You hear a lot of stories about people having to work side jobs to make a living as a sponsored skater, but rarely are those side jobs also in skating. There are just a handful of people who are currently taking that route, and one we learned about recently is Aidan Campbell.
Aidan is both a full-time pro skater and full-time Team Manager for Etnies. We were even more surprised when we saw he got the ender part for the Foundation’s newest video, Whippersnappers.
A Team Manager with an ender part is something that we’ve never heard of before, which is why we tracked down Aidan to talk about how he managed to juggle two jobs and film our favorite section in the new video between babysitting a bunch of grown adults.
Would you say that you’re the first team manager to have the ender part in a full-length skate video?
That’s a good question. I actually don’t know. I know there are a lot of ripping TMs. Chris Pfanner – I’m almost positive he’s doing some TM stuff. Taylor McClung is so good and he’s a Primitive TM. But I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know a TM with an ender.
How did you go from being a pro skater to a pro skater who also is a team manager?
So, before COVID I was just living off of skating. And then during COVID, RVCA [his clothing sponsor] had to make cuts. So I got let go, kicked off, whatever word you want to use. And so that was a hit to me financially and I couldn’t make ends meet anymore. I mean, I could have made it work, but I would have been living paycheck to paycheck and just fucking living off crumbs and I just didn’t want that for myself. So it kind of sped up the process of coming to terms with skateboarding being done for me, you know? I knew this was gonna happen at some point, but it was a bit quicker than I expected.
I just buckled down and got a job in construction. I was always interested in fixing stuff and then I quickly realized it’s kind of like skating. It requires so much time spent in one area to even learn stuff or move up the ranks. Then I also helped with assisted living stuff before getting offered a job from Etnies to become their Team Manager. Now being TM, it helps out a lot because I have more opportunities to be out in the streets with the team. It helps me be more productive in terms of filming my own video part.
How much of being a TM is babysitting?
On trips I’d say it’s 75% babysitting [laughs].
Do you think skate brands could develop some sort of program to help prepare their riders for post-sponsored life?
I have thought about it. I feel like there should be a disclaimer when you get on a team, just letting a skater know the necessary steps for when you have to deal with the end. It’s kind of hard to say that too, right? Like, some people have made a living off of skating forever and have a lot of longevity and that might not happen to them.
But I think there should be something implemented to like, help the transition from being a skateboarder and then going into the “real world,” I just don’t know what it is at this point. We live in this loophole for however long and then you’re just spat out into the real world. Like, you’re gonna probably have a boss at your next job and you have to be at a certain place from nine to five and deal with someone telling you what to do, which I don’t think a lot of skaters like. It’s a strange wake-up call.
“I feel like there should be a disclaimer when you get on a team, just letting a skater know the necessary steps for when you have to deal with the end.”
What if a non-profit or shoe company had a counselor available to pro skaters who wanted help transitioning out of the industry?
I’d be 100% for that, because I mean, fuck, it’s kind of not really talked about, right? It has been, but it’s just a weird thing. At the end of it, it’s like, what the fuck do I do now?
Do you have any good Ryan Sheckler Etnies stories from back in the day?
We’ve been on a handful of trips and there’s nothing too juicy. I will say that I respect the guy. We went on this trip to Texas, and fuck, it was like 3AM after driving all day, everybody was dusted, and we were at this restaurant and these fans came up and he was super happy to sign autographs and take photos. It was respectable to see that because I know how I was feeling at 3AM in the middle of nowhere Texas. So to see him do that and keep his cool was badass. I would forget that he was “Ryan Sheckler” because of how much of a skate rat and how down he was. He’s dealt with some shit and he keeps a cool head always.
You see any rockstar shit? Like Sheckler surrounded by thirsty fans or red carpet hijinx?
Nah [laughs]. I only remember one trip a long time ago when he was still drinking and we went to Japan. We had some crazy bottle service treatment in the VIP section at some club. All I can remember is just being in this VIP booth with the fucking bottles spraying fireworks everywhere.
