Next up is the big man… John Cardiel. We sat down with him in Milan, Italy back in 2018 for the Vans Shop Riot finals (re-cap here). Heywood Ward conducted the interview for the pages of Issue 8, the full thing is now online. Read about this stoke provoking landlord below!
Not going to lie, pretty fucking hyped to have ‘All hail, Cardiel’ in the mag, and that ‘pretty fucking hyped’ evolved into a ‘really fucking hyped’ as soon as we discovered he exceeds the ‘stand up guy’ characterisation we’d hoped would be the case! The following interview was conducted by the creme de la creme of our journalists (sure there’s only a handful but he’s still top); Heywood Ward in Italy between John DJ’ing at a Vans event in Italy. The spontaneous offering of chocolate (an apparent catalyst to JC’s heart) got things off to a good start before discussing potential business ventures and generally having a good ol laugh. Roll VT.
Introduction by Guy Jones
Interview by Heywood Ward
Photography by Reece Leung
Artwork by Liisa Chisholm
You’re renowned for being one of the most positive people both on and off the board, do you have any words of wisdom for how people can stay positive?
Oh yeah, it’s like that’s the only way to survive… I just want to try to stay positive and be happy as much as I can. I try to not sit in the negative zone. It’s like, with skateboarding too, you always know you wanna make that trick so you gotta keep that mindset cos if you don’t and you tell yourself you’re not gonna make it then you’re not gonna do it.
Your part from the Transworld video Sight Unseen always comes up when skaters talk about their favourite video parts, did you have any idea at the time filming it how influential that would become?
No, no way. For me it was just like, you know, you see video parts and at the time people were starting to do videos way more and invest a lot of time into videos. So for me it was just like as a professional skateboarder that’s our job you know, like we have to fucking put out a part and John Holland was willing to put in the time and work with me dong the part and so, he put it to me and I’m like “Fuck yeah!” I’m gonna do my part and try as hard as I can to put out a really complete part, so it just happened like that. The fact that he was down to put in the time to make it happen that was key because you don’t always have a dedicated filmer to film all your shit, its like usually random people, especially like friends you know, its easier. But for John to invest his time and want to travel and have money from Transworld to go somewhere and do shit – it was fucking amazing!
His [John Holland] efforts and commitment to the project really just make you want to match that.
Exactly! Straight up, yeah and then like, it starts to be fun because, you know, before making video parts you’re just skating, just having fun doing tricks but it feels like you’re doing work, its like you’re fucking hammering shit out. It feels good – it feels good to get in that zone.
Looking back on it you skated a lot of spots that went untouched for many years after you shut them down, like that gold rail at the end of your part and the rail you front-boarded that Mason Silva recently did backside boardslide on for a King of the Road, like 16 years between tricks maybe?
Yeah, yeah, in Sacramento. It’s been a while; you know Brian Anderson had a 50-50 on the ledge for a Sheep ad just around the corner, which is pretty sick. But yeah man, like you said, Mason and they were on King of the Road and I trip man cos I like King of the Road for that same reason that you have a job to do, an aim and you’re fucking focussed on shit to do and it’s cool. I like that feeling you know – I like having something to do.
How was it being asked to have your own challenge on King of the Road and be a part of it in that way?
Oh it was so sick man! But yeah, it was kinda weird cos Vice TV is involved in it now so you’re like on stage kinda, filming with real cameras you know, it just tripped me out, I was like “Whoa this is heavy”.
Have you had anyone recognise you from being on King of the Road whom you wouldn’t expect to recognise you?
For sure, for sure. Yeah the Vice TV shit is crazy. People will recognise you, like I was in a telephone store getting my screen fixed on my phone and the dudes all “Fuck I just saw you on TV”. So you know, that’s a trip. It was crazy dude because it’s on our cable TV at home, like its showing on TV, I don’t know if you guys had it playing? This shit was everywhere – it was crazy!
Which has been your favourite Vans shoe of all time?
Wow, hmm, I wanna say the Era. Yeah, the Era and the Old Skool. I’m wearingthe Old Skool right now, (John takes off his shoe and places it on the table) this isa fucking Anti-Hero one, we just did it, its really nice.
Is that shoe out yet? I don’t recognise it.
It’s coming soon yeah, in this Fall. So I’m really stoked on it.
Ah nice! A little exclusive look at your shoe there! Are there any Vans shoes that you’d like to see brought back given this whole resurgence of skate shoe nostalgia?
Ah wow yeah (laughs), thanks. You know man I like Rowley’s original shoe, it was sick ya know, it had the killer waffle sole, I’d like to see that in some suede’s, just like toughen it up a little bit. It seemed kinda thin at the time but it would be sick to see that cos he [Geoff Rowley] used a lot of synthetic leathers and stuff like that cos he was vegan at the time.
Do you still have that burned down wheel from that savage Australian hill bomb?
Yeah I do. What’s funny is I kept it because it was the first time I’ve ever fucking roached a wheel just straight to the bearing… and the wheel melted to the bearing, it liked glued on their. It’s so sick. I have it in my little box.
Where’s your current favourite place to ride your bike?
In the mountains man. Yeah just going out in the mountains and riding and shit. I like California and I like British Columbia too. There’s some really good shit up in Whistler that’s super fun… and I just fucking like bombing hills, it’s like a toboggan ride you know, just jammin’.
Could you recommend any routes or trails?
Shit, go to Downieville, CA and bomb that hill! Drive up the hill, it takes an hour to get up top, takes 2 hours to ride down and its all down hill.
A 2-hour hill bomb sounds incredible.
