mike salsburg

Nosegrind - San Jose, CA | photo: Tonascia

From Shrimp Louie to stacking clips, Salsberg has been a San Jose staple ever since he stepped through the gates. While Caswell and Jose were going pro, Salsberg kept it closer to the soul and just skated to skate. Anyone who has witnessed Mike’s skating knows that he is one of the best to ever step on the board. Today, Salsberg continues to learn new tricks, push the limits of his skating, and most importantly, have a damn good time doing it.

We recently sat down with this South Bay legend to see what makes him tick. This conversation has been long overdue, so we’re super stoked to finally invite you to join us as we get to know San Jose’s Secret Weapon: Mike Salsberg.

Interview by - Travis Knight
Travis: So, let's just jump right into it. How long have you been skating?
Mike: I would, like, kind of ride a skateboard around when I was a kid. But when I got a real skateboard and tried to learn how to ollie, I was probably, like, 11, and I’m 41 now. So, 30 years.
Travis: Three decades? That’s badass.
Mike: I think that’s pretty safe to say, yeah.
Travis: What's your current squad lookin’ like these days?
Mike: The crew I’ve been skating with most recently is Jose (Rojo), Caswell (Berry), Ricky (Espinosa), G-Juan (Gerry Juan), and Ryan (Adams). We skate every Saturday.
Travis: That’s sick. When did you meet Caswell and Jose? I’ve always been under the impression that you dudes go way back.
Mike: I was in highschool. I met Caswell out skating some school. I wanna say I was probably 15 or 14. I met Jose around the same time. I met him on the bus. He was with a bunch of other dudes skating and I was with some people skating, and we just, like, met each other and we all just started skating together. So, yeah, I was 14 probably.
Travis: That's a long time ago. You guys are super old friends.
Mike: Yeah, it's kind of crazy. We’re all kind of from the same area, like South San Jose, more or less. We all went to the same high school in South San Jose, so we all kind of knew all of the same people in general. Especially through skating. I actually skated with Jose a lot back then and not so much with Caswell at first. But after a while, he started skating with us more and more. There just seemed to be so many people that skated in San Jose, and everyone knew everyone, ya know? It was a big scene.
mike salsburg

Gap Backlip - Sunnyvale (circa 2007) | photo: Jones

Travis: Did you know Caswell pre-ponytail or post-ponytail?
Mike: I mean, he definitely had the ponytail. I think he was either riding for Renaissance or it was right before he got on Renaissance. I had heard about him through other people, and he rode for Volcom. I think that was his first sponsor. I met him skating at a spot when we were all pretty young kids.
Travis: That’s so rad. Where would you guys rendezvous to go skating in those days?
Mike: There was always GoSkate (skate shop), and so everyone kind of went there to meet up. You’d go to the shop and maybe, like, skate the parking lot, or somewhere nearby. You could always go there and run into somebody who was down to go skating.
Travis: I remember there were two of those shops. Was that the one on Almaden, or the one on Saratoga Ave?
Mike: This one was on Almaden Expressway.
Travis: I remember that one. I remember going there and there was a World Industries demo, and it was Chad Tim Tim doing a one-man demo on a janky ass box.
Mike: (laughs) Yeah dude, they would have all kinds of demos and shit, and, like, set up ramps and have random people come skate. Sometimes they would just have the ramps set up, and everyone would skate. Like a skate jam. I’d always go there, and I was, like, another young ass kid who had only skated for maybe a few years. I would just go and try and skate whatever ramp or other shit they had. It's funny how when I was younger, there were a lot of kids who skated and we all just skated and got along. Back then it was easy to make friends.
Travis: Did that change as you got older?
Mike: As soon as we got older, closer to 18, that’s when you started to realize who didn’t get along with whoever else. Like, people started having beef and shit (laughs).

"He basically showed the San Jose scene for what it really was, which is a lot more people than just the fuckin’ most popular 10 dudes or whatever."

Travis: (laughs) Yeah, that's the San Jose I grew up skating in (laughs). What was your first experience with toebock?
Mike: I remember seeing Adam (Crew) around, just skating and I didn’t really know what toebock was or anything…
Travis: Honestly, I still don’t know what toebock is (laughs).
Mike: … but what really stands out is the NC (board shop) shit. He (Adam Crew) hit me up randomly and he was like: ‘Mike and Allen want to make boards and start, like, a new team.’ Adam had got Julian (Quevedo) and Ryan (Adams) hooked up and randomly, he hit me up to ride for NC. That was cool. I didn't really see that coming. I had never rode for anybody before and that was how I first started getting boards, and how I first met Mike and Al. I thought that was pretty sick how he hooked that up. You know what I mean?
Travis: Oh yeah, for sure.
Mike: It seemed that Adam wanted to film with a lot of the people that all skated that weren’t, like, well-known people. It was just, like, the other people in San Jose. He would film all those dudes for his video. He wanted to include me, so I was stoked, ya know? And ever since then, anytime he was working on a video, he was always hitting me up to try and film or whatever.
Travis: What do you mean by “the other people in San Jose?”
Mike: Back then, there was already sort of like a Tiltmode scene--there was already the first Tiltmode video before Man Down--so people associated Tiltmode with certain people that were in that video. And a lot of those dudes were the people who were pro or just really fucking good, and, like, sponsored. Like more well-known names. But then Adam seemed like he was more stoked to try and include everybody else that skated that might not have been a popular, well-known skateboarder. You know what I mean?
Travis: Yeah.
Mike: So, I always thought that was super cool. Just the fact that he thought of everyone and filmed as many people as he could. He basically showed the San Jose scene for what it really was, which is a lot more people than just the fuckin’ most popular 10 dudes or whatever.
mike salsburg

Back Noseblunt - Cupertino, Ca 2010 | Photo: Wes Tonascia

“Don’t play this dude skate unless you wanna feel bad about yourself!”

