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Matt Kass’s Hump Day


In Seaside he’s know as Crab Jesus. If you don’t know Matt Kass, you’re about to.

Matt Kass was a pro snowboarder before anyone had heard of Danny Kass, but you’re more likely to know him as the co-founder and long-time president of Grenade LLC. Matt helped start the brand and grow it into a multi-million dollar business, which employed most of his friends. My career at Grenade started shortly after I bought a house and was freaking out about how to pay for it. Matt offered me a job at Grenade, and I spent the next year of my life doing whatever needed to be done, and generally being part of something pretty cool. A lot has changed since then, and Matt Kass more or less disappeared from the public eye. Ousted from the brand he started, and considered dangerous by some and a joke by others, Matt moved to the Oregon Coast, where he lives with his fiance and son and works as a professional fisherman. But after a few years out of the limelight, Matt hit me up, ready to tell his side of the story.

Brooke: Do you think you’re crazy?

Matt: No, but I have had severe emotional damage done in my life as a child that causes me to act out.I sometimes lose control in given situations with anger. I have anger problems. Do you think I’m crazy?

Brooke: I know you’re crazy.

Matt: hahahha, thanks.

Brooke: What’s your biggest regret from your days running Grenade?

Matt: Starting it. Starting Grenade. I would never do it again. It was my Frankenstein. I sit around every day and miss my friends that I lost through it. Do you know why I’m breaking my silence?

Brooke: No. Do tell.

Matt: It’s kinda cheesy. I sit around and everyone has their story about this or that. I was there, I know what happened. Some things that happened I still don’t understand. Like I ask myself, “What the fuck happened? What could I have done differently?” Then I was reading Yobeat and Colin’s interview and it all came together for me. It wasn’t about me. It was about a group of guys and a time and place…like a movement…like a band! And when they break up it’s never the same!

Brooke: All right, let’s break it down to the undisputed facts real quick. Why did you move the company from Mammoth?

Matt: I kept the Mammoth operation, Danny and JC liquidated it, along with a lot of my friends. I kept my friends around so I wouldn’t quit. I never liked my brother, I just liked Levins and Cole, so once they let all my friends go, there was no point for me to be at Grenade.

Brooke: Where did JC come from? How did he get involved?

Matt Kass: He was hired to help with our networking as a consultant. When Danny asked me to resign, I did. I was the manager of Grenade LLC until resignation or death. Of course he stiffed me on the 75k. But what’s 75k among bros….right? Danny hired JC and made him the CEO and took over from VP to President.

Brooke: Right, but you’re skipping a lot. I mean, I worked there for a year and Danny apparently didn’t even know I did. So how did it go from you hiring Joseph to Danny ousting you?

Matt Kass: Danny paid me to resign per the operating AGREEMENT. He stiffed me on the 75k that I was to be paid as resignation. Danny took over as president and hired Joseph to replace me. So I was screwed in plain English. Next.

What about all the rumors of you flipping out when you left?

When I resigned, yes I broke my brother’s laptop over my knee. Yes, I spray-painted my resignation on the side of the building because it was my building and my spray paint. And yes I took a gun out of there and then they lied about it and I lost my second amendment right to bear arms for two years.

Brooke: What have you been doing since then?

Matt Kass: I was the international and domestic sales manager at Betty Rides until I got fired. I went back to Grenade after being fired from Betty. Grenade moved when my girlfriend gave birth and I got a unexplained extended vacation. When I went in to the new office JC said I stole money again (which is a lie) so I got upset (aka I fucking screamed at that lying turkey), quit and walked out. While I was waiting for the elevator JC tried to beat me up even though I was holding a 3-month-old baby. Since then, I have decided my brother is nothing more than a pony and that if he will let JC push me around while I’m holding my son, aka his nephew, that he is no friend, brother, or family to me. I really did not like working at either Betty Rides or Grenade, in ALL honesty.

How did you end up living in the former “Office” location on Burnside? How long were you there?

