(Featured: Sidewalk Magazine, 21st March 2016. Photography by Chris Johnson.)
The first in a series of Vans rider interviews conducted at the House of Vans, London during last weekend’s 50th Anniversary party. Keep checking back every day this week for more.
Your first appearance in skateboarding’s collective conscious was Anti-Hero’s Cow  video. How was it being a teenager thrown in the van with dudes like Andy Roy, Sean Young, John Cardiel and Eric J?
I didn’t know anything else so it was pretty normal to me. Mic-E Reyes was good, he kind of took care of me when everyone else was going nuts and I’m fourteen years old just watching all this shit go down. He took care of me, I mean he went nuts too, but it was a fucking trippy experience seeing that go down at such a young age. But, like I say, I didn’t know anything else and that’s how it started.
What’s the best spur-of-the-moment Cardiel trick you witnessed during those early years?
The one that comes to mind is that Thrasher cover he had doing an indy nosebone over the oilcans on the wet vert ramp, with a jump ramp to bank or whatever. He stacked up the cans and rolled in on like a vert ramp but half of the width of it was just roll in. It was like a BMX roll in, and he did it when it was soaking wet and just blasted this indy nosebone and with like sixty millimetre soft wheels. It was nuts. You couldn’t even ride across it without slipping and he’s rolling in, that was gnarly.
Over the last year two years you’ve had sections in Propeller  and Destination Unknown , which you’ve said before were very different experiences. Which of the Destination Unknown tours were you on, and which ones stood out as the best?
I don’t know man; it was such a long process, years and years if you add it all up. We all kind of did our own thing across that whole period. I did a lot of trips on my own in smaller crews too. Like up to Montana, and we did an East Coast mission and brought Frank (Gerwer) on that one, just low key. Nothing really sticks out. It was all just so long looking back at it but the time just flew when it was happening if that makes sense…
Getting back to video parts, I’d imagine going on a trip Greg Hunt and Cody Green for Propeller would be a bit more organised than an Anti-Hero trip?
Yeah, but at the same time not. You’d think it would be a little more together but sometimes that can make it kind of stressful and more routine feeling than natural. Whereas you get out of the fucking Deluxe van and everyone goes nuts and just does their own thing while somebody with a camera just captures it.
How much of a different mindset did you have with those guys compared to when filming on Anti-Hero trips?
I would think too hard about what I wanted to do, about tricks I wanted to do and shit like that. It wasn’t really my kind of thing because they have so much equipment and it takes days for them to all come out and get their angle and you’re like, “Fuck, I’m already done.” You know what I mean?
I guess with Anti-Hero it’s just more, “There’s a camera here, go do whatever you want.”
Yeah. The angle doesn’t matter; as long as it’s in the box it’s all good.
How tough do you find balancing skate trips, playing in a band and having kids? Does having more responsibilities affect your mindset toward skateboarding at all?
I mean not really. But just as far as being away from the family goes, I know how hard it is just to have the two guys and just yourself. I know how hard it is for Trixie [Trujillo, Tony’s wife] to be at home with the kids alone. I mean she does it solid but I know how tough it is so I try and stay in contact and just be there.
Now that you’re a father, is the influence pros can have on younger skateboarders something you consider more?
No, not at all: everyone can do whatever they want. Kids are kids, you know? I was, like you said, growing up from fourteen in vans with Andy, Mic-E and Ethan Fowler and those dudes would be going nuts. I just sat back and took it in, I took in what I wanted and I blocked out what I didn’t. Kids have got to make up their own mind because there’s no hiding. I live in San Francisco, there’s no hiding fucking insane people, they’re walking around the streets yelling shit all the time and you can’t shelter the kids from that. So why do it with skateboarding?
Just a few favourites before we round this off: favourite KOTR year and why?
The first two were good, the one we won and then the next one just because they went from coast to coast. West, East, East to West.
Favourite Skate Rock tour destination?
I really liked when we went from Detroit to New Orleans, that one was fucking solid because it was through the Bible belt, which was pretty entertaining.
Best thing about having Andy Roy back in the van?
He gets everyone pumped when you need it.
How would you say Vans has stayed true to their roots over the years?
Just by sticking to the classics and sticking to what they know how to do: Even though they’re producing new skate shoes, they stick to what’s been working for them for so long. They can sell to the skater and sell to the guy that doesn’t skate, he just wants to wear skate shoes and so it works all around.
Are you involved in anything else Vans have got coming up like the Pro Skate Park Series?
Just the Park Series. They called and asked if I wanted to do it and I was like, “Erm, maybe a couple…” and they’re like, “Well you kind of have to.” Called to ask me and tell me at the same time, (laughs). But no it’s cool, I’m not going to go to Brazil but I’ll do the rest of them. It’s over the summer too so I’ll be travelling with the family so I’m going to have to fly out from wherever I am to the contests and then back. It will be fine man: I’m stoked.