Let the internet rumor mill tell it, Spencer Hamilton is one smooth skateboarder with some wild opinions. The Supra skater has gone on record pontificating about everything from the evils of genetically-modified food to the failings of the education system. You name it, he’s got something to say about it. There’s something about hearing such a young dude put forth such a strong point of view, something that makes people want to shout, “What the hell do you know, chump?”
So we hit up Spenny (as he is sometimes called) to grill him on his vegetarian, cigarette smoking, Canadian ways, curious to find out if we would see eye to eye on some of these topics. After getting through this interview our mind opened a bit, and, after reading through it below, you too might come to a newfound respect for the man. Sure, his actions may occasionally contradict his ideals, but whose don’t? Spencer, it seems, is smart enough to be investigating his own beliefs, and self-aware enough to know living up to them is easier said than done.
As a vegetarian, do you take more shits as a result of your diet?
Well of course. If you think of your body as a giant juicer, it only makes sense. If you throw an 8 oz. steak down that juicer every day, it’s probably going to get clogged up. It’s not some sort of rocket science. Obviously, if you eat vegetarian it’s going to pass a whole lot faster through you, especially if you eat stuff like sauerkraut and kimchi that’ll help your gut and your digestion. I think if you want to lose weight, obviously that should be the first thing you do, go vegan. Shitting is way easier when you’re more hydrated and eating foods that are more easily digestible.
People tend to just drink coffee and eat a bunch of meat in the morning and then your body is just set up for disaster. Making the switch from coffee to green tea is painfully boring, but over time you’re like, “Oh, this is actually much better. I don’t feel weird or jittery or dehydrated.”
So many professional skaters seem to do yoga. What’s the attraction or benefit?
It depends on what kind of yoga you do. I only practice Bikram, which is an hour and a half in 105 degrees, so it’s hot as shit. It’s awesome for balance, it’s great for spinal strength and decompression, you get stretching in there. It’s kind of an all around thing that it’s almost perfect for undoing all the imbalances you build from skateboarding. Now I feel like since I’ve been doing it there are tricks where I’m like, “This used to feel super awkward and now I feel way more comfortable trying it,” which is nice cause you get stuck in these ruts from the repetition of your own bodily movements. I wish I started doing it earlier. It’s the perfect complement for skating.
You ever farted in yoga class?
Not anything audible yet [laughs]. It’s kind of one of those things where it’s a matter of time, but I’ve had a couple people near me let some out and you just gotta be like, “Welp, it is what it is.” It’s bound to happen at some point.
On your Instagram I saw that you can do a full split. Does that mean you can give yourself head?
Jesus… Nah, I can’t even do the full split. It’s almost there, that pic was a bit of an optical illusion.
People seem to criticize you for encouraging healthy eating because you also smoke cigarettes and drink a lot.
Well, that’s a totally fair and valid point. If you know me, I don’t pretend to be some sort of angel. And in these interviews, people are asking you questions and you’re giving your thoughts. Sometimes it’s a bit out of context. Am I absolutely perfect with no vices? No. Am I continuously trying to be better? Yeah. So, when it all started, I was drinking a ton, doing drugs, smoking cigs, doing it all. I was living it up. But I still had this thing that I’m interested in, and so people asked me about it, so I shared my thoughts. Would I be better off now had I not been doing all that stuff? In some ways for sure, but in another way I learned a lot of stuff from that lifestyle
I don’t mind getting criticized for stuff like that cause I’m not perfect. It is a valid point to make. I wish I never started smoking. I’m 27, I’ve got plenty of time, no rush, I’m figuring things out for myself. I don’t like being the guy who smokes because I know that influences other people and I think that’s an awful thing because that’s how I got into it. You see others and you think, “Oh, that’s cool,” then you’re ten years deep smoking cigarettes and you wasted a shit ton of money.
I’m not telling anyone how to live, you can eat whatever the fuck you wanna eat, it’s your choice. These are just my thoughts, someone asked me to share them, and that’s it.
You go back and forth between non-alcoholic and regular beer, right? Why’s that?
