Forest Bailey’s Interview from our September Issue

His parents were hippies. They followed the Grateful Dead for a while, sometimes with kids in tow. Yep, Forest saw Jerry Garcia perform. He was four maybe five. He’s seen Furthur a bunch of times since. He loves the music. But, the scene…Well…

“It’s definitely a weird scene,” he says. “It became a lot of my friends’ lives. I’d say half the people I grew up with are just making money to go on tour or just making money on tour. Some of them ended up becoming really fucked up.”

I ask if he thinks he could’ve ended up down that road? On Tour? On that Bus? “Um…” he thinks. “No. I just always had skateboarding and snowboarding.”

That’s what kept him occupied, active, and never partying too hard. And, yeah, it’d be easy to assume that a kid like him, who grows up around Dead Heads, leaves home at 17, drops out of high school and travels the world, might be prone to partying. But, that’s not Forest.

“I mean, yeah, my life is a party,” he says. “I’m just not that into partying. It’s just not good, like, over doing it. It’s just not good for your body. You gotta take care of your body. It’s all you got.”

Forest Bailey’s hand. Lights out… PHOTO: Bob Plumb.

How old is this kid? Clearly old enough to know better. Because, well, he’s seen what hard partying can do. Knows how it can wreck the body and mind. He’d rather take his beating on the mountain or mini-ramp. And when you think about it, the two paths— following the dead and following snowboarding—aren’t all that different. Both are escapes. There’s a tribe. They travel. And everyone is really just looking for fun, friendship, and some inspiration.

“Yeah,” says Forest. “And my Dad always uses that analogy; how snowboarding is similar to when he was on the Dead Tour, just traveling to places with no idea what to expect, and just ending up making new friends and seeing people that you’ve known since you were a kid.”

Like what we do as snowboarders.

“Yeah, they’re actually really similar,” says Forest, now pausing again…“There’s happiness and darkness in both. You gotta just always try to see the happiness. See the good things. Not really focus on the bad.”

And what do you think the draw is? What is it that brings all these people together? Is it really the music? Or the snowboarding? Why travel all over the world? Why invest all that time, money, and energy into something like snowboarding or music? What are they looking for? What are you looking for?

“Well…I think that’s the question,” says Forest. “Everyone’s looking for something, right? I don’t really know what I’m looking for? Not yet…maybe I’m a little lost.”

And then he’s speechless again for a minute…

“I think it’s just about all the good people you meet,” says Forest. “Once you get fully involved in a community like that, then you feel bad when you don’t stay involved, because you feel like you’re missing out on seeing all those people.”

So, it’s the community.

“Yeah, exactly. It’s the family vibe. It’s true friendship. That’s definitely it man. Snowboarding is just a way to connect with other humans, other humans who like an exciting activity.”

But there’s more to it than that. Forest knows it. He’s thinking about it. Half-gazing out the window. Pausing again, collecting thoughts, then continuing:

“And there’s other reasons too,” he says. “Like…just being able to stay young. It’s just about trying to stay youthful. Being a kid is being happy, so I think that’s a big part of it too. It’s the search for eternal youth. Look at my Dad, he’s one of the most youthful people I know and he’s almost 50.”

Cool parents can be good role models. Forest agrees and continues.

“There’s also the progression aspect of it,” he says. “The drive to keep getting better, doing better, always improving. I’ve just always had a drive to snowboard better, to improve myself, and my skating and everything in my life. I just want to keep moving forward, always be moving forward.”

That’s important. Not everyone sees the value in that. Again, Forest has his parents to thank.

“Yeah, my family instilled it my brain,” he says. “My parents were just so supportive and such good people. They were always down with all three of us, my sisters and me, to do whatever we wanted, and they were fully going to support whatever that may be.”

Like, letting their son move across the country and drop out of high school? Yep, that’s supportive.

Forest is not a model… PHOTO: Bob Plumb.

We’re getting close to Govy. The skies are clearing. Forest is fired up.

“Oh yeah, it’s looking good,” he says. “Its gonna be fun up there.” He loves it up here. Compares Oregon to Vermont. Sees a lot of similarities between the two places and the people. And actually, Hood is where he first lived when he came west. Before he moved to Tahoe he spent the summer lurking around Govy.

“It’s been a crazy five years since then,” he says “Such a whirlwind…Just so much stuff happening.”

Forest came up quick. Dude had his own board after putting out just one video part, the opener in Dump Em Out.

“Ya, Dump Em Out,” he says. “It’s so fun to say, ‘Yeah my first video part was in this video, Dump Em Out.’”

He laughs and goes on to say he only went on two, maybe, three trips to film that part, and he really considers it more of a half-part. But watch the part. It’s on Vimeo. You’ll disagree. There’s no question. It’s a full part. And full of inspired snowboarding. So yeah, after that part dropped, people started taking notice. Not long after, Gnu pressed his name into a board. And the pressures began to mount.

“Yeah, getting that board made me feel so much more pressure,” he says. “That kinda lit a fire under me, like damn, now I have to live up to something. Well…I don’t really care…but, yeah…I guess sometimes…”

Sometimes he thinks about it like that. But he tries not to. He tries to play it cool. But it’s obvious he feels some pressure these days. Things escalated quickly. He’s getting pulled in a lot of different directions now. He’s got more people to please. The game changed and it continues to change. His approach: roll with it and always enjoy the trip.

“I’ve already been catching myself taking it too seriously,” he says. “So yeah, I don’t know, I just gotta chill out and let it happen as it’s gonna happen. Once it starts turning into something that I feel stressed about, it’s not going to happen as well, it’s gonna become a lot harder and I won’t be as happy, so I don’t want it to get to that.”

You can’t not read the end… Head to the next page to wrap it up.