Feature Article

Matthew Wilcox Interview

Matt Wilcox scraping the tree at the Time Machine
Matt Wilcox scraping the tree at the Time Machine

I’m here with Matt Wilcox at Pedlow skate park. June 2022.

Matt, do you prefer Matt or Matthew?

Either or. I go by like Matt or Matthew? I don’t know. I’ve had people call me Wilcox, but I feel like that’s kind of weird.

So how long how long ago did you start skateboarding?

I went and rechecked because I think I was telling people the wrong amount so I started on my own at seven. So, 14 years.

How did you get into it, like what would you first see that got you drawn into skateboarding?

I saw a whole bunch of the mega ramp, Danny Way during X Games. Yeah, I think I literally saw the X Games when he broke his ankle and then went back and did a backflip and then landed his run or whatever the doctors were like don’t do it – don’t go for it. That and then I was like Venice Beach park and just like walking down to all the shops and I got a really shitty plastic penny board and then that’s what I ran with for a while.

Did you learn like just on your local streets sidewalks and curbs and stuff?

I went around my little neighborhood my dad used to skate so it was pretty easy. Because he’d want to take me to skate parks whenever it was mostly just around my neighborhood at first.

Where was the neighborhood?

Oh, Santa Clarita. .. I skated for like a year then got like a Zero board, that was like my first real deck. Then, like one year in, I think I broke my right arm on a blunt to fakie trying to do like a blunt grab your nose and then pull in.

So you’re only a year in on skating and you’re doing blunts to fakie?

I was trying. I had full pads but still somehow just like landed on my arm here and just broke it.

Was your training ground and your first training ground like the old Santa Clarita skatepark?

Yeah but before the one that’s there right now,

yeah the old one I’ve skated

.. dude, that thing was sick

..little moon craters..,

yeah those pools, that’s what I learned in. But the new Santa Clarita I think is honestly maybe better because it’s way bigger but that old one had like a fun part to it.

It had some character. I’ll say that that’s for sure.


I like the old down ditch section towards the bottom

I saw a rattlesnake down there.

So let’s fast forward to when your dad started taking you to contest all the time or skate parks all the time that’s where I started seeing you. Your dad was pretty instrumental in getting you to different places learn how to skate right?

Yeah without my dad, I definitely couldn’t have gotten as good as I have or like probably wouldn’t have wanted to skate as much because he just encouraged me. He liked skating even before I skated. Cuz when he was my age he used to skate like in the 70s on the weird like wooden boards, but then he got way more into moto cross or whatever but he’s still like skating and when I first started skating he started like he relearned to skate. He got pads got a board and then would go the park with me too and that like that helped a lot.

I was really drawn to skating. I did a whole bunch of other sports before that and I just didn’t really like any of them.

What ones did you do, baseball or soccer?

I did soccer and baseball and football and then karate. I don’t know I just like skating. Skating is like my favorite out of all of them and I thought it was the coolest.

How long before you enter your first contest? Since we’re going to chronologically, what was that like?

I think I was nine when I maybe did my first contest because I didn’t want to do it at first.

Matt - Long ago 2014 at the Skatelab (RIP)
Matt – Long ago 2014 at the Skatelab (RIP)

Was it a CASL?

Yeah it was a CASL contest at Skatelab. I was not down because I thought I was just gonna get destroyed and I only wanted to do the pool, actually wait, I only wanted to do street because I was in the street at that time. But my dad wanted me to do the pool and the half pipe so I did everything I think I did pretty bad in street. I did good in the pool and the half pipe, so like I kind of like the pool more. Definitely, I’ve done tons of CASL contests, King of the Groms kind of later on.

Did you do any any out of state or Norcal events like King of the Groms?

I went to Minnesota for King of the Groms pretty early on. I think I was probably like 10 because I did King of the Groms for like a few years at that time and I know they invited me out to Minnesota and it was my first trip anywhere.

My dad would take me pretty far but like the furthest was like three hours so going to. Minnesota is pretty crazy. We went to 3rd Lair.

..yeah, so what do you think of 3rd Lair and doing contests like that?

Dude, it was sick. 3rd Lair was super Gnarly. I saw a bunch of people that never seen me skate. I think that’s first time I saw like Jagger Eaton skate and Jet and they’re doing like 540’s, so I was pretty blown away because they like same age with me. I was just doing like little front side airs.

World Cup and a Tim Brauch was sick.

Were you in an am division for that or when did you jump up to the pros?

I went into the pro after I won the am or whatever at Tim Brauch. I won Tim Brauch am in I think 20 like 18 or 17 or something and just the year after I decided to go to pro. But I didn’t have a pro board and I wasn’t really like pro but I was trying to get to pro so I was just gonna do the pro contest anyway, yeah and just see how far I could go with it or whatever.

