SMLTalk With: Russ Pope

Russ is the perfect blend of natural talent and unrelenting hard work. He is constantly creating and seems to be working tirelessly on any number of projects, seven days a week. And while you might think this would cause him to be a bit of a recluse, hang by the clover bowl at the park downtown and you'll usually find him scratching some coping on his lunch break. An artist, a lover of music, and a certified coffee aficionado..but above all, skate rat. This is our interview with Russ Pope.

Alright Russ, thanks for doing this. Why don’t we get into the basics a little bit - why don’t you tell us where you grew up and how you became introduced to skateboarding

I grew up in Northern California in a town called Salinas, it's right next to Monterey. I lived There until high school when I moved to Los Osos in Central CA. After high school, I moved to Santa Cruz, CA. My dad made me my first skateboard when I was 5, that was my intro... when I was in grade school I'd look at Skateboarder magazines at the grocery store (just look, couldn't afford them) that was kind of my window into what was being done on skateboards when I was a kid. By junior high and high school we had ramps and were traveling to spots.

You rode for a company back in the day called Small Room skateboards. Was this your first sponsor? Were you able to contribute any graphics for the brand?

It was my second sponsor, and one of my most favorite. I did contribute a couple drawings that would become logos and helped with a shape or two.

Was skateboarding something you wanted to pursue as a career? Were you ever wary of making it into a job?

I wanted to ride my skateboard as much as I could. I also wanted to talk about and creatively work on skateboarding products as much as possible. I was never wary, no.

When did art enter the picture? Was this something you were doing prior to skateboarding or did you start drawing after you had begun skating?

I had a kindergarten teacher that told my mother I was a great artist, haha. She handed her a drawing of a rabbit I'd done and made a point of it, I'm sure she did the same with all of the kids and their parents. I listened and believed her though.  Pretty funny now to think back on it. I started skateboarding and making art about the same time and haven't stopped either since.

Do you have any formal training? Was art school something you pursued alongside skating?

I applied to and was accepted into art school but didn't have the money for it.  I went to college at night while I was working at NHS and worked at a Fine Arts degree.

How did you transition from Small Room to SMA? What was being the brand manager over there like? Did you have the opportunity to do any art for them?

I moved to Santa Cruz with my girlfriend (now my wife) to go to school and work for NHS who distributed SMA. When the team/brand manager of SMA left to start Consolidated, they offered the position to me.  I didn't make any art for anything at SMA, hey had an art department that did all of that. I shot photos, filmed and edited videos, chose and managed the team, created concepts for ad layouts, catalogs, trade shows.... lots of multitasking. My team and era at SMA was Jason Adams, Tim Brauch, Ron Whaley, Israel Forbes, Paul Sharpe, Joey Suriel, Justin Strubing, etc.....

After SMA, you started up Creature. Given skateboarding’s relatively small size, what was it like starting a brand back then? Who were the original team riders?

Skateboarding was pretty big actually, there were less brands and the brands that were around produced and sold a lot more then than today, talking basic hard goods, decks and wheels. When we started adding apparel and footwear that's when things got really big and got us to where we are today. When I started Creature, it was at a sorta stale time in skateboarding and the look/feel and range of products, even distribution that I set up for it was really forward at the time.

Scarecrow was the sister company to Creature right? How long after Creature did that company come about and what was your thought process behind that move?

I left Creature which I had started at/through NHS, took the team and started Scarecrow on my own with a partner and a small business loan. Creature was shut down shortly after and restarted by NHS years later. I learned a ton on someone else's dime with Creature and then even more on my own dime with Scarecrow.

Wasn’t starting all these companies tiring? How much skating were you able to do around this time?

It was tiring for sure, I loved it though, and I skated at least 6 days a week. It never effected my desire to ride my skateboard and I always made time to go ride.

What was your inspiration behind Creature? What were you looking to achieve with the aesthetic of the company and the riders that skated for the brand?

I was always super into the old horror film movies, the original Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, etc. I wanted to start a company based on the aesthetics of the old poster art for those films. Pantone spot colors, hand drawn letters, etc. The riders were my friends and skateboarders who I appreciated what they did on skateboards most.

What led to the demise of Creature? Were you approached at all when the brand came back? What are your thoughts on the Creature of today?

Difference of opinions with the Senior manager and owner of NHS, silly stuff really.  Yes I was consulted and asked for my blessing on bringing it back. Creature is way more "hesh", and not really about the old horror genre stuff it was started on. That's not a bad thing, to answer your question. I'm glad it's around and that a crew of dudes are employed because of it.

Fast forward some time and you’ve created Transportation Unit. Whats T.U all about and when did the company begin?

I started T.U. 6 or so years ago. I'd been asked a few times to start new projects by/with owners of distribution companies and wanted to start something small, but I wanted to do and manage it on my own with no partners. I wanted to make art and put that art on things my friends that skated used and then share them.

You also moved out from California for work with Converse. What’s your role at Converse? Has it been tough balancing TU and your full time gig there?

I run the global skate program for Converse. It's a busy life, art career, skate company, Converse.... I work 7 days a week and till late most nights. I start a second shift after dinner most nights. I move to my studio and make art. I pay a good friend to warehouse, sell and customer serve T.U.

Alright, let's take it down a bit and get into the "Lightning Round": 

Best Thing About Moving to New England: It's fucking beautiful, man.

Worst Thing About Moving to New England: I don't have 1/10th the skate options I did in CA.

Favorite Book: Travels With Charlie by John Steinbeck

Favorite Band: The Clash

Favorite Skateboarder (all time): The Gonz

Favorite Cereal: Frosted Mini Wheats

Favorite city you’ve been to: Milan or Tokyo

Worst Trend: Walking your skateboard

Alright, you survived the lightning round - let’s talk art - What artists did you look up to when you were younger? Was there any styles or artists you were drawn to outside of skateboarding?

I loved Dr. Seuss and Picasso when I was young and still do today.  Most of the art and artists I was and am drawn to are outside of skateboarding... Jules De Balincourt, Jason Jagel, Ralph Steadman, Pettibon, Saul Steinberg, Hockney, Neil Blender,  Zio Ziegler, Marco Zamora, Nathaniel Russell, Chris Johanson...  Some of those artists live near or are in the skate/surf zone, but all are accomplished outside as well and I'm lucky enough to call a chunk of them friends.

You have a lot of different caricatures of everyday people and everyday routines - are these characters based on real people? Are they people you know personally or just see out in the world?

Sometime they're people I know, more often they aren't. It's all social commentary. It's my visual diary, really. Things I've seen or heard, reportings if you will. Sometimes they're fabricated to tell a story or convey certain feelings. Most commonly though, they are my life in pictures.

You’ve said music has played an important role in your life and in your art. What are some of your other favorite bands and which would you say are the most important to you personally?

I listen to a pretty eclectic selection of music.  Some favorites though, not in order and not a complete list would be:

The Clash, Johnny Cash, High On Fire, Witch, Slayer, Lots of old Brazilian vinyl, Yma Sumac, The Cramps, B.A.D, The Damned, New York Dolls, The Ramones, The Cars first albums, The Pretenders first album, ZZ Top's first two albums, old Jazz (long list) Miles, Monk... ,Solid old blues like Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly. Silly shit like the Blues Brothers and George Thorogood and the Destroyers, old Hawaiian music on vinyl, crazy old movie soundtracks on vinyl, NWA, Public Enemy, Hawkwind, Motörhead, Slayer, Marley, Peter Tosh, The Grateful Dead, The Growlers, Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr., I could keep going...

Serious Art Question Alert: In your opinion, is there a difference between high art and “skate art”? Do you think that what’s on the bottom of a skateboard has a deeper, artistic value or is it just a commodity to be bought and sold?

Hmmm. I think the commoditization isn't the determining factor. I think most art is for sale. A skateboard has a low cost of entry and a Miro, a high cost. I think that maybe it's in the artists intention? There are graphic designers who make designs and are made to be produced in quantity and sold. That I think is different than making art for the sake of art, for storytelling etc. Sometimes art is made, and at a later date can find it's way into production as a print or purchased and made into something printable to be applied to a skateboard or a T Shirt. I do think that is different than something that was discussed in a meeting by many people, made into a line plan or a brief designed to net commercial success and then handed to a graphic artist to be produced. That doesn't mean it can't be neat to look at or can't make someone happy. I think it's different though.

I was just looking at your website and you have done a fucking ton of art shows. Is presenting your work at a gallery something that you enjoy doing?

