Interview by Robin Pailler | Photography by Dakota Mullins & Andrew James Peters
This interview was originally published in Volume VIII, November 2020.
Becoming a pro skateboarder is no easy feat at the best of times, but it must be especially hard when you’re in the shadow of your big brother.
Yet despite the success of his older sibling Mike, Jake Anderson has carved his own path. From initially being flowed HUF shoes to putting out a full part in the 2015 Agoura Lifestyle video, with fellow HUF stalwarts Matt Gottwig & Brad Cromer, Jake went on to become an integral part of the HUF amateur team in subsequent years, consistently putting out footage in team edits.
But it was undoubtedly his part in 2018’s HUF 001 edit that really turned heads and put Jake on the map as an individual rather than a comparison to his family heritage. Having built a solid relationship with HUF teammate Austyn Gillette over the years, it was no surprise to see Jake join Former. It’s a move that’s undoubtedly paid dividends as this year’s Cheap Perfume video proved. When your part comes after Austyn’s you know it’s gonna be special and Jake’s part is just that. Five minutes of unadulterated skate porn and that ender, my word, that ender. So without further ado, Mr Jake Anderson.
Hey Jake, how are you doing?
I’m good, driving right now to Louie (Lopez)’s place. It’s our buddy Ryan Lee’s birthday so we’re gonna figure something out.
How are things over there? It looks like it’s been pretty gnarly with the fires and stuff?
Luckily Ventura’s been mellow. I mean around like a month or so ago, I was in Hollywood and it was dark at like two o’clock in the afternoon ‘cause of all the smoke and I was like, ‘Ok this is the new normal now’.
How’s the vibe over there. From a European perspective it looks like America’s about to implode y’know?
I mean, pretty much. It’s psycho right now dude. Racism, politics and all that shit. It’s fucked.
By the time people read this the election will be over but it feels like whatever happens, it’s gonna be a bloodbath.
I know! I saw something on the news last night about how Iran and Russia have already been caught by the FBI for tampering with the election. I mean, anything is possible. There’s so many righteous-ass people. I mean, people are already talking about a civil war and shit.
That’s so scary!
I know, I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna do. I don’t have a cabin in the woods and I don’t have guns so I’m kinda shit out of luck.
Would you ever consider leaving California?
I mean…it’s been my home since day one.
So what’s the vibe with Covid right now? Because there seems to be so much division and like, people refusing to wear masks…
It’s crazy. I mean everything with the mask debate has turned political. Because our President is too much of an arrogant fuck to listen to scientists. It’s sad and embarrassing.
But then Biden is kinda average. It seems like he’s just the best of the two choices.
I mean I have respect for Biden for what he’s been through and what he’s dealt with. He picked Kamala Harris for VP and his political drive is having a broad, open voice. Kinda bringing the people together who aren’t extremists.
Getting away from politics. I just want to say congrats on Cheap Perfume.
Thank you. Appreciate that.
The fact you have the second part after Austyn (Gillette), did you feel any pressure?
Not really. I had been working on a part. I kind of had a plan with what to do with it and then that plan backfired. So I had like, a little bit of footage and then Austyn’s like, ‘Ok fuck it! Let’s just do a video’. So we just started travelling and it kind of worked out well. It was fresh. It was organic. There wasn’t much of a pressure because it’s like, he skates his way and I skate my way. I respect his skating and I don’t really try to compare myself to his skating because I couldn’t do it. I mean, I wish I could but that’s not me. So I’m just gonna skate the way I skate. It was cool. It just kind of happened.
How many tries did it take to get that 360 front heel in Barca?
So we got to Barcelona. We went to that spot on maybe the second day. And it was just a mess. There were just kids everywhere. So we decided we’re gonna go back eventually. But I didn’t know when we were gonna go back, so I carried high tops around the whole time because I would rip my ankle if I didn’t have high tops on. And then we went there on like, the second to last day maybe? Kind of tried to time it around the siesta when everybody goes home and relaxes but I guess that’s not much of a thing for kids. It cleared up for ten minutes so I start trying and then it just picked right back up with the kids. So there was a lot of waiting. Trying to teach the kids etiquette. It probably took like an hour and a half.
Did you have that trick in mind before you even got there?
