Steve Alba Interview, TWS August 1989

Steve Alba 1990

So, I am posting the very first piece of writing I did as a staffer over at TWS. At the time, I had maybe been working at TransWorld for maybe 2 months when interviewing Steve Alba was tossed my way. I knew who Steve Alba was because he was a legend in my mind because I looked at so many photographs of him from Skateboarder Magazine in the late 70s early 80s. I gotta say I was pretty nervous to do this, as I had never met Salba before and he seemed a bit intimidating. I knew his brother Micke but Steve was just a legend from an era of skateboarding that I didn’t get to see live. After spending the day with Steve I realized that he really wasn’t all that intimidating and since that day we’ve become friends and I’ve even shot photographs of him on many occasions over the years. The photos in the interview were not mine but I thought it might be cool to revive the old interview with a selection of photographs I’ve shot of Steve since 1989. Enjoy.


In the pages ahead you will be encountering one of skateboarding’s most prominent figures from the past. In the late nineteen-seventies, he was hailed as the winningest vertical skater of the era because of his consistently hig contest placings. With the slump of skateboarding in the early eighties, his skating was more underground in nature. Today, he is best known for his mastership of pipes and pools. He is also regarded as the “Lord” of the Pipeline skateparks by his Badlands comrades. His best years are not behind him—he is still pushing the limits of skating.

The man is Steve Alba, better known as “Salba.” Steve has been skating for fifteen long, hard years, eleven of those as a professional. He continues to uphold the Badlands traditions of style, speed and aggressiveness. Read on and you will learn more about the “Almighty Lord Salba.” 

Steve Alba 1990
Frontyard pool and a shallow end death box carve. Salba, 1990.

State Your full Name.

Stephen Jerry Alba: I was named after my mom’s stepbrother. Jerry is my dad’s name. His real name is Catalino—that’s a Spanish name.

Who started calling you Salba?

That was mainly because of the Bevel board. On the bottom of the boardit read S. Alba, so people just started calling me Salba. My old nickname used to be SA; that came from the old rivalry days. Tony Alva used to put his initials in his wheel wells. I thought that was pretty cool, so I started putting my initials in mine. I was also called “Le Machine” because I was endurance master. I could skate for hours at a time. Even today, Micke and I still skate for long periods at a time. All the Badlands guys have good endurance.

How is your relationship between you and your parents?

They’re the coolest people in the whole wold. We built this ramp just the other day, and it was raining, so my mom calls me up to make sure the ramp is okay. They don’t know much about skateboarding. They don’t know that the rain won’t hurt the ramp. She goes out and buys a big ol’ tarp to cover the whole thing. I tink it must have cost her at least a hundred dollars. We didn’t even ask her.

Have your parents given you a lot of support through the years?

Yeah. We used to play sports all the time., like baseball and football. They supported all of that. My mom used to be team mother and my dad would be coach. After a while, we got out of all of that and started skateboarding.

How old were you when you started skating?

I started skating when I was in the sixth grade, like twelve years old. It must have been ’74 or ’75. I saw this guy doing nose wheelies, and I got really stoked and started skating. That was before urethane wheels.

When Micke and I first started skating, my parents were worried that we’d get hurt, and they didn’t want to deal with that. But they let us do it anyway. They started getting used to us coming home with skinned-up knees. They were really happey when I won the Spring Valley contest. I was pretty freaked out myself. I never expected to win and I did.

What was that like?

It was an endurance contest. They had two-minute runs and I won becauseI had the best endurance of anyone. Every run I would stay on for the whole two minutes. Every wall that you would hit you would get a point. I just stayed in there and did as much stuff as I could and won the contest. After that, contest formats changed and brought the runs down to forty-five seconds.

How about all the rivalry in the old days? Like Badlanders against Dogtowners, what was that all about?

I think that was the coolest thing that ever happened in skateboarding. Every town had their own nickname—ours was the Badlands. Chino was known for dairies, so it was Cowtown. Anaheim was known as Smogtown,. San Francisco was known as Fogtown. Santa Monica was known as Dogtown. San Diego was known as Down South and so on. I gues it all started with the Dogtowners, or so it seems. 