I dig art shows, yeah. They're fun to work for/towards. It's nice to make a body of work over an extended period of time and share it with people. It usually means travel, fresh conversations, and new or reuniting with old friends. Similar to skateboarding, they've given me extended family and friends all over the world.

"That doesn't mean it can't be neat to look at or            can't make someone happy"

You and I share a real burning love for coffee. What’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had? Do you ever drink Dunkin' Donuts or do you always spring for some artisan shit?

No Dunks dawg, not because I'm above it, I just think it tastes gross.  I make coffee at home and have lots of favorites around the greater Boston zone. Some stand out coffee shops with great coffee throughout the globe: Good Coffee Good People in Tokyo, Paddlers Coffee in Tokyo, any cappuccino or espresso in Milan, Tandem Coffee in Portland, ME. Locally, I go to Loyal Nine in Cambridge, Barrismo in Arlington, Haute in Concord, Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, Thinking Cup in Back Bay Boston and Three Little Figs in Somerville. Some of my favorite roasters: I love ACE coffee from a small roaster friend of mine in NY, George Howell, I really like Stumptown coffee, Tandem..... probably more than you wanted here.

Speaking of coffee - could you enlighten me and some others on what the Thursdayman is all about? Where does that name come from?

Thursday is cool man, it's the day before Friday. The Thursdayman is where I share drawings on apparel, postcards, make books and zines, pins, prints, pencils, etc. I sell that stuff directly to customers all over the world and through a handful of higher end retailers, galleries, and independent bookstores in the US, UK, Japan, and Italy. It's small but consistent. 

Which Collins brother do you like more, Rob or Paul? (Be honest)

I love 'em both, Small Paul and not as small but still kinda little Rob.  They are good humans.

Follow up Collins question - if Paul and Rob got into a fight who would you put your money on to win?

Paul. Sorry Rob.

Natas said that style is an extension of someone’s personality. To borrow from Chromeball - how would you define the word “style”?

Cardiel, Scott Oster, Gonz, Blender, Jason Jessee, Steve Bailey. More current style offerings, Greyson, Raney Kevin Rodrigues, Pontus, Ronnie Sandoval, Stink. I could add more, these dudes are style. Total style.

Thank you’s/Shout Out’s?

All the dudes in the T.U. crew, they are a loyal, supportive, productive, creative group of ripping skateboard homies. I shout out Japan (the whole country) for the love and support, homies in Milan, all of the great people who give a crap about what I do and offer their love and support. Most important shout outs go to my family Jennifer, Blaize and Lorna. Love you, Mom.

We want to thank Russ for taking his time to do this interview with us, as well as Rob Collins for setting it up. Be sure to take some time and go check out all of Russ' work at http://www.russpope.com/ and be sure to follow his Instagram here. Thanks Russ!

SMLTalk With: Abe Dubin

The Fancy Lad guys have always had a certain something about them. From their trick selection, to their always entertaining videos. We had Milwaukee transplant and friend of the site, Chris Botsch, chat with old friend Abe "Orange Man" Dubin about everything from his choice of clothing, to his new part debuting on the site. Thanks to Abe and Chris for getting the interview together, and Mike Decker for the video. Enjoy.

Mr. Abe Dubin

Mr. Abe Dubin

Whats up?

What’s good brotherrrr!

Let’s just start out with this – Why orange? Let us in on the origins of “ The Orange Man”

Where we grew up, South Shore Massachusetts, Route 53 is a long stretch of strip malls and car dealerships. Nestled between an ice cream shop and a Toyota dealership is a yellow house with two yellow trucks in the driveway. The rest of the yard is filled with yellow decorations including a yellow crucifix. This is Yellow Man’s home. Yellow Man is an eccentric, energetic, older man with long flowing white hair and long white beard who dons all yellow clothing. He can be found collecting cans along the auto-mile, riding his bike, driving his yellow pick-up, chatting with passersby or dancing on the side of the road.  He speaks in jokes and poetry.  He is goofy, witty and consistently a ray of sunshine. Coincidently, as if my some kind of mystical divine intervention, a man known as Red Man, paces the same auto-mile, passing by Yellow Man’s house on his daily march.  Red Man is a wide, barrel-chested man, who wears red sweatpants and a red crew neck sweatshirt.  His face is red and weathered from enduring the elements everyday of the harsh and unpredictable New England weather.  He suspects that he is under constant surveillance and suspects everyone of being one of the “Satellite People”.  Yellow Man represents the creative spirit, pure joy and the lust of life that we all have.  He is exuberant, fun and full of love, whereas Red Man represents rugged individualism and survival.  He is weary of modern culture and is a freedom fighter in a suburban wasteland. These men are both my heroes.

I’ve known you for over 10 years now- “pre-orange” if you will. When did you start skating and who were some of your early influences?

I started skating like most kids, around age 7, with a banana board from the local used sports store.  I had other interests, and skateboarding waned from my extra curricular activities until I was 14.  My little brother, Isaac, and all my neighbors suddenly were skating everyday out on the street.  They had “real” boards and were learning tricks that I didn’t even know existed. I could still ride and push so I got a board and joined them. I finally understood why my brother and our friends would try, without success, for hours to accomplish one trick.  The struggle of skating- overcoming fear and physical limitations, became the most fulfilling thing I’d ever experienced, and I’ve never stopped since then. The first videos I ever saw were The Search For Animal Chin and Welcome to Hell. I watched a lot of SK8-TV too, so the eighties and early nineties skaters had a huge impact on me.  The whole presentation, goofy tricks, wild fashion and the sense of humor all felt so relatable and free.  

Real quick. Gimme your top 5 favorite skaters from the South Shore.

Zacher with the unique moves, improvisational genius and unemulatable collapsible body bending.  Dave Darling with the unmatchable fury and massive bonelesses. Mike Decker with the diehard passion and ability to learn any trick he wanted, no matter how long it took. Chris Roe with the giant pop and beautiful sway of his switch-looking style. You, Chris Botsch, for the tech wizardry, infinite balance and spontaneous and fun-loving attitude.  

Aw, you’re too sweet. I recall you having a pretty heavy Alien Workshop/Habitat vibe going on as a teen. Other than FL, what are some companies that you’re into in 2017?                                                                                                                                                                                           
Nowadays there are a lot of small brands with a lot of creative influence.  I really enjoy the Polar videos, the art direction and spots are always a treat.  I’ve always been a big fan of Traffic Skateboards, all of those OG and younger east coast guys charging through the streets and powering through the crustiest spots. I Really admire the Japanese skaters involved with Magenta and Heroin. Takahiro Morito, Gou Miyagi and The Osaka Daggers are some of the most inspirational skaters to me.  Their uninhibited creativity and individuality is something you can’t get in the states.  

As far as Fancy Lad goes, how did you meet Big and get involved with the company?

I met Big, and the other Fancy Lads long before Fancy Lad existed, through my friend Mike Lindquist. We went to art school together and lived in the same dorms. We realized that each other skated, and soon were chilling in his dorm room, eating cheese balls, watching Tim and Eric (the show) on YouTube…and doing other illicit (but now legal) things that college students do. One day in 2011, in the middle of winter, Big told us he was starting a board company and that we were all the team riders.

Any good Fiske stories?

Any time spent with Fiske is a trip. I live with the guy now, so I’m a little desensitized to his unique worldview and often bizarre behavior.

Is there any process you have for your tricks? Is it more of a spur of the moment kind of thing (free form jazz style), or do you make a list of tricks you want to do?

Rather than write out a trick list, I often draw up detailed diagrams of the boards I want to build. They are like cartoon blueprints, labeling the specific supplies and tools necessary to create it. Sometimes I make comic strips, or dance step maps to wrap my head around how to execute the trick. I take pictures of spots on my flip phone and collect them as a spot rolodex. Other times, I head out with just my cruiser board and try to skate somewhere I’ve never been before. Cruising down a street for the first time ever, adapting to the cracks, carving little banks and negotiating any other obstacles in your way, as you see them for the very first time. That to me is true skateboarding. Like surfing, that immediate reaction to your environment and how you move through it, using what you’ve learned and what your body knows.  

"How about 'Humpy Dumpty sat on a Wallie' ?" - A.D

"How about 'Humpy Dumpty sat on a Wallie' ?" - A.D

If you could put anyone on the FL team, who would it be?

Hands down, Branden Leonardo, AKA Gnardo! If you haven’t seen his parts in Vic’s Market and Vic’s Market 2, you really need to treat yourself. The man is a genius.  Definitely my favorite skater.  He’s come to visit us from Washington twice now and he’s the best!

Do you feel as though Fancy Lad is shunned at all by the mainstream media of skateboarding?

