photo x brooks fritz
Every so often, the close examination of a random sliver of conversation between two of mankind’s many mouths reveals the very Zeitgeist and heartbeat of a generation. But such is not the case when we consider the asinine words exchanged by Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas as they misguidedly careened across the plains of Nebraska in their sheepdog van:
Harry: “I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.”
Lloyd: “I was thinkin’ the same thing—that John Denver’s full of shit, man.”
And yet, such drive comes to mind when mulling over the essence of Willis Kimbel, the Creature Skateboards fiend who coasted down from the Rocky Mountain State in a van he calls home searching for gnarlier pastures.
Roving up and down the West Coast, Willis has been on a tear. Though he lives like a minimalist, his arsenal is fully stocked and nothing is sacred—backyard pools, DIY parks, and massive handrails alike are learning to fear his coming. Having been lucky enough to watch the carnage unfold as his coverage continues to snowball, we decided to check in and find out what’s driving him.
photo x elias parise
Where are you from and what is your current occupation?
I Grew up in Bermuda, Sardegna Italy, Key West Fla, San Diego, Maryland, Washington DC, and then split to Portland Oregon. I’m a skateboarder.
When I think about Colorado skateboarding the main things that come to mind are Denver’s red park, young Angel Ramirez doing lines on a snowy sidewalks (not a cocaine reference), some KOTR highlights, the potato chip thing at the Arvada park, Coors Light, and twins doing flips off of staircases. What am I missing?
There’s a bunch of some of the best made to skate swimmers (pools) I’ve ever seen there. Team Pain is killing it out there with craters after crater lined with pool block. Thin air, I’m not a local by any means though. Surface scratcher.
Did growing up skating there feel isolated—maybe due to the Rocky Mountain barrier—or connected to the other states and skate communities East or West?
I didn’t grow up there. Isolated? Colorado wouldn’t feel isolated to me. It would have been a dream. I skated hills and jump ramps on a tiny island called La Maddalena when I started getting really hyped on the board. I had never seen a flat ground Ollie for the first six years of loving to skateboard. The Rockies in America as a kid wouldn’t be something to complain about by any means.
Word on the street is that you have taken to life on the road further out west. What spurred that decision? How has it been going?
I was in Portland, OR for the last 7 years until Omar Hassan gave me his old Ford Ranger. I laughed in the review mirror and skidded South to every rad place I’ve found since. I’m loving it. Can be uncomfortable at times but, still going to take every opportunity possible to explore places and new things damn near every time they’re presented. It’s always refreshing and inspiring as long as you roll with every punch. Getting sick by yourself in the middle of nowhere on the road makes everything else seem comfy.
You have been riding an avalanche of gnarly coverage via Creature lately, but I have seen your name toggling around in videos and the interweb in the ghoulish green Creature font for some time. Did they give you your start? Was it hard to get noticed in Colorado?
I had been flowed product from some companies before the Creech but none of them were like my brothers. They weren’t a horde of savages looking out for each other and pillaging good times with me like Creature. I was living one block from Burnside when I got on. Still can’t believe how lucky I am to get to travel with my friends.
Can you talk a little bit about these suicidally extended fake invert thing you have been shot doing recently? How does one build up to that?
I learn that stuff from my elders. Navarrette, Hitz, Parts, Hewitt, Grosso, Lance, Hassan, and a heavy dose of Neil Blender footage. They inspired me most. That and my Dad’s old mags. Those dudes have spent as much time teetering in inverts as I’ve been an earthling. Coward-free vibrations are also key.
Where do you go from there? Any particular goals on the board at the moment? Are you filming for any big videos?
Go everywhere. My goal is to skate everything my body will permit and have fun. I’m filming all over the place as much as possible. OJ Wheels video and SHRUNKEN head video.
How do you occupy your time when you aren’t skating?
Learning new musical instruments, surfing, camping, fishing, getting lost. Cooking. Laughing
photo x brooks fritz
You have some interesting niche sponsors, which seems like a rad way to cover specific needs. How have you managed to secure those? (And should we really be preparing our taste buds for Rev’d energy bars, as their website claims)?
I ride for things that I truly back and use and vouch for. Creature, Independent, OJ wheels. Daline rips, Next Adventure Camping store helps me survive any camping or travel scenario possible. Rev’d bars are killer. Leatherman is out of Portland and makes one of the few things I own that will last my entire life if I don’t put it in my damn carry-on. Shrunken Head skate shop in Portland has all the goods and vinyls. Nikes.
What’s a scarier prospect: hanging up in the tallest quarter-pipe at Burnside, or an elk running out in front of you car at night?
If an elk ran into Burnside I’d start skating. And hopefully not hang up. The guys under the bridge would probably hunt and eat the elk by morning though.
What does home mean to you?
It means wherever I’m safe. Big ole’ home.
Going there anytime soon?
I’m at home right now. On a flight back from the best time I’ve ever had in Helsinki. Kippis!
photo x brooks fritz