THE STUFF YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT: JEREMY WRAY

If there’s one thing you don’t get in skateboard interviews these days, it’s honesty. So our heart sang when Jeremy talked openly about past company mishaps and tales without the usual industry sugarcoating or asskissing. The guy is a damn living legend, from his positive attitude and modesty, to his maniac skateboarding and criminally underrated career. He’s unfuckablewith. Before there were dudes like Corey Duffel, jumping big gaps with spike belts and costumes there was Jeremy Wray, in a T-Shirt and jeans – And he was doing it bigger and better than everyone else.

Whats up with you? You’re on Element, but I rarely hear or see any coverage of you….
As far as Element goes, they just tapered off doing anything with me. It started years ago with not getting sent to contests. I thought “no big deal,” I don’t really love skating those things anyway. Then it was getting sent on less trips, and eventually no trips. Then they would film entire Element videos without ever calling me once to film anything. I got a single phone call when they were editing one of the videos and they just asked if I had any footage.

Do you still have a pro deck on Element?
They had a graph showing all their riders board sales and whether they were on the rise or slowing down. The people who’s board sales were slipping, they produced less of while the people on the rise got more models for sale. Needless to say, everyone on the low end got sent in an unrecoverable direction of little to no board sales at all. In the end my board stopped being produced all together.

I tried my best to stay loyal to the brand and keep a good working relationship despite the hardships but in the end I was loyal to a fault and in hind sight I should have left years ago at the first sign of regression on their part. I missed out on a lot of good years of filming, skating, shooting photos and being productive just by sticking with the Element program and not making the hard decision to do something about it. Live and learn I guess.

If Element wasn’t working with you, didn’t that motivate you to go out, film stuff and approach them? Show them you were still producing stuff?
For a while I tried to force it. Keep shooting photos and filming regardless of Element or other sponsors. But when no one wants to run it as even an ad it starts to get discouraging. Like when I backside 180d the long fountain gap in Barcelona on an Element trip and Element passed on the opportunity to run the sequence as an ad it’s just like, if this isn’t good enough, what do you want? So I stopped trying as hard to fight for the respect from them I felt I had earned and just accept the future, whatever it might be. I’m thankful for all the good years with them when the team was stacked with heavy hitters like Kenny Hughes, Reese Forbes, Donny Barley, and many more.


This trick Element didn’t want to use as an ad?
Yep. That was the one alright. Blew me away that they passed on the sequence. Luckily ADIO was more than happy to swoop it up and run it, but it still is mind boggling to me. It was then that I realized that things were never going to get any better for me over at Element. I just couldn’t picture picking up and leaving and riding for someone else. Didn’t feel right.

Why do you think you never get offered to ride for the new Plan B?
When I heard Plan B was coming back I was stoked for Danny and Colin. We were all really bummed when it went out if business in the first place. I would have never quit Plan B. I was surprised that I didn’t get a call to join them when they started it back up, but maybe they figured I was all set up over at Element. Who knows. You’ll have to ask Danny and Colin to find out the answer to that one. I was happy to hear Duffy rejoined the team. There’s still hope that we might all be under the same roof again in the future. I guess we’ll just have to see. If it’s meant to be it will happen.

So what are you doing now?
I’m still skating a lot and I’m far from done. A few new sponsors and a crew that’s down to skate and film with is all it would take to step right back into the productive skate life roll again. I’m still optimistic about the future and am always looking forward to the next session. The current project is filming for the Bones Wheels video when I’m not working with the Built To Shred guys. With any luck I’ll be able to put together a part for the video and get the ball rolling toward a full blown comeback.

Were you the first to grind up a handrail?
Grinding up that handrail was super sketchy at first. As far as I know it was the first rail ever to be grinded up. I was skating with Jerry Fowler that day, he actually tried it first and got me to try it with him. I ended up getting the hang of it and got a 50-50 up it. Pat Channita grinded up it a few weeks later too. I went back with Atiba while we were shooting for an interview and I was able to get a couple nose grinds up it. You have to give it up to Leo Romero. The rails he has grinded up are really gnarly. The slams look brutal!

Why were you banned from Thrasher Magazine back in the day?
Fausto Vitello (owner of Thrasher, Deluxe Distribution..etc) was the distributor of Race Wheels, which was a wheel company owned and managed by Mark Oblow. The ban from Thrasher stemmed from when Mark Oblow left Race Wheels to start Color Skateboards with Rich Metiver (Who also owned Union Wheels).

