Jahmal Williams, Steve Brandi & Aaron Herrington in Static VI (The Sub-Dwellers)

“The ‘Sub-Dwellers’ section was a way to bring in cameos from some of the guys with the most celebrated parts in the last Static video from 2014. The theme of Static IV focused around the underground subway, metro and tube systems of the different cities each skater lived in. So this section takes the audience back underground to the filthy subway tunnels of NYC as a nod to the last video while treating everyone to new mini-parts of some of their favourites from that project.” –Josh Stewart

Premiering last year, 24 years after the first Static, Josh Stewart’s Static VI bookends a long and storied series of videos documenting skateboarding’s up and coming stars, lost heroes and underground kings. I’m sure you’re familiar with the likes of Jahmal Williams, Steve Brandi and Aaron Herrington, but if you’re interested in learning about the backstory on Aaron’s 50-50 to 50-50 ender in St. Louis, Steve’s new board brand, or Jahmal’s newfound approach to filming a video part, then continue reading. 

Interviews by Will Harmon

Jahmal Williams

Can you remember the first time you met Josh?
Jahmal: I don’t remember the first time. He says that it happened in Florida, maybe in Miami. It might have even been at a Tampa pro contest, but I don’t remember. He has footage of me skating at Tampa… But I specifically remember meeting him skating Tompkins TF. When I first moved to New York, I lived in Manhattan, and I used to skate at Union Square a lot, I’d skate Tompkins a lot and Astor wasn’t really the jump off anymore. I used to hang around in the Lower East Side at Autumn skate shop all the time. So I’d always skate at Tompkins and every now and then people would come through and I think it was him, Bobby (Puleo) and Steve (Brandi). They would pass through and then just see me skating and Josh asked me if I’d be down and go out and film and stuff with them sometimes.

Yeah from what I remember, you had a few tricks in Static III, and I think that was the first Static you had tricks in. I remember you do a wallie at the Banks over one of the barriers.
Yeah, he asked me to come out filming with him, but we would never connect. Because I wasn’t into filming back then. I was just out there… And then he followed up, and then we went out and he asked me where do you want to go skate? I was like, “The Banks. Let’s go to the Brooklyn Banks.” And that’s what set it off.

And can you recall the first trick you filmed with Josh?
I think it might have been that wallie over the barrier, then the back three off the curb.

Jahmal Williams, 50-50 up then back down, NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

And to go back a bit, can you remind me when you moved to New York City from Boston?
I moved from Boston and went out to LA. Jerry Fowler got me to come out to LA and I ended up staying with him and Haven Lamoreaux. And I was gonna try to move out there, but I didn’t like not having the freedom to just bounce around. As always, you’re always dependent on someone with a car and stuff. But it was a good time. I actually moved to New York before I went to LA, but I didn’t realise how much 9/11 had affected the New York area. I had experienced it from Boston, but when I came to New York, I realised that NYC had really changed. Like, the trauma was real. This was like around 2002. So the energy wasn’t that good. And I was like, “I can’t stay here.” So I left. I moved to Miami in May 2003.

Ah yeah I kinda remember this. I left Boston in late ‘03 to go to SF.
Yeah everyone broke out. So I was living in Miami Beach and I linked up with Ed Selego, Chris Williams and MIA guys… Joel Meinholz was down there, he wasn’t skating at the time, but I remember helping spark him to get back into skating. And then my girlfriend at the time, who’s my wife now, we moved up to New York in 2005.

And then shortly after this you started Hopps?
I got my business licence and trademark I think in 2007. Or it was like, trademark pending and then I think I got my first boards in 2007. I think that’s what it was.

So Static IV was your first full video part with Josh, and after speaking with him and Steve Brandi, they said that most of the time you guys would meet up in lower Manhattan, and then cruise up to Midtown hitting whatever you stumbled upon. What are some of your memories from that time/era?
That was pretty fun. Because I had never really tried to cultivate a video part before. And so I was still kind of just like, ‘what’s gonna happen that day?’ I didn’t have any plans. I didn’t have any spots in mind. Now in hindsight, I think that used to bum Josh out because he would have things in mind. Like, he didn’t say that, but must have been bummed just skating around with us randomly with this big old bag.

Ha ha! Oh man…
Steve and I would sometimes forget he’d be behind us. We were just charging down the street skating and then be like, “damn, where’s Josh?” and turn around, and he wouldn’t be anywhere in sight. And then we’d have to chill and wait. And then he would never tell us that he’s pissed off at us, you know? I don’t want to sound corny, but yeah, I’d just say it was real organic… We just moved around, we’d stumble upon things, and then we didn’t know what was down and next street or the corner. Sometimes we would come up on something and just skate it; sometimes we’d get kicked out. But to me, in my mind, it was always a fresh exploration. Because I didn’t know New York that well then.

