What made you pick up a skateboard?
My brother. A skatepark opened down the street from our house and he came home the day it opened with a skateboard for me. I was ten.
So you turned 21 on this OJ's trip. Why didn't you tell anyone it was your birthday?
I told a couple people but 1 didn't want to drink on this trip because I have a drinking problem. I knew if everyone knew it was my birthday I would get completely hammered. https://skateszone.com/john-reeves/
For being 21, you have a bag of tricks that are more characteristic of someone twice your age. Why is that?
My buddy Glen Garcia. He was the first person I skated a mini ramp with. He would do really cool tricks that I had never seen before. And I started watching old contest videos with Monty Nolder. I got hyped on those--started learning backside airs. Soon after, I moved to Seattle and started taking acid and mushrooms and all the drugs made me start seeing everything as a ramp.
What do those drugs do for your skating? Do they hype you up?
If I'm on acid I'll go higher than I ever did and I will land it. I'm not scared of anything. I understand how everything works and that's pretty much it. I'm feeling the best. Mushrooms are pretty much the same thing but for a shorter time. Acid lasts a long time. Mushrooms are, like, 30 minutes and then you start to trip and can't skate. Last time I skated a vert ramp I did a bunch of ho-ho variations that I had never done and I was on mushrooms. But it seemed like I knew exactly how to do them.
Who was your Seattle crew?
Everybody I skated from Seattle to Mexico with on the Great Skate: Pat, Rob, Ryan, Sam Lukas, Brent, Issac, Bryant, Max, Josh, Kramer.
And you have all their names tattooed on your leg. Did you tattoo their names or did they?
I did one night when I was drinking.
Was that on the Great Skate?
It was after the Great Skate. I knew I wanted some type of Great Skate tattoo but I didn't know what to get. One night I was drunk so I started writing their names on my leg.
So what's up with the Great Skate?
I moved to Seattle and I was living with my friends on their couch. Their plan was to ditch the house six months after I moved in. Originally, I was going to stay up there but I was, like, "Fuck, all my friends are gonna leave." They were going to skate from Seattle to Tijuana and they set a date to leave on. As the date got closer I ran out of money. But the night before they left I went to Fred Meyer and stole all the gear: the tarp, the tent, all that stuff. Once I had all that gear I was, like, "Fuck yeah I'm going!"
Did you have a backup car or did everyone have to carry all their gear?
No backup car--nothing carrying our gear except us. We all had our own bags and they each weighed about 100 pounds. Each morning we would go to the store, pick up all the food, put it in our bags, skate 30 miles, hit whatever spots along the way. At night we would hit up the liquor store, pick up beer and liquor like bums and find a spot to camp, get rowdy, get drunk and smoke one joint every single night. We had weed the entire trip but we wouldn't smoke during the day. We'd just smoke that one every night, get hammered and fall asleep in the dirt.
You mentioned 30 miles. Was that how far you would go each day? https://skateszone.com/how-to-apply-put-grip-tape-on-a-skateboard/
That was the average but the farthest we went was 57 miles in a day.
How long did it take to go from Seattle to Tijuana?
A hundred-and-one days. But we stopped along the way. We stayed in Santa Cruz for 11 days, stayed in SF for, like, eight days, stayed in San Jose for six days. Just stayed everywhere that we knew people. We took our time.
How many boards did you bring?
I brought one board and two sets of OJ Hot Juice 60mm wheels.
Did you ever get fucked with at night, like by other bums at the camp spots? Not saying you guys are bums, but you know--other people sleeping on the streets.
Other bums definitely tried to fuck with us, but we chose our spots very carefully every night. We didn't want to be woken up by anyone. We always got to sleep in and got to be loud every night.
So you did this trip with only cruiser wheels. From what I've seen you can ride any setup that's under your feet. What do you prefer to skate? Are you picky?
I'm picky but I can adapt to whatever I'm riding. But I prefer the shape Santa Cruz just made for me. I like old boards, like, Monty Nolder's shapes. I could ride those every day all day forever and be happy skating.
What is it about them that you like? It's a bigger board, right?
There's just more to them. I like that they are flat. I like that there is only enough nose to just grab and no more than that. I'm just used to it, I guess because I skated all those miles on a Ray "Bones" Rodriguez board. So that's just what I'm used to: a flat board. My board got ran over halfway through the trip and we just nailed an old board to it. We took off the risers and they were exactly the same thickness as the piece of wood was. Just took off the risers, drilled holes and put the piece of wood under my board. Used a knife to make wheel wells.
Did you skate it?
Yeah, I was skating all the skateparks we showed up to on it. It was hea--vy!
Those boards have an obvious front and back to them. When you go switch do you turn the board around?
When I go switch I ride it regular. I just switch my body, not the board.
Most people might not know you skate more than just ramps and bowls. What's the biggest set of stairs you have ollied?
