It’s historically evident that the most impactful projects in snowboarding have been born out of a genuine connection between riders, as opposed to a sponsored obligation to film together.
We here at SLUSH have a funny feeling (we haven’t yet seen the film as we pen this intro) that the project between Spencer Schubert and Mikey LeBlanc will capture that exact essence. Though the backstory is discussed in length in the following conversation between the two of them, these two became interested in making this project after Mikey was so enthused by Spencer’s footage in Good Sport. What followed was something I think neither rider expected, as Mikey rekindled a flame with snowboarding that had been extinguished for some time. Beyond a project with genuine passion, they had one hell of a funny conversation for you all to enjoy.
-Interview By Stan Leveille
[Mikey LeBlanc] So Spenny, why did you call me last November and ask if I wanted to make a video? Nobody has called me in years, and I was kind of hoping I would get a call someday, but I had given up hope.
[Spencer Schubert] Well, I’m not even sure you were giving out your phone number. It was kind of hard to track down. First of all, I had to find your phone number, so I hit up Meyer which actually sparked the whole thing because once I told him I was interested in filming with you, he goes, “Oh well I’m filming it.” I was like, alright, we just have to make sure Mikey is down first. So I got your number, and I just hit you with a cold call and asked what you thought of doing a movie. You were immediately excited about it. I think within the first minute, we established we were going to make a movie together.
Yeah. So why did you want to film with me?
Because I had met you prior to this moment—once or twice; I think Darrell’s crazy wedding when we were holding sparklers, and then maybe once after that just around. But the reason why was because you gave me so much praise from Good Sport. It was the night of the premiere, and then I probably received like 10-15 unsolicited DMs of praise after that. So I figured you had something going on.
Yeah, it was a romance, and I wanted to get into a small Airbnb and see where it went.
Haha. Yeah, for me, it was an unexpected phone call. It was a random number which I usually don’t answer, but I was like, fuck it I’m going to answer this phone call. You were like, “Yo, you want to make a movie?” And I, crazily, said yes because I honestly had no idea if I could barely even snowboard. But I was coming off the high of watching Good Sport. I was with Shane Charlebois who has made lots of movies for Absinthe, and we both drove home from that premiere. It was like a 15-minute drive and I think we both were quiet for like 7 minutes of that drive. Then we both were like, “What the fuck did we just see?” and I really feel like that was the best movie in general in the last 10 years, so I was really excited. I was aware of you and I was aware of Tommy and Derrek, but like, I was immediately a superfan. It was really exciting. And since you brought that up, now I kind of know why you picked Justin Meyer, but my question to you is why did you pick Justin Meyer as the filmer/editor? I mean, he was my last choice, but since this was all your idea, I had to go along with it.
I think he picked himself. I never had a choice in the matter but if I had to pick one, it would, of course, be Meyer. I was hoping to capture those Mikey moments that we’ve all seen in all the VG movies. The hijinks and all the fun. I wanted to go a different route than Good Sport, and not try to film the craziest thing ever. Maybe try to film some hijinks and not have to jump off of a building. But then I figured you’d actually jump off a building, which was another reason I called you.
So I was brought in as a stuntman is what you’re saying.
Yeah, smart right? In my ripe old age, my legs are giving out. Somehow yours are getting stronger. I also really wanted to bring the toboggan back.
I’m stoked that you wanted to ride the toboggan because to me, it’s been one of the funnest things… I mean, going to a certain level in snowboarding, you film these gnarly things. The second I strap into that toboggan, it’s like the first time I ever went snowboarding. I wanted to know if you had that same experience. It just immediately removes all seriousness.
I think it’s very serious because you have an 8-foot plank attached to you and there’s no way out.
Yeah, it doesn’t turn.
And to your point, yes, it is like the first time riding a snowboard because you don’t know how to ride it. It feels like you don’t know what you’re doing at all.
Which is fun as shit.
Oh yeah. It does not turn. An airplane hangar.
The first time you strapped in was in Minnesota on the handrail, right?
Yeah, I think it was the handrail.
I saw you ride out of that first thing and I saw the joy in your face. It was the same that I felt, and it was such a pleasure. No one has ever technically ridden the toboggan except me, so. You were the second person.