I think that Fancy Lad is not exactly, commercially viable.  Fancy Lad, although it is a board company, is very different from almost every other capitalistic entity. The way that we skate and perform is meant to suggest that you can be whatever you want and whoever you want to be. I think most products are sold using tactics of coercion, i.e. “you need us to better a better you”.  We don’t follow the rules, and in every business and industry, there are rules.

When it comes to your skating, how do you take criticism? Is that something you like to read into, or no?

I love getting feedback. Positive feedback tickles my ego, but it’s the negative comments I am much more entertained by. Constructive, or not so constructive criticism can help me learn more about what it is that I’m doing, and what the audience’s expectations are. I try not to let either side go to my head. I’m very open to people’s critique if there is an open dialogue and a thoughtful conversation taking place. None of us can do anything alone, we need suggestions and helpful hints from the people we respect, strangers and the haters!

I know you have a background in illustration, so when it comes to creating boards- Is that something you like to draw out first, or do you just start drilling? For instance, with the wallride that was made of boards. Is that something you knew you wanted to do, or did you just happen to have a trunk full of old boards that day?

Right, so many of my tricks are drawn out beforehand, including the wall ride on boards. Drawing has always helped me envision things more clearly, especially with skateboarding. As complicated as it tends to be, making a visual representation really helps me in meditating on the tricks and bringing it to reality. The drawing is the first step in bringing the idea from the imagination to the physical realm.  

I don’t want you to let the cat out of the bag or anything, but is there a dream clip for you?

Every trick that I want to do starts as a dream, and so many of them have come true.  A lot of times I’m brainstorming or thinking about tricks, or special skateboards that intrigue me - suddenly I’ll think, “What if you could somehow…” From that moment I want the trick to happen. I’ll think about it all day, draw diagrams, find the perfect spot, gather the supplies with which to build it, choose a dope outfit to film it in, etc.. I treat nearly all of my tricks as my most important work.

You received the second pro model for FL this past year- How has your life changed since that fateful day?

Haha yeah… honestly I’m not sure how many people are aware that this pro model exists…or that Fancy Lad Skateboards exists for that matter. Someone asked me the other day, “You guys make boards?” What has happened since I got a pro board, well, it’s still kind of a shock. It is something I never ever expected or thought I could ever have. As a kid, I never even bothered dreaming about it. The fact that people are psyched enough for the board to exist is an honor. Having a board with my name on it, and for a company with all of my best friends, that is such an amazing honor.  Obviously I’m not your Street League contender pro, but the idea of what “pro skateboarder” means needs a serious make over.  

Abe's very appropriately designed board for Fancy Lad

Abe's very appropriately designed board for Fancy Lad

You once skated Eggs in a dress. What are some of the pro’s and con’s of skating in a dress?

Skating in a dress is not only a fashion “hell yeah”, it is extremely comfortable! It’s like skating in shorts, but three times as much breathability! Obviously, you have a lot less protection from your board hitting you, or falling on the ground and getting all scraped up.  

So how did this part come about? I know you grew up with Deck (Mike Decker), so did he approach you to film this part?

Yeah, I grew up skating with Mike Decker. We lived across the street from each other for about 12 years.  Mike has always been killing it on the streets, filming and editing our videos since we were little. He now does animation professionally and asked me to do a “day in the life” style edit, using my drawings as animated characters that inhabit the world of my imagination.  

You once told me that "walking is for suckers", and it's stuck with me to this day. How did you stumble upon this conclusion?                                                                                                           
I went to college in the city, and I quickly learned that walking, although great for you in so many ways, is such a slow way to get around. I had always skated around the city, but discovering biking, and the time it saves, the exercise you get, and the fun you have- there is just no substitute. Especially as skaters, we might as well use the skills that we've been practicing our entire lives. Skate to the store, or work- it’s so much efficient and fun. Realistically, riding any kind of self-propelled vehicle is going to be so much faster and easier on your ankles! You gotta coast through life!

What’s next for Abe “Orange Man” Dubin? Is there a new fancy lad video in the works?

I’m always thinking of my next trick, and tricks add up. We’re all currently trying to bust out another Fancy Lad full length video, set to premiere at the end of spring. I hope you can make it brother! I hope you can all make it.   

SMLTalk With: Mike Rusczyk (Part I)

 

In Part 1 Mike talks about how he went from skating in the midwest, Chicago, Acme, Adrenaline, and some stories from road trips with Gareth Stehr and the rest of the Foundation team.

Some key things referenced:

Cleon Peterson

The Acme Video

Jesse Newhouse

Raw footage, Chicago circa mid 90s

 

Photos with captions by Mike

1990, the 2nd of August One foot backside grab - The night the first Iraq war started, skated this spot and went home, my mom was freaking out as George Bush senior declared war on Saddam Hussein

1990, the 2nd of August

One foot backside grab - The night the first Iraq war started, skated this spot and went home, my mom was freaking out as George Bush senior declared war on Saddam Hussein

1989, Scottsdale Arizona Scotty Copalman, his brother Joe and I in their driveway. Scotty was on Blind flow at this time, first time I was exposed to sponsors rippers. Scotty was so sick, he re surfaced on the first Zero lineup

1989, Scottsdale Arizona

Scotty Copalman, his brother Joe and I in their driveway. Scotty was on Blind flow at this time, first time I was exposed to sponsors rippers. Scotty was so sick, he re surfaced on the first Zero lineup

1998, First Slap photo / first Brian Gaberman photo - Slap Magazine center spread

1998, First Slap photo / first Brian Gaberman photo - Slap Magazine center spread

1999, Front Lipslide - Introducing - First Foundation ad Photo: Sean Dolinsky

1999, Front Lipslide - Introducing - First Foundation ad Photo: Sean Dolinsky

2000, Slap Alaska trip - Judd Hertzler - Joe Brook - Tony Cox - Jerry Hsu

2000, Slap Alaska trip - Judd Hertzler - Joe Brook - Tony Cox - Jerry Hsu

2000, Slap Alaska trip - Random photo of photo taking

2000, Slap Alaska trip - Random photo of photo taking

2000, Tail Stall - Slap Alaska trip - Photo: Joe Brook

2000, Tail Stall - Slap Alaska trip - Photo: Joe Brook

Stay tuned for Part II

 

SMLTalk with: Tim Olson

With a million different brands popping up and consuming the skate world, its nearly impossible to keep up with every single one. The Friend Ship, based out of Milwaukee, WI, has built an impressive following while also shining a light on a relatively unknown skate scene. We chatted with founder Tim Olson to find out more about his beloved Milwaukee and what it takes to make a unique mark in the industry.

Young tim

Young tim

Alright, Tim - why don’t you tell us where you’re from originally and when did you first begin life as as a skateboarder?

I was born here in Milwaukee. Been here most of my life, with the exception of a few years in Madison, Wisconsin and a year in Tampa. My life as a skateboarder began in 1986. This kid Neal was skateboarding outside of our middle school. I was a freestyle BMX kid. You know, like flatground crap, and he hippy jumped my bike. I was tripping out and that was it. Neal and I became good friends after that and grew up skating together. We are still good friends to this day, some 30 years later. Pretty crazy.

What was the first skate video you ever saw? What other videos did you grow up on?

I think I saw the Bones Brigade Video Show in passing at some kid’s house, but Animal Chin was the first one that I really remember having an impact on me. After that, it was the H-Street videos and then, of course, Video Days and Questionable. But I think of all videos of all time, Eastern Exposure 3 really influenced me the most. Barley, Reese and Ricky were the best, and that kind of skating really resonated with me. I was never really good at flipping my board, so wallies and smith grinds and all that was what I wanted to do. These days I don’t watch much. Maybe just the “must see” types of videos like Propeller and Away Days. There’s just too much to keep up with.

Outside of Greg Lutzka having grown up there, I know very little about the Milwaukee skate scene. How would you describe your scene? What outside scenes/videos resonate the best with skateboarding in Milwaukee?

The scene is strong. Lots of skaters. Pretty cliquey, but what city isn’t? There’s a few really good dudes, too. We have a great d.i.y. and a few good parks here. Of course winter sucks, but there’s some indoor spots and parks to hit up. Summer in Milwaukee is the best, though. More skateboarders need to come through and check it out. As far as other scenes/videos, I’d say any scene that has to deal with winter, the crusty spots winter creates and the blazing hot summers, those would be the scenes that would resonate with Milwaukee.

Also - have you ever met the Lutzka? Was he able to turn left at all?

Yeah, totally met Lutz. Went to his house in California. Had some shots of Cuervo. Dude is really nice. Some wacky sponsors, but if some of those people came knocking at my door, I’d do the same thing.

