So Shane, what can you tell us about the new Xsjado line coming out?
The new line features a Chris Farmer Pro Boot that includes his new Pro Footwrap. There will also be a new Basic Complete with another new Footwrap called the Sherpa. The skate itself is the same basic mold people have come to love, but we have some new materials and a new ratchet on the instep strap. The new Farmer Footwrap uses the original outsole, but the side-lace system has been modified for more comfort, and the design is a bit more athletic. The Sherpa footwrap uses an all new flat outsole and sports a more casual look. This is by far the best looking Xsjado line we’ve produced yet, and I know skaters are excited to get their hands on it.
How do they differ now that they’re made by Powerslide?
There aren’t a lot of surprises with the new line. We have a good skate, but unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, a lot of people have not had a chance to experience it. There have been some hiccups in getting the molds transferred to the new factory, samples produced, etc. So, getting the line up to our standards and getting it out for people to enjoy must take precedence over any major changes.
Working with Powerslide has been really great. Matthias (Knoll) and I have worked together for years, and we have a great relationship. He trusts my judgment and I trust his, so the “decision by committee” that held up a lot of advances at Salomon has thankfully gone out the window. We all know our roles and we execute accordingly. Now that Powerslide completely controls Xsjado, we’re going to be able to pick-up the pace. Expect to see many more models available in the future.
What do you guys have in the works for ‘08?
We’ll continue with the same mold set in ’08 and produce models for Jeff Stockwell and our newest pro, Damien Wilson. Jeff’s skate should be available in the next few months. I just saw the sample photos of his Footwrap yesterday, and they look great. Damien’s Boot will be available some time this Summer, but we don’t have anything fixed just yet.
We’re also working on a new website. I don’t want to get tied to an exact date, so let’s just say it’s coming some time before the warmest day of the year.
Should we be expecting a Xsjado team video in the near future?
Not in the near-near future. With a brand like Xsjado, we’d have to do something extremely special, and I just don’t see the possibility of that with the lack of cash flow pumping through the industry right now. You have to remember, Powerslide purchased this brand from Salomon over a year ago — they’ve been paying a team of skaters, paying me, paying for ads, all the while not shipping any product. We need to get Xsjado functioning financially before we attempt anything like a proper team video. I’d feel bad — both for the team and for the skaters eager to see a video from us — just asking our guys to go shoot with their friends in Irvine.
A lot of people have described the Mook frame as revolutionary…do you plan on changing the frame or adding a different style frame?
The idea behind the Mook was to expose the irrelevancy of contemporary frame design and awaken new possibilities for grinding. We didn’t necessarily see our concept as the end-all be-all, but the idea was to stir things up. It’s exciting, not just to see the Mook still in strong demand four years later (with no redesign), but also to see other frame companies who have taken the idea and put their own spin on it.
We’ve discussed new frames — I have one idea I’m especially excited about — but we’re trying to see how it fits in to the whole Xsjado offering. What I mean by that is, how important is it on or “to do” list? There are a lot of things we want to do with Xsjado, and now that we’re back up and running properly, it’s time to choose the order in which we want to wage our battles. So no, no specific plans yet, but there is certainly no shortage of ideas.
We were all sad to see Mindgame close last year. Was that something you had been thinking about for a while?
Mindgame was always meant to be a company that challenged the conventions of the industry. I’ve always sought to make “core” companies and products that didn’t have to answer to the mainstream, and I saw Mindgame as the greatest manifestation of that intention. But Mindgame became really popular, really quick. We turned a profit in our first year, and tripled in size our second. It was kind of a fortunate/unfortunate position to be put in. We had the money to do the things we wanted, but somewhere, the message was getting lost. Soon, I started to see posts on the messageboards like “Why do they call themselves Trendkiller if all they do is make trends?” Well, the truth is, we never ever intended to make anything in to a trend — we just liked putting ideas out there and seeing how people responded to them and made them their own. But people have a way of institutionalizing things.
