BY Bryan Soderlind
Brian Grubb has had a dream career in wakeskating. After winning the first Rider of the Year award from Alliance in 2001, he has spent seven solid years dominating contests, landing covers, and pushing the sport’s limits on both the wake and rails. I’ve been fortunate to be Brian’s friend for about five years and I can’t say enough good things about the guy. I caught up with him on Monday night at the bowling alley, Firkin and Kegler, for same tasty beverages, some high rollin’, and a haphazard interview involving no writing utensils. So here is my attempt at some burning questions with him between frames.
BS: Who are your five favorite wakeskaters of all time?
BG: Three? Can I have five?
BG: Scotty Byerly, Thomas Horrell, Drew McGuckin, Aaron Reed, Danny Hampson
BS: What are the three biggest moments in your wakeskating career?
BG: Winning Alliance Rider of the Year in 2001 for sure, after that probably my first Wakeboarding Magazine cover of that Benihana shot by Joey Meddock. And then probably 2007 when I won the Reader’s Poll and Rider of the Year in Wakeboarding Magazine.
BS: Why is it that you have never switched to grip tape?
BG: Grip tape is great for letting your foot slide off for kickflips for sure but for wake-to-wake stuff I just like the consistent grip you get and that it dampens all the vibrations when you land. Your feet sit a little deeper with foam so if you land tail heavy you aren’t getting worked.
BS: Pet Peeves of Wakeskating?
BG: Short ropes and small wakes
BS: Let’s hear about this Nautica commercial you did a few years back, how did all that come about?
BG: (starts laughing) Yeah, Paul O’Brien from Hyperlite at the time got a call from someone at Nautica saying that they had seen me in a video and wanted to do a commercial with me riding. It was going to pay a lot of money and take only a day so I said sure. The only kicker was that I had to ride in jeans, but whatever. They flew me out to L.A., put me in some sweet hotel. I had to be at this lake out there at 5 a.m. and when I got there, there were so many people working on this commercial. Like a hundred or something, for real. They had these awesome 35mm Motion Picture cameras with water housings and the whole deal. Emmett Malloy was one of the main guys filming and I rode for about 4 hours that morning. We broke for lunch and there was insane catering with a sushi chef and steak and lobster on the grill. Anything you wanted you could get. I was the only talent there too so there kind of was a lot of pressure on me. Heff (Chris Heffner) from Billabong came with me and had to let the Nautica guys know that I rode for Billabong and couldn’t have Nautica logos showing on the jeans, no stickers on the board, and stuff like that. I rode again for awhile in the afternoon and that was it. The commercial aired on MTV for like two and half weeks and also on the jumbotron in Times Square. It is the first and only commercial Nautica has ever done to this day. Then I got a big check, crazy.
BS: That is awesome. What’s up with not having a shoe deal right now?
BG: (Laughs again) I have something in the works right now which is cool, but yeah. For awhile there I was with DC and then Vans for two years, and for the past year or so I have just been rocking whatever.
BS: I can’t forget the cover of that Alliance Issue from back when you won Rider of the Year. What was that all about? I had no idea why anyone would even try that rail on a wakeskate.
BG: That rail was pretty big. Everyone was really only building these up-to-flat rails at the time, like Byerly and Brannon Meek and those guys. That rail was the first time we got together as Pointless and built a rail. We bought the tallest 4×4’s the hardware store had to sink into the ground. I tried it on a wakeboard a few times before I hit it on a wakeskate. Right at sunset that night I gave it a couple go’s and I was really close to pulling it on the third try and then on the fourth try the rope got hooked on a screw sticking up and basically ripped the whole rail out. It was really scary, Letchworth was right there shooting photos and almost got taken out.
BS: What are three tricks you want to land this year?
BG: Get consistent on the back bigs wake to wake, learn some flip tricks wake-to-wake, and then another trick I don’t want to say. Someone will go out and land it before me!
BS: As many times as you’ve won the Toe Jam, which wins will feel the best? The more recent ones because you can still beat all the new young guys that are coming up?
BG: Every time I win a Toe Jam it is a special experience. They all feel really good. The format is so tough and everyone has always been really good. The sport has progressed a lot but it’s not like winning any one of them was easy. You just have to ride super consistent so it’s always hard.
BS: What are your goals for the rest of your career as a wakeskater?
BG: I don’t know, I never thought I would achieve so much in this sport already. I have done so much more than I ever expected to do on a wakeskate and surpassed all my goals. I’ll have to come up with some new goals for next year but I’ll always be grateful for how good this sport has been to me and can’t wait to watch where it goes from here.
(Interviewer’s note: The next day I felt like I had let Brian off the hook a little easy with this interview so I decided to email him at lunchtime the following day to answer five randomly chosen questions from those Myspace Survey/Bulletins everyone loves so much. These responses were received around 3 p.m.)
How many pets do you have?
Two. Emma and Nina
What does your last outgoing text say?
To Ricky Macintosh and it said, “That sounds like trouble but yeah I’ll go”
Are you excited about anything today?
I made a 30-foot putt to save par
How late did you stay up last night and why?
‘Til 2 ‘cause we rolled downtown after bowling .
Have you ever snuggled with someone you weren’t dating?