CCS Customs X First Thursdays Interviews: Jay Howell
November 05, 2021 - CCS launches the Customs X First Thursdays program with one of our favorite artists: Jay Howell.
Louie Lopez is the best.
Sure, we're talking about his skateboarding (and he is literally one of the most talented skateboarders of all time), but even more importantly he is just the best dude. The fact that somebody can be this successful continuously from such a young age and yet remain so humble and friendly and down-to-earth makes Louie the best.
On the occasion of Louie's 2nd pro shoe for Converse getting released (the Louie Mid), CCS' Matt Price spent a day with Lou and his lifelong pal (and pro filmer) Ryan Lee to capture some skate moves and talk about the shoes, the commercial, Louie's car, and Tom Penny's luggage.
Since this interview, Louie officially joined the CCS Team, so take a peek at his page to see what gear he is riding and for some more awesome flicks.
CCS: All right, Louie, I know everyone probably knows this but… name, age, where you’re at right now?
Louie: My name’s Louie Lopez. I’m 26 years old. I am currently in Hawthorne, California.
CCS: I didn’t even know you’re 26. You’re one of the ageless people where I feel you could tell me you’re 21 or you’re 35 at this point cause you’ve been around forever.
L: I’m just right in between.
CCS: Do you get that a lot? Do people just have no idea where to put you, age wise?
L: The worst lately is when I go to skateparks and kids are like, “How old are you?” And I’m like “26” and they’re like, “Really? God damn I thought you were way younger.”. I feel like I look so young, so they feel we’re closer in age or something.
CCS: Does that bum you out or does that get you stoked?
L: I mean it’s just how life goes. But it’s definitely a newer thing. When you’re like 23, 24 or whatever… 25 even. 26 is closer to 30, so that’s what they think about.
CCS: It’s funny how you get over that hump. You’re just generally young until you’re over 25 and then you just don’t get to be young anymore.
L: Yeah. You got four years until you’re 30. It’s coming up.
CCS: I was curious, if you had to guess off the top of your head, how many interviews have you done in your life?
L: I would say not a crazy amount. I’d probably say, like, under 50.
CCS: Under 50! Let’s just assume this is your 50th interview.
L: Allright. Cool. Yeah, I’m not one of those people… I know there’s some people who really overthink the interviews.
CCS: The Heath (Kirchart) thing. He’s like, “I’m doing one interview every 10 years and that’s it.”
L: Yeah, something like that. Which is cool. I back that for sure. I’ve definitely done a couple, though.
CCS: It’s hard to decide how much of yourself you give to everybody while trying not to be an asshole or bum everyone out.
L: For sure. You can only tell your story so many times. I mean, you can tell it as much as you want, but after a while it’s like, “We’ve heard this.”
CCS: But you never know who is part of a new audience. Anyway I was wondering since you and Curren (Caples) have always been so close, who was sponsored at a younger age, you or Curren?
L: Hmmm. Me or Curren? I don’t know. It happened pretty similar. He could honestly have been younger by a little bit. I think my first sponsor was probably when I was eight years old or something. I got on Mainline skate shop. It was a local shop and I remember the team manager for the shop wanted to see my report card and if my report card was good then I could get on the team.
CCS: Did you have to have straight A’s to get on the team or was it like a B average situation?
L: It definitely wasn’t straight A’s but it wasn’t failing, you know. I think he just wanted to see it as a funny thing.
CCS: He was trying to be responsible because you were so young?
L: Yeah. He was just, like, “Let’s get his head in the right place.” or something like that.
CCS: So anyone I talk to about you generally says something similar like “Aw yeah, Louie is super chill.” or “Louie’s so mellow.” Everyone considers you this mellow guy. I’m curious, do you ever get mad? Are you above that? Are you like a monk? From the outside it just seems like you’re mellow all the time, but I want to know if Louie ever gets mad.
L: I definitely get mad. That’s for sure. But I know the way I operate when I’m mad and I don’t really operate too well. If I’m mad when I’m skating… you know some people get pissed and they can skate better, but when I’m pissed my skating is like the worst thing ever. I guess you could say I’m pretty patient and calm, so when I do get pissed I have just learned how to deal with it and just get past it.
CCS: Do you have any tricks for anyone who is dealing with anger issues when they’re skating on how to be patient and get over it? Do you have any breathing techniques or anything?
L: If you’re really super pissed just call it a day and pick it up tomorrow. If it’s nothing too major just give it 15 minutes. Take a break. Let that energy come back and just give it another shot. But for me, I don’t operate too well when I’m pissed so I kind of manage to draw the line, and I’m able to just call it.
M; That’s actually really good. I think people don’t look at it that way. No one wants to come back tomorrow, but it’s good to understand that the spot will still be there, and you’ll skate better after you have a good night of sleep and a meal and reset everything, right?
L: Yeah. And if you’re battling a trick forever and it’s something hard and you’ve never really done that trick… How pissed can you really be, you know? You’ve haven’t done the trick before. So it’s more of a patience thing. You just have to know it’s gonna work at some point.
