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25 Questions to Steve Caballero

Celebrating 25 Years of Half Cab

Skateboarding is not that easy and pretty much wearing out your body. So, it’s an achievement if someone manages to skate for 25 years. Even less are able to say that they have been sponsored for 25 years. And there is only one in the world who has a shoe that has been running for 25 years now.

Steve Caballero was in Berlin to celebrate a quarter century of Half Cab – and he still doesn’t think about retiring. If anything, he has the megaramp in mind.

When did you actually do the last Half Cab?

I think a couple of months ago. We were doing a trick tip on how to do Half Cabs. I don’t really do them all the time. I mostly do Caballerials all the time, but Half Cabs I don’t really do. That’s definitely a trick I need to practice more.

Is it still a blast when you see people on the streets with the Half Cabs?

Its awesome that people are still supporting the shoe. I never knew that it was gonna last this long as far as it’d been a shoe that skateboarders enjoy wearing so it’s always pretty cool. Actually I get a more kick out of it, when I see the kids size ones. It’s pretty cool, that parents buy their kids the little tiny Half-Cabs.

What was the craziest customized Half-Cab you ever saw?

Probably the Supreme Campbell Soup ones. Campbell Soup was very popular in the ’70s, I ate it all the time and for them to make that pattern on the Half Cab was pretty weird. I don’t know how they got interested in that design.

What is your favorite version or model of the Half Cab? 

Probably the Metallica collaboration that we did just because of the fact that I was a super huge fan of the Band in the ’80s and growing up listening to them, skating to them in contests and eventually meeting them and designing the shoe with them, that was a really neat collaboration. Cause they are a huge influence on my music as well.

Have you been at the album release in the House of Vans in London? 

I wasn’t there. No, I was stuck back home but it would have been cool to go to there.

What’s your favorite Metallica song?

From the first record and “Metal Militia” either that or “Whiplash”. That’s my most favorite song to skate to.

"I still wanna try to attempt the loop someday but it’s scary."

What’s going on with “The Faction” nowadays? Are you still active?

Yeah, we’ve done a couple shoes here and there. We went and played in Chile for the Bowlzilla event. We ended up playing last weekend at the El Gato Classic so we get together every once in a while. But we don’t really write new music, we just play old hits. We don’t live in the same area, so it’s hard for us to come together and practice and write new material. 

Do you have an idea how many Half Cabs have been sold over the years?

I do not know that, but Vans probably has it in their system. I’d have to go through my taxes to find out, but there’s been a fair amount. It definitely helps me still maintain a career in skateboarding.

How many Half-Cabs do you have at home?

I don’t know, I have to count that, too. But I have a big box full of different colorways. I have a whole stock still in my garage. There even was a Caballerial High Tops early ones as well. They don’t fit anymore. When I first got sponsored by Vans I wore size 6 and a half and I’m 7 and a half now.

Why is that?

‘Cause feet grow.

Oh, I thought only ears and nose would steadily grow. Going back in time, what’s your best memory of Germany or especially Münster in 1987?

Well, ’87 was a huge year for me because I won street and the vert at that contest. I still have those trophies at home.

Do you remember any German spots that you liked to skate or is there still a German spot you wanna skate?

When we would come to Germany we would always just skate in the hall at Münster every year for those contests and then we’d go to the park with the bowl and the snakerun. But I definitely wanna someday come back here and skate Jürgen’s [Horrwarth] park with the big Vert ramp. 

Maybe do it today?

Yeah, I visited it maybe six years ago. I came for a Hot Rod art show and went to visit the park and saw that huge ramp and thought it would be fun to skate. But every time I come back now I don’t have a board.

I’m sure you can borrow one.

Yeah, but it’s always nice to have your own board. The last couple times I’ve come to Germany it was because of art.

"I’m constantly trying to relearn the stuff I used to do in the ’80s and be at a level that’s still impressive."

Talking about Hot Rods, what Hot Rod are you actually driving? 

I have a 1965 Ford Econoline truck and I have also a 1935 Ford 3-Window. But I’m getting a lot of vintage bikes as well. Last year we built a 1952 Triumph showbike for this show called “Born free” and then it got picked for a show in Yokohama so we went to Yokohama this summer and showed it there. We just got it back from Japan and then in between that I bought a 1944 Harley Davidson Motorcycle so I’ve been fixing that up a little bit to ride around. 

So always working on bikes and cars?

