Sometimes when skateboard companies aren’t doing it for you, you gotta take matters into your own hands. And in this case, “skateboard companies” would refer to Element, and “aren’t doing it for you” could be more like, “totally blowing it.”
Which is just one of the many reasons why there’s no better time for Jeremy Wray and his brother Jonas to unveil their new company: Wray Bros.
There aren’t two other people I can think of that would be more befitting as company owners than these respected icons. Having skated together for almost 30 years and riding for companies like Blockhead and Plan B, Black Label and Media, they have a deep history in skating, both on the rider and business side.
With no formal announcement or any official word on the company yet, I caught up with the bros and got the first details of what will surely be one of the most respected and authentic brands around.
At what point did you and Jonas think about starting your own board company?
We’ve been talking about starting something for years, but the timing just never seemed right until now. With Wray Bros it really came down to making the decision to take our future in our own hands and get busy creating cool products that people would be down for.
Does this mean you have completely cut ties Element skateboards? I do still see you listed on their site.
I haven’t done anything with Element for a few years now. They still use my name and images from time to time but I haven’t received a paycheck from them in many years. I’ve just been skating with my brother and my friends again like the old days and enjoying the more fun side of things. I was holding on to the idea that if I stayed loyal to Element that eventually they would do right and come through with an opportunity to work for the company in some other capacity, but after this long I just have to walk away from them completely. They made a conscious decision years ago to try to turn me into a ghost, so it seems only fitting now that I haunt them, right?
Don’t you think there are already too many board companies out there?
As risky as it might seem to be starting a board company right now, I think that things have gotten a little stale over the last few years with all these big corporations buying up any brands that were worth a damn. People are ready again for a skater owned and operated brand that they can believe in, support and stand behind. Since we will actually be riding everything we make, it will be easy for us to make sure all of our products are up to par.
Why start right now?
Well, first and foremost, I had my son Jaxon. He’s 18 months old and my skateboard has already become his favorite thing to play with above all of his toys. So I set him up his own little cruiser board and he loves it. I would love to still be skateboarding everyday when he’s old enough to join me. The best way to make sure that happens is to start our own brand and keep that dream alive without having to rely solely on sponsors. Jonas and Paul are both working real jobs to make ends meet right now, but would gladly walk away from those if we were able to support ourselves through our brand. And why not? We know what’s up. We know what products are good and which ones are crap. I’ve been designing everything from t-shirts, boards, hats, jeans, magazine ads, to even top selling shoes for all these other brands for over 20 years now. So the better question would be why not do this for us for a change and see how it goes? Is there ever really a wrong time to follow your dreams? No one is going to give this to us or even make it easy for us. We have to tough it out on our own and make this happen. I truly believe that we will.
What will set Wray Bros apart as a board brand than every other one out there?
Really what will set us apart most is US! We’re not going to be trying to reinvent the wheel or come up with some bullshit revolutionary new board constructions. We won’t try to trick you into buying our products with marketing scams. What we will do is offer the highest quality skate products available, with clean designs at a competitive price. Everything we put the Wray Bros name on will be up to our standards.
Longboards seem to be the hot seller these days, will Wray Bros be making a longboard series too?
This seems to be a common mistake that big skate companies make. They try to chase what is selling instead of creating things that they know are good and leading the way. As soon as you start following trends, you’ve already lost control. We know exactly who we are and what we believe in. Our policy will be this: We will not put the Wray Bros name on any board that you cannot 1. Ollie up a curb on and 2. Do a Kickflip on. Once you’ve lost the ability to do either of those things something has gone terribly wrong in your design room. We like liquor store cruisers as much as the next guy and might dabble a bit with some fun shapes with silly graphics to match, but you better believe we’ll still be throwing tre flips on those bad boys somewhere between here and the store in the name of a good time.
I saw you talking with Kris Markovich about doing a bro board.
Yeah, we came up with the idea to give ‘Bro Models’ to certain people that we deem worthy. The first one was for our good friend Paul Luna. He has been skating with us for over 20 years and deserves the recognition for all of his contributions to skateboarding. Kris Markovich hit me up about doing a board and we are definitely down. Kris was a huge influence on me when I was coming up and was one of my favorite skateboarders. Plus he does his own art, which would be great to be able to showcase and support. It will definitely be fun to have a way to bring back some the guys that we looked up to as well as give models to people that just plain deserve one. I actually just got an email today saying that Ben Schroeder is in desperate need of funds to help with surgery costs on his severely broken leg. Looks like he’s just been bumped to the front of the line for a Bro Model. Ben needs your help too! There is a PayPal link for direct donations for Ben at Benjamschroeder@yahoo.com
Do you plan on reissuing some of your older graphics? It would be cool to see some throwbacks.
It’s funny that you used the word throwbacks, because that’s exactly what we are calling them. With our throwback models we will be able to bring back some of our favorite board graphics from the 90′s. I still have a lot of the original artwork from my board graphics with Blockhead, Color, and Plan B. Jonas also has some good graphics we can bring back from his days with Black Label, Platinum, Clean, and Media. I’ve already been getting requests from people who want us to bring back certain specific graphics. If anyone has any special requests, they can write to us directly at email@example.com.
Do you plan on doing some Element spoof graphics like Blind did to Powell back in the day?
Well, let’s put it this way, Blind ripped off Powell because Powell had some of the most iconic graphics of their generation. The artwork on both the originals and the spoofs were equally amazing and inspired. Most of the Element graphics in my humble opinion are often uninspired. Cut and dry names, colors with the tree logo being the largest and most noticeable thing about the board. It would actually be a difficult thing to do a spoof on because what could you really do besides run something that looks graphically similar. I certainly won’t be biting Don Pendleton’s art or any of the other heavy hitters they’ve enlisted to do graphics over the years. I have too much respect for the art and the individual artists. So for now, we’ll just be sticking to what we know and what we like. Pulling influences from everything else around us without stepping on too many toes or ruffling anyone’s featherlights.
Words: Ian Michna
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