Interview by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by Alex O'Brien
So there's obviously been a tremendous amount of hype surrounding your video from JOSS and the original song you wrote, recorded and performed in called 'My Friend is a Pro,' along with your new website http://www.myfriendisapro.com. How about you tell everybody out there how everything came about, starting with you guys deciding to go to JOSS together up until to now.
Colby: Well originally I was invited to Super Sessions with Simon Dumont, but Simon decided he didn't want to go with me, which was fair enough, because he wanted to win. I don't care about winning. I care about making the most entertaining video ever. So then when Sammy Carlson and Tanner Hall backed out Jon called me and said, 'Hey man, you're invited. Find a rider, and get here.' And I was like 'oh shit,' because I only had seven or eight days until JOSS started, and I was in Switzerland with terrible contact with people in the States. So I went on Newschoolers and made my first post ever, saying 'Hey it's Colby James West. I've been invited to JOSS, who do you guys think I should bring?' And it inspired a couple of pages and I read through all of them, and there was one post that said Symms.
Symms: And nine pages of responses saying Travis Heed (laughs).
Colby: Which would have been awesome. But I ended up calling John and saying 'Who should I bring? Help me out man.' And then there was this huge pause and he said, 'Fuck it dude, bring me.' And I think I said 'Let me think about it.' Didn't I?
Symms: Actually I think you said "HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Colby: And then I said yes. Because Symms is the man.
Symms: It was just like how I envision my marriage proposal going. "HAHAHAHAHAHA...okay fine."
Colby: Then we had to put our team together, and before John was even on the team I invited Mike Thomas from Freeskier. There were some complications with him being able to make it out but we got him there, and then when John got on the team he said we should bring Alex O'Brien, which I was really excited about, and then I invited Josh Finbow from Matchstick. So then we had a full team, and we did with only three days before the event was supposed to start. Then once when we got there I was remembering from last year that the worst part of the whole process was getting an idea for the theme down. Because my whole theme from last year where I made fun of everybody was done in the last two or three days of the contest. So I told all the guys that right away we had to establish our theme, our song, get rights for whatever was going to happen and so on. So for the first three days I said 'I don't even care if we ski well or not, because we're going to make the rest of our video right now.'
Symms: And it was really good that he didn't cared if we skied well or not, because that took a big weight off my shoulders (laughs).
Colby: Yeah it took the pressure off for John, who hasn't done a rodeo 10 ever, but actually did in the contest.
Symms: We actually just photoshopped that shit in (laughs).
Colby: Yeah it wasn't real (laughs). But basically when we got to Norway I wanted to focus on the video first and the skiing second, because I knew the weather could be shitty, we could do other stuff or we could do tons of urban...pfffffffft (laughs), because we're super good at rails right.
Symms: And we like them so much (laughs).
Colby: So instead me, John, Mike, Josh and Alex sat in our room and worked for the first four or five days while people made fun of us for not going out and partying.
Symms: And Colby, Mike, Alex and I worked on the song while Josh checked his Facebook for like four and a half hours a day (laughs).
Who came up with the idea to do an original hip-hop song?
Colby: Well I really like that beat because Jersey Mike and Matty Horn first introduced me to the original song...
Symms: You probably heard it from Matty first because Jersey isn't usually up on the new shit.
Colby: Yeah true. So I heard the song from Matty Horn and then when we got to JOSS I played it for John and he said 'We gotta do this.' And then John you can take it from here...
Symms: Before I do, can you note in the interview that I have a really hot chick on my arm?
Symms: Sweet. So yeah I loved the song, because how could you not?
Colby: And the whole thing started out as a joke...but then again not really because John and I's lives are kind of a joke.
Symms: Yeah like kind of a in a funny way, but kind of in a you get a little bit sad when you think about it sort of way (laughs). But it did just start out as a joke and we were kind of thinking about doing two minutes of rapping and then break into the real song with two minutes of epic action in the second half. But then day 10 rolled around and we realized...