How did The Friend Ship start? Who all runs the company’s day to day operations and who makes up the team currently? Are you doing The Friend Ship full time?

Oh man. The Friend Ship started as an idea for a sister company to Roger. The money wasn’t there, so the idea got scrapped. Thankfully, instagram came along and saved the idea. I posted a photo of some graphics or something and David Ritchie (owner of Surprise skateboards) saw it and said “why don’t we just do it?” So we did. And here we are. I run the day to day and David does all the production when it’s time for that. He also deals with all the shipping and team boxes, too. I give a lot of dudes boards. I’m not sure if we have a “team”, it’s more of just a bunch of guys that should probably be getting boards for one reason or another. I give free skateboards to Dan Corrigan, Cyril Palmer, Chris Harris, T.J. Bohach, Nick Sommer, Ben Hess, Chris Luhring, Ethan Sontag, Chris Botsch, John Benton, Sergio Santoro, John McGuire, Sean Hanley and Travis Harrison. We also have a pro. Jimmy Carlin. He’s the best dude.

You seem to be constantly filming the team, updating the instagram, pushing new product - when do you find time to skate? How often do you get to go skating for fun?

It’s tough. If I want to skate, I have to leave the camera in the car. Most of my personal skating happens at our d.i.y. If we are at a fun curb spot or something, I’ll make it a point to push around for a while. But now my focus is filming these dudes and getting the spotlight on them as much as I can or as much as they want. It’s kind of like having a kid, you stop living for yourself and start living to take care of it. That’s how having a skateboard company feels, too. I want it to grow, be good and have people like it as much as I do. Which is a lot.

With so many brands popping up, what inspired you to start your own? What separates The Friend Ship from other brands in the industry?

Anyone that decides to start a skateboard company now-a-days is absolutely nuts. There’s so many brands and differentiating yourself from them all is tricky. It’s super easy to fall into the trends and be influenced by all this rad stuff coming out, so I try super hard not to pay attention. I also try to keep things light and mostly positive. There’s so much bad shit in the world, why would anyone want to add more?

Where did the name come from?

That’s kind of a long story. I guess it was just coming to realize that no matter what, your skateboard is always there when you need it. After everyone else is gone, it’s still there.

One thing I really like about your brand is how varied the team is with their skating, I mean some of those dudes are really out there - What do you look for when you’re thinking about flowing somebody boards or considering putting them on the team?

This is a good question. There’s so many variables in skating these days. Everyone skates so differently. I guess when you’re trying to promote your company, you look for guys that you think would be a good fit and would help sell skateboards. It seems like people want to see something different these days, and pretty much every dude I give boards to has something different to offer. Also, you have to be a nice person. That’s almost as important as how good or bad or different you are at skating. All of the guys I give boards to have something special about them. They aren’t trick robots out to one up anyone or win the big tournament.

How did Jimmy Carlin end up with you guys after Enjoi?

Jimmy was referred to us by a good friend. He just seemed to fit with what we are doing over here.

Ok let’s talk about our boy Chris Botsch - I mean he’s been out there for less than a year and it seems like he’s taken your instagram account by storm. How did you meet Chris? Do you know if he’s lost his virginity yet? What’s something you feel that people should know about Cbotsch?

I met Chris at the d.i.y. He was stunting about and looked like he was having a good time, so I hit him up to go skate. Little did I know he lives 4 blocks from me so we ended up skating together a bunch. I’m not sure which virginity you’re referring to, but maybe? He has a girlfriend, so probably? I never assume anything. Anyway, he’s a footage machine, so of course he’s going to be all over our gram. Dude has a pretty crazy bag of tricks, too. If there’s one thing people should know about Chris, it’s that he loves Massachusetts. Lots of hometown pride.

On a scale from Jim Greco to the Gonz, how mobbed is Cbotsch’s kickflip?

If Gonz and Greco had a kid, and that kid grew up to kickflip, Chris would be that kid.

You two are apparently filming a part...when can we expect this part to drop? What’s filming a part with Cbotsch like? How badly do you hate his green hair?

He always has that green hair covered up with some hat, so I only kinda love it. I don’t think we are filming a part. Everything he does goes straight to the gram. But filming with him is great. He’s always trying something new. Did you see the fakie Titanic? Wow.

When it comes to filming a part in general, do you ever push people try different things or do you just let them film what they want? Do you ever suggest tricks or spots for certain people you’re filming?

I’m all about letting the dudes do what they like. Sometimes, I will suggest an idea or a spot if I think it’s within their abilities or it fits their personality. But I like to lets the dudes express themselves. I have been known to skoach to the point of being annoying though.

Let’s talk about Wisconsin for a minute. Give me your favorite Wisconsin brewed beers.

Coors light, Coors light and Coors light.

In your opinion, who are the top three skateboarders from Wisconsin?

So many good dudes came out of Wisconsin. Best 3? Currently? Hmm. Max Murphy is amazing. He’s always been so good. I know it may seem biased, but Ben Hess is gnarly. I’d say him even if he didn’t skate for me. And who else? Uh, I’m just gonna say some random dude that I never heard of is the best. There’s always one of those.

Have you ever been to the Wisconsin Dells? Why are there so many waterparks?

Yeah, I’ve been there! It’s incredibly dumb and awesome. A giant tourist trap. If you’re ever in Wisconsin, you have to go. It’s a moral imperative. And why so many waterparks? Because they rule, that’s why.

How important is cheese in your everyday life?

I’d give it a medium priority level. If I’m eating a burger, it goes to defcon 5.

Ok, back to skateboarding stuff. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own brand? What are the pro’s and cons of running your own company?

Don’t. Or just wait until we all disappear first. There needs to be a huge industry purge soon. It’s just too much. I’ve predicted that if trends continue, that by 2020, every skateboarder will own their own company, thus collapsing the infrastructure of the skate industry and the only companies left standing will be hardware and wax companies. So maybe start a wax company?
The good things about owning a company far outweigh the bad. You get free boards, you can put whatever you want on the bottom of a board, you don’t have to punch a clock, everyday is Saturday and you are doing what you love. The bad? Having art block, jealous people, kicking riders off the team, sponsor me DM’s, hassling riders for photos and footage and sometimes doing what you love makes you hate what you love a little. But that doesn’t last long.

Layback air photo: dane Haman

Layback air photo: dane Haman

How do you feel about the state of skateboarding today? What would you like to see more of/tired of seeing so much of?

Skateboarding is great. It always has been and always will be. I’d like to see more companies getting along and doing things together. Less pointless beefs and segregation. I’d like to see more kids out there inventing new ways to skate and pushing the envelope of what is possible. Trends come and go, but as long as there’s a board under their feet, it really doesn’t matter what kind of hat they are wearing or if they are skating a curb or a mega ramp.

Where do you see the Friend Ship in the near future? Is there a full length video in the works? A Thrasher feature maybe? How do you plan on growing the brand in the next couple of years?

We haven’t made plans for a video. No features. Just skating, making skateboards and hopefully doing things right and pushing the brand in the right direction. It’s a slow process, but anything worthwhile takes time and patience to grow. I love skateboarding with all of my heart and I’d like to contribute something good and positive to our world.

Thank you’s/Shout Out’s?

Sure. First and foremost, thanks to David Ritchie for making dreams come true. A huge thanks to Steve Green with everything at the beginning. Thanks to all the shops and distributors worldwide that have carried us. You guys rule. Anyone that took a chance on us and bought a board from one of those shops; thank you. All the artists and companies that have contributed to us or that we have worked with; thank you. Thanks to all the followers on Instagram. Your likes are appreciated. Thanks to Nate and Trina Joski for housing me while I’m out in L.A. To all my team dudes; I love you guys. Thanks for being you. And last but not least, thanks to my better half; Cara Corder, for being there always.

SMLTalk with: Michael Sieben

Backside Stinkpick photo: SHAUN MEFFORD

Backside Stinkpick photo: SHAUN MEFFORD

Very Important: What’s your favorite cereal?

I hope this isn’t a deal breaker but I rarely eat cereal. I pretty much just chug black coffee until lunchtime every day.

Let’s get this very basic question out of the way: where are you from originally and when did you first pick up a skateboard?

I was born in Kansas City, MO, and moved to Seguin, TX, the day after my sixth birthday. I started skating in ’87 when I was 12 years old. I went from Freestylin’ to Thrasher and never looked back.

What were some of the skate videos you grew up on that inspired you when you were younger?