Eventually, people started to copy our aesthetic and our way of doing business. We were flattered, but our idea wasn’t to become this pillar of a brand so much as it was to be a thinktank for everything rollerblading. And our popularity made our job a bit harder, actually. It became increasingly difficult to differentiate ourselves from the other brands out there. And I don’t know, maybe we ran our course, or maybe it’s that I just got older and interested in other things, but I couldn’t see where we were going anymore — or what our purpose was. In my mind, Mindgame’s mission was to add value to the industry, and coming in everyday to make a new “hip” t-shirt graphic was not what I wanted the fate of this company — or my life — to be. In and that way, I had this increasing feeling that the company really owned me.
So, in mid-2005, I started working on an exit strategy that would lead us up to December 31st, 2006. The first plan was to have Dustin and Aaron take over the business, because we didn’t see any reason that Mindgame should totally go away. I’d hand over the torch, and they would create Mindgame Mark II. But as we got closer to the date, it just seemed so unrealistic. I mean, I worked virtually 24/7 365 days a year on that brand. We also ran a tight ship…Brian Ehrich and myself did everything, including Xsjado distribution in the US. There was really no way for Dustin and Aaron to step in and continue at our pace without our knowledge and experience. Plus, it’s not like there’s any money in all of this. Kids think that company owners are driving Beemers and buying houses. That may have been true circa 1998, but these days company owners are skipping their own paychecks just so they can pay their riders.
And honestly, that was the hardest part of letting go of Mindgame; leaving the team. I really felt like an asshole when I made those calls. It was like “Well, thanks for the memories…” It felt very selfish. But everyone understood…some even said they saw it coming. And to their credit, some saw it as an opportunity to relaunch their career. That was the message behind Accidental Machines in a way, actually. It’s like, people define us by our associations, our schedules, our output…and eventually we start to believe it too. For a company, it may be an aesthetic. For a skater, it may be a certain trick they’re known for. But as a free entity, you can choose not to accept those molds and just continue to follow your own instincts…your heart.
People who know me, know that I just love to create new things. And so I continue to seek out situations and environments that allow me to do that.
What have you been up to since then?
I moved to LA last year and took a job as Marketing Director at an auto enthusiast site called WebRidesTV. It was a good move for me — I learned a lot about the power of the web, and was also able to get some talented rollerbladers paying gigs, including Connor O’Brien, Brandon Negrete, Cuauhtzin Guiterrez, Drew Bachrach, and Billy Kostka.
I left WebRides last October to take a position at quarterlife.com as their Director of Project Development. quarterlife is a web show and a social networking site for creative people. I really love what I do, but we’ve had our ups and downs. We made history by being the first internet series to be picked up by network TV, and then we made history by being one of the fastest cancellations in NBC history. After that, we had to make some cuts, and unfortunately, I had to layoff some of my friends — friends I had actually brought on to the project.
Right now, we’re reconfiguring the model here, and are much more focused on the social networking aspects of our site. We offer content makers from all forms of media; film & video, fine & digital art, music, photography, etc. a place to showcase their creativity and network with like-minded people. You could call it a cross between Myspace, YouTube, and DeviantArt. We offer a very specialized space for creative people that are looking for a more integral experience than what is out there right now, and I’m optimistic about our future.
I’m also optimistic about rollerblading. I look out there and see the efforts being put out by people — skaters, companies, brands, shops…people I have known and worked with for years — and then I look at rollerblading itself, and I think it’s nearly impossible that this doesn’t have a larger effect on the world someday. There are just too many talented, passionate people in and around it to be eternally overlooked. It is a really special community, and I am grateful to be a part of it. I mean, like anyone who’s had a successful business in skating, I’ve been accused of being in it for the money. Well, I don’t have that business anymore, and I have a good job outside the industry that pays me well, so I ask you then: Why am I still here?
Those who want to connect with Shane can reach him at http://www.quarterlife.com/shane
Valo AB.VX Black Corduroy Boot
Valo JJ Light Black and Wine Boot
Jug Backpack XL
Youth Jon Julio Airliner Frames