2014 ROTY: Shredtown
This is the Rider of the Year interview with Shredtown, as seen in the Dec/Jan 2015 issue of Alliance Wake.
Luck has a funny way of defining things, but then again people have a funny way of defining luck. Some will say that there is no such thing as luck, that we are all creators of our own destiny through hard work and intestinal fortitude.
“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Others will say that luck is a part of life, both good and bad. Things happen and it’s how you deal with it that defines who you are.
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
Three’s company… Photo: Bryan Soderlind
Either way you cut it, lucky or not, having a meaningful impact in whatever it is you choose to do requires work and dedication. Back in 2009 much of the world was introduced to Chris Abadie, Andrew Adams, and Davis Griffin: collectively known as Shredtown. Their blog and the videos they created for it were catching eyes and turning heads. Fast forward five years and the trio is known throughout the sport as some of the most creative, progressive, and different riders – regularly hitting jaw-dropping winch spots, building creative features in their System 2.0 park, and of course filming it all. With the release of Drop the Gun – the crew’s first full-length video – Shredtown put the sport of wakeboarding on notice: you can be really different with your approach to riding and still be very successful.
While some might look at Shredtown and cite luck over skill, they would be wrong; and probably jealous. Luck doesn’t work if you’re not delivering a good product. And what Shredtown has delivered with their riding isn’t just good, it’s redefining what it means to ride a wakeboard. There is a reason you don’t see more pros pushing themselves and their riding the way Shredtown do: they either can’t, or more likely they won’t. It takes time, determination, and guts – and many riders view it as too risky or not worth their time.
Drop the Gun is evidence of all of that from Chris, Andrew, and Davis. Their full length video will go down as one of the greats because it changes the way people view, think about, and approach wakeboarding. That is one hell of an impact. An impact that keeps wakeboarding fresh and moving forward. An impact that is worthy of being named the Alliance Rider of the Year.
How would you describe your vision of wakeboarding?
AA: A lot of it is based around snowboarding and skating. It sounds super cliche, but I guess it’s the truth for us. Since we first started riding together and doing stuff we’d always get the most stoked watching a video that had something really unique or out of the box. My vision of my riding changes every year it seems like. Four years ago I rode completely different than I do now.
CA: It started with basics – learning basic tricks on rails and stuff. Then it evolved into wanting to find different places to do those tricks – like cool urban spots with some visual appeal. And there is a sort of gnar factor to hitting a spot that’s never been wakeboarded at before – you don’t know if it’s possible or if you’re going to make it. That’s what sucked me into what we do – the whole uniqueness of it all.
Then if we have an idea but can’t find a winch spot to do it we can head out to our park and build it. It’s cool to sort of be driven creatively by winching but to have the System 2.0 to help make some of what you envision come to life.
DG: I think now my vision of wakeboarding is still evolving, but it’s always based around not limiting myself. You’re only limited by your imagination and wakeboarding is way more than just one type or style of riding.
“You’re only limited by your imagination and wakeboarding is way more than just one type or style of riding.” – Davis Griffin Photo: Bryan Soderlind
Where did the name Shredtown come from?
CA: I don’t know, it was thrown around as a funny term for riding a long time before we used it as a name. It might have been Andrew and our buddy Brent. If we were gonna go ride that weekend we’d say something like “Let’s get our tickets to Shredtown.” I don’t remember when we decided to call our website/blog Shredtown, but it just happened.
What was your personal goal going into Drop the Gun?
CA: Originally I think my goal was pretty broad. I just wanted to have a full winching section that had that urban skate feel, just trick after trick. And then to build obstacles on the System 2.0 that we have always had in mind.
DG: My goal was to create a full winch video part, and I think that was all of our goals. I think we did that. I really just wanted to bring this side of wakeboarding and our view of wakeboarding to the mainstream.
AA: We really wanted to show how much wakeboarding is out there and all the different things that are possible. There are literally endless opportunities with winching and System 2.0 and if we could tap into just a few things we were stoked. In wakeboarding videos in the past there are a lot of instances where one big feature will get built and then everyone in the video or section will session it. I wanted Drop the Gun to have more of that snow or skate feel where there are a lot of different hits. We didn’t want to go to a winch spot and have all of us hit it because there would end up being so much repeat footage. It is definitely a harder route to go but in the end it is worth it.
