Past Forward: Matt Bublitz on Backwash and Borrowed Time

Backwash Titles

I don’t know why, but after finishing every full-length skate video I’ve made,
I sincerely believe it’ll be my last. After Warfare at 19, I was off to college, diving into books, a new city and putting off the impending doom of adulthood. After Lo-Tide at 22, with diploma in hand, I thought it was surely time to grow up, face the great unknown of my future and trade in my VX-1000 for a nine-to-five. Fast forward ten years, and today, I’m 32 with a wife, baby and full-time responsibilities as a videographer for Thrasher. Yet again, I find myself exporting my longest video to date featuring the guys I grew up skating with. It feels like a miracle. I didn’t set out to do this, but somehow after countless weekends, aligning our days off, a clip here, a clip there, I’ve arrived at Backwash, a 35-minute video highlighting the talents of the people closest to my heart. Yes, the process has been much slower; everyone now has families, jobs and increasingly aching muscles, but the drive remains constant. And it’s gotten us to the finish line one more (last?) time. So sit back and scroll your way to familiarize yourself with the faces and feats of my friends, the skaters of Backwash.

Chris And Pierce Brunner 2000

Chris And Pierce Portraits 2000Brothers forever, 2010 and 2022

The Brunner twins make me feel acutely aware of the passing time. I met Chris and Pierce when they were 13 and aptly known around town as “the fetuses.” While filming for Lo-Tide, I even remember signing a release form from their parents designating me as their de-facto guardian. It was a unique responsibility to not only be responsible for their footage, but for their lives.

BACKWASH PHOTOS Brunner twins with wood BURNETTPhoto: Burnett

As you’d expect, at 24 years old now, they’re no longer “the fetuses.” Quite the contrary, they obsess over classic cars, VHS skate videos and the skate heroes of yore. They’re the oldest young people I know, like if Benjamin Button had a penchant for Misled Youth and late-70s Cadillacs.

BACKWASH PHOTOS chris brunner back smith BURNETTChris adds his name to the short list of people who have stepped to the famous J-Wray rooftop ledge. Back Smith while I try to keep my palms from sweating     Photo: Burnett

BACKWASH PHOTOS pierce brunner front board BUBLITZThe new shit might be takin' that dirt ride, but Pierce likes his skating on the Heath side. Front board the rail and hubba in one rip    Photo: Bublitz 

Chris Brunner 5050 Boardslide 750From ledge to handrail, Chris serves up a perpendicular punishment with this grind to boardslide

BACKWASH PHOTOS chris brunner on roof BURNETTPhoto: Burnett

When the rumblings of a new full-length started swirling, Chris went into overdrive, maniacally plotting and executing his assaults one by one. With not only a disregard, but an excitement for knob-hacking vandalism, flagrant trespassing violations and petty thievery. He stopped at nothing to secure his guns-blazing opening part. I’ve never been so nervous filming someone in my life.

BACKWASH PHOTOS chris brunner taildrop lip BURNETTSeeing double?! That's not the twins, that's just Chris leaping his way to a harrowing lipslide on Beach Boulevard     Photo: Burnett

BACKWASH PHOTOS chris brunner switch crook BUBLITZI'm pretty sure Chris can switch crook anything. See Exhibit A       Photo: Burnett

Malakai Montes 2000

Malakai Header 2000
Hawaii native Malakai Montes was the new addition to the crew this time around, linked by his move to the mainland and hanging around our local shop: Jokers. Like most transplants, Malakai approached Southern California with a fresh set of eyes, bringing new energy to the spots we’ve seen a million times. Despite being largely a transition and bowl-oriented skater, he adapted swimmingly to the streets, parlaying his vertical talents to whatever was at hand. To showcase his full array of abilities, though, we of course had to get a few backyard bowl sessions in.

BACKWASH PHOTOS malakai montes frontside wallride BUBLITZSome knock before entering. Malakai front wallrides—up and over the handle for good measure     Photo: Bublitz

Malakai Wallride Up To Lip 750Those backyard-bowl bashes helped out here, double disaster in the ditch 

BACKWASH PHOTOS malakai montes drop in grind BUBLITZNo vert ramp, no problem! Malakai drop-in grinds the closest thing he could find to transition      Photo: Bublitz

Matt Bublitz 2000

backwash frame grab photos matt bublitz family portraitDad mode activated! Pictured here with wife Cassidy and our freshly-hatched daughter Marybird

It might be cringe, but being a skater that likes to get footage as well, I try to be a part of the videos I make. After putting out my Enter the Museum part a year ago and being a newly-minted dad, I didn’t think I could muster up enough clips to make it happen. But when it came time to edit, I realized I might be able to stretch what I had into a mini-part of sorts. What resulted is what I will forever refer to as my “dad bod” part.

