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Austin Stephens.

AUSTIN STEPHENS IS SO TOGETHER, HE SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND QUIT SKATING.

He's not like one of these freaky kids you see whose kiekflipping ability is the only thing keeping them out of prison or an insane asylum. He's got a sharp hairstyle true--but it doesn't count for the bulk of his personality. No can you tell his sensibilities by the cut of his pants or the texture of his belt. If he wasn't getting checks from his sponsors held be totally employable. You could have him meet the folks. He can speak in complete sentences and everything. Austin's the kind of guy who could seemingly do anything. He doesn't even need skateboarding lucky for us though Cause skateboarding site as heck needs him.

MB: Is it hard being a handsome am?

I wouldn't know.

Ed: Someone told me the other day that the new ams are looking pretty ugly these days. They were like, "Have you seen the new ams these days? These kids are ugly!" And I said "What do you mean? Skaters have always been ugly." And he said, "I know, but have you looked at the check-outs lately? These kid are really ugly." That's when I realized that Toy Machine only has handsome people.

MB: So is it hard?

What?

MB: Being so handsome.

I don't know what to say to that. I don't feel especially handsome.

MB: Does it make it easier to meet the babes?

I don't think so.

Ed: We should tell the story about the Tum Yeto Canada trip. I don't know if anyone's told that story yet.

Yeah, you did.

Ed: But we haven't heard it in your words.

MB: What happened?

Wait, which story?

Ed: The one where the girl flew across the country to the next demo because she had missed the chance to possibly meet the man of her dreams.

Yeah. That's what happened.

MB: How did this happen?

Just like that. A girl saw me at a demo and then flew to the next demo to meet me.

MB: How far did she fly?

Quite far. Like halfway across Canada.

MB: So what did she say?

It felt kind of awkward. She said that when she saw me she felt like she needed to meet me. She said she felt like there was some connection.

MB: Did you feel the connection?

No. Nope. I had a girlfriend at the time so I simply told her, "I have a girlfriend right now." So that was that.

MB: Do you ever feel competitive?

No. Never. Even when I go to a rail and someone tells me all the tricks that have been done on it, I still do the same tricks I would otherwise do on it, in the order that I would naturally do them. I'm still going to skate it how I would normally skate it.

Ed: What's your order? Kids want to know what order of tricks you would do on it.

On a rail? It usually goes boardslide, noseslide, frontside boardslide, 50-50, then lipslide, Smith, backside lipslide.

MB: Where does it end?

It never ends. But those are the basics--the warm-up tricks.

MB: Can you caveman?

I can, but I've never done anything of substantial size.

MB: Did you relish your identity as a skater when you were younger, or were you one of those kids who hid the fact that you skated from people at school?

Oh yeah, I was a skater. I was known as a skater. I hung out with all the skaters. There was a small group of us and we were the skaters. We ate together at lunch and all that.

Ed: Were you hated?

No. I wouldn't say we were especially admired. We were just there.

MB: When I was in high school, the skaters were kind of paired up with new wavers as far as girls. What was it like at your school?

Why were they new wavers?

Ed: You had new wavers? You were lucky to even be paired up with girls! We were lower than nerds!

MB: Were you guys paired with any group of girls?

No, not really. None of us really dated in high school. We never hung out with girls. We just skated. I never had a girlfriend in high school.

MB: Do you still mostly have skate buddies or are you starting to have other groups of people, like your art friends or whatever?

Yeah, still mostly skaters. But I meet people here and there.

Ed: Why do the other people have to be art friends?

MB: I just couldn't think of other types of friends.

I like to go out and hang out in coffee shops sometimes and hear local bands.

MB: Have you ever worn a vest?

Yeah.

MB: Puffy?

No, like a vintage store vest.

MB: Top hat?

Nope. Never.

Ed: After the vest question, does that mean you're emo?

No, it doesn't mean I'm emo. I listen to a lot of emo music I guess. I listen to other things. Mostly rock 'n' roll.

MB: Do you know people with the Spock haircut?

Ed: The what?

MB: Like the Spock rockers. Like the built-in ear muffs.

I know a lot of people with that haircut. I like that haircut.