Yeah and you’re just in the mountains and you see bears and shit. It’s fucking sick. Drink water out of the stream… love it bro, love it.
Given how active you are with the cycling have you ever considered branching out with a fitness program? Maybe something like Cardiel’s Cardio?
(Laughs) Oh shit, nah. Nah I just stay busy man, yeah just stay busy, I don’t know if I would really wanna branch it out. I just like hanging with my friends.
Even as a parody or spoof? I could almost see Anti-Hero doing something like that.
(Laughs) I don’t know man maybe, maybe. I enjoy skating still, how about that. I went out to New York not too long ago and was skating the Supreme Bowl. That place is probably one of my favourite bowls right now –it’s awesome.
Ah yeah that bowl looks sick, you get any footage from this trip at all?
Ah yeah, Gonz put some out.
I’d love to see that.
Yeah? I got it right here.
(At this point John takes his iPhone out of his pocket and scrolls through his camera roll to find the video. We huddle around John’s phone watching the edit that the Gonz made of himself, John, Julien Stranger and Jake Phelps skating the Supreme Bowl in Brooklyn, New York).
He put out one of his little videos but its pretty sick bro.
You, Julien, Gonz and Phelps – what a session that must’ve been!
It was just us four, we were skating, it was so much fun bro. We’re like 20 – 30 year deep friends you know what I’m saying so…
Yeah, just skating with your friends and having a great time.
New York! That bowls so killer man!
I received it (John’s friend sent him the video via airdrop) cos I’m like ‘Ah let me get that footage bro’. We were just mountain biking the other day, hitting these jumps and shit, and this guy sent it to me and immediately I was like ‘What the fuck dude’. I got a scratch it felt so fucking good bro! Hyped, so hyped. I just love that feeling cos I’ll go like years bro without really catching a pool coping scratch, so it just feels so good man, you have no idea – it’s just amazing. But yeah, fuck… I just love skateboarding.
Would you ever consider starting your own drinks company – John’s Cordial?
Wow! Haha! Cordial and Cardiel! Haha! You know what man, I own apartments back home, I own 14 units so I’m always taking care of them and I run it, manage it all and everything so I‘m super busy with that. But I love cordial so! Cheers to that!
I was like ‘What the fuck dude’. I got a scratch it felt so fucking good bro! Hyped, so hyped. I just love that feeling cos I’ll go like years bro without really catching a pool coping scratch, so it just feels so good man, you have no idea – it’s just amazing. But yeah, fuck… I just love skateboarding.
Full time landlord? Do you rent to any skaters at all?
Majority yeah, I got like 2 that aren’t skaters.
How is it renting to skaters for you?
It’s harsh dude. Its like “Ah bro I don’t got the rent this month” and “I’m gonna sell a couple of boards and I’ll hook it up” and I’m like argh, but its worth it though in the long run, because they’re struggling and I got their backs though.
Ever considered sending round Andy Roy to collect the rent on time?
Haha, fuck, that is what I should do for sure.
How is Andy Roy now he’s had his teeth fixed and he can’t take them out to play with them any more?
Haha, he’s good, he’s a little bit louder and he can eat more food now so he’s super stoked.
Have you got any good stories you can share from being around Frank Gerwer for so many years?
Ah man, so many. Just him and Peter (Hewitt) in the back of the van, its just non-stop bro, its just non-stop. They’re just constantly fucking going and I… I can’t even tell you one story – its just life!
What’s Stranger than Julien…Stranger?
Nothing. Nothing is Stranger haha.
What’s the strangest parody or homage to your Tobin Yelland Slayer portrait photo you’ve ever come across and do you have a favourite?
I like Mike Carroll’s. I was trippin’, I see Mike Carroll and he was at a Slayer show and he did the same one. I was so trippin’.
You’re renowned for being able to skate anything in front of you and laying it to waste, one of the original and most stylish at doing so, what do you think to current generations of skaters who seem to be able to skate it all?
I think you’re fooling yourself if you don’t, like really you should broaden yourself, you’ll have more fun in the long run, just open yourself up to different opportunities and you’re just gonna be that much more stoked. Then you’ll be able to link shit together you know what I mean like air out of the bowl and then you’re hitting the ledge or air out the jumper to the rail, like you’ll be able to connect all the dots. I think you should just skate anything and I’m sure every skater wants to skate everything, right? So why not do it. You gotta try you know what I mean, I remember skating my first pool and I was like “Wow this is fucking crazy” bouncing around in this tight pool trying to hit the coping and I was super struggling and then you gotta learn how to hit those tranny’s tight, you gotta loosen your trucks and learn how to fucking work it you know just different vibes and you learn that and you can take it to different spots you know, which is sick.
It just opens up a whole other world of skateboarding to people, having an open mind.
For sure, 100%. I get frustrated that I can’t fucking backside nosebluntslide handrails, but I really wanna learn! I wish I could do it you know and it wouldn’t stop me from trying.
Given your passion for music, do you have any recommendations for albums?
Ah man cool, you know right now, the new Beres Hammond album is pretty good. There’s so many but I would say the new Beres Hammond is my favourite right now. And the new Popcaan too.
Got any local brands to you that you’re backing right now?
Ignition Skateshop… Brian Seber’s shop. I’m digging his shit right now. Also that shop Brixton’s Baddest near Stockwell skatepark. It’s kinda random, just depends who’s fucking with some cool shit at the time you know.
That’s all the questions John, thank you so much for doing that.
Cool, cool. I appreciate that.
If you wanna eat the rest of the chocolate then please go ahead.
Haha I will!