I feel honored.
You did some gnarly stuff. You backflipped off a house, you tried that backside 50 on the down flat down.
Tried? I don’t think that’s a try, my friend, that’s a do.
That’s a do. And FT!
I’ve never seen my friends so excited from a landing. I’ve seen them excited before from landing a feature, but usually it’s like excited-to-go-home-we’ve-been-here-all-day, but that excitement was so funny. And I think for me it was hilarious because I didn’t know how to stop; I just rode right into a street trying to unstrap before a bus came and took me out. Who knows though? Toboggan versus bus… toboggan could win.
Oh yeah. Also toboggan versus a snowboard, there’s just a lot more elation because it’s so ridiculous. It just creates this humor.
It’s insanely fun. The rope adds another whole piece to the equation because you’ve got to hold on to a rope the whole time. And it works! You can tug it whichever way you want to go.
That’s what I was psyched on with that back 50. If you watch the footage close, you ollie into this back 50 but you can clearly see you turn the fucking bog with the rope to get squared up, which is sick.
I learned a lot too from the toboggan as it relates to you. The toboggan doesn’t like to land on downhills. The toboggan likes to land on flats, which is up your alley.
For sure, because if you’re trying to land on a downhill, what happens?
It breaks. It must be flat. And then, when we were calling it the airplane hangar, it also relates to you. You and airplanes have so much in common because you’re the only things that like to land flat.
That’s what I love about the bog. As you know I’m a huge fan of flat landings. The thing about the bog that I learned over the years was all you have to do is land going straight and it is going to land. It’s like a Cadillac.
Off the Quebec wall, you jumped 20 feet to flat. I actually saw you go head-over-heels on the toboggan which was insane. I’ve never seen something flip that fast.
Well it has a 4-foot long nose.
It looked like Yoda when he fights with the lightsaber and he’s just like a blur. That was you with the toboggan. I have a question for you. How was it coming back to the filming after not doing it, and how many years do you think you took off?
My last video part was in VG Bon Voyage, I think 2012, which is 10 years. But if you take that with a grain of salt, it was my last year of a contract with all my sponsors, and I didn’t do much. It was March and there was an Ashbury demo, so I did that big ollie in Big Bear, and that was it. I was done. I was like cool, I can feel good, I’m ending on a high note.
And ending the movie. One-and-done ender. I think that was an NBD.
Maybe an NBD. I mean, honestly, after we hung up that phone call I was like, “uhhh, I really want to do this but what the fuck am I doing? I’m 49, I don’t know if I can even snowboard.” But coming back 10 years out of a break, a couple learnings: One—most of my friends that I used to snowboard with don’t even snowboard anymore. And honestly one thing I learned is I don’t get a big kick out of just cruising, so going out to do resort riding was just boring. This season with you reminded me that getting semi-gnarly is what I love. Two—the difference between the past and now with Love Hate and other video parts was that I used to kind of run the show when I was doing those things. This time around, you ran the show and Meyer a little bit too. So I was in this place to really just be the rider, and I appreciated that.
Yeah, I was a little bit in the passenger seat, but also you get a chance to come back and pay closer attention to other details. I’ve had people tell me countless times, “We were on this trip and blah blah,” and I don’t even remember these trips because I was so focused on my video part. This time around, it was like, I’m going to get my shots but it was so much more about the whole thing. It sounds cheesy but that’s really what it was. It was so much fun to be back out with some of the raddest kids in the game. So I’ve got to thank you for that. I know you hate it when I thank you, but... You have to put that in there too, Stan, because I really have to thank you, Spencer.
I’m thanking Mikey back.
This re-intro was kind of a life saver. It was sort of a time in my life where I just needed a spark. I’m almost 50 and I had escaped pro snowboarding, which is really just this insane opportunity to travel the world and hang out with rad people and laugh and be stupid and do dumb things and I missed it so much.
The only reason people are going to be reading any of these words is because your name is attached, not mine.
I have to interject and say how much I like it that you refer to
Riley Nickerson, myself, and Louif as “kids”.
Well, everybody younger than me is a kid. So this one is fun. How old are you?
