Damien Wilson: About Life, Blading, Bar and Street Fights, Work and Fester

Damien cooling off in the Middle East.

Introduction by Kevin Chow
Interview by Bruce James Bales
Photos by Damien Wilson

Damien, thank you for taking some time to talk with me. Let’s start off with the vital information. Age? Year’s blading? Sponsors? Current location?

I’m 28 years old and I have been skating for 19 years. My sponsors are Ground Control, Psyko Clothing, Revolution Skate Shop, Renegade Bearings, and Fester Wheels.

What is the most vile, disgusting, or shocking thing you’ve done lately?

I’ve been pretty mellow lately. Not so much vile or disgusting, but I still have a pretty sweet story. I was in Florida for the Pow Wow this year. Joey Chase, Chris Daffick and I were leaving a bar and some dude started talking shit about Joey and I. I think he said something along the line about us looking like fags. So, I pulled my dick out and showed him. When he looked I called him a fag for looking. Then, Daffick started giving him the finger right in his face. The dude smacked Daffic’s hand out of his face. At that moment Joey grabbed the guy by the back of his collar and threw him to the ground. The dude fell into a bunch of guys, who were pretty pissed about it for some reason or another, and they just kicked the shit out of the dude. The three of us just high fived and kept on moving. Even better, 15 minutes later on our walk home, two dudes in a truck pulled up and started harassing Joey’s girlfriend who was quite a bit ahead of us. Joey yelled for them to pull over and started running towards the truck. Daffick and I looked at each other and took off after him. The driver got out and punched Joey in the face, and Joey started to kick the shit out of him. The passenger got out and went to help, I told him to get back in the fucking truck, and he told me to go fuck myself. So, I struck him in the mouth and started kicking the shit out of him. So both Joey and I had our dudes on the ground and Daffick ran back and forth beating the shit out of both the dudes. We broke away gave high fives right in front of their faces and kicked the shit out of their truck, then went home and drank a couple celebration beers! Not vile I know, but kick ass!

Damien, Lyle Shivak and Joey Chase chilling at the Hoover Dam.

I’ve been watching you and the Santee crew since the days of “Street Dwellaz.” How did growing up in Santee with your group of friends help you to become the shredder you are today?

You know I love the shit out of the Santee dudes. I would not be the person I am or the skater I am without those dudes. They are my brothers. Not to drag it on, I will give a good reason as to why I learned to skate the way I do. When we were younger, older skaters would drive us around because we were really good at skating, and fun to skate with. The problem was where do we sit? There was always an argument, so we decided that best trick of that spot gets shotgun (or front seat). Next best trick gets right window, then left window, and worst trick or injured or photographer, etc. had to sit bitch! So there were always fierce battles for shotgun, even if that wasn’t your kind of spot, then battle to not sit bitch! As a result we all progressed quite quickly.

I think you’ve always had a very distinct style of skating. How has your blading matured over the years? Do you find yourself approaching it differently?

I feel as my skating has been fully matured for the last 6-8 years. By matured, I mean it in all aspects related. I dress very consistent to my style of skating, and for the last three to four years pretty much only wear black Dickies pants, a wife beater, and some sort of black shirt. Nick calls it the Bart Simpson effect. I always look the same. My style and choice of obstacles has been set in stone for some time as well. I could post a clip from three years ago tomorrow and most wouldn’t know it wasn’t filmed recently. As far as approaching it differently, not so much. I try and stray away from high obstacles and gaps due to my knee.  But other than that, it’s all dependent on how I feel that day, whether it be a stunt, something creative, or a gap.

Besides dismemberment, explosives, and heavy alcohol consumption, what do you do off the blades?

Is there anything else? On a serious note, I am a carpenter by trade, but due to random jobs here and there, I have learned welding, a little glass work, metal fabrication and other skills. I like to make skate obstacles and funny things as a hobby. I also enjoy dumb pointless things I am inexperienced at. Here is a quick list of random things to kill time I have learned or am learning: juggling a soccer ball, juggling, looking for a unicycle to try, pogo stick, snake board, hula hoop, Spanish, running a business, being a good boyfriend, skeet shooting, and pretty much anything that grabs my attention at that time. Oh, and I like reading books about ninjas!

