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Chris Milic & Jesse Alba Interview

Frog it up

Skateboarding is all about fun and doing what you like. That’s what everybody will tell you. But then in the end, most people are too scared to really do what they like and just follow the trend, don’t take risks, and try to look cool. Chris Milic and Jesse Alba are one of the few that truly don’t give a shit. They don’t care about being pro skaters and don’t try to make Frog the biggest skateboard company in the world. They prefer doing childish doodle art, piss hippie jumps, and just being a bit weird. Pretty loveable, isn’t it?

Chris Milic

Chris, where are you from and what’s your skating history? 

I used to rollerblade and I always rollerbladed to my friend’s house, but my older brother had a skateboard that he didn’t use and once for my birthday I got new rollerblades and they took way too long to put on my feet [laughs] and so I started to skate with my brother’s skateboard to my friend’s house. Then I skated on for a long time and I ran into some kid and he asked me: “Can you ollie?” I was like: “What’s that?” Then he did an ollie and I was really stoked on skating after that.

How did you then get on Welcome?

I don’t really know. Let me think about it. [laughs] I was with my friend Logan [Devlin] and he was showing me skate videos of this guy Nolan Johnson and I was blown away. We were in San Francisco on the Cardboard Cat Tour at that time and he was also showing me these Welcome boards at the Deluxe shop. At that time I was only riding shaped boards, the Krooked Zig Zagger ones and Girl had a lot of shaped boards. Then he showed me this company that only makes shaped boards, so I tried to buy one on the internet and then Jason [Celaya] hit me up on Facebook and was like: “It’s cool, I just send you boards.” From then on I started riding his boards for a couple years. He asked me to ride for them a year before that through my friend Ryan Reyes. Ryan told me: “My friend Jason wants to know if you ride for his company.” And I was like: “No.” [laughs] He didn’t tell me anything about it, but then I ended up riding for his company a year later.

Jesse Alba Chris Milic Nyc Price

Jesse & Chris

Long story short, you quit Welcome. You wanna talk about the reasons?

Nolan was quitting and it was just getting kinda weird over there. It just didn’t feel right after Nolan quit. Logan Lara had quit, and then Logan Devlin and Kody Karnahan quit and me and Jesse were joking about quitting and starting a company called Frog. At the same time Alex [Olson] asked me if I wanna ride for his company 917. I was riding for 917 for about a month and then they were like: “We can’t do it right now”. They had some business problems for a little while. Then we thought about what if we were starting that company we were joking about and we hit up our friend Pat [Gallaher] and then the Frog was born.

What’s the idea behind the name?

I kinda liked the name Frog before that. I think I was drawing frogs at that time. Then Welcome was looking crazy and all our friends quit. We were just not into it anymore and thought: “What about Frooog?” [laughs] We were making jokes and looking at pictures of frogs and how funny it would be if we would make a bunch of crazy shit. 

I guess you’re the art director of Frog and you do all the drawings. 

Right now Jesse is doing some drawings and I had my friend Pat do some drawings too. Everybody on the team does some little drawings in the whole scheme of things.

How did you actually start after you decided to do your own company?

 I just drew a logo. It was the first logo I ever drew and I drew it first try and I still use that one. I just asked a bunch of friends where they get stuff made and then I started really small. The first time I made shirts, I only made 35. The next time I made more and then more and more and more. I keep making more, but I still make a small amount of stuff, so it’s manageable. Cause I do all the shipping and stuff and all the graphics. I mean it’s not super hard to run a company, but sometimes there can be a lot of shit. How do you feel running your company?

I guess I started at the same situation. One day you stick with a name, you start with some graphics, they turn into production files, and that turns into finding a place to produce boards. Then you have to pay a couple of thousand dollars for some boards. So you produce 500 boards, sell those, and have the money to produce another 500 plus another 250. You organically grow and keep the money in the company. You add shirts and so on. But how’s your company going? Do you want to do it as a real job or is it just a side thing?

I really don’t know. That’s one of the reasons why we quit Welcome, too, cause the guy Jason wanted it to be the largest skate brand, what is cool, but we liked it just to be a group of friends and he wanted it to be the biggest skateboard company in the world. He was selling so many boards at the time too. We kinda just didn’t care, I don’t really know, we just wanted to do our own thing. I think sometimes when something gets too big, it loses its special quality. I’m not really sure what the goals are. [laughs] We just wanna keep doing it and making stupid stuff. That’s important to us, to make stupid stuff or even stuff that doesn’t sell or look super cool.

That’s the freedom of having your own company. It was the same with me, I didn’t have the goal to have this huge global company, but quickly it happened. My goal was to give European skaters like Hjalte [Halberg] or Kevin [Rodrigues] an alternative, so they can stay in Europe. By the way, when is the Hjalte Halberg guest board from Frog coming?

