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Thomas Horrell Interview - Part Two

In Part One of our interview with Thomas Horrell, we got to see how Horrell developed his passion for wakeskating as a rider. Thomas took us through his early days of when he started wakeskating to the way that his current Cassette team riders have changed the way he wakeskates now. If you missed part one of our interview with Thomas Horrell, you can read it here.

In the second chapter, Thomas tells us more about board design and the very early stages of Cassette.

WS: What were the early boards like that you used to ride–what were they, did you modify them, etc?

TH: Scott Jobe and I used to cut down old Wake Tech Wakeboards. The old 135's (I think, Sarah used to get them and rode them before she rode the Bat-tails) that were narrower (the brown tone on tone graphic ones) that we'd cut up (usually cut off about two inches off each end), apply cut up skate grip to the top surfaces and epoxy the end of the boards. We made about six of these decks and had Byerly riding one and gave one to Drew McGuckin.

WS: Were those the decks that you had airbrushed with those early Cassette graphics? If not, what decks were those made from?

TH: Yes, Chris Mack would airbrush logos and graphics onto the bottom of those old Wake Tech Flight 135's we'd cut down. I remember he did about three different graphics on them, and my favorite one that he did was just a huge cassette tape with the name "Cassette" where the tape's label was. I remember letting Drew McGuckin borrow that board for a little bit, and I think that he finally broke it and then threw it away (which I wanted to kill him for).

WS: I think you were one of the first guys to start riding with skate shoes and grip tape. Why did you decide to do this, since forms of traction like Astrodeck and traction pads were popular in the beginning?

TH: Skateboarding.

WS: What inspired you to start a wakeskating company?

TH: Skateboarding.

WS: Seeing as though skating has played a major influence on how you operate, are there any skate companies that have inspired the direction in which you've taken with Cassette. (Like seeing a company's image and being like, "If I had a company, that's how I'd want to do it.") Ever since the beginning, Cassette has been known as one of the more artistic and creative companies in wakeskating, or the "wake" industry in general. There aren't many companies that genuinely take that approach to their creations and image.

TH: Graphic artists in and spawned from skateboarding art will always inspire us; it's just that simple. We skateboard and buy skateboards every month, so whether or not we want to or not, we're going to be paying attention in some way.

But the main company that's had an influence on the way that I tried to do things with Cassette has always been DVS. Family owned and operated by genuinely great people. They treat their employees and riders the way they'd want to be treated if they were on the other end. Podium as a whole is an inspiration to me, and a good example for the way that I'd like to run Cassette.

WS: What inspires your wakeskate designs?

TH: Skateboards.

WS: Without giving away all of your secrets, how do you decide what to use from a skate design, and then adapt it to the water? In my opinion, Cassette's designs are unique for that reason-they're clearly skate influenced, yet they're different because the designs have to be modified and adapted to the water because wakeskating is still a different thing.

TH: We've just seen what's worked in skating and tried to learn from it without getting too gimmicky. We've put faith in our customer's competence as far as what goes on in other board sport industries, which has in turn brought customer confidence, loyalty and trust in Cassette. Applying skate concepts to wakeskating without the hype is what we've continually strived to achieve.

WS: What was your early affiliation with Brian Zinn all about?

TH: Brian basically talked to Randy Oveson, who helped me at the beginning after Mutiny folded for the first time and helped put a mini website up on his site.

WS: How did that relationship work out for you and Cassette, and at what point did you decide you needed to move on from that business relationship and look for something else? How did you come to that conclusion?

TH: Brian Zinn had just helped us out by putting up that first site and it was a www.wakeskate.com/cassette address. It was great, and perfect for a start-up website. I'd just been approached by some friends that wanted to try and put up a bigger site, so they did, and that's how that went down. I told Brian "Thanks" and sent him a couple decks and he was fine with it cause he was moving overseas at the time and wasn't going to be spending as much time on the site anymore he said, anyways.

We will wrap up our Thomas Horrell interview in the final chapter next week. You will not want to miss our last section with Thomas as he gets deep into the short history of his company, Cassette Wakeskates.

  • Go on to read Part Three of our interview with Thomas Horrell.

    Related Article
  • Thomas Horrell Interview - Part One
  • Thomas Horrell Interview - Part Three

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