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We caught up with Elijah Berle while he was in Toronto for the House of Vans. Elijah was gracious enough to answer some questions while we were out for dinner with Chris and Cris Nieratko.
Interview and portraits by Jeff Thorburn
How was the Bunt at House of Vans last night?
It was great man. It was a really good time. I was a little nervous before, but I had a couple drinks and loosened up and it turned out all right.
Will you listen to it?
I’d actually like to because I kind of don’t really remember too much. Not because I had too much to drink, but just being up there was like a flash. Yeah, I’d like to watch it again.
Did you get any comments on it from your girl?
No, she actually was stoked on it. So yeah, I’m in the clear there. No trouble.
It felt like at the end you were really playing to the crowd well.
I mean yeah, I just felt like I was in a big conversation, I guess. In a conversation with the whole room. It was cool. I like telling stories too.
What’s new at Vans?
They’re doing a lot of contests and sponsoring a lot of events which is really cool. I think they are starting to try to work on something, a new project for this year, so hopefully I will be able to get in on some of that.
A video project?
Uh yeah, I don’t know if I’m not supposed to drop this news or whatever but I think Chima’s working on something. Then somebody else is gonna try to get in there too, similar to what me and Kyle just did.
How’s your health?
I’m a little injured right now, yeah. I partially tore a ligament in my ankle. So I didn’t tear it all the way. It’s a small tear but it’s on a ligament on the inside of my ankle and it happens to be the thickest ligament in your ankle so it takes like double the time it would take your average ankle roll to heal.
No, uh, crossing my fingers. I’m getting another MRI done when I get home so we’ll see what they say.
All right. You just got the new shoe colourways. Has there been talk about a full pro model for you?
Not really talk, but there’s, I mean obviously they’re trying to motivate me by saying it could be a possibility one day, you know. They might be just yanking my chain, just trying to get me to skate harder.
What would you want to do? Because it seems like you just skate the classics.
Wow, yeah, I don’t know. That’s a good question. I would definitely … it would be fun but it would be tough, definitely, to pick one and stay on that decision. Especially me too because I jump around all over the place.
It would be hard to not just make an Authentic or an Old Skool.
Yeah, yeah, I would probably try to go along the lines of something like that.
What’s new at Chocolate?
They’ve been really busy filming for this Lakai video so not too much has been going on with that, but we just started meeting up on Thursday’s to skate together, so that’s been really fun.
Have you been in on those Weakdays videos?
When they first started doing them I got hurt shortly after so I haven’t been. I’ll go and hang out but I haven’t been skating in any of them for a few months now.
Do you go to Girl often?
Sometimes. Usually I just have them send me a box. Lazy.
What’s up with boards? It seems like you tend to skate only those Chocolate 20 Year Anniversary decks that PS Stix made.
Well, I’m a pretty big fat ass, so I break boards. Whatever is going to last a little bit longer I tend to go down that route. Those boards are a little harder for me to break.
Can you get a new batch?
They made me multiple batches since then because they knew I was gonna skate those a lot. And nobody else really skates them so there’s a huge pile of them at the warehouse.
You ride the shapey ones too, eh?
Yeah, I skate those sometimes. You know you just get bored of your regular shape so you switch it up. Keep it interesting.
So no upcoming Chocolate projects until after the Lakai video?
Well they’re about to wrap up their vid. It’s been a few years in the works, so hopefully when they finish that up we’ll be able to start taking trips again and hopefully work on some sort of projects. Start traveling again. Yes, Chris, do you have a question?
Chris Nieratko: Any Mike Carroll footage in that video?
Oh, I don’t know, he’s been ripping lately so I wouldn’t be surprised. I think he’s definitely gonna have some stuff in the Lakai video. Is that what you’re asking?
Yeah, he goes out with those guys all the time, so for sure. I actually have heard some rumors that he’s been battling this one trick in Hollywood for a while, so I think it’s going to be pretty epic. I don’t want to spill the beans for you, but yeah, it’s gonna be sick.
Mike Carroll clips in Hollywood.
Yeah. After Pilates class.
Have you spent much time with Rick McCrank over the years?
Yeah I mean we go on trips together so it’s always rad when he’s on a trip because he’s just straight comedy the whole time. I’d like to see him more. I love his show, Abandoned.
Chris Nieratko: How about Rick Howard footage in that video?