Anyway, all those guys surfed and we surfed too, kind of. What we lacked in the surt style, we made up for in speed and aggressiveness. We were known for that and we stil are. Badlanders were always way more aggressive than the others—fast and aggressive, that’s the Badlands.

Did all those different places hate each other? Or did all the magazines play it up?

You didn’t really ever say anything when you went to their spots or when they came to yours. There wre some vibes, but mostly you would let your skating do all your talking for you. We would just try to show each other up all the time, show them who’s better. We used to think the guys from Down South were kind of wimpy. Steve Cathey would do tail drops and we thought that was kind of lame. But that was okay for then—no big deal.

I remember Doug Schneider would come up to the Badlands. He blew our minds. He did the first roll-in I ever saw. I was blown away. Back then that was a heavy duty maneuver and we were impressed. If you di one you were the coolest guy on the whole block—the whole United States.

What year was that?

About ’78. Tim Marting invented the rock’n’roll, then Steve Olson learned and learned right after him. Then I saw Olson doing 360 rock’n’rolls. I thought that was insane.

Did you skate with Olson in those days?

I remember doing a demo with Olson in Austin, Texas. It was on this tiny halfpipe, maybe ten feet wide. Olson, Brad Bowman, Dave Hackett, Stacy Peralta, Doug Schneider, Bobby Valdez, Rick Blackhart—I think there were fifteen of us that went.

Is that the one where you guys put all the stickers on the airplane?

Yeah, we also had a food fight on the plane. Oh yeah, Tom Inouye and Chris Strople were there also. When we landed, the FBI was waiting for us. There was even a news station that showed up. We made a big scene on the plane and the people thought that we were hijacking them. Everyone was throwing food; me and Hackett were throwing whole sandwiches, beer was flying everywhere. We didn’t even care. It was crazy.

What do you think of all the companies that are trying to make skateboardin all clean-cut so everybody will like it?

All the companies are a lot more clean-cut than they used to be. [Comparing] now and then is just so weird for me. The companies nowadays are making so much more money than they were ten years ago and they are still being cheap to their skaters, who are the ones that are making them all the money. 

Skaters are just a different breed than most people think. Skaters in general are just wild. I think all the skates are ahead of their time as far as music and fashion go and they always will be. We are just the people who are hip to all the new things. People who skate are just the coolest people. They all have an open mind and attitude tward things, not closeminded like most people who don’t skate.

I’ve heard about companies that think that the skaters shouldn’t be getting as much as they do and I think that’s ridiculous. That’s wrong because they are not the ones that are putting their lives on the line every time that they skate. Skaters have to live with pain every day. Look at football players—they only have to live with the pain for the season. Baseball players hardly ever get hurt and maybe basketball players get hurt a lot but skating is pain every day.

In those sports they get paid loads of money because they only last so long. Don’t you think it should be the same for skaters?

Yeah, dfinitely. I think skating is just as difficult as any of those sports. Actually, I think it is even more difficult. I think skating is harder than any of those because it defies gravity. It’s not a team sport, so you have only yourself to depend on. And you’re falling on concrete. A lot of people fall on ramps now, which isn’t as hard as concrete but it still can hurt. I paid my dues on concrete; most of the older skaters have paid their dues on concrete. 

You don’t think that the new generation of skaters are paying their dues?

Well, there is a difference. All the fourth and fifth generation of skaters get to learn on ramps. Most ramps are the same, unlike all the skateparks. We used to have to adjust to a different pool all the time or a different bowl, always something to adjust to. The skates that are on top now were in the last phase of the skateparks, so they are able to adjust to a lot of different types of terrain. Hosoi, Gator, Mountain, Hawk, Caballero and Miller were all involved in the last part of skateparks. They learned to skate everything and I can appreciate someone that can skate anything and everything.

Say a few things about fullpipes. It seems you are a master of those.

Fullpipes are probably the funnest thing in skateboarding. Pipes are the best. You just can’t describe what it is like to do a thruster at eleven o’ clock in a pipe. It’s the biggest rush. 

Was Baldy the first pipe that you rode?

Yeah, Baldy was the first. That’s were Stan Hoffman got the idea to put a pipe in the park. He used to come up and watch us skater there in the early days.

Is that where you met him?

No, before that he used to come watch us skate at a place called the L-Pool.

What was that like?

