By Gilbert Ward Kane
Coachella Valley Weekly: What got you interested in skating?
Steve Caballero: “Probably the fact that it was pretty popular in the mid-1970s. Pretty much all my friends had a skateboard. I’d go to the market and see skateboard magazines on the rack. I would sort through them and see there was a huge skate scene down in Southern California, and there were a bunch of skateboard parks being built down there. It was a dream to me to go down there and ride one of those parks one day. Then I heard Northern California was going to get a couple parks built. The first one was Winchester Skate Park. As soon as it was built, I got my membership around 1977. I fell in love with it. I was building my own little ramps before I got to a skate park because I was trying to mimic what I saw in the magazines. After I rode my first park, I got hooked. I thought it was a really fun activity.”
CVW: You were a member of arguably the best team of skaters ever, The Bones Brigade. Can you tell me a little bit about the early days and how you came to join?
Cab: “I was discovered by Stacy Peralta in 1979 at a world champion amateur contest in Escondido near San Diego. I was part of a skateboard team called Campbell Skate Park, which is one of the skate parks I mentioned early built in Northern California. We had a Nor Cal series and we were one of the best skateboard teams in Northern California and wanted to come to Southern California and see how we measured up to the guys in So Cal. One of my teammates ended up getting first in the division, and I got fifth in my. Stacy was one of the judges and really enjoyed seeing me and my buddy, Clay Townsend, skate and saw something in us. He was forming a new company, Powell Peralta and wanted to have an amazing amateur team of skaters from all over the U.S. He didn’t have anybody from Northern California, so we ended up being the two guys picked to represent the team.”
CVW: Did your early success impact your everyday life at such a young age?
Cab: “It did. I went from skating at a skate park maybe once a week to getting sponsored by Powell Peralta. They paid for my time to skate at the parks. Back then there was no such thing as a free skateboard park. They were all privately owned and you had to pay. Since they paid, I was able to skate more. Then I ended up travelling with Powell Peralta and come down to L.A. more for photo shoots and competitions. I was asked to do summer camps, and it snow balled from there. I got busier and busier. It changed my whole thought process of what I was going to do for a living. When I was 15, is when it all started. I turned pro in 1980, two years before I graduated. As a freshman in high school, I was already thinking about going to college. By the time I was a junior, I didn’t even have time to think about college. I was already making a lot of money and felt I already had a career forming in skateboarding.”
CVW: How has skating changed your life?
Cab: “Being a skateboarder really teaches you a lot of lessons about life. It teaches you about commitment, determination, and getting over your fears. There’s a lot to be learned through the act of skating because it’s not an easy thing to pick up. It takes a lot of hard work, time, and practice. You really have to focus and dedicate yourself. The majority of the skill is the mental part of it. You know, being confident, and believing you can do this and that. 90% of it is mental. If you doubt yourself, it’s really hard to progress. When you can adapt the skillset to life, you can accomplish a bunch. That’s for sure.”
CVW: Skating and punk music have always gone hand and hand. What came first for you, skating or punk?
Cab: “Skateboarding definitely came first. The area I grew up in was black and Hispanic, so we were listening to R & B, soul, and disco in the 70s. I wasn’t really much into rock ‘n roll. As soon as I started really getting into skating, and going to skate parks, I began to hear rock ‘n roll and the music skateboarders listened to: AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Cheap Trick. I started buying rock ‘n roll cassettes which formed into New Wave, then shortly after it was Punk Rock. I fell in love with the music; the energy behind it and the rawness. It kind of reminded me of skating. It was something that gave me an inspiration to start my own band. In punk rock, you don’t really need to know how to play an instrument that well. You’re just making a bunch of noise. Playing power chords, and playing superfast. That’s what we were into back then.”
CVW: You are a member of The Faction. Do you feel their success can be attributed to your skate career? Are there fans that have no idea that you are an innovator in skating?
Cab: “I think my fame and popularity helped boost the band up to where it was. My name connected to the band definitely attracted people. I’m sure there are a few people who have heard the band that didn’t know there was a professional skater in the band, but I’d say the majority of the popularity of it is because of who I am in skating. I took advantage of that. I used my name to get us to play a lot of skateboard events, and we still do today. Because of my popularity, we’ve got a lot of opportunities for the band.”
CVW: Do you get more satisfaction from performing as a musician or skating? Or is it the same?
Cab: “I think I get the same satisfaction. There’s nothing like writing a tune that people are super into. The movement of the crowd, and seeing them super stoked, and the applause after you’re done playing is amazing. Playing a song all the way through without messing up is like doing a run without falling. I guess I get the same feeling, and appreciation. When I’m with the band, I’m on a stage with four guys, when I’m on a ramp, I’m on a stage with just me. It’s a group effort with the band, but I enjoy it just as much. They definitely feed off each other for sure!”