Ed: Are you a vegetarian?

I really like the idea of being a vegetarian. It seems to be a much healthier way of living. So I do try to avoid eating meat as much as possible. Sometimes a chicken taco or a chicken sandwich just sounds good so I'll have one. I also have a weakness for candy. I'm constantly eating some sort of candy.

Ed: Do you believe in God?

Yes, Definitely.

Ed: Why?

I was brought up in a Christian home so I was always taught that there was a God and I always prayed to God too. But I remember being young and not being absolutely sure that there was a God. And I remember looking through my Bible and I came across a verse in the book of James that said, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." And I wanted that wisdom so I asked God. Since then whenever I look at people or the Earth or the stars it just seems so obvious to me that there is a creator.

Ed: Aside from skating, what drives you? If you didn't skate what would you get out of bed each day for?

Playing music, drawing, reading, writing, going to concerts.

Ed: What instruments do you play?

The guitar and harmonica. I've been messing around on a keyboard lately too.

Ed: Do you make up your own songs?

I have a sketch book, and I'm constantly jotting down little phrases or thoughts that come to mind, I've put some of them to music before. But I can't seem to pull all of my thoughts together to create an entire song.

Ed: What are the last five bands you have seen live?

Blonde Redhead, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, White Stripes, Belle and Sebastien.

Ed: What are the last five records/CDs you bought?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-B.R.M.C., The Strokes-Is This It, The International Noise Conspiracy-A New Morning, Whiskey Town- Faithless Street, Ryan Adams-Gold.

Ed: What are your favorite albums of all time?

Blood On the Tracks-Bob Dylan, Harvest-Neil Young, Abbey Road-The Beatles, Exile On Main Street-The Rolling Stones, OK Computer Radiohead, Gold-Ryan Adams.

Ed: Are you proud to be an American?

I'm not quite sure what I'm proud of anymore.

Ed: Would you ever burn a flag?

No.

Ed: Have you ever swam with sharks?

Me, Ed, Deanna, and Little Lance all went to Catalina for a few days. It just happened to be spawning season for tiger sharks and they were everywhere. We rented a boat and went snorkeling. There were areas of the water where we were swimming with seriously like 30 to 40 sharks. It was pretty amazing. I'd never seen anything like that before.

Ed: What if you got kicked off Toy Machine? Who would you ride for? Or would you just quit because there is no equal?

I wouldn't quit skating but I wouldn't bother trying to skate for anyone else. I'd be what they call a soul skater.

Ed: What if you could trade talent with other skaters. What talent of yours would you trade and whose talent would you trade for?

I would trade everything I have to be able to do a stalefish like the Gonz.

Ed: Who's in your family?

My parents, my older sister Autumn-24, my brother Camaron-16, sister Camille-10, brother Chandler-5.

Ed: Do you do stuff with Cameron?

Yeah, we skate together and lately we've been playing a little bit of music together. He plays guitar and keyboard and he's learning how to play violin.

MB: Who do you think are we hottest ams on the circuit?

Paul Rodriguez.

MB: He's good.

Stefan Janoski. Caswell Berry.

MB: Do you think the pros now will have to start packing it up and looking for desk jobs soon?

No. Kids still like the pros. They still look up to the pros even if there are some ams out there who are as close to as good as them. I think kids still look up to the pros. Some pros are more well-rounded even if they don't do as much stuff as some of the new guys.

MB: Do you ever take a bath on tour?

No.

Ed: What? Were you saving that one up?

No. No baths.

MB: Do people ever feel like they need to act differently around you since you're a Christian?

What do you mean?

Ed: Like sometimes people try to apologize to me because I'm a vegan. They think I'm going to judge them. Do people ever feel uncomfortable around you because they think you're going to judge them or be offended by them?

Yeah. That happens sometimes. I'll be around people that know I'm a Christian and they'll cuss and be like, "Oh, sorry Austin," like I'm going to be mad at them or something. That's about it. I don't really get stereotyped. They assume they're offending me by cussing, but they're not.

Ed: Wait a second. Do you cuss?

Me? I try not to.

MB: Do you use those fake cuss words like fudge?