Kind of. But it was like a pipe dream. You really have to get used to it. I tried that trick before on another spot and I stuck it like 270, realised I needed more hang time for my body to spin I guess. So I was kind of like, okay, I’m going to Barcelona, this would be the spot to do that. And then I don’t know, I just started flinging it. But I wasn’t dead set on it. It was more like, if I can do this trick on it, that’d be great.
What was your favourite place in Europe?
I love Portugal. I’ve been there a couple times and the people there are just so good. We were really taken care of out there. I’ve surfed out there and shit. It kinda just reminds me of home.
It’s everything you could want.
What’s it like riding for a brand that is both owned and financed by your close friend? When we interviewed Austyn a few months back, he seemed to be running the whole show now that Dane’s got three kids to deal with these days.
He’s taken on a lot of responsibility. And that’s admirable. It’s cool. He’s got help from his brother, Chad as well. It seems like things are going well.
Who’s better: Austyn at surfing or Dane at skating?
Austyn at surfing. But Dane used to rip a mini ramp. Ask me in maybe a year or two because Dane wants to build a mini ramp on his balcony so we’ll see where that takes him…
Do you think that surf/skate crossover is becoming more acceptable now?
For sure! Everybody surfs now. Everybody!
We interviewed Dane maybe like two years ago. And he said it’s funny because he feels like pro-surfers want to be pro-skaters and pro-skaters want to be pro-surfers.
Relatively so, yeah. It’s funny because there’s a Drake verse about how rappers want to be ballers and ballers want to be rappers. It’s like the same thing. You get what you want as a kid and then you get to the point where you’re like, ‘Fuck I wanna be somebody else’. Humans are never fucking satisfied. It’s so funny because I have a lot of surfer friends and so I talk to surfers who are like, ‘It must be so sick for you guys. You get to travel to all these crazy places all the time’. And I’m like, ‘Bitch! You get to sit on tropical beaches and chill if there’s no waves!’ It’s just how it is. Every surfer wants to be on a skate trip and every skater wants to be on a surf trip.
Did having your older brother [Mike Anderson] turn pro back in the day make you want it more? Did it make it feel more attainable or acceptable with your family and stuff?
I mean, I’ve been skating since I was a kid. I kinda generated a drive to aspire to be a pro-skater at a young age. My brother and I have always had supportive parents. So it’s like, I generated that drive but it’s been going on for so long, since before I can remember. It’s always been there.
But yeah I guess it kind of made it more reachable, like brought the dream closer.
Did he give you any advice coming up?
He’s given me advice with contracts and stuff. But he’s always kinda been like, ‘You’ve got it. You’ll figure it out’. Which is cool. I mean, yeah we talk about business shit I guess, but it’s also been like, ‘Ok cool I’m gonna do it myself’.
What’s going on with your shoe sponsor? Are you officially on Nike now?
No. I mean it’s crazy right now with Covid. No one’s really taking anyone on. It’s kind of just like, a waiting game.
It’s kind of insane that neither you or Austin have a shoe sponsor?
Yeah, though it’s really relative. We’re both in the exact same boat. You just gotta sit down, cross your arms and wait.
But I see you’ve been skating with Stefan (Janoski) & Eric (Koston) and those dudes.
I mean yeah, I’ve always been in contact with those guys and I’ve known Steve Scuba (Nike SB Team Manager) for forever because he was the team manager for éS when my brother rode for them. And I mean there were opportunities back then but I was doing the HUF thing. It’s just a timing thing. I don’t know where anything stands after Covid, just gotta wait until the ball gets rolling again hopefully.
You mentioned HUF and of course I don’t wanna touch on anything too deep but obviously everyone in the skateboarding world was shocked to hear about Keith (Hufnagel) passing.
But I wanted to ask what Keith meant to you and any stand out memories you have of him?
