July 23, 2012

Interview with a Teenager (Grant Taylor)

I was listening to Ira Glass interviewing Terry Gross and their discussion veered into the art of interview, the ins and outs, the feelings, all of it. In fact, the whole damn thing was about interviewing. It got me thinking. The following interview is my most memorable and the most difficult of all interviews I've ever conducted. Grant Taylor was 17-years-old when I talked to him and already one of my favorite skaters. Of coure, the dude went on to be SOTY and he's still one of the raddest dudes out there. But who I talked to was a kid who didn't want to talk about bullshit on the phone. I totally get that; some of my questions were bullshit but they're also par for the course, talking to a kid who skateboards incredibly well. What follows is my original transcribing (with some editing for transcription errors) and an introduction, which is the edited version; I'd originally said Grant would need to work on his interviewing skills. That part was left out of The Mag version which appeared a couple years ago. The interview was conducted shortly after New Year's Day, in 2009.

Grant Taylor’s friend Pat was smoking weed in some bathroom with Grant when I’d called him up to talk about his friend, Mr. Taylor; it was decided that Pat would find a more private place to talk, and that I’d call back. Ten minutes later, I phoned Pat again, and he filled me in on Grant, his homie, his skate buddy, etc. Pat talked about a ton of stuff, like how Grant’s dad Thomas Taylor skates, how Grant has a bowl in his backyard, and how, to quote Pat, “Everybody thinks he’s a dickhead because he doesn’t say much.”

Pat was quick to amend his statement saying that once you really get to know Grant, he really opens up, and from there you’re pretty much family, and from there he pretty much fucks with you incessantly. Oh, and that he isn’t a dickhead either, Pat pointed that out too. He was also very clear that Grant is mature for his age, 17, and Pat’s proof for that matter was that, “I’m fuckin’ 20, and I kick it with him.” Alien Workshop video man and the director of the upcoming Mind Field , Greg Hunt, echoed Pat’s sentiments, saying of Grant, “He’s kind of an old spirit in a way, a skater’s skater.”

None of these details, however, have any bearing on whether or not Grant Taylor would enjoy, or even want to be interviewed. Greg pointed out that Grant has, “Cut out a pretty interesting path for himself [in life],” and that is undeniable; it doesn't matter that he'd rather not be stuck on the phone talking about his life to a complete stranger. Either way, in skateboarding, a little mystery can go a long way.

Happy New Years, you get into anything the other night for New Years Eve?

No, not really.

Just a quiet night at home?

Some fireworks and shit.

You come up with any New Year’s resolutions or anything?


Nothing off the top of your head that you’d like to change?

Nah, not really.

You just broke your arm, how’d that happen?

Skateboarding…in Portland.

That was on a Nike shoot or something?

Yeah, some gay ass shit, they had us skating cars, and I fell off this truck, and broke my arm.

You were skating cars?

Yeah, we were skating a pick-up truck.

So you had fly back from Portland to Atlanta and have surgery on your arm? What was the story?

Nah, I got surgery that night or whatever.

Ended up with plates and screws and all that shit?


How long are you laid up with the arm then?

I don’t know, two months or something?

You gonna take the time and just chill or try and skate through it?

I just bought a TV; I’m chilling.

Where did you break your arm, is that gonna mess with the growth of your arm?

I broke it by the elbow.

Did the doctors say that was going to mess with anything?

Nah, they didn’t say anything about it.

I was talking to Greg [Hunt] about filming for the Workshop video and he said that a lot of your old footage was unusable because you’d grown so much. Does the growth mess with your skating; do you notice a difference?

I don’t know. No. It’s all the same.

You’ve been skating since you were pretty much a baby, huh?


How old were you when you started?

I don’t know, three? I didn’t start really… But I mean like, pushing around and shit? Yeah, I was on my knees.

What’s your first memory of skating?

That, I guess.

What was your first set-up, I heard it was kind of epic.

Julien Stranger’s old board, I think, I don’t know.

That’s what I was told. How’d you come up on that?

Him and some dudes were at [Stratosphere] or something. They were at the shop, and left the board, I don’t know, and I just ended up riding it.

You still have that laying around somewhere?


Have you ever met Julien?

Nah I’ve never met him…

You’ve lived in Atlanta your whole life; do you ever see yourself moving somewhere else?

I don’t know.

Does anywhere else interest you?

Portland, when it’s not raining.

What about Portland makes you think about living there?

Just the concrete; the parks.

Would you say Portland has a similar vibe to Atlanta? I’ve never made it to either city… You’ve never been to Atlanta or Portland?

Never have, man.

Damn, you’re missing out on the Portland concrete.

All right. Tell me about school; what’s your school status right now?


Why was that, it was messing with traveling and stuff?

