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Thomas Horrell Interview - Part OneWith regards to Thomas Horrell's involvement and contributions to wakeskating, he has been a man of few words and many actions. He has had a sincere interest in the progression of wakeskating since its modern inception, and invested his time and attention to it when wakeskating was at its smallest and "payouts" came in the form of personal fulfillment.
Thomas and his projects have been uniquely inspired from day one, beginning with the direction in which he took his riding-a skate influenced direction-while others were interested in Astrodeck, barefoot riding, and larger boards. By taking the narrowest wakeboard that was out at the time and customizing it in size and traction, he was able to do the first kickflip ever on a wakeskate (among a few other firsts, with some that have yet to be replicated).
Once he was able to make his own designs through Cassette, he began to make his decks out of wood with black and white artwork that would go hand in hand with the identification of the brand through its early years. Although, not everyone could understand the graphics and appreciate what they stood for. Despite his untraditional concepts and approach to artwork, he has been able to overcome conventional minds with unconventional designs, which continues to be a Cassette/Horrell trademark.
Another aspect of Thomas that's unique both in personality and to wakeskating is how he intertwines personal influences like skateboarding, music and art into his projects, resulting in an outlet for his creativity and passion to manifest themselves into something amazing. The sum of these parts also lead to the enlightenment of the industry via numerous projects from the hands of Cassette, which can range from inspiring and original videos (including the first all-wakeskate video, Linear Perspective), board graphics that helped identify the company for a number of years, or board designs that were outside of the box and ahead of their time.
Through constant creativity, commitment, passion and drive, Thomas has been able to overcome various obstacles along the way, while continuing to push wakeskating to new levels and inspiring directions. And by taking advantage of inspirations that are personal and come from the heart, he's able to bring a little bit of honesty to his craft. With that said, what you are about to read is Thomas' version of his journey through wakeskating, from early boards and early riders, to the evolution of Cassette and wakeskating in general.
Wakeskating.com (WS): When did you first start to wakeskate?
Thomas Horrell (TH): Scott Jobe introduced me to FWT pads [ED note:Fresh Water Traction] that he used to put on his old Double Up decks. We were messing around with those in early 1998. Then Scott introduced me to Jason Messer and we actually got to ride with him once in Oregon, before I really started wakeskating. He had a foam top deck that he had made (entirely covered in foam) and it blew me away.
WS: Early on, who were some of the people you wakeskated with?
TH: Scott Jobe, whom at the time was my roommate.
WS: What inspired you to start?
WS: What continues to inspire you about wakeskating?
TH: Skateboarding. I know, it sounds corny but it still does.
WS: What made you want to quit wakeboarding to completely focus on wakeskating?
TH: I never really consciously made the decision to quit. It was just so much fun that every chance I've gotten to do something involving getting towed on the water, it just feels better on a wakeskate (cheesy again, I know).
WS: How did other people react to this?
TH: I'm a pretty naive person, and at the time I didn't realize there was a lot of talk like, "What are you doing? You're throwing everything that you've worked for away." Just looking back at it, I can see it a little better now how people would just kind of laugh at it.
WS: At what point did you commit to wakeskating full-time?
WS: You must have been one of the first people to do this, outside of Jason Messer...what was the wakeskating scene like when you started (whether it be in Florida or elsewhere)?
TH: There wasn't a "scene." Jason Messer was the only one wakeskating seriously or full-time or whatever it could be called.
WS: What was the riding style (or styles) like when wakeskating first started?
TH: After the Decline video came out, the whole Byerly thing was going on over at his house. Bruce Clem, Ryan Byerly, Drew McGuckin and Scott would wakeskate regularly. Scott as well as Jason didn't wear shoes at the time and would do more surf-style maneuvers, hangin' ten, whatnot.
WS: How would you describe how styles have changed over the years (if at all)?
TH: Aaron Reed, Danny Hampson have changed the way that I wakeskate.
WS: How? Just the way you look at things, or tricks to pursue?
TH: A little of both, of course, but mainly just a reassurance that there are some skate kids out there that actually enjoy wakeskating as well.
WS: Who would you say helped wakeskating achieve the level of success it has today?
TH: Every person mentioned above.
Go on to read Part Two of our interview with Thomas Horrell.
Thomas Horrell Interview - Part Two
Thomas Horrell Interview - Part Three
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