Matt Kass’s Hump Day
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.
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.