As a little dude, The Search for Animal Chin, Speed Freaks, Wheels of Fire and Streets on Fire—those were the only videos that me and my friends had. As a teenager and into my early twenties, I had Stereo’s A Visual Sound and Mad Circle’s Let The Horns Blow on steady repeat. Mike Daher’s part in A Visual Sound is still my favorite video part. Hokus Pokus definitely tripped me out too.

When did art come into the picture? It seems like a lot of your art is inspired by 80’s-era graphics. Was this era your first artistic inspiration or did you find art through a different channel?

I’ve been into drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator and I tried to draw like Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry and others. But as soon as I stepped foot into my first skateshop, Zulu’s in San Antonio, TX, I was totally consumed with skate graphics and skate culture. This was the golden age of Pushead, VCJ and Jim Phillips and the board wall was full of bones, guts and gore. As a 12-year-old kid, there couldn’t have been anything more awesome as far as I was concerned. As I got older I tried to mash my two main interests, children’s book illustration and ‘80s skate graphics, into one cohesive style.

Why have you never moved to LA or New York for your artistic or skateboarding-based pursuits? Do you feel like you could have done more in either world outside of Austin or have you been able to manage these worlds outside of their respective hubs?

Occasionally I wonder if my career would have been different if I’d pulled the trigger and escaped Texas. But I just never felt the impetus to move someplace with a more-established art or skate scene. It seemed more pure to stay put and try to shine some light on my scene here in Austin. And luckily, the Internet popped up as I was starting my career, so it was really easy to stay in contact with people outside of Texas and to promote my work beyond my city’s border. For better or worse, I’ve just always been kinda stubborn about leaving Texas.

Has being in Texas ever affected your role at Thrasher? How often do you interact with Phelps/Burnett? Got any good Phelps stories?

Somehow I wiggled my way into the Managing Editor position at Thrasher without ever setting up camp in California, so I don’t think living in Texas has had a negative impact on my relationship with the magazine. If anything, I think it helps give me more of an outsider’s view on skate culture. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I talk to Michael Burnett all the time; we’re in constant contact. Phelps and I talk occasionally. The first time I met Jake he told me that I looked like one of my drawings. That’s probably not a compliment.

The Program has been going strong for a minute now - Tell us about the transition away from Roger and who else is involved in this new company.

Stacy [Lowery] and I ran Roger for five years with varying degrees of success. We never really had the perfect scenario in place for manufacturing and distribution, which is obviously crucial. Jason Celaya [owner of Welcome] approached us about doing something through his new distribution company [also called Welcome] and I was super stoked on the idea. I’d followed Welcome since it started and it was one of my favorite companies. We agreed that Roger would need some kind of re-boot to make it seem new and fresh. Through that discussion I threw out the idea of just doing something completely different. Welcome would have been our fourth distributor for Roger and it seemed like shops were already confused about where to buy our stuff. The Program was born during this time. Stacy and I co-own the company and my buddy Mike Aho is on board to help out with video work.

I noticed a quote at the bottom of one of the boards that read “I made them, yet they conspire against me.” I googled it and all that came up was stuff from the Bible. Do you consider yourself a religious person? What does that quote mean to you?

I’m not religious at all. That quote was from a journal that I found buried in my front yard. It was in the same trunk that all of those haunted puppets were in. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here: http://www.programskates.com/about/

Who all makes up the team for The Program? Any insight into who will have the first pro board?

As of right now: Will Blakley, Max Taylor, Ryan Holloway, Trace Saylor and we just put on two more Austin dudes: Tim Soeung and Zach Farkas. So we’ve got a Vancouver resident and five Texans. We’re not in a huge rush to turn anybody pro. Kinda need the board sales to justify a move like that. We’re still really small.

The Program recently started a new contest called "Pushing with the Program" which aims to hook kids up for a month based on their video submissions. You guys had a similar contest with the Roger of the Month program. Is this a way for you to lock in untapped talent or is it more of a reach out to keep people stoked on what your company is doing? What do you look for when you're looking over these submissions and thinking about giving free product to a kid whose sent you their tape?

Pushin’ with the Program works on a few different levels: it’s a way for us to actively engage with kids instead of just presenting them with stuff to watch, it gives us the opportunity to scout for talent and it’s a way for us to give younger riders a platform to showcase their sponsor-me videos. Previous Roger of the Month winners include Clint Walker, Ryan Spencer, Cole Wilson, Preston Harper and Patrick Franklin, so it’s a proven formula for getting footage in front of other people in the skate industry. As far as what we look for in a video, I personally watch all of them and I just look for skaters who appear to be having fun and look natural on the board. It’s one of those you-know-it-when-you-see-it vibes.

Another one of my favorite companies when I was younger was Bueno. I had heard part of its downfall were some issues with the distributor, Giant. Care to tell us what happened with that? It seemed like you guys really had something going and then it was just gone.

It’s funny how memorable Bueno is for a company that was only fully operational for a little over a year. Stacy and I started Bueno through Giant Distribution in 2005. In 2007, Giant Distribution filed for bankruptcy and went out of business, taking Bueno down with it. We tried to get the name so we could keep the company going, but the powers that be were not willing to hand it over. Stacy and I started Roger a year later just as a side project and a reason to stay in touch with each other. And here we are seven years later, still making stuff and having fun with it. I’m a firm believer that tomorrow outweighs yesterday. You miss out on a lot of cool stuff when you spend all your time looking in the rearview mirror.

The Program is being distributed through Welcome Skateboards. How did that affiliation come about? Do you feel any wariness in going through a larger distributor?

I’ve known Jason Celaya for a few years and always admired what he was doing with Welcome. When he asked Stacy and I if we wanted to team up with him, it was a no-brainer, as far I was concerned. We launched the brand through Welcome last July and so far it’s been the best working relationship I’ve experienced in the skate industry. They run a really tight ship and do everything they say they’re going to do, which is a rarity from what I’ve seen in my ten-plus years dorking around in this microcosm.

How do you feel about graphics in today’s world of skateboarding? Would you like to see more skateboarders design their own graphics? Do the people that ride for your brands ever have a say in what goes on their board?

That’s a tough one; there’s not a lot of Neil Blenders in the world. With Bueno, I was young and didn’t want anybody to tell me what to draw, so Stacy and Shiloh [Greathouse] got whatever I handed them. With Roger, I talked with both Nates [Broussard and LaCoste] and got their input into their graphics. I’ll definitely be consulting The Program riders if and when pro models make an appearance. But back to your first question, I think it really depends on the brand and how the rider’s art would mesh with the direction of the company. Jason Adams doing his own Black Label graphics obviously works really well. But if he rode for DGK, it might look a little weird. I’m an illustrator so my personal preference is for hand-drawn graphics, but I’d never tell a kid what he should be stoked on being on the bottom of his skateboard.

I gotta say, that nosepick you reeled in for this interview is incredible. How often do you get to skate these days? After being in the industry for so long, does the act of skateboarding still have the same appeal as when you started?

I still skate pretty often. My son’s preschool is a few blocks away from House Park in downtown Austin, so I skate there a lot in the mornings. That nosepick photo was a battle. I’d never done a backside nosepick before. I was really hoping to grab behind my knee but I had to take what I could get: stinky but honest. To me, the appeal of skating never changes: it’s just fun to roll around with friends. The industry has no effect on that feeling.

I always loved the Texas skate scene, but what are some other skate scenes that you’re psyched on? How important is it to pay attention to skateboarding not happening in your state or in California?

It’s really difficult to be aware of everything going on in skateboarding, currently, without being plugged into your phone or laptop all day every day. That being said, I’m sure there are pockets that are killing it that I have no knowledge of. To me, the most important thing to pay attention to is what you and your friends are doing. It’s just as important as what anybody else in the world is doing. More so since you’re an active participant as opposed to a viewer. Your scene is the scene.

**Is there any truth to you paying Big from Fancy Lad for the term “Avant-Gnar”?

Hah! If I told Big I was going to pay him then I’m a liar because I never sent him any cash. But yes, he did indeed coin that term and I borrowed it for a write up in Thrasher about The Golden Egg video. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and trip out for seven-and-a-half minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BkCa4VtUMQ

What’s the hardest part about running a company? Would you rather be in the art department working for someone or is there something to be said about working for yourself?

To me, the hardest part of running a skate brand is properly executing the boring stuff: sales, distribution, shipping—crap like that. Luckily, with The Program, the guys at Welcome take care of all the backend stuff and I’m freed up to just work on the fun stuff like graphics and video content. And yeah, it’s obviously way cooler to work for yourself instead of having to answer to somebody. I’m sure I’d make more money if I were to have an in-house art job with a larger board brand, but that would mean executing somebody else’s vision instead of working on my own thing. I’d rather make less money and pursue my own vision than plug into somebody else’s dream.

