JERRY FOWLER Interview
Anytime your name is brought up, the first thing people say is " wow, underrated dude". Do you feel like that's a compliment or more just like a backwards compliment ?
I take it as a compliment. That statement kind of implies that I was overlooked or didn't get enough attention, but I don't really feel that way.
With brands like Rythm, DNA or even Hopps were you in control of your graphics and image at all?If so did it ever cause an issue?
With Rhythm the artist was really solid and original and he was always open to any ideas that anybody had. I only remember giving input on one graphic because I was always happy with his stuff. DNA did a series every three months and what the artist chose was what we got, the skaters never had any involvement. Hopps was either Jahmal doing the graphics or he would outsource to any artists that he knew and respected. Whenever he outsourced I would work with the artist and that was a lot of fun. Being the skater and being able to work with the artist is always a good look.
Do you think it's important to work with skaters on graphics? Seems like you enjoy that aspect but a lot of skaters don't seem to care. Did you pick that up from Templeton?
Yea I think so. I definitely prefer the hands on approach. Ed asked us from the very beginning if we wanted to do our own graphics. I’m pretty sure that Jahmal did his first graphic. I laid out one of my Television ads with Ed as well as a few Toy Machine ads later on down the line. Ed was always supportive like that. He wanted you involved. Ed has obviously always done his own graphics and was very hands on. I think he was just trying to instill that work ethic on us. Or even just let us know that was an option if we were ever interested. I think that I learned a lot of my skate work ethic from him and Mike Vallely during the early TV/Television days. Mike was so matter of fact about everything and had such a presence everywhere he went. Mike’s a really nice guy but he also has a rare intensity to him, to see him handle his business back then was inspiring.
What's the worst video you ever filmed for and best video ? Do you have any good stories from either of those experiences?
I think my favorite would be the Toy Machine video because Ed Templeton was really open throughout the entire process. He allowed everyone on the team to make their own decisions regarding anything with their name on it. There weren't any boundaries on Toy Machine. Since that was my first video experience I think that how Ed was set the tone for me.
The worst video that I ever worked on was the DNA video. The filming aspect was fine but the editing process was insane. DNA had hired this guy in San Diego to edit the video. He was a nice guy and super organized but the money that they were paying him to edit the video required him to do it quickly because of his rate. Basically it was underfunded. We sat down for a few hours and the guy started looking at his watch like ok we gotta wrap your part up. I remember it getting heated and I was just like hey if we're going to do this let's take the time to get it right. He straight up told me that the DNA video wasn't going to be any good anyway and that I was eating into the time that he was supposed to be devoting to the new Expedition video. It was super shitty. But in hindsight, he was right, that video sucked. Could it have been better if the guy that was editing it didn't think it was going to suck while he was working on it? Maybe? Who knows. Long story short DNA agreed to pay for more time so that Jahmal and I could work with him and get the parts that we were happy with. In my opinion if you watch that video you can really see the difference between our parts and the rest of the video, not just because of the skating but the overall aesthetic. Whenever I hear people talk highly about those parts it always makes me happy because of how much we fought for those.
Yes you can definitely see the difference in you and Jahmals part from everyone else on DNA. It still holds up. I love the song, you pick that?
Sort of. Our buddy Haven Lamoreaux that filmed a majority of my stuff for the DNA video threw that song out one day to Joey Pepper and I. Joey and I were giving each other shit about who was going to use that song but I think it came down to the DNA video coming out first. Joey’s part came out great with that Iggy Pop song anyway so it all worked out.
Not only were you ahead of the game on nosegrind pop outs but again now with the no comply to grinds. Why do you think now that stuff is just becoming more popular? And what made you want to do that stuff then?Did anything inspire you?
I've always liked no complys mainly because of Ray Barbee and Matt Hensley and how they did them. In the mid 90's me and some friends started popping them as a joke trying to see how high we could could get them. Even though it started out as a joke they felt pretty rad so I always kept doing them. The first time I saw someone do one to grind was at Trabuco Hills High School in probably 1996. This guy Dustin Deardorff did one in the middle of a ledge to frontside tailslide and slid really good and popped out to fakie. Dustin skated super fast and everything he did was always done with a lot of power. I asked him to do it again and on the next try he accidentally got into a switch crooked grind and grinded super far and popped out to fakie and landed with a ton of speed. We all laughed about it like holy shit that was amazing. I guess I was probably inspired by that trick and just put my own twist on it. I'm not sure why that stuff became popular again. It's definitely a trip seeing younger kids do them though. I always assumed it was a older person type trick.
Who has your favorite no comply variations currently ? Do you keep up with media?
Honestly I just watched Ray Barbees parts online the other day from both Public Domain and Ban This and I still think he’s got my favorite no comply. Possibly because seeing that footage takes me back to my childhood in a way or maybe because he has the best no comply. Might be a combination of the two. I’m not as much of a student of skating as I used to be which is probably appropriate for my age. I see magazines from time to time whenever I go into Orchard. If a video or an edit worth seeing comes out I’ll usually hear about it from my friends that are working in the skate industry. Other than that I’m usually in my Firefighter/Family mode doing my own thing.
Was there ever any team offers or project you turned down that you regret?
Osiris approached me when they were getting started and I just kinda blew them off. I don't exactly regret that decision but I always wondered if I passed up a good opportunity. This was before the Storm and before they had any real image, they were just starting to gain momentum in the industry. Looking back on Osiris I couldn't really have seen myself in the Storm or in any of their ads because it wasn't really my thing. But look at people like Jerry Hsu and Rodney Torres. The Osiris image wasn't theirs either but they were able to maintain a following of their own within that brand and still be respected. At the time I was skating for Converse and totally happy. But, I always wondered if I made a mistake passing that up. I definitely would've gotten more exposure and whatnot, and who knows if Osiris could've opened up more doors for me in other areas of the industry. Looking back I definitely look at things with a broader perspective, the big picture and not so much is this brand the coolest or whatever.
You were ahead of the game on Converse too. What was it like riding for it back then? Any good stories?Now Converse is one of the top shoe brands in skating...
Converse was great. Too many stories. Watching Chany fakie backside lipslide to come out forward down a 10 stair rail in Osaka at 8am kinda stands out. I loved getting calls from Converse asking me if I wanted to go to Australia or Japan the next day. That happened more than a few times. My teammates were also my best friends and travel companions and you can’t really beat that. I think that I just answered my own question as to why I blew Osiris off.
When did you decide to leave Hopps? It's funny most people still believe you ride for them..
We parted ways in 2013. Yea people still hit me up and think that I ride for them.
I know your current job is insane and take up a lot of your time but the photos you got for this were sick,shows you still got some gas in the tank left. You ever want to get one last part in?
I do but I honestly have zero time. I try and work as much as I can with overtime and any free time that I get away from work goes straight to my family. The planets align sometimes and I get to skate, but at my age if you're not skating at least every other day it's almost like you're learning how to skate again every time that you go out skating. It's hard to keep that momentum going for me if I'm not going out a lot. So a new part sounds great but its not really realistic for me at this point.
What are your thoughts on small companies in skating ? Some people are for it others are lets just say not that excited....
Overall I don't really have an opinion on them. Just like anything else some of them look sick and some of them don't. Skate wise I'm more set in my ways and I know what I like, I'm not too quick to try something new if I already know what works.