No. I just try not to cuss.

MB: How do you deal with the problem of destruction of property by skating?

I think about that a lot. You're supposed to obey the law of the land.

Ed: But what if the law of the land is unjust?

Here's my answer to this question: God is fair and He's just and He judges everything fairly and justly. So I think He's going to be a pretty good judge of what is really harming the world. It's such a worldly thing, and God doesn't care about such worldly things.

Ed: So you won't go to Hell for a lifetime of destruction of paint.

Yeah, It seems like it's so miniscule compared to what God is really about.

MB: I know you don't talk a lot. Do you think people ever make assumptions about what you're thinking by your silence? Ed: It's so bad.

Yeah. Ed always thinks that I'm mad.

Ed: Or I just think that you think what I'm saying is completely stupid.

No, I'm not mad. People assume, I guess. I heard that saying, "Be quick to listen and slow to speak." I've always just liked that.

Ed: I always think he's thinking about how stupid I am. Or maybe he's bummed on the whole situation. Or maybe he's bummed about the CD I just put in and he's back there brooding over it. And then I ask him, "What's wrong? Are you mad?" and he always says, "No, no." So then I started to wonder if he was just not very smart. Sorry Austin. I know it's just because you're nice and don't talk all the time.

I'm never thinking any of that! I just don't talk a lot.

MB: Sometimes when parents get divorced, the child blames himself for the break-up. Did you blame yourself when the guys quit Toy Machine?

No. No I didn't.

MB: Did you ever think, "Maybe it's all my fault?"

Maybe. It could have been me.

Ed: I think he thinks more of it is me.

MB: Did you blame Ed?

It's no one's blame.

Ed: How can you say that? In some way I must have blown it. I made it a place that was inhospitable to them.

No. I don't think it had anything to do with you. It's for the best, I think. In the long run, it's going to be better.

MB: Are you excited about the new team rider?

Yeah. Am I allowed to say?

Ed: Yeah. I just e-mailed everyone in the world!

OK. It's Caswell Berry. I'm really glad. He's a great skater.

MB: Do you feel worried now that you're not the only am?

No. I'm not worried at all. I'm glad.

MB: Who will go pro first?

I imagine Caswell will beat me to it.

Ed: No, no. I talked to Caswell and I know Austin's view; and Austin's view--since it might be hard to get it out of him--is that turning pro is serious and he wants there to be a real demand for him to turn pro. He wants to earn it. And Caswell's the same way.

Yeah. That's true.

Ed: Instead of just being given a pro board, especially right now, since we only have one pro. Austin especially wants to earn it. Everyone called me like, "Oh, so Austin will turn pro right now," but that's not the way it works.

MB: Could Ed put anything in your ad that would make you mad? Like if he put something about a choad eater or something?

No. I don't think he would do that.

Ed: I'd only put something that I think Austin would get a kick out of. I wouldn't put "Hail Satan! Just kidding, Austin," or anything like that.

MB: Talk about these demos that you do at these Christian youth events.

They're Lewis Palau festivals is what they are. They're really good. They go really well. They have lots of great people to help build the courses so they always turn out really good. It's run by a lot of really good people.

Ed: What skate people have gone to them with you?

Ray Barbee, Matt Beach, Lance Mountain, Richard Mulder, Salman Agah. I went to a Young Life skate camp with Ray Barbee and the week before that was Jamie Thomas and Richard Mulder. That was amazing.

MB: What goes on at these things?

At the camp you skate and they have fellowship for whoever wants to participate. It's a really good atmosphere. At the festivals they have bands and there's a big demo. It was a great experience going to all of them.

Ed: What people sponsor your skate activities?

Toy Machine, Innes, Emerica, Independent, Ricta, and Active Mailorder.

Ed: What are your plans for the immediate future?

I'm going on a Thrasher trip to South America. When I get back from that I hope to do some more traveling and filming for the Emerica and Toy Machine videos. And I want to get more involved with writing and playing music.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:skateboarder
Author:Burnett, Michael
Publication:Thrasher
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:2589
Previous Article:Mileage High.
Next Article:Buried Treasure: A tale of "Seek and you shall find".
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