Etnies has gone through ups and downs. Sometimes it’s cool, sometimes it’s not. Is that something that you care or worry about?
I think that’s something that happens with all these legacy brands. They’ve been around for so long, they gotta go through their ups and downs. I just think it’s really cool that Etnies has survived these big corporations coming in, where you saw a lot of other brands die off. Just keeping the legacy going is kind of an honor. I think as long as we’re doing cool shit, it’s gonna be okay.
“I just think it’s really cool that Etnies has survived these big corporations coming in, where you saw a lot of other brands die off.”
You were on peak King of the Road in 2018. Was it fun overall, or was it more chaotic than it was worth?
Ah, dude, I had so much fun. I was actually pretty nervous going into it, but I look back at it as a special time. I don’t know if I could do it where I’m at in life right now, but at that time, it was so fun. When I was a kid, my homies and I made up our own “King of the Road,” so being on the real thing was crazy. All my childhood friends would hit me up, like, “No way, remember when we would do that as kids!?”
What challenges did you make up as a kid?
The ones I remember, there was a fountain at city hall where I grew up and one of my homies jumped in there with his underwear. And then I got a super fucked up haircut. Those are the only two I really remember. We just made our own little challenge books and separated our group of friends we skated with and then went off and just did little kid shit.
Since the show was on TV, did you start getting recognized a lot?
Yeah, dude, that did happen. It still happens to this day. I’ll be at a random spot getting a smoothie or some shit and the girl working the smoothie place will know who I am. It’s mostly people who don’t skate that recognize me because I feel like the show was a mixture of Jackass and skating, really. It was more the general public than skaters.
Did you ever catch any dates off of it?
Dates? No, I did not. It’s fuckin’ tough out there [laughs]. I’ve actually been seeing my girlfriend for a year now. We’re in the process of moving in, actually.
Have you guys moved on to pegging yet?
[Laughs] Nah, I think that’s after two years.
You once said Foundation would have to burn to the ground for you to leave the team. Is that still true?
Hell yeah, I’d say so. Every once in a while I take a step back and think about it. They always say, would your 12-year-old self be happy or whatever with your life now, and when I look at things like that, yeah, my 12-year-old self would be so fucking stoked right now. It’s actually a childhood dream and just being a part of it means a lot to me.
What are your top three Foundation videos that you’re not in?
The first one would have to be That’s Life. The second one is probably Cataclysmic Abyss and then Art Bars. That’s Life and Cataclysmic Abyss are for sure the ones I know the most about because that was my life as a kid. I was completely obsessed with it.
The influence Corey Duffel had on 13-year-old kids was insane. I was wearing the tightest pants.
Dude, same. I remember me and my homie would go and buy girl’s jeans. I think it was like right before Kr3w was coming out with the skinny jeans and we’d just be rocking girl pants getting fucking bullied at school. I had a striped jacket I loved so much, too. You know, the fucking classic Duffel Freddy Krueger.
Do you feel like all brands have a lifespan?
That’s a great question. I actually was talking to Don [Luong, Foundation filmer] about this. I can’t honestly say if brands have a lifespan because, from what I hear from Dwindle, whoever got in charge kind of ran things into the ground. I don’t think as a brand [Enjoi] lost its legacy, it was just the funding. So maybe in that respect, yeah, but Foundation and Etnies have kind of withstood the test of time. That’s a really good question, but yeah, I couldn’t really tell you.
What’s some advice you have gotten over the years from other team managers that you would pass on to a newly sponsored skater?
One thing I’ll say is to answer your phone! That’s one thing I picked up from [Mike] Sinclair. Communication is something that I learned is super important.
I would also relay the message of never thinking you made it. Heath Brinkley from Primitive said that to me, because I feel like that’s when you start slowing down and you’re not as hungry as you once were. Never think that you, “made it.”
