Slednecking with Ben Lynch. Photo courtesy Brandon Cocard.
Interview by Josh Parker
When I was asked to do an interview with Brandon Cocard for YoBeat, Lipton specifically said, “get the dirt.” Having known Brandon for three years, I knew this was going to be a problem. Not only is he one of the most humble guys I know, he absolutely kills it on a snowboard. From 80-foot park jumps, to backcountry booters, to the biggest rail jams, Cocard kills it. He’s not hooked on drugs. He doesn’t have an ego. He’s not getting paid a ton of money. He snowboards because he loves it and that is something this industry needs.
It’s 8 A.M. Do you always wake up this early?
No, definitely not, I have been waking up early to give my girlfriend rides to work. I usually wake up around 11. I’m not a morning person at all and I don’t like waking up.
But you like your gf…
Oh man I love my girlfriend. I was taking online classes this winter. She knew I wasn’t going to do my homework. I had to go to Alaska for a trip and we didn’t have wi-fi up where I was. She ended up doing my homework for the whole semester. She was a full time student as well so she was doing twice as much work as everyone just so I could have fun snowboarding. Another time my phone was broken for like 4 months and she just bought me a phone for no reason. I had no money to buy my own.
Behind every great man… Photo courtesy Brandon
I thought pro snowboarders were rich…?
(Laughing) We are rich, I don’t know what happened to all my money, I blacked out. There are two ways to make money at snowboarding. One is sponsor contracts which don’t come easy when you are on the up and coming new guy list. The other is contests. To be successful in contests these days you need all 4 9’s and double corks. Basically I’m gonna be struggling with money for a while.
Did you compete at all this past year?
I did the first stop of Dew Tour and realized I should have learned double corks over the summer. I wanted to, but I never got around to it, I was having too much fun just shredding.
How was Hood this summer and working at Windells?
It was awesome because I lived in Portland and didn’t have to sleep at the ark (Windells employee housing).
The ark is pretty famous for being gnarly…
Yeah it’s a little different now. A bunch of the troublemakers AKA “the fun people” got fired and they cleaned it up. But it was cool not having to live there and being able to do my own thing. I could just hang out in Portland during my free time. It wasn’t that awesome having to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to work though.
Flippin’ fun. Photo: Jeff Hawe
So you took a lot of trips this winter, what were you doing up in Alaska?
Trying to film. We were on a Respect Your Elders trip and it was springtime. We were there for a month and a half and I maybe got to snowboard for 7 or 8 days. It’s crazy because you are just up there sitting around. We ran into the Absinthe crew who were also just sitting around. It made me feel a little better to see them doing nothing too. I met so many cool people on that trip. I met Kevin Jones in a bar. I was super drunk; otherwise I wouldn’t have talked to him at all.
What was that conversation about?
He was fucking with me. It was super loud in the bar. He was purposely talking super quiet to me so I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t really care because I was stoked to be sharing a beer with him. The one thing he told me that really stood out was “You’re a cool guy, you’re obviously out here for the right reasons.” He then continued to tell me how he met Jamie Lynn at a bar and then he looked at me and said with a straight face “don’t be a hero.”Â It was pretty confusing so I brought up fishing knowing he would go on and on about that for at least an hour.
What do you think he meant when he said “Don’t be a hero?”
I seriously have no idea. I think he meant Alaska, Valdez specifically, is a very dangerous place and he wanted to warn me to play it safe. He’s a smart guy and he knows the terrain.
A lot of people are looking forward to Respect Your Elders. What’s the story with that project?
It’s a funny title. The idea was to start in southern Colorado in Silverton and make our way west to Tahoe and then north to Alaska. Basically, it was a giant road trip. Along the way, we tried to meet up with friends who wanted to board powder and go on fun adventures. We met up with Josh Dirksen, Travis Parker, Temple Cummins, and Mikey Basich along the way. The younger dudes consisted of Ben Lynch, Skyler Thorton, Aaron Robinson, and myself.
Is it a movie about old dudes showing young dudes what’s up?
It wasn’t like “Ok kids, this is how you do it.” It wasn’t undermining or anything like that. They respected us and we respected them. They showed us a lot of amazing places. They were always there to answer all our questions and give us pointers. It is pretty cool to get advice from guys with their experience. We were all friends.
So it was a learning experience?
It was a huge learning experience, especially in Alaska.Â Those guys showed us the ropes and taught us everything we needed to know.
Party time, eh? Photo courtesy Brandon
Do all those older dudes still party?