- Caswell Berry

Travis: So, it's safe to say that Adam Crew filmed anyone he was down for--name or no name--for his toebock videos. What was one of your first experiences filming for a toebock video?
Mike: I don’t remember a timeline really well. But I do know that when he made the… I don’t know if it was the first toebock video. It was the one that was just called “toebock” and just had the shoe on the cover.
Travis: That was the second one.
Mike: So, Adam was filming for that video. At some point, he was hitting me up to try and film something for that video. And that’s when I went out and ate shit on that rail. You know, the clip we watched the other day?
Travis: Wait. You didn’t tell Adam that I showed that to you, did you?
Mike: No (laughs). Wait, I actually don’t remember. Let me check this text I sent to him…

Humble beginnings - solo mission Cupertino, Ca (circa 2002)
Travis: Nah. Don’t trip. If you had, he would’ve already called me and yelled at me. I think we’re good (laughs).
Mike: I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a sense, Adam and toebock have definitely hooked me up a lot. Through skating and, like, promoting my art.
Travis: I was waiting for you to bring up your art. We’re huge fans of Shrimp Louie! I mean, who isn’t? Do you remember the jump-off point? Like, when did Shrimp Louie go from something that just a few of your friends saw to a larger audience?
Mike: Adam was always really pumped on Shrimp Louie. I was barely even doing it for very long at that point. In those days, I would kind of draw shit, and maybe someone might put it on their refrigerator and a few people would see it and think it was funny. I remember Jesse (Erickson) put the one I made of him…
mike salsburg

Shrimp Louie featuring Jesse Erickson

Travis: That’s one of my favorites for sure.
Mike: Yeah, me too. That was one of the older ones. I like how the drawings were really simple and, like, kind of shittier looking. I kind of like that better… it's just funnier to me. The one with Jesse is basically just a circle with the two dot eyes and just, like, a beard. It's just the shittiest drawing but it looks like him and it's just hella funny to me.
Travis: Yeah (laughs), I agree.
Mike: Anyway, when I made that one, Jesse put it on his refrigerator and people saw it and thought it was funny. But I definitely wasn’t putting shit online or doing stuff like that. Adam was the first dude to take all that stuff I made and actually put it online. He made a section on the toebock site where you could go and read all of the fuckin’ things.
Travis: That’s so rad. What inspired or motivated you to keep making them?
Mike: So, Jai (Tanju) was doing this punk rock thing at the bar. The Caravan and The Cinebar would have punk nights, like Wednesday nights. Every time they would do a punk night, Jai would have a bunch of zines printed, and the zines were all photos he had shot of everybody at the previous show. He saw Shrimp Louie somehow, and he was, like, stoked. So I would give them to Jai and I would give them to Adam. Once a week, Jai would put an episode in his punk zine and then Adam would put them on the toebock site. These dudes were fully supporting my shitty artwork, which I didn’t even really care about. But them being so stoked motivated me to keep doing it.
Travis: Well, I’m glad you kept doing it. I think Shrimp Louie is fucking genius! Anyway, we’ve been going for a while now. We could have just done a podcast at this point (laughs). So, let me wrap this up with just a few staple questions. Who is your favorite San Jose Pro--past or present?
Mike: Paul Sharpe. He was pro when I started skating
Travis: I love that guy. He is the fucking man. I’m definitely a fan, too. What about, like, all-time pro? From anywhere.
Mike: Bobby Worrest. I always really liked how that dude skated ever since Krooked kind of started. It's mainly because he is a backside noseblunt slide guy.

While Most 40+ year olds are learning slappies or some variation of a no-comply, Salsburg continues to learn new tricks, push the limits of his skating, and most importantly, have a damn good time doing it. Here’s some Iphone clips he's managed to get while skating with friends on the weekends.
Travis: (laughs) What about your all-time favorite video part?
Mike: My favorite video part is Lavar McBride in “Trilogy.”
Travis: That’s the video part where he kills Hubba Hideout, right?
Mike: Yeah, yeah, he does like, hella fuckin’ tricks on Hubba. When I think about all-time favorite part, that's the one that I was super pumped on.
Travis: Yeah, that part is amazing. How about all-time favorite video?
Mike: Favorite video? I wanna say “TSA Life in the Fast Lane.” At the time that I saw it, that was, like, THE coolest shit I’d ever seen.
Travis: Ok, let me close this thing up with a classic toebock question. Who is your favorite washed-up San Jose pro?
Mike: (laughs) There’s a lot of pros that came out of San Jose. Favorite washed-up San Jose pro, huh? Ummm, I’ll say my favorite washed-up pro is… Scary Lewis.

"San Jo-Bag - Video/Edit Carson Lee ✨
travis knight

About Travis Knight - Travis is an American author who has spent most of his life immersed in reading and writing stories. As a teenager, he started writing poetry and skateboard blogs while traveling across the US. Later in his adulthood, he began publishing stories through toebock.com and through his own literary collection, knight-writes.com