Jaren Grob has been earning his living as a professional rollerblader for twenty years. Let that sink in… For two decades this man has found a way to turn his passion for blading into a livelihood and lifestyle. From flashing across TV screens as the voice of Arlo Eisenberg hyped up “The Monster” at ASA events nationwide, to sponsorships with Yoo-Hoo, getting the cover shot to Acclaim’s Aggressive Inline video game, touring the world with Roces, and an oft-debated section in VHS collection staple What Do You Believe In?, Jaren now fills his professional hours taking blading to the most sought-after audience: schools. Given that the future of blading is more in Jaren’s hands than almost anyone realizes, we convinced him to take some time away from blading and hanging with his son Little Monster to shed some light on his incredible story. We are pleased to bring you this interview with Jaren Grob.
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Jaren had a kind of wild, out of control style that was exciting and fun to watch and he knew how to put a run together. Jaren knew the value of going big; he knew how to make an impression on the audience and the judges. He also happened to be very good and pretty fearless, so whenever he sized up a new competition course and conceived of a big stunt he was usually able to execute it. Add to all of this Jaren’s own innate sense of marketability and showmanship — he always dressed in all black and skated to metal and knew how to work the crowd — and even throw into the mix my own ability as the emcee to amplify and exploit all of that in the service of putting on a good show and you just had a great recipe for a very bankable star in rollerblading. Jaren won two consecutive gold medals for street at the X Games and was on the cover of a video game.” — Arlo Eisenberg
Hey Jaren, for anyone that doesn’t know where you’ve been since the ASA Tours disbanded — why don’t you catch them up?
Since the ASA days I’ve still been skating just about every day that I can, doing lots of shows traveling around with a few stunt teams. In the summer we do shows at a theme park in Ohio. And if there are any comps I can get to, I love to hit them up too. Just love to roll and thankful I still get paid to do what I love.
Can you go way, way back and talk us through your blade upbringing? Who were your early inspirations and what lead you to get serious about wheeled boots?
Way, way back my big inspirations would have to be Arlo Eisenberg and Chris Edwards. I would watch Hoax every day, all day after school, then go skating. I just loved to do it! I guess I kept doing it until I got pretty good — good enough to where people would see me and say, “Would you like to do shows and make money, and compete?” I was like “Hell yeah.”
How and when did you first get up with doing demos? You were doing that stuff before you popped up on the scene back in the ‘90s/‘00s, right?
I first started doing demos when I was 14 years old. John Bethers, a BMX pro and owner of The Lumberyard skate park, asked if I wanted to do shows. They needed a skater. I was like “I would love to” and ever since I have done shows, contests and just skated for fun.
What’s life like working a place like Cedar Point? Where does talent like yourselves rank in the clout department? Like, do you guys rule the school?
Working at Cedar point is awesome, because we don’t work for Cedar Point we work for Jill Schulz. She is rad — she used to be on Team Rollerblade way back in the beginning; she knows how everything goes. So far everyone out there loves us. It’s a fun gig. Really fun set up and cool people to work with.
How many different amusement parks have you done the show at? What’s the best one, and the best ride?
I have only done shows for All Wheels Sports at Cedar Point. This summer will be my ninth year doing shows there, but with ASA and other companies I have worked at other theme parks like: Disneyland, Disney World, Dollywood, Silverdollar City in Missouri, and many more.
Oh, the best theme park for rides would be Cedar Point!
Is there competition out there for the business of scouting that kind of talent?
Whenever they need a skater they hit me up. I work for some of the companies more then others.
Let’s go back a few years and talk about your heyday during the time of what would come to be sort of the sport’s mainstream sunset. What are your memories of that period?
Wow, back in the heyday was a fun fun time. Inline skating was much more popular, sure, but just the fact that there was so much going on with skating — from comps, to just a lot of people participating in it, it was all fun. It’s still fun now. Some good memories are just getting to travel so much and meeting so many cool people that enjoyed to roll, and all the fun experiences we had.
What companies sponsored you, and how much did you make from them? Like, not to pry — but did Yoohoo have a big check?
Back in the ASA days I had a lot of different sponsors. I had Yoo-hoo chocolate drink, Paul Mitchell hair product, Roces, Eulogy wheels, Bones bearings, and a few more. Without saying any specific number, let me say that Yoo-hoo gave a phat check!
How long into your career was it before you crossed paths with Arlo Eisenberg? What kind of impact did that have on you?
