dropped in the clips to fit. When we came to the end, we actually had a ton of extra footage, but liked the part as is, so we just left the rest out. Some of that old footage remains unseen to this day.
If you went out to skate flatground on your own and when you got to the spot Donger was randomly there would it feel weird to do a frontside 360?
-Not at all. He had one of the best flatground frontside 360s of all time in one of the old H-Street videos at School W. The way he wrapped it all the way around and landed straight with all four wheels and kept up the same speed was unheard of then and still rare to see to this day! He truly mastered the trick and inspired me to follow in his footsteps. I would gladly skate flatground with Donger any day.
What was your favourite part to film? 4 Wheel Drive was always a good watch.
All of the video parts are special in their own way. The early Blockhead videos were rad to film for because we were a tight team and always filmed and skated together with the whole team. The Color video was special because everyone was pushing the boundaries and trying to put out the best video possible for our new company. The Plan B parts are close to my heart because of the legacy those early Plan B videos have and when it was my turn to represent the brand I wanted to go all out and make Mike Ternasky proud.
How much did you have to do with Rocco in your Plan B days? Always hear mixed reports, people seemed to love him or hate him, haha.
Rocco was actually really easy to get along with. He was just like a big kid. He wanted to have fun in everything he did. He was very creative and had great ideas when it came to advertising and marketing. I didn't hang with him regularly but the times that I did we got along great. I wouldn't go into business with him again, because of what he ended up doing with Dukes shoes but that's another story entirely. As far as the man himself, I like him.
People always talk of regrets in filming, but you seem to have done so much stuff, that I doubt you can have many - and I know fear is a not a huge factor for you, but was there anything that you thought you'd try and ended up backing out of?
I was almost always willing to give anything one try. If I lived through the first try I usually learned enough about it to end up making it, no matter what it was. I had that bite me in the ass a few times but we all get our card pulled eventually. The trick is knowing what you are capable of on any given day. If it's not feeling right one day, you never know, you might come back to the same spot a week later and everything feels natural. I learned not to fight it or force anything. Letting it happen can be way more productive than making it happen sometimes. As far as backing out of anything I've had a few spots get the best of me, but rarely without me at least giving it my best shot and dealing with the consequences. If you don't learn to man up you may never know what you are capable of.
It was always so sick that you'd not only do massive stuff, but you'd get tech as well. Not many can say that. You still down for the big shit or going to tone it down at all?
I'll still go big if I find a spot that I think is worth it. The tech stuff requires similar focus but you have to put in some man hours sometimes on the really difficult tricks. I can only take so much of that before I have to just go big again to get it out of my system. I like the feeling of rolling away from tricks whether they are triple sets or manual pads in the end it's all about conquering the tricks and riding away with a smile.
So the body is holding up all good?
Really good. No nagging injuries of any kind to speak of. I actually miss being so sore that you can't walk right or have to do all nollie or switch tricks because you've just rolled your front ankle. As a skateboarder you get used to living in constant pain somewhere on your body. It's actually weird to be healthy for this long but I think I could get used to it.
Who would your all time top 5 favourite skaters be?
For me the top 5 is almost impossible to say. I've learned so much from so many skateboarders that came before me that it's really hard to narrow it down to 5. My top 20 would even be hard to say. My go to answers for this question have always started with:
1. Mark Gonzales
2. Natas Kaupas
and after that it gets really hard to say with 100% certainty.
A few others that are definitely in there would be Jason Lee, Mike Carroll, Matt Hensley, Danny Way, Sean Sheffey's Life video part will forever be a huge influence, Jovante Turner's pop, style and crispness is undeniable, I mean where do you cut it off? All of these dudes deserve their proper respect. Henry Sanchez and his part in Tim and Henry's Pack of Lies, Guy Mariano in any footage he ever put out... Koston. Where does it end? How could you even pick a top 5. Tom Penny... There's just way too many people that have come though that absolutely changed the game. Much respect to everyone that put in the time to get that good at a sport that the rest of the world will never fully understand. Skateboarding will forever be the best.
