After breaking on to the scene in the early 2000’s with his mix of tech-gnar skating and an over the top personality, Braydon Szafranski became a fan favorite early on in his career. Despite going through three knee surgeries over the past several years Braydon put out four video parts, was in a season of Street League and was featured in the video game Skate 3.
Though it was a shock to see Braydon released from Emerica a few years back (especially considering that he had two pro model shoes), the bigger blow came a few months ago when Baker Skateboards suddenly dropped Szafranski along with Jeff Lenoce, Shane Heyl and Kevin “Spanky” Long from the pro ranks, leaving many to speculate to why. I spoke with Braydon to shed some light on what actually went down with Baker, touring with Lil Wayne and what he has in the works.
It seems that some riders were recently dropped from the pro ranks of Baker. How did the whole situation take place?
What happened with Baker was kind of in-house. It’s not really a talked about situation that the whole world doesn’t need to know yet.
Did you see it coming or was it out of the blue when it happened?
It was 100% a kick in the teeth, out of the blue.
So is everyone with Baker still cool or is there any kind of awkwardness?
If you really want to know, they are still my family. Everyone is like, “They’re still my brothers, it’s my life.” It all happened because Baker was struggling, you know what I mean? Skateboarding, the era that we’re in, it’s like we’re struggling… they were trying to make it something, because if we’re not we’re closing the doors in six months.
So it was more or less a kick in the face, but it wasn’t at the same time. It wasn’t like we got kicked off, we just got demoted and that was because Reynolds needed to do what he could to make sure that the company is going to survive. I mean, I love friends and family to death, but that’s the thing; business is way different than friends and family. He had to do what he had to do to make sure Baker could still be a company and not a dream or talked about thing.
So are you going to stick around and get the “bro flow” or are you going to pursue different avenues?
Well don’t get me wrong, I still ride for Baker, it’s still my family. It’s my life. We all just took a step to the side. It sucks because of the way that it was portrayed in fucking Thrasher and everything else. Nobody really knows. They think that everything went sour, but it’s not like that. Don’t get me wrong, of course Andrew and I talked about how I could get on another company, technically, but I don’t even know if I want to do that because I’m Baker for life. It’s my family, it’s my blood.
With skating being as big as it is, on TV and being as publicly accepted as ever why do you feel that’s not translating to the skate industry as a whole with teams cuts and downsizing happening so much these days?
I don’t know, it’s weird because skating is at the highest that it has ever been and there is more money in skateboarding then there has ever been but I feel like it’s all in major corporations. All the core shops, core companies owned by skaters I think they are just getting pounded by corporations that make mass amounts, can make it a little cheaper. So that’s one of the things that’s hurting for people like us [Baker], but at the same time it is kind of helping making it what it is today. It’s like a win-lose situation both ways, what are you going to do?
”Andrew and I talked about how I could get on another company, technically, but I don’t even know if I want to do that because I’m Baker for life.”
What are your feelings on Riley Hawk being turned pro after the recent drops from the team?
I think that it’s fantastic. He’s part of the new generation and exactly what Baker needs. They need to have these kids who are the out there in the magazines every day and killing it. So I tip my hat to Riley, he is on fire right now. I think this is exactly what he should be doing and what Baker should be doing, and turning him pro was a smart idea.
You’ve been without a shoe sponsor for a while, do you have anything going on in that department?
Yup, I just got on Supra. I signed my contracts, did all that shit. It’s weird, like I just did all of that last week and I ride for Supra now, but I can’t really explain it to you. The world will have to wait to see what happens. There’s so many things that I have in store now that blows everything away, like it’s time to show the world what time it is and where my mind is. I want it to leak out in the right ways and not in shitty ways, so I’ll do it slowly, slowly, slowly.
What’s up with Happy Hour shades?
Happy Hour Shades are the coolest glasses that you’ll ever put on your face. They’ll pretty much make everybody look like a million dollars.
Do you have any ownership stake in that?
Yeah. Bryan Herman and I pretty much own the entire company.
How did this whole thing come about?
It was the idea of this guy Josh Hamberg and one of my best friends, Flip Nasty (Phillip Nash). They have some of the best marketing, best everything, they’re just straight geniuses / our best friends and they know what they’re doing. They’ll sell you a fucking dream no matter what it is. They could put a piece of shit in a bag and turn around and sell it to you, it’s crazy.
