Jimmy Carlin’s skating speaks for itself. Despite his classroom clown image in skateboarding the fact is he completely rips. Not to disappoint, but he’s a relatively normal person and much less hyper than we expected. It must come out in bursts? We caught up with Jimmy to talk about the move from Mystery to Enjoi, batting away dolphin flip requests and the soon to be released Enjoi video, Oververt. Enjoy –
Interview by Stephen Cox
Portrait by Yoon Sul
So Jimmy, what’s up?
I’ve been travelling a lot.
Where have you been?
I went to China for a month with Enjoi. It was really cool. Pretty fun.
What’s this about you pissing blood?
Oh yeah [laughs].
[Laughs] that was this weekend. I feel like it might have happened in the past. Not sure if it was dehydration or falling or something. It happened in China actually. I freaked out and was like, “man, this is sketchy.” I only pissed it one time of pissing and the rest of the time it wasn’t there. I went and got checked out by the doctor who told me I was fine. He actually told me that joggers, who intensely run get it. It’s just a little blood that comes out. It’s from kind of overdoing it. I’m not against ringing fluids; it’s just that when I start skating and start trying to film a trick I’m bad at pacing myself. I don’t drink water enough. I need to get better at that. This weekend I was jumping this stair block for way too long and was expecting to piss blood. But it went away [laughs].
Yeah, it’s crazy. But then all of a sudden half an hour later I’m drinking a bunch of water to see if I can piss again. It was fine.
No STDs or anything then.
Nooo [laughs]. It’s funny that you said that because I got tested. I said, “I want everything! The works.” It came back clean. I’m stoked. It’s always a scary scenario waiting on getting that info back, which no one likes to question much [laughs]. I was clean…surprisingly so [laughs].
Moving on [laughs], tell us about where you’re from and your life growing up.
I’m from San Diego. I’ve been living there since I was six or seven. I grew up in a small town called Coronado. It almost looks like an island but it connects from the back end to other parts of San Diego. That was like a naval town. My dad was in the navy. He got transferred there. He retired shortly after and we lived there ever since. There are a few ways to get out; a ferry and the Coronado bridge which goes to San Diego. Actually there’s a spot under the bridge with artwork and graffiti. A lot of Sk8Mafia dudes skate it.
How did you start skating?
There are so many bits and pieces of it. I was so young. I don’t know exactly what sparked it. I remember watching that movie Hook. All the Lost Boys and Rufio [laughs]. They were all chasing after Robin Williams and there was a mini ramp in the tree [laughs]. I thought that was cool. I remember going to baseball practice and seeing other kids with skateboards. I remember wanting to mess around on one. It started then, I was 8 or 9 years old. I wanted to play soccer or something but there was a scenario where I was also super focused on a skateboard. My parents made me choose and I chose the skateboard. It was a shitty Nash board. I was super stoked on it though. It broke so quickly, I wasn’t even doing any tricks. I just wished it went fast. Then my grandmother got me an actual board for my birthday from a skateboard shop. I remember being so stoked at how smooth it was and thinking that I would never need another skateboard again [laughs].
Then things soon became a bit more serious?
Yeah. Then it started to get crazy. When you’re young and have a group of friends, you follow each other’s gimmicks like yo-yos and baseball cards. When the skating came, everyone was into it. But with the skating, it becomes more of a lifestyle; before school, after school. Then you start messing around with it and it evolves, the tricks come. I remember my dad was watering plants and my two best friends and me were trying to ollie over the hose. Then the ollie up the curb came [laughs]. That was the proper ollie.
When did you start getting recognised?
So years and years go by and pretty much all my friends had quit skating. One of those twins became the filmer of the group, which is cool because now he still films skating. He’s off in china right now. For me, it wasn’t like I wanted to be a pro skater; I just wanted to learn as much as I could. Throughout the years I just kept skating and the next step was that I wanted to get a shop sponsor because I felt like that was a family vibe, you know? I got sponsored by a skate shop in downtown San Diego called Street Machine. That’s when I was just getting into high school. That’s where I met all the friends that I skate with today and they’re all pretty much pro skaters, which is crazy. From there a sales rep came in and they showed my videos. It just happened like that. I graduated high school and it had been two years and I was working at a restaurant and skating at the side. I got to the point where I just wanted to be around skating. I saw myself getting older, and decided that I wanted to work in skating. Whether it was working in a warehouse or anything instead of the restaurant. I just wanted to be around it. Then I got a phone call from Jamie Thomas. A friend gave him my sponsor video. He called me into Black box – this is back in 2005. He wanted to show me around the warehouse and told me he was going to give me boards for flow. I had a friend that worked there and I was just like, “shit I could work in this warehouse!” [Laughs], I was more stoked on the possibility of working in the warehouse. I was stoked on the boards obviously too though. He told me save my footage. I asked for a job in the warehouse and they were like, “yeah sure”. Super stoked. It just started from there. That’s where my career got put to the test: “if you finish your part, you get in the video.” I was working at that and it really became a reality. I was working in the warehouse and Jamie called me on the intercom and asked me if I wanted to go to Canada to do a demo and stuff. That’s when I thought it could actually happen. He was taking me more seriously than sales a rep, he was willing to spend his money to take me out of the country. It was hard. I had eight months to film for that video, I had no clue what I was doing, to have a video project.