“We really wanted to show how much wakeboarding is out there and all the things that are possible.” — Andrew Adams Photo: Chris Garrison
What kind of impact do you want Drop the Gun to have on video projects?
CA: We just really wanted to show our vision of the sport to the world and create a unique video. Just because there is no boat riding doesn’t mean it’s not wakeboarding. We’re still doing the same tricks but there are so many unique ways to do those tricks. Maybe Drop the Gun will help show some people that stepping up is taking your tricks and doing them somewhere where there are some consequences, where some things can go wrong. And overall, just inspire people to get out there and ride.
Growing up in Texas I’d get every wakeboard video and watch it and get inspired. Hopefully Drop the Gun can be that movie for the next generation of kids.
DG: Hopefully it can inspire some people to go out there and make their own full-length video. I’m stoked to see more and more people getting into the creative DIY side of wakeboarding.
Has Drop the Gun had the impact you wanted it to?
AA: The first couple months after the video came out were tough for me. I was feeling like it wasn’t getting the reception or reaction I expected. Maybe I built things up in my head too much. But that can be hard to tell being out here in Texas and away from the scene. I was definitely questioning things though and wondering why we’d just spent close to two years trying to kill ourselves to make this video. But as Surf Expo rolled around and we got plugged back into some stuff going on we saw more and more people appreciating it and complimenting it. Now it’s won awards and we’ve gotten Alliance Rider of the Year – so now I feel like it has made the impact I wanted it to. We’re super stoked at this point, I think we accomplished what we wanted to.
DG: It’s crazy looking back because just a few years ago we never would have thought of hitting spots we hit in Drop the Gun. I’m pretty sure that people now are going to look at spots and say, “Wow, this is possible.” If they want a good video part they’re gonna have to do some crazy stuff, which is cool. Recently I’ve been so stoked on all the winching photos and videos I’ve seen from a bunch of different riders. Wakeskaters have been killing it for so long, I’m glad more wakeboarders are getting into it. I feel like for some of the newer kids coming up if they aren’t strictly boat guys they have to have some winching in their repertoire, otherwise you’re just gonna be known as a cable rat (laughs). Which is fine, but those guys are just the ones going and winning all the contests. I think everyone has an interest or an itch to get out there and do something crazy with a winch, and I think that’s cool. People have been doing it for a long time, but it’s cool to see it progress.
Chris making sure Drop the Gun had the impact he and the crew envisioned. Photo: Chris Garrison
Do you ever worry about anybody getting really hurt trying to do something similar to what you guys do?
DG: The crazy thing is that we never really got hurt that bad. A lot of the stuff is high impact, but you’re on such a high intense focus level that you’re really aware of what’s around and what’s going on. Accidents happen, for sure – Andrew got knocked out cold on one of our last days filming, which was probably the worst accident from the whole video; but accidents can happen anywhere doing anything. People get hurt doing the dumbest stuff ever, so just be smart about it if you’re gonna winch something gnarly.
Over the years your web videos have been really popular. How did you keep Drop the Gun from just being a “long web video”?
AA: A lot of our web videos centered around one winch spot or a certain theme we just built – and we’d all hit it. In order to differentiate Drop the Gun we really wanted to have a bunch of different spots and unique hits for each of us. Just pick out your one hit, do it, and we’ll roll to the next spot…
For the System 2.0 section we really wanted to get as creative as possible and make the setups visually appealing. There are a lot of videos these days where guys build stuff but it looks really janky and thrown together. The obstacle might be cool, but it doesn’t look finished – just 2×4’s slapped everywhere. We used to do that too, but for Drop the Gun we wanted to make everything look nice, clean, and well thought out.
What is your favorite part of the video?
AA: Davis’ intro. Davis can’t say it ‘cause it’s his (laughs). That’s definitely my favorite part though. It took so long to make it all happen. In a lot of skate, snowboarding, or BMX videos it’s always the coolest when you just see them cruising through the streets and tapping this or jumping over that. That’s the vibe we wanted because you never get to see that in wakeboarding.
DG: Honestly, not to sound too into myself, but I think it’s my intro (laughs). Not because it’s mine, but because of how Andrew and I had this vision of what it could be and we made it work. We went out for months trying to line everything up so it would look right. He was so particular about making it perfect so it flowed together, so I kept going back with him to work on it. I think it turned out spot-on. I’ve had a lot of people come up and tell me how much they like that intro and I just have to give all the credit to Andrew because he killed it making that happen.