But Pro-tec was the one I skated like the hardest. That one was sick. It really got all of the vert kids from everywhere to skate one pool and since the pro division was super famous…

..Oh Chris Miller the master..

Chris Miller and Bucky Lasek won the pro one a bunch of times and so did Pedro and that just hyped up everyone in the ams. We were like, OH YEAH. Maybe if we win the am here we’ll get to go to the pros.

Literally that year I went against Tristan (Rennie) and he won the AM and went into Pro and then Pro and he won. I think that’s the only time that ever happened in that. So Tristan, gnarly, one of my favorites.

Over 10 feet in the Combi Pool
Over 10 feet in the Combi Pool

So how many how many Vans Pool Parties, or the first couple were probably Pro-Tec, for you have you been in?

I think I did each year. I just like two or three of them and then Corona [virus] hit and then they stopped doing it. But uh, one of them I made it into the qualifier and the year before I made it in to but like I got hurt on like my first run or something so I didn’t really make it that far.

The second year I made it first like pretty far and landed most my run and then fell. But in that contest if you fall on any trick in your run you weren’t gonna make it. Everyone was so gnarly. So I fell, and then they haven’t done it since. so if ever do again I’m going to be hyped. Also, (I wish they’d) open the indoor Combi like that’s the best pool ever in my opinion.

So how do you work on approaching a competition? You’re your air games huge, your foot plants are good, everything’s really good so what do you how do you try to impress the judges?

If it’s a contest I know it’s gonna happen and it’s like somewhere not far. I’ll go to it and practice the pool a little bit. But most contests aren’t like that so like it’s like your first time skating the pool or whatever or second and you just gotta go. I usually will try to make a run but I don’t necessarily like make a run I make a bunch of lines and sort of like just will have them ready and like I’ll kind of make a run but then also have some lines so if something goes wrong in my run I could just throw in a line that I had planned just like right when I messed up.

For me in my runs, sometimes I’ll just end up at the wrong area and then you just kind of got to figure out like what you’re gonna do now. I like to plan my run and I try to have a lot of trick variation like one slide one grind, one blunt. If it’s a vert ramp I want to have a 540, a flip trick, then some fat airs or whatever, but like definitely want to have some grinds too.

So you want to throw out a big variety basically?

Yeah keep it well rounded a little bit everything but like, not everything because I’m good at like particular things so I’ll like try to throw in what I’m best at but not try to repeat it because I think judges get bored if you keep doing the same run. Also another thing people will hold back tricks for like later on in the run. I think that could be good sometimes. Sometimes I think it’s bad to hold your trick. But I think if you have three runs, a lot contest to do that. First run I do my easy run just like all the gnarly tricks I know I can do and try to get through. Then my second run like I’ll throw in some tricks that like, I know I like I have difficulty with and then if I land that my third one is just go crazy like go as high as possible and whatever tricks I could get .

Indy at the Grosso Ramp @ Vans HQ 2018
Indy at the Grosso Ramp @ Vans HQ 2018

[Interrupted be the neighboring graduation celebration music]

Part II – a week later

So Matt, you have a vert contest coming up. How do you prepare differently for a vert contest than a bowl contest?

Well, first part is to go skate some vert. I’m a little bit picky because I live up north and there’s not really any vert ramps out here so I can only really go skate a kind of a smaller vert ramp, which is the Magnus Machine or The Time Machine or whatever machine you want to call it. But uh, I don’t know, if I could I go skate like some bigger vert ramps before vert contests [i would].

If it’s a pool contest then I’ll just go to like Pedlow. I love Pedlow pool.

What’s the best you’ve done in a vert ramp competition?

I’m not the best atvert, I just go and just try to go big and have fun and put down some good lines.

I’ve done pretty decent in a few… Oh, I technically got biggest air at the Texas Houston thing last year, but they put in big air last second so I don’t didn’t really count like they had a whole format and then I think it was a one of the dudes running it was like yo, let’s put in big air and then the got everyone to donate and then they threw it.

What kind of setup do you like to ride like what’s your what’s your standard setup?

I like 8.75 and then like wheels that are around like 56 to 60,

You like a certain wheelbase?

Oh, yeah. Like 15.

How about you like a lot of nose? You do a lot of Madonna’s and body jars and nose grabs, so does it help you or do you like a big nose or no?

Yeah, I like the big nose. I don’t know I grew up just like riding normal popsicle boards forever and going onto Powell they have a lot of shape boards so I like tested it out a little bit so I’m kind of skating like whatever.

Are you in between like you think you’re gonna go back to popsicles?

I’m on the popsicle right now. I’m gonna probably stick with popsicles but I’ll like throw in a shape here and there. Popsicles I could still skate street. I could still skate cool and vert. I love popsicles. Shape boards are sick. I want to get an old school one and then skate on it and do some inverts and like some foot plants and stuff just to like get that authentic vert skating feel. I just want like see how it was like how it is skating one of them.