How do you mean?
I don’t know, just the way those videos are put together. It’s hard to explain: the way from beginning to end. I wasn’t used to the formula of a video being made. It was cool because Jamie helped out with that big time. He’s a mastermind at those videos and the way he looks at things. The biggest help was the way he showed me trick lists. People say, “Oh I hear he does trick lists” and stuff like that but I was glad I got one because it helped me stay focused. It was a list of tricks he’d seen me do at different spots and I was able to work out a timeline from there. Change things up a bit too.
And now you’re on Enjoi. How’s that working out?
It’s awesome. I’m so stoked. I was over at Black Box for quite a while. Things between me and Jamie: we had our differences in certain situations going on. I didn’t want to be a part of the program anymore. We just had our differences and I was lucky to get picked up by Enjoi. I’ve always been a fan. I was friends with the majority of the guys at Enjoi and the ones I’ve now met I’m pretty close with too like Jose [Roco], Nestor [Judkins] and Wieger [VanWageningen]. We’re working on a video right now actually [laughs]. It’s pretty soon. The deadline from what I hear is the summertime.
Soon after the last video too?
Yeah! Tweak the Beef. That came out a year ago was it? We’re all filming and it’s going good!
What’s it called?
Oververt. It’s when you’re pounding a beer and you lean back, that’s oververt [laughs]. It has alcoholic origins.
How far along are you?
Oh god. I got on Enjoi right before King of the Road. I started timing in October? It’s hard but it’s exciting and it’s fun working on a new project. I like that feeling. When you get something you’re stoked for yourself and it’s the same for the rest of the team. I need to get more stuff. It’s hard to make it different from my last but it’s going well. There are few things I’ve battled. There are things that I came having to go back to. When I get those I’ll be stoked to travel and not worry.
Are there days where you’re thinking you need to get an ad or you feel like you’re lagging in terms of being a pro skater?
No. It’s kind of both. There’s pressure I would say for myself. The natural stuff happens when you’re on a trip and in a new place. Like China or Spain. Everyone’s skating well and feeding off each other and you’ve got a certain amount of time before you leave. At the end you realise you’ve got photos for ads, articles and all this stuff. When you’re back home, it’s more mapped out; “this is what I wanna get this weekend because I didn’t get it last weekend.” In a different country if you don’t get a trick you’ll get it at a different spot because there are so many.
Whenever I spoke to you last time for the first time you weren’t really what I expected in terms of your personality. Do you get kids coming up to you asking you to do things or expecting a joke?
[Laughs] kids get my brother confused with me. They’d be yelling at him to do dolphin flips and he’d be like, “I’m not Jimmy! I’m his brother!” They’d be like, “try one anyway”[laughs]. I love that. I usually find all of it funny. I remember doing a demo one time and say I was trying a kickflip or something simple down the stairs, you bail a few times you know? A kid would just turn round and go, “ dude, just do a nollie double heel” [laughs]. Are you fucking kidding me? [Laughs]. There’s been one situation, when I was just rolling around – it’s from that flatground video I did a while ago – and a kid would be like, “do a double dolphin flip. Do a double dolphin flip”. I said, “I’m just gonna roll around for a little bit then I will.” It’s not something I can just whip out of my pocket [laughs]. The kid get really bummed like, “come on?” So persistent so I had to do one, I just wanted to roll around [laughs]. I’m doing stalls on a quarter pipe and this kid is yelling at me to do this disgusting flip trick [laughs].
How do you feel about your personality suiting Enjoi and playing a part of you getting on?
Cause it’s me it’s hard to say [laughs]. I’ve been friends with a handful of those guys for a while. That’s just how we are. I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m on drugs or whatever, I’m used to that [laughs]. And of course I’m not on drugs or anything like that, I know the image I’ve had reflects I’m a bit crazy. Kids expect me to be hyper and it throws them off a bit when I’m not. With Enjoi, it’s just that we’re a bunch or friends and I’m having a blast.
Everyone loves the ads and art direction. How has it been being a part of that?
Amazing! It’s very involved. Louie [Barletta] is Captain Lou, writing a lot of stuff. We’ll get an email saying, “ we have an idea, I need any photos to do with yada yada”. It gets so fun cause I’ll be like, “I have the perfect photo of Jose slicking back his hair” [laughs].
It’s good to see funny ads amongst a lot of boring ones.
