Jake portrait by Sam Coady. Jacko portrait by Wade McLaughlin.
Jake Hayes and Jackson Pilz Give Us The Scoop.
Words by Nat Kassel.
The first episode of Thrasher’s latest King of the Road has finally dropped on SBS and VICELAND, and it looks like it’s going to be as gnarly as ever. This year is especially exciting for Australia because two of our homegrown heroes – Jackson Pilz and Jake Hayes – were part of it.
Jake, who won Slam’s Australian Skater of the Year award in 2016 skates for Deathwish and Jacko, who won Australian SOTY this year, went along with his enjoi compadres. The only other Aussies to have hit KOTR were Jake Duncombe in 2007 [MVP] and Shane O’Neill [for a little before bailing] in 2011, so having two Aussies this year is enough to make even the most ambivalent Australian skateboarder feel a little pang of patriotism. And although nothing’s been announced yet, there are rumours that one of them will get the MVP award.
Without giving too much away, I caught up with Jake and Jacko for a quick chat about the piss drinking, crying, skateboarding and shenanigans that we can expect from this year’s King of the Road.
Congrats on doing King of the Road with Deathwish. Was it as crazy as you were expecting?
It was pretty insane. I kind of knew what I was getting myself in to, but at the same time, they throw so many curve balls, and the challenges are always different from previous years. No matter how much you watch the older episodes, nothing can prepare you for what they have planned. It’s 13 days of anxiety.
I’ve only seen one episode but you’ve come out hard from the get go, managing to drink both Neen Williams’ and your own piss. Are you pretty keen on a bubbler?
I’ve never actually performed a legitimate bubbler, but I felt like I had to be the one to do it because it’s an Australian custom.
It takes a real man to cry on TV. How was that?
[Laughs] It was pretty funny to be honest. Sitting around a campfire with a bunch of friends in silence trying to cry. Every time it was quiet, someone would laugh and I’d have to start the whole process again.
As the new guy from Australia, did you feel like you had to go extra hard?
I just felt like I had to do as much as I could for my friends and my team. I got hurt on the fourth day but still tried to do the challenges that didn't involve skating. Everyone was sick. Going through all that torture with those dudes definitely helped team bonding. Everyone went through it together.
Any spoilers for what happens next? And what was the gnarliest thing that went down?
Just wait for the episode where we spend a day with [Chad] Muska. Jamie Foy is going to blow people away.
Jake, back Smith, from Slam issue 210. Photo by Jake Darwen.
You rocked up to The States three weeks before King of the Road – was that a pretty crazy thing to be thrown in to?
Yeah, it was super crazy ’cause I wanted to skate a bunch before it, but I also kinda felt like I should take it easy ’cause all you hear is how intense King of the Road is going to be. I went up to San Jose and hung out with all the enjoi dudes. It felt like the slowest couple weeks of my life waiting for it to start.
Was it as intense as you were expecting?
I went in just thinking it was going to be the gnarliest thing ever, which probably helped ’cause I ended up really enjoying it. It’s kind of like a normal trip, just skating a bunch, but you don’t have to think of tricks to try, you just read them from the book. Someone will be like, “Oh, I got that one” or you all just end up trying a trick you’ve never even thought of and maybe get it. It’s the best shit ever.
I’ve only seen the first episode but you’re killing it so far. As one of the first few Aussies to go on King of the Road, did you feel like there was pressure to go extra hard?
I don’t know about being Aussie having anything to do with the nerves or pressure, but yeah, I guess the only other Aussies to do it are Jake [Duncombe] and Shane [O’Neill].
How was everyone on the team? Are you tight with all those guys?
Everyone was sick. I’m tight with all the guys that were on it besides Enzo [Cautela] – that was the first time I met him and he’s a legend as well. Everyone has their breaking points, and the trip pushes you and frustrates you, so everyone ends up snapping at least once.
Any spoilers on what happens next?
I don’t really know. It was all filmed back in November and just watching that first episode, it all seemed new to me. I have no idea what any of the other teams did and I barely remember what we did [laughs]. I remember we finished up in Hawaii though, that was insane. We were on a boat and I thought I was gonna be responsible for the death of my fellow team mates. I guess we’ll see if that makes the cut. Not everyone came on the boat on the way back.
Do you know who won it yet or is that episode yet to be filmed?
I have no idea and I couldn’t even make a guess at this point. I fly back over to The States at the end of the month for the finale, so we’ll find out in about two weeks I guess.
Jackson, kickflip to the street, from Slam issue 213. Photo by Wade McLaughlin.
Skater Profile: Jake Hayes
Skater Profile: Jackson Pilz
Watch the first episode over at SBS On Demand. Episodes are dropping every Friday.