For almost a decade, local pro Trent Hazelwood has been grinding the city streets.
For almost a decade, local pro Trent Hazelwood has been grinding the city streets. Afte r a year of trying to catch up with him-we finally got a chance to ask him, what’s up?
This article was featured in RVAMag #22: Fall 2015. You can read all of issue #22 here or pick it up at local shops around RVA right now.
How did you get involved with skating?
Well, I’ve been skateboarding ever since I was probably ten years old, and got seriously into it at like 13-14. I never really like expected to do anything with it, but then when I started driving, I started filming videos, taking photos, and stuff like that, getting my first bit of exposure. It’s just been going from there.
Did you grow up watching all the early 80s Bones Brigade videos? Was that what got you into it, or did you start skating and then get into all that later?
I definitely found out about it later, but one of the first people i ever filmed with, my friend Cameron, had every early VHS skate video, like Search For Animal Chin and [the] H Street [videos]. That’s what we were always into. I’ll even still go back and watch H Street’s Hokus Pokus and see what kind of music they were listening to then, or see what kind of shit they were doing.
So you’ve been in Richmond your whole life?
Born and raised. I was born in the West End, and grew up around Mechanicsville. I’ve done a lot of traveling but I always come back here.
What would you say the skate scene here in Richmond is like?
It’s definitely changed a lot over the years. When i was growing up there was always something going on, like a contest or a new video, and it seemed like everyone was connected and knew everybody. Now it seems there’s new kids coming into town, whether it be for VCU or just for the art or music scene, so now it’s a little bit cliquey, but it’s still running strong. Everyone’s got their own thing going and it’s cool.
Do you think it’s hard to get noticed here in Richmond? You’re not in one of the bigger cities but I know there’s a good skate scene here.
We’re not far from VA Beach and between here and there, there’s a pretty solid amount of people who are skating. A lot of companies know the area, and Gilbert Crockett put it on the map. People definitely know Richmond has a little skate scene going on underneath. But I would say it’s harder to get noticed. When I first started getting hooked up, I was on a company called 1031, and it was the first time I flew on a plane–I flew to Chicago when I was 19. I rode for 1031 for five years; [it was] started by this guy Kristian Svitak, who was a pro skater for this company called Black Label that was huge in the 90’s. Now he’s just kind of getting older, and he wanted to do something different, so he put it on the back burner for now. But as soon as 1031 was over, the next day I was on Shipyard. I hit up Hank [Fauerbach], and [told him] 1031’s on hiatus, and if he wanted to do anything, I was down. He was like, “I’m down. I already have a graphic in mind.” So it was a quick turnover.
So how did he find you, do you think? The videos you were putting out?
Yeah. It sucks nowadays; your reputation is based on what you have out on the internet. Even if you’re not in magazines or anything like that, that’s what people look at: instagram and websites. They just want to see the newest video clip or the newest project that people are working on. I used to post things, and say like, “shameless self-promotion” or whatever, but this is what people are doing. You have to post photos of your boards, or new videos. You have to keep your name relevant. I met [Hank] in real life countless times before that, and he would always be like, “Nah man, don’t ever be like ‘shameless’ about it. I wish people that rode for me would post more shit! I’ve gotta sell these boards, and people need to know what’s out there.” He started his company out of Richmond and he has some of the best graphics out today. And he’s already picked up this one dude, Ben Hatchell, who’s this contest killer. He just won this huge Vans contest two days ago.
When you were skating as a kid, did you have any ideas that you wanted to go pro? When did it start clicking for you that people were paying attention, and maybe you could do something with it?
When I was a kid I’d dream about things like that. It was some kind of daydream scenario, but when I got older me and my buddy DJ Williford came out with this video called Toxic Turdz, and it was the best video part I’d ever made at that point. I sent it to Kristian Svitak, and I knew about his company, but he called me on the phone the next day and was like, “I’m stoked on your video. I want to start sending you stuff.” Then one day he called me and was like, “We’re going on this cross country trip–you should really be on it. I know you have a job and shit, but you should really come.” I called up Best Buy that day and quit my job. I withdrew from all my classes and left, was just in a van for a month or so.
That’s crazy. What did your parents think when you just quit your job and left to go skateboarding?
My mom was kind of bummed out on it, but my dad’s always thought it was cool that I just do whatever I want to do. My mom’s come around now. I mean, school and work will always be there. You can always have a job, you can always take classes, but you’ve got a window of how long your body can handle skateboarding, so you’ve gotta do what you can while you can.
I’m sure you always understood it as something of a business, but what was it like going pro? You’ve always done it for fun, but now it’s become a little bit of your job.