Jahmal Williams, frontside 50-50 step off to tailslide, NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

Ah yeah…
I remember in those early days Bobby Puleo was on those sessions too. Bobby knew the city better than anybody. So a lot of times I was floating around with those guys. I didn’t know where we were going, I’d just be following along, and then next thing you know, we’d wind up at some spot. But then Bobby and Josh had a falling out. So he wasn’t on the sessions anymore. So then it was just like Josh, Steve and myself. But then we started posseing up with other people, like Dustin Eggeling and others.

Also, I have a memorable moment from that era.

Go on…
So one day, we were in Midtown. It was Steve, Josh and I skating, and we were just above Hell’s Kitchen and we were creeping into Midtown. I think we’re heading east, and it was a long, long stretch of street so we can see all the way down to the next block, pretty far. There was a silver SUV coming up the street, and we’re all in the middle of the street. I think Josh might have been in front, Steve was second and I was the last one. And I saw a car charging but it was coming straight at us. So I saw Josh move out the way but then it seemed like the car sped up and it was coming straight at Steve. And I was like, “Holy crap, this dude ain’t stopping! This dude is gonna run us over.” And at the last minute, we got out of the way and it just flew by us. But it had to stop at the next block because of the red light. So we’re all like, “Yo, that dude could have just killed us!”

So Steve goes charging down the street after the car. I follow Steve as well, and we catch the car at the light. And I remember pulling up and I saw a sticker that said ‘NYPD’ on the window. So I knew already, “Oh, that’s a cop.” But Steve didn’t catch it. Steve was like, “Yo what the fuck!” And the dude turned and looked at us. And I swear he looked like the devil to me. He was like, “Don’t you even try it! Don’t even think about it.” And Steve starts to argue with him. And I’m like, “Steve, that’s NYPD, leave it alone, because that guy will hem us up.” I don’t know what that guy was on that day, but he looked like pure evil.

Skating in New York, how often do you deal with the police and whatnot? Is that like a regular occurrence or no?
No, never.

Mostly security guards, right?
Yeah. Back in the day, skating in New York, police were off chasing criminals. They weren’t bothering skaters at all.

Jahmal Williams, backside ollie, NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

Not so in Boston.
Yeah Boston was the worst. I got arrested and spent the night in jail for skating Copley Square.

Yeah, same here man. I can’t even believe that.
I guess the moral of the story is that when you’re out street skating you got to be careful. It can be like, some thugs, some hooligans, the police… It’s not a controlled skatepark.

Yeah for sure. You mentioned just earlier that this is one of the first times you had “cultivated” a part before. So Static IV was different than your other video parts you’re saying?
Josh, Steve. Bobby, they were more particular… In my eyes, I see a spot and I’m like, “oh, I want to skate”, but that they wouldn’t be interested in because it had already been hit, the spot had already been in a lot of videos, and so forth. A lot of people already skated it and did a bunch of tricks on it, but to me, I was like, “I never skated before; I want to skate it,” you know?

So I started to realise like, they were honing in more on spots that they really wanted to skate, Whereas to me, I wanted to skate everything. And they wouldn’t just film anything… So I kind of learned from watching Steve, Bobby and Josh, like, how to see a spot, you remember where it is, and come back. Then I would watch Steve and Josh and how they worked together to film a line and how they’d be like, “ah I don’t like the way it was filmed…” I never watched tricks over. I would land a trick and be like, “Ah I landed it; it felt good.” And then Josh would say, “Oh, you want to watch it?” I was like, “No. I’m good.” So towards the end of Static IV, I started learning a little bit more from skating with them, because I had never skated with them before.

It’s interesting that after all your video parts (Toy Machine Live!, Eastern Exposure 3, DNA, adidas, etc.) you think this Static IV part is the first part where you had kind of a different mindset about constrasting spots and certain tricks rather than just skating whatever was in your path.
I was skating everything. But by the end of that experience, towards the end of the part, that’s when I started realising that like, “this spot will look cool on camera.” You know? My eyes started changing. Because growing up in Boston during the ‘90s, like street skating was different. And I feel like after Static, my experience as a street skater changed, because we were filming, and I never was, well I wasn’t filming all the time, so that experience changed my perception of like, the guy with the camera, and he’s got the fisheye, and he’s too close… I got to speed up, like, all that sort of stuff starts seeping into your head a bit more. And yeah, so you just became more aware of different factors.