Herman and I put down the dough and did what we had to do. And it’s not like we’re trying to sell shit product – we’re selling very good quality sunglasses for the dumbest, cheapest price we possibly can – and the whole concept of the company is to have fun man. It’s about Happy Hour, that’s the reason why we made it, we believe in doing you, being true, and having fun.
I saw on your Instagram that you were on tour recently with Lil Wayne. How did that all come about?
Yeah, well Weezy’s my good homie and we were just talking one day and he asked me what I was doing and I said nothing and he said, “Do you want to jump on this trip tomorrow?” So I said “Okay, sure,” not really thinking anything of it. A couple of hours later I get a phone call from his manager saying that my flight is in six hours [laughs]. So I went to Europe for a month and ended up living life like a rockstar. We were basically doing everything that we usually do, but on a way different scale. Traveling with those guys is like traveling with Baker, except it was like the “Seven Star Hotel Tour.” We traveled around Europe, stayed in all five star hotels and did the dumbest things you could do. That’s all I can tell you because the rest of the shit that actually happened is a little too sketchy for people to know.
Did you skate with Lil Wayne on tour?
Everyday. That’s why he took me with him. It was about having the time of my life. We rented out the biggest skate parks in every country every night, or went street skating and did everything you could possibly do just to have the best time. Wayne really wanted to show me. He said, “Skateboarding has really changed my life and made me the happiest person in the world and I want to show you what I do in this world and how much fun you can have.” And, holy shit, what happens on these stages and the after stage or whatever… My god, these fuckers live the life.
He’s portrayed in the media as a big party guy, drinking sizzurp all the time, is he really like that?
Nah, he doesn’t drink sizzurp any more because last year some shit happened, whatever. It’s like everybody else, you get older and realize some of the shit you did as a kid was fun as a kid, but it’s time to grow up and take care of yourself.
What was your average day on tour with Lil Wayne like?
There was no average day really. On the days that he had a show we just hung out and did whatever all daylong until 7:45, then they had a car service pick us up. We would go straight to the show, to the green room and chill. He had ramps and everything set up at his shows, and there were like four or five people there who would skate it. There was no responsibility for me as far as skating it, but I would go out there every once in a while and skate because it’s fun as fuck. It’s funny when you get out there in front of so many people and do really hard tricks and just slam, laugh with all the homies. Eat shit or land something that was impossible in front of 40,000 people. Afterward we would get rushed straight back to the hotel where we’d figure out what parks were around to see if we were going skating or what we were doing for the night. Then late that night like at 4 or 5 in the morning we’d go to the bus and drive to the next country. Days off we would just skate all day and do whatever we wanted.
Why do you think Wayne is so passionate about showing everyone the he loves skating so much? Especially with all the videos and publicity that comes out of him skating?
I think that the whole world follows whatever he does. If you have that many people following you and you’re skating every single day, people are going to notice what the fuck you are doing. I think all the publicity just came with that. He likes to help out skating, he’s put his money into it, built skateparks for it, done everything. He’s just trying to give back to the industry because like anything, if you love it so much, why wouldn’t you want to?
You’ve been known in the past to have pictures with your tongue out and it was your first board graphic. Do you think Miley Cyrus is an undercover Braydon fan with her always wagging her tongue?
Miley Cyrus just wishes she was me. Fuck yeah, she tried to take my shit, and I see what time it is. I’m going to take that girl out, yeah you’ll see. By this time next year, the Miley Cyrus stories that we’ll have are going to be disgusting.
”I’m escalating at such a high rate I don’t even know what to do with myself.”
In the early 2000’s there was kind of a Vegas invasion on the industry [Braydon, Matt Ball, Ragdoll, Vinny Vegas and Sean Eaton] and throughout the years you’re the last one standing despite being portrayed as the bigger party animal. Why do you think you outlasted the rest?
I don’t know how to answer that question, I really don’t know. That’s really one of the best questions that I have ever been asked, but I don’t feel like I have enough balls to tell you the real answers.
All I can say is that my reign ain’t done, if anything it just started to get crackin’ off. In the next couple of years I’m going to show the world that we ain’t slowing down, that’s for damn sure. If anything, I’m escalating. I’m escalating at such a high rate I don’t even know what to do with myself.