So I could be your father.
Yes you could. Are you trying to tell me something because I think I’m way taller than you.
Can I adopt you? And is your mother available?
My mother is available.
She’s too tall for me too. And I’m not looking, sorry Spencer’s mom.
Well I’m not going to put in a good word because I want my stepdad to be uber rich. Yacht rich. I want to be on daddy’s boat. I want her to get with some tech lord, you kidding me? I want a PJ, I want a flight, I want the best for my mom.
And I’m kind of a loser is what you’re saying. It’s okay.
So I know what mine are, but what were your favorite moments during the project?
Oh, I love this. This is like a Thanksgiving rose and thorn. I think when you first jumped the Jeremy Jones set in Minnesota. We had to pull bungee back for you and you wanted to go way farther back than you needed to. Before we pulled it, you put your phone next to you. It was blaring metal. You’re growling, grunting, and jumping and you’re like looking absolutely terrifying for me and Tommy. We’re like, “are you good?” And you didn’t give us anything. You kind of barked as a yes or whatever. You somehow gave us a signal. We pull it back and then you come flying into this thing, which is uphill so we can barely see the takeoff. We see you jump, and you go up, and then you drop out of the sky and as you did that, the beat dropped on the song—going crazy metal music. Tommy and I looked at each other and we were like, “Did we just kill this 50-year-old man?” We were so scared. So before we started running to see if you were okay, we looked at each other like, “holy shit, who let us do this?” Then we run out, and you had stomped the shit out of it. That was awesome. I think any successful jumps off of anything large were amazing moments. That one specifically. If I had to pick a thorn I would just say Justin Meyer as a whole.
One of the high moments for me was probably that sesh in Evanston because we had a huge crew and it was my first semi-scary trick—looking back it wasn’t really that scary—but waiting all day and hanging out and having to exercise patience as the team manager from K2 hit the spot before me, and a lot of other people. And that’s fine because people froth and we didn’t get kicked out and we had a good time. Going back to a spot that I feel was important to me and having the whole crew have a blast, and getting to hang out with a big crew of people that I had kind of been following but didn’t really know but I really love their vibe, like Mo (the K2 team manager), Mark Wilson, and Seamus and you and Melissa and everybody else, was fun. There’s a bunch of high moments.
I just remembered another one of mine. This goes along with that spot. As you know, a big thing I wanted to try to do was go back and revisit a bunch of spots that were iconic from your era that you had hit and be able to look at it with new light or revisit some of these things that people hadn’t been to in a while, so we went to that spot. When we got there, we had a huge crew. Seth Huot and Jeremy Jones pulled up, and you said what you wanted to do. I remembered the nosepress and I was thinking that you had done a front tail on it, but you said you haven’t done a front tail on it. Seth was like, “I remember filming you do a front tail.” So I went to the car where my phone was and I watched the Reel Raw on JP’s Instagram from that and then I walk back over and you said, “No I haven’t front tailed this, it was someone else.” And I go, “Just for your information, Mikey, you have done nose press, 5-0, 50 front one, and front tailslide on this.” And you go, “Oh shit, I don’t even remember.” That was great. I had to reference you all of the tricks that you had done on this spot.
When I watched the Reel Raw, you were eating shit 20 years ago and this time you were kind of just putting them down try after try. So does it get better with age? I always thought it was the opposite.
Well, I mean the old school shot, we waxed the curb or whatever you want to call it. Down ledge. In the current day and age, you guys actually cheat and you put ice on the ledge. Back in the day, I had to battle that shitty ledge.
Oh yeah, we’re cheating. Back in the day, I used to bring a horse and buggy to the spot. You guys are cheating with your phones and your cars.
Haha—this season, I noticed, which was probably a good idea, that you were somewhat protective of me. Was that just for me or are you like that for everyone? Do you just think I’m sketchy and old and I might break? I appreciated it because it was a dance. You were protective of me, like “Do you really want to try this?” but you were also like, “I know you can do this.” Are you always like the coach on the scene or is it just me?