What are some companies right now that have an art direction you’re psyched on?

I’m still a big fan of Welcome. It’s rad that Todd Francis is doing stuff for Antihero again. I’m psyched to see what Sean Cliver’s brand, Paisley, does. I’m an illustrator, so I’m definitely more drawn, no pun intended, to hand-drawn graphics on boards vs. photos, logos, collages, or type treatments.

You’ve done a tremendous amount of work in the skateboard industry but you have a pretty lengthy resume outside of our little bubble as well. What was your favorite non-skateboard project that you worked on and what was your least favorite?

Favorite: seeing my work animated on Nick Jr. in between cartoons. Least favorite: designing a poster for a beer company and later seeing them put the art on a crappy longboard without consulting me.

Did you attend art school? Is this something you recommend for people seeking careers in the arts? Would you say going/not going helped or hurt your career?

I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Texas at Austin. In hindsight, I probably should have attended an art school and studied illustration and design based on where my career has taken me, but I had no idea what I was doing in my late teens/early twenties. I’d definitely recommend getting a degree if it’s within your means to do so. There’s no such thing as having too much education.

Let’s talk about your home base of Austin, Texas. Though I’ve only been once, it was definitely one of the coolest places I’ve traveled to. I was also lucky enough to skate a couple of the ditches while I was there. What is the best ditch spot in Austin and why?

My favorite ditch in this area is either called C-Tech or C-Fan depending on how old you are. It’s next to a big factory that was named C-Tech back in the ‘80s/early ‘90s but that has since changed names to C-Fan. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Alexandria ditch because there was a good three-year period where it was the only spot I skated. Heavy local vibes.

Name the top-five skateboarders from Texas.

Jeez—heavy task. I’d probably get the boot if I didn’t start with Jeff Phillips. Okay, four more: Raney Beres, Ben Raybourn, Nate Broussard and all the TX dudes that skate for The Program. There’s no way to please everybody, so if you don’t like these answers please write your own list on your phone or computer screen with a Sharpie. You win.

Any current shows/art things you’re working on that you’d like to plug for the masses?

My buddy Travis Millard and I have been doing a bunch of collaborative drawings lately and we just put out a zine compilation of some of them along with some screen prints—all printed by our friends at Industry Print Shop in Austin. You can check that out here if you’re so inclined: http://bigwhoop.bigcartel.com

And lastly, what do you think about the state of skateboarding today? With Street League, televised video parts, talk of the Olympics etc., do you think we’ve gotten away from the core values of skateboarding? Do you think these still exist? Will skateboarding’s current place in mainstream culture last forever?

As long as I can go skate a ditch with my friends, skateboarding seems okay to me. And I honestly believe that no matter how big skateboarding gets there will always be weirdos out there doing it for no other reason than to have fun. I’d have to assume that skateboarding’s position in mainstream culture will ebb and flow, but with a public concrete skatepark in almost every town in America, I don’t really see it disappearing. But maybe that’s what they said in the ‘70s…

*Special thanks to Mike Laybold and of course, Sieben himself, for taking the time to do this.

SMLTalk with: John "From Flip" Nicholson

"Never meet your idols."

We've all heard this piece of advice tossed around by industry heads and older dudes alike, citing disappointment upon realization that their childhood heroes are actually just human beings with shitty, real-life problems of their own after all.

For John Nicholson, this information was caution to the wind. In fact, John did exactly the opposite of everything any shopkeeper, VHS-collector, or defunct board company owner could have ever told him; he became the Flip team manager, and he was only 22 years old when he did it.

A native Masshole-turned-LA-transplant, we couldn't help but grill this dude about how he found himself in this position that the 2003 versions of ourselves would have murdered our parents to be in. 

With that dark analogy in the books, lets hop right into our first SMLTalk of 2016—with John "From Flip" Nicholson.

Lets start things out right. How many times has being “The Flip T.M.” got you laid?

Haha, well the way LA chicks are, a little extra status never hurts but it backfires in situations like recently at Tampa pro when I'm out with Curren and Nordberg. Im the last choice by a mile.

What did you think of Jaws’ Melon over the Lyon 25? Were you hyped someone finally did it, or bummed that Ali’s legacy was tarnished?

I think its really rad that he finally handled it but it's almost like Ali not making it in the way that he did was almost a trick in itself. You guys actually summed it up perfectly in that write up you did. Ali’s whole part had almost more non-skate tricks in it than skate tricks but was still somehow one of the best parts in the video.

Have you ever seen Bieber at Brooklyn Projects? Asking for a friend...

I have not. He was skating a flip board for a minute there if you see the infamous footage of him trying to ollie a 3-stair in what appears to be a dress so I gave 2 boards to Dom (owner of Brooklyn Projects) and he gave them to him, but I still haven’t seen any photos or video of him skating them.

Stepping back a little bit, why don’t you tell us how you ended up in the role you have now.

Well, it came about from working at Woodward with Josh Zucker. One summer we had devised a master plan to move to California and try to weasel our way into the skateboard industry. Arto was a visiting pro one week and was stoked on Josh’s photography, so he offered him a job at Flip, but when he got the job description it ended up being a Team Manager position. Josh knew I was more cut out for the job and after he ended up doing it for about half a year or so he handed the position off to me.

Nicholson and Majerus enjoying sobriety in Tampa.

Nicholson and Majerus enjoying sobriety in Tampa.

How was it growing up in the Worcester scene? Did you feel out of place coming from somewhere like that and being planted into the heart of the LA scene?

The Worcester scene is for sure something else and being from a pretty reckless group of dudes, it gave me quite a bit of life experience by the time I was 22. It was still such a trip being such a skate nerd and going essentially straight from behind the counter of the skate shop to kicking it with all of my idols.

What exactly is your day to day job? Do you have a regular 40-hour work week or are you constantly on the job?

Im fully on 24/7. I am the Team Manager and I also do all of the social media, as well as social media for some of the riders, specifically Curren these days.

How often do you yourself get to skate during the week?

It's funny because most people would assume you get to skate quite a bit, but whenever I do go out to a park or something I'm with at least one of the team guys. A big thing I tried to do with our social media is to just try to constantly create original content, so by the time my legs are warmed up, someone like Louie will already be destroying it, so my time is much better spent filming.

I feel like team managers are old guys who have been in the industry...did you feel weird managing dudes that were older than you like Arto/Geoff/Rune? Or were they able to help you transition to your role?

Those guys were honestly so rad and helpful. Someone like Arto fully took me and Josh under his wing and is still always giving me guidance and advice. He was like my all-time favorite dude growing up so no matter how tight we are I still feel like I act like a little fan boy around him.

Did you go to college? If you did, was this experience helpful in doing the job you have now? And if you didn’t, was this something you wished you had done before taking on the job?

I didn’t go to college and my only regret is that I’m not more proficient in photoshop or graphic design in general so that I can do board graphics and advert layouts. I'm working on it now and would really like to be able to do a board series here and there.

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is that I get to work in the industry of the only thing I've ever truly cared about my whole life, surrounded by my idols and some of the best skateboarders to ever do it.

An inevitably, what’s the worst part about your job?

The only down side is that obviously being a team manager can be super stressful at times, more so because I really don’t want to let any of the guys down.

Do you find it hard to balance something you love to do as your hobby as your job as well? Do you feel like you’re going to get burnt out on skateboarding now that you’re in it so heavily?

Sometimes I get burnt out on the actual act of skateboarding just because I realize now more than ever how much I suck (laughs). But I can never picture myself getting jaded on skateboarding as a whole. Although there was an initial shock at first, once I realized first-hand how cutthroat the industry can be.

Switching gears a little bit, what are some of the videos you grew up on? Give us your top three favorite VHS’s.

I'll never forget buying Sorry from Blades board & skate in Boston and just being blown away when I popped that sucker in the VHS player. The other two would be Yeah Right and Mosaic. That was such an incredible time for skate videos.

If you could put anyone on Flip right now (besides Sean Brooks), dead or alive, who would it be?

I would have really liked to have known Shane Cross (RIP) because from what I hear he was just such an epic human, but I am a huge fan of Dylan Rieder’s skating.

If you could kick anyone off Flip right now, who would it be?

(Laughs) Curren since he keeps trying to kick himself off so he can go surf.

What’s the gnarliest thing you’ve seen go down on a trip or filming mission?

Honestly, everything on King Of The Road was so insane. Watching Alec nose grind the double-kink in Somerville was some serious video game shit. Louie grinding a 32-stair rail just as I finally couldn’t hold the cops off any longer. Also any time Luan steps on a skateboard I can’t believe my eyes.

