The Brandon Cocard interview
Brandon at the Baker Banked Slalom | Photo: Cody Booth
Interview: Taylor Boyd
Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from?
Truckee, California. Well, originally from the Bay Area, but I moved to Truckee when I was eight years old, I think. I was born in Hayward. My parents moved to Walnut Creek for a year or so, into some shitty little apartment, and then we moved to Livermore. I was lucky to get out of there.
Where did you grow up riding?
The first time I turned on a snowboard was at Boreal, but I learned how to snowboard at Alpine Meadows.
There are a lot of kids these days that focus on one aspect of snowboarding, but you tend to be able to ride all types of terrain well. How do you do it?
Yeah, I try. A lot of that has to do with growing up riding Alpine Meadows. I owe a lot to this guy, Jason Sagendorph. He was the dude that really got me into snowboarding.
One day I was riding up at Meadows and this guy approached my dad and I. I think I was like 9 years old, and he was like, "Hey man, I saw you snowboarding today and I just wanted to let you know that I'm putting together a little weekend Alpine Meadows freestyle team." The team turned out to be Johnny Brady, this girl Maya and myself. He made a point of it to take us everywhere, not just go to the park. One of the first runs we took together was through this place called Hot Wheels Gully, which is this awesome little all natural banked slalom with side-hits everywhere. That was one of the first times I realized, "Damn, I've got to snowboard the mountain more often."
You live in Portland now, why?
Five years ago my girlfriend graduated from UC Berkeley and was kind of over Truckee. She really wanting to do something with her degree or be in a place where she could be given a good opportunity. I was really supportive of that, and since I’d been coming up to Hood to work at Windells it just made sense. So we came to Portland and it’s been great ever since.
You have a girlfriend, but Portland has a lot of strip clubs, does she let you go?
Dude, my girlfriend's at Sassy's more than I am. I swear, every time my friends come out and I'm out of town, I'm like, "What are you guys doin'?" It's always, "Oh, we're just at Sassy's," or, "We're goin' to Sassy's." So yeah, she loves the strip clubs.
Which one's your favorite?
Sassy's for sure! Actually, two nights ago, my buddy, he was writing on the wall in Sassy's. He was super drunk and had a little paint pen with him. He had just moved up from SF and he was stoked that graffiti's a big part of Portland, but he didn't check his surroundings. As he's writing on the wall in Sassy's and a bouncer rolls up and just busts him. The guys all, "Here's what we can do, we can either photocopy your ID and 86 you from Sassy's for life, or we can call the cops and have you arrested." Obviously he's like, "Photocopy my ID, do what you gotta do." The bouncer ended up taking his ID and then calling the cops. If it wasn't for that stupid bouncer, I'd probably like Sassy's a little bit more. But out of all the strip clubs I think that one's the coolest because they've got the best dancers.
You're a pretty laid back guy, but there's got to be something that really burns your bacon, what is it?
I don't know, maybe just people that take snowboarding the wrong way. We obviously all take it seriously 'cause we want to be successful or whatever. Whatever that means. We want to actually make money doing it, but there's just people who maybe do it for the wrong reasons now. I like to remind myself every once in a while why I snowboard and go up to Timberline on my own and make turns, not even go to any of the parks; just goof off and keep it fresh. I feel like it's easy for a lot of people to become burnt and then they become bitter.
When was the last time you rode in a contest?
The last time I competed in a contest was the Baker Banked Slalom. It was my first time competing in it and I'll go back every year, as long as they'll have me. I thought that was one of the coolest things in snowboarding. No matter what my plans are, I've already made a promise to myself to drop them and go to the Banked Slalom. It's worth it.
Energy drink companies are putting a lot of money into snowboarding these days, and then there's Drink Water on the other end of the spectrum. Where do you stand?
I'm right in between. I love what Curtis, Brian and Austin are doing. It needed to happen. It's important for kids to realize that these fucking energy drinks are bad for you. Even I find myself drinking one every now and then. But I see the way they're being marketed through our sport and how it’s becoming a huge part of snowboarding.
Kids these days really look up to everything we do. It's tough if you always have an energy drink logo on your head. Kids see that and they want to be like us. Next thing you know they need it everyday before they go to school. It’s like, "You're a kid. You don't need all that. You're naturally ready to go. You have all this energy, you don't need to be drinking that." I feel like it's for old people who can't get out of bed. It was just pushed into the action sports scene. It’s kind of scary.
Photo: Silvano Zeiter
You filmed with Absinthe this season, tell us about that.