L-Pool was the craziest pool. It was about twelve-feet deep and had about three feet of vert, nine-foot transitions and a spit gutter. Back then to ride a spit gutter you would have to get air just to get on the coping. We didn’t start putting boards or anything between the gutter and the coping for a long time. But when we started doing that, we used doors and did frontside and backside kickturns about six feet above the top of the pool.

Stan Saw us doing edgers on the top of these doors, which put us about sixteen feet above the bottom of the pool. He was completely blown away and that’s where he got the idea for the fifteen-foot bowl. Then he asked us what else he should put in the park and we told him about pipes and how no one has built one in a park. He got really stoked on that. He went up to Baldy to check it out and that’s how the pipe at Upland came about. 

When did you start riding Baldy?

My dad used to live in the valley behind Baldy. His parents had thirteen kids and they were kind of poor. They used to have to hunt for their food sometimes and they used to play in the pipe when they were little. That was around ’56 or ’57, so it has been there for a good twenty or thirty years. This guy called Muckus says he was the first person to skate it and that was about 1969. I guess I believe him.

We started skating the pipe in ’76 and it was perfectly smooth. We used to have to crawl through these little pipes to get in there. Rangers used to hang out there. If you got caught it was a five-hundred dollar fine. We would just carve from the beginning of the pipe and go all the way down. No one did kickturns in it. Mike Wed and Waldo Autry were the first people we saw do kickturns in the pipe. We couldn’t believe it. Waldo would be hitting the three-quarter line on the flat wall and that was amazing because they were riding seven-inch boards.

Steve Alba, Baldy Pipeline
Salba getting really high on the flat wall of the legendary Badlands spot, The Baldy Pipeline.

It’s not a bust anymore?

Not really. They know that we skate there and they rarely hassle us. But before, we used to crawl through the pipes so they couldn’t see us. We would have to crawl a hundred feet. It was kind of scary for us because we were just little kids. There were spider webs and stuff that we would have to crawl through but we had to it to skate the pipe. 

Did you progress quickly at first? 

Yeah, Micke and I progressed pretty fast. Not so much Micke at first but I used to hive him a hard time. It’s the job of an older brother, I used to call him a pussy if he couldn’t do something. Micke had a strong will and he would learn it [a trick] just to show me that I was wrong. That is part of the reason he is still so good because of his strong will and determination. Micke is my inspiration nowadays. Lance and Toney are rad but I look up to Mick way more. He does crazy stuff.

As far as pools and pipes are concerned I’m king of those. When I get in a pool, I go crazy. I’ll do anything in a pool. Pipes are the same. It kind of goes back to the old rivalry thing where you don’t talk and just do your thing. Just go and take over the place. There isn’t any need to communicate except with your skating.

Did you ever have a bad reputation?

Oh yeah, I had a bad reputation for a long time. I used to spit at people, shoot my board at them, yell stuff at them, throw stuff at people.

What about snaking?

I’ve been a snake for ages. I remember at the Newark contest the guys from Skateboarder Magazine put a snake on my board and took a picture. They wrote an article on how bad snaking was and that picture was in the article. I’m not as bad aynymore. I can be the best snake if I want to be but I just let people cruise nowadays. Ramp snaking is pretty scary if there are a lot of people. If you go head-on with someone you can get hurt real bad. 

I remember some kid wrote in to TransWorld and said Salba sucks because he snakes too much. I just figure if you snake, you just get more runs. When you energy is flowing in a session you can’t just sit around and wait your turn. You have to get back up to the top of the ramp and get back in there as soon as you can. Otherwise, you waste all of that energy you had from the last run. Snake sessions are pretty crazy and I snake a lot but it’s part of the sport.

How did you get involved in the Deve “Freedom Of Choice” video?

They just called me up. I think Rector had a lot to do with it because Devo used to wear Rector pads when they played. It was me, Duane Peters, Bobby Valdez, Eddie Elguera, Jay Smith, Dave Andrecht, Tony Alva and a few other people. I was just in the skating part at Marina.We had to crash at the end of the slalom run. 

At that time there were all these team rivalries. Duane and I were on Santa Cruz and we were the punker types. Then there was the Varibots like Eddie Elguera and Steve Hirsch. We used to consider Dave Andrecht one of those guys because they all skated like robots. They were into doing tricks instead of going fast and being stylish. Duane was really into going fast as well as Olson, Alva and me. 