BACKWASH PHOTOS matt bublitz roll on crook SEIDLERRide-on grinds are cool. Right, fellow kids? Going the distance on a crooks sans oillie      Photo: Seidler

Matt Bublitz Front Board Fakie 50 50 750Easing into the curb-dad culture with a front board to switch back grind on a six-inch behemoth

backwash thrasher web article Tom Karangelov 2000

backwash frame grab photos tom k opening gate

As you may know, Tom K is my best friend and has been with me since the beginning. Naturally, he’s been in all my previous videos and I’ve gotten to film most of his professional parts for other companies. When Backwash was shaping up into a proper video, Tom didn’t have any clips designated for it. Him being the only true professional skater out of our friend group, the footage I had of him was understandably already spoken for by other companies. I remember asking Tom, “Can you just film one thing for this video?” What resulted was him stepping up and not only getting one clip, but filming an entire part in only six months. He's a true professional and a genuine friend! Thank you, Tom!
backwash frame grab photos tom k oldWe go way back, brace-faced Tom K, 2007

Tom Karangelov Feeble Hippie Jump 750Some Tom K magic, slappy feeble to hippie jump the chain

Ed Templeton Feeble 750Somehow Tom got the Tempster out of retirement for a rare guest clip. Tom can officially die happy

backwash frame grab photos tom k and ed templeton flip offWho wore it best?

Avery Johnson 2000

BACKWASH PHOTOS avery and matt camera 1
Of course, it’s not a true old-fashioned full-length without a friends section! Avery Johnson has been steadily stacking since his Enter the Museum part and came through with a robust showing. The future is yours, Ave!

BACKWASH PHOTOS avery johnson 5050 grind into ditch BURNETTLeave it to Avery to find a fresh approach at the iconic Skip's Ditch, 50-50 pop out into the double-black-diamond ride      Photo: Burnett

BACKWASH PHOTOS avery johnson bump to front crook BURNETTHealthy pop and precise pinch, Avery catches a front crooks     Photo: Burnett

Ben Woosley 2000

backwash frame grab photos ben woosley film portrait
Ben Woosley, aka Mr. New Mexico, is another one of my closest friends. Beyond that, he’s a bonafide role model. If you didn’t know better, judging by the way he skates and acts, you’d think he was our peer, an early 30-something. The whole time filming Lo-Tide I assumed he might be a couple years older than us, but it took randomly stumbling upon his ID to realize he was born in 1977. Someone might find that strange, but we only looked at him with more respect–a guy almost 15 years our senior who cared about skating and filming as much as we did. Often, he was getting gnarlier than we were! Most guys his age are happy slappying a curb every other Sunday, which is fine, but it’s not for Ben. He still wants to push his skating to its highest potential, early-grabbing onto even bigger walls and rails than before. Now 46 with a full-time job as a physical therapist at Hoag Hospital, a wife, daughter and mortgage, Ben continues to teach us the cliché that age is but a number—you really can skate forever, you just gotta muscle it.

BACKWASH PHOTOS ben woosley early grab wallride BURNETTBen powers and early grab to wallride over the rail. Leave it to Mr. New Mex!       Photo: Burnett

Ben Woosley Dump Truck 750Pop, yank, grind, a fine display of Ben's many strengths

BACKWASH PHOTOS ben woosley invert grind BUBLITZThe past meets the future! Invert to grind on an East LA gem       Photo: Bublitz

Backwash Title John Demar 1500

backwash frame grab photos john demar film portrait
John DeMar is the best. Not everyone might know that because of his mild-mannered demeanor and humility, but once you see him skate, the talent is undeniable. He’s one of those guys that is somehow good at everything. He’ll beat you at chess, casually smoke you at golf, and hell, even make his own music for his part. It would be irritating if he wasn’t so damn chill and likable. A once heavily flowed skater on the verge of making it, John turned his professional attention to teaching. Today, he works as a history teacher at a high school in downtown Los Angeles. Clearly, he still finds the time to skate on the weekends with the rest of us, calling out absurdly hard tricks that I’ve learned to never doubt. I wonder if his students know their teacher can back tail 360 heelflip out…

John Demar Full Cab Fakie Manny 750John presents the holy grail pad trick, full Cab to fakie manny 

BACKWASH PHOTOS john demar back lip BURKHARDTThere's something special about skating your alma mater. John ditches the cap and gown for a bench and a garbage can—gap to back lip    Photo: Burkhardt

John Demar Back Tail 270 Heel 750John deserves his PhD in Technical Studies for this one, back tail 270 heel out. Bravo, Dr. DeMar!

There you have it, all my friends who helped me tooth-and-nail repopulate the endangered species of the full-length video. Despite the challenges, I think I’m finally realizing that regardless of what life throws at us with each passing year, we’re still just the same kids we’ve always been—friends searching for the next spot, just wanting to log another clip. So even though it feels like the end of an era yet again, if history repeats itself, I’ll find myself biting my words and pressing play on another video in the coming years. Fingers crossed.

Now that you're familiar, watch Bubiltz and his homies unleash in Huntington Beach one more time
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