I remember meeting him for the first time. I was probably like 13 or 14 years old. It was a HUF party and somebody told him to be a dick to me. I remember he was serving food and I was asking, ‘Hey, can I get some tacos?’ and he’s like, ‘No man’ and I’m like, ‘Ok’ and then he told me he was just kidding and someone had told him to be a dick to me. That was my first initial introduction. But he was such a genuine dude. Fast forward a year or two and I was going to the HUF offices because all my older friends worked there. So one time he’s like, ‘Hey Jake, come over here’. And we had a conversation for over an hour about the process of making shoes and the factories and all that shit. He was able to have a real conversation with me at like 14 that no one else ever had with me. No one would ever take me seriously. And I love that shit, like the business model and the process behind it. I like to hear cool stuff like that. He’d answer every question, took my opinion seriously. He was just a cool dude from the start when he really didn’t have to be. He made me feel like an adult, like a real person which was really fucking special and I will forever cherish that. It’s always really meant a lot to me. What he’s done for me and for so many people. It’s just unbelievable. He was just one extremely special human being. And seeing what he did for Dylan [Rieder] and for Keenan [Milton] and what he did for the people he loved that he lost and how he kept their presence forever. I mean, they obviously did it themselves and they will never be forgotten for who they were but he just did so much for so many people.
I mean just the team he put together with you, Dylan, Austyn, Brad (Cromer), Matt (Gottwig), Dick (Rizzo) etc. I feel like you guys were such a tight team. Nothing felt forced. You all seemed to get along.
It was such a cool thing because there’s a lot of teams where like, you only hang out with the person if you’re on a trip, y’know? But with us we all talked and hung out relatively often. It just showed there was so much chemistry between everybody and we did some fucking cool, fun shit! Those will forever be some of the best times of my life.
Who do you skate and hang out with these days?
I mean, Louie [Lopez], Curren [Caples], Austyn, Fletch [Jonathan Flechas], Ryan [Lee], Jesse Alba—it’s such a broad bunch. I’ve been having fun which is nice.
Are you still on Skate Mental?
No. Brad likes to post on Instagram that I am…but no.
He seems like an eccentric dude.
He’s great. He’s a really caring person. Once you have a relationship with him he’ll do anything for you but he is fucking crazy.
You getting flowed boards from anyone?
I mean, I dunno, not really. I’m kinda just figuring things. It’s kinda the time to take a deep breath. There’s not much going on right now.
I feel like Covid’s given everyone a time to step back and reflect on shit.
Yeah, in a really weird way.
How’s it changed your day to day life?
I mean, I play a lot of video games now!
I’ve seen you guys all play Call of Duty together?
Oh my God dude it’s crazy. During peak Covid there’d be 16 people in a private game, all skaters. It was crazy! Ishod [Wair], Louie, Jesse, Curren, me, Ryan. So many different crews of people but it was so fun!
So what’s an average day for you right now?
It’s starting to get back to normal even though it’s not normal. Kinda getting back in the swing of things. I’ve been skating a bunch, surfing, whatever. But you still have to be on guard. Be cautious for yourself but mainly others.I mean there’s outdoor seating at restaurants and whatnot. So it’s relatively, almost, normal. Although there’s no bars open. I’m kinda scared of bars now. Just the thought of a full bar, elbow to elbow. That kinda freaks me out now.
Are you filming for anything?
I actually just…I don’t know if I can say…oh fuck it. I just agreed to an X Games’ Real Street so I’m gonna work on one of those! I have a whole part basically I’m almost done with. But I’m gonna try and film everything for X Games in Ventura so I don’t have to use that footage. Just kinda gives me something to work on. It’s nice not to have to commute to LA all the time. Hopefully I can wing together a minute of Ventura footage that’s good.
Ok, just a few quick fire questions before we end this.
Who’s your favourite surfer at the moment?
I’ve been hyped on Micky Clarke. He’s like a local Ventura kid. Rides for Quiksilver and Hayden Shapes. He’s rad. He’s a good kid. He fucking rips. Kinda just does what he wants. He’s not like heavily driven by influence. He just knows what he likes and he does what he wants and I appreciate that.
That question! I can never answer that. It kinda varies all the time. I mean, I’m hyped on Silas Baxter-Neal right now. I’ve been watching his parts a lot.
Favourite album or one that got you through lockdown?
Spirit of the Golden Juice by F. J. McMahon. It’s good. It’s mellow.
Last movie you watched?
Gran Torino. I’ve seen it before but it’s a classic. Fucking gnarly.
A Clint Eastwood classic! I’ve just seen he’s directing and starring in a new movie called Cry Macho at 90 years of age, starting production during a pandemic…
I don’t get it! I mean he looked like he was gonna die in Gran Torino and that came out over 12 years ago.
Yeah right! Thanks for your time dude. Enjoy your day and all the best with everything. Stay safe out there.
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