Twenty. I ollied the 20 stair at Valencia at, like, 6am by myself. I always wanted to ollie it. I live right next to it.
It's the one Sandoval frontside flipped, right?
Yeah, that one. I went at 5:30am, unlocked the gate and took off one of the signs with my T tool. There's a fat crack too. I drove to the skatepark before and ollied off the mini ramp to flat a couple times. I had stayed up all night and had to take some sort of impact to wake my shit up. I went there, set up my two cameras and then just started trying it. It took four tries. I snapped my board on the first go. It just cracked so I kept trying it.
Are there any tricks you are working on, trying to figure out?
Lately I've been using other people's normal boards and learning flip tricks. It's so fun: nollie backside flips, tre flips, stuff I can't do on my boards. The other day I jumped on my friend's board and did a nollie crook first try on this rail. Then I learned crook nollie flip out. I was, like, "Damn, this shit's fun." It's fun to skate a normal board every once in a while but that's not what I want to skate.
Is that when you did a backside noseblunt slide? I saw a photo of you back noseblunting a handrail.
Oh yeah, that was on a friend's board.
Have you ever skated the mega ramp?
No, but I really want to skate it.
Are you going to do it on your '80s setup?
If I can do it on my setup then that's what I would like to do, but you might have to put on some bigger things. That shit looks so fun.
What do you do with your old shoes?
I sell them on eBay. I get more for them than if I were to sell them brand new.
Are people buying them because they are your shoes?
No. I put them on there labeled as used, trash, potent, scarred, disgusting, Vans. Take the gnarliest pictures. They are all white and disgusting looking. I put them up for 80 bucks--sold every time.
Yup. Like, every time--sold. Some people are wierdos, asking how bad do they smell and if I can wear them up until I ship them. I mean, yeah. I guess.
That's amazing. You've been on some skate trips with Santa Cruz and OJ. Which one has been your favorite?
I'll have to say Hawaii was the shit. There wasn't anything I didn't like about Hawaii.
What's the story about the sponsor-me tape and Andrew Reynolds?
The rumor is Reynolds called a skate shop that he thought I skated for and asked for me.
The people at the shop knew me and told me he was trying to get ahold of me. Later, I was at a private skatepark and there was a big-ass list of pro skater's numbers. So I took a picture and sent it to one of my buddies in Seattle. When I got back to Seattle my friends made me text him a video of a ho-ho and pointed the camera at my buddy drinking and we asked him to send us some boards. But he never did. During that time I didn't really give a fuck about anything. I still Wnda don't but as far as, like, life or anything during that period in time I was just doing anything.
How long ago was that?
About a year ago.
How do you manage to never really eat shit? How do you get out of hairy situations when trying tricks?
Well, I only really do the things that I think I can do. So I either do it or I fall really hard. Sometimes I bite off a little more than I can chew. That's the reason I had to stop drinking. I was falling all the time on things that I know I can do.
You've got a video part dropping on the Thrasher site soon. Who have you been filming with?
Rhino or whoever has a video camera around. But mostly Rhino.
Is there anything that was a particular battle?
Once I got knocked out trying a fingerflip invert to fakie on the face wall at Washington Street. But I went back the next day and just got it over with. The Smith grind at Patrick Henry, that was hard. I was trying my hardest for 45 minutes, grinding down the rail every time but couldn't land it. Those two were the hardest.
So you grew up in San Diego?
Yup, in Skyline.
Where is that?
Southeast San Diego. Meadowbrook apartments. Four corners of death.
It's sketchy but not so much anymore. But I almost got jumped by nine dudes last time I went to the skatepark right by my house. I looked in my rearview and thought these guys were fucking with my brother, so I busted out the car really fast. Then I saw they weren't fucking with him--he was walking away. They all came at me. The way I jumped out the car, they knew I was looking to fight, but I thought they were fucking with my brother so I might have had to get fucked up. I don't give a fuck.
There was a lot of shit when I was growing up. I never knew that I grew up in the ghetto until later. But people would have babies and throw them in the trash. Just put 'em in the dumpster. Every day there were police chases on my street. You could see the dude in the front seat laughing, having a good time and there were mad cops on him. So funny. Or hearing gunshots every night. There's a liquor store, Moonlight, one block away from my house. That's where all the gnarly rappers film their rap videos. That's just the spot. Still to this day I'll go on my roof, smoke some weed and hear people get fucked up there.
Have you always lived there?
Yeah, my dad has lived there all his life. His dad sold him the house and I want to buy it from him at some point.
What's next? What's up with the summer? Read More: https://skateszone.com/matt-berger-right-now-got-no-tricks/
I want to go back to Seattle and hang out with my buddies. My friend Max just built a warehouse ramp with vert walls and a spine and all types of bowls. A bunch of my friends live there too. He built rooms beneath the ramp. This summer I'm going to go up there and check it out.