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Leo Romero – Calm seas don‘t make sailors

The Toy Machine video "Programming Injection" is finally ready to be released and Leo Romero visited Germany lately on a premiere tour and to play some concerts. Thomas Gentsch met him in Münster and had a chat about fingerboarding, fear of heights and how crazy it is not to travel.

Yo Leo, you are 32 years of age right now, right? Do you still feel like being a kid?

Yeah, I mean, I take my videoparts seriously but I don’t, or can’t really take skateboarding seriously because… if you take that too seriously, it’s not gonna be as fun anymore, you know…!?

Yeah, I can hear you. I was wondering, since this is a Toy Machine premiere, but you are with Dakota (Servold), who rides for Foundation, you were on Foundation for quite some years too, right?

Yeah, Foundation, Baker, Toy Machine…

Wow, seriously, didn’t even have that one in mind, you were on Baker inbetween… How did you get on Foundation in the first place?

I actually send a sponsor me video to Ed [Templeton] and he never watched it, hahaha…

Haha, seriously…?

Yeah, I found that one out later through the Foundation guys. And then the Foundation TM at the time, Josh Beagle, he liked it and he asked me to come down to San Diego and… I’ve always been a huge fan of Foundation, just as much as Toy Machine, so I just left and went to San Diego, stayed with him and ended up getting on Foundation.

Can you remember the first time you came to Germany? That was a Foundation tour, right?

Yeah, it was. First euro-trip. We started off in London, then Germany and then we ended up in Paris.

You were even in Münster back then, right? I remember some line of you at the infamous „Herby Ledge“, Tosh [Townsend] Fs Bluntslide, a spot one normally doesn’t really skate in a line…

Yeah, but that was an Emerica trip though, that Fs Blunt, I even came before that one. It must have been… I can´t really remember, but it must have been early early 2000`s…

Where are you originally from?

Fontana, CA. It´s about 60 miles east of LA, shitty small desert town. When you go from LA to Victorville, you will come through.

"I take my videoparts seriously but I don’t, or can’t really take skateboarding seriously."

So coming from there to Europe for the first time, was that a culture shock back then?

Actually, I think I was even to young to be culture shocked. Cause, you know, all I cared about was skating. Nothing else was getting into my head. As I became a litte bit older though I stared seeing difference between cultures and… even as a kid I was in Fontana my whole life so back then, even going to LA was a little bit of a culture shock… It didn’t really affect me till I got older cause I was just too stupid to realise what was happening around me. To me, all I was thinking about was skating but looking back, I would say it wasn’t even that crazy of a culture shock for me. I was just focused on skating so much… I must have been like 15 or 16 and was playing with a fingerboard in the hotelroom, so I guess you can figure where my mind was back then. [laughs]

Are you still fingerboarding?

Yeah! Hell yes I do. [laughs]

Fingerboarding is coming back, right?

I think, maybe, yeah! That kid CJ [Collins] who rides for Toy Machine also gave me a really fancy one. In Berlin he took me to a fingerboard shop, there even was an indoor fingerboard skatepark! I think it’s called Black River, right? It was pretty fucking cool, I was in there like half an hour, just hanging out, fingerboarding.

Yeah, they got like a big ass fucking park in the basement, right?

Yeah, it’s fucking crazy. I whish they had that type of park like for normal sized boards, you know. I think if you are a real skater you will always like to mess around with anything having something to do with skateboarding, so you just can’t help it. Even right here right now, seeing the railing of this bench, I just think about grinding the edge or whatever, you know. As a real skater I guess you look at anything with an edge, a sink, anything, and just think about skating it. You just can´t help it.

I can hear you. How came you back then switched from Foundation to Baker?

I think just because I was growing up, you know. With that kinda stuff, switching a company in the skateboarding world, it’s comparable having a new girlfriend you know. You get to a certain age and you just change. It wasn’t for any specific reason. I never left with any bad intentions, or because of anybody I didn’t like. Never called out like “I’m leaving” or something like that. Also I was young and when you are young, you not always know what the hell you are doing, right? But, it’s funny cause back then I was originally trying to get on Toy Machine and send in that video Ed never saw and ended up on Foundation and then Baker and it’s funny that in the very end, I ended up getting on Toy Machine and this is where I originally wanted to end up.

I remember the interview you did of Dakota for Thrasher, and he is is one of you closest friends and it reads like a similar scenario, just kinda the other way round, right?

Yeah, you are right. He was on Toy for brief minute but no one really payed attention so he ended up on Foundation.

In the same interview, there is some talk about some tour you guys did for the Toy video, some like 72 days through the states tour, and there was talk you being on the whole trip, right?

Yeah, two months and I was on it for the whole time…

Two months through the US, what was the most bizarre thing happening?