For the video, we separated into two groups. It was us against them. We really got into the crashing part and we got really agro. The robots were pissed off. It was pretty cool. People used to call me Steve “Devo” Alba because at the time there was a picture of me at the Lakewood halfpipe contest and I was wearing a Devo shirt. 

Did you win a lot of contests back then?

I used to be called the most winningest skater for a few years until my brother started winning. Now it’s Tony Hawk. I won Sprnig Valley, Big O and Lakewood but I never won at Pipeline. 

Why was that?

I guess I am just jinxed there. Micke must be jinxed also but he did win one contest there. He battled head-to-head against Lester and won. I’ve entered just about every contest at Pipeline except that one. I wasn’t really skating much around that time. The first Pipeline contest in the Combi pool I got third and the second I got fourth. The first contest in the pipe bowl I got twelfth but I won wheelers and pipe pasting.

How were the contests different in the old days, format-wise, compared to the ones now?

The old contests were raging. In a way they were kind of like the contests now because there were sixty or seventy riders and it would take all day for the cut. However, they didn’t seed from previous contests. The contest were judged on consistency, style—which a lot of people lack nowadays—difficulty of tricks and they also had compulsory tricks like they do in ice skating. They would give you a list of tricks that you would have to do. You could do them in any order you wanted but if you didn’t do all the tricks you would get penalized. The tricks wouldn’t be that hard. You would have to do a rock and roll, cess slide, invert, frontside air and other basic tricks. I thought that was a good idea, if you couldn’t do the compulsory tricks you wouldn’t make the cut. 

What do you think about the judging of contests nowadays compared to then?

I think they should change all the judges. I get along with all the judges and they’re all nice guys but half of those guys don’t even skate anymore. I feel if you’re going to judge a skateboard contest you should be a good skater yourself. If they can’t do half of the stuff that the skaters in the contest are doing why should they judge?

The judging was better then. The judges would be the same for each contest and they would get paid really well. I think a judge would make like five-hundred to one-thousand dollars for each contest. They were also better all-around judges and could judge all the different events. 

Another good thing about those contests which I always thought was propaganda, they used to have barbecues the night before the finals. Everyone would get really drunk and the ones who didn’t get drunk had the best chance of winning the contest. People like Duane and I would get really drunk anyway. We didn’t care. Everyone would freak out when we did well in the contest. 

Did you hang out with Duane a lot?

No, not really. When I first met Duane he had long hair and was kind of a surfer dude. We used to give him lots of shit. We got along and when punk hit, Duane, Olson and I were on it right away. Back then being punk was having your hair cut short, wearing Converse, torn-up jeans and wearing a really bright shirt. I used to get beat up at school for that all the time.

I hung out with Duane because his girlfriend and my girlfriend were best friends. They used to live together. Duane and I used to hang out together a lot for about two years.

You were involved in the early skate-punk scene?

Yeah, I think punk rock is what killed skateboarding. As far as commercial skating goes. It was just too crazy and the companies couldn’t deal with it. I don’t think the parents were too happy about the punk image either. I’m sure that mid-America couldn’t handle all of the punk image. California and New York, they could deal with it because that’s where it was happening. 

I remember going back East to Cherry Hill Skatepark in ’79. I had a black flat-top and I was wearing this bright orange Alva vest. People just freaked on me. Punk was still pretty new then and people didn’t know what to think. Now it’s accepted everywhere. You can walk down the street with a Mohawk and no one would even care.

I don’t like the skinhead Nazi guys at all. Fallbrook is full of them. Tom Metzger lives there. All those racist guys are going to get it pretty soon—at least I hope so. I like having my hair short but not because I’m a racist. I also wear swastikas sometimes just for the shock value of it. I think racism sucks.

Salba, Chino
Skated this pool with Steve on this day and he intimidated me to backside carve the deathbox. First time ever for me. Lien Tailslide, Chino.

How did it ever come about that you were skating for Alva? I mean you were from the Badlands and he was a Dogtowner and yet you were skating for him?

A lot of people used to confuse me for him. I think it was because our names were so alike. Anyway, he didn’t really have anything to do with the company anymore. A guy named Pete Zender was in charge at that time. 

