Blader Digest: Brand-o the Beard-o

Photo by Ivan Narez.

If you’ve never heard of Brandon Smith, it must be like your second or third day rollerblading. So, yeah, welcome to the family.

This entire post is dedicated to the heavily-bearded, Harley Davidson-riding, world-traveling, bowl-crushing, spot-destroying, thought-provoking, JSF-juicing, (Level 3) and artistically-diverse Valo pro known as B. Smith.

B. Fucking Smith! (Check out the full feature on B. on Valo’s site.)

Here in NorCal, B. Smith is one of the living legends that evolved during the early days of rollerblading. He was there from day one in JSF, the longest-running crew in rollerblading. Taking a brief hiatus from heavy shredding to focus on his photography in college, B. put his effort back into blading.

From amazing sections in all the prime Valo videos to the road-tripping Shred ‘Til You’re Dead tours, B.’s skating continues to evolve to mind-blowing technical and burly shredding.

The only bad thing about the dude is that he makes it all look way too easy. I do not hold the monopoly on this opinion.

B’s skating is not only robotically perfect—earning him the nickname Mr. Roboto—but it’s also stylish to a point that the English language fails in necessary superlatives.

When you watch him skate, you know it will be good. The fun part is finding out how good it will be. He’s a consummate professional in the truest sense of the word.

Before I get all fan-boy gushy even more, I would like to point out some interesting facts regarding B Smith. Many of them are common knowledge, but for those of you who don’t know:

  • Chuck Norris only has a beard because B. Smith allows it.
  • The Most Interesting Man in the World dedicated his autobiography to B. Smith.
  • His skating is so clean, soap washes up with B. Smith.
  • The Hells Angels once encountered B. Smith on his motorcycle. They dedicated an entire chapter of their club after this experience.
  • B. Smith doesn’t do commercial photography so Annie Leibovitz can still get work.

Photo via

  • His Instagram account has been nominated for the Pulitzer in news photography.
  • Swiss bearings were invented so others could keep up with him.
  • His Dyna pro wheels were forged in the center of a dying star and are heavier than Thor’s hammer.
  • The video 8th Wonder was named after his beard before he even grew it.
  • He turned down the role of the Terminator and the office of the governor of California seven times.
  • His airs affect the tides more than the moon.

But enough of my bullshit, let’s hear from the man himself. B was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule of heavy shredding, motorcycling around SoCal, spending time with his lady, and filming for his pro skate edit to answer a few questions. (Again, please pardon my hardcore fan-boying.)

First off, huge congrats to your new skates. I think they’re the most badass thing ever.

There was a time when you were concentrating on your photography and then you went back to concentrating on your skating. What made you switch back?

There was no real defining moment, it just sort of happened because it felt like the right thing to do. I was a blader long before I was a photographer, so it’s built into my personality. Focusing on photography was obviously the right thing to do while I was going to college, but I guess I wasn’t done with blading after graduation and wanted to get back at it.

For your pro skate, you went the route of the work boot, a drastic change from Valo’s other boots. Why’d you choose to go that route and why the fuck does it look so badass?

Jon really let me do whatever the hell I wanted. Work boots are just what I’ve gotten used to wearing the past few years while on the bike and what not, so it made the most sense. I really don’t like any single shoe enough to want to base a design around it. I wanted to do a skate that was more my personality rather then just forcing a design because I had to. Plus, I wanted it to stand out a lot for my first, and potentially only pro skate. And, I’m not the only one on Valo who wears boots regularly so I think it’s a no-brainer.

If you were to join the Hells Angels, what would your chosen nickname be?

Maybe something like Brand-o the Beard-o. But that wouldn’t be too clever because all those guys have beards. How about all you guys get bikes and we start the JSF m/c, I’m sure the nicknames would start flowing then!

You’re notoriously known for being a man of few words. What are the things that get you talking? Cameras? Motorcycles? Blades?

Blading for sure. I generally don’t like talking about cameras because 9 times out of 10 the other person is going to say a bunch of nonsense to make it sound like they know more then you. Or they start bragging about what gear they own and I hate that. The same thing can happen with motorcycles because people are so opinionated when it comes to bikes and parts. So pretty much I’ll start talking more then usual if someone is actually trying to have a genuine conversation, which is sometimes hard to come by.

Your beard has taken many shapes over the years. What’s the secret to stacking a quality beard and can you share some grooming tips for us bearded fellows?

Just let it roll…don’t try to fight it! And shampoo/condition regularly.

From ONE Magazine's 'Best Facial Hair' Award in 2009

Do you prefer dudes who shred your pro skates grow a beard—as it is surely the sign of a man—or can babyfaces that can’t grow facial hair like Victor Arias wear them too?

