By Harry Go
What happens when you let eight professional skaters inside the Marvel office? An insightful conversation about the correlation between comic book influences on the developing psyche and being an action sports athlete, of course! Known as one of the most innovative and jaw-dropping group of skaters in the industry, the Valo crew destroys every rail, ledge or gap you put in front of them with style and super human prowess. Fresh off a new DVD release called "Valo4Life" which reached the Top 10 list of documentaries in iTunes, Jon Julio and the Valo crew are already in the midst of creating their fifth DVD and releasing a brand new carbon-fiber skate called the Valo Light. There is no stopping the Valo crew. Don't believe me? Check out "Valo4Life" to see for yourself.
We sat down with inline skating legend and O.G., Jon Julio, along with Erik Bailey, Alex Broskow, Brandon Smith, Victor Arias, Ivan Narez, Dylan Davis and Justin Hertel to chat about skating, coffee blood, Wolverine sideburns and much more!
|Jon Julio does a Topsoul in New York City. Photo by Brandon Smith|
Marvel.com: Tell me about Valo and what you guys are all about.
Jon Julio: We’re a skate team and we’re here in New York filming our fifth video. It’s called Five, or High Five. We’re here for two weeks and this is probably our second trip for the video and basically our mission here is just to document New York and skating the streets of New York.
Marvel.com: Are you guys comic book fans and what are your favorite Marvel characters, movies, comic books or television shows?
Erik Bailey: Wolverine is probably my favorite. The X-Men in general. Gambit. I like the Punisher too.
Jon Julio: I just saw Thor! I thought that was pretty sweet.
Dylan Davis: Iron Man. The movie.
Brandon Smith: I’d have to say Iron Man too; the character and the movie. Watching the movie was cool because [the comics] affected me as a kid and now I can appreciate from an adult point of view.
Victor Arias: [In terms of comic books,] I think it was X-Men for me because that’s what I grew up reading. But movie-wise it would probably be Fantastic Four because I always watch those with my nephews.
Justin Hertel: I was really big into the X-Men cartoon when I was growing up. I was really big into that and the action figures and stuff. And "Iron Man" is the movie that got me. I really liked that. It was sick! Especially what they did with the suit and everything.
Ivan Narez: I’ll say X-Men too. Every Saturday when they had the cartoons at 8 AM or some time really early.
|Alex Broskow does an Alley-oop Makio. Photo by Brandon Smith|
Marvel.com: You’d wake up just for the cartoons?
Ivan Narez: Yeah, especially for the intro song. That was the sickest.
Marvel.com: Do you guys think that growing up watching these television shows and reading these comic books had any influence in you as action sports athletes?
Victor Arias: I think so. I think every kid wants to be influenced that way. Every kid watches [those shows] and gets super hyped on it. And when you're seven years old, you just go outside and play pretending you're a super hero.
Marvel.com: If you could compare the Valo team with any super hero or super villain team, who would it be?
Erik Bailey: Clearly the X-Men. I just wanna be Wolverine so I can have some porkchops...sideburns. I just can’t grow sideburns so I would look forward to those.
|Erik Bailey does a Backslide. Photo by Brandon Smith|
Marvel.com: Part of the appeal of super heroes is that they have powers and that they can do super human things. What you guys do is kind of super human in a way, doing crazy jumps and rails. Can you talk about the mental and physical process that happens when you decide to do an insane trick and actually doing it without causing major harm to yourself?
Erik Bailey: I just block everything out. I try to just get in a zone, kind of like tunnel vision. I only focus on that trick and whatever happens, happens.
Marvel.com: You don’t think about what might happen if you fall?
Erik Bailey: Maybe sometimes you do if there’s some gnarly stuff, like a spiked fence next to a rail or something you could actually maybe kill yourself on. You think about how to fall to get out of the situation if you mess up. But that stuff can always mess with you. So you just have to think about doing the trick right.
Brandon Smith: I think it also has a lot to do with confidence. A lot of times you just know you can do it, and as long as you’re focused on doing it then it’s just making your body do it.