Colby: We don't know how to do epic action.
Symms: (laughs) Well Colby does, but the weather was bad, which made it harder for our filmers to capture it. Because you really need the sun to come out to capture epic action, like say from a heli or something, but it was $500 for half an hour of heli time. And why would you spend $500 on half an hour of heli time when you can spend $50 on champagne and pour it on girls with braces?
Speaking of which, how did you guys find braces?
Colby: Well me, TJ, Luke and Stack went to her birthday party when she was turning 19 while we were at King of Style in Stockholm. And then I ran into her in the street in Åre and I was like 'Hey what's up,' but while kind of trying to ignore her. So I kept walking, and I was with Alex O'Brien at the time and I turned to him and said 'Do you think we should we use that chick for something in the video?' And he was like 'Oh my god, we should totally do it.' So I turned around and started sprinting back to talk to her and I asked her if she would be down to be in a video with me and John Symms. And there was no hesitation. She was like 'OMG! John Symms!' What was her name again?
Symms: (laughs) Actually it's Jess, and you can check her out at jesstheactress.com. Make sure to check out her Acting CV, because our video is the top line item on her resume.
Symms: and jesstheactress.com!
Colby: So anyway I told her I'd call her the next day, took her number down, and asked her if she would bring an attractive friend. And she did that, and it was awesome.
So as everyone knows, your video ended up coming in last in the actual competition at JOSS, but you won the People's Choice Award. How'd that feel?
Colby: Amazing. When the whole judging thing began John and I got two zeros for the skiing and then we were like 'Alright, we completely lost. But that's totally okay. We're okay with it, because we made a video that we're really proud of, and maybe we can still win People's Choice.'
I remember you guys telling me while we were at JOSS, I think it was Alex actually who looked me straight in the eyes and said point blank 'We're not going for the win. We're going for the People's Choice.'
Colby: Exactly. And our video was second to go and we got a pretty good cheer for it, so we were pretty confident for the next two or three videos. And then Henrik's video went, and because he's a local, and because he killed it, he got some serious cheers. And we were like oh man...
Symms: We didn't even People's Choice. We can't do anything right. We felt like Charlie Brown.
Symms: It was announced that we had won People's Choice, and I got this rush of endorphins through my brain, and I was smiling, which I don't often do, and then they gave me the microphone to make a speech, which ended up being probably about six minutes of stammering and stuttering (laughs). One quote I can really remember is, 'I want to thank Jon Olsson for putting on a great event and for inviting me, er, I mean letting me come.' (laughs) And then I kind of trailed off into the distance, and shouted out Peter Sidebo, because I started feeling like shouting people out. Sort of like I was at the bottom of a sick halfpipe run or something (laughs). And then I laughed really hard into the microphone and said 'wooo' like four times before Luke finally took the mic away from me (laughs).
Now fast-forwarding to when the videos got released, as I'm sure everyone knows by now via angry messages and emails from myself and Jon and the NS moderators, Jon released your video for about an hour and then he was informed that you guys didn't have the rights to the music, at which point it was taken down.
Colby: Yeah we didn't have the rights to the background beat. We're currently working on something that's a little more legitimate than what we created though.
Symms: But everybody is trippin out about it but it's just an instrumental with new lyrics over it, and rappers do that shit all the time in both legitimate rap and parody music. It'd be like the guys who make Hummer Girls getting sued.
So Jon took it off of his site and then obviously it leaked..
Symms: Well it leaked even before Jon put it online, because we got off our flights home from Sweden and it was already up on some Swedish website. Some Swedish cocksucker stole it and put it online (laughs).
