HUF / Interviews / The Green Zine / WKND

Working Life & WKND Skateboards with Johan Stuckey

(Featured: The Green Zine, 30/10/2015.)

Johan Stuckey has previously been described as ‘your favourite pros favourite flow bro’. Thankfully, it seems that this is starting to come to an end as he’s now an important part of the great and always amusing company that is WKND Skateboards. Despite a couple of rough set backs, both within skateboarding and relationship wise, Johan has a positive outlook, warm personality and friendly tone in his voice leaving you hard pressed not to smile. I actually spoke with Johan twice to do this interview and even during his daze the second time around, due to being up in the early hours of the morning, he was just as fun and interesting to chat to. Read on to hear Jo-Jo’s thoughts on WKND, juggling a regular job around skateboarding and sponsor situations both new and old.

Johan Stuckey, Photo: Ryan Allan.

What’s the hardest thing about skating with glasses?

The hardest part was having glasses which when I started to sweat from skating, would slide off my face. I had to get the croakies thing that basketball players would wear, like the strap. (Laughs) that would probably be the hardest part, but now I have a pair for skating that just fit my face. If I slam really hard they fall off and scratch which sucks. Never like smashed fully but they’ve been so scratched I’ve had to get a new pair twice maybe.

You’re been rocking dungarees lately, what started that?

I don’t ever skate in them; I just wear them. The inspiration? I like farms and land, overalls kind of come with that territory, so maybe that’s the inspiration. Taylor Caruso who also skates for WKND had some and I was like “Oh those look cool”. I guess I just ripped it from him actually. I don’t think I would skate in them or film a trick in them but they’re comfortable.

What do you get up to when you aren’t skating or working?

I’ve just been working really. I baby sit, pretty much five days a week lately. I just went through a break up too so I’ve been moving my stuff (laughs). I broke my wrist so I’m chilling for a second but that’s getting better so I’ve been skating a bunch more.

How did you break your wrist?

I was trying to skate this like pyramid bank to rail and there wasn’t much run up. I threw down bad and we were getting kicked out, I tried to go for it anyway and jumped from the top of the rail to my wrist. I broke my right wrist and sprained my left wrist at the same time.

Josh Pall had something similar happen to him – getting kicked out, went for one more go and basically broke his face.

Yeah I saw the footage actually. I’m friends with him and a bunch of guys from Australia that he kicks it with, he sent us the footage and it was so bad. Poor guy.

Do you know those guys from riding for Modus?

I know those guys through Austyn Gillette because he would go down there and then when they would come over here they would stay at his house. I met Cameron Sparkes through him and that’s how I met Josh Pall, Andrew Peters, (Su Young) Choi and Riley Blakeway. Some of them ended up moving here and I lived down the street from them. That’s kind of how I got on Modus actually, through Choi. I actually lived in Perth for two years until I was twelve but haven’t been back since. My dad was working in India so he wanted us to live in an English speaking place but didn’t want us to live in England, so we moved to Australia (laughs).

Pretty good compromise, you haven’t missed out on much when it comes to the weather.

(Laughs) I’d be down to go, it seems pretty awesome. Seems pretty rough, but that’s cool. All the Static videos… they do stuff over there.

Yeah, Nick Jensen has been in them quite a bit.

I remember one of the Blueprint videos, Lost & Found, I bought that when I was like fifteen. That was my favourite video for a really long time. They were the best… I love (Danny) Brady, he’s awesome. I like (Paul) Shier too and obviously Nick Jensen.

You’ve had complicated situations with sponsors over the years; I just wanted to go into what lead to you riding for WKND. Habitat was your first board sponsor; did that happen through being friends with Austyn Gillette?

It started out a few years before that. I sent my footage to Brennan (Conroy, Habitat TM) and he was like “Yeah you can be on” and then said “Actually we’re going to have to do shop flow”. Which was whenever your shop orders boards you can get boards, so that fizzled out. A few years later I met Austyn, he saw some footage, sent it to Brennan and hooked it up. I was supposed to get on, Habitat said “We’re going to take you on this trip and then you’re going to start getting a cheque”. The trip didn’t go so well, everyone got hurt and I was the only one left. Then I was really sick and got three tricks in two weeks or something… I came home and said, “Hey I got to pay my rent, can I get that cheque?” and I didn’t know Austyn had quit yet. They were like “I don’t think that’s going to happen and Austyn just quit so it’s probably not ever going to happen” (laughs). So I pretty much didn’t have a job, had to get rid of my apartment so I moved into Austyn’s. He was out of town and I’m friends with his other roommate so I stayed there. I was actually going to have to move home then Jon Sciano was like “come live with me, it’s all good.” I ended up getting a job and staying.