Like father like son. Damien hanging with his dad.

What can a visitor to the Santee blade house expect? What should we be prepared for if we were to visit?

People that visit can expect a kick ass time! This group is a family and we welcome anyone in as a member. Two rules. Don’t steal anything, and don’t be a dick! Other than that, have fun and just kick ass!

It seems like your wheel company Fester is now occupying a large amount of your time and energy. What made you guys want to start a wheel company? What were Fester’s origins?

Fester does take a fair amount of time and energy. Mostly because I am learning as I go. I am sure in the future it will be a much smother run process with less time consumed. The origins of Fester are based off of Joey Chase. It is based as a man’s company. We are not directed to the youth and have no intentions of watching our language or actions that parents might find offensive. We are a group of professional skaters who are men. We all work or have been working full time jobs while pursuing the top of our industry. We all know how to party, skate, fight, and be productive when called upon. I was very excited when we first started to have Jon Jon on board, and to be able to help him through all the curve balls life and skating throw at you. Unfortunately due to his living situation, Shredweiser was the most logical situation for him. On the bright side they did a fantastic job of developing Jon Jon into a badass man skater.

The first batch of Fester Wheels

Could you tell everyone a bit about the contest Fester is sponsoring? Where did you guys come up with the idea to sponsor a random blader? And, how has the response been so far?

The idea was just a random drunk conversation between the Santee boys and myself. I was luckily smart enough to write it down before continuing to party. In the morning while out skating, Nick Wood and I hashed out the details of how it should work and what the benefits might be. We ran it by the rest of Fester Family, and everyone was onboard. We all decided that it is nice to show hope for unsponsored skaters, to let them know their contribution to the sport does not go un-noticed. If you have the balls to put your skating out there for not only The Fester Family to judge, but also the entire skating community, you deserve some recognition. It seems that the contest has generally gone over well with minimal criticism from the community. All participants will be receiving our newest “T” before it even ships out to shops. Second and Third place will receive a prize pack, and of course First place will have a lifetime flow spot on Fester.

Where do you see Fester going in the future? Any chance of Fester pro model fireworks, weapons, or road kill?

We did not start Fester with the intentions of getting rich. At the moment no one gets paid from Fester, except our artist and outside contributors, but no one in the Family. All profits made are spent growing and advertising the company. Our intentions are to grow the company large enough to start our own boot brand. Not under the Fester name, but as its own brand. Then from there get large enough and contribute back to skating enough to gain majority sales and support in the industry and crush any non-skater owned companies. After we have successfully done so, give all of them the finger. Oh, and we might make knives. Then maybe some kitchen wear like plates made of steel, bar-b-ques, wallets, beer, a one off truck, and other manly shit!

Damien and his lady.

When we first spoke via email you quickly mentioned how you are no longer with Xsjado. Do you want to shed some light on that? Most bladers are interested to hear stories like that, and if you have a skate sponsor currently.

All the light that needs to be shed on that subject will be exposed in a story I wrote for www.skatelife.tv, which should be out in a couple weeks. It’s pretty fucked up! As far as a boot sponsor at the moment, I don’t have one. I am currently riding Razors because that is what I rode before. I find them the least hideous looking of most skates available and I have always been good friends with all of the guys at Sunshine, including Andy. I have decided to film a full section in the skates before I try and do anything else. For what? I am not sure yet. Video sales are shit now that the Internet over exposes everyone’s skating. Maybe I’ll film it for Tosh.O so he can make fun of me, but since I have filmed a lot of tricks thus far I figured I might as well just complete a section before moving on.

Now that you’re an even larger part of the industry with Fester, how have you seen your outlook towards blading change?

If I didn’t have Fester I probably would have given up on the sport. Too many dead ends, too many disappointments, and I can only beat my head against the glass so long before I just figure fuck it! Fester has been my glue to the sport and helped me find the love I have always had for the last 19 years of skating. It is my way of trying to help skaters who deserve a chance but are over looked, or haven’t been pushed to their fullest potential. Other than that, as far as other companies aside my direct sponsors, I keep my nose out of their business and can give two shits about them.

Have you bladed any good couches lately? How did the whole idea of putting a rail on a couch come about? Are you working on any other blading/construction projects?