CCS: Is there anything else in life that makes you mad? Do you have any road rage issues or any other weird places outside of skating where you get frustrated, or can you apply that to everything in life?
L: I really don’t have too many road rage issues. I don’t even really honk the horn at all. I try not to. I feel like if you’re gonna honk the horn you kinda got to be ready for whatever, you know? People are crazy out there. One honk could be really bad for you. You never know.
CCS: You spent a lot of your childhood on Flip and you traveled with that crew a lot… Did you spend much time with Penny? Do you have any good Penny stories?
L: Me and Curren got on around the same time and for some reason he ended up going on this Euro trip and I didn’t get to go. I think there was a contest going on and he got to meet Tom before I did, so I was really jealous of that. I was like, “God damn it. He got to meet Tom Penny before me!”. I met Tom a little later and it was actually the sickest shit ever. Just the fact that he knew my name and told me “I really like what you’re doing”. He was the most chill dude ever. Ever since then it’s been all love.
CCS: I think it’s probably rare that skaters your age understood or had any appreciation for him and what he had done, you know? It was probably surprising for him to know that you knew of him at that point.
L: Yeah, for sure. Being a big fan of his skating you can only hope that when you meet someone that he’s as cool as the skating, and that’s definitely the case with Tom.
CCS: Yeah. I feel like it’s rare.
L: Yeah, it was all love with Tom. He would travel with these sample bags, the kind that reps take to a trade show that are huge. They’re like two times the size of a normal suitcase. That’s what he would go on trips with. He’d just have outfits on outfits. You’d see him change 3 times a day. He’d just pop up with some new fit on and you’re just like “Yes!”
CCS: Like, those duffel bags that hold 100 pairs of shoes?
L: Yeah. Big ass bags. And he would just have all sorts of shit in there and wear a couple outfits a day. He’d just be fresh.
CCS: He was probably paying oversized bag fees constantly. That sounds insane.
L: Yeah, that’s just part of being Tom. Gotta have the gear.
CCS: In your career have there been any other pros that you had looked up to that you ended up becoming surprisingly good friends with?
L: Meeting Geoff (Rowley) was definitely a cool thing. I remember after going to school I’d go to work with my dad and the first time I went skating with Geoff and Ewan Bowman they picked me up from my dad’s spot where he was working and that was just like the sickest day ever. Just like Geoff and Ewan in the front and I’m sitting in the back row of the van with the whole row to myself. I’d say, as of recently, getting closer with AVE is definitely one that I’m stoked on. He’s just a skate rat, so it’s super sick.
CCS: It’s probably inspiring to see someone who’s 16 years older than you and still skates that hard.
L: Yeah, and when he puts stuff out he’s still pushing himself and doing stuff that’s mind blowing. I really admire that. He’s been in the game for so long and that’s what I hope to be able to do. Just keep going, keep learning, keep progressing.
CCS: So, I know this is your interview but I’ve got a quick Geoff story cause your Geoff story reminded me of this one. When I was 19 and I was in Arizona, and I don’t know who gave him my number, but I woke up one morning to a call from Geoff, and I had never met him. He said “Hey I got your number so you can take me to some spots in Arizona. Are you down?” And I was like, “Holy shit, yeah, of course!”. So I met up with him and Scott Pommier and took them to spots that day. It got really hot and they wanted to go swimming so I brought them to my parents house to swim in our pool. Then I realized I had this five-foot tall Volcom poster on the outside of my bedroom door with Geoff on it doing a 5-0 on this giant hubba. So on the way home I had to call my mom and I was like, “Hey, are you home? Can you take that poster down on the outside of my door?” And she’s like, “Yeah. Why?”. I told her that the guy on the poster was coming over to go swimming and I would be super embarrassed if he showed up and saw that.
L: That’s fucking hilarious.
CCS: In that era of Rowley, Koston, and Reynolds, those dudes were like gods kind of and getting to meet anyone on that level was such a mind blowing thing.
L: Yeah, for sure. I remember when I was young, me and my dad went to this Shorty’s premiere. It might have been “How To Go Pro”? We were just sitting in our seats, waiting for it to start, and then we saw Muska come in with the boombox, and he just had a huge crowd following him. It was just the sickest thing ever to see.
CCS: He was larger than life!
L: Yeah, they were definitely different times. It’s just oversaturated now. You can just go on Instagram and see exactly what everyone is up to. It’s different now. That curiosity isn’t really there anymore.
CCS: Yeah, seeing those people doesn’t have quite the same magic now that you can see what someone’s doing all day every day.
L: For sure. But when you go on trips you see that it still exists. It’s cool going to somewhere like South America and people are just genuinely hyped that you came. It’s really cool to see that.
CCS: So let’s talk about your new shoe a little bit. How did a mid come up? Was that something you wanted to do or was that something Converse suggested to you?
L: So the plan was to do the low for a couple years and then take it from there and do a continuation of that. They were down for whatever I wanted. I felt like the mid made the most sense because I don’t really wear slip ons or anything else. So I just wanted to do that, because it would change it up a bit, but not too much. I’m stoked on what we came up with. I want to skate in it.