Is this a job that you would recommend to kids who want to work in the industry someday? What would you be doing if your tenure as team manager ended tomorrow?

I would for sure recommend it with the disclaimer that it's not for the faint of heart. Working at a skate shop since I was 14 and then multiple years at Woodward taking care of and giving guidance to kids was the perfect conditioning for being a TM. If I were to have to find another position I could see myself going back to the sales side of things.

Give us the top three things you hate about Los Angeles.

  1. Traffic
  2. Traffic
  3. Everyone being so god damn fake and sensitive. Having to introduce yourself for the first time to someone after you’ve already met them 5 times can be a little discouraging. You get used to it though.

And on the “Flip” side, give us the top three things you hate about Massachusetts.

  1. Snow.
  2. Snow.
  3. People having kind of a “this is it for me” mentality and never getting out or trying anything new. I've also lost a lot of good friends to drugs where I feel like if they just kept skating and saw what else the world had to offer they would still be around.

Do kids still send you sponsor tapes? Or with social media has it all turned into kids bombarding you with instagram tags and sliding into the DM’s?

Haha yeah I get quite a bit of sponsor me tapes still. Every time I think some cute girl might be trying to slide into my DM’s its just a 15 year old kid trying to kickflip back tail slide into them.

Any big plans for Flip this year that you can share? I think “3” was the last semi-full-length release from you guys, so it would be rad to see a sequel or something similar to that.

We have a U.S. tour planned for sometime this year. The dudes schedules are so hectic that just to get a couple of them together at the same time for any kind of team event is quite the mission in itself. Alec, Louie, and David will all have parts in Volcom’s “Holy Stokes” in May and I can assure you Louie’s part is going to change the game. He is one of the best to ever do it. Alec also has a banging Adidas part coming out around the same time as well as an Xgames real street part and I am really stoked for the rest of the world to realize how truly gnarly he is.

360 Flip at the Rowley Ditch.

360 Flip at the Rowley Ditch.

Do you ever skate with the dudes on the team for fun? Or is it strictly business?

All of the dudes on the team have become really close friends. I lived with Nordberg for a short while and I consider Curren a little brother. We all hang out and skate for fun all the time but like I said earlier a mellow dorking around session can quickly turn into some of the gnarliest Instagram videos of all time.

People will always wax nostalgic about the ‘Golden Age’ of Flip following the release of Sorry, but the truth is that the current roster was just voted Best Team by The Skateboard Mag, and you’ve got some of the best skaters on the planet riding for you right now. Do you feel like 15 years from now, people will look back at this era with the same regard we view the Sorry years?

It's really hard to recreate that vibe just because of how fast-paced and accessible everything is now. I'm wondering if people will even remember things 3 years from now. But I do agree that right now Jeremy & Ian have once again assembled one of the most talented and elite group of skateboarders in the game. Once everyone's schedules are cleared up we are fully pushing for a Flip full length.

Now for the juicy stuff. Care to divulge any information regarding Geoff leaving the company? Was it an amicable break up? Does he still have any ownership over the company?

Geoff is currently still an owner of Flip but basically he just wasn't hyped on the new direction Flip was taking, and thats all I can really say about it. At the same time, it's really hard for anyone to weather a 20+ year relationship, be it with a skateboard company or anything, for that matter.

Any last words/shout out’s?

Yeah, thank you guys for caring to hear what I have to say. I am truly fortunate to be able to have my dream job and work with such inspirational people so it's rad to be able to talk about it. Thanks to Eastern Boarder for raising me and thanks to all the Massachusetts transplants out here in LA. We have a pretty heavy running crew and it's only getting bigger. Now we just need you guys out here!

SMLTalk with: Village Psychic

Alright - so tell us a little bit about what Village Psychic is, for those out there who (for whatever reason) are unfamiliar.

Mike: Village Psychic is a blog about skateboarding based out of New York City. I try not to say much more than that because it’s really whatever we want it to be. Skateboarding, specifically skateboarding we like to watch, is the central theme.

SG: We are a blog that focuses on the things we love, hate and think are weird about skateboarding.

 

When and why did you guys start the site?

Mike: We started the site in March of 2014 as a way to do something within skateboarding. We’d always be talking about what was going on in skating and both came to this with a lot of ideas for articles and projects we’d wanted to do for a long time.

I briefly did another skateboarding site about 8 years ago and I’d been itching to take another crack at it?

 

How many cooks are in this kitchen?

SG: VP is me and Mike, but we have a squad of other dudes who help out. Our buddy Ian Browning is a pimp writer and regular contributor, our friend Pete Spooner helps with filming, to name a few.

 

Did you have any sort of inspiration outside of skateboarding for the blog? Are there any books or writers that had an impact on you?

SG: I love the Cohen Brothers, Gavin McInnes and James Baldwin.

Mike: I went to college for journalism so I definitely look to how reporters are trained to do things when writing and editing, but I also really like to use VP as something I can have fun with. Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders and Jonathan Goldstein come to mind on that end.

 

What does the brainstorming process at VP look like? Do you guys hold in person meetings to get stuff in motion, or bounce ideas off each other thru the increasingly important vehicle of 'group text'? (We prefer barbecue joints)

 

SG: VP meetings are skating downtown Friday night after work till like Midnight, shooting the shit over some seltzers and lip slides.

 

Now I know that we grew up skating around the same time, so we have to cover our standard question - what’s your favorite VHS era video? Actually, I’m feeling generous...give us your Top 3.

SG:

1. Mosaic - Most people would pick Photosynthesis, but I was just a little more obsessed with skating when Mosaic came out. Renaud and Pops were some of the first people who helped me realize how much more there is to a part than just fancy moves.

2. Sight UnseenCardiel and Heath’s part still are incredibly powerful to this day.

3. Tilt Mode’s Man DownThey made skating seem like the most fun thing ever. They literally built spots out of trash. My friends and I would dig through dumpsters all the time because of this video.

Mike: Photosynthesis, Trilogy, Midopoly (Minneapolis video by Benji Meyer)

 

 

 

Lightning Round:

Nate Sherwood or Nate Broussard?
Mike: How is this a question? Nate Broussard, bro.

SG: Also gonna have to go with Broussard. Although switch 360 flip revert is a very sus trick for a line.

Nate Jones or Rodney Jones?

Mike: Are you just checking to see if I know who these people are?Nate Jones, peep our post on Kicked Out of Everywhere.

SG: Nate. But for real, remember this?

Brian Sumner or Brian Lotti?

Mike: Brian Lotti was before my time but I know enough to pick him. The On Video that had a piece on him was great. Sumner’s tricks in The End were rad, though.

SG: I feel whack saying Lotti cause I’m too young, but Brian Sumner is pretty much a giant British flag Adio boot and Oasis haircut in my head.

 

Brad Staba or Brad Cromer?

Mike: This one is actually hard. Cromer just because he was the one who made me come around on body varials.

SG: Cromer. <3

CCS or Active Mail Order?

Mike: I don’t know if I ever actually saw an Active catalog. CCS was great, got my first Workshop board out of one of those catalogs.

SG: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Active.

 

So what inspired the name of the blog? Were there any other initial names thrown around until you landed on “Village Psychic”?

Mike: Village Psychic was the name of my Instagram account I used to post signs I found around New York City. It was just a name I kept seeing on psychic parlors and I felt like it spoke to knowing something. Better used on the site than on a boring-ish instagram feed.

SG: It just felt sick. We tossed around ideas and Village Psychic felt cool right off the bat.

 

Okay so now that we know you a little better - Anything new and exciting in the pipeline for VP?

Mike: Yeah, tons of stuff. We’re really getting a rhythm down in terms of getting stuff up on the site. We usually don’t finalize anything until right before it goes live, so you’ll know when we know.

SG: I’m so stoked on our product capsule with Materiel Supply which will be available by the time this is out.

 

How did the throwback wear tests come about? How were you able to find that Stevie Williams shoe in such good condition?

SG: The idea came from talking about how sick old shoes were, in the back of our minds knowing they were so shitty. I always think it is funny hearing people say stuff like ‘man that was the BEST shoe’, but like, dog, 1 original es Accel was the mass of 10 of whatever shoe you have on in 2015. And how we get them is a secret!

Mike: i’ve always been a little bit of a shoe dork. it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. As far as where the shoes come from, shoe people know shoe people. That’s all I can really say.

 

 

 

 

 

What blog do you think you could beat in a fight? Let’s say we all met up like in Anchorman, who would you kick the shit out of?