Matt Kass: When Nicole and Danny lied on a restraining order, I was given 20 minutes to pick up personal stuff. She sold the rest of my belongings. After that, I was living in a warehouse in Washington, then I got evicted, because I did not have money, because I was never actually paid to resign. My family disowned me, and yes, I was forced to live in a skateshop for over 6 months and sleep on the concrete floor in an asbestos-filled building. I did enjoy it though. Cole made it a point to help me through the hardest time in my life because although he is a failure at life, he is a TRUE friend no the less. How is that?

Brooke: That’s insane. Was Cole living there too?

Matt Kass: Yes, then when I saved up enough money to get a place, he lived in my van outside my house for 6 months. Curt Johnson also lived in the shop when he got kicked out of Flood’s house. I also let homeless people sleep in there when it was cold.

Brooke: Here’s a big one I have. Why didn’t you sell Grenade when the opportunity arose? Quiksilver wanted to buy it, right?

Matt Kass: Yes, actually we were almost sold to Oakley. Danny was always trying to sell Grenade to his sponsors. He always wanted to sell out. I was the hold out. I always rode for small independent companies like Joyride and Mission 6. Danny rides for Oakley and Nike. I would NEVER ride for Nike or Quiksilver, or Gnu (because it’s still Quiksilver.) I’m trying to make a comeback.

Will Matt recapture his pro glory of 2001? More importantly, does anyone still have that hella big Bjorn Leines poster?

Brooke: I want to know all about your comeback, but it seems like it would have made sense to take the cash and start something else, ya know?

Matt Kass: Do you know any bands looking to sponsor a crappy halfpipe rider? I have been working on another company since 2007. The new brand I’m working on is Called ENMY.

Brooke: Ok, I’ll bite. Tell me about ENMY

Matt Kass: It’s a outdoor lifestyle brand. I’m also helping out the guys at Sasquatch Skateboards. I was just hired a couple days ago, I’m really stoked. The kids involved are really talented. I’m in the process of forming a Distribution Company and our first 2 brands are “ENMY” and “Sasquatch Skateboards.” I also started my own fishing business as well as being a dad. I’m busy.

Brooke: I’m confused. I thought you said started Grenade was the worst decision you ever made. Why would you start a new brand?

Matt Kass: I really feel like the industry is getting dry and needs a kick in the ass and I’m just the asshole to do it. I’m starting over without partners and because I feel like it is time to make a comeback. I want to bring my band to trade shows so we can play our awful music. I hired a coach to train me and everything. For real!

Brooke: Wait, what are you talking about? Now you’re in a band with a coach? I thought you were making a snowboarding comeback. Are you drunk?

Matt Kass: No, I just got one of my wisdom teeth pulled. I have a coach so I can make a comeback. I have a band called “The Bent Screws” and when next SIA comes you will see the band and the brand. Hopefully I can start shredding soon, fishing season opens 2/1 though, so I’m going out on the water then.

Brooke: So let me get this straight. You’re going to “train” for like 3 days and then launch a new snowboard career, and by next SIA you will have started a Poler ripoff and distribution company?

Matt Kass: I have been training since October of last year. I skate at least 3 hours a day and I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m not fat like the Dingo. I’ll tell people who think I’m not gonna make a comeback, hey, I did one kassrole, why can’t I do two? When I’m doing 540s below the lip I’ll laugh too. I’ve told Gretchen (Bleiler) she won the X games with my run that I used to do. Sometimes my nollie backside 5 would go above the lip, and sometimes it wouldn’t.

That reminds me of the number one snowboard joke of all time: you know where the best place to pick up snowboard chicks?

Me: Yeah, below the lip.

Matt: Hey, How am I ripping off Poler? You haven’t seen one of my designs.

Me: You said outdoor lifestyle… which is what Poler is doing, but you’re right, I haven’t seen it.