Did you ever get blamed for anything Alva did?

Yeah, a couple of times I did. Sometimes when I would go to LA clubs I would get blamed for shit he would do, like beating up on chicks and people would try to come down on me. As far as getting on Alva was concerned, they just kind of asked me and I accepted. 

I’ve ridden for so many companies over the years. Micke and I were like the product testers. After every contest we would come home with bags of different products. Companies would pay us to ride their products. I used to get paid by ProTec helmets, Norcon, Kryptonics Wheels and I also used to get paid for riding Tracker Trucks. I couldn’t really hang with any other truck Until Independent came along. 

When did you start riding for Independent?

The summer of ’78 at the third Hester contest at Nsewark. This hippy guy came up to me and wanted me to ride his trucks. I had this deck called an Ick-Stick that Rick Howell used to make. I had it all set up just the way I liked it. I wasn’t really into changing my set-up. The hippy’s name was Fasuto, and he really wanted me to ride his trucks. He told me that Olson, Blackhart and Bobby Valdez were already riding them and that I should give them a try. I looked at the guy kind of funny because he was kind of a dirt bag. I told him I would ride them if he would put them on and set my board up just the way I had it. I was a total asshole to him. He brought it back to me and I couldn’t believe that he did it. So I tried them. 

Who were your main influences when you started riding?

When I first started skating I used to really dig Tony Alva’s style. He was the pool guy then and he was just so agro. He had long flowing hair. I guess everyone had long hair then but I dug the way he skated. He had rad style and he really flowed. Tony still flows. It’s the way he throws his arms and weight. He was my number one dude to look up to in the early days as well as Stacy Peralta and Rick Blackhart. 

As far as local people, my favorite was Lee Gahimer. He was an old Badlands guy. He used to make these boards with lightning bolts on them and blocks of wood for the kicktail. He still rips now. I skated with him last year in a pool in Claremont. He was working at the house at that time. It was rad to skate with him again after all these years. 

What about Tay Hunt?

Tay Hunt was kind of dry. Imean I’m not impressed with anyone that skated then but can’t skate now. I never thought Tay Hunt was that good anyway. He couldn’t go frontside; he only went backside. He went fast and did backside airs behind the foot, which I always thought was pretty lame. 

 How about Scott Dunlap?

Scott Dunlap was cool. We used to skate a lot together. We were the same age and grew up together. I’m still good friends with him. He still skates a little bit. He’s still grinding and doing inverts. He didn’t lose anything. When skating died he had to go out and find a job, so he couldn’t skate that much anymore.

How about you—have you ever had a job outside of skateboarding?

I’ve only had to work a few times over the years. I worked at a music store and I also worked for my dad driving a forklift. I worked for a long time at that job. I’ve only stopped working for about a year now. 

How do you like not having to get up and go to a job all the time?

It’s killer. Who wants to work? I never had to work when I was a top pro. I used to have forty grand in the bank. I never had to do anything. I was a sixteen-year-old kid and I didn’t have anybody to tell me what to do with my money. I had money for the longest time. There was this house I wanted to buy. I had the cash to pay for it, twenty-six grand and I didn’t buy it. That house is worth a hundred grand now. I want to kill myself for that mistake—dumbest mistake of my life. 

I had life dialed then. I spent money carelessly. I bought a car, bought all kinds of furniture for my room, bought my parents a refrigerator, paid my way to England, all kinds of stuff. I thought it was going to last forever but it didn’t and I had to go out and find a job. 

Here’s a classic story of how I would waste my money. My parents had a big backyard and I hated mowing the lawn. I knew this guy that did cement work and I paid him to cement the whole backyard just because I hated mowing the lawn. When they came home, they wee hating me.

Salba, Fontana
Backside nosegrind over the deathbox at Convict Pool.

Did they leave the backyard concrete? 

Yeah, they hated it at first but after a little while they liked it because there was less maintenance. Then they wouldn’t let us ride our skateboards back there because they were afraid we were going to grind up all the bricks in the backyard. We did anyway. We were just kids and kids rarely listen to what their parents have to say when they are young. We always wanted to make a ramp in our backyard but we never did.

Do your parents still live there?