(Laughing) No they don’t party at all. Partying is for teenyboppers and raves. We didn’t go to any raves. They do have mature taste buds though, especially when it comes to whiskey. Whiskey was a necessity on those camping trips. Many nights ended with passing a bottle around a campfire.
Sounds like a bunch of powder hounds, is that what we can expect to see in Respect Your Elders?
You’re definitely not going to see any handrails. It’s snowboarding completely stripped down, trying to highlight all the little feelings we experience from doing what we do. It’s not huge cheese wedge jumps and its not dolly cams and a huge production. It’s not crazy or wild. We tried to capture friends hanging out snowboarding and appreciating what we get to do. The movie definitely isn’t for everyone. It’s more about what snowboarding is to us, and to everybody, when you’re not out there trying to be the gnarliest dude on the hill. We just tried to have fun and snowboard with all of our friends and that’s basically what we did. It was 100% made by us. That’s an accomplishment. It’s one thing to make a video with your friends, but it’s another thing to make the movie, make the soundtrack, make everything by yourselves and we completely stand by it. I’m sure there is going to be people that want more from the movie, but they can go buy a Mack Dawg video if they want to see nonstop bangers.
They can’t buy a Mack Dawg video. They quit making movies.
(Laughing) Right, I forgot about that.
Epic backcountry. Photo: Jeff Hawe
You’re using all original music for the movie?
Our original concept that we came up with for the movie included having fun at all times. One of the last things we came up with to add to that concept was to always enjoy music. Since I have been with Airblaster, we have always brought instruments and stuff like that on trips. If we didn’t have instruments, we would always just jam out with whatever was lying around; pot, pans, spoons, etc.
Jesse Grandkoski would grab a pot and a spoon, Ben would start strumming a guitar, and Travis would start singing. From that environment we decided we wanted to use our own music in the movie. Between expensive music rights and the large amount of crappy music out there, we decided to make our own. I’m not saying our music is any better though.
Who is contributing original music?
It was nerve racking deciding who was going to contribute. I got deemed the guy in charge. I’m not the best musician in the world. I actually can’t even read music and then Jesse was like, “Brandon you’re the music director.” The first day that I went to the studio I was so lost and nervous.Â My buddy Chris just flew in from Truckee and he met me at my house in Portland and I was freaking out. Chris said, “Dude, just chill out, you got this. We will just go in there and jam.” And that’s what we did.
Tim Eddy, Chris and I just jammed and we came up with an amazing song. Chris ended up laying down a 10 minutes face melting guitar solo first try, first take. That song is in the Baker section. After that I knew it was on. Chris, Tim, and I did 2 songs. Diana’s (my girlfriend) brother did 2 tracks. Clayton (the northwest Airblaster rep) has a band called The Lonesome Billies. They wrote the Respect Your Elders theme song. All of the music is very country and folky. Shake Bones (Jarad Hadi and Tyler Verigan’s band) did the 2 songs which were used in the Tahoe section. Skyler and I wrote the first song in the movie called “Waiting on the Sun” which is based on camping in Alaska.
Who was the craziest, wildest one in the bunch during the filming of Respect Your Elders?
Ben Lynch is the wild man. He always had a pistol at his side and he acted like the sheriff. Travis Parker is the funniest person I have ever hung out with. It’s impossible to keep a straight face around that guy. He always breaks into song. He loves Irish drinking tunes.
Respecting of elders. Photo courtesy Brandon
Why does Ben carry around a pistol? Sounds like he belongs in a Technine movie…
Because he is a bad ass. He’s a mountain man. That’s what they do. Ben Lynch is the man to have around in the wilderness. He’s one of my best friends and he is one of the smartest, most levelheaded people I have ever met.Â (Laughing) I just said Ben Lynch was level headed. I never felt scared when he was around.
I want to tell you another story. We were on Thompson pass and it was snowing so hard. It was ridiculous. Travis came up the week before it really started to snow. I’m not really blaming him for this. Actually, I am. He came up sick for a few days and then he left. He got all of us sick and then took off. It was a weird sickness. It consisted of a metallic taste in your throat, your body was weak, and you coughed up this gnarly stuff. I have never been that sick. Everyone was miserable and then it started dumping. We got trapped at the campsite and we got stuck in the Blue Ox (Ben Lynch’s truck). We couldn’t snowboard because we were so sick. Ben, Skyler, Kyle (our filmer), and I were stuck sleeping in the truck. There was no room. We were all sick and hacking up shit. Normally only 2 people should sleep in there and we had 4 dudes in there plus our gear.