Colby: And you know what, I'm going to tell you the whole story because this is for Newschoolers. Mike Thomas, MVP of our team, killed it on our video, and when I woke up the morning of the deadline I asked him if he had happened to blur out the 'Fuck Åre' graffiti that was on one of the walls. And he said no. So I started stressing, because in my opinion we could not let the public see 'Fuck Åre' in our video after we had so much fun in that town and everyone there had been so good to us. So I said 'Mike, we seriously have to change that.' And this was after he had been up all night editing and we had been up all night partying, so he said 'I'm just going to go back to bed and pretend that I just didn't hear you say that.' But he ended up doing it and then I ran, literally ran, down to where the judges were and gave them the new video. And then I'm not sure what happened within Jon's camp, but the original video with the 'Fuck Åre' not blurred out was the one that was released online. So I started emailing Jon saying 'wrong one dude, wrong one!'
Symms: And at that point Mike Thomas promptly sent an email to Jon informing him that we didn't have rights to the beat.
So he took it down. It leaked elsewhere. And then a few days later you guys called me and said 'We've made a website called myfriendisapro.com, we've said fuck it, and uploaded the video. Can you guys go through the forums and delete all the links to the leaked version and drive everyone to myfriendisapro.com to watch it.'
Symms: Right. Because on top of the 'Fuck Åre thing, for the new version of the video we re-recorded the chorus, because it was always difficult to hear. And we actually all went to Boulder for one night to re-record it. That's how dedicated we are to this shit.
Colby: Yeah we fully met up there and definitely weren't scheduled to. I flew there from New Hampshire for one night before coming up here to Whistler to do it. We met up there, re-recorded it so everyone could hear it and have the best version possible.
Talk about how myfriendisapro.com came about.
Colby: myfriendisapro.com came about because Mike Thomas said let's do this, and let's do this right. I'll buy it, and we'll make it happen.
Symms: And that shit's not cheap dogg. It's like 11 dollars.
What are your future plans as it pertains to the site? I mean obviously there's My Friend is a Pro clothing and memorabilia for sale, and as a lot of people have noticed and started talking about, there's a track list for a potential full album.
Colby: Yeah there's a track list and we've got a few songs on there. John came up with most of the titles and Mike Thomas came up with some of the others.
What's going to happen with that?
Colby: Well based on John's creative mind and my ability to organize John's creative mind into something that can happen...
Symms: ...in a timely manner (laughs).
Colby: (laughs) Yeah I'm not going to take credit for even half the lyrics, because it's all John.
Symms: Basically we're goin keep sippin and keep tippin and livin the good life, and from that tree fruits will periodically blossom and grow to ripeness...and they'll drop onto the internet.
And I suppose the good life is about to get even better tonight because as everyone here in Whistler knows and is buzzing about, but maybe the grand ol' public of NS doesn't, NS is throwing a party here in Whistler tonight at Buffalo Bills with Voleurz, Rip Curl and Coors Light, and it's going to be a chachi, tough guy, douchebag costume party. And we had been planning this party for a while and when we were all in Stockholm on our way back home while watching your video over and over and over again, I looked at you guys and said, 'Do you want to perform this live at our party?'
Colby: And John was like 'Hell fuckin yeah!'
So tonight, it's going down. What have you guys done to prepare and what can people expect to see?
Symms: Well we've been doing a lot of hanging out in Whistler and enjoying the company of friends, and we've been doing a lot of talking about possibly rehearsing at some point (laughs). We're actually just going to wing it, and if we forget our any of our lines we'll just say something profane and hopefully everybody is going to love it.
And for everybody out there that can't be in Whistler tonight but is obviously going to want to see it, will there be video of the performance?
Symms: Yes, and you'll be able to check it out on http://www.myfriendisapro.com soon.
Are you guys excited?
Colby: Really excited.
Symms: More excited than I've ever been about anything in my entire life.
And lastly, how's this whole experience been for you guys overall? Obviously there's a huge buzz about what you did, so how does it make you guys feel to see how stoked everybody is on it.
Colby: Awesome man. I brought John because he's one of the funniest guys I know and I feel like our team has bonded a lot from this whole experience. And I think as a team we're going to come out with a lot more stuff that people are going to appreciate.
Symms: We're a like a gang.