Yeah, they’re glad that we’re gone. We were total hell-raisers. People would come from all over the United States and stay at our house so they could come skate Upland. I’d say we have had at least half of the pros that skate nowadays staying over at our house at one time or another. We used to have big, raging parties and my parents would join in on all the festivities.

All that stopped about ’80 or ’81. My parents just couldn’t hang with it anymore. We used to have cops over there all the time and my parents didn’t like that too much at all. My mom doesn’t drink anymore—she is totally anti drinking.

You have always seemed to like to skate a number of different spots—skating one thing one day and somewhere else the next. Why is that?

We figure nothing good is going to last forever. We can’t even believe that Pipeline has lasted as long as it has. You have to go out and search for all different types of terrain. If you find a spot, you just can’t skate it all the time thinking it is going to last forever. Someday it will be gone. If you don’t know of different spots, you will be stuck with nowhere to skate. There have been a lot of pools that only lasted for a few weeks or months.

Every time we get a picture in a magazine of us at some pool, it’s gone within a week or a month. Like a Dolphin Pool—that was my first cover shot. I never had a cover when I was number one. Anyway, the Dolphin Pool was gone the same month that the issue came out with me on the cover.

Salba, Fontana.
Not Deathbox is safe from the Screaming Lord!

What about Pipeline—how do you feel now that it’s almost gone for good?

What can I say now that it’s almost gone? I have spent half of my life there. I just can’t describe what that place means to me—it has so many memories. I basically learned to skate there. I have seen so much stuff go down there. Like I said, nothing lasts forever.

I hear from someone that you like to stretch before you go out and skate.

Yeah, I do like to exercise and stretch as much as possible. I don’t think that many of the skaters nowadays take skateboarding seriously. They don’t stretch or anything. They just skate. I have a hard time with that. I feel that you have to stretch before you skate.  There are a few guys that do stretch before they skate, like Gator, Micke, Christian and Mike Smith. They kind of halfway stretch. There are so many others that don’t. They just go out and skate, and they rip—I don’t understand it.

Grosso is worthless health-wise, but the guy rips. I guess he is just a natural skater. I’m a natural to some extent, but I still have to stretch before every session. I have to work for what I get, especially nowadays because I am getting older and I have to be in decent shape to keep up with everybody. If I don’t stretch, I think I am cheating myself, like I haven’t completed my cycle. 

What are some of the injuries you have had in your career?

Broken ankle, broken wrist, torn ligaments in my legs, ninety stitches in my forehead, eight stitches in my eyebrow, six stitches in my chin, floating bones in my elbow and all my joints creak as well. 

Is it hard for you to get up in the morning?

Sometimes when it’s cold. I can tell you when it is going to rain because my joints and bones will start hurting.

You used to be a bit more heavyset a couple of years ago—is that why you started to exercise?

I used to be a fat pig. I have lost about twenty or thirty pounds in the last year. I think I am in really good shape now, as good as, if not better than when I was number one. When I was eighteen, I was in good shape. But by the time I was twenty-one, I was a fat pig. I quit skating for a little while. I didn’t really quit, but I would only skate pools. Or if a pipe came along I would go skate that too but nothing else. 

Did you skate Upland occasionally?

Yeah, I would skater there once in a while but actually I was kicked out of Upland for about a year.

What did you do to get kicked out? 

Stan and I got in this b ig fight one time. I was drunk or something—I don’t even know why we had this argument. It all came down to who made who. You know you can never an argument with Stan Hoffman and I’m the kind of guy that if I can’t win an argument I just get totally bummed.

I just kept going off and he kept going off and then I almost punched him and he almost punched me. I just called him an asshole and this and that, and then I spit on him. Right then he just got so bummed because I had spit a big loogie on him. That was my big thing for a while, spitting on people. I guess spitting was punk or something. I didn’t even try to go back for the longest time—I just shined the whole thing. When I started skating again, I really missed the place. After about a year he finally let me back in and things have been fine ever since.

Salba, San Bernardino
Get tapped! Burn zone hoist in San Bernardino.

What were you doing when you got out of skating?

I was in a band for a while and I thought we were going to be on top of the world. We were good and I figured at the time that I was going to be a big rock’n’roll star.

Do you still play a lot of music?