We started going crazy. We called it the “Valdisease” (because we were in Valdez). Ben was always yelling (Ben yells a lot) and then Skyler started yelling.Â It was funny and miserable at the same time. One night we couldn’t take it anymore. Ben was speaking gibberish and I was getting claustrophobic while Kyle was just trying to keep it cool. Basically we freaked the fuck out. We busted out of the Blue Ox and we had all this insane anxiety. We had a weird, sick rage. We had a bunch of empty whiskey bottles and we decided to make Molotov cocktails. We started filling the bottles with gasoline. I have never made one before. Ben had like 4 or 5 rifles in the truck and he grabbed a shotgun. We started throwing the bottles into the air and Ben started shooting them. Our arms were starting on fire from the gas everywhere.
Did that make you guys feel better?
Yeah it did. It calmed us down. We felt better. It was snowing so hard we couldn’t enjoy it for long. Messing shit up and shooting guns relieved all of the tension and pressure.
Did you guys call Travis out for getting you sick?
No, because he bought us a day of heli-boarding. We couldn’t be upset after that. He hooked it up. It was a total surprise. It was definitely something special that I got to share with my best buddy Ben and Travis, who I have looked up to since I started snowboarding. Wait, I have another story about Alaska.
On the road again. Photo courtesy Brandon
Ok, go ahead
Ben and I were driving north from California to Canada and before we had gotten to Portland we had already run out of gas twice. We finally got to the Canadian border at 2 a.m. and I was so tired. Ben was getting pissed at me for falling asleep. The Ox has a rumble that just puts you to sleep and I couldn’t help it. We were just looking for a place to crash right over the boarder. Ben had all of these guns with him and we thought we did all the paper work to make it legal. We were just worried about one gun, the pistol, because they don’t allow handguns in Canada. The boarder patrol asked about the guns and Ben showed him the paper work. Then the guard asked if we had any handguns. I literally watched Ben make the decision whether or not he was going to lie about it on the spot.Â He’s such a solid dude that he told the guy “I have a pistol.” They said, “Well you can’t come into Canada.” It was such a blow to our travel ego because of all the hang-ups. They wouldn’t let us in and we were trying to figure out how to get in and where we were going to put the gun. We had to figure out how we could store the pistol because you have to have proof that you stored it somewhere so they know you didn’t just hide it. We couldn’t just bury it in the desert. We remembered passing a storage unit 50 miles before the border so we went back. It was super cheap for the size. It was the funniest sight I had ever seen. Ben rented an entire storage unit and put the pistol and a box of ammo in the corner. We were laughing so hard about what a ridiculous sight it was.Â Then we crossed the border again and they let us through.
Wow, that is quite the story. Lynch is a bad ass! So you’ve been with CAPiTA for a while, how’s that going?
It’s going good. Blue has my back 100% and its cool to know he sees something in my riding and I take that as a huge compliment. Especially because the team is so stacked. To be part of it is a huge honor.
I hear they are making a team video this year?
Yeah they are. It’s really exciting.
Same trick, different angle. Photo: Jeff Hawe
Who on the team are you most stoked on?
(Scott) Stevens is an amazingly rad dude and a blast to board with. But I think I am most stoked on (Jess) Kimura. She pushes it so hard. She’s the only girl I have ever felt pushed by.
Do you think she makes it harder for other girl snowboarders because she is pushing it so hard?
I don’t think she makes it hard for them but she is definitely forcing them to step their game up. She is driving them all to progress girls’ snowboarding to the next level.
When you were at Hood this summer, who did you notice as being the next wave of talent?
Eric Willet and Sage Kotsenberg. They are the most amazing riders to hit jumps with. They have every trick on lock.
Thos dudes are contest boarders. Do you think people in general actually care about contest snowboarding?
Well look at Shaun White and the Olympics. It drives our industry. Shaun is the gateway drug for the outside public to get introduced to what we do.
1080 degrees. Photo courtesy Brandon
What are your plans for this season?
I’m putting all my time and effort into the CAPiTA team movie and it’s the biggest project I have ever worked on. It’s cool because I get to ride with my teammates more. I’m really excited to ride with Brisse. He is such a good all around rider. He is going to be pushing my snowboarding.
Other than the CAPiTA movie, is there anything else? Are you going to marry your sugar momma anytime soon?
No, she doesn’t want to get married yet. I told her I was going to marry her when she gets out of college (which just happened). She is way too level headed for that. She laughed at me. There is plenty of time.
No, thank you.