⇱ Quasi Skateboards /// Chad Bowers ⇲
Though obviously part of a larger “small brand renaissance,” Quasi Skateboards, formerly Mother Collective, is – and this is no advertorial – the epitome of NOWness in skateboarding these days. Successfully circumnavigating big-player (or stupid vanity label) business problems – “No more corporate blues,” one of the first boards said –, Chad Bowers, the man behind Quasi (and formerly part of the old Sect), was certainly surprised to see the brand take off so rapidly, but then again everything about his Ohio-based operation is so damn tight: the attitude, the team (Gilbert Crockett, Jake Johnson and Tyler Bledsoe), the insane visuals and graphics, and of course, it’s the best Canadian maple in the game (these beauties are pressed up at PS Stix in Mexico). It’s both out there and no-frills, over-the-top and no-nonsense. Time to hand the mic over to Chad.
Chad, you grew up on both coasts: What’s so good about being based somewhere in the middle … apart from no frills? ⇲ No one’s popping in on you. You can really focus on things without distractions. It’s more fun to visit places than to live in them.
Tell me about the first calls, about the day you came up with the idea to do Mother/Quasi. ⇲ We started talking about it a few weeks after things ended with Workshop. Jake, Tyler, Gil and I took the summer off to conceptualize things and by late fall we had our shit together. Everything sort of fell into place from there.
Even though you don’t sell your stuff at shitty major mall-type places, there are so many places stocking Quasi already – and the stuff seems to sell out in no time. How did it feel to see things take off so rapidly? ⇲ We weren’t really prepared for that. I thought it would take a while but it went berserk. It’s great. I’m proud of what we’ve been doing and that people are feeling it.
Did you have a plan b though? ⇲ Not at all. We’re all in.
Who are some of the art influences you knew you were going to build on even in the early stages? The kind of direction you all agreed upon? ⇲ There isn’t any one direction. I don’t want to be held to one style or direction. People think that, “oh, Quasi is different from Mother” and it’s not. The first run of Quasi decks had Mother on them two weeks before we got sued.
Apart from “no series models,” what are some of the rules for Quasi graphics? ⇲ I always let Jake, Tyler and Gilbert do their graphics with me. Be it an idea, photo or reference image. It’s THEIR pro model. Other than that I try not to spend more than 10 minutes on the initial idea. If you have to force it, it never works. You’ll go through 20 versions then end up at square one again.
I can’t help it but there seems to be something like an aura surrounding the Quasi products... as if they were something more than just Canadian maple bearing incredible designs. Am I crazy or what is this? ⇲ It’s whatever you want it be. Some might say it’s art, some think it’s stupid. I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s skateboarding.
Best thing about working with Paul Schmitt? ⇲ Probably that he’s kind of crazy and has been doing it forever. We have two-hour conversations about shapes and printing on speaker phone. The echo is intense! Jose Cerda works for Schmitt and is the MVP. I can call Jose and ask him to make me a sample and it’s usually dead on dick, first round. No email and back and forth. Just a call and done.
You had your taste of team managing back then – how is managing Quasi’s smaller team different in comparison? ⇲ It’s no different. I still do the majority of team stuff for the most part. We’re all friends so it’s not really a thing.
Having worked on “Mind Field,” what about video plans for Quasi? If already, who are you working with? ⇲ Ugly Bill (Will Rosenstock) has been filming for us for a few months now. He filmed Gilbert’s “Salt Life” part. He’s also an amazing skater. We’re working on a few things now. We’ll put them out when they’re ready.
After the name change to Quasi, I guess the idea of a “collective” is still what this is about? ⇲ Nothing changed but the name. I can’t stress that enough. We were forced to change it. Old news.
Great to see that you’re selling some zines and videos and other things on your website. All based on old friendships, a greater collective of sorts? ⇲ Exactly. If a friend or kid makes something we’re feeling, we’ll buy it and put it online to sell. I encourage shops to buy that stuff direct from the person making it so they make more than us being the middleman. I don’t want to only sell our stuff. I try to make that stuff as cheap as possible and help spread the love.
What about your own skating these days? Favorite trick to do real fast? ⇲ I still skate and burn off the ya-ya’s a few times a week. I kind of have to or I’ll get burned out doing brand stuff. Fast tricks… lipslides and backside nosegrinds on ledges.
How much better would a world sans Facebook be? ⇲ A lot smaller and slower… do people still use Facebook? We have one but never use it.
Finally, tell me about some brand-new and upcoming designs… ⇲ All the new stuff should be in stores by early December. I think most of the new stuff speaks for itself. Our friend Will Gaynor did some incredible paintings for us this round and we did a photo graphic with our friend Dennis McGrath. I’m really proud of this new line. I think it’s the best one yet.
“I’d rather break even than sell my soul.” I love that. Sounds like an old Forties ad, but less hippie. What else is more important than everything else? ⇲ If we were trying to make a bunch of money I wouldn’t be doing a skate brand. We’re at the point now where we can pay the team, a small staff and grow slowly. It’s important for me to show different sides of skateboarding through the graphics and with the people we put on the team.
Words/interview: Renko Heuer