I hope everyone wants to shred in them! I do have a feeling that the dudes that can and want to grow beards will probably appreciate them a little more than those who don’t.

B, being the humble guy he is, will be the first person to tell you that he wouldn’t be where he is today without help from homies, whether pushing him or just capturing his style on film and video. Here are some words from some of his best friends he grew up with in NorCal.

“Although I may be a bit biased, considering I am exporting out his section as I write this, and I happened to be there during the whole process of his pro blade project, I’m really proud of everything we have accomplished. But if you really come to think of it this is a pretty long time coming…I would have to say that B is one of my longest time friends that have been around since damn near the beginning.

I’m not sure exactly when I met him but I remember watching a video called California Heat, back when it was just like me and Victor blading, probably around 98? and B was probably about 12-13 years old, which is pretty much how old we were at the time and he had clips in the video, and he was alread budsing at that age when we couldn’t even jump on the high ledge at the OG Pleasanton skatepark.

Over the course of the 10+ years that I’ve known him, even before I came to be involved with Valo, we were blading, blacking out, bowling, budsing, and pretty much everything you could think of. From massive fights at Victor’s house, to traveling the world with Valo.

Come to think of it, I honestly have no clue where I am going here and this story doesn’t even make sense, if I had to explain why its not really a story or has much meaning its probably because there is too much shit that we’ve all done together and too many good times, so when I try and put that into a paragraph…it’s impossible, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t be more psyched that B finally got his deal, and am proud that I was able to be a big part of the release project…”

— Ivan Narez, videographer, photographer, vato

“Brandon Smith, otherwise known to his crew as ‘SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH’ has made most of his homies jealous once again. And when I say jealous, I mean it in the most supportive way possible. How does that work? Beats the hell out of me! All I know is that B has been nothing short of spectacular on his skates since day one. The kid I met back in the mid 90’s in San Francisco was quiet but a fucken ripper on them skates. I swear to this day when I met him, he had his hat turned backwards but to the side a bit and he had the bill of his hat flipped up like a taco holder. B still tells me to this day he never used to do that with his hat, but I insist on believing my memory. I mean seriously, what can you say about Brandon that wouldn’t be positive? I can not think of ONE thing that he has ever done that was negative (besides leave Vic outside to sleep haha but that’s just Brandon bossing up and getting faded, the way he should get so he can pass out in “great form”.)

B. Smith getting loaded circa 2007. Photo by Ivan Narez

B is the Ying to the Yang in the JSF Crew. While most homies are wild, desctructive and filthy…B is the complete opposite, yet maintaining the vibe of us filth bags.

He is a role model to me. I look up to him. I live vicariously through him. I in fact would like to be him at times and nothing more than his attitude towards life makes me proud to be one of his friends.

Getting a Pro skate is a big deal to me.

To me, it says, I AM A PROFESSIONAL.

When he moved to Santa Ana, I was truly bummed out because we were skating a lot before he moved and not having his presence at skate, bowling, drinking and BBQ sessions really had an impact on me. I just felt as if the motivation to skate hard was slowly slipping, but to my surprise, seeing him accomplish so much while living in Santa Ana area give me the motivation to keep things strong up here in Norcal.

He is an ambassador to the Norcal scene and he is doing it all while living in Socal.

I love Brandon with all my heart and will always be there for him.

FUCK! I am just so damn happy he is finally getting a skate with his name on it!!!!!!!! now, what else can be said besides….


Feeling JUICED is an understatement, that is for sure.”

— Erick “el Presidente” Garcia, JSF level 3

On behalf of the entire Blade or Die family, a huge congratulations to B Smith for his first pro skate, a major milestone in an amazing rollerblading career that is still performing at Mr. Roboto levels.

Blade or Die,

— Brian Krans

P.S. — As long as you’re going to be picking up those crispy new Valo BS.1s, you should treat yourself to some literary bullshit that is my writing. You know, the kind on paper. Sorry, no pictures.

Intuition Skate Shop has the goods because they fucking rule.

Same goes of AMall, for the exact same reasons.

B. Smith bought my books. What’s your fucking problem?


  • Been rockin’ his Dyna wheel for maybe near 2 years. I hope to eat least cop the skins for my lights. If not the entire boot. I was missing during his uprising, so when I came back to blading he was one that stood out FAR above the others. He is SO god damn clean it is ridiculous… Really glad he got a pro boot, I have thought he needed one since I saw him.. Proper.

  • “B. Smith doesn’t do commercial photography so Annie Leibovitz can still get work.” I lol’ed.

    Great work, Brian!

  • tadtregeagle wrote:

    B.Smith is the fucking man!!

  • DOPE post B Krans! Ever since I started blading 4 years ago Brandon Smith was my 1st fav. skater and he still is. B Smith!

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *