Jackson Hole is an area of the world that is home to some serious names in the snowboard world. You have Guch, Travis Rice, Mark Carter, and many more rippers of that caliber. John Makens is one of those rippers who also wears the hat of business owner. Here’s a look at a man you have probably on heard of in passing.Still asking yourself who the fuck is John Makens perhaps this video from Rome will help set the tone of the following interview.
Can you give a little run down on your roots in snowboarding and how you ended up in Jackson Hole?
Sure thing… I grew up in the flat icy land of Minnesota. The terrain in these parts consists of river valleys, small molehills, golf courses, and old landfills renovated into ski areas. My first actual experience snowboarding was back in the late 80’s early 90’s, on a black snow down an iced over driveway when I was about 8 years old. Back then most of the ski areas didn’t allow snowboarders yet, and if they did we were segregated to particular runs. It was pretty rare to see another fellow snowboarder, and the gear of choice was Sorrel boots, giant chopper gloves, and Starter Jackets. My local hang out and crew became the Fobia Skate Shop, which later developed into getting board connections from M3 back when they were getting started. I ended up finishing my last years of High School in Steamboat Springs, CO where I was introduced to the mountain town lifestyle. After that, I moved to Salt Lake City for a couple years to study art and illustration, and ride a bit more challenging terrain. I was introduced by long time friend Chuck T, to Lance Pitman, Founder of Illuminati Snowboards, and Willie McMillon, Founder of Bluebird Wax, which opened the doorway into Jackson Hole. Since Salt Lake was so close, every time there was a good storm I would ditch class and go scare the shit into my pants up in Jackson. I instantly gravitated to the mellow lack of scene mentality, endless terrain, and couldn’t believe how everyone there straight rips! I’ve spent 8 years of my life in the sacred mellow little shred Mecca ever since.
John getting some in his mecca P: Aaron Dodds
What’s the whole story behind The Jackson Hole Project? Just a way to bring some attention to some of the other riders up there besides Travis and Mark or was it something else?
Um… are you talking about the lil web video? It was really just a friend of mine Chris Patterson, who wanted to get some film for his reel and come visit for a few days. We just messed around and he made a little edit from it like 2 years later. All of a sudden it was all over the web some how. It wasn’t really much of a project… Just a few days in Jackson.
What’s your take as a rider on regular camber verse reverse camber? Is one better than the other and which do you prefer for what terrain?
John Getting Some Photo: Aaron Dodds
I guess my take on it is that its just another fun board to have in your quiver. It’s nice to be able to ride super deep pow on a really short reverse camber board, but once you hit the hard pack its kinda like drunk driving. It’s just a different feeling than traditional camber entirely. Personally I like to have more edge control when you need it in sticky situations and a stiffer tail for pop and wash out wheelie sake. It’s definitely a fun board though…
As a sponsored rider that is running two companies you definitely get multiple views into what’s going on with the snowboard industry. What are your thoughts on the economy, companies, people losing long time sponsors, and all the other happenings going on right now in our industry? Any particular bull shit that needs to be called out?
Ah yes… The downsizing of companies and budgets due to the falling economy. Well I feel it is actually a good thing in a sense… The monsters are pulling back and there is being less of the market getting flooded with shit. While the real rider owned companies actually get a chance to grow. So in that way it’s good. I think the Industry has been stale and people want something more refreshing. When it comes to people getting kicked to the curb, it fucking sucks. Can I say Fuck? It sucks that the riders that have helped shape these companies into what they are, get chewed up and spit out, and recycled into the next generation of whatever you want to call it. I know it’s “all fun”, or whatever… I guess the Industry has lost a lot of its Icons and Heroes that were leading it in the right direction. Now there are so many different directions its being molded into for the sake of saturating untouched markets. The roots of snowboarding exist in the mountains. Think about it. A snowboard wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for mountains. It seems that the dream is lost of aspiring to ride real mountains in this day and age, and now you can be considered a pro snowboarder by sliding boxes in your backyard. I know, I know, it’s “all fun” and your style looks better when you look like your part of “New Kids on the Block”… I’m just saying people need to get out once in a while and find that the true soul of shredding lives in the mountains, and stop following painfully stupid trends. Who am I to say anything though, I don’t know anything… Just disregard all that… Really the most important thing is to never lose site of the reasons why we snowboard.
So where did the idea to start Remind Insoles come from and what’s the engineering behind what they’re all about?
Basically, years of foot and back pain resulting from poorly made boots and shoes. Most shoes and boots are designed with all the expenses going into the outside shell and the cheapest materials possible for the inside. There is really not much consideration for the actual biomechanics of the body and proper foot alignment. After trying out many different insoles from the shelves, doctors, and custom molded orthotics, like most people, I realized the benefits of health and performance especially when it comes to high impact activities. So Remind Insoles was created to bring this medical technology to the friends and fellows of the finer niche markets. As far as the engineering goes, it’s pretty much the closest thing to a full custom orthotic insole without the hassles of stepping into molds and dealing with doctor prescriptions and waiting time, not to mention the cost of that whole process. Its ready to go out of the box, with the same benefits as a full custom lab molded orthotic. I’m really stoked about this project and we have an insane team to back it.
Who else is on the Remind program and where can people check out more about the insoles?
As far as the team goes… Travis Rice, Bryan Iguchi, Kyle Clancy, Chad Otterstrom, Mark Carter, Adam Dowell, Willie McMillon, for now. And Nic Drago had been a huge help with getting things off the ground. Not to be a “name dropper” or anything.
What are the recent happenings with I Am?
John on one of his adventures P: Aaron Dodds
Well, recently I’ve been spending time in Indonesia and getting all the I AM production made there. It has really allowed for many paths to grow for the brand. Its been an amazingly eye opening experience traveling there and experiencing the culture and quality of life. It makes for a perfect business/surf adventure a couple times a year. Plus it’s nice to be able to work with and support the local Indonesian people. It’s broadened my horizon greatly to witness how the lack of technological advancements in a 3rd world country really has nothing to do with the quality of life you can live. It’s a true example of simple living, because they, material wise, have nothing. Hard to describe, just something everyone should experience. We are planning on heading back there in the spring to film a movie.
Got any good Willie or Travis stories you’d care to share that could potentially make Willie want to punch me in the face for posting them?
Willie is the man. I think everyone has great stories about Willie. All the stories that come to mind, are way too inappropriate and are better left unsaid. If you’ve met Willie… well… There is no need to explain. You may not get a punch in the face, but instead “a tea-tree-oil-tooth-pick in your pee hole and then run full speed into a wall with a boner.” Willie has that phrase “coined,” so don’t even think about it.
This story is pretty boring but I’m going to tell you anyway… The first time I met Travis was in Steamboat, I was like 16 or 17 and we traveled to a contest in Vermont together along with the Steamboat Snowboard Club. To sum it all up, he was like a pixie stick on crack… intense amounts of energy. When we got to the Denver Airport, He put a handle of Vodka in his backpack, unknown to the Duty Free store and chaperones. We sat in the back row and got pretty sauced up to say the least. On the drive from Boston up to Okemo, we were taking turns peeing out the slider door in the mini van onto the freeway and passing cars. To our surprise, we ended up staying at the Owners house of Mt. Okemo and Travis got some mouth hugs from an Oompa Loompa. Oh shit… sorry Travis.