I see yeah.
I gotta credit Josh Stewart, Bobby Puleo and Steve Brandi, ‘cause I learned a lot from skating with those guys. And I mean, not street skating, but doing production stuff: filming and documenting skateboarding. I mean they would watch videos and go to town critiquing them.

I’m sure. Ok so obviously you knew all these things by the end of Static IV, what was it like filming for Static VI? Was it a different process?
It was a little different because I knew that he was working on it, but I wasn’t working with him. I didn’t get involved until later in the game. We talked about me having a part, and I think he had some stuff that was leftover. But I wasn’t really on those sessions. I was kind of doing my own thing by that time and I was filming with Tristan Mershon. And then Josh was saying he wanted to get some 16 millimetre stuff and he wanted to start working with me on a part, but I know his back was messed up really bad.

Yeah he has a cursed bad back.
Josh was focusing on the main guys like John (Baragwanath), Jordan (Trahan), and Christian (Maalouf), so I wasn’t in on those sessions. So I was like, I’m not gonna have a part, and if I do have a part, it wasn’t something that I was going to be into. But towards the end of the last quarter, Josh started getting out with me. And it was just Josh and I, so it felt really cool because it felt like back in the day again. But it was more coordinated…

You had spot ideas this time?
Yeah, and back then (Static IV days) I didn’t have any kids. Well I think my wife might have been pregnant with our first, but I was free to roam and do whatever. This time, I got two kids…

You got no time! I know how it is now, ha ha.
Yeah I was like, “I got this window of time, let’s go to this spot…” So it was more of a coordinated effort. But I enjoyed being able to have that moment with him because I was like, “This is precious man. This’ll probably never happen again,” you know? Getting a chance to work with someone who’s so masterful at his craft and then having the time to be out there in the streets, you know, just getting caught up in whatever. It was fun. I, I honestly have to say I enjoyed being out there with Josh roaming the streets more than the video part itself.

I see what you’re saying, yeah, just just being out there… And then Josh said that some of the sessions for Static VI your son was there, and he skates?
Yeah Jack came out.

What was it like having him on the session?
Yeah that was cool. Because he got to the age where he wanted to come on sessions. And at first I was like, “Nah, you’re too young,” and I just didn’t want to be in dad mode. He was definitely too small. He’s like, “I’m hungry. I gotta use the bathroom.” Yeah, I didn’t want that and he really wasn’t that into skating. But now he’s more into it, he’s 13 now. So at 12 or 11 he’s like, “Can I come on a session?” So he did come out on a few sessions with the Hopps crew and I dug it because I was like, he’s got to learn some street smarts. And so when he would come out on these sessions it was rad, because I started skating with him a lot. So he became my skate buddy. So sometimes when I’d go skating, I would be like, “damn, I wish Jack was here,” because we’d laugh and joke around and not take it too seriously. So when he came on a session, he made it more lighthearted. Because if I was doing something he’d be like, “Dad, you’re not having fun”

Jack and Jahmal Williams. NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

That’s so sick.
He would say something that I would say to him back at me, and I would go, “Yeah, you’re right. I should loosen up. I should take it easy. I should relax.”

How lovely to hear that… So when you look back on all your video parts over the years do you have a favourite one or one that you’re most happy with?
That Static IV part.

Yeah, I love that part man, the music and everything in there. It gives me goosebumps when I watch it. And it’s the last part of that video!
We’re in the theatre at the premiere, we’re all watching it. And I’m like, “Damn, my part hasn’t come up yet. An then at the end, it’s like, “No way. This dude gave me the last part!” And then I didn’t know what it looked like, I didn’t know the music and stuff, so it was a total surprise. And Gonz was there; he gave me props, so like that, having a premiere at the Sunshine Theatre, and like Jake’s part and that whole thing… Just being a part of that video was super rad. And I’m most proud to be a part of that during that time, because I wasn’t into filming. But I’m glad that I got into filming and was there during that period of time with all those guys.

Ok last question: Very few people I know have had video parts in 1994 and then one in 2023… What tips do you have for older skaters in terms of longevity and taking care of your body?
It’s hard to say because everyone’s everyone’s physiology is different. I stopped drinking a while ago and that really helped. So I wasn’t dehydrated, I wasn’t hung over, I was sleeping better so my body had more time to heal. I never got into hard substances, which you know, in skateboarding, sometimes that stuff can creep in. I think also too what changed my lifestyle was I got married and started a family. So yeah, that makes you start thinking about your longevity, your mortality… So you’re like,”Oh, I gotta eat good.” (Getting older) you lose that Superman complex real quick. You know, you don’t spontaneously jump, run and do stuff without thinking. Because sometimes in skating, you get that urge like, “yeah, I want to do this crazy, whatever it is,” and you just charge it, you just go for it. You just take a beating. But with a family it’s like, “I want to keep doing this, but I also have to be able to walk the kids to school.” So you start thinking about preserving… I guess, like stretching it out. Just eating better and knowing your body, knowing your limits. I’m still obsessed with skateboarding. So I’m enjoying it right now. Like sometimes I wish that I had the physical attributes of a 30-year-old, but I mean, it’s precious man, I enjoy it. And at my age, I realise how precious it is. So I’m just enjoying it as much as I can each and every day, because I’m so obsessed with it. It’s crazy.

