AJ Lawson’s Freedom Loving Hump DayBy admin • Aug 14th, 2013 • Category: Features, Hump Day Interviews, Latest
Hailing from a small town in West Virginia, Aj Lawson’s story is a combination of strange circumstances and off the trail adventures that has shaped his persona into something that is a bit unorthodox. While he may seem like a few sheep short of a flock, he is actually amazingly intelligent and has all his teeth (which is more than I can say about most people from West Virginia). Aj is that kid with too much energy, a fucked up sense of humor, and parties harder than you do sober. But its his positive outlook on life and spontaneous personality that makes him a local celebrity wherever he goes. Yes, Aj is an amazing person, an amazing snowboarder, and more fun than hitting on your cousin at the local fair. – Cooper Thomas
What’s it like spending three summers in a row on a tiny island in the south pacific?
It’s incredible! I’m so fortunate I’ve been able to travel to New Zealand to snowboard. This place always amazes me both in its beauty and how welcoming the people are. I’m stoked this is my third season. I can’t wait to finish the trilogy and shred down under until completion. The ring must be destroyed.
So this is your last season there?
Who knows? I’d love to come back, but audiences like things in three parts. I would consider making a prequel if the right group of dwarves came by my Hobbitat.
That is if they let you back in the country, didn’t you have some mishap at a strip club down there?
Let me preface this by saying, the strip clubs here are awful in a bad way, not awful in a good way like in West Virginia. You’d think with prostitution being legal here the entire sex industry would step up their game. The incident in question was at a sports bar. The bar had some Australian performers come into town to put on a show for the ages. We were disappointed because one of the girls was trying too hard, and the other one looked like Snooki. I did get a lap dance from Aussie Snooki however. I had a shoelace belt that she took off with her mouth by sucking the knot until it unraveled and then she tied my hands together. When she untied me I spun her around and spanked her, hard. It was all on stage. I really wish Snapchat was around back then.
Right, but that’s not all that happened.
Yeah, to add to the night my friend Wilde got kicked out for slapping the DJ on the tits. That dude had bigger tits than the girls so it seemed justified. As I was leaving some girl came up to me and started confronting me about my clothes. I had on a blazer with no shirt underneath, big faux fur coat, sunglasses, American flag bandana, and tight white jeans. She kept telling me I was a loser and was just generally being condescending about what I was wearing. I told her that I was just having fun. I wanted to leave because of the big strip show let down. She wouldn’t stop so I spat in her face.
Well from spitting in a woman’s face to becoming one of the most recognized snowboarders in New Zealand, what’s that like?
She was no woman. She was a dick. I don’t feel I’m recognized by any means. The New Zealand snowboarders that have a high profile are gnarly backcountry dudes or overall park rippers. They kill it so hard and it’s cool to get to ride on their stomping grounds. By no means do I represent what’s going on in NZed.
What are you doing in New Zealand for work?
I work at the Remarkables as a park digger.
What are your goals for the last season down there?
I’m not really goal-oriented in regards to snowboarding. That delves into looking at snowboarding in quantitative terms. I want to get X amount of shots, win Y amount of contests and learn Z amount of tricks, and etc. I’d feel trapped with that thinking. I cringe when I hear people say they are training or have coaches. That starts to promote monotony. I’d get bored if that’s how I had to approach snowboarding. I always want to continue to enjoy snowboarding for how free and spontaneous it can be. Maybe because I don’t look at riding as a career I can afford to say that. I assure you that I do genuinely love snowboarding and will protect it at all costs.
Isn’t it true you use to be a professional mountain boarder?
It was always difficult to say “professional” because I never made any money from mountain boarding and I didn’t think mountain boarding was big or cool enough to have pros. It’s like being a pro Heely rider or LARPer. I mountain boarded for a long time and had a blast doing it. I got to travel to some awesome countries that I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. I had fun while I did it, but I’m not into it anymore.
Would you say that mountain boarding has influenced your snowboarding at all?
Probably. I rode my mountai nboard way more than I snowboarded, but I started snowboarding first. West Virginia is almost more conducive to mountain boarding than skating or snowboarding. For a long time I wasn’t interested in anything but mountain boarding. I rarely snowboarded and didn’t skate. I guess I have a similar style on my snowboard, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.
You spent a season in Colorado, do you miss it or are you happy to be back on the East Coast?
I don’t miss Colorado. It doesn’t suit me. I have friends there that I miss. I missed rope tows and the East Coast. I find the notion that everything worthwhile is happening out West pretentious. I get way more excited about stuff out of Big Boulder and Seven Springs in Pennsylvania, and pretty much anything out of Minnesota and Quebec. Obscure places also excite me. Like I want to snowboard in Greenland with sled dogs or somewhere in the Middle East. It’s awesome to see how far snowboarding reaches.
Rope Tow or Chairlift?
It’s so much fun and way easier to hit features quickly. Feels like riding a skatepark. There are so many rippers that came from rope tows. My homies back home froth over rope tows. I read this interview with Jesse Paul years ago. They asked him why didn’t he move to Colorado or Montana or somewhere. He said something along the lines of they don’t have rope tows and he couldn’t get as many laps in a day. For all the mind blowing stuff he does it says something. If you haven’t seen his WFTC2 part, go buy it. There are a couple of gnarly Knowbuddys, Brady Lem and Tommy Gesme, that grew up on rope tows I believe. Dylan Gamache jibs uphill with rope tows and generally does a lot of fucked up stuff. List goes on. Rope tows also make it easier to ride with pals.
What kind of things inspire you?