I ride for Spitfire and Thunder so Deluxe were giving me Krooked boards. I would just get them, it wasn’t like I was going to get on or anything. Mike Sinclair hit me up to ride for Foundation. I was doing that then we went on a camping trip and decided to start WKND. We came back and I was a little nervous about it because I didn’t really know what was going to happen so I stayed on Foundation. Then when Grant (Yansura) did it and got the ball rolling I was like “fuck, I got to be over there.” I called Mike and he said he pretty much knew that was going to happen anyway. There was no bad blood and he always helped me out when I needed it. I’ve been on WKND ever since, about a year and a half.

WKND 90s Girls

You and Austyn are pretty close friends right?

Yeah, good friends. I met him at Tampa Am like seven years ago. We talked a little and exchanged numbers. He hit me up on Instagram four/five years ago because there was a HUF party and he wanted to know if I was going to be there and we hung out then. He went home and hit me up like “I’m going to move to LA” and literally moved to LA four days later with Daryl Angel. We started kicking it every day ever since.

How did you end up working at HUF?

I was living at a friend’s apartment in North Hollywood, this guy Tom Carter, he grew up with Marty Regal, the HUF filmer. He was like “this dude Marty is going to move down from San Francisco”. He was going to move into this other room and I was like “Ok, I live here for free, I don’t know why you’re telling me” (laughs). Marty moved in and saw some footage of me and said “Do you wanna film a HUF commercial? I can’t guarantee anything but you’ll get a pair of shoes”. I think they had three commercials at this point, one was Aaron Herrington and then Keith himself. No one was on yet. I hadn’t even met Keith yet because he was in Europe, he came back and we hit it off super good. I started hanging out at the warehouse because I had nothing else to do and eventually they asked, “Why don’t you just work here?” so I worked there and skated for them. I had to quit HUF to skate for Habitat because that was the only way it was going to work. I skated for them for another couple of years after Habitat ended though.

Did Keith find out you guys used to trade weed socks for lapdances?

I think he was the first one to do it. I think it started in Vegas when they had a party because the strippers loved it. So he encouraged it (laughs).

How did Vans come around then?

HUF were like “You’re pretty far back in line to do stuff with us because we have these new guys and you quit once”. I would just wear Vans to kick it in. I’d been hanging out and skating with those guys then hit up one of the team managers, Griffin Collins. He mentioned a long time ago “If you ever need shoes, hit me up”. Seems pretty good, I’ll ask for something and they’ll sort it but they shoot you straight too, won’t string you along which is cool. Vans is like the gnarliest company ever to get on.

Johan Stuckey_kickflip 5050_loading dock rail Chinatown(sized)

Do you think there’s any benefit in being flow for a company rather than fully on? As WKND is still quite small, most of your effort and footage can go towards that, whereas with a full shoe sponsor you’d have to juggle your output between the two.

Being flow for a company can be good because you don’t have much responsibility but if you don’t have a good work ethic as far as filming, going out and trying to get shit done you also won’t have somebody riding you because you’re only flow for them. If you’re flow it’s on you to do your job or your work if you want to do it that hard. If you get a cheque it does become a job but at the same time you’ll be forced to really produce and it’s motivating. If you’re flow for companies that you’re stoked on you’re going to want to bust your ass anyway and put that responsibility on yourself.

I haven’t really thought about it that hard but getting Vans definitely gets me really motivated to skate and impress them. Maybe they’ll bring me on a trip or do something, you know? Like I said, it’s just on me, really.

Can you explain what happened with Rip N Dip?

Basically, Ryan O’Connor came up with the name but the imagery and way people perceived it was a team based thing; Grant doing the videos and obviously all the guys that make a company cool or why people like it. Once Rip N Dip took off and people were buying it that didn’t skate it kind of got into that whole realm of streetwear and Ryan put us on the back burner. Grant was doing all the video stuff and everything that people thought was Rip N Dip, it just became not that, not like a crew anymore. I quit first then Grant shortly followed and I think Ryan was like “I just lost my two best friends” and the dudes who helped make this company what it is. He didn’t have a team for a long time and now he has just a bunch of random kids on there. He just forgot about everyone, got a big ego. It’s weird but I mean at a certain point I stopped wearing all that shit anyway. Like a big alien on my shirt and stuff (laughs). With WKND, anything we mention to Grant he usually takes into consideration unless it’s something super crazy but for the most part everything you see is all of us together working on it. It’s cool because it’s my friends and Grant. For me nothing has really changed, I don’t make any money but it’s nice to be a part of something fully and to be able to do it with all my friends is pretty surreal.