That’s good to hear. Thanks Jahmal.

Aaron Herrington

Can you remember the first time you met Josh Stewart?
Aaron: Oh, man. I want to say the first time I met him was when I worked at a vegan restaurant (s’Nice) that I worked at for so long with all the skater homies. And at that time, I was working with (Bobby) Puleo, because he was the food delivery guy. And maybe a year before that, Josh had like, no disrespect, but they had their own falling out of some sorts. And so he would come in to eat quite often and I didn’t really know the face of Josh Stewart per se, I knew the films and the videos, but I didn’t know what he looked like. But when I realised it was him, I want to say it was because Bobby was just kind of giving him shit while he was eating. It wasn’t like that day or like when he was eating by himself, but Josh came in with Lee Berman, Alexis (Sablone), and like, maybe someone else. I had known Lee from San Francisco, so Josh introduced himself and then I was like, “Oh, shit, okay, what’s up!” So I kind of officially met him that way. At the same time, (Jack) Sabback was working there, Jack was doing food delivery, as was this other filmer friend of mine, Joe Bressler. And they were all like a tight knit little group of friends. So Sabback would talk about him (Josh) a lot and then they would go skate after work and stuff. So I kind of just met Josh through him being a customer.

Shout out to s’Nice! And can you remember the first trick you ever filmed with Josh?
I’m probably wrong, but I want to say my first trick I filled with Josh was one of my Polar ads. It’s been so long now… I can’t really recall but I want to say it was. It’s like a box to box ollie thing. But I know my memory is not suiting me right and it probably wasn’t that. I’d have to watch Static IV again… But I do think it was like this ventilator box ollie thing and it was a Polar photo ad. And I want to say we filmed that because I had worked that day. He thought it was cool that I was willing to work and then go skate after. But it was like, right up the street from my work, so it kind of worked out. And I’m pretty sure it was Josh, like 99% positive it was Josh. But Jeremy (Elkin) would probably tell me otherwise.

Yeah I couldn’t remember if you were on Polar or not yet whilst filming for that part.
I was already on before, but Pontus (Alv) had kind of known that that part was going to help me in a way. But it was through the process of filming for that video, and filming with Jeremy Elkin that I got introduced to Pontus and all of them. But that was before 2012 Because when there was that whole December 21, 2012, like conspiratorial end of the world thing…

Wha? I don’t recall that…
There was a whole thing leading up to 2012 that like, there was like all these prophecies that the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012. Because Nostradamus had predicted it and all these others, whatever. So a lot of people unfortunately, I want to say probably stateside, really fed into it. And the reason I know this so certain is because Pontus posted a photo that same day, and he was like, ‘Goodbye world.’ And it was an old photo of him with a gas mask on from when he was filming Strongest of the Strange or In Search of the Miraculous.

Aaron Herrington, NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

Ha ha…
So I remember I was on the team before that, it was like the summer. I think it was summer of 2011 when I got put on because they (the Polar Team) visited New York and whatnot. And we pushed around and stuff.

So when Static IV actually came out, you’re fully on Polar, but I’m gonna say that video really boosted your profile would you agree?
Yeah. I would say that for my career… Josh Stewart and Jeremy Elkin in particular, are the ones responsible, or the ones that I owe the most gratitude for, as far as helping me get my foot in the door. Jeremy Elkin was an amazing filmer, because he was good at curating, in a sense. Like, he’d be like, ‘that’s really dope, but let’s try to find something to hit after it or hit before?’

I’ve always said Poisonous Products is one of my all-time favourite videos…
Yeah the ones he made before that, like the ones that he made in Canada and stuff…

Elephant Direct
They’re all so good! And he just has a specific eye. When I started skating with Josh it was kind of a similar filmer dynamic, he would just have kind of little ideas. You know, little things that he had seen and be like, “Oh, I saw this like curb cut the other day, and you can hit this and then down the street, is that that other spot…” And I’m like, “Yeah, let’s try to sync it up.” That was like 2010, 2011 when that started all falling into place and whatnot. But I had known Josh before being a part of Polar, because I was skating for Blood Wizard.