CA: I think my favorite part of the actual video is the credits. The feeling you get when that song comes while trying to figure out everything that just happened throughout the video is crazy. It’s just a cool vibe with a bunch of funny lifestyle which contrasts to the somewhat intense video.
Do you ever feel like your version of wakeboarding or your approach to being a wakeboarder limits you too much? Are you missing out on sponsors, or recognition, or being able to make a more substantial living by focusing on what you do?
AA: In terms of my riding, not at all. The main reason we were so stoked on winching and the System 2.0 was because there were zero limitations. And that’s not to bash boat riding or anything, I like riding boat. We just found this area that was really new and exciting for us and we’ve been pushing ourselves that way for years now.
In the earlier days I think it was hard to feel accepted or respected by the industry or some other pros. It was sort of like, “Yeah, you can do this crazy shit, but can you really ride boat?” It always seemed to go back to the boat thing. I feel like it took a while for some people to give us credit just because we weren’t maybe the most completely well-rounded riders. The funny thing is we didn’t even know what rail riding was. Our first eight years or whatever of riding together was just boat riding.
In terms of sponsorships though I think it probably has limited us. I think if we were doing 12’s or double flips behind the boat we’d probably have more sponsor opportunities on the table than we do now. It’s hard to say, but I think there is still a major part of the sport that is filtered through boating. There aren’t a lot of people doing the kind of stuff we do on wakeboards. It’s understandable, but there is a lot more to wakeboarding than just riding boat.
DG: I think so. You look at a lot of pros who have requirements to be at certain contests or demos or events or whatever, and we don’t do any of that. If somebody wanted to pay me to do that I’d be happy to, but it’s never been that way for us. We’ve never been involved in the contest scene or anything like that. We don’t really have a lot of expectations from anybody other than ourselves, which is good and bad.
So much of the sport is based in Orlando, both riders and media. That’s why you get guys doing endless summers and staying there. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change. There are other little hotspots for riding, but a lot of it has to do with media and getting exposure. There are probably so many kids out there killing it that the industry doesn’t really know about. And who’s going to push them or recognize them?
CA: It’s hard to be different. I don’t think we’re the first, but pioneers don’t always get rewarded for what they’re doing. I think we just kept doing what we were doing because we liked it, we didn’t really think of it any other way. Overall my goal was never to become Rider of the Year (laughs), this is insane. I think just working our asses off and doing it because this is the way we wanted to do it – we just kept working at it and kept getting better. It’s definitely cool to get rewarded. Maybe this will open some doors going forward – we definitely don’t have the longest list of sponsors.
“Andrew is the guy who gets things going and gets them done. He’s a perfectionist, too.” — Chris Abadie Photo: Bryan Soderlind
What does Davis Griffin bring to the table?
AA: Davis has a super unique outlook on the sport. While we were winching he was never worried if a spot was too big or too small. One of the hardest things is to make a small unique winch spot look good and Davis is one of the best at that. He knew the direction he wanted to go and how he wanted to make tricks look. He is also the funny guy, whether he tries to be or not. Chris and I are always sitting back laughing at and with Davis.
CA: Davis has a much more loose style. You never know what to expect but it’s awesome because some really unique things come out of his riding. Most of the time Andrew and I are watching Davis ride and just like “Did you just see that?!” He just approaches things differently and has the most fun while doing so.
Davis. And some dirty water. In the dark. Go figure. Photo: Chris Garrison
What does Andrew Adams bring to the table?
DG: As a rider he’s got a different eye. A lot of the System 2.0 stuff came out of his head. He loves to study shred. He knows a lot and he’s got a lot of ideas. That’s where a lot of the creativity and wackiness comes from – and that’s what a lot of people like. He’s always been the one to do the one-footers and stuff like that, and I think it’s rad.
CA: Andrew is the guy who gets things going and gets them done. He’s a perfectionist, too. He and Davis are opposites in some respects. Davis will get things done really efficiently, but Andrew will make sure it’s all done right and everything. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. As far as his riding Andrew has always been more technical in that he thinks about things more. Every press or 180 needs to be done just right at just the right time, so I call him a “tech rider” for thinking about all those details.
Andrew startup. Photo: Bryan Soderlind
What does Chris Abadie bring to the table?