The American WKND promo came out during summer, how long were you filming that for?

Probably a year but I think Alex (Schmidt) had just been filming with Grant for a year and a half. We didn’t even really think about doing a video until maybe six months before and then it was like “Let’s do a promo”. We got the idea from an old Stereo promo and wanted to do something short and sweet.

Are you guys going to work on a full length video next?

I don’t know yet. We haven’t talked about it, we just film. Everyone has a good chunk of footage, it’s hard to say, it would be awesome. Probably another promo would be next, like a montage and a dude with a part would maybe happen sooner than a full length, so we’ll see.

Is that hinting at somebody turning pro soon?

(Laughs) I don’t know, maybe… It’s still so early on who knows. There are no pros, that’s kind of funny.

With you not really making anything financially from skating you’ve always worked alongside it, right?

I’ve always had a job. I worked at HUF and then a women’s clothing store for two years. I got this nanny gig through the clothing store actually from a woman who always came into the store. I’m at their house right now (laughs). The kid I babysit he’s in a drum lesson so I’m just sitting on their porch. His dad’s a director and his mum’s a photographer, she shot portraits of the Queen but they’re the coolest people you could ever meet. They really made me feel like I’m part of their family. It’s nice.

How does the male nanny line go down with girls?

Well I had a girlfriend up until pretty recently but they like it. I guess they think I’m responsible and good with kids and that it’s cute. I haven’t really used it as a pick up line before (laughs).

WKND did the 90s movie girls and the date series, are you going to do a 2000’s series? Who would be your pick for that?

No I think we’re going to try and go original now (laughs). Probably Britney Spears or Mandy Moore, one of those girls. Early Britney, ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ Britney.

Not bald Britney then?

No, but I back that actually, maybe… Yeah I back it (laughs).

Was the Courtney and Kurt board your idea?

Yeah, well we kind of all threw out couples and that was the one that me and Christian (Maalouf) both threw out there so I guess it could be both of ours. But that was the one we threw out at the exact same time so we both kind of picked it.

Courtney & Kurt Deck

I hear you’ve got a soft spot for Mac Demarco too…

(Laughs) yeah. I love him.

How come you went in for a kiss?

I was so drunk man. It was a show at a venue that’s pretty popular but a smaller venue and it had to be like two hundred people over capacity. We were all there and I said I’m going to go onstage and someone was like “I bet you wont”. I got on stage and I’d seen videos of him kissing dudes so I was like “This’ll be fucking hilarious”. So I just gave him a kiss and he was down (laughs). Hey actually, can I call you back? I got to do something really quick.

Yeah sure, speak to you soon.

Two weeks later…

Thanks for getting back in touch.

It’s totally my bad.

What time is it over in the States right now?

It’s almost five am.

You said you’ve been having insomnia lately?

Yeah I’ve been waking up at like four and doing nothing until I can fall asleep again. Usually drink a bit of wine and try go back to sleep. I’m drinking white right now.

So, you had to go take the kid you look after somewhere. You said that job came up from working in a clothing store. How do you go from selling dresses to babysitting in the space of a conversation?

I wasn’t even selling dresses, I was like stock manager of the store and the kid I nanny now, his mom came to the store all the time. A girl I worked with, her fiancé was his dad’s assistant. I became friends with the girls I worked with and then got fired for something that wasn’t even my fault. The woman found out and called me literally the day after I got fired and she was like “I heard you got fired and I’ve always liked you, come work for me”.

Wow, that’s nice. What’s your opinion on skateboarders that have never had to work a real job? For example, someone like Nyjah (Huston) got sponsored so young he’s never had to work a day but then you and even Austyn, for example, have worked to different extents while being sponsored?

Someone like Nyjah, who’s never had a real job and takes skating so serious, to him it is his job you know? Austyn worked in a skate shop when he was a kid. I didn’t know him then so I can’t really say whether they took it as serious because he was a good skater when he was a kid. Personally I feel like if I just skated it’d fucking drive me nuts. The fact that I have something else to focus on makes me like skating more because I have to do something else. When I’m working I’m thinking of tricks and then when I do go skate I get stoked.

Johan Stuckey, Backside Tailslide, Photo - Brent O'Donnell. (January 2015)

Whenever work and skating gets brought up I always just think of Heath Kirchart stepping away at his best and going to work in his bar. Do you ever go to the Morrissey night Skate Talk Bob and some other guys put on there?