Oh, I didn’t know that.
That’s a left field one for a lot of people. Because I lived in San Francisco, it was pretty relevant for where I was at that time. And those guys were great and whatnot, but when I was in New York, I was trying to do stuff with HUF because I was a part of that from my SF days.

Yeah I remember… I think you are wearing a lot of HUF stuff in your Static IV part.
Absolutely, HUF shoes a lot. Yeah, myself and some friends were a part of that early. I’ll say even before it was really like an official shoe company kind of thing. It was still in the works. But I was overzealous… And I kind of shot myself in the foot by over-expressing my, you know, willingness to want to be a part of this thing that I probably wasn’t ever going to be a part of.

Is that what you think looking back?
Looking back it was probably most likely because of my board sponsor at the time, whatever. And I was having a lot of… I guess mental complexes about it let’s say, and I would talk to Josh a lot about it and be like, “dude, I feel this type of way about like the HUF thing and like I don’t know what to do?” And he was like, “respectfully you live on the East Coast, you should quit Blood Wizard. I will give you whatever boards you want or buy boards, just have a blank slate and start over.” He was like, “I’m going to be filming you; you will have a part in my video.” So I have him to thank for telling me to do that. It’s funny because I had these other options like Palace was a thing, Magenta was a thing, Hopps is a thing. And Palace was super interested. And then Shawn Powers put out a really sick part, and they’re like, “nah mate, Shawn Powers.” And I was like, “I totally get it.” But yeah, I mean, it was just funny… I owe a lot of where I am today to Josh Stewart 100%. And also his work ethic and everything about him is very admirable.

Before being involved with this and meeting Josh and all that, what was your knowledge
of the Static videos beforehand?
So I mean, I wasn’t really a big Static I individual obviously, that was a little before my time. Static II was the one that put the introduction of East Coast skating and that filming aesthetic into my eyes when I was like 16-17. And I didn’t even know what that was… Static II was my (Bobby) Puleo introduction, so his part was heavily on repeat. When Static III came out, at that time I was living in SF, and that’s when watching Pat Stiener’s part and (Nate) Broussard and all those dudes and how they skated, that was very influential to me.

So for this new part, Static VI, you filmed a lot with Paul Young right?
I didn’t really have the opportunity to go and skate with Josh and those guys a lot for Static VI. I mean I don’t have a whole lot of footage in number six, you know?

 Yeah weren’t you filming for Paul’s Down By Law video at the same time?
I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus or anything like that. But I think there was some miscommunication as to the ability to have multiple filmmakers filming VX for the project. And then, as time progressed, Jake Todd basically became the person that was filming the video. Long story short: I was quite blunt with Josh and told him that I don’t work well with the idea of going to a city that I don’t know for, like 10 days and trying to film with a filmer that I’m not really, really good friends with. I mean, he lives in Philly. Like, it’s a couple hours away and I’ve been there twice, for two days, I’ve never spent time there… But I had the opportunity to film with Jake a few times when he was in New York. Josh and I and all the Static boys we went to St. Louis and Chicago back in like 2018. And that’s why they like the 50-50 to 50-50 on the rail. But long story short, I was filming with Paul and we thought we were going to be able to kind of like add, you know, whenever submit certain things, but it was kind of too many hands on deck. You know, obviously, budget and things like that. You can’t pay every fucking filmer, which I understand. So it kind of just turned into that Paul was working on his own video, and I kind of just started to focus with Paul exclusively on that. And then, if I was going to film for Static, it was going to be filming exclusively with Josh or Jake. So I would say I could have had more footage in it if I maybe wasn’t as stubborn as I was being.

Aaron Herrington, backside 50-50 to 50-50, St. Louis. Ph. Josh Stewart

I see. You want to talk about that 50-50 to 50-50 you mentioned? Your ender.
I think it was like our last morning in St. Louis, before we drove back to Chicago. And I didn’t film much at that point in the trip, maybe one thing in the five or six days we were on the road. I just think it was cold and I had just stopped drinking, like that year I think, so I was still kind of figuring some things out personally and mentally. So skate trips were a little hard at that time… But I remember it was the last day we’re in St. Louis, and I kept talking about it.

How did you know of the rail? Did you see it in the beginning of the trip?
Sorry, I had seen the rail in a Vans video and Ronnie Sandoval boardslides it.

Wait, over the gap?
He’s riding kind of like a wider board and when he boardslides it he like kind of like rocks
over it.