“I don’t think as a brand [Enjoi] lost its legacy, it was just the funding.”
You were there when we jumped the fence and skated Roosevelt Island and got tickets. What happened after that for you?
Yeah, we got tickets but we had to go back home to California. I was like, you have to be able to pay this ticket over Zoom. I was on the phone with all the NY clerks at the courthouse, and they were like, “No, you have to physically appear in front of a judge in New York.” So we flew back to New York for less than 24 hours to pay it. We landed at 9AM, got an Airbnb, walked over the courthouse, did the paperwork, sat down, and then they call us up and are like, “Yeah, there’s no fine.” I was sitting down and the public defender read us what we did and he was like, “What are you doing here?”
Then we bailed and we went to the zoo until our flight [Laughs].
Have you ever gotten any other skate tickets?
Dude, that was my first one ever. I was kinda trippin’. When I got out I was like, “This is so wack,” but it’s kinda surreal this is my first one. It made me realize, damn I’ve gone this long, not getting a ticket is kinda crazy.
You’re not smoking or drinking right now, right?
I’ve been off the booze for like eight months now, so yeah, not smoking and not drinking. Kind of wild. It’s a huge part of skating and you kind of don’t realize that until you stop.
How many cigarettes does someone have to smoke to get on Foundation?
[Laughs] Fuck, like in a day? [Laughs] I’d say half a pack. As I said, I’m off the smokes, but half a pack sounds pretty good. I’m weaning off of it. I’m actually on these nicotine pouches.
Have you noticed any differences in your skating or mental clarity at all since stopping drinking?
Yeah, just all around more motivated to get shit done. And definitely clearer in the mind. I feel like my emotions and life is more steady, whereas I noticed while drinking I would have more ups and downs. Instead of all these highs and lows, I feel like I’m at more of a baseline or have a more stable line with my thoughts and emotions and everything like that.
“Skating just attracts crazy people. Obviously, the booze amplifies it, but I swear that skaters are just naturally like that.”
I’m happy so many people in skating are getting healthy. I also hope that skating keeps attracting the fringe outlaw-type characters too, because I selfishly like the maniacs, you know?
I don’t think that will ever die with skateboarding because everyone’s too crazy as it is. Even in a sober state people are fucking crazy dude. Skating just attracts crazy people. Obviously, the booze amplifies it, but I swear that skaters are just naturally like that.
Do you think skating has more heavy drinkers than other subcultures?
I mean, I think so. I think it’s pretty integrated into the skate lifestyle. I’m not sure why.
Do you think that’s because many of the videos we grew up on had party montages in them?
It could be, I thought about that too. I was thinking oh shit, I used to watch Baker 3 a bunch, and I’m not saying those videos ruined a generation of skaters or anything, but it could be subconsciously planted in there. I don’t know.
Do you think we’ll have videos in the future of skaters chugging kombucha and trying to be positive role models?
[Laughs] Actually, I hope so dude. But with these younger kids, too, I haven’t seen as much drinking. Like on these Foundation trips, some of the young guns are very tame compared to when I was their age going on trips. I think times are changing.
“I haven’t seen as much drinking. Some of the young guns are very tame compared to when I was their age going on trips. I think times are changing.”
Were you ever salty that the skate industry couldn’t support you to skate full time anymore?
No. I told myself I’m extremely lucky to even live off skateboarding and travel around and stuff. I’ve seen people be salty at the skate industry, I guess, when their time comes to an end and I just really didn’t want to be one of those people.
It was definitely tough, though, don’t get me wrong. At the time when it happened I sat down with myself and kind of had a full-on identity crisis because like, damn, dude, I’ve barely graduated high school. I’ve only known skateboarding for this long and I had to basically start over at fuckin’ age 27 or something. I was like, at a loss, you know? Where do I even fucking start?
But I can never be salty. I was lucky enough to get paid to ride a skateboard for 10 years, you know? I don’t think it’s fair to be salty.
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