Yeah, I still play a lot of music but I don’t take it as seriously as I used to. To be a top pro skateboarder is pretty hard but it’s even harder to be a top rock’n’roll act. There are millions of bands out there and every one of them is trying to make it and only a certain amount of them can. I just got back to my senses and figured I was wasting my time trying to be a rock’n’roll star. I was getting drunk all the time. I used to have to drink three six-packsjust to get drunk—what a waste. 

Micke got me to go skating with him all the time again. We started going to this place called the Grape Bowl; it was the most killer place I had skated in a long time. Then I thought, “why did I even do this rock’n’roll thing because skating is so much more fun.” For a long time I wouldn’t even touch my guitar because it was making me miss out on this high that I could only get from skateboarding.

Skateboarding is a high. It’s a different kind of high. You don’t need drugs; you just need your skateboard. I learned again that skateboarding was the raddest feeling ever—the best rollercoaster ride in the world.

How does Santa Cruz treat you?

They treat me all right but I feel that all the companies are trying to get rid of all older skaters now. That’s just my opinion—they’re trying to make room for all the new guys. I feel because I am older and I skate pools, they probably feel that I can’t skate contests anymore. Santa Cruz has always been kind of a punk company, and they didn’t really care about contests. Now they’re kind of all American and that kind of bums me out.

What about when Santa Cruz used to give you ads for street skating a long time ago?

Well, that was just cruising stuff, but that is what street skating was at that time. I guess I was at the forefront of that but I can’t do all the stuff these guys are doing now. I’d like to do that a little more. I am probably the only pro skateboarder that can’t even do an ollie on the street; I can barely even get off the ground. I’m so weak at that stuff it makes me sick. 

Skating is too labeled now—you’re either a vertical skater, freestyle or a street skater. I just wish everyone was more all around.

What do you think of the mini-ramp craze?

Mini ramps are kind of cool. I think they are dumb in a sense but they are still fun. You can learn new things on them. They have helped me learn some of the tricks I never thought I would be able to do. If I am going to go further in skateboarding, I have to learn all the new stuf and mini ramps are the easiest way to do it.

Do you want to be a top ramp rider again?

Yeah. Before I have to quit skating I want to probe to people that I can still do good. If I could skate ramps as good as I can skate pipes and pools, I would blaze. It is kind of hard for me to get over that transition, pool to ramp. Anything concrete I can go totally crazy in but when it comes to a ramp it kind of freaks me out. Not that I am scared but it is a whole different way of skating. I just recently learned learned how to do 50/50s a week ago and that is one of the oldest ramp tricks ever. It is kind of like re-learning everything.

What do you think of all the new street pros like Vallely, Natas?

Some of those guys are too fidgety. Natas is a really nice guy and a friend of mine but he really lacks in the style department. What people lack in style must be made up for with crazy tricks. In the new Santa Cruz video Natas is going to blow everyone in the world away. He goes off in the new video.

Who are some of the best up-and-coming skaters that you have seen?

As far as new guys go, Danny Way impresses me and Bryan Pennington is insane. Bod Boyle, Mike Crescini and Ben Schroeder are probably the best up-and-comers that I have seen. Oh yeah, I can’t forget Reese Simpson. He’s insane also. It’s not so much the established skater who is going to do good but it’s whether or not you can do all the new tricks. The new tricks are really helping those guys out and I wish them luck in the future.

Salba, Anaheim
Indeed Steve was a happy man when Vans opened their new skatepark in Anaheim with a replica Combo Pool. Slob Air around corner.

What with all the voodoo graphics and tattoos—do they mean anyting?

My dad is Mexican and Indian. His family came over from Spain and lived in Mexico. My dad’s father and his family are all blue-blooded Spanish but he married an indian slave girl, a servant. In those days you weren’t supposed to do that, so his family kicked him out. He was disowned, so he came to America.

I have indian blood in me. My dad’s mom was kind of a healer, kind of like a witch doctor. That’s where the graphics and tattoos came from. I like mystical stuff. I’m into karma; it really intrigues me.

Is that why you wear all the bone necklaces and earrings?