Marvel.com: Skating has been around for a while. And it has grown to this level of progression where people are grinding on chains and other stuff that you wouldn’t have thought of a few years back. Do you see the sport progressing even more, or do you see a limit to that progression?
Alex Broskow: I think it’s just getting smarter. There’s more thought involved than just trying to jump off the highest thing. [It's more about] seeing things more creatively than just a standard trick.
Erik Bailey: Finding an obstacle that’s just a little different, you know? Using your surroundings. And there’s so many variations of [a trick] too. Even though it's one grind, there’s ways to spin in or spin out. There are so many variables you can add.
Marvel.com: What do you guys like most about skating and why is it your profession?
Brandon Smith: Skating is pretty much all we know, so it’s all we do. And it’s not just the physical act of skating, it’s opportunities like these; meeting people, going places and [the possibilities of] where can we go next. That’s one of the reasons we keep doing it.
|Valo Light Logo|
Marvel.com: Let’s get back to Valo for a second. You guys have a new skate coming out called the Valo Light. Tell us about that and anything else that’s coming out for Valo.
Jon Julio: We have a new skate that we've been working on for two years. It’s an all new shell, a carbon fiber boot, which is half a kilo lighter than our original skate. It’s five millimeters wide, new soul plates. It’s a whole new boot, a whole new look. It’s a big deal for us.
Marvel.com: Last question. If you could have any super power, what would it be and what would your super hero or super villain name be?
Erik Bailey: There’s so many options! I’d have to have a motorcycle that rides into space. Kinda like Silver Surfer style but instead of a surf board, a motorcycle. Then, you know, your basic invincible bones made of stuff. Oh yeah! Invisible. Sprinkle that in too.
Marvel.com: He just wants all of them.
Victor Arias: You have to choose one. You get too greedy you end up with none.
Erik Bailey: No, they all coincide with the other one. Clearly, if you're flying in space you have to be made of something special. You have to have good lungs. You can’t freeze.
Jon Julio: I’ll do something like Wolverine since he never feels pain, or if he does, he heals in minutes. I would want to be a hero. And my name would be...Fantastic Julio. No! Flying Jay.
Victor Arias: I’d have to go with invisibility and super speed. But I'd go with being a villain. I don't know about the name though...
Brandon Smith: I’ve got one for you: Invickable.
Justin Hertel: I always struggle with time so I’d want to be able to stop time. That way, I could get my work done and do whatever I wanted to do afterwards. But I wouldn’t want to age, you know? That would suck to stop time for a year, you keep doing it and people are just like, "Man, that guy looks terrible! He’s only twenty but looks like he’s eighty." Just using it way too often...and my name would be Timemaster.
Alex Broskow: I’d like to teleport. I don't know what my name would be though. That’s a hard one.
Ivan Narez: Teleporting Peter.
|The Valo Team at Marvel Headquarters|
Erik Bailey: Yeah I guess he’d be a hero with a name like that. Crazy T.P.!
Ivan Narez: I’d be like Professor X or something, but with a mustache. Then I won’t have to walk anywhere, and when I have my heavy backpack I could just put it on my wheelchair.
Dylan Davis: We passed a poster where there was a blob coming through the ground eating people. That one.
Erik Bailey: His name would be Blob Dylan! I’m still gonna go for the motorcycle in the sky. The space motor bike. Maybe have my blood be coffee. So you know, I’m always stoked. My name...Motorcycle Joe? Coffee Mate? I’ll take Coffee Mate.
Brandon Smith: Just to go with something different, I’d like to see into the future. Even though you're going to have to take the bad with the good. And I’ll take some of that super strength, all that super stuff too. A little healing, a little teleportation. No coffee blood though. I’m going to have to go with Mr. Roboto as my name for sure.
Ivan Narez: So you’re a robot that sees into the future and can teleport and everything? That’s even better!
Brandon Smith: Yeah. Metal insides.
Marvel.com: Anything else you want to add?
All: Valo for life.