Most of it has to do with my fuckin’ body. I really like the taste of beer, but fuck, you know how skating is. Over years and years of touring and not giving a fuck, you develop a serious thirst. I’m not gonna lie, I obviously drank way more than is healthy, so getting away from that with the non-alcoholics definitely helped wean myself off from alcohol while still enjoying cold beer on a session. It kind of started before I got hurt just because I felt like I was drinking too much, and I moved in with my girlfriend which definitely helped tame the situation a little bit.
For a while, and still, I definitely struggled with a certain amount of, I guess, alcoholism or something. I feel like now, it’s been a couple of years of drinking the non-alcoholic beer and not drinking nearly as much as I used to and taking weeks and months off, which is something I never would have done before. It’s hard to break that cycle. Before it was almost out of necessity and now it’s actually out of enjoyment. Things change, you know? People change. I just kind of feel like I moved on.
How much were you drinking at your heaviest point?
Shit, when I was going it was kind of morning, noon and night. Mostly just beers. Anywhere from 6 to 18 a day, with the exception of being absolutely sick where I can’t even drink one. For a while I wouldn’t even take any days off and just struggle through a beer if I was sick or something. You kind of feel like you’re floating through life at a point. Which you are… you’re floating through on a high.
The immigration site for Canada crashed the day of the US presidential election. Do you think there will be an influx of people moving to Canada now that Trump is President?
Yeah, I heard about that. It’s kind of one of those things that has a lot of shock value to it, like, “Holy shit! The site crashed! There must be tons of people trying to immigrate to Canada!” But only time will really tell if people are actually trying to move here and whether or not people are successfully moving. Are people actually going to move their entire lives up to a different country just because of one guy and a four-year term? I think it’s just a bunch of hype. Everyone is just pissed off with the election so they’re kind of jumping to things. I think that’s one of the huge issues with the States, that it’s all so different. The United States of America is almost like an oxymoron or something. It’s not united at all. Everyone wants something different.
What’s rent like up near you?
In Vancouver, I have a 1-bedroom with a solarium kind of thing and I pay $1,700 with all my bills included, like WiFi and all that.
”The United States of America is almost like an oxymoron. It’s not united at all.”
Do you think non-Americans have a harder time making it in the skate industry than Americans?
I think to a certain extent it’s our fault. It’s sad to say that Cliche just folded, but Europe has had a bit of an established skate world for a while. To a certain extent Canada has too, but not nearly on the same level. People that ride for Canadian brands aren’t getting paid. It would be cool to see a little more activity on that kind of end, locally. But again, the populations of Canada and the US are so different, so it’s quite a big difference when it comes to the economy and stuff like that.
I think there’s tons of talent here, so the issue isn’t so much with talent. I think a lot of people may have never even realized that Mark Appleyard is Canadian, or Rick Howard. I think it’s just an impossibility to think that Canadians are going to make it in the skate industry without being in the States. Obviously, you can get a video on Thrasher or a photo in a magazine, depending on who you know, but if you want to participate in the American market you have to be in America to a certain extent. If we want to succeed without America or less America, we’d have to do it our own way and start our own companies.
So is BC Bud really all it’s cracked up to be?
Yup, fuckin right. I mean compared to all over the world…
Well, then you have to factor in accessibility and prices and all that stuff. Quality of weed, I think it’s probably on par. I’ve never gotten anything in LA where I was like, “Oh my god! This is so much fuckin better than what we get up at home!” But I have gotten shit here where I’m like, “Fuck, I’ve never seen this in LA…” you know? And then it’s all half price here, basically.
So how much is like a quarter ounce of weed in Canada?
Well, back in the day I used to pay $50-60 for a quarter, but now since there’s so much weed around you can get a quarter for $40 of good weed, or you can get some crazy ass stuff for $70.
”Someone from anywhere in the fucking world can come down, walk into a dispensary, hand over their ID, and they’re buying weed immediately.”
Is it still just medical up there, or is it fully legal and recreational?
Well, we still have medical programs, but they’re kind of useless. I tried them for a couple of years just because you can fly around Canada with a bunch of weed and I found that quite convenient obviously, but otherwise it’s basically just a waste of time. You go to the doctors, give them $300 for the year, he writes you a prescription for a certain amount of weed per day, and then you’re allowed to carry a month’s supply. But then you have to sign up with these growers online, and say the doctor gives you 4 grams a day, then you can only get that much at a time. The whole thing is not all that convenient. I like smelling the weed, checking out the place, getting that whole vibe.