I think I have tended to try to coach people, whether they like it or not. Maybe that’s just me trying to coach myself through it. But for you, I think you had come from a different era and the times have changed a little bit so we were just catching you up to speed on some things. On other things, we would be standing on top of like a two-story building and you’re growling and trying to jump off of it, and I’d have to be like, “Michael, no, let’s save it for another spot. That snow down there isn’t snow, that’s a parking lot.”
What I’ve learned coming in is now people stand on the shoulders of your elders as they say, and you guys have become a lot smarter about spots. Like removing obstacles, setting up better landings, making sure it’s a lot safer. Please know that I view you as probably the best setup person I’ve ever met, which is props because the spot isn’t going to look like shit, we still clear the stairs and do all the things that are important but you make it feel safer than we used to, so I appreciated that. But I have one request because I hope to film with you a little bit next year—please just let me do more dumb shit. I want to do dumber shit, I’m gonna scare you, you’re gonna scare me. Keep me safe, but I still want to get gnarlier and do better stuff.
Sometimes it’s hard to let your babies fly out of the nest. I’m an overprotective mother.
So you’re kind of like my dad now? Because it kind of felt like that.
You could be my dad, but I’m acting like yours.
I’m cool with that.
We still have to come up with a name for the movie. Should that be it?
Yeah. One of my goals for this year was to go back to Quebec. Some of my best days were in Quebec. Not necessarily for the spots, even though the spots are sick, but I just really love that East Coast work ethic and also some of my favorite riders have hailed from Quebec. When you told me we were doing this project, I think the next day I DM’d Louif. I was like, “Hey Lou, I’m going to film something with Spencer, would you please do this?” and he said he would absolutely do it. So let’s talk a little bit about Quebec. Were you vibing on Quebec?
Well since your era, that place has been beat down. And yes, all the best snowboarders have hailed from there and they have picked it apart. I wasn’t going there trying to find new things but to go revisit a bunch of old spots. So going there was cool because it was a relief. Usually, you go to Quebec and you’re trying to go look for new things, but we were going to Quebec looking for the old shit.
And you and Louif put on a demo on that rail which got everybody psyched, and hit it on the bog too. Louif’s Asmo got stolen but we got it back.
You don’t want to get Big Lou angry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry.
He doesn’t get angry. Louif is also on my top, top, top… one of my best-evers. He just has that energy of complete focus and confidence. Mad respect. Much love, Lou.
How many times do you think that we had hung out before we had gone straight to a spot together?
Did you think I’d be better?
No, haha. No, I did not. I was actually blown away because the first time we went to Evanston, you ollied out and over to that ledge. I know it wasn’t a big deal to you but I had never looked at the thing that you set up and it was basically this big ollie to a down ledge that is probably only like 30 degrees, so there’s impact on the landing. I was excited, because I was like oh here we go, this dude is setting this thing up and he sees this as a “whatever” shot. But if we had filmed that in Mack Dawg, it would’ve been a banger shot.
So you’re saying I was born in the wrong era?
Yes. Yeah, if you look at it that way. I was psyched because I was about to see some shit. Part of what is exciting for me about having a crew is that you want them to inspire you and push you. Like I mentioned earlier, one of the best parts of filming a movie is aligning yourself with rad people that you like to hang out with. I knew I wanted to ride with Tommy Gesme because I feel like he has potentially the best style in a certain realm of snowboarding that hasn’t happened in a long time. I watched him in the Good Sport video and I was like, this kid is going to be just dripping style. And then after getting to know him— his snowboarding is fucked—and he is just this amazing Midwest fisherman and good old boy. I’m like, how does that transla te to snowboarding like that? I was so stoked to get under the hood of all these rad people. And also meeting Riley; I had never met Riley and he’s really cool. And riding with Mark and everybody else.
How do we wrap this thing up?
I don’t know. How do we wrap this thing up?
I also liked how I’ve never been asked what I’ve been up to more any other season than this season. Everyone is asking, “Is Mikey back?” …So are you?
I mean, I will say I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do anything because I haven’t done it in 10 years. What I’m excited about is that I’ve realized that I love the shit out of this. I have the complete clip addiction, and I’m so down. Going forward, I want to film more for sure. Put down more shots and just keep going as long as I can. I mean, that sounds boring but I love doing dumb things and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.
So in short, yes?