A lot has been made of the fact that Sebo Walker lives in a van. I think it’s because it scares us.
It’s strange to think that this is what it might take to “make it” in skateboarding, that we would have to move our home each night and piss in bottles in order to make strides into pro-world. It might in fact be true, but when Sebo Walker talks about it, it doesn’t seem so bad. He stays healthy, sleeps well, doesn’t pay rent and spends his days like we all wished we could; out in the sun, skateboarding with friends. It might not be the TV version of it, but perhaps Sebo Walker is actually living the American Dream.
You just turned Am for Krooked. Do you ever look at any of these new crazy parts, like the Nyjah part and just bug out? Thinking, like, “Oh if I can’t do that, I’m fucked.”
Uhh, no… I would definitely say I can’t do that [laughs]. I don’t really relate to it in anyway. I think that more than half of the world of skateboarding would rather watch Aaron Herrington do a boardslide tailgrab off of a tall handrail. Most people would rather see something stylish and unique. This is not to discredit Nyjah at all. He’s insane, he’s incredible. I watched that part and it’s like watching Superman fly or something. It’s something I’m never gonna be able to do. It’s definitely amazing to watch, but personally, I’m more stoked on unique stylish skateboarding.
So you think there’s a market out there for everyone and all types of skating? Not just Nyjah Superman?
Yeah yeah. I mean you can only do so much. In reality, El Toro’s been kickflipped. Nyjah’s nosegrinded probably like a 28. Jaws ollied off of like a seven story apartment complex. The bar is so high. Like I’m not gonna go out there and break my kneecaps just to try and be relevant for two minutes to whatever percentage of people that are looking at my footage. I could watch Mark Suciu skate in person, and be more content than seeing with that than any hammer part that ever comes out online. He has good style, good trick selection, and is an amazing skateboarder. He’s not huckin’ it or trying to be the best or the biggest, he’s just skating how he skates. I appreciate that. I kinda feel like it’s going in a circle, where skateboarding is getting so gnarly that we’re going back to the olden days, when Keenan Milton could switch-flip or switch-krook and just by watching the way that he does it, you would get you hyped to skate.
”I’m not gonna go out there and break my kneecaps just to try and be relevant for two minutes.”
I’m not gonna watch Nyjah’s part to get hyped to skate. Maybe it does get some kids hyped but imagine growing up and watching that part and being like, okay, I’m gonna go out and grind a 25 rail. You could watch somebody having fun instead and be like whoa, this looks like the dopest thing ever. Which is why I started skating. When I saw Rodney Mullen in Round 2 and he was doing crazy stuff on flatground, even though that was way over my head, it also looked fun and interesting. It seemed like something I would actually want to practice.
Would you ever draw lines with sponsorship choices? Would you ride for a cigarette company or energy drinks.
Nah, I don’t think that I would do that honestly. Obviously there is the money factor, it seems like the dudes that jump on those are actually making a good amount of money and are chilling. But I’m never one to ever do something just because of money. It seems weird, like the worst kind of sellout I feel like. You have to promote something that you know is not gonna be healthy or good for kids. I had an opportunity to ride for Mountain Dew – they wanted to be on the AMforce team – where Paul Rodriguez picked me out of a couple of guys. I was like 15 or something. I just ended up having to tell the lady that I couldn’t do it. It just seemed funny, my first paid sponsor being Mountain Dew… I don’t even drink Mountain Dew you know? Then just talking to this lady on the phone like, we will give you a couple hundred bucks a month, you just have to slap a Mountain Dew sticker on your board… and at that point I was just like, this has nothing to do with skateboarding, so I had to kind of decline and tell the lady that I didn’t feel like it was my style.
”I ride for a company called Drink Water. It’s just an anti-energy drink company. I don’t get money, I didn’t ask for money, I just represent.”
I ride for a company called Drink Water. It’s just an anti-energy drink company. I don’t get money, I didn’t ask for money, I just represent. Basically all it is, is saying, drink water. They don’t make bottled water, they just promote this simple idea. People love it, it’s just a good reminder cause you can never really drink too much water. I’m just not the type of person that would ride for someone or a company that I didn’t personally back and believe in. I’m stoked to try to be a good role model in skateboarding. There’s a lot of not necessarily bad role models, but there are negative things that can be brought up or whatever when we talk about the world of skateboarding.
Why is being a good role model important to you?
Well, it’s a pretty cool position to be in, especially if you’re pro. I mean it’s almost like, anything you do, the kids will want to do. Dudes I would look up to – I remember Mark Appleyard had a spike belt in one of the Sorry videos and as funny as it sounds, I just wanted it. I thought that was cool because he was wearing it. I feel like you just have that influence and it’s pretty powerful, so you can take advantage of that and promote good things like taking good care of your body or drinking water, eating healthy, things like that. Kids are really impressionable and it’s cool to be able to have them inspired by what you do.
Walk me through an average day in your life living in a van.
