A heavy-hitting member of the Hellride Crew, Karma pioneered the kind of all-terrain skating that today’s Grant Taylors put back on the map. A year after his move to Ohio with wife Julie, he still skates tough, runs Karma skateboards, still plays guitar… And took some time to give us a rundown of his musical past and present.
“I was in a band with Tom Knox [called Friendly Fire, thanks Pinche Gringo! -Seb’s note], that was the first thing ever. Tom played guitar, I played bass, we’d play punk music for sure, those are my roots. You know that photogarpher Mike ballard? He came and shot some band photos of us one back in the day. We went out in the alley and shot a band photo, we did some 4-track recording and stuff. We never played a show. That was probably when I first got on Dogtown, in 1990, and it lasted about six months. The funny story with that is they did get a gig to play a show and I went down to practice one night, and there was this other friend of ours and he was playing bass. I got ousted out of the band but they didn’t really tell me, they were like, “Oh, he’s here. He’s gonna play the show.”
I remember being really let down, I was really bummed out –“I’m not good enough a bass player”. I could maybe pluck out a couple notes on a guitar and I was picking this bass and playing in a punk band. It was like, “where do I put my finger?” I had natural rhythm but I didn’t know anything. I remember leaving there all bummed, “Fuck those guys, man.”
My real first band after that, that I played shows with, was with my old band where Ethan Fowler was actually the drummer. We were called The 6th degree theory, you know the 6 degrees of separation? We wrote songs, and it was just two guitars and drums. We did some studio recording, a demo, 8 songs maybe, on a 2-inch tape. Sounds really good still to this day. Ethan was a phenomenal drummer. We recorded, made CDs and stuff. I don’t know if they’ve ever been up online. That lasted about six months.
You know who I learned a lot of music from? Sean Young. Maybe a year before he was kinda over it, he used to come to my house every day on a different board. A longboard, some pointy little cruiser, some Powell board. It was kinda cool. That guy is a guitar wizard, man. He taught me so much shit on guitar. Nicest fucking person, just the sweetest. He liked to play pool and play music. Then I think he fucked his knee up pretty bad and probably couldn’t get surgery. That’s how I remember it. Gnarly skater. Who can play some ragtime guitar, man! He’s the king.
Anyway, after that, we started with the band AM magic, that’s with Doug saenz and again that guy MikeAlexis guitar player. We made two full LPs, you can hear a lot of old songs that we never put on CD on the website. Me and Doug, we were in bands for 13 years. We played over a hundred shows, made a couple records, kinda learned to play our instruments togeteher.
Doug turned into a really cool multi-instrumentalist. He did drums, percussion, trumpet, keys, vibraphone… Nick Freitas was also in our band for a while. We recorded a record with him. He played in Mystic Valley band and he’s in that band The Broken Bells and stuff with the guys from the Shins, and Danger Mouse. It’s pretty rad. He played on our second record and helped mix it and stuff. It’s called Magique Concrete, it was Mike Alexis’ idea kind of a play on that style of abstract music that that French guy invented, (Musique Concrète/Pierre Boulez –Seb’s note). It’s cool to see your frinds grow up and kinda see their talents coming on their own. That was the best part in being in bands.
Nowadays I play every day and it depends, I don’t have a particular style in song writing. I sometimes like to just use a pedal and a bunch of effects and loop stuff, I like words too. I do indie rock, I guess?”