Ah man, I need to watch that again!
If you watch it, it shows him boardslide in it, and on one his board goes perfectly primo is in the middle of the rail and he stacks it, like really bad. But then he does it, he like teeters over it. It’s pretty nuts. And so I knew that was in St. Louis, as someone had it in the spot photos on their phone or something… And I was like, ‘oh, that’s that fucking Vans rail!’ or whatever when I saw it. So we’re just driving around and it’s cold every day, and I was so happy with everyone else doing what they’re doing and getting clips, then Brian Powderly is basically like, “you gotta film something dude, speak up. Like, I know you don’t care right now, but you need to speak up. You’ve got to get that 50-50, we gotta go to that spot.” And I was like, “well if we end up there, it’s cool, if not you guys are being more productive than I am not really wanting to dictate right now. Ya’ll are clipping up and I’m kind of like, lazy.” And he’s like, ‘“nah fuck that, we’re going, we’re going!” I was like, ‘okay.’ And so we get to that spot that morning and it’s literally the lightest snow ever. You know, you can’t even see it in the footage, but then it stops. Then yeah, I sack the rail one time, right when I get into the 50-50, ha ha. But I want to say it was only like, maybe 10 tries, like it was pretty quick. Because once I got to the gap, I knew if I was able to hop the gap and land back in the grind, I knew I could do it. But yeah definitely five minutes before like I landed the trick like a full-blown snow flurry, it was that cold. I have my windbreaker on when I sack it, and I take my shirt off, because I’m kind of warmed up. But I want to say Josh also almost didn’t film it. Like he kinda jerked, because he didn’t think I was gonna land that try.

Oh, really?
Yeah. And then another thing, and I’m not trying to talk shit, but there was a younger kid on the trip with us. And he filmed it HD. And I had to tell him… I was like, “Hey, I know you filmed it…” And he was expressing that he was really excited that he filmed it. And I was like, “well, you can’t use it. You know that right?”

Ah man…
He really didn’t seem to understand in that moment. “You mean I can’t put it like in my own video?” And I was like, “No. Josh and Gabe (Kehoe) just filmed it VX.” Like ‘no, no.’ And then he’s like, “well, what if I put it in my video after their video comes out?” And I was like, “definitely not.” And I definitely think I bummed him out. And I haven’t talked to that kid ever since, but I apologise. If he sees this… But yeah, that was one of those moments where you just had to be kind of rude to someone or you’re like, “yeah, you should probably just delete that right now.” You know? But that 50-50 was a great feeling. And then got to go home with that clip, which was nice. But it was funny, because it was like, I knew I had that clip for a long time and it was like, alright, well, if I film other things for this video, I already have my ender.

Must have been a good feeling.
Yeah… Usually you’re always trying to find the ender or the end of your process, but this time it was the opposite.

And how’s the knee rehab going ? (Aaron tore his ACL last year)
It’s going really well actually. I mean, I was pushing around a little bit the other day, which felt really nice. And yeah, surprisingly not much pain or discomfort when I was doing it, which was very surprising. I do PT twice a week and work out a lot. And like, April 2024 will be a year from the incident. And then June 2023 is when I had the surgery, so June this year is when I want to actually be skating again.

I saw the no-comply on your insta story!
It’s a start…

Steve Brandi

Can you remember the first time you met Josh?
Steve: I didn’t actually meet him, but I mean, I knew who he was. I knew he made films and stuff because of the Skatepark of Tampa. Obviously I grew up skating S.P.O.T and he was a local there, so I saw him around. But probably the first time we actually spent time together, he was working on a Florida section for the Transworld video Transmission 7. He was hitting random locals up that he saw around the park. He said: “Do you want to go out and try and film some stuff? Nothing’s guaranteed that it’ll end up in the video, but you know, we’re gonna film and then submit the footage.” And I think that’s officially the first time I met him. I was probably 15, maybe 16.

So can you recall the first trick you ever filmed with him?
Yeah, the first trick I filmed with him was at what we call in Tampa the “Westshore rail”. It was just a flat rail off of a few steps. It was a nollie back lip. And then the second trick we filmed was a nollie over a loading dock gap, a spot that you’ve probably seen a million times in other videos.

Steve Brandi, slappy 50-50, NTC. Ph. Josh Stewart

And those were in Transmission 7?
Yeah, both of those tricks ended up in there.

You’ve been in every Static is that right?
Yes, I have. I’m honoured.

How come you didn’t have a full part until Static IV?
Talk of having a full part in other Static videos didn’t really come up until Static IV. But going back, the footage I had in Static I is what got me on Planet Earth Skateboards. So I was hanging onto footage we’d filmed for Planet Earth videos and other projects.