Do you have any plans to learn any kind of new tricks or more foot plants and stuff?

I want to learn seven twenty’s.

What do you go to to like get inspiration to think of some tricks to learn tricks?

I watch like a very large array of vert skaters. Sometimes I’ll watch like Colin McKay or like Rune Glifberg or like Peter Hewitt or it’ll be like Ben Schroeder or Lincoln Ueda or like, I don’t know. I have like a humongous list of people Alex Chalmers, Chet Thomas. Oh that dude that is always at the Combi, who does big airs, oh Lester Lester Kasai. And then Matt and then Steve Badillo and Charlie and you guys oh and then other Matt, Matt Boyster yes like he’d be at Skatelab, so I’d see him. Yeah he used to kill that place.

I don’t know, Tom Schaar too, I saw him at Skatelab. I don’t know. I just kind of like. If I see a trick and I think it’s cool. I’ll try to learn it there’s some tricks I’ve heard like forced myself to learn just to like kind of stay with the pack like the 540 because I didn’t really like it that much.

Doubles with AJ Nelson
Doubles with AJ Nelson

Are there any tricks you’ve kind of thrown away?

There’s like a few but not like by choice. I’d like to keep every trick forever.

There’s some that are just ugly. You gotta go, I don’t want to do that one anymore...

There’s just some just haven’t done for a while like Frontside Rodeo. I got hurt on it a bunch of times, so I just stopped doing it and then frontside Invert for I just don’t do enough. I just haven’t got to it. I’ll probably get it one day, I don’t see myself not doing Front Invert. Then Frontside nose grinds. I’m pretty weak on them. I want to get that better. And then there’s like a whole class of tricks like flip tricks on to vert like grinds and then just literally flip trick to grabs. I want to get capable of mute grab kick flip melon kick flip indie, but I can only do like a kickflip melon and indie so far. So oh no, there’s so many things it’s like unlimited.

So what’s your what’s your favorite best transition, what do you like the most? 10-foot tranny two feet over something like that?

Whatever the Combi, the indoor Combi. ..

..It’s got a little bit of a different. The rounds different than square..

Yeah. I don’t know if that indoor Combi might be my favorite pool because the square is like two vert ramps and the circles like a perfect, like the best pool possible. the Combi the best of both worlds for me, it’s almost vert and pool.

Have you got any other plans for skating this year, any trips?

Wherever Powell goes and they’re willing to take me all right because they have a lot of trips and they have a lot of skaters and it’s hard to fit everybody in so. Sacrifices will be made and people will be left out but it’s okay, that’s just kind of how it is.

What’s what’s one place or an event or something you haven’t ever been to that you want to get to?

Oh, Europe, anywhere in Europe, anything Europe. I was gonna go to Vert Attack but Corona hit. Literally I had the ticket bought I was for sure gonna go. But yeah Corona and the lockdown. Just anywhere, anywhere in Europe anywhere out of America. I’ve been in America. I’ve never left it technically. I have been to Mexico but I don’t count that. I didn’t even really go there for that long it’s for like 10 minutes. Yeah anywhere out of America.

You got any anybody that’s help you get as good as you are that you want to recognize?

Yeah. Steve Badillo, he helped teach me a bunch of tricks at Skatelab. Then Rob Beaudoin, he runs Vert Jungle, I got to skate the vert ramp there a lot so I learned a lot of tricks there. All the Skatelab was sick, Woodward because I worked there and I learned tricks and it’s just sick experience. Kind of like corporate to the max but still fun to go skate and and they they do be making you teach kids, so I’m not going there and just only skating.

Definitely my dad and my mom, both of them like I couldn’t be skating for sure without them. Especially now. I throw it out to Moonshine. I was on them a long time got my first pro model with them. Gotta, throw it out there.

And anyone who like let me go skate at their spot and like try teaching me. Steve [Badillo] taught me a lot. Honestly I learned the most at vert at Vert Jungle only cuz I went there as much as possible.

Who was showing you how to skate it like who you skating with there?

He’s [ROB] is really good, Madonna’s and stuff over coping, no pads all the time do you know that weird barbecue thing? I think he did it in a flip-flops he did a rock and roll on the extension and then like Madonna tail slide over. That’s like his ramp yeah. Growing up skating I just saw like, trying to think of way too many pros, like Bucky Lasek forever. He’s like the Powell dude gotta throw a Bucky out there, he’s still going to this day, so. OMAR!, taught me how to front side left side. I almost forgot that like I was just at the Combi randomly. I was trying to learn them or whatever and I just couldn’t get it and then he gave me some tips and he’s like the best dude ever to give you tips on front lip slide, so yeah. I actually learned it. And then later on I got to skate with him and he’s just super cool so.

Got any last words shout outs?

Shout out to everybody! I love skateboarding!