AA: We call chris the “Flowmaster”. Nothing ever gets to him. It’s good to have him around because in his eyes everything is always good and going to workout somehow, even if some shit has hit the fan. Davis and I can be a little more on the stress-case side, so it’s good to have Chris around. He’s that small town country boy that just has zero worries in life.
DG: Chris has the ability to shut his brain off and just hit anything in front of him. I’ll try to tell him maybe he should think some more before trying something, but he does it. He never drops the rope or backs out, ever. Sometimes I’ll drop the rope like ten times going into a spot – just trying to pump myself up. But Chris will just charge it. Honestly during all of our filming I don’t think he dropped the rope once. And it always works out, he’s like a cat (laughs).
Tubular. Photo: Chris Garrison
What’s that feeling like for you when you’re at a spot and thinking about the consequences?
CA: It’s horrible (laughs). It’s inevitable to think about the bad, but you just have to know what you have to do – whether it’s exactly where and how much to ollie or how to land or whatever. Sometimes I’ll see a spot but not end up hitting until a month later or something, but that whole time I’m thinking about it and visualizing it. I think that actually helps me prepare.
What has kept you guys together?
AA: I think a lot of it is putting in the work. We all get stoked on working toward something cool and unique. It can definitely suck in the moment – it might be 100 degrees out, the winch might be acting up, nobody will land anything at first – but when we all get back to the computer and look at the footage we can say, “Damn, we just did that!” That’s a feeling that never gets old.
CA: It’s a common passion. And sometimes it can be grinding. Sometimes I hate it. That’s what being passionate is, is hating it, too. It’s been a crazy ride and we’re always there for each other.
It all goes back to getting that winch and setting up the corrugated tube in the shallow water by Andrew’s dock and hitting it. From there we’ve all progressed and all really been into winching and just doing different stuff. It’s kind of crazy to think about. If we hadn’t had fun with the winch who knows what we’d be doing right now. It’s almost like you try one thing and then that opens new doors and you start thinking, “Well if this is possible, can this be possible?” That becomes almost addictive – finding and trying new things.
Are you guys open with each other and even critical in terms of riding?
CA: Yeah, definitely. We’re all buddies and we want each other to ride our best. It’s good to be open, even if it means telling Andrew that something didn’t look cool (laughs). He’s definitely told me to never do certain stuff again (laughs). It’s cool to be able to have that though, but for us to all have our own styles. I think that’s what action sports is about is progressing and having fun with friends, but doing things your own unique way.
What does it mean to you to be named Alliance ROTY?
AA: It’s honestly insane. To be amongst the some of the wakeboarding legends doesn’t seem real and probably wont for a long time. It also came with some of the hardest work I have ever put into something my entire life. I am stoked that we have been able to stick together over the years and create something that we had always dreamed of. Just want to say thank you to a sport that has always supported us and pushed us to get to this point.
CA: It’s crazy, it makes me nervous (laughs). To be part of that group of guys is unbelieveable. This is something I can hang on to and it’s ours and we got it. When I’m older I can look back and say, “Yeah, we did something cool and we made an impact on the sport.” I wasn’t in this sport to become ROTY, but I guess looking back at what we’ve done and work we’ve put in it’s humbling and gratifying. You’re only going to get out what you put in, so it feels crazy to be getting this.
DG: Honestly it’s hard for me to even think about. I just keep wondering how this all happened. I never could have imagined any of this. It makes me super thankful for everybody who has supported us and believed in us.
What’s next for Shredtown?
DG: We’re working on an event with Slingshot at the Shredtown ranch. I don’t really want to call it a contest because we aren’t really into contests, but we just want to have something new and different and unique that brings a bunch of people together for something really cool. Kind of like The Carnival; that event was so rad.
AA: We’ve done cool web videos and we just did the full length video thing, so it seems like the next logical step is doing a crazy, cool event. Invite like 20 of the best riders out and do something unique. We’ve got the perfect property to do it, so I think that’s the next step. It should come together over the next couple months.
CA: I’d like to work on more video stuff for sure. I also think it would be really cool to take a couple up-and-comers under our wing and sort of show them what we do and how we do it, just to keep that sort of Shredtown vibe alive going forward. We’re gonna be too old at some point (laughs), so hopefully we can get some younger kids stoked on what we do and teach them some stuff. Maybe even start a brand out of it or something, who knows, it’s up to us.
Who know’s what’s in the future for the bros of Shredtown, but the real question might be what’s in the past… Groovy 70’s party, anybody? Photo: Bryan Soderlind