Wow, sick.
I went down to Miami with Josh, and the Converse team was there – years ago, the first round of Converse before they rebooted. It was (Danny) Supa, Kenny Anderson, Felix Arguelles, Joel Meinholz and Frankie Galland shooting photos. And do you remember Stephane Larance?

Yeah man. French legend…
Yeah, he was there. And I think it was about a five or six day trip and I literally did not even see Stephane at all. Apparently he was at the beach the whole time just having a good time, which is awesome.

Ha ha!
Static I had just come out around the time we were in Miami. Kenny and I didn’t know each other well, but we were skating MLK, and he just told me: “I don’t know what you want from skateboarding, but we’re rebuilding Planet Earth. And we’re gonna mesh some of the Rhythm team into Planet Earth and we want some Ams, and your name came up. If it’s something you’d be interested in, send some footage to the team manager.” So basically to answer your question, after Static I I got on Planet Earth, and right off we started working on projects and a video, F.O.R.E. and Friends. But right around the time, Josh put Static II out, and Planet Earth went out of business.

When Earth went out it turned into a clothing brand. Around that time a lot of in-between stuff was happening. I wanted to have more of a “career”. And right around that time when Earth turned into a clothing brand I was travelling with my sister because she played pro tennis. That’s actually when I saw you in London, right before Wimbledon. I had grown up playing tennis, and I was travelling with my sister as a sparring partner and coach but always still skating. I’d always bring my board with me to tournaments. I remember skating in Australia on my own in the park and, you know, just going around to different places travelling with her, but still always skating. Not necessarily always filming unless I was back in Tampa. And then in ‘06 I moved to New York for a full-time job teaching tennis.

You had that line at East India ledges (here in London) from back then in 2006. You did a nollie shove-it 5-0… And that’s probably the oldest trick in your Static IV part, right?
It is for sure, that was the last thing. It was weird, because it kind of just matched up with the rest of my footage.

Were you wearing sprayed black Adios or something?
I had Vans on. Adio was done at that point and I was just getting boards from whoever; like John Montessi was giving me Westside Skate Shop boards. And then the guys at DNA reached out to me, and they wanted me to ride for DNA after Earth, but I wasn’t super into the brand at the time. And plus I already knew a little bit, thinking, “this thing could go under, and then I’m in the same position.” So at that point I wanted to work and just skate for fun, not necessarily having a sponsor. Skating was, at that point, always something I wanted to do, but kind of secondary. So I taught tennis and then eventually, a few years later, I had a business partner, and we had our own tennis club. We ran the tennis club for a long time, and that took a lot of my time up. And I would come into the city on my days off, and Josh and I would just skate and film. That’s pretty much how the Static 4 part happened. I was working full-time through the whole thing.

That’s sick. Yeah Josh was saying that you and Jahmal would just meet up and skate at night a lot in Midtown and places.
In the beginning of ’07 I moved to the Brooklyn, then down the line was living in Little Italy. Jahmal was in Brooklyn, and we’d meet up on Broome or Grand Street. There was a barrier there we’d skate. We’d start off there and then make our way up Midtown. We would just push pretty much everywhere. And poor Josh, following us with all this camera gear, ha!. But we never really had a spot list or anything like that, which was fun. We just kind of went out and skated, and then Josh would just film, you know, if we had something in mind or we came across something.

That’s a fun way to do it, but sometimes it’s hard to get anything that way.
It’s super hard, especially now, that was a while ago…

So was filming for Static IV was different?
Not really, to be honest. I can’t speak for Jahmal or Aaron (Herrington), I can only speak for myself, but I’m pretty sure they were in the same situation. But at least for me it was a last-minute decision. Josh just decided, “Oh, you guys have a little bit of footage, you know. Can I use this for a small section?” And then I remember Jahmal telling me like, “I’d rather just have my own section.” We asked Josh how much time we had to film. He basically said, “Oh, we have about two and a half months or three months” or something like that. So, a lot of that stuff was just kind of the same process, just organic going out filming, or “Hey, I found this spot, can we meet up and try and skate it?” But for me personally there was no plan of having a part in this video until three months earlier when Josh first mentioned it.

Aaron said you did a lot of jumping over fences Uptown into concrete backyards and would find these little alleyways in between apartment buildings… He said you’d find a lot of spots that way, is that correct?
Yeah, I mean, that’s part of the fun for me too, I think. Finding a spot that I get excited about then wanting to go back… Like, “Oh damn, this looks cool!’ You know?” I still creep around… I’ll jump over a gate or something that leads into a courtyard of a building… And it might be abandoned, and no one would care if you skated it, and there might be a cool spot in there. You often see something that just kind of grabs your eye.