I don’t really have the feeling something bizarre happened at all. For me, the most bizarre thing happening was actually going home. Just because Dakota and I, we love travelling so much and we are so used to being on trips that going home is the odd thing to us. So, we were actually talking about it on the drive home with a buddy of us, Stone, who is the filmer and he was on the whole trip as well. So him, me and Dakota were the only ones on the whole trip, and he was saying “it’s too crazy how we did this for two months” and I started thinking about this and was like, “I don´t think thats crazy at all, I think it’s crazy that people don’t leave their town for the whole life, never have left their state”. Two month without any change, I can’t even picture this. I mean, people have their lives and family and all that so they can’t do it maybe, but to me, I think it’s crazy not to do some shit like that. I am lucky and fortunate enough to have people like Stone and Dakota around me and companys like Toy Machine and Emerica who allow me to do that and I’ve been on that slumber party for so long so to me it´s crazy that some people don’t do that because I am so used to it and I am so thankful. So, the crazy thing is, bottom line, to get home and you are just sitting there and you are like “fuck, this sucks, I need to get back on the road!” So, to answer the question in a very long rounded way, I guess the most bizarre thing was going home!

…getting used again to your normal day life…

…which I even don´t know what that is, you know!?

"I think it’s crazy that people don’t leave their town for the whole life, never have left their state."

When did you turn Pro, by the way?

I turned pro when I was 17, so 16 years ago.

What!?!

Yeah, I´ve been pro for a long time. Actually, for as long as CJ has been alive!

What the fuck!?! That’s crazy. So, for me, a seasoned Pro,is someone like Rowley or Arto or whoever, and you are, from my perspective, another younger generation. So do you already feel like a seasoned pro? Or do you still feel like you are in your prime years?

Uuuhhm, I have never taken skateboarding for granted! So I feel like I still have all that energy like CJ, actually. I still wanna go on any trip, I still wanna skate any spot, I still wanna do everything, you know what i mean!? But, I can not skate any spot because of my body, but still have the heart of a 15 year old. I have the energy of a fucking 32 year old so… but, I really don’t feel like a seasoned pro, I feel like a little kid still. I don’t know, it’s crazy.

Well, that’s just lovely to hear!

Yeah, and like I said, I don’t take anything for granted and just feel lucky to be where I am. And also, I try not to waste that.

Back in the day, when you started getting into the limelight, did you ever feel pressure „performing“?

I did feel a little bit more pressure around my mid 20ies, late 20ies, just simply because I got SOTY and that kinda added pressure I didn’t´t want. But, like in a good way, actually, you know!? Like, obviously I am honoured and am proud that I won that but it’s like when you are not trying to achieve something and it kinda gets put on you… cause I just wanted to have two good video parts (in that year) and I got that, hard working with Jon Minor and everyone involved and I achieved that with their help and then I got SOTY which was fucking awesome but after that I felt like “damn, this is a lot of pressure right now”, you know? And all I wanted was those two video part. But, actually, I didn’t even feel that in a bad way cause, sometimes pressure is good. It sucks, but on the other hand, you know, it’s part of the journey. If it was an easy journey, its not worth telling a story about all that. “Calm seas don’t make sailors!”

Now that’s some quote right there. I actually left the premiere after you part, which had a lot of cheers, but I have to ask you, your last trick, that Nosemanual Nollie Flip, was that death defying?

Well, I’m actually afraid of heights, so it was really scary for me. But what maybe scared me even more was that Dakota, who is a very close and good friend of mine, he said he wouldn’t even watch me trying! So when I was like, “If it scares you that much, I even get more scared! You are supposed to be like: 'you got it, you got it!'”. So I was actually like more scared…

…extra pressure...

Yeah, and I went there once and did it and wasn’t happy with that one so I went there another time and did it twice and the last one was the one I was fine with. It was pretty scary but… the trick is easy but where it’s located is what makes the trick hard and that’s the scary shit about it. Being scared of height though didn‘t make it easier. [laughs]

Could you block it off, like, “fuck it, this is just a manny pad on flat”?

I was trying to but… For me, when I skate, I try to laugh all the time and talk to everyone around and being up there. There was no one to make jokes with so I was like, „Shit, I am just up here by myself, all I can do is think about this and I don’t want to!“ When I tried it, I just looked straight but… it was scary! “Don´t look down” they say, right!?

Did you go straight for Flip Out?

The day I did it, yes. When I was there the first time I did a manual once and then started straight to nollie flip out of it!

Damn… Last question: From the nowadays Toy Machine team, who could never be on or fit on any other team in skateboarding?

Billy Marks!

Fuck yeah, fucking Billy!

Yeah, his part is awesome and him and Matt B, those guys could never fit on any other team - they are just fucking Toy Machine! Josh Harmony and… fuck, me, I will never ride for anyone else! I hope they don’t kick me off because I wouldn’t know where else to go! Toy Machine for Life!

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