The couch idea was funny and it was another drunk idea. This one was all my idea this time. I built the whole thing by myself and filmed it by myself, except the skating part. It’s funny because even Nick thought it was kind of a bad idea. It started because The Conference and I were arguing about them cutting my pay without telling me. Their excuse after the fact was that I wasn’t being productive enough, which on the contrary I was being very productive. I asked them what they meant and it came down to Internet sections, which I hate doing. I used to feel as if they were a huge waste of time that got overlooked or forgotten about too quickly, so I decided to give them a back handed section that was themed. I like to theme Internet sections because I find it’s the only time you don’t have to kill yourself for the section and can have some artistic approach. I figured they were accusing me of being lazy. Lazy people are associated with couches and I had an extra one in the backyard. 2 + 2 = FUCK YOU! They didn’t like it and wouldn’t run it as a Conference edit. Prideful bunch of pussies aren’t they? They said it was insulting, haha! As far as building new obstacles, I have a really awesome one in mind, and will build it this summer. It is very unique and nothing like it has ever existed. Should be one of the most fun things I have ever made to skate.

Damien, Wild Bill and Jon Jon working on the backyard rail.

Taking a step back, what have been your best experiences associated with blading?

I think traveling, meeting new people and becoming close friends with almost all my sponsors. Holding my first Signature Skate. Meeting all my idols in skating and almost everyone I watched in videos growing up. Having Matt Mantz tell me I was his favorite skater. Starting my first company! Shitting in the Vegas guy’s kitty litter box!

I remember at Bittercold 2008 in Columbus, Ohio walking outside and seeing you and your crew engaged in a fierce snowball fight with a group of Iowa bladers. At many gatherings I have seen the Santee crew as one of the most welcome and friendly groups, despite your ominous reputation. What does mingling with unknowns and young bladers mean to you?

It means everything! Without all of the “unknowns” and young bladers I wouldn’t care to show up at events. My biggest enjoyment from skating is traveling and meeting new skaters or seeing skaters I have met maybe once or twice before! The only thing is, I am terrible with names. I recognize almost everyone I have ever met, but names are something I was not blessed with remembering. Hanging in the crowd and with new random groups is where I have made good friends, heard the best jokes, and have had the best times!

Damien busting a rocket 360 over the coffin.

I’ve always wondered, do you watch online edits? Is there any blader that has caught your eye lately?

I do watch online edits. I almost watch all of them. If it is someone I have never heard about I usually watch the first three to five tricks and watch the last three tricks. If I am not impressed or curious that is all I will watch. If it seems good I will watch the whole thing, even if it has really shitty music. That includes you Justin Eisinger. Your last couple songs sucked! In general I will give everyone a chance. It kind of bums me out that being a professional we are expected to do around six to ten edits a year and have to be compared to a kid of moderate skill, who has filmed for the whole year. Then us pros get picked apart for little things, and have to read about how this guy needs to be pro. “PRO” is an overrated term tossed around far too much in our industry. A true pro can do a full section within 3-6 months while managing a full photo interview and whatever little projects he is working on. Furthermore, it is not just the skating. Of course you better have had the skills to get you to this position, but you need to be able to organize your own interviews in magazines, DVD profiles, knowledge of travel and take care of yourself, find and pursue sponsors, and be able to speak and act correctly when required to. Shake hands with the right people and have good communication with your fans and our younger generation. Being “PRO” is a lot more diplomatic than just skating and being able to do good tricks. If you look back on all of us who are “PRO” we all went through every phase of skating at one point or another. Technical, stunts, gaps, kicked rails, longs rails etc… everyone who is pro is capable of all aspects of skating and fell in their own. That is what makes them pro. Sorry for the rant. Had a couple brewskis! So to answer your question, yes, I watch Internet sections. That is how I found William Issac. I am very stoked about his skating and potential.

Damien and Nick Wood love a nice cold brewski.

It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Damien, any last words for the blading masses?

Last words. Keep Kicking Ass! I hope all of you keep your head high with pride. I am proud to be a part of this sport, and will continue to give all that I am for as long as I can! Oh and Fuck Action Sports. I Rollerblade!