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Thomas Horrell Interview - Part Three

In our last and final chapter of our interview with Thomas Horrell, Thomas tells us the details about how Cassette wakeskates went from cut down wakeboards to a full on board company. Thomas also talks about how Cassette hooked up with Liquid Force and the idea of a wakeskate only company.

If you missed the first two parts of our interview with Horrell, you can read Part One and Part Two before reading this final section. (WS) Who were the first riders for Cassette?

TH: Drew McGuckin and then Tim Kovacich.

WS: Who were the other people that helped make Cassette happen?

TH: Randy Oveson and Ryan Marshall.

WS: When you started Cassette, were people supportive of your ideas (especially the concept of an all-wakeskating company)? How did people react to your company?

TH: It's always just been a dream. People believing in it at any point really hasn't mattered.

WS: What year did you start Cassette?

TH: I took the concept to my (at the time) wakeboarding sponsor Mutiny (whom Duane from Kampus, as well as Erich Schmaltz were heads of) in late 1998. There didn't seem to be room at Mutiny for an all-wakeskate brand at that point, so I just kept it on the back burner.

WS: How did you finally get a deal with Liquid Force, or how did the opportunity arise? What did the relationship consist of–what was your role, what was their role with Cassette, etc. You know, some people think that LF had a large stake in Cassette...

TH: Staker and Chase knew the guys from LF. The guys from LF called me on the phone (conference) and asked me some questions about wakeskating and the boards Cassette had put out already. At this time, I was working construction everyday with Pat Panakos for our friend Jody Heath, and Cassette decks were only available online and at a few shops that really believed in the idea.

Ryan Marshall from Media Skateboards would make the decks and Randy Oveson would help with the delivery and prototyping of new shapes. So when the LF guys started talking to me, I explained that Randy and Ryan had helped me get this far and I wanted them to continue to be a part of what was going on. LF agreed, and we moved forward with the production at Media, with Liquid selling decks through their distribution channels.

After a few months, somebody at Lf figured out that they weren't making enough per board sold, so the guys sat me down and talked me into asking Ryan and Randy to bow out. Ryan and Randy were really nice about it and realized that this was pretty much my only chance at making things happen. So I moved forward with the LF guys under the same terms, which had always been a licensing agreement for the Cassette name only, from the very beginning. I also demanded complete creative control over the brand's image, which they let me have. Anyways, the Cassette brand got into way more shops and ultimately better known by going through the LF deal, no matter how weird the situation got a lot of times.

WS: You started wakeskating with those cut-down, airbrushed wakeboards. Why did you want to make your wakeskates out of wood?

TH: Skateboarding.

WS: How did you know that the timing was right to start Cassette?

TH: There was never a point where it hit me like, okay, this is going to be its own entity. I just thought that a company devoted to wakeskating would be good for the sport.

WS: Why did you start to make the Analog zines?

TH: To try and do something different, packaging wise. The best was when one of our competitors tried to copy it a year after our first issue came out with some really funny slogans like, "Think for yourself" and "Down with Authority" and whatever. Our editor Zero actually made fun of it in one of our following issues.

WS: Did Cassette and DVS do the first tour for wakeskating? You know, like those bus must have been one of the first. Anyway... When was this tour?

TH: A tour that covered Northern California when we were filming for Linear Perspective in August of 2001. DVS was sponsoring everyone involved, and we actually rode out on the old Liquid Force tour bus.

WS: Where did you go?

TH: San Francisco, the Delta, Oregon and up through Southern Washington.

WS: Didn't you guys do something in Texas with DVS? I'd swear you guys did some tour down there, like three or four years ago.

TH: We were always talking about doing a tour through Texas, cause that's where the Dunlaps are from (DVS guys). But we never really got around to it. We did a tour through Northern California, and then the DST* through the Southeast. (*Myles named it the Dirty South Tour.)

WS: Who was on the trip and who helped make it all happen?

TH: Chris Heavener, Myles Vickers, Jim Leatherman, Don Wallace and myself hit about a dozen skateparks and shops over a little more than two weeks.

WS: What reasons did you have to do this trip?

Skateparks and shops that we needed to do demos for.

WS: Finally, you've been around and you've seen a lot of styles and trends in wakeskating come and go. Where do you see the future of wakeskating heading, whether it be in regards to designs, tricks, fads (shin guards, a la Primo Desiderio), etc, etc, etc.

TH: Either Panama Jack or T&C Surf Designs will probably make a comeback and host an all-wakeskating tour over the course of the next three years. Paco will get Ricky Martin to fall in love with wakeskating, and he'll singlehandedly start a huge Latin wakeskating explosion. Reed will win the wakeboarding pro tour and buy a plot of land to harvest. Hampson will start an Avril Lavigne cover band and wind up eventually dating her after she disses him in the press for a little bit. Motown will probably hit the jackpot at the craps table on an Indian reservation, only to find out that he's not eligible to win due to his (unbeknownst till now) heritage, but will wind up leaving Cassette to get a pro model on Paco's new salsa inspired wakeskate company. And I'm going to just try and get out of the office more to try and shape up these "office arms."

WS: Hahahaha, I can hardly wait!

We hope you have enjoyed our interview series with Thomas Horrell. Thomas provided us with a glimpse into the short history of the sport of wakeskating. would like to thank Thomas for taking the time to chat with us.

We would also like to thank Thomas for all of the years of hard work and dedication to wakeskating. Without Thomas and his involvement in the sport, wakeskating would not be where it is today. By looking back into the history of wakeskating, we look forward to see what Thomas will come up with in the future.

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

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