I first crossed paths with Arlo Eisenberg at a demo in Chicago at some convention going on there. He was doing a demo in one part and we did a demo in a whole different part of the building. That’s how big it was! I’m not even sure if we met formally, but I went over and watched him skate. It was badass! Then I’m not exactly sure when we met again, it was either at a NISS. My first NISS comp was in 1995 or at a 1998 ASA comp.
I asked Arlo about “The Monster” — what is he (that persona) to you?
Ha! It’s just a nickname (Arlo gave to me) that explains the way I blade — going big and having fun.
Do you remember much about filming for What Do You Believe In? What was that like having a section alongside dudes like Petty and Shima?
Filming What Do You Believe In was fun! With a bunch of really cool guys! Everyone that was a part of it was badass and really good skaters! It was kinda hard filming, for me, because at the time I was traveling a lot, and the only time we filmed was in Cali — and that was never for too long. Also, the first day we went to film, Arlo wanted me to be all wet so my pants and shirt were wet. It was really hard to skate with wet pants, so we decided just to wet my hair and shirt the whole time. And don’t you know it — first rail on the first day with all wet clothes I racked myself really hard and hurt my tailbone. I wish just for myself I would have got some more clips! And skated a little harder. Was just hard traveling so much at the time. Other then that it was a really fun time.
When that section came out I think you caught a lot of shit from bladers — is that a fair assessment? What was that time like for you? I mean, do you ever get pissed that you got shit for using boards and people do it all the time now?
When my section came out a lot of people talked some crap, but the fact is that if they were there to see how crazy some of it was, and that sometimes the boards made it harder than normal, then they would not be talking. But that’s life — people need something to talk about. I don’t really care when people talk negatively. I really only listen to the positive stuff. But no matter what you do people will talk, so in a way it’s a good thing to be different. There are no rules with inline skating and that’s why I love to do it! Also, I think most of the boards were Arlo’s idea and I was like “Hell yeah, that would be cool.” So all and all it’s just about having fun and doing your thing. I don’t really get pissed very easily.
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
If I had to do it all over again, not much, maybe just learned how to spend and save money better. No one really helps you with that. Other than that, I had a lot of fun and lots of good memories.
What’s the craziest trick you ever landed — the one you’re most proud of?
The craziest trick, damn that’s hard. On street or ramps? Both I have done lots of crazy things. Damn, too hard to answer… sorry.
Do you get to blade any street still? Or just hit the park for good times?
I skate street quite a bit still while I am on the road doing shows, on my down time I hit up some street spots. It is always fun to skate new street spots. I am known as more of a park skater, but I first learned to roll by skating street, riding downstairs, jumping stairs, grinding curbs and then handrails and gaps.
What do you think of the direction blading took itself in the post-Hardcore Brazil/Aaron Feinberg era? Who’s your favorite blader to watch?
Not too sure about how the direction is or how it’s going, I just know I have always loved to roll. So I don’t really get too involved. I would love to help more and to get more kids involved. Hopefully by doing shows, lots of kids see more blading. I just hope to still be a part of it as much as I can. And my favorite skater to watch, wow, there’s too many. But Chris Haffey is probably my favorite all-around skater.
For a lot of people, the idea of getting paid to blade is the definition of “pro” — and by that measure you’ve been pro for a long, long time. How long? What do you say to young bladers that are wondering what the future can hold for them, or what kind of career path they can aspire to besides trying to push edits and get some product?
I have been getting paid to blade for 20 years now. Ever since I was 14 and now I’m 34. For young kids, I say keep skating if you love it! The future is uncertain. But if you love something like blading keep doing it and pushing yourself, good things will happen. Hopefully soon there will be more skater owned companies and blading will grow so the younger generation can do what they love and make money. In edits, in comps, in shows — just be happy blading.
We see you posting a lot about your son on social media. How has being a father impacted your life? Has it changed the way you look at blading at all?
Being a father is the best ever! It has changed my life in many ways for the better. I think I still look at blading kinda the same, and now that he is blading it’s so rad! Makes me think back to when I started. He is still real young so whatever he chooses to do I will be behind him, helping him.
Now that your summer shows at Cedar Point are over, what’s on your agenda?
When I am not doing shows at in the summer, I am mostly on tour with Lonestar Action Sports, traveling all over.
Who do you want to thank or shout out?
Wow, I would love to thank everyone! And everyone that has ever helped, or been there, or supported me! From my mom and dad, to my sisters, to all my friends that have been there for me. Also, anyone that has been a fan over the years! Thanks!
Well thanks, Jaren — we’re always interested in what you’re doing and look forward to seeing what you post next. Talk to you later!