(Featured: Speedway Magazine, August 13th 2015.)
Skateboarders the world over have spent a good couple of weeks questioning why Mother Collective, one of the most well received companies of this current small brand ‘renaissance’ suddenly switched their moniker to Quasi Skateboards. Without realising, there’s been hints of this change for a little while now…
The first might have been noticed by most skateboarders in the UK and across Europe. Somewhere in the current issue of North Magazine, beaming out from the pages, is a woman’s face baring a kind smile. It’s Catherine Johnson, Jake Johnson’s mum, and the advert says nothing else but ‘[bye mom]’ in a black square. The same image appeared in Free Skate Mag with the minor addition of ‘call Keen’… A chance encounter with Jake Johnson at a Converse demo led to him signing his debut board with Mother Collective that also hosts this image. Mumbling “What should I write?” before scribbling ‘don’t forget about ur mom’ next to his signature, Jake cryptically mentioned there are a few changes coming up… Over the following few days, The Place tradeshow took place and news that Mother Collective is now Quasi Skateboards became known to store owners and a couple weeks afterwards; fuelled internet debate and Instagram confusion.
After the name change was made public, Chad answered a few questions regarding the company at this stage. The boards have been flying off skate shop walls since first reaching them which came as much of a shock to Bowers as it likely did skate shop owners – “We thought we’d ordered enough for three months and they only lasted three weeks. I didn’t see that coming.”
The instantaneous support was touched on by Chris Nieratko in an interview with Gilbert Crockett; however this support isn’t exclusive to the United States which Bowers is modestly aware of, telling that “Keen and the rest of our distributors have done a stellar job. They back it 100% and were one of the first to call me. If anything, they deserve more credit.”
There’s more going on behind the scenes than Bowers though, with one significant figure being Chase Rosfeld. As the main warehouse guy “Chaw is a renaissance man. He sells and packs most of the orders. He’s the first one at the office and stays late with me. Dude’s got a mean kickflip too. He’s MVP.” Furthermore, the small scale of the operation “hasn’t hindered us at all. We do well enough to pay the team and staff without having to deal with certain people…” While Gilbert Crockett, Jake Johnson and Tyler Bledsoe, are just as instrumental in determining important decisions such as the altered title; “we spent a lot of time on the phone discussing the matter. The situation came out of nowhere and really fucked things up.”
To call the company’s origin remarkable is putting it lightly. After DNA Distribution’s over night shutdown the previous summer, the guessing game was on as to who would sponsor Crockett, Johnson and Bledsoe (along with the still undetermined home of Omar Salazar lingering). It came as huge surprise that the three would reconnect without any prior whispers and while the names are synonymous with the sinking days of the Sect; Quasi’s art direction is far from that of Mike Hill’s. The fledgling brand has had no issue carving an identity of its own despite their previous situation; “You’re the first person to bring them [AWS] up since April…” was surprising to learn.
It’s a statement that’s been done to death but we’re at a time where new, smaller companies are breaking the mould and the launch of some of these brands has been just as diverse as the products they offer. The National Skateboard Co. took a never been done route by mailing shirts to shop owners emblazoned with the company name blacked out, a brick pattern and tag listing the first four riders. The result? Over a hundred pages of speculation on Sidewalk Magazine’s forum within days. More recently, Alex Olson created an intentional guessing game around Bianca Chandon before revealing anyone who called the 917 phone number was already informed. With this in mind, it’s intriguing as to whether there are any nods to Quasi’s ‘predecessor’, the Workshop. The stylised brackets that crop up throughout collections and catalogues almost seem to echo the Parenthesis logo and there’s still on going SLAP debate whether ‘mother’ was short for ‘mother ship’. The definition of the word Quasi itself – ‘seeming, resembling, virtual…as if, as it were’ could suggest a parallel to draw is that the remnants of AWS now reside under this new Ohio home, however “Quasi has nothing to do with the new or old Workshop. At the same time I enjoy conspiracy theories… Yes we came from there but you’re reaching. Does Primitive look like Plan B? Magenta like Habitat?”
It’s clear there’s personal touch to first graphics and boards about to be released are no different due to a firm belief that “[I think] pro models should reflect the pro. The rider should be amped on his graphic. We talk a lot and work out ideas. It’s really simple and pure.” In an industry full of people complaining ‘yet another new company?’ – Quasi has created an identity for itself with a more consistent feel than some of those also who could be considered to exist in the niche part of skateboarding Quasi does. Other brands within this circle are often supported with the backing of their soft goods sales but Bowers bluntly stated “we’re still new. We’ll do more apparel when it’s right. We literally released one line and got hit. Everything we make is aimed at skateboarders. Those brands are no different. You can’t tell someone to not buy your stuff.”
Rounding things off, what has been the best aspect from a company owners standpoint to Chad? “Paying the team, independence, free boards. No rules.” Regarding what to expect to in terms of a visual output? Simply; “Gil part soonish.” Ironically, in an interview with Jenkem, Bowers stated concerning the company’s new name, that “in a few weeks, none of it will matter.” and yet here we are… Though was it a surprise that the name garnered such a strong reaction, especially when only announced on Instagram? “People care. Thank you.”
Some might not have warmed up to Quasi, but there’s plenty that felt the same towards the original mother title. Everything from the next release is looking as promising as the first and for those sceptical of what the future holds for Quasi or those already with an adoration for it; rest assured…
Images courtesy of Quasi Skateboards & Keen Distribution.