I don’t know. I think I freaked him out a little bit. I was like: “We’ll do your board,” and he was like: “Maybe you should wait a little bit, but I’m down.” But I think we still wanna do it. Jesse’s dad is getting a board next, a Salba [Steve Alba] board.

Is the headquarter in your apartment?

Yeah, the headquarter is in Manhattan, New York City.

Who’s taking care of packing boxes?

I’ve been packing boxes for a while and now my girlfriend started packing them too. [laughs] So we both pack them together. Especially right now we get a lot of orders for Christmas. 

How do you deal with sales? Do you call the shops?

A lot of shops just email me and I’m pretty bad at emailing, but hopefully I’ll get boards to a lot of shops. Sometimes people are asking me that they wanna get boards in their shop and sometimes I call shops and they’re like: “No.” It’s kinda funny. I called this shop in Austin, Texas, if they wanna carry Frog boards and they were like: “No.” Then I told my friend from Austin and he said that the guys there really want to get Frog boards, so I asked him to ask for me. So he went into the shop and asked them and they just said: “What’s the point of carrying the boards.” And he didn’t know what to say… Some people are simple to get boards to and some are hard.

I remember the first time I got home with boards and I was so nervous calling shops. I said: “Hey, here’s Pontus Alv,” and hoped that they knew my name, but they were like: “Who? Alv? Never heard of it. Polar? What’s that?” You feel so small. 

It’s really funny when I call shops and tell them that I own a skate company called Frog. I always end up laughing.

What would you describe the skating of the team? What is a typical Frog skater? What is your style, your vibe?

I’m not really sure. Maybe just some weird people.

If you could pick or steal one rider to get on Frog, who would it be?

My friend Aaron Goure, he also got on Welcome and gets paid a lot from them, so he doesn’t wanna leave. [laughs] He’s pretty young and they give him a lot of money, which is pretty cool cause I can’t give him any money.

Casper | Sherbert

I’m attracted to your graphics. Those so to say childish computer graphics. What inspires you and have you always been drawing and doing artworks?

When I was in high school, I wanted to be an artist, but when I graduated, I just wanted to skateboard a lot and I quit going to school and just skated for a really long time. When I started riding for Welcome, I got back into drawing. I was hurt a lot and whenever I got hurt, I started drawing. I’ve always been attracted to children’s art cause it’s so weird. The more ridiculous it looks, the better. Sometimes stuff is too nice looking. I like it when it’s a little fucked up or it’s the wrong color.

A little bit wrong but right at the same time.

Yeah, it’s a mix and I grew up playing videogames with my older brother. I just always did what he did. He was listening to Metallica a lot and played videogames, so I liked to do that too. We just played videogames together a lot. So the graphics are videogames style.

It feels like some Super Mario graphics.

Yeah, people said the little star is looking like this.

With what program do you work, cause it looks like MS Paint?

If you go into Photoshop and make the brush size one pixel, you can make pixel art and I always wanted to make pixel art. I thought it was kinda cool looking and I just decided to try to make some stuff like that. It’s pretty fun to make little drawings. I used to draw on my computer a lot when I had a PC. I kinda hardly knew how to use Photoshop, so it took a little bit of relearning when I started the company. It’s hard for me to get the programs cause I didn’t have any money to pay for them so I was trying to get them from my friends.

Are you drawing by hand or on the computer?

I just draw by hand, scan it, and it goes into the computer and then I color it. Some of them are made all on the computer just because that’s kinda challenging because I’m not super good at using the computer.

Is there any guest artist you’d like to work with?

Maybe my friend Rafael Delacruz. He has a drawing on one of the boards. I just use a bunch of my friends’ drawings on some of the boards, but he’s one of my favorite artists and we tried to do some stuff together. But as for like other artists, I really don’t know. It’s kinda fun having the skaters on the team doing the drawings. I think about it sometimes, but whenever I think about it, I never know who would even be down to do it. It’s pretty weird cause if I wanted to have an artist do it, it wouldn’t be some skate artist or someone who knows that much about skateboarding.

I understand, I’m pretty much the same way. Now Dane [Brady] is doing graphics for himself and T-shirts and stuff. I always try to have riders come up with ideas. It makes sense to use stuff that is related to the guys and not just do a random Andy Warhol board or whatever.

Everything with Frog, all the team and the graphics, it’s all friends, we’re not reaching out to some big artist. Even all the T-shirts and boards, they’re all been recommended through friends to get it going. And everybody I talk to, especially the people at Generator and James from Labor Skateshop, he’s so nice and was really enthusiastic and helping me start my company.