I know exactly what you mean. Skating is skating so it’s always going to be entertaining or whatever but I liked Enjoi when I was younger because it portrayed personality. I remember the ad with Jose holding a hot dog and Marc Johnson looking at it and it said, “Who let the dogs out?” I just thought that was so tight. I was more stoked on that than a kick back lip down a handrail or something. It was the insiders…a taste of their personalities through the ads instead of just the skating. I already knew how good they were. It was rad to see more of their personality. If I thought it was funny I would be like as a kid, “wow, I think I could hang out with them and catch a few laughs.” That’s what stood out to me. I didn’t need to see the guys skating 24/7. I was fun to see them do something other than skating.
Was the Purple Rain idea yours?
That was a mixture of Louie and I coming up with an intro commercial. It happened between a handful of us. Lou came up with all the ideas, I would just butt in. The Purple Rain part, I’d just met my friend Matt Mullen out in Sacramento…one of Matt’s friends said, “every time he comes up out of the water I just keep thinking of Purple Rain by Prince” [laughs]. He kept saying it. When the commercial came out it was edited to it [laughs].
How did about feel your perpetual motion part?
I was super stoked, I’ve always wanted to film for a Transworld video and always thought it would be cool to get the opportunity.
Tick it off the list?
Yeah! It’s good for that but those videos I always watched them every summer and would get excited when a new one came out. I was so happy especially with a bunch of my friends. I actually had a lot of footage going into it so I had some more time to think and work. It felt good [laughs]. I was able to choose between three frontside heelflips or whatever. I loved the whole video.
How much trouble was it getting the hardflip at Love?
I got there and Tom Asta wanted to switch fronstide heelflip it and I was super tired, I think I was partying the night before. There were so many people there too, and my friends were pressuring me, “try a hardflip, try a hardflip.” I never said I wanted to skate it or anything and I was sleeping on the ground before we went there. When you’re rolling up to it you’re just, “fuck, that’s really big.” I wished that I didn’t feel so crappy. I kept lying on the ground [laughs]. There was about thirty people there but ten skating. Tom switch frontside heelflipped it but he actually went back to do it again. I actually thought the one he did then was cool but he didn’t. He did it within ten minutes. What got me sparked to skate was this big dude who didn’t look like he really knew how to skate. Or he didn’t look like the dude that would skate the Love gap. He was trying to ollie it, cruising up not even fast. He tried it and cleared it with his body. I just didn’t think he was going fast enough, he was cruising for the Love fountain gap [laughs]. I was like, “no way, he cleared it going that slow?” I just got up and decided to try and jump down it a few times. I tried to ollie it maybe three times. It was so cold as well. Then I just thought, “screw it, I’m not going to try and olllie this thing all night long.” I tried one hardflip but kind of bailed it, then tried another – not even close – and then Pete Eldridge came up to the session. I went super fast and did it third try! It was so bizarre. It was one of the most confusing feelings ever because I was just rolling away and of course you’re going fast, “what just happened?” I’ve never had something that nerve-racking come that fast. I just sat down and was all wired from the adrenaline, no more sleeping on the ground and watching everyone else [laughs]. So bizarre.
Good to make a mark on a spot like that?
It was more my friends who made me do it honestly. They had the faith in me and it worked out. It turned out to be a good night and was amazing to get a trick that hadn’t been done on a spot like that.
Walker Ryan said to talk about San Diego hardflips with you. What did he mean?
Oh. They’re the switch ones that go through the legs [laughs]. I only ever learned the regular ones.
What about the impossibles? You’ve got those down. How do you feel about the fake ones?
The impostor impossible. I’m not a fan of 360 shove-its anyway. I mean, the frontside 360 ones are cool. The regular backside one…well Gino can make it look awesome. I suppose anyone can make a trick look rad. [Erik] Ellington made a pressure flip look gorgeous. To me a 360 shove-it are like switch frontside flips through the legs? An impossible is the switch frontside flip or fronstide flip that flips. One thing I don’t get is how people do them easier than impossibles anyway. With an impossible your board is on the foot the whole time, but with a 360 shove it you’re just kind of jumping [laughs].
What’s inspiring you right now in skating? Do you keep up with what’s going on?
Yeah! Tommy Sandoval’s part in the new Zero video was just…the best part I’ve seen in a long time. It was just, “wow.” Louie and Cairo [Foster] are killing it right now for the Enjoi video and they’ve been in the game for so long; they’re destroying it plus they’re a little older than me. It’s awesome to see. Cairo is a good buddy of mine but I still am a fan of him. When I see him nollie flip down the biggest double set it’s so rad because he’s my buddy now but I still remember the one in The Reason over the rail.
Thanks for this Jimmy, since you get tortured by the kids a lot can we get some advice to finish up on for them? Maybe on the dolphin flips?
[Laughs] those flatground tricks from that video weren’t first try! I don’t know, have fun! Don’t worry, if it works out it works out. I really did just get lucky. I would still be skating otherwise honestly. If there’s an opportunity just grab it, but don’t beat yourself up over skating. You can’t do it forever; you just wanna look back on it and remember that you had fun.
Special thanks – Walker Ryan, Yoon Sul
Follow Jimmy Carlin on Instagram: jimmycarlin
Follow Stephen Cox on Twitter: stephen_coxy