He’s skating probably better than he ever has and better than anyone still. I skated with him recently and was like “wait aren’t you supposed to be retired?”. We would all go there a bunch, you kind of try and stay away from where there’s a lot of temptation or a lot of drinking or some shit. But definitely been there a bunch (laughs). I like Morrissey; I like The Smiths, probably not as much as other people but I back it.

I heard that after American WKND came out, Jason Dill offered you a spot on Fucking Awesome?

Not really. They were going on this Hockey trip. For some reason we get along really well but I was with Jimi Britches, at Black [Heath’s bar] funnily enough. I was down to go but can only ride WKND boards and he said “you can only go if you ride Hockey boards” and I was thinking “well, what if I ride blank boards?” (laughs). I don’t know if that’s an offer, I don’t think it is. We’re just cool and I think he wanted me to come on the trip to hang out because we’re friends. I don’t think that’s an offer, really. I don’t even think he saw the promo! Someone the other day was like “I don’t even think he knows you skate for WKND”. It wasn’t like that, I was with Jimi and he sent Dill a photo and he goes “let’s bring him on the trip but he has to ride Hockey boards”. It wasn’t “let’s get him on Fucking Awesome!”.

I thought the FA school photo decks WKND boards with the girls were sort of similar. Not like a rip off but similar theme I guess.

I know Dill definitely hates WKND to the core. So much. He hates Grant and Raymond (Molinar) and that’s why it’s so funny that him and I get along because he hates what I ‘stand for’. Because he thinks that they’re completely biting… I mean whatever. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, fuck it. I guess it’s similar; we didn’t get the idea from that. Before FA even came out and we came up with WKND the first idea we had was to put these nineties girls on boards. I can say it’s not and people are going to take it for what it is but people have been putting pictures on boards forever. We came up with that thing two, three years ago, however long it was we were on that camping trip. Dill, he’s going to think what he wants to think but whatever, it’s no skin off my back. I like all those guys and they hate us.

I feel that FA likes to give off the vibe that they’re sort of untouchable.

I mean if you think about it, it is kind of ‘unfuckwithable’ (laughs). You know what I mean?

Considering the team you could argue that.

I guess I can’t say that because I haven’t seen what they’ve been putting out. I mean I skate with Nak (Nakel Smith) and Sean (Pablo) but the only boards I see are the ones they ride or whatever Jimi posts on his Instagram.

Johan-Stuckey_crook_-church-rail-Highland-Park

How did Grant take it, when you told him about the thing with FA/Hockey?

I try to avoid telling him that kind of shit because we’ve been best friends for over ten years. For him to think that I would stray kind of hurts him. I don’t think I told him for a really long time and when I did I still don’t think he believes it, he’s like “yeah for sure, whatever”. I would never use it against him and again I think them asking me to go on that trip was, more like “you’re the homie and we want you coming on this because we like hanging out” you know?

Is Grant basically the dad of the WKND crew?

I’m older than Grant (laughs).

I imagined with him being the filmer he’d be the guy that keeps everyone’s shit in check?

Everyone kind of keeps their own shit in check. Everyone hits him up and they’re like “I’ve got this trick I want to film” and usually he’s the one going “shit I can’t” because he does the Nike thing. Especially lately, everyone has kind of been in limbo while he’s been finishing Chronicles 3. But he never really has a crack on us. We’re all essentially flow for larger companies so we’re pretty motivated on our own terms, you know? So he never has to crack the whip. We have to crack it with him.

He actually said to mention how has it been trying to film with him while he’s been working on the Nike video?

The worst thing ever.

He pretty much doesn’t exist and if I film something with someone else he’ll watch it and be like “that was sick, wanna do it again with me?”. I’ve filmed six or seven things and had to go back and film like four of them with him. But I mean in the end we’re working on a project so his vision is my vision and I don’t even have to tell him what I want. I’m working around this song so if he tells me he wants me to do it again because he knows it, I’m assuming he has a vision as well, you know?

So you’re working on something right now?

Yeah, we were working on it and it kind of got put on hold because of the Nike video but the Nike video ends this week so we’re back on.

Was that the long montage thing you mentioned last time?

It could be, I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s going to be me filming stuff, everybody’s filming stuff… (laughs).

You’re being very secretive.

Well, that’s how you do it man, that’s how you sell the boards.

I think that’s a pretty good place to round this off.

Alright, sorry it took a fucking month to finish (laughs).

Johan would like to thank Keith Hufnagel and Marty Regal.

 

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