Matt Kass: It’s more of a utilitarian style, fishing gear. I know about Poler, I like those guys, I even modeled for them for free. We’re making fishing gear and outdoor lifestyle type stuff. If a kid wants to wear it snowboarding, that’s his business. And I’m trying to start a distro company, but when I say that I’m trying to do it, I’m not trying to jump out over night like Vanilla Ice. The name of the company is called Ammo distribution– ENMY, Survival and Garden State grip tape. It’s been a pet project of mine for a long time. When I started Grenade I wanted to turn it into a skateboard company. When Danny started he wanted to turn it into a TV show. That’s the truth. When we ultimately fought it was because I didn’t want to be on his TV show and wanted nothing to do with it. Dingo and Danny wanted to do it, they made they pilot and it looked like shit. I didn’t even want to release the project. Danny’s the one who wanted to be on TV.


Boat enthusiast.

Brooke: So, when Grenade ousted you, how many boats did you have in the warehouse?

Matt Kass: 2 or 3. I took one with me

Brooke: Did you buy them with Grenade money?

Matt Kass: Nope with my paycheck. My brother spends Grenade money on weed, all the time. I have proof.

Brooke: What proof?

Matt Kass: Receipts.

Brooke: Who gets a receipts for weed?

Matt Kass: I do. Danny took 80k from Grenade to start that awful TV show.

Brooke: Don’t you think that TV show was marketing?

Matt Kass: No, it’s embarrassing Danny stole money from Grenade and blamed me. JC stole money from Danny and convinced him I took it, I put 600k into Grenade and real estate and all I got back was 175k and I feel like they stole 10 yrs of my life. They never gave me a letter of recommendation even though they said they would.

Brooke: Well, at least you’re not bitter. What have you been up to the last few years… how did you get back on your feet?

Matt Kass: Well do you want the truth? It was a hard climb. I was waiting for the 75k from my resignation agreement and it never came. I was counting on the money, so it really screwed me up. I started living in the shop because I had nowhere to go and Joseph told my friends at Grenade that they would be fired if they talked to me.

We got in trouble at the shop for selling graffiti supplies, got a 5k ticket, had to stop selling paint with was a giant piece of our sales. It was a dead horse. I closed the shop, got a house 6 blocks up the street and started working at Betty Rides. Which, sucked too.

Matt, Elliot and one hell of a flounder.

Brooke: Tell me more about ENMY. What specifically are you gonna make?

Matt Kass: You will see. ENMY is “bottom secret.” There are a couple designs on facebook, but they are old. The new stuff is being made right now. I never really stopped designing T-shirts. I just stopped showing people. It was therapy for me. I’ve done T-shirts for small guys and menus for a pizza place. I just do shit on my computer to get by cause I got a kid and diapers ain’t cheap. I’m no Pinski, I’m not gonna cut off my dick and put it in my ear and then call myself an artist — I lost him when he went bo-mo. That’s Bohemian Modern.

Brooke: How are you funding the brand?

Matt Kass: By myself, I don’t want partners. What I’m trying to get across to all these little brands is, don’t fucking be me. Money does bad things to good people. You want my business advice? Here’s three lessons I’ve learned.

1. Don’t take a partner when you need a loan.
2. Be careful who you get into bed with.
3. Lying can get you into problems and through problems, but only the truth will get you out. You can’t lie a fact. Be careful what you say or do, this is the info age and everything is recorded or on video somewhere.

I explained to my father yesterday, sometimes lying is a part of business. Have I ever told people lies? Yeah, I used to all the time. When I didn’t know the answer to something, I would just say two weeks — it’s from the movie the Money Pit — the contractor would always say “two weeks.” Instead of saying I don’t know I would always say two weeks, because it was embarrassing to say I don’t know.

Brooke: Let’s wrap this up. What else?

Matt Kass: Grenade could have been a lot more and should have been. When I think back of what I started, I think of it as something that that was great. When you used to buy a Grenade T you used to support people like you and Dave and Jesse and Tom and me; it used to be a family people. Now when you buy a Grenade T at Pacsun you’re enabling Joseph to abuse snowboarding and snowboarders and you keep my brother drunk and on drugs. I know we all didn’t do it right. I was never the best boss, and one of the worst things I ever did you caught the brunt of. If you ever asked for a recommendation from me you were a great employee in an environment a lot of people would have failed. I’ve had everyone’s back, every day in that company.

