Feature: Jay Howell and Jim Dirschberger on their Offthewall.tv series, 'Classic Tales'

September 06, 2012


Longtime Juxtapoz friends Jay Howell and Jim Dirschberger sit down to talk about their all new animated series for Vans Offthewall.tv This new show, “Classic Tales”, teams Jim and Jay up with the Vans skate crew. While staying true to the Vans brand, they’ve created something that really reverberates that “don’t care” attitude. Through the comedic medium of story telling and creativity, the guys help shed light and possibly put to rest some legendary tales of drunken nights and psychedelic adventures around the world.

After watching the first episode, I’m hooked. Its loud, thrashy, and makes you either want to hit the streets on a deck while blasting punk or drop some mushrooms and roam through Golden Gate park with the other creatures of the night. Jim did most of the talking. —James Pawlish



How did the idea for "Classic Tales" come about?


Jim Dirschberger: It was about a year ago when we started doing some ads and support for Jay's apparel line.


At the time, their current batch of ads were good, they got the job done, but we wanted to push it and do some more fun stuff. If anything, we wanted to go as far we could with it. Vans saw how much we loved to tell stories and the thrashing to tell a t-shirt thing is fun, but to have the opportunity to work with a bunch of hilarious dudes and create something collaboratively is great.


What's it like working with guys like Alva, Hosoi, Tudor and others?


Were not allowed to show the really good stories unfortunately, but there’s guys in some interviews that will maybe make it to another season. Guy’s like Alva and Hosoi are characters in there own right.


When we sat down before our interview I remember asking Chris how many interviews he’s given before in his life and it was something like thousands. People are always asking questions about who he is, what he represents, or what his thoughts are about pop culture. So, it was cool that the three of us could just sit down with a camera and cut through all the bullshit.


Where does your aesthetic come from?


The both of us really just sit down and bounce ideas off each other. Sometimes it will just be us cutting jokes about some funny shit we just saw or heard and then from there it kind of takes off and snow balls into something else. By the end we either have something that really works or we don’t.


Are there any other skaters that you guys are looking forward to working with?


We’re just going to start with this series and see where it goes. I hope we can do another season. We’d love to branch out and work with guys like John Cardiel, Julian Stranger, and Tommy Guerrero. We want all the wild men. But for right now, were trying to focus on the Vans family.


I think a company like Vans has permeated itself in every aspect of skating, music and art they’ve kinda messaged themselves as being a lot broader. Hopefully, the future will allow us to branch out to musicians and artists.


Once you guys got involved, what was the creative process in figuring out what characters or how there going to interact with one another?


We do the interview and I think before we even leave the building, we have an idea of which is the stronger story. From there, we just cut it down and do a rough video cut. We usually spend about two hours watching it and talking shit. We just go back and fourth about how things can be perceived and interpreted. Sometimes will fixate on little stuff and tweak it in a way that ends up being hilarious.


The interviews have helped a lot. All these guys are use to being in front of a camera and talking shit, so its nothing new for them. However, it allows us to get inside their world and come up with stuff thats going to be funny. It really helps us illustrate what their trying to say.


Its a super easy collaborative process between the both of us. We just bounce around ideas until something works.


How do you feel about taking your work more mainstream?


Its weird sometimes. You know we do this thrashy stuff for Vans and then our 9-5 is doing this show for Nickelodeon. Its great, they both kind of afford different opportunities and challenges in trying to tell stories, but we’re definitely here at Nickelodeon taking beer breaks at lunch and blasting death metal during the day.


It's really crazy. I mean, we got a little taste of it with Vans. You see what happens when a company has a marketing team and you feel the full support of your work instead of just throwing it out into the wastelands of YouTube.


The fact that Nickelodeon is such an international world wide company, its kind of bizarre that 12 million people are going to watch the first episode. Its an overwhelming feeling, but nonetheless fun and exciting.


Are there any artists that really inspire you?


One day it will be a bunch of comic book artists like the Hernandez Brothers, and the next it will be some fine art shit. Our buddy Carson Mel's who’s a director has been an inspirational guy, but Its always changing for the both of us.

What does the future have in store for the both of you?


Well, were just getting into the first round of production with our Nickelodeon show and the first episode which should be out by the end of next year. Hopefully, will be able to work with Vans on another season of ‘Classic Tales’, but besides that its just pushing forward and doing as much work as possible.