On that note, you killed it there obviously - but your top 5 things to go down at the Carlsbad gap?
For the Carlsbad gap you have to start at the beginning and give it up to the pioneers that paved the way on that one. I don't know who was the very first to Ollie it, but I was around for a lot of what followed. Danny Way's nollie was incredible. At the time it was probably the biggest thing ever nollied. Markovich's kickflip was the first flip trick ever to go down there. Think about that! There was a local legend of an Indian dude that ollied the gap to 50-50 on the wall that curves away at the bottom. I would have loved to have seen that, but it was before the days when everybody had a video camera on their phone and you had to know somebody who had a VHS recorder. Dyrdek got the first Switch ollie. And my frontside halfcab was the first trick I filmed for my part in Second Hand Smoke. That will always be a special one for me.
Was it just you and Kasper that ever did a line into it? There was always that rumour of Penny switch frontside flipping it straight from the car with no camera...
I don't know about Penny's story but his Switch Frontside flip in the early Flip promo blew minds when it came out. I don't doubt that he did do it without the cameras rolling. He was a very gifted skateboarder. As far as doing a line to the gap, well I think that was just outside of most people's comfort zones. The gap was tough and hit like a ton of bricks most of the time. It had a personality and could be very unforgiving and cruel.
What is your favourite graphic you ever drew?
Tough call. As you might have guessed I'm not big on favorites. I don't have a favorite color, number, food, movie, song, or anything. I guess I just like variety and welcome constant change in my life. I can usually pick out favorites when asked but a single favorite is always tough. One of my early Color slick bottoms was one that stands out though. The one with the kid standing there with his fists at his side and there is a guy falling out of the swirling sky. I recently made my first limited edition art print of my Tribute To Dr. Seuss graphic that I drew for Blockhead skateboards. The Color graphic is next in line to become a print for sale. That Color graphic was also the first artwork of mine I ever saw tattooed on anyone. Crazy honor to see your art on someone for life.
Ever do a graphic for anyone else?
I did one for Laban and one for Markovich, but that's about it.
Are you doing all the art for Wray Bros?
Yeah, for now all the art is falling on my shoulders. I really enjoy doing it though so I'm stoked to have the opportunity to do graphics and logos again. I'll send over some art for you guys to include. I've been doing art for longer than I've been skateboarding which is saying a lot because I've been skating for over 30 years now!
You mentioned in your Chromeball interview that you were on the way to a pool tournament, did you ever get to play Hensley? He looked pretty amazing in that credit section.
Hensley actually taught me how to play by whooping on me regularly at his house. After a while, if you pay attention, you can really learn from that and serve up some good whoopings of your own. We played a lot of games against each other. He is the best. I went on to play in a local APA pool league. I got what they call Top Shooter multiple times. Our team, the Jolly Rogers was the number one team in the league for years. My wife, Carissa is also a skilled pool player and was our most solid player on the team. She could literally beat anybody. Stone cold!
You are a family man now, how is that all going mate?
The family is doing great! We just had our daughter, Jayden on March 13th of this year. Our son Jaxon turns 3 this Saturday on April 5th. Now that we have our boy and girl we might be done. Time will tell, but for now we are happy and enjoying the kids. I love my wife Carissa to death. I'm a lucky man.
Alright, thanks so much for answers these mate. Stoked to hear you are doing well. Give some shout outs and any shit you feel like chucking...
Just look out for Wray Bros brand in shops near you. If they don't carry us yet, ask them to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or everyone can now find us easily at wraybros.com. We really appreciate all the support and look forward to making skateboarders everywhere proud to have a company that they can believe in again.
Cool man, alright now everyone go out and buy a Wray Bros board and support the cause.
Thanks again to The Chromeball Incident for the pictures - Muckmouth 2014