From Skateboarder # 106
Can a sticker get you the boot from your sponsor? In the late ‘70s, yes. That happened to Steve Alba, when he sported a Tony Alva one on his ephemerous G&S board, a Christian company at the time, for who TA might have had the dreaded Antichristic looks –you know, the booze, the weed.
From these glorious times the Lord of the Badlands has more than a story to share, and more than a board to show in his garage-turned-museum, where decks hang from the ceiling, including early ‘80s one-of-a-kinds with “skate nazis” hand-drawn graphics on them “for the shock factor”, Steve laughs.
“We were growing up and skating all kind of boards and trucks, it was constant experimentation, going through your skateboards to find what you like”, Salba, 46, comments today. Before fishtails and popsicles, once upon a time were these…
“When we were growing up, when Jay Adams’ dad made Z Flex, Tay Hunts’ dad actually made these. And Tay Hunt was pretty much the best skater in the Badlands, he had the best style at that time, he could go high in pipes, he could do backside airs at Upland in the 15-ft bowl, 3 or 4 feet high. Noone in these days made backside airs like that. He didn’t really get the total dues that maybe were coming to him. He was there and then he was gone, like bam. 1975 to 78, then no more.
The Badlands Bullets were better boards cause that’s what we rode, that’s what Tay rode, that’s what I rode, the Pool Tool was a more generic-y kind of board, that’s the one they sold for everybody. I don’t know how many they made at the time, maybe 5,000 boards, maybe 10,000. This one is a little smaller than the Bullet, the Bullet was just a little wider. And the Bullets has wheel wells, this one didn’t. But the one thing that I liked about this board was that it was longer than the other boards, this one was 30-inches long when the other ones were 27 inches. Not only that but it wasn’t flat, it had a warptail.”
“Around the same time Roy Hunt was making the Badlands decks, this guy Rick Howell was making Ick Sticks, and later on down the line, these two dudes even collaborated. See, Ick Sticks was coming from slalom and using fiberglass on the bottom of the boards, to make them last longer. So Pro Tools started getting fiberglass bottoms from Ick Sticks. These two guys were from the Badlands, they both had their own deal going but they helped each other make boards. My pipe board was an Ick Stick.
The autographs I have on this one are all Badlands guys. Charlie Ransom was one of the first guys, and then this is Chris Strople, he and Wally [Inouye] lived in the Badlands for a while, they skated with us all the time so they used to ride these boards too. And then that’s Kurt Kimball, who was one of the best guys around here, he made up knee sliding and stuff like that. Rick Howell lives right down the street, he’s still around and still makes skateboards.”
“This was my first pro-model. The funny thing about that is, when Kryptonics first made me a board, they made it like the old P-tex ones, those sucked, and they put my name on it and were like, “Here, here’s your pro-model.” And I was like, ‘I’m not gonna ride that piece of shit.’ I already knew that they broke. Scott Dunlap, he was a little heavier than I was and he was breaking them left and right, man. Anyway every month in Skateboarder, they had these crazy sayings cause they had never made a wooden board, their ads were saying ‘We never wood’. But I made them make me a wood board, and they were kinda freaked out on it. When it first came out properly though, technology-wise it was state-of-the-art. The first thing was, you didn’t have to use riser pads cause it had built-in riser pads.
Then at the time for some weird reason Kryptonics went bankrupt and some old, fat guy came in and helped the ship go backa again. He was owning the Bananas restaurants and was trying to make a chain out of them. Gnarly investor guy. He didn’t have a clue about skateboarding.
Long story short, my board was the second most popular after Stacy’s [G&S Warptail], and I was only getting 50 cents a board, my mom had to go and renegociate my contract. Twice. The second time they refused, cause I was bleeding them dry from photo incentives. So I was getting mad at them, I was getting all into punk-rock and they wanted me to do this clean-cut American tennis pro kid cause the manager of Kryptonics played tennis his whole life, he wanted us to wear nice, short shorts, and you can’t say fuck, and you can’t write Sex Pistols on your skateboard. It was that bad.”
“The very first Bevel board didn’t have my name on it, it just said “Bevel”, that was the white one. All bevel is is the curves of the concave, in woodworking terms.
But even though it didn’t have my name on it, I was associated with it cause I was the guy that was actually promoting it to where it was gonna be later. It was the first board that had concave on the market, period. Back in those days, that was a big, big selling point. Then they put my name on the second one, the blue one, at the time I was a lot into the Flintstones, hence the Flintstonish lettering on it.
They kinda had the concave idea akready, kinda slightly, but I helped them refine it and make it better. When they first tried, the concave was so burly that I used to have them cut me a piece of foam and shape it onto the board to make the concave actually less steep, Santa Cruz used to do surfboards too so they had a whole bunch of foam hanging around. Back then, even warp tails were only 10 or 12 degrees, I had them do a 15 or 16-degrees tail. It’s funny cause my boards are way more flat now compared to then.”
“The yellow one was the third in the Bevel series, which as far as I know counted four boards. From one to the next one, theer were a couple things that changed. Once they made like these little nose bumpers, that were rubberized, so when the board would hit the ground it wouldn’t smash the wood. And a lot of times the bumper would fall out and you had a big hole where the bumper was.
I mean we tried a couple things here and there. So the white Bevel had the nose bumper, the blue one had my name on it, and for the yellow one, I just wanted the stream-lined artwork. It looked crispier and cleaner. I think this one looked the best out of them all. Duane had the red, white-striped Duane board, Olson had the black and white checkered board, I had the yellow and red board, that was my iconic kind of deal. They all kinda came out at the same time.
This particular one is the reissue, but I worked on it with them and I told them ‘Look, I want it to be right if it has my name on it.’ So this to me is one of the things that Santa Cruz made that’s true, true, true. It’s can’t be exact, but it’s as close as you can get.”