As a result of him leaving, myself and everyone else that rode for Color ended up being banned from Thrasher. Originally Mark and Rich were trying to force all the Color riders to leave their wheel sponsors too and get on Union wheels as part of the deal. I stuck to my guns and stayed on Spitfire.

After riding for Spitfire for 8 years, I got kicked off anyway when I left Thunder trucks to try out a new company called Destructo trucks. [note: Thunder, Spitfire are both under Deluxe distribution] The worst part of all of this was that they kicked my brother Jonas off Thunder and Spitfire because I left to try Destructo. That sucked. I had to break the news to him, they didn’t even call him. If I had known that all that was going to happen, I would have just rolled with Thunder and Spitfire and kept my mouth shut. Another tough lesson.

But later you were unbanned from Thrasher after you did the water tower ollie?
I guess the photographer, Daniel Harold Sturt, was also banned from Thrasher for reasons unknown to me. Sturt had the water tower photos of me and photos of Danny Way jumping out of the helicopter the first time. Transworld was covering Danny’s shoot, so Sturt snuck in, shot the photos without ever being seen, and talked to Thrasher about running his photos and beating Transworld to the punch. My photo jumping the water towers was all part of that deal too. I believe it’s all in the same issue. But the Water Tower cover photo lifted both of our bans for good.

You are 37 now, can you physically still do it, skate big gaps and stuff how you used to?
I am physically able to do anything I choose on a skateboard. Big gaps are still in my future, but I have to pick and choose my battles a little more carefully. If there’s an ad due or an interview to shoot for, then you step it up and get stuff you will be proud of. Your day to day routine might be just cruising some flatground, ledges or a park just to stay warm. Any day on my board is a good day. My biggest obstacle has been finding people to skate with or anybody who is down to film. My crew that I grew up with has grown out of the daily skate rat routine and everybody works real jobs. I’d love to link up with the guys that are still out there doing it everyday, but without having sponsors in common, it’s a little tougher to justify tagging along on other peoples sessions. I still cruise with the Girl and Chocolate guys every chance I get. Go film for a day on whatever they might be skating. It’s always a good time.

Do you feel like an underrated skater?
I grew up skating with Gino, Keenan, Jonas [Wray] and [Jason] Dill, so it’s no surprise to me that I shared a similar path of being slightly underground despite all the filming for videos and shooting photos for the magazines. I think we just came from a different generation in skateboarding. I guess a lot of my video parts are just before most of the kids time that are skating today, but if they do a little digging, they’ll find some fun parts that they never knew existed. Happy hunting…

Anything else?
Skateboarding is still very much a part of my life and if I get the chance to shoot and film for sponsors again, I will gladly accept the challenge and enjoy the ride.


Words: Ian Michna
Illustration: Mikey Giurato
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Comments

  1. Chris Durand:

    One of the best ever, always wondered why Element never ran anything new with him, another reason why Element is so fucking lame. Sucks Appleyard joined but I understand the money thing and he is has a mortgage. Also wondered why he was not on the new Plan B thing. Hope to see J Wray in the future.

  2. assbandit:

    I always thought that he was just slowing down and didn’t produce as much, but element forever had his back regardless. Come to find out it’s the exact opposite! Further goes to show that no ‘core’ skater should ever support element and anything related. I can’t wait for more footage, and him being hooked up with a company that believes in his status as a legend to elevate skateboarding once again.

  3. mike:

    fuck element, man.

  4. JWray is Legend:

    Thrasher featured J Wray’s Plan B part (with the long opener to Carlsbad Gap) and it was well received in the comments. As it should be. Great style, huge tricks, line flow.

    I hope he gets a second chance to shine. Board sales are tough for anybody known by 12-15 year olds. But I am sure Jeremy would be great on tours and demos. Hard worker. True skate love. And no apparent drug issues.

    Triple double props for Jenkem. You never fail to post relevant skate news/topics/humor. Screen some decks and sign JW as your first pro. Then call Danny Gonzales. Screen shapes in 8.25″-8.5″ wide and I’d order one of each immediately. Like the “Guest Pro” models by Krooked but minus BS shenaningans (damn love/hate with Deluxe after hearing how both were shafted). You can feature exclusive videos and help these guys find a home with solid brands.

    It is nice being a bit older and having funds to buy cool gear. When that money goes towards legit companies and respectable pros, all the better. A Jenkem collab paired with legendary (but currently unpromoted) skaters would be dy-no-mite!

  5. JWray is Legend:

    Correction:
    “NOT” known by 12-15 year olds.

    Mobile device. Hard to spot errors.

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