Yeah but I never used to like earrings for the longest time. Then I got one earring and I was afraid my mom and dad were going to rage at me., kick me out of the house. I waited until I was eighteen and I got an earring. Then I got my first tattoo. At that time I was really into skulls, so I got the skull and crossbones. I wear a certain type of earring on a certain type of day because of the Incas and the Aztecs. For example, on a sunny day I’ll wear gold because gold stands for the sun. If there’s a full moon, I wear silver because silver represents the moon.

What about the Tiger tattoo on your arm and your new board?

I have always like cats and I wanted a tattoo of a leopard. The guy who was doing the tattoo wanted to do a tiger because he had just drawn up a tiger. I really wanted a leopard but I ended up with the tiger—at least it’s a cat. I wanted a cat on my arm because I always want to land on my feet.

My board graphics have always had something to do with my tattoos. I drew the first one of the witch doctor myself. They kind of changed it up at Santa Cruz.

Do you like to draw and do art things very much?

I used to draw a lot but I’m kind of too lazy to draw now. I just got my art table back in my room, so I’m going to start drawing again. I do certain things that kind of bum me out and make me lazy. I have been trying to get rid of all my bad habits. I think it all adds up to boredom. If you’re bored, you do stupid things. If you always have something to do, you’re cruising. I have drawn a lot of stuff. When I was little I used to draw all the time.

Do you and your brother fight a lot?

Micke and I used to fight like cats and dogs when we were little kids. We’d work each other. We get along great now. I just hope nothing ever happens to him because I don’t know what I’d do without him. We don’t really fight anymore but we do occasionally rage on each other.

Does he live here too?

Yeahk but he lives with his girlfriend half of the time which is kind of stupid because he is paying rent here.

Do you and Micke skate a lot together?

Yeah, pretty much all the time. The Badlands people who skate now are Robison, Micke and me. We skate together all the time.

What places have you been able to visit because of skateboarding?

I’ve flown around the whole United States, Mexico, Argentina, England, Canada and Hawaii. I’d like to travel more. I’d love to go to Australia, Europe, Japan anywhere as long as it is paid for.

What do you like to do when you’re not skating?

I hang out with my girlfriend a lot, as much as I can. Her name is Julie and I have been going out with her for seven years now. She’s my inspiration too. She doesn’t let me get lazy. She deserves someone way better than me because I’m kind of a screw up. I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet. I’m still skating. I’m twenty-six-years old an I ust can’t decide what do do.

I remember seeing your brother at contests in hotels and he’d be studying at times. How did you do in school?

I finished high school and I did well. I wanted to quit for a long time but my mom wouldn’t let me quit high school. I’m kind of stoked nowthat I didn’t because you at least need a high school diploma. I went to college for a year and that’s when I met Julie. I did that trip for a whole year and I got a little bit done. Micke is still really smart in school.

Is he still going to school? 

He’s not going this quarter but he’s trying to go again. He’s lacking ambition a little bit nowadays. I don’t really dig school. I think traveling is the best school. You learn so much about life.

If I’m going to go back to school, I’ve got do it real soon. My dad didn’t go to college or anything but my dad is a really nice person, he’s the best person I know. My dad never hit us, and I’m kind of stoked on that. He never touched us.

Do you appreciate your parents more now that you don’t live with them anymore?

Yeah, I think I appreciate them more now. And I think they appreciate me more as well.

Did your parents ever go and see you compete in contests?

They used to go to all the contests that I was in. The Alba family kind of set the pace as far as families in skateboarding goes. For the longest time, Micke and I were the only brothers in skateboarding. Now you have the Godoys, Abrooks and the Schroeders.

How long are you going to stay involved in skateboarding?

I’ll always skate. I don’t know about the business side of it. Santa Cruz wants me to be the coach for the team and they want to pay me for it. The only thing is that half of the people on the Santa Cruz team don’t listen to what I have to say. I mean, you can’t talk to Jason Jessee—he’s a freak. I could make Jason the number one skater but he won’t listen to me because he’s too stubborn. Grosso is the same way and I wish he wasn’t because he is really talented. 

Do you feel that you are kind of like a grandfather figure at contests?

I guess I kind of do. I get bummed out sometimes because I just want to prove to everybody that I can still do well. My goal before I quit skating competitively is to get in the top twenty of a pro contest again. The Albas don’t quit until we get what we want.  

Salba, San Bernardino
This pool is still skateboard after 15 years. Lien Tailslide, San Bernardino.