Then there’s a whole other gray area where there’s dispensaries all over Vancouver and some in Toronto and Montreal and Ottawa. You can just walk in with an ID and go to town. I think there are some restrictions on how much you can buy, but you can go and get that certain amount one day and then the next go back and get that amount again. It’s totally unregulated and a gray area of some sort of quasi-decriminalization meets legalization.
And when I say anyone can go in I mean anyone. Someone like you — from anywhere in the fucking world – can come down, walk into a dispensary, hand over their ID (if they even ask for it) and they’re buying weed immediately. It’s the fuckin’ wild, wild west right now, so people are capitalizing and there are sketchy ass dispensaries all over the place.
You’ve talked about the benefits of ginger root. What’s it good for?
On trips, when you’re just worn out from fuckin’ drinking and skating every god damned day, I think ginger definitely counteracts that as an anti-inflammatory. It’s something you can just have in your pocket and take a bite, like a little shot of life, you know? I just like it raw. Juicing it is good too, if you want to have a little shot of it with some cayenne. I don’t know if there’s a perfect way to consume it and I don’t think there’s one magical thing out there. I don’t love ginger any more than garlic or turmeric. Garlic is one where if you’re traveling the world and you’re not feeling so well and you’ve got a bulb of garlic on you, it’s gonna come in handy. It’ll make you feel a lot better.
What do you think is a good cheap breakfast alternative for people who want to be healthy?
One of my favorite things is just a salad with poached eggs. You can prepare it however you want, but with poached eggs on top you get the protein plus some nice fiber and a ton of stuff from the greens. A lot of people aren’t into having a salad for breakfast, but it kind of grows on you. And then, of course, fruit. Fruit isn’t going to sustain you for the entire day, but you should be having some fresh fruit when you wake up and going seasonal because it’s better. But telling someone to eat a certain thing, I feel like you’re missing the whole experience of it and the experience of cooking and your own tastebuds navigating the world of flavors.
There was a debate over what to call the trick you did over this picnic table, the 360 with the foot plant. Is it a no comply to you or not?
I call it a no comply. When I’m trying it, I’m trying a no comply as far as I’m concerned. I felt like I was getting upgraded when people were saying it was a footplant because that kind of means I was doing a clean back 360 over the table with a foot plant. But I’m not looking at it as a back 360, I’ve never landed a back 360 in my fuckin’ life.
It’s been some time since you left Expedition. What’s been going on since then?
Well, I’m getting boards from Alltimers, which is a company out of New York. They make good boards with hilarious graphics and a lot of the homies from Canada are on there. I like what they do. I just reached out to Price [co-founder of Alltimers] and he started giving me boards.
It’s kind of one of those things where right after I was like, “Fuck, do I want to get on a more mainstream board brand and get a paycheck?” But, the options I had weren’t really options that I wanted. With Expedition, they owe me like $10,000, so I was used to getting paid nothing from them for a while. It’s not like I was like, “Oh my god! Now I don’t have this board sponsor check anymore, I need something new!” I was already kind of used to the whole thing.
How much were you getting a month?
Well, I was getting $2,500 a month, then that got cut to $1,700, but we never got checks. Once it started going down we never got anymore checks. I got like two random checks for $1,000 out of the whole year.
Do you think that’s why so many people quit?
Yeah, I’d be surprised if anyone else had a different experience.
What do you think happened?
Well, at the end of the day, Expedition was a small company. DGK was a much bigger company. I think a lot of money that we were getting paid from was totally coming from DGK. I think they were just fortifying the Organika and Expedition budgets with DGK profits and then I think those started to dry up, so it all came crashing down.
Did you see Rodrigo TX’s vid of him throwing his board in the trash? How’d you feel about that as a sign off?
