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vol 6 - issue 02 (oct 2003) :: interviews
JASON LEE - THE 2ND INTERVIEW
interview by insane wayne chinsang
illustration by fphatty lamar

IN 1996 PRO SKATER JASON LEE STEPPED AWAY FROM SKATING AND HIS BUSINESS, STEREO SKATEBOARDS, TO PURSUE AN ACTING CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD. FINDING HIS GROOVE IN KEVIN SMITH FILMS, JASON QUICKLY BECAME A HOUSEHOLD NAME, NOW KNOWN PRIMARILY FOR HIS SECOND CAREER. BUT OVER THE YEARS HE HAS BECOME NOSTALGIC FOR THOSE DAYS OF OLD. SO IT WAS APPROPRIATE WHEN HE DECIDED TO REEMBRACE THE WORLD OF SKATING AND START UP STEREO SKATEBOARDS ONCE MORE. JASON DISHES THE DIRT TO WAYNE IN HIS SECOND INTERVIEW WITH TASTES LIKE CHICKEN.

Wayne: I know you left Stereo in 1996 to pursue your acting career, but your business partner, Chris (Pastras), kept it going for a few years after you left. What was the cause for its eventual demise in 2000?

Jason: Chris has been quoted as saying, “You can’t have Lennon without McCartney, Beavis without Butt-Head.”

W: How did you guys decide to start it back up?

J: I saw Steve Berra at a birthday party, and he and I started talking about skating and how much fun it would be to skate together. I hadn’t really skated much in the eight years that I had been out of the game. It was my first time really thinking about the idea of skating again. He set me up with a board, and we skated at his indoor skate park.

W: Was it weird at first?

J: Yes, it was very awkward at first. But it was really, really fun. So much so that I knew I’d keep at it for as long as these old bones could stand it. After a while, I told Chris that I had been skating. Of course, he was really excited. So we started talking about the return of Stereo almost immediately. After only about three or four weeks we had a deal put together with Giant Distribution. Our boards will be out very soon. It’s pretty amazing to think that this all may not have happened had I not run into Steve at that birthday party that I didn’t even want to go to.

W: Since you had so much time away from skating, can you now just skate for fun? Or is it hard, even now, to do it strictly as a recreational thing?

J: The beauty of it was that I felt like I was 16 again. I was skating without thinking of sponsorship or “turning pro” or anything like that. I was just skating for fun-- the way I did before I even knew about the professional world of skateboarding. I was trying new tricks with no pressure. People weren’t watching the old man anymore. I had been out of the game long enough to not be noticed. I could just skate without any expectations.

W: During Stereo's first run, the world of skating was just starting to become very commercial and popular. And now Stereo is back in a day and age of skating video games and huge events, like the X Games and Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam. Do you think that, although it was in hiatus and you were away from it, Stereo will have been able to change with the sport? Or is there any element of stranger in a strange land to it?

J: There's always a stranger in a strange land element, but never too much of a stranger; to be on the outside just enough to be able to look in and be the appropriate influence where others seem to just not get it. It’s never cool to try and be too much on the outside, because people just get turned off. Just as it’s never cool to be too much of a conformist. The original Stereo was always right there in the middle, and so here we are once more.

W: What will be done differently with this incarnation of Stereo?

J: Basically, it'll be the same. A little tighter, a little more organized-- but the spirit will always remain. We basically started where we left off back in 1995 and 1996.

W: Out of what I've read about Stereo now, it sounds like you and Chris are primarily trying to stay true to the sport of skating, and push it as a fun thing to be a part of. Do you think some of that message gets lost in skating today?

J: Unfortunately, that message is lost on a lot of people who are just simply too consumed by what they see around them everyday. If Stereo can make an impact where it counts, then so much the better. The people who get it, get it. The people who don’t, don’t. And that is when you know you’re doing the right thing.

W: You skate, act, and do photography. And now you're going to be able to marry all of those worlds together. I read that your photographs are going to adorn some of the boards, and with skating video work, it seems like you've got the best of all worlds. Do you like blurring the lines between all that you do? Or do you think of all of those things as being very separate?

J: All the same. Art is art and should be blended as often as possible. I think Stereo is much more of a creative outlet for me now. I feel more connected to it now than I did back then.

W: Is there a Stereo team ready?

J: Not quite yet, but we’re certainly working on it for Spring 2004.

W: With skating more and more lately, is it starting to all flood back to you? And do you get nostalgic for the old Stereo days?

J: Yeah. The good times feel like they have returned. I'm just a bit older and wiser now, and I'm more useful with my time. For a while there I couldn’t watch A Visual Sound (Stereo's skate video from 1994) without getting really, really sad. I’d miss Chris and “those days”. I'd feel old, and feel like I had abandoned Chris and skateboarding altogether. I eventually just had to shrug it off and carry on. I don’t have to do that now, because I’m once again a part of something that at one time was more important to me than I thought.

W: I know there are plans to place A Visual Sound on DVD in the near future. Are there plans for all-new skate videos in the works?

J: Yeah. We definitely want to make new videos. I can’t wait to get into that side of skateboarding again. Mine and my lady’s production company, niva films, will have its name on the Stereo videos, which will be cool. I think with that kind of relationship, we’ll be able to explore more than just the skating market for our videos.

W: I'm sure some people saw you leaving skating as you being bored with it. Do you think people will see this renewal in interest in the skate world as you being bored with acting?

J: No. Wouldn’t bother me, though, as I still very much love acting, and definitely plan on continuing to pursue it.

W: Lastly, you're going to be a father very soon. Are you going to teach your son how to do a 360 flip?

J: Damn straight.

READ OUR FIRST INTERVIEW WITH JASON HERE.

VISIT STEREO SKATEBOARDS HERE.

VISIT NIVA FILMS HERE.

PURCHASE ITEMS BY JASON LEE


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