Yahtzee!

High Fives with Todd Richards

Old friend, old Yobeat contributor and old guy Todd Richards has once again told the Grim Reaper to shove off. With a career that started sometime in the 1980s, went legend status in the ’90s and sorta hung out in the new millennium Todd has not only picked up a new sponsor this week, but he’s apparently doing his own Youtube show on top of announcing every contest you’ve ever heard of. This shocking news really spun us for a loop, so we decided to revive the once great, no, amazing High Fives with Todd Richards column to  scratch his beautiful, ageless noggin. Here’s what happened. 

Rumor is you’re on Arnette now, how are you still getting sponsors?

Smoke and mirrors.

Are you saying you have the entire industry tricked? Or did you secretly sign a deal with the devil making sure your career and looks never go stale?

I’m saying if you’re not a dickhead to everyone you come across, you have a work ethic and an ounce of creativity you just might be able to keep the dream alive after your skill set won’t get you through qualifiers at a Gatorade Free Flow Tour. I bet I could still get top five at a Gatorade Free Flow Tour.

Why didn’t Travis Rice invite you to his top secret RedBull commercial/contest in the Baldface amusement park?

He did invite me actually. Unfortunately for me it was to talk about what he was doing on TV. I’m over competing at this point. The only thing I think I will compete in again is that ultimate boarder and this pipe jam at Breckenridge in April where you can’t spin over 540 in the pipe and then the finals are in a hand-dug six foot pipe.

How do you explain Shaun White’s ability to score a perfect 100 in Xgames pipe, but not be able to compete in Slopestyle because his ankle was in too bad of shape?

Oh god…my feelings are killing me…someone help me off the Slopestyle course. Let’s be honest here Shaun, you weren’t that hurt. You got your ass handed to you in practice even after you had the Breckenridge park closed down to only you for a week before X Games so you could save face after last year. I think it would have been more graceful if he just at least tried to qualify. We were all talking about it the night the pipe went down. He wasn’t limping around or anything implying that anything was even remotely wrong with any part of his body except his nuts after being squeezed into some baby gap’ pants.

Ok, in other news, you have your own TV show now obviously because High Fives blew you up so much. Which show is better, yours or Danny and The Dingos, and why?

Mines not actually on TV. It’s inside the internet which is almost as obscure as anything on Fuel TV. I’ll tell you what’s a blockbuster TV show: get Matt Kass and Danny Kass in a room together and lock the doors. Nothing at all in the room to be used as a weapon other than Dingo.

If you’re bored hereâ’s the scoop on Todd’s new show. I watched an episode, and for some reason I really enjoyed it. It’s basically a 40 year old boy in a garage full of cool shit with money to make sweet internet videos. Here’s what Todd had to say:

Well my new show thing is a spin off of my website AWSM.com. The show is called AWSM on Alli. It’s basically me in my garage Wanes World Style, doing product reviews, interviews, and commentary on what ever tickles my pickle, and top five videos of the week. I have a budget from Youtube and it’s fun. Every Saturday there is a new show up.

Grenade: Before and After

Not so long ago, I worked at Grenade. My career started when Matt Kass decided to open a third Grenade retail store in the Portland area, this one adjacent to Windell’s Snowboard Camp. Given my stellar background in retail (I wasn’t exactly fired, but didn’t exactly quit my jobs at Zumiez and US Outdoor Store,) I was an obvious choice to help run this store. That summer Joe Carter and I ate Windell’s food, and hawked stickers and leftover gear to Windell’s campers. There were ups and downs, but overall it was a fun summer.

JOE CARTER HARD AT WORK

JOE CARTER HARD AT WORK

The only real issue with working at the store was that hour commute, so I was excited when Matt started having me do other things, such as drive him around town. This was right after Grenade (meaning Matt) had moved from Mammoth to Portland, so there was a lot to do. A warehouse had been purchased, but leased out while in escrow, so Grenade was pretty much operating out of Matt’s house and a storage unit. I helped him line up temporary warehouse space (that would be 122nd) and a design office, which is still what I am most proud of in my Grenade career.