Man, those guys are so cool. Shane Charlebois, he's been in it for so long, since back in the Kingpin days. Even before that he was a pro shred. He knows what it takes and knows how to do it. It was great learning from that dude. Just taking a step back and looking at how he sees the mountain. He's always like, "Look at that, look at that!" I'd just gotten there, still trying to get my bearings, and he's already found six spots that are going to make good shots. It's cool seeing that kind of experience.
I haven't met Justin yet, but I've talked to him on the phone and via email and I can tell he's the shit. When I was in Switzerland I got to meet Vlady and Eric Brandt. I’m really impressed with the entire crew.
Who did you ride with a lot this season?
First part of the year I rode with Cale and Bode. We did a trip to Michigan and did some filming in Salt Lake. Obviously I filmed with Cale almost all season when we did the Capita movie, so it was a perfect transition for me to jump in with him. We're already really good friends, and I love snowboarding with that dude. Right off the bat I felt comfortable. Then I met Bode and thought he was going to be a bit intimidating, which he is. As soon as he steps on a snowboard it's like, "Holy shit, I didn't see that happening, but he fucking landed it first try." But Bode's a super nice guy. He's all about partying. But not partying in a bad way – he’s got a good head on his shoulders and likes to have fun.
Brandon Cocard's full part from "Defenders of Awesome"
How was it different than filming for Defenders of Awesome?
I don't know if it was that much different. The only thing that was different is that I wasn't with the Capita team. The Capita guys feel like family to me, so whenever I'm with them there's absolutely no pressure. I felt comfortable because I knew the video and I knew Blue Montgomery, who’s the fucking man. I knew whatever we did was going to be fine.
With Absinthe there was a little bit more pressure. It was kind of a shitty snow year and we didn't start filming until January. The previous year, filming with Capita, we started in November, so by January I was sitting comfortable with a good amount of footage. This year it was a rush. As soon as January hit, and nobody had any shots, I started to panic a little. That's the biggest opportunity I've had in my career and mid-January I'm sitting on maybe a minute. Not even, maybe 30 seconds worth of shots. I was worried at first but I feel good now. It was pretty tough for everybody.
You coached at Windells for five summers. Why didn't you go back?
That's interesting. I guess I just wasn't really feeling it. I'd realized I was a little burnt on the whole camp scene. Not because of the campers, I love hanging out with kids and being a kid myself. It's easy for me to do. I realized I wasn't learning anything in the summer. I was hardly snowboarding because I made coaching a huge priority. I also wasn't getting paid that well. I kind of wanted to make it worth my while because I was living in Portland and driving up to camp everyday. That's so much money in gas. I'm just kind of on a different path. I wasn't learning any new tricks. I wanted to start snowboarding for myself in the summer and so I just realized it was time to move on.
Who is Mortimer Tate, and why do you secretly want to be him?
Mortimer Tate's a character in Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse. How'd you know I secretly wanted to be Mortimer Tate?
Cody told me.
Well it’s this post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi book that Cody Booth let me read, which is now my favorite book. It's this ultimate adventure of a guy who lives in the woods, and once the bombs started droppin', shit hits the fan, like end of the world style. He starts to get lonely in the woods and starts wondering what the new world is like and what had happened to everybody. So one day he decides to leave the mountains and go back to his hometown. As soon as he gets back into the city, that's when the shit really gets interesting. It's a good read. It's like the Wild Wild West meets post-apocalypse. There are strippers, guns and a whole lot of badass shit in that book.
Whose best of SNL is better, Christopher Walken or…
Oh shit, Dana Carvey. If it were anybody else but Dana Carvey I would've said Christopher Walken. So Dana Carvey.
You make music, what's up with that?
I love to play my guitar and write songs. I think it's fun being in a band with people; it's like a secret club. Good buddies makin' music and playin' tunes; there’s nothin' wrong with that.
What are the names of the bands you're in?
I'm in a band called Mega Meat and I'm in a band called Purely We. I'm also in a band called Los Jalisco Boys, which is this awesome little country rock, Spanish band. It’s just my buddy Dangler, who made the Capita movie, and me.
What are your top 3 Bands?
Pavement, Pixies, Modest Mouse
One person you admire in snowboarding and outside of snowboarding?
Scott Stevens, he's always done whatever he wants and people love it. It just goes to show how cool that guy is. Outside of snowboarding would be my girlfriend. She's badass and supports me no matter what I do. It's been six years that we've been together and not once has she ever asked me to compromise snowboarding for her.
There are a lot talented kids coming up in snowboarding. Name a couple to look out for.
Johnny Brady and Mike Rav
If you could have one non-snowboard sponsor, who would it be?
So who does give you snowboard stuff?
Capita, Union, Airblaster, Porters
I'm going to have another beer, that's probably it, just going to drink another beer.