Jesse Alba

How was it growing up in a skateboarding family? With a skate legend as a father as well as an uncle?

It was mellow. I didn’t really start skating until I was 12 years old. I would skate with my dad but not too much. I was kinda following him and wore the gnarly leopard print pads and the red helmet just like him. I grew up skating pools and stuff with him. But when I was in middle school, I started skating street with my friends.

What brought you to New York?

The skating pretty much. I came two summers in a row and had a good time. I was living at my parents’ house in Southern California and it was really boring and a lot of my friends had moved out of town. To go to skate in L.A., I had to drive an hour every day. At that point my car had the transmission broke, so I was stuck and was working and saving money and bought a one-way ticket out here. Stuart Kirst and Ben Kadow had a little apartment, so I could live with them, but it was a really small two bedroom in Bushwick and I ended up living in the living room, which is pretty much the kitchen. But it was rad to be out here.

Let’s talk about Frog. It all started as a joke that turned into reality, which is normally the best thing to do. Just have fun.

Yeah, it’s crazy to see. The first four months we didn’t even have boards, which is pretty funny to start a skateboard company and have no boards. [laughs] At least T-shirts. Once we finally had a board, we were like: “Shit, it’s actually happening.” 

Do you guys want it to grow or keep it that small thing between you and your friends?

I have no idea. It would be cool to just keep it going. I’m surprised it even lasted this long to be honest. [laughs] Chris said it’s doing pretty well, that he’s selling a lot of stuff. That’s good that he just can do that shit and survive off that, which is awesome. Hopefully we’ll do a trip and make a video.

You have a camera or you just film it with your iPhone?

I have a VX1000. It’s actually Dane’s [Brady] VX1000, I bought it off him.

What are you guys inspired by as a skater as well as with Frog?

I think everyone is into different stuff. That dude Pat [Gallaher] is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He’s so good at skating, he can do switch crooked grinds on a handrail first try. I don’t watch much skate videos. I used to watch old videos, like the Todd Congelliere Liberty video part. He just did insane fucking vert tricks. A lot of Ocean Howell and old Stereo stuff is really rad, with Matt Rodriguez and that Greg Hunt part too. There’s a lot of older stuff that’s way cooler than everything now. I feel like everything’s pretty hard to watch. All of Johnny’s [Wilson] videos are rad, I watch them too. I’m skating with everyone in there, that’s super rad.

"We try to do the piss hippie jump a lot, where someone’s peeing and then you have to hippie jump over the piss."

What’s the future for you? Do you wanna have a pro model one day?

I don’t really care. I just like to fucking cruise around. It’s rad to just skate with your friends and there’s no pressure or anything. But I mean if that happens, that’s cool too. But I’m not trying to achieve being a pro skater. I’m just skating. I don’t think I give enough to be considered that at all. I’m just fucking around pretty much. I don’t know, maybe do another video part sometime if I get motivated enough.

Talking about videos, you put your penis out quite often and like to piss around in videos.

Yeah, that happens. [laughs] I don’t even know, probably just being stupid and drinking and skating. We try to do the piss hippie jump a lot, where someone’s peeing and then you have to hippie jump over the piss.

Sound like you like to party. I heard you went partying with Heath Kirchart as well.

[laughs] A bunch of times cause Grant [Yansura] used to hang out with him a lot. He’s a funny dude. The only funny story I have is from the time before I was able to get into bars. So we were drinking in the parking lot in front of the bar and he was just throwing glass bottles, trying to hit people. It was pretty insane. But he’s a funny dude, he’s really intense, but I feel like he mellows out a lot when you get to know him. So it’s not as scary but definitely scary with him the first couple times. But he’s a rad dude.

Your @juicyelbows instagram account is pretty weird, but you had another one, @jesse_alba_official, that was even weirder.

Oh yeah, that was Grant running that one. I told them my instagram password one time and then one night I fell asleep and they logged in and changed the email and everything and posted photos of people’s dicks and most gnarly shit and it got deleted. Then he started that one the next day and made it seem like I was a pile of shit or something, which is pretty funny.

So you got insta-raped.

Yeah, it was good. He doesn’t do it anymore, he should’ve kept up with it.

I heard your dad is getting a guest board.

Yeah, I hope so. We have to figure it out still. I wanna make a cool shaped board, but nobody of us knows how to do that.

What boards does your dad skate?

He still skates Santa Cruz, but right now he gets Paul Schmitt to cut him 9-ply boards.

How come?

I don’t know. He doesn’t like his boards to be flexy, so he skates these crazy boards. We don’t wanna do a 9 ply but a cool shape.

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