I just like old stuff. Vintage cars and bikes. You now, they just have a lot of class and style.

When you’re in Germany are you also going to the Autobahn or are you not about driving fast?

Not so much driving fast. Just cruising with old bikes and cars. I mean old bikes sound really cool. I don’t want to go fast but I have dirt bikes so I go fast on dirt bikes.

From the classics to nowadays, what do you like the most about skateboarding in 2017?

What I like about skateboarding now is that there are different parks always popping up in the US and the fact that there are more skateparks in the area that I live, in Southern California in Carlsbad, than in probably the whole United States. I’m five minutes from my local park another five minutes from the DC Monster warehouse and four minutes from Tony Hawk Foundation, 15 minutes from Bob Burnquist, 20 minutes from Bucky Lasek’s house. A lot of private places, Indoor and Outdoor. 

Are the guys you named the crew you’re skating with?

I skate a lot with Mike McGill and Christian Hosoi. There’s always different sessions. Maybe I wanna have a street session, meet up with Shean Sheffey at Alba Skatepark, skate with Neil Mims or Jamie Thomas.

How was the Chin ramp reunion?

The Chin ramp was awesome. It´s just an idea that we had about recreating the spine. Woodward was willing to host building the ramp there and they built the whole ramp. It’s pretty much the same ramp. The difference is, the first ramp was made out of wood, this is skatelight and then the coping was PVC pipe and this is a metal pipe. It was gnarly back then and it is still gnarly now. It´s a really cool opportunity and like I said just to get together with the old team. It brought back a lot of great memories for people. I remember we filmed and we shot photos but because Tony Hawks Production 900 films has wanted to do a whole piece on it. We couldn´t post anything for a month. Like no one could show any photos it was top secret for a whole month so we were sitting on footage and photos.

Is there still something you haven´t done on your board that you wanna do?

I still wanna try to attempt the loop someday but it’s scary. And then also jump the Megaramp. I tried that as well and got hurt. Those are two that I have not completed but hopefully someday I’ll get the courage enough to try it again.

What’s the secret behind the long skateboard career that you had?

I think my secret is just that I'm kinda not fighting the trends that skateboarding has gone through and just go with the flow. And not just limit myself as a street, vert skater or bowl skater. Just make wise decisions and keep skating. Cause once you stop skating it´s really hard to get back into it and you´ll lose a lot of confidence. I think that if we keep continue skating and never stop that we will be able to keep going and going and going. But not everybody has that opportunity. People grow up and they have families, get married, get different jobs. I´ve been fortunate myself to have one job and that is professional skateboarding so that´s why I´ve been able to skate this whole time. And obviously having relationships with a company like Vans has helped me promote my career and also my relationship with Powell Peralta because now I’ve been with those companies for so long, my boards still sell but I sell reissues of boards from the ’80s and they sell really well so I am still able to make an income from skating.

"Hosoi thinks that we will still be able to skate in our seventies."

Have you ever thought about leaving Powell and starting your own thing?

I thought about leaving Powell like three times.

But why you never did it?

You have good times, you have bad times. There’ve been some not so good times at Powell where I wanted to leave but worked it out. Same with Vans. There have been times that I wanted to leave but I didn’t. Every relationship has its ups and downs. If you can work through that relationship I think it’s good because then you have something that you can look back on and say, “I’m glad I didn´t give up on them and they didn’t give up on me.”

Last question: How is it skating in your fifties?

It’s tough. [laughs] Because bounce back is quick. There’s always a fear of getting hurt and injuries don’t heal as quick as when you were younger. And just the endurance an everything. I try to keep in shape as much as I can and I do some cross training and I ride mountain bikes, ride dirt bikes. But staying away from smoking and doing drugs has helped me pursuing my career and staying focused. And just eating well as well. It’s important to have a good diet and you won’t be so tired and you have good energy. I’m constantly trying to relearn the stuff I used to do in the ’80s and be at a level that’s still impressive. I was talking to Hosoi. We were tripping out, because we are in our fifties, skating Vert, still at that level. And he thinks that we will still be able to skate in our seventies.

You think that’s possible?

Yeah, it would be cool. So we’ll see. We’re still trying to push the envelope. I don’t know if you’ve seen Tony Hawk skate. He’s only three years younger than me and he’s just incredible. He’s at another level. Next year, Christian and Tony will turn 50 so it will be pretty amazing to see.