Have you ever wanted to watch a video part that makes you feel truly lazy? Maybe something to light a fire under your ass and inspire you to get your hands dirty? If you answered yes, let us introduce you to Chris Mathis. He’s an ironworker in his 30’s who filmed an entire part in Jake Todd’s new video “Devil’s Pocket.”
It’s not often you find a guy who picks a day job that is equally, if not more, dangerous than skateboarding. Cuts, sprains, overexertion and falls are all included in an ironworkers job description. Sounds familiar, right? Chris’s skating is blue collar. You can take comfort in knowing that if his pants have a hole in them it’s not because they were bought at the thrift store with a tag that says “pre-loved.”
Chris is a man’s man, a Philadelphia skater whose style and trick selection are informed by years in the game and a respect for his craft. If this video part doesn’t make you thankful for your desk job we at least hope it makes you feel bad for not knowing how to fix that hole you punched in your wall. After watching, check out the Q&A with Chris about Philly skating, ironworking, and his history with the World Industries team.
MINI Q&A WITH CHRIS MATHIS
What is it that you do for work these days?
I’m a union Ironworker. We set the steel for all the high rises. Build bridges, do stairs and a bunch of welding and fabrication. Pretty much anything structural that is made from steel is considered ironwork. I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now and still love it. It’s hard on your body but you get to build cool shit, see the city from places most people will never get to see, and work with some of the craziest motherfuckers you’ll ever meet.
Would you say your day job is more dangerous than skating?
[laughs] It’s more dangerous than the skating I do but I’m getting old I just skate little banks now.
How tough is it to film video parts and have a full-time manual labor job?
It’s definitely not the easiest, but I can’t complain I get out early and still skate almost every weekend. There are plenty of people that do it. But there’s days where the last thing I’m thinking about after work is where I’m going to skate.
At one point you were on World Industries, right? What was that like?
It was awesome. I’m not gonna lie I thought World was super lame before I started getting boards or anything. Just the whole flame boy wet Willy thing while I’m watching Danny Renaud’s Mosaic part on repeat didn’t seem right. My buddy Andrew Cannon skated for them and started flowing me boards. After that I moved out to Az and started going on trips.
World Industries is dope, those dudes really took care of me and brought me to places I would have never seen if it wasn’t for them. I had to watch the Steve Rocco documentary a few times to realize how much of an impact they had on the skate industry. I’m happy I was a part of it. I got a little taste of being out in Cali and seeing how good everyone really is. I think the last thing we did was an east coast tour with Andrew, Derek Fukuhara, Timmy Knuth, Anthony Shetler and Billy Davenport. The tour was great, we had a solid team and people seemed stoked on it. I moved back home after that and they put out a welcome to the team part for me and then a month later they sold the company and got rid of the skate program or some corporate shit. Thanks to everyone over at World who put up with me and let me crash on a couch out there.
When did you start to realize that you wanted/needed to find a career outside of skateboarding?
Probably a year after the World Industries shit hit the fan. I was still skating a bunch and felt like I gave it a good shot. I was 22 working in the parts department of some car place and selling pot to everybody that worked there. My check was $280 a week and I was basically everybody’s bitch. Everybody was miserable and complaining all the time. It was depressing. I think finally I just got fed up and decided to listen to my pops and get a big boy job.
What are some of the benefits of getting a union job?
It pays well you get good healthcare, retirement and all that. It’s also nice when a big job ends and you get laid off. People think it’s the end of the world when they hear that. But I just try to plan a trip or take some time off. Then when you’re ready to go back to work you just go up to the hall and get another job. I wouldn’t want to do what we do non-union. If you get hurt or fall off a building you’re probably getting fucked up for the rest of your life or not able to work for a while. At least with a union you have a big group of people fighting for your rights and it’s not just you against the world.
I heard that you’re now 4 years sober. What sparked you wanting to get clean?
Ha, well I was fucking up just drinking a lot and getting myself into trouble. It’s hard to admit you have a problem unless it slaps you in the face. Things just weren’t really working the way I was going. I tried a few times to not drink during the week. Then the weekend would hit and I would make up for lost time. I just needed to get my priorities straight.
Did you see any improvements in your skating? What about in your daily life?
A thousand percent. Don’t get me wrong I’d love to have a couple beers with the boys but self control isn’t my strong suit. It’s nice to wake up on a Saturday to go skate and not have a pounding headache and feel like shit. I’m definitely more motivated and have a lot more free time. It’s nice not to revolve every activity around drinking. It takes time but overall my life is a lot better without it.
Over the last four years how has your outlook changed?
I learned to slow down and appreciate the good things in life. Don’t stress what’s out of your control and be a good person. All basic shit but it’s easy to get stuck in a selfish mindset and forget what’s actually important.
What would you say the strangest thing is about today’s skate scene?
Skateboarding in the Olympics. When I grew up, skating wasn’t cool and I liked it that way.
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