This is hard to answer without spewing some cliche Miss America response. My friends and family always continue to impress and inspire me. Those “People Are Awesome” YouTube compilations. Like wow, we can really accomplish so much good if we believe in ourselves and encourage each other. We are all golden, million-dollar babies.
Specifically, right now, people who inspire me are political dissidents like Edward Snowden. Skateistan and kids who skateboard in poor countries. Incredible women like Malala Yousafzai. She is my hero. Kids who decide to look up to people like Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson as role models instead of Kim Kardashian or anyone from a reality TV show. Frank Ocean for his beauty and courage. Tyler, The Creator for everything. Lil B and his based philosophy. Ian MacKaye, Rick McCrank, Scotty Wittlake, Aaron McGruder, David Benedek, Brit Marling…I could go on listing names of amazing people who inspire me. The teenager willing to risk losing everything he or she knows by coming out to his or her religious parents. The love of a stranger to help someone in need not because he can gain something from it, but because he has the ability to help. You, Cooper Thomas, inspire me.
What’s your plans for next winter in America?
Consume freedom until I vomit; ride Wisp and Seven Springs.
Speaking of 7 Springs, you filmed there all last season what was that like?
Really sick. I’m bout that 7 Springs life. The park crew kill it. The people that ride there are awesome. I always have fun at Springs. I’m really stoked that Ian Macy is their filmer. Ian has been my good friend for a while and I’ve seen him grow into a really talented videographer. He compliments all the hard work the park crew does at Springs.
Born and Bred in West Virginia, with a diploma from the University; what did you major in and are you going to use it?
I graduated with a degree in journalism. I’m stoked I finished college, but the journalism industry disappoints me. I studied it long enough to know that they could be doing better. We support mediocre news outlets and try to cut public funding to NPR and PBS. I want to use what I learned for something positive. I want to be proud of the work I’m doing. I can’t support the travesty that is mainstream American journalism.
You live a very clean lifestyle. Does that help with the boarding?
Deciding to completely abstain from drinking, smoking and doing drugs was more about my overall physical well being. The same goes for being a vegetarian. I don’t see a lot of positivity with drinking or using drugs. I get why people drink. They see it as a good social lubricant. I don’t think people that drink are bad people. I have close friends that drink or use drugs that I consider wonderful human beings. I’d hate to alienate anyone because of that. What I’m not down with is pressuring people to drink or use drugs for any reason. It really bums me out when I hear people say things like, “well, I need to drink because…” No dude, you don’t need to do anything like that. You can enjoy your life without feeling pressured to fit in. Good friends won’t care.
Is it true you snowboard for North Korea?
All the time we are making on training to defeat any imperialist evil that may or may not be willing and have evil power to choose to use against the free Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Us as being free and all the time strong will never surrender to evil US and also A. We crush you without a notice or a warning. @northkorea_dprk_newssite #freedrom #korea #dprk #kimjongun #bringjustinbiebertopyongyang #ripkimjongil #socialist #northkorea #kimjungun #peace #follow #paradise #truthaboutnorthkorea #nordkorea #love #people
Does Kelly Clark look good in a dress?
I don’t know she won’t return my messages on Myspace! I love you Kelly.
My family. My mom and my dad. My brother Nick. The Mitchell family. The Shaw family. My Uncle Rufus. Uncle Ray. That guy in LA who paid for my bus fare. The North Korean Snowboard Team for all the time making on domination of the imperialist West and their choice of making evil power. Cooper, Nolan, Mike, Chris, Wythe, Josh, and Ben. The Bad Boyz Club, Colin, Chris, Jake, Mike, AJ, and Joey P. My park crew homies at Wisp, AJ, Anthony, Dick, Taylor, and Teddy. My park crew homies at Remarks, Nick, Bryan, Cheese, Cam, Francis Dylan McGuire, and Connor. Jordan Soohy, Joel Rerko, and Jeremy Anderson from Seven Springs.
Danny Vogel, thanks for the encouragement and for never releasing those photos. Kevin Kobasa, your riding is always inspiring. Trevor Eichelberger, stay out of trouble. Patrick Mitchell, keep killing it in LA. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next. Cory Cissel, you’re my brother. Evan Buzzell, stoked to see you making power moves. Ian Macy, keep shooting buddy. Lauren Pandolfi, can’t keep a soldier down. I’m stoked how hard you have bounced back. Mark Younkins, stoked we’ve been homies since kindergarten. Andrew Wilde, I can hear that laugh no matter where you are in the world. Joel Ferris, you will one day follow in Sketchy Steve’s footsteps. Jeremiah Shore, He loves you too man. Cameron Gorby and Armeen Pirooz, so proud of both of you. Hunter Miller, good luck in Cali homie. Take care of Josh. Jonathan McDonald, heal strong buddy! Grant Giller for all those Snapchats. Noah Vincent for swaggin like Ohio. Matt Genovese for holding down the selfie game. Task Force Bitch Mob and anyone protecting Lil B at all costs. Lil B for letting me be the first person to give him a hongi in Wellington, New Zealand and make history. #rare
All my friends that have been nice enough to support me. Without them snowboarding would be a lot harder. Tim, Mal, Anthony, Brent, Jon, Dayvie, and Paul from Pitcrew, thank you. Nate from Shred Soles, thank you. Tanner, Sam, Scotty, Bistro, Zach, Billy and Frankie from Burton, thank you. Blair, Chad, and James from Sly Guild, thank you. Rob from Skullcandy, thank you.
Jake and Robett from NZsnowboard.com. Cooper Thomas for making this happen. Thank you YoBeat for the opportunity. Plenty more people to thank, if I forgot you I’m truly sorry, but thank you. Finally, Thank You Based God