Yeah, I was just over it; fuckin’ school, I don’t know.

Weren’t you ready to just walk away and let yourself fail? You didn’t do that; what stopped that from happening?

My dad signed the papers and we left.

Word is that you are planning on getting the GED eventually.

I guess, eventually.

Doesn’t really matter that much to you right now?


Do you think that had you done home schooling or anything that it would have been different, or would you just be a home school drop-out?

I wouldn’t have done that home school shit.

Yeah. Would have been the same thing. You live in a big old house with your dad and your sisters, what’s the house like?

I don’t know, it’s fuckin’…life.

You’ve got your own wing to the house, your own kitchen and stuff?

Nah, it’s just an old apartment house. I’ve got my own room, my sisters have their own, my dad’s got his own.

And then it sounds like you’ve got a pretty legit skate setup in your backyard, what’s all back there?

Oh, it’s just dirt back there (laughs).

All right.

There’s nothing back there but just dirt (more laughter).

All right. Who do you end up skating with when you’re at home?

I don’t know. Chris, Graham, Matt, Scapegoat and Pat. David Clark, and that’s it.

What’s the name of that skate crew of yours?

Uh, I don’t really have one.

What about the Down To Earth Lords of Chaos?

Yeah, that’s not my crew or anything like that…

Pat told me otherwise.

I don’t have that tattoo or nothing.

Well I was going to ask, when you going to get the tattoo?

I don’t fuckin’ know.

Good enough…

Probably, maybe, who knows?

Keep the future wide open I suppose.


So what else do you get into when you’re not skating?

Hanging out--I don’t know.

You ever do a little graf writing or some shit like that?

(To someone off the phone) Oh, what’s the deal, goddamn! (Long pause) Yeah, I don’t really write, but Matt does.

So I guess you’ve never really had any trouble with that type of shit, no close calls then?

I mean, we have, we’ve just never been caught.

All right, what did you end up doing to get banned from the Hilton in Florida?

I didn’t know I was banned.

Uh huh. David told me that; maybe you should talk to him. Oh, David said that…Oh, my room got a little messed up. And like, I don’t know what happened. The room was under my name or something I guess.

Oh, just like bad luck huh?

No, we just fucked up the room.

So you’re finished with Mind Field, and you were working on that Nike video until you broke your arm; are you pretty much done with the Nike thing because of your arm?

Yeah, I guess so, fuck…if this gets healed up, whatever, I’ll skate again. Right now I’m just chilling out.

You think you’ve got enough stuff for that video, as you sit right now?

I don’t care. (To someone off the phone) What? Not that much…

Mind Field will probably be out by the time this gets in the magazine, is that pretty much your first big video part?

(Pause) Yeah.

Greg said your part came together pretty quickly.

I don’t know, I just took a few trips and got some footage.

One of the few trips you made it on was Mexico City, what’s it like down there?

Fuckin’ dirty.

Anything memorable happen on that trip?

I don’t know, some cool skating…Shitty weed.

Does your dad still skate?

Yeah he still skates…a lot.

Who’d he ride for back in the day?

Uh, Schmitt Stix, New Deal…I don’t really know all this shit.

He’s been doing stuff in Atlanta for a long time, what all has he been involved in?

Workin’ the shop. I don’t know, doing his shit.

I take it you’re glad your dad skates?

Yeah, I probably wouldn’t be doing this shit or whatever, if he didn’t skate.

It’s two days into 2009 now; do you have any predictions about what going to happen this year? And random claims of what’s going to happen in the future?

No, I can’t say.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Healing up my arm or some shit, riding my board again; nothing really. Any parting bits of wisdom for the kids?

No, I don’t have any. This interview’s probably going to be gay as fuck though.

Eh, so it goes.

You don’t think so?

We’ll have to see.

You have to type it up?

Yeah I have to type it up. Here’s a question, what would you rather be doing right now than being interviewed?

Not talking on the phone.

There you go, succinct as always.


spencer said...

this is actually hard to read.

Anonymous said...

Wow, made me like that kid even less. Don't care if he was SOTY, he makes himself come off as a total retard.

Anonymous said...

worst interview ever

Anonymous said...

ahaahhahaha he just wanted to get high, and not answer a bunch of stupid questions. shit this probably helped him get over interviews and thus we havent learned about his stupid side hobbies or other mundane shit. awesome. dude you should interview andy roy

Wylie Tueting said...

A real wordsmith upon wordsmiths, that Grant Taylor. But then again, so many Americans talk and think like him. So what can you do? He's a product of his environment, though his skating certainly isn't.

Anonymous said...

id get in my car and go and punch the cunt in the mouth, just because hes socially retarded dosnt mean he has to be a tool all the time, rad skater, the silly cunt should smile more and enjoy his talent like we do

Anonymous said...