I get up at like 7:30am in the van and it’ll be like a sauna. Every morning I go to a coffee shop called 8 Espressos and I paint various grip tape projects. If you want some signature griptape hit me up. A kid can like have a favorite cartoon character and I can go and draw it. I kinda just started it to have a little thing on the side, but now it’s like I have a lot or orders. I just run it on my iPhone. I was always artistic growing up, always painting in high school stuff. It keeps my art skills on because it expands the variety of things I would paint. I spend a couple hours on that, charge my phone, and then go skate. By the time I’m done, I’m just super psyched to skate. Then at 10 or 11, I go to Stoner skatepark. And then it depends – I’ve been working on a video called Rat Poison, and there’s the Krooked thing – I’ll usually skate stoner and warmup and then go out with whatever filming crew I’m meeting up with. Then I go to the gym at night and that’s pretty much it. Trying to keep my body in good condition so I can skate til I’m 35 or something. Just basic. Simple day.
”I’m kinda scared to find an actual place now cause I love the van so much.”
Tell me about coming out to California and chasing the dream.
I basically took this opportunity that my friend gave me. I got the offer to ride out to LA and stayed here for a couple years… I was basically just skating all the time, fully on the grind. It was hard though, when you’re just an unknown skater, it’s really difficult to meet up with a photographer. Cause they wanna shoot people that are known and profitable. What you need to do is to get photos and coverage, so it was really tricky. I was inspired to shoot all these things, but it was difficult sometimes to get someone to shoot them. It is tricky because the photographers can make money off the skater and the sponsors that want to buy the photo for the ad… that whole process. I think it’s all about connections and networking and being personable. Be modest and be yourself, but yeah it’s all about connections when you’re flow.
I couch-surfed and sacrificed a lot of things for a good amount of time, but that was just my personal choice. I wanted to chase that dream like a lot of people do. I was hardly making any money or able to eat sometimes. You find that friends and family always come through for you. I lived though a pretty long struggle period before I started to see somethings panning out.
Do you like living in the van? How did it become your permanent home?
Everything fell into place after I got the van, it molded this really good schedule for me. I simultaneously got the gym membership when I got the van, and then I was taking care of my body and skating better. It just fits perfectly with skateboarding. You know I don’t watch TV or anything, but when I’m painting, or reading, or trying to catch up with the world, I just get a good nights sleep in the van, so I’m able to save a little bit of money. I feel like people don’t think it’s real. Like maybe that a lot of kids think that the van thing is just a gimmick to get some sort of recognition or something but in reality I wish that nobody knew and it was just my own secret thing where I didn’t pay rent, went to the gym at night etc… but it’s different you know, people are interested in it because it’s unique, that’s why the magazines and the media focus on it. Which is cool, it’s funny, that was not the intention at all, it started literally to make sure I was safe at night.
In the middle of the night what happens if you have to take a shit?
Yeah, that’s never happened to me before. I take care of business at the gym, so I’ve never run into that situation, but the gym is open until 12 and if it was after that, I would just go to a gas station or a restaurant or something.
How do you wash your clothes?
I have a friend who lets me use their washer, or I’ll go to a laundromat. Then I dry my clothes on the fence at Stoner skatepark. They get nice and crispy.
It’s a pretty small Van though right?
Yeah, the mattress fits perfectly. I kinda like that. It is illegal and I wanna be discreet. I’m not doing anything weird. I wake up, I look around, then I jump in the front seat. Then I go to the coffee shop. I’m not getting wasted and throwing stuff. I’m not peeing on people’s houses. Which I feel like some people who live in their cars do. It’s not the most normal crowd that chooses that path. It’s funny because it was literally my mom’s idea. She hated the fact that sometimes I didn’t know where I’d sleep at night. You know, she’s a mom, it’s not a comforting thing to have on your mind, that her son may not know where he’s sleeping tonight. They got a van for free and she said “if you ever end up not having somewhere to sleep, you can just go in the van.” I’m kinda scared to find an actual place now cause I love the van so much.
You are 25 and just turning Am for Krooked. Isn’t that a bit old to be turning Am?
Actually, I think that a lot of older dudes would think that it’s dope and respect it. You know like with Brian Delatorre, he turned pro at like 26 or 27 or something. That’s dope. But I could see how people could think that for sure. A Man-Am. I’m stoked to be a Man-Am as opposed to the Man-Flow that I was. Personally I feel as healthy as I’ve ever been, I’m stoked to just keep doing what I’m doing. I mean I used to think about it all the time, like, is this ridiculous that I’m still doing this? But yeah like I said, I just personally feel good about it.
Do you feel like you are living the American dream?
I don’t know about the American dream, but some sort of branched off version of the American skateboarder dream… I think.. could be yeah.
Check out more of the Jenkem Interviews.
Words: Ian Michna
Photography courtesy of: Gabe Morford & Deluxe.
Special Thanks: Morley Musick
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February 3, 2014 4:10 pm
Great interview. I love hearing some one speak their mid instead of giving a one or two sentenced canned response.
Thanks for realizing that you do have the power to influence people, and just living a life you’re proud of and letting people take it as they will.
February 3, 2014 5:01 pm
http://www.wedrinkwater.com/ if anyone else was also looking for it
February 3, 2014 7:30 pm
probly not a chill idea to put out a pic with his license plate, blowing up his cover…