As shipping season began, Dave and I pretty much took care of everything on the business end of things. Bayne handled inside sales, and Jesse was in charge of getting all the boxes packed. We tried really hard, so if your order was screwed up, I’m sorry. This was probably the best time I had at Grenade. We were making it happen, and it felt great. Once all the orders had shipped, and the other company’s lease ran out on our official warehouse (82nd) it was time to move.

My job had now become payroll, collections, human resources and self appointed public relations. One of my first initiatives in the new space was to get Shane Flood’s mini ramp moved into the warehouse. Things were looking up, despite the pile of shit in the middle of the new warehouse.

THE WAREHOUSE. A PLACE OF BUSINESS

THE WAREHOUSE. A PLACE OF BUSINESS

The crew at 82nd was a funny one. Towards the end of my career, I started writing a blog about it. I did an awesome run down, which I think should finally see the light of day. So here goes:

There is AJ. He is “customer service” I think. I’m not really sure what he actually does, but when it involves professional snowboarders, he makes sure to think out loud. “Scotty Arnold says he wears Bob Gnarly’s, but I am not sending him gloves no one will publish.” He definitely has Grenade tattoos. If you sit anywhere near him, you know all about his two trucks, and his awesome hangovers. Oh and his dog Pandora is pretty cool.

Bayne hasn’t come around much lately. Bayne is from my hometown. He was really good at skateboarding. Now he runs the shop downtown. It’s some sort of outlet that sells long boards and spray paint. People steal stuff all the time. Theoretically, he handles inside sales. Occasionally he is on the phone shmoozing people to buy SP bindings, which we licensed, but didn’t bother to market. He is also in charge of RAs (that’s return authorization). Though he keeps a record of it, no one really ever knows what’s going on. He has a shoe with a bamboo plant on his desk.

Downstairs Jesse is the king. Well, actually Matt is king of everything, but if Matt isn’t paying attention, Jesse is in charge. Jesse, or House, as he’s also called, has a stripper girlfriend who keeps him out until 5 am. He acts tough, and doesn’t change his clothes very often, but deep down he is nice. I think he might also be a pro snowboarder, or former pro snowboarder. He hates packing boxes and always talks about how much more he got paid at Betty Rides. He used to have a den downstairs where they kept snakes and dogs and smoked weed, but Matt made him clean it out. Now there are just a few shirts hanging from the ceiling.

Then there are the grunts. The grunts are amazing, because none of them have any idea what they are doing. It will take them a week to paint one wall. Putting a sticker on the door is a two-man job. They spend most of their time a Rosco’s, the bar across the street. A few of them have been temporarily banned from the establishment. A quick breakdown of the grunts:

Cole– Spends most of his time air drumming. Often comes upstairs to announce his latest great idea. “Balloons made out of bubble gum” being my favorite.
Jamie– The smartest of the grunts. I think he may actually be going to school and trying to better himself.
Curtis– A total rocker. Long hair, tight jeans. Funny dude, not much of a worker, the secretary definitely has a crush on him.

Oh yeah, then there is Forest. Dark Forest to be exact. At one point we had three Forest’s. This one is the most amazing though. He’s maintenance supervisor I guess. He is allowed to have assistants. He worked for months without getting paid because he was on workman’s comp. He built the entire skatepark and probably some other stuff to. Then, when he was no longer getting workman’s comp, he asked if he could get paid for all those hours. Apparently he had gotten more product than he needed and the guys at the shop were over it. Now he gets paid, is a staple at Rosco’s and is always good for entertainment. Oh yeah, and he has an awesome mustache.

