Garret Hill

Words and photos: Shigeo

Your first photo in Skateboarder was for an article about kids in home school. How old were you?
I was, like, 15 or 16 at the time.

How did they label you?
Everybody got labeled typical categories like “Most Likely to Succeed.” I didn’t have black hair back then; I had short hair, just a typical 15-year-old kid, but somehow I got “Most Goth.”

Isn’t it a little ironic that you’re in Tampa right now and you just got back from the goth club?
Yeah, I know, right, like it was a glimpse into the future, life imitating art. The thing about the goth club is we went there a couple times this trip. Two of the nights it was pretty much your basic club scene with normal people. But we went there last night and it was really, really creepy. There were people with weird makeup and crazy piercings walking around in trench coats. Maybe I dress dark sometimes, but I’m not that creepy. I don’t dance like a zombie or anything. It was pretty uncomfortable actually.

Were you bummed to be labeled “Most Goth”?
I didn’t understand, really; I didn’t get it. When I think of goth I think of that one kid in high school who just sits in the corner wearing a trench coat and that kind of thing.

It’s not like you were a social butterfly in high school. Didn’t you say it was the worst experience of your life?
Well, yeah. I never really got along with anybody in high school ’cause I grew up in the Valley. Basically, the people who went to my high school weren’t really people I’d like to hang out with. They were all super vain. Going to high school in the Valley is like living in an episode of The OC where everyone stands in a circle and waits for the circle leader to wear something new. Then they can all start wearing that thing. I never went along with that.

When you went into home school, was it because you needed more time to skate?
That was the biggest deciding factor. I was just starting to go on trips, and when you’re in regular high school you can’t leave for a month and expect your teachers to welcome you back with a warm hug.

Was that right around the time you were getting on Zero?
Yeah. I went on a trip with them and that’s when things really started happening. That whole trip was like a whole new open door. I had no idea that—whoa!—a black cat just walked by me. What is he still doing alive at the Milner? I would have thought someone would have shot him with a bow and arrow already. Yeah, so that tour was really cool for me. Going to a demo and seeing all those people going crazy every time someone landed a trick.

Have you ever considered going to college?

I’ve thought about it a couple times, but I don’t know. I always thought that you graduated high school and went to college with a set plan of what you wanted to do, take certain classes and graduate with a certain career in mind. Before high school, I had skateboarding as a career in mind. And even in the beginning stages of high school, I put myself into the position where I could turn it into a career and make skateboarding my life and not have to go to college and not have to work for 10 years and eventually become a doctor or something, if all goes well.

One of the things Jamie Thomas has always said about you is that you have a level head on your shoulders. Is that why you don’t drink?
I don’t drink; I stay away from that stuff. Every person has to test out the waters and feel out what’s right for them. It’s a free country and everyone can do whatever he wants. I found out what I wanted to do, and it’s my personal preference not to drink.

How’s the party scene in the Valley anyway?
It’s pretty hilarious. I don’t even bother with it. I made the mistake of staying in the Valley for New Year’s. We ended up just walking down the street trying to find the place our friends were at, and it quickly turned into a bunch of Valley wannabe gangsters throwing a glass jug at my friend. It ended up hitting his girlfriend and broke off on her head, then we all got guns pulled on us. This was all just for walking up the street.

How long before you start getting antsy to film a trick? We don’t see you very often.
Yeah, I put a lot of thought into each trick I want to film. Usually it’s a pretty big deal because you guys have to drive all the way up from San Diego.

We filmers and photographers really appreciate the forethought. I’m always so amazed to see how you get gnarly since you’re so mellow. You’re not like Tommy [Sandoval] pumping himself up and grunting.
Yeah, me and Tommy’s approach to skating is a lot different. Actually, most of the time when I have a trick in mind going to spot I don’t end up doing that trick; I usually come up with something else that feels better depending on the day.

So are you still into Harry Potter?
Yeah, always. I’ve always been into fantasy books, how amazing is it for one person to create a whole world with its own rules that’s so different from our own. JK Rowling started off as a single mother on welfare and had this amazing idea and it snowballed into what it is today. And now Harry Potter books are the biggest grossing books of all time. I’ve always been more attracted to fantasy worlds and places where magical creatures are real. It seems more peaceful than what normal society has to offer, like when you turn on the news and see mass killings and chaotic situations.

What’s this I hear about you trying out for one of the characters in the next movie?
I really wanted to try out for Professor Snape. From what I’ve heard, I look a lot like him. I know the character pretty well. In the book there’s a flashback to when he was a kid at Hogwarts and he was pretty much me in high school. Like, greasy long hair and the hooked nose, just be dribbling around in the schoolbooks and not being social whatsoever.