Steve Brandi, gap to backside lipslide, NYC. Ph. Cole Giordano

The second half of your Static VI part has kind of this gap to subway step bit. Was that like you found one and then you started to see other ones? Was it a conscious theme there?
Well it kind of started that way. Because there’s actually a line in the first section with the subway trick before the whole subway night time bit. And I kind of wanted to go back and refilm that particular line, but they tore out the ground. And then once they replaced the ground, there was scaffolding in the way of the steps, so we never went back. I wasn’t super stoked on that particular line. But no, once Josh said he wanted to use my footage, I wanted to get more stuff. So it naturally happened. The first one that we filmed was nollie nose manual, and then the frontside nollie nosegrind. Then yeah, I started seeing a whole bunch of gap-to-steps around that area, and that’s how that section started to come together.

I was looking in the background and I could see it was all different delis behind them.
Yeah, I had to go into the delis too, and talk to the people and make sure they were cool with it. I’d always buy something and just say, “Hey, would you care if we skated this?” All that was in the wintertime before Josh was finalising the editing. And he basically just told us, “You have a few weeks left to film.” All that stuff was in just four or five sessions. And it was wintertime and cold! You can’t really skate those spots during the day because there’s a lot of foot traffic, so those sessions were just at night. And then I suppose it just made sense to put it all together. But it was fun. It was just me and Josh going out when it was cold and creeping around.

Okay I noticed in every single short sleeve clip, you’re wearing a white polo, no t-shirts. That’s impressive. I wanted to ask, why always the white polo?
The white polo, I guess, comes from my tennis background. They’re comfortable, and you know how you get comfortable in something? I’m not a big logo person. I don’t like wearing big logos, so it was just kind of a plain shirt that wasn’t a white t-shirt. And it was a little thicker and would last a little longer. I wouldn’t rip it as soon as I would a white t-shirt. Maybe I’ll start switching it up though…

And do you have a particular polo of choice?
I should just say Theories of Atlantis, right? Ha, ha!

Correct answer, ha ha. I’ve seen the special pro Steve Brandi Theories polo.
Okay so I think the big news… Or one of the big things we want to talk about is that you’ve left Hopps, and you’re starting your own brand. Is that correct?

What sprung about this decision? Can you tell us a little bit about this?
I left Hopps a year ago. First off, I should definitely say, I’m grateful for all my years skating for Hopps. I’ll always be honoured and grateful that I‘m the first person that Jahmal turned pro. I skated for Hopps for about 13 years and recently have been fortunate enough to be able to take a step back from all the hours on the court and behind the desk. Over time things, of course, change, and I wanted to do my own thing. Having my own brand is something that gives me more of an outlet for creativity. With the help of YouTube I’ve been learning programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. It has become fun.
I still greatly value my years at Hopps. I’m still friends with everyone there. But I needed and wanted a change to keep me sparked and accomplish some things on my own now that I have more time. And hopefully, at some point soon, I’ll be able to involve some other people on the brand. Perhaps I can emulate what Jahmal was able to do for me. And who knows, maybe I can even turn somebody pro at some point. That would be gratifying.

What’s the name of the brand?
It’s called Dance Parti.

It doesn’t seem like it’s public knowledge yet… Have you spoken about this with anyone else yet?
No. So I have a few different graphics I’ve made that I’ve turned into boards, which I’ve been riding. I’ve been working on other projects for the brand as well. There hasn’t been much mention of the new brand, but I just put a couple of photos of boards on my story that link to my webstore. There are a few skate shops that are now carrying the boards, and a few distributions have reached out to me. Plus there are a couple of kids whose skating I like, and I’m flowing them boards. I imagine over time a “team” or a “crew”, or whatever you want to call it, will come together organically. But no, I haven’t really spoken too much about it yet.

Steve Brandi, gap to backside 5-0, NYC. Ph. Josh Stewart

That’s cool Steve, hyped for you! I’m stoked you left on amicable terms with Jahmal. I’m sure starting a company himself, he’s going to understand when one of his riders wants to start their own company like he did.
Oh absolutely. When I told Jahmal he said, “Congratulations, that’s great. I’m happy for you.” and obviously understood. We’re still good friends, and there’s no hard feelings.

I’m 42 years old now, and Jahmal is 50, so you start thinking about that too. Not that I look at skating as a career, but it’s something that I’ve always been passionate about and will do as long as my body allows. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few platforms to put my skating out on. Having this opportunity now, where I have more time, is exciting. I think it’s just kind of a natural step of growth for me to have my own brand.

Well I think that about wraps it up. Good luck with everything man…
Thanks man. I gotta make it back to London sometime.

You do!

(Head to Theories of Atlantis to get your copy of Static VI)