Yeah. It started to take a turn into me thinking how will I…
Yeah. I started thinking of it like that–how will I make money off of skateboarding? I was involved with CCS mail order catalog, and involved with some weird people for the sake of getting money out of it. But then as time went on, I stopped caring about making money and started doing whatever I want to do–staying stoked on coming out with a new video. I’ve got another new video my homie’s making, I’m more stoked on that than a lot of the videos I’ve put out for the sake of content. I’m all about staying true to what I think is cool. Right now I think Shipyard has the sickest graphics out, and I’m planning on being with them until further notice.
I’m sure you’ve gotta consider your own integrity. Not pimp yourself out too much, but just enough to get it out.
Yeah. I went out to California for like a month, just couch surfed for a while. I thought about staying out there and being broke, trying to sell out to whoever I can and get picked up by somebody. But at the end of the day I’d rather just be back in Richmond; work part-time and skate the rest of the time. Just put out videos and do my thing.
So that’s your normal day-to-day now? Just find a good place to skate and do tricks? Have fun and get a little crazy? I’ve hung out with you before, I know you’re pretty wild, man.
Yeah. [laughs] I’m 23, and I just want to have a good time. Keep filming videos, keep stringing along whatever it is, this little skateboarding career thing that I have, for as long as I can.
What does it mean to be pro in the skateboarding scene?
Back in the 80s it used to be as simple as signing up for a pro contest and checking pro on the little sign up sheet. Then it got turned into, you have to get on this pro founded company, and they need to deem you worthy, kind of thing. That’s essentially what I ended up doing. I was on 1031 for like five years; I was on there just as a kid getting flowed free stuff. I ended up coming out with three different board models. Since then, I got a new board out on a new company. If anybody is down to get behind me and they want to put my name on something, I’m not going to say no.
Speaking about Richmond specifically, what do you think needs to happen here for the scene to grow bigger?
It is growing and there are good things happening. We got 28th St turned into an actual skate park, and there’s the [Richmond Area Skateboard Alliance] project to renovate the Texas Beach skatepark. so all those things are good, and as long as VCU continues to buy up the whole city, we’ll have more students coming. I don’t know. It would be really cool if we didn’t live in such a judgemental world where a lot of people weren’t cast out of what’s cool and what’s not.
My buddy DJ Williford [and I] are putting out a new video called Bum Wine–all the hijinks and the B-roll and stuff is all just jokes about Mad Dog and Cisco and cheap wine. Just ridiculous shit; bum wine. It’s a joke, but at the same time the gnarliest stuff is going to be in the video. We got this kid Ryan Mickelson, who moved here from Florida [and] nobody knows; [he] is murdering all the spots. We have guys from Woodbridge: Ian Mondragon. This other kid from southside, Colby Hayes; Eric Valladares, all these random kids. DJ is fueling the fire under them, just like “This is your time to shine, man! You gotta put out a good part.” It’s going to be a good video. I’m standing by too–I’ve put a handful of video parts together in my time, and I’m there too, to light a fire under them.
It’s crazy–you’re 23 and you’re almost an elder in this game.
Mainly for the area. Just because when I was a teenager, I was out skating every contest. Like, Dominion [would] host a contest at the YMCA park, which isn’t even there anymore, in southside in Manchester. There’d be contests in Pole Green skate park near Mechanicsville, and that’s hardly there anymore. Half of it’s gone, they tore it out. We’re in a transitional time, but people are always going to continue to skate and put out videos, whether or not there’s contests or good parks around. In ten years the skate scene will have changed into something we can’t even imagine. People are going to be like, “Dude, in 2015 things were way different than now.”
What are you working on for the rest of the year? Do you have any plans?
Since I quit school, I went back to school. I’ll probably graduate in the next year or so. Probably when I’m done I’ll go back to traveling and going all over the place. The majority of the good stuff we film is when we go out to New York and stay there for a week. Sleep on people’s couches and go out every day. Ride trains and film videos. Hopefully just keep traveling, keep skating, keep churning out boards and keep churning out videos.
Do you think you’ll ever get on the business side of skateboarding?
Maybe one day. DJ jokes every day about starting a company or doing something, and I’m sure that somewhere along the line I’ll get involved with it. But only time will tell.
Someone’s gotta do it here in Richmond and do it right, you know?
For right now I’m completely backing Shipyard. Hank’s got a really good operation going on–he’s already done big collabs with other pros like Darren Navarrette and Jeff Grosso, who was a huge pro in the 80s. Just the fact that he’s got awesome artists like Mickael Broth and Barf doing good ass graphics for him, this shit can only get bigger and bigger.
I feel like you’re pretty stoked on being here right now.
Yeah, no complaints, man. Carefree.