Sitting down to write questions for Lance felt a bit like preparing to read War and Peace or something; there's just SO much to know and learn! Over 3 decades of skateboarding, Bones Brigade, Animal Chin, The Firm, his art, his photography (Guy Mariano sunset 50-50 anyone?), the list goes on... It's kind of intimidating! But Lance himself isn't intimidating. In fact, next to Gonz, we can't think of a more appropriate 'Ambassador of Skateboarding' than Lance- he's a legendary pioneer with the everlasting enthusiasm of a skate rat, yet still a clean shaven family man endorsed by Nike. Plus, he was kind enough to grant us an interview! Just hope we didn't screw it up.
This is The Lance Mountain Interview.
How did your parents react to you skating at first?
They were ok with it because I was so young and my friend who started me was 5 years older; they thought I would quit and get a job at the age he did. Parents then were just worried their kids were spending a lot of time doing something that would always be a hobby or lead us into being a bum.
Your dad had a wicked moustache. Is it genetic? Have you ever grown out the handlebar?
Probably, no moustache.
Do you ever play the bagpipes anymore? Do you play any other instruments?
I played the snare drum in the bagpipe band, still play drums somewhat.
Do you ever jam with Tommy Guerrero and Ray Barbee or anyone else?
Not with Tommy and Ray but Ray Barbee did come over on Neil Blender's birthday and we all played. Hagop Najarian, my son, Steve Olson, Steve Claar, Spidey, Ray Barbee and me.
What was it like living next to Phil Spector? Any good stories? Did you ever hang out together?
He didn't live there during my childhood. He moved in just 2 years before I moved. We did have a box we used to leave out to skate rather than move it in everyday. When he move in he had it disappear.
"It was great for all of us, but could so easily not have happened and it didn’t happen for so many other great skateboarders. That's what is emotional for me."
Watching the Bones Brigade documentary, you said that you felt like an outcast on a team of outcasts? Do you still feel like you didn’t deserve to be on that team, or has your perspective changed at all?
Peoples assumption from the film somehow is that I didn't feel like I deserved to be on that team. I always felt it was they who didn’t think so highly of me.
In 1979-80 Ray Bones gave me a few boards, I had hoped to ride for Powell then, even said no to a few teams. I then rode for Variflex and had a board with them and in my opinion (and hopefully in my peers opinion, maybe Blender, Lucero, Grosso??) invented and developed tricks and variations of tricks and ways of skating and a feel of what skateboarding represented that others were not.
Click to watch the trailer... Watch the movie on Netflix!
"All skaters felt a bit like outcast and were fighting to hold on to skateboarding and our position in a dying cause."
When it looked like I was going to be on my own at Variflex because most of the team quit skateboarding, I asked and got on Powell as an employee with no board. Not a confidence builder.
All skaters felt a bit like outcast and were fighting to hold on to skateboarding and our position in a dying cause. Most skaters did not speak highly of other skaters because they were looking out for themselves. It was great for all of us, but could so easily not have happened and it didn’t happen for so many other great skateboarders. That's what is emotional for me.
How did you first get connected with Stacy Peralta? What was your first encounter?
Saw him skating at Montebello skate park in 1977 then at a Pepsi demo, I met him many times before he met me.
Some people have mentioned your “outbreaks” of rage… Any personal favorites?
Who said that??? I’ll smash them!!! …… how was that one?
Of your seven Bones Brigade videos, do you have a favorite one?
Did not realize there were 7. I think Future Primitive was the best.
Click to watch Future Primitive
Stacey has admitted he actually hates “Animal Chin” because it’s so cheesy. Are you a fan of the film or do you share the same sentiment?
Animal Chin is the one that everyone responded to no matter what they say in hindsight, so that is the one that gave us the biggest platform to be known.
How did you find yourself as a stuntman for Police Academy 4? Have you been in any other movies?
Stacy got a lot of jobs in Hollywood after the videos so we worked on them as well. Thrashin', Gleaming The cube, Police Academy, Back To The Future. They were fun to do and they were different than skating in a skate video for skaters; you knew it was taking skateboarding to a bigger audience and maybe more kids would skateboard when they saw them.
What was it like working with Christian Slater? Why did he fire you???
It was funny, I just wanted to take him pushing around the neigborhood so he looked natural on a board. That just takes time. He basically was like, "If you're a professional and this is what professionals do, I don 't need you."
Watch Lance and The Bones Brigade in all of their movie roles!
"You knew it was taking skateboarding to a bigger audience and maybe more kids would skateboard when they saw them."
With a young family at a time when skateboarding was “dead” in the early 90s, what were some of the odd jobs you had to take on? Looking back did the struggle help you appreciate what you have more?
I worked at a construction site, I worked a union job... Setting up trade shows was the main job.
Silk screened, was hired at Powell Peralta as an employee... Shot photos, wrote for the mag, just lots of odd side jobs in skateboarding as well. It taught me skills to use when needed.
You had some good coverage skating street in the mid 90s... How much of that was coming from pressure to adapt versus just wanting to skate something new?
I enjoy skateboarding and enjoyed street skating. We were some of the first skateboarders to street skate because it was all skateboarding. You rode anything and everything. We skated to spots, we pretended the sidewalk was a wave, we pretended the little bank was a pool, we pretended the curb was coping.
"Learning to ollie after you have been skateboarding for over 12 years is a lot harder than learning it the first thing you step on a board."
When Mark, Natas, and Tommy took it to a whole new level and the ollie was the root, we found ourselves 12 years behind and not the innovators for the first time. That didn’t make us want to quit even though some in the 90s might have wanted us to. That just made us kids again, looking up to how something could be done. Learning to ollie after you have been skateboarding for over 12 years is a lot harder then learning it the first thing you step on a board. It might be hard for some to picture skateboarding going for years before the ollie was a trick, now it is just how you get into your first trick. It took years to come around again when a lot of skaters realized we still had skills on a skateboard they didn't have.
You did a long ass 5050 for a Transworld interview back around 97’... was that a hard trick to get a sequence for?
I used to look at that rail when I was on Powell; it was square so you could just sit on it and grind down, always wanted to try it. There was no run up on that rail so I put boards down over the first step so it wasn't high to get on just kinda long and fast for me. I fell on the last step on my heel the first try and had to do it fast before the pain set in. For me it was one of the least confident things I have tried.
How did you go about getting riders for The Firm? It had such an assortment of great riders.
Just asked skaters that were at a place I thought represented skateboarding as a whole. I asked a lot of riders that never happened.
Any idea what happened to the Gruber brothers? What about other former Firm riders?
I keep in touch with most of them, most all still skateboarding.
What was the decision-making process in deciding to close The Firm?
Times were changing, the industry was changing again... Main reason was it was the first time that someone approached me and said 'why don’t you be a skateboarder full time?'.
Click to watch Lance's part in The Firm's "Can't Stop"
"Main reason was it was the first time that someone approached me and said 'why don’t you be a skateboarder full time?'"
What’s your favorite photo that you’ve shot?
Not sure, I have a lot for different reasons, not just one, I have shot photos since 1977 till recent, can’t even narrow it down to 10 probably. But feel blessed I got to shoot and meet so many great skateboarders.
What Girl graphic did you design for Mike Carroll?
Think I did 2. One was just little white smiley faces on a blue background. Wasn't so good. Sorry Mike.
Fingerboards… Your Thoughts?
A real small version of a skateboard.
What do you like about skating now that didn’t exist 20 years ago.
So many places to do it. So many kids doing it.
What do you hate about skating now that didn’t exist 20 years ago.