CCS: What do you like better, the low or the mid?
L: Right now I’m stoked on the mid because I’ve skated the low ever since my shoe came out. That’s pretty much the only shoe I’ve skated. I’m really thankful to have a shoe come out that I really enjoy skating in, because that’s not always the case. It’s been nice to switch it up, so right now I’m super stoked on the mids. It’s cool to have both options.
CCS: Tell me about the commercial for the mid. It was definitely a departure from the way that you, and Cons have marketed your shoe before. Bryant Inthavong, who wrote and directed it, is your childhood friend?
L: Yeah. For a while now we knew we wanted to do something different for this launch. Before we’d put out a part or put out footage for a launch, which is fine, but after a while you want to switch it up and see what else you can do. Bryant is my best friend, and I’ve known him forever. We grew up skating together, and I remember the first time I slept over at his house he showed me that under his bed he had all these notebooks full of ideas. All sorts of things. He’s a really funny guy so he would write all these comedy skits, and things he wanted to make someday for T.V. shows. I thought that was really cool. So as time went on we’d always just talk about how one day we’ll work together on something when the time was right. It worked out perfectly for this launch. He came up with the concept and I trust him so we ran with it. It’s something that I’m really hyped on and it means a lot to both of us. It’s something I’ll remember forever.
CCS: What was one of the most memorable things about shooting the commercial?
L: I would say the thing I was most stoked on was just watching Bryant in action. Cause I’ve always heard him talk about his ideas but I’ve never seen him work. He really looked like a pro out there. At the end of the day it was just me and my homies making something fun. It was really inspiring.
CCS: That was the first time I ever met your dad. I’ve heard from a lot of people how epic he is for a long time. He’s a little intimidating, though. When you were growing up did your dad hang out with you and your friends a lot?
L: Yeah. My dad traveled with me everywhere when I was a kid. Every now and then my mom would come on trips. She’s a teacher so she would get the summer trips, which were usually the best trips. So it’s funny, my dad has traveled with me forever, but my mom has some sick spots on him. It’s definitely cool to be able to do what you love to do and bring your family along with you. We got to see the world together.
CCS: What did your dad do on a skate trip when you were a kid?
L: When my dad was on a trip he was one of the boys. It’s amazing. And so many people ask about my dad when I see them. Especially the older guys. Before they even say what up to me. Like P-Stone and Phelps, whenever I saw them the first thing they’d say is , “What’s up with Big Lou? How’s he doing? Tell him I said what up!”. People love having him around. Not like the other way when you have a strict parent. He definitely had fun on the trips too. I remember sometimes when I was younger I thought that he was having too much fun, but now that I’m older I know he was living it up, because he had never got the chance to travel before.
CCS: I didn’t realize that your dad and Theotis (Beasley) were homies. Did you and Theotis grow up in the same zone?
L: Yeah, we grew up skating at the same skatepark when we were younger. Theotis and my family were pretty close. It’s funny, Theotis will be hanging out with my dad when I’m not even there. He’ll just pop into my dad’s shop sometimes to hangout. He’ll be all, “Yeah, I saw Theotis the other day.” Probably like a week later he’ll mention it all casually.
CCS: So you seem like you’re pretty frugal and responsible with your money. I was curious, if there is anything surprising that you’ve bought? Do you have any weird stuff that you spend money on that no one would expect?
L: I don’t really spend money too crazy. I try to just do the right things with it. I try to make the most with what I got and just try and think about the future more than anything. So I don’t really do anything too crazy. I’d say my biggest thing would probably just be food. I guess I eat out a lot. I get Postmates quite often. I’d say I’m definitely spoiled in that aspect.
CCS: I was surprised when I saw you driving the Tesla. I don’t know why. I pictured you as a Honda Civic kind of dude. What inspired that purchase?
L: I don’t know. I’ve had a couple cars that have been pretty nice. But nothing insanely nice. Like it’s nice, but not overboard nice. I do want to get something like a truck or something like that. The Tesla’s definitely a little flashy for me so after this one I’ll probably bring it back down a bit. This one is my fun car and then I’ll bring it back down again cause I just like to go under the radar when driving. Maybe I'll try to take over the Bently from Theo or something if he tries to get rid of it, haha.
CCS: I would love to see you in a Bently.
L: My gosh. I couldn’t!
CCS: So obviously you skate a ton, but as you're getting older do you have any new hobbies? Anything outside of skating that’s taking your time or that you’re interested in?
L: I’ve been into riding bikes. I guess I’m more into that just to stay healthy and get out there in nature and do something that’s good for you. So I’ve been stoked on that. But right now it’s pretty much just that and skating, and keeping it mellow.
CCS: Where do you see yourself when you are 40? Do you have any visions for that far out in the future?
L: I think about that all the time. Obviously I’d like to start something, like a company of my own and I’ll just work towards that. At some point, when the time is right. I’ll try to be still involved in skateboarding. For now I just want to skate as much as possible though. Who knows what’ll happen.
CCS: That’s probably a good one to end it on. We can end it on Louie at 40.