I don’t know. Rick’s funny, like you watch him skate and he’s still ripping so hard but he’s like, I don’t know, insecure or something about his skating or his age or something and your like, dude, you’re ripping, like you can totally get in there but I think he’s just past that. Past the time for old Ricky.
Howard. But McCrank’s still going.
McCrank is going strong dude.
He does bring a nice comedic element to Abandoned when he’s skating. When I’m watching with my wife she gets a kick out of how many slams they show him take.
Yeah, yeah, that definitely makes it more interesting for sure. He’s funny man, he’s got a couple different types of humor, you know. He can be like super goofy and funny, but on that show he’s like bland but still really funny somehow, you know. It’s really good. Dry humor.
He can be pretty dry and cutting when he wants to.
But witty and on point. It’s really good. I like it a lot.
Do you have any desires to have more involvement with a company behind the scenes?
Yeah, for sure. I mean I love designing stuff, so I would love to hopefully one day, like you said, if I ended up getting a shoe I think that would be such a fun deal. Just to be able to design stuff. So, yeah, hopefully one day down the line I can get something going like that.
Do you draw or anything like that?
I draw like a three year old, so no. I wish I could.
Just pass those on to the designers. Make this.
Yeah. I can choose colors but that’s about it.
All right. Would you ever want to run your own company?
I would like to one day down the line, I don’t know what type of company, but yeah, I mean I feel like running your own company is pretty much everybody’s goal eventually, you know. It just needs to be the right time with the right people in the right situation.
What are you into outside of skating?
I’m really into surfing. I surf like every day. Just grew up around it so it kinda goes hand in hand with skating. I think it’s a Christian Fletcher quote, he’s one of the gnarliest surfers of all times, he said, “You try to surf like you’re skating, you try to skate like you’re surfing.” And ever since I heard that I was like, oh that’s a good saying to go by. And I don’t know, I like traveling, camping, riding my motorcycle a lot. Yeah.
Do you take care of it and do work on it?
Yeah, I ripped it up, made it shitty. It’s probably is worth a couple grand less now, but it’s fun. I like it more.
Did you surf when you were a kid?
Yeah. I grew up surfing.
Did you ever fall out of surfing because you just wanted to skate?
Oh yeah for sure. Like in my teenage years I definitely stopped surfing as much and skated a lot more. And then I just kinda of got back into it a couple years ago. I took maybe a few years off and just skated more. Sometimes you’ve got to distance yourself from something to like really appreciate it again, so now I’m like really stoked on it. It’s almost like I have to do it or else I get claustrophobic or something.
What do you like in skateboarding right now?
I’m really hyped on Ave and Dill’s new companies, Fucking Awesome and Hockey. I think those guys are doing it exactly how it should be done and it’s rad to see a newer brand in skating doing it the right way and keeping it core, you know.
What is it specifically about them and their companies?
They’re just so different than anybody else. I mean everybody on their team is like different in their own way but confident in their skating and confident in their style and themselves. And then just the way Bill (Strobeck) films it all and puts it together. It works. It looks good.
What do you dislike in skating right now?
What do I dislike?
And you can’t say Clint Walker or Trevor Colden.
Well, yeah, that’s obvious. I dislike in skating right now… people that are, I mean I don’t blame them, but people that are just strictly after trying to make a buck, you know, instead of just doing their thing, you know. It shows in their skating too, like robot-style instead of somebody who’s actually out there having a good time.
I wasn’t really going to talk Olympics but now I want to ask this question on that note. Do you think there could be someone in the Olympics that could be cool and not just have a robot style?
Well, I feel like everyone right now, unless they’re a really young kid, is probably going to be too old to be skating in the Olympics by the time it comes out, you know. I just feel like everybody that’s going to end up being in the next Olympics is probably in diapers at Woodward right now practicing their 540s. We’ll be washed up and old. And I ain’t putting on no spandex.
Could their be some sort of bad-ass skater at the Olympics, like a guy that does not conform to…
No way dude. I feel like they’re so strict with all their rules and stuff. They’re definitely gonna have drug tests and stuff like that. Probably going to be pretty strict on the rules. Especially with a new sport, you know, because they don’t want anybody to give them a bad look. It’s going to be interesting.
Do you think your boy Raven will be there?
I’m sure he would love to be. He might have a problem passing the urine sample though.