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Chrome Ball Interview #133: Jason Lee

Conducted July, 2019. 

So talk to me about growing up in Huntington Beach as a skateboarder. I feel like the beginning of all this is probably the easiest place to start.

Well, my brother, James, and I got plastic department store skateboards in 1977. We tooled around on those for a bit. But at that age, whenever you get a plastic skateboard, you don’t really consider yourself as much a “skateboarder” as you do a kid with a cool new toy to roll around on. Because we were also into BMX racing and riding dirtbikes, too. A pretty typical Southern California upbringing in the 70’s.

I ended getting another store-bought skateboard a little later on, a Variflex. It had the skidplate, the noseguard… the whole deal. That was when I was around 14. I started skating on that a little more and became much more serious about it over the next year or so.

All of my friends in Huntington Beach were also getting real into skateboarding, too. I met Ed Templeton around this time, who became quite a big influence on me, personally. Ed and I basically hung out together every day. Eating shitty food with too much sugar, playing Nintendo, and learning tricks. And there was Steve Robert, too, who was also great. Just a lot of HB kids.

But that’s when I feel like I actually became a skateboarder. There was a kid in my high school… I was a freshman around this time, but this kid knew Mike Madrid and used to sell me warped Madrid decks for 5 bucks. Those warped Madrid decks, man... That’s when I was hooked.

It’s funny to look back on, because there is only about 4-year period here where I went from becoming serious about skateboarding in high school to actually turning pro. 


You can’t really do that these days, skateboarding is much more difficult. It was a much simpler time back then, Eric. (laughs)

It was around 1986 when my friends and I discovered Mark Gonzales and everything that he was doing. He was the key to the door, at that particular moment.

Obviously, there’s Mark’s creative approach to everything, but how far along was “street skating” at this point?

Well, we knew of Natas and Gonz. You could obviously see so much potential with what they were doing, because it was so different. And we knew what Rodney Mullen was doing, but that didn’t feel like the same thing somehow. We were focused on ollieing. Grinds and kickflips. Jump ramps were still popular, too.

Because at this age, we are all in on skateboarding. That’s all we did. Pouring over skate magazines and studying videos. But in watching those old vert contests, you see something like Mark’s Oceanside contest footage… where he has the sticker in his hair? It was a thousand years ahead of its time, which was obvious to us. And that was the direction we wanted to head in. Exploring this new space.

Of course, we had seen...  Read the full article on chromeballincident.