I think it definitely represents how he’s feeling and I’d have to say it represents how I was feeling, for sure. I felt like I was going to be at Kayo for life. All the homies were there, they obviously cared and were doing it right and it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere. It generally felt like they had your back, then all of a sudden things weren’t doing so well and the communication wasn’t doing so well and you’re kind of like, alright, one of them has to get better at least. The combination of no communication and no pay… Then you see others quitting and you’re like, well now I feel like an idiot if I stick around.
You have an Expedition tattoo, how do you feel about it now? Does it bum you out?
No, it’s not like that takes away from all the great experiences I had, by any means. It’s not like I look at the tattoo and think, “Fuck them, they owe me this amount of money.” Instead I think, “Wow, they took me to China, they gave me a shot back in the day, they turned me pro.” But then again, it’s like, who is “they?” “They” changed when all this stuff started happening. I think about the good “they” that were there four or five years ago…
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December 17, 2016 2:48 am
Hope his other sponsors are coming through with the cashflow. Lord knows Alltimers can’t even match them Kayo checks. R.I.P. Kayo.
DGK is gonna be in Walmart real soon.
December 17, 2016 7:40 pm
Speaking the truth only1nze , Skating is in a weird place right now. The skate industry has changed so much , a lot of it for the worse from my perspective. Spencer rips , I love his style but I really wonder if he will end with a board sponsor. The industry is facing big $$$ problems , a homie of mine at Tum Yeto was telling me that Foundation and Toymachine pay their riders $1200 a month. What is the point of being pro , if you can’t even afford to rent your own apartment.Skating is weird , because it seems on the surface to be more socially accepted but money wise the industry is shriviling. If people were aware how many dudes ride for free and just get product as payment , I think it would shock people ……
December 17, 2016 3:28 pm
Crazy to think that Stevie would allow so many of his brothers to get screwed over so bad. Stevie may be a legendary skater , but his character seems far from legendary.RIP Kayo, hope all the homies find an opportunity in the industry after this implosion.
December 17, 2016 7:10 pm
As someone who has worked for Kayo and has seen the company grow and then implode, here are my 2 cents. Prior to working at Kayo I was all anti Nike, Addidas,Convs. I had this idea that skater owned companies would treat riders well because these companies are rooted in skating. I learned first hand that this was false at least from what I witnessed at Kayo.So much of what Kayo did was just scummy….very much in the vain of wal mart….lying to riders about how much they would get paid, not paying riders b/c the boss just copped a Rolls Royce , forcing warehouse dudes to work overtime but only paying them for 7 1/2 hours.Jenkem rules imo because it shows the side that the industry and the mags don’t want to show.
December 18, 2016 12:13 am
Fuck-never know how grimey Expedition was. Always repped Expedition hard!! thought the team was sick and I was down for backing a skate owned brand. Fuck Expedition, I guess my next board is Antihero. Hopefully Antihero treats skaters better then Expedition.
December 20, 2016 3:20 am
Ok but it is easy for nike/adidas to look good now that money is short everywhere and they are the only ones left with dough. Do you honestly believe that if nike or whatever corpo brand had financial difficulties they would keep paying their riders like they do now? I am not saying that kayo were not in the wrong (rather the contrary, with Cheesie Williams or whatever suit showing off their bling) but nike and adidas are not some heaven sent savior. Buying/leasing expensive cars on the first year of financial success only highlights how trashy/kitsch/uneducated one is.
December 20, 2016 4:21 pm
@ Spencer Williams & Stevie Hamilton ….You make some great points. A sensible person on the Internet, a rare breed in the epoch of idiocracy. Maybe this is unfair or holding Kayo to a higher standard then Nike/Addidas …..but I expect skaters to treat other skaters less shady then I expect a multinational corporation to treat skaters. Just my perspective.
December 22, 2016 3:29 pm
i never understood peoples beef with large corp getting involved in skating.this entire skater owned and operate to me is just a marketing ploy. the only people who care about skater owned or are vocal about it are dudes on the internet.working at a skateshop/ skating with my friends I have never heard anyone ask is that shoe or deck company run by skaters.just my 2 cents.
December 21, 2016 11:35 pm
If ANY of the Kayo companies are still in business this time next year I will be shocked. Kayo should be counting their blessings that skaters are not more litigious individuals because everything I have heard about Kayo directly and indirectly through the rumor mill sounds hella illegal