THE VIEW FROM MY OFFICE

THE VIEW FROM MY OFFICE


Back upstairs there are a few more people. Kelly was hired to be the morning receptionist, but since she is not retarded, quickly fell into the role of Matt’s personal assistant. She doesn’t skate and she’s not a dirtbag. But she manages to put up with everything anyway. There is the other Matt. I call him the blind guy cause he carries a blind guy cane. I think he was hired to fold goggle boxes but now he is a receptionist. He mostly sits and stares at the phones, willing them to ring. When they do he answers, “Grenade, how can I help you?” Jen used to work here. She did credits and general office work. But she’s knocked up, and her existing child is now on summer vacation, so she won’t be coming around for awhile.

There is also a shop at 82nd. It is run by Tom. Tom is always positive, always stoked. I think he was hired to help run the company, but ended up just running a shop. He is always trying to make shit happen for people. He loves his employees.

His employees are:
Kailey–She may also be his personal assistant. She’s afraid of Jesse and lives at Tom’s house.
Willis– Amazing at skateboarding, not so good at life. When all the Grenerds got charged for damaging a hotel in Seattle, he got charged the most.
Forest–Forest is nice. He lives in Gresham.
Traci– Traci used to work upstairs. She got cut off cause all she did is play on Myspace. Now she sets up skateboards.

There are always others coming and going. I think Matt hired the bartender from Rosco’s to walk his dog. Shane Flood comes by the fix bikes. There are always old trucks in the parking lot. Oh yeah, and there is a garden on the roof. And no, they are not growing weed.

THE ROOF GARDEN IN ALL ITS GLORY

THE ROOF GARDEN IN ALL ITS GLORY

We chugged along at 82nd. Painting, organizing, moving boats back and forth on the warehouse floor. But any reasonable person could see this wouldn’t last, or work, forever. I don’t really want to get into the drama that ensued, so let’s just say, depending on the day, Matt could be your best friend or your worst enemy. When he decided payroll needed to be revamped, but didn’t decide how we would do that, it marked the end of my career. It seemed to me not paying people could probably get you into trouble, so I continued to run payroll every other Friday. The second Friday, he fired me for it. Such is life.

After I left, things seemed to go downhill. It’s not my place to explain everything that happened, since I was no longer there. Let’s just say there was a bit of a regime change. I heard rumors of cops being called, and everyone getting fired. It sounded like a mess and I was glad to have gotten out when I did.

Last week though, I went back for the first time since the broken clock outside had been turned into a giant Grenade. Instead of broken trucks, the parking lot was filled with a lot of really nice cars, and the exterior paint job looks a whole lot better. Yep, Grenade is like a real company now. It’s certainly not the 82nd I remember. But I’ll let Kevin give you the tour (and only interject a few of my thoughts.)


If you want, check out the teaser for the new Grenade movie here, and if you are still down, the tour is starting now!

Over Gossip Yet?

Wow, it’s been awhile. In all my efforts to get more people involved in Yo Beat, I actually forgot to do anything. Oops. Just to keep you entertained, here’s some very thrilling gossip. First, injuries: Brian Barb broke his L2 region of his back. Rahm Klampert is also out with a broken back. NH photographer extraordinaire Paul Miller did a job on his wrist, as did Eric Koval and David Carrier-Porcheron. Neil Goss, Mark Reilly and Brian Regis are all having knee issues, although none seem to be particularly serious. I know there’s more injuries, but I forget. Nicole Anglerath is pregnant, due sometime around December. Kim Bohnsack signed on with Blue Torch as one of their first pros. This roster might someday include Ross Powers. Keir Dillon is making a hefty chunk of change off Lycos. There are more internet mergers, but I’m not even going to justify them right now. Ross Powers won another Truck, and after this weekend, will probably have won a second one for the season at the grand prix. Guillame Morrisette signed on with either Sims or Nitro. Speaking of Sims, they hired Four Star marketing director Travis Wood, World Industries Team Manager Chris Saydah, and a whole new team. Brian Thein, Jordan Mendenhall, Mark Frank Montoya and Kurt Wastell have all signed on, no word on the fate of such east coast team riders as Brian Regis, Luke Omand or Luke Wynen. Matt Kass is getting married in June. Okay, I’m over gossiping now. That’s all.