Mike: Gawker is known to frustrate me quite a bit, so I’d get in a few swings before the cops broke it up.

 

Do you think skate blogs are the new ‘zines? Are we carrying a torch since print died or are we responsible for the decline of printed mags?

Mike: Yeah, we’re definitely continuing something that can no longer exist in it’s previous form. It’s sad that we’ve had to see great magazines like Skateboarder go away, but I like what’s going on with some of the smaller print magazines - 43 Mag, Skate Jawn and Dank are all great for their own reasons.

 

Name the top three people you would love to interview, dead or alive, and tell us why.

Mike:

Tom Wolfe - Badass

Donald Fagen - Pimp

Kurt Vonnegut - Badass pimp

 

If you were to list your top 5 skateboarders all time, where would you place Gershon Mosley?

top 5 sweatiest skaters:

1.Gershon Mosley

2.Gershon Mosley

3.Ishod

4.Cory Kennedy

5.Gershon Mosley

 

On average, how many times a week do you get laid strictly because you run a skate blog? Just trying to compare numbers here.

SG: If women love one thing more than an adult skateboarder, it is an adult skateboarder who isn’t very good at it but blogs about it.

Mike: We were just talking about this, I feel good about having a full time job and a girlfriend and still have time to skate & do a skate blog.

 

In your opinion, what’s the toughest part about running the blog? Do you pay much attention to negative comments/criticism?

Mike: Not really. I have a full time job and plenty of adult-ass responsibilities on top of VP, so if anyone is talking trash I’ve probably got my attention somewhere else.I really only get positive feedback, which is really rad to hear.

SG: The toughest part is just finding time. When I have free time I wanna ride my skateboard or work on cool shit for the blog, I don’t wanna use energy thinking about the lame things people say about stuff I put time into.

 

Given how fast the internet moves these days and how much information is out there, have you ever had an idea for a piece only to find it the next day on another site? How difficult is it to remain creative and original with so many different websites?

 

Mike: Yeah, definitely. We’ve had some ideas that weren’t necessarily stolen, but when we saw what somebody else was doing it was just like “Oh, come on dude. We had that idea first.” It happens though, there’s just a lot going on in skating in general. Thankfully I’ve got several years of ideas piled up from not writing about skating for a while.

SG: I’ve gotten pretty bummed working hard on something and then seeing someone else with the same idea who moved faster, but I try to just say fuck it and move onto something else. Also, with all the content coming out all the time, I think it sparks ideas. It’s a giant online conversation we all have, which is super sick.

 

Both of our blogs seem to touch on similar “golden eras” of skateboarding. Why do you think nerding out over the past is so important? And as a follow up, what do you think is the most influential/important era in skateboarding?

 

Mike: Yeah, I definitely get that from SML Talk as well. I think it’s just part of having skated for an extended period of time. No matter how ill some new kid is, I’ll always be partial to Gino in The Chocolate Tour.

SG: If you don't know your history, you might fuck around and end up another Kasparholic. Josh Kalis in Photo is one of my favorite representations of skating. Mosaic had such a heavy impact on me. Every video Crailtap did up to Fully Flared I feel would change skateboarding each time. It is important for skating to feel timeless. If you look at someone like Ed templeton or Rick Howard, it is hard to put a time stamp on their video parts, and that is really special. I also really love skateboarding right now. We care so much about style and how things look, I think we are doing great at the moment.

 

If you could have one non skateboarding related sponsor for the site, what would it be?

SG: Perrier or LaCroix. We are some seltzer boys over here.


What piece have you written for the blog that you’re the most proud of and why?

SG: An Ode to the Covered 5 and The Search For Ty Dicky were really fun. Just doing stuff on Minnesota, which where we’re both from originally and where we both grew up skating. There’s a really sick scene in Minneapolis and we want people to know about it.

MB: I’m really pleased with how our wear test videos have turned out, they went from an idea to reality pretty quickly.


Congrats on your recent collaboration with Permanent Distro. How did that come about and can I get a long sleeve?

SG: Permanent approached us asking if we would be into doing a colab. I’m not even trying to pole ride, i am a really big fan of the brands they represent, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The Permanent store should have them, I’d hook it up if I could!


What would you say to someone who’s thinking about starting their own blog?

SG: Do it. You get to decide how seriously it is taken, which is really nice.

MB: As someone who’s done it once before, the magic to me has been in having people to hold me accountable. If I don’t do something I say I’m going to do, Spencer let’s me know, and vice versa. Having a collaborator who’s as into it as you are helps a ton.


Where will Village Psychic be in five years? 10 years?

SG: Sipping LaCroix on a weeknight, doing lipslides on ledges talking about the golden era of skateboarding, when DLX would release full length videos without any warning, Nyjah only used drugs recreationally, and people only posted ‘quick’ clips, not their bangers, on instagram.

MB: We’ll be fully hooked up by LaCroix.


Thank You’s/Shout Outs?

Ian Browning, Zach Harris, Jonah Miller, Jon Sannes, Pete Spooner, Cassie Johnson, James @ Labor, Quartersnacks, SML Talk, DLXSF, Russian Bob, Mike Munzenrider, Shane Brown, TJ Moran, Jan Jacobson, Rob Sissi, and anyone else who is helping us out in anyway at all.   



SMLTalk With: Pat Donfro

Before we go into this, I really have no idea what Shape Deuce means...care to share?

Me and my buddy John used to run a company called Shape Skateboards. The first video was “The Shape Video”... Then came the second, "Shape 2"… Nah, Shape Deuce. At this point it’s more of just a crew.

Alright Donny, with that out of the way let’s start at the beginning. When/How did Shape Deuce start and who made up the original crew?

Shape Deuce came out almost five years ago. We just had all this footage on a computer and were like, I guess lets make another video? The crew is and was heavy. The people with parts were John Coyne, Bachinsky, Mantiago, Brad Miller, Matt Fenell, Dyllon Horne, Jay and Justin Clement, Kruper, Shane Perry, Joey Ragali, Cromer, Serge, Nicky Lamarche, and not to mention just all the homies with clips.

What role did you play specifically in the making of these videos? How much did you film/edit yourself?

I hardly filmed anything in Shape Deuce besides second angles. I just was the one that brought it all together and had it happen. I did most of the editing with help from my buddy Mac who filmed a lot of it.

What was the vibe like when you guys were first starting to film for these? Was it everyone donating footage separately or was everyone skating/filming together?

Everyone was filming together. Those were the golden days. It was great. We had a couple friends that filmed so on any given day there was usually someone, so it worked great. We stacked footage pretty quick.

The videos always struck me as local Massachusetts videos, but there is a pretty varied mix of dudes who have clips/parts. How did dudes like Cromer and Ragali become affiliated?

Remember myspace? Pretty sure it was Dave and Manny who met Joey and Brad on that and went and stayed with them one winter to skate and then the following summer when it was hot as hell down there they came up north to stay with us. It sort of became an every year ritual for a while. We just all become friends.

What was the gnarliest thing you filmed/witnessed live?

There was this 16 stair rail in Carlisle, MA. Big. Crappy downhill landing and a curb you gotta ride of. Brad Miller back 50-50ed it like a champ. That always sticks out to me.

Lowell, MA seems to produce some of the most productive skateboarders video-wise. What is it about that scene that motivates people to film so much?

I wouldn’t say I was the type of kid to always jump on handrails but if you ended up on a session everyday and all your friends were skating them… It just sort of happened too. It’s just everyone pushing each other.

Did you feel like Lowell was lacking a presence in the greater skate world? What were the videos that inspired Shape?

You gotta be the cream of the crop to make it in the skate world outside of Massachusetts without leaving Massachusetts, so yeah I’d agree. As far as what inspired us, it’s probably pretty obvious… The Baker videos.

How established were Manny and Dave at the time of the first video? Was there a feeling that this could be their breakout into the industry or was it just something they wanted to be apart with their friends?

I sold close to 1,000 DVDs hardly trying. I never expected that. I don’t think anyone knew how big it was going to be. Manny and Dave both had given me a lot of their good footage but were still saving some for their other projects. Dave was already there, it might have been more on the rise for Manny.

Tell us about what Branny. What can we expect?

Five parts. Serge Murphy, Nicky Lamarche, Sean Hernandez, John Coyne, and Myself.

Coynes part is incredible...and yeah, the rest of the videos pretty great too.

What the hell does “Branny” even mean?

I found a camera when I was staying in Florida. It was a shitty handycam. I used to film all the random shit and 2nd angles with it. This was when Brad Cromer and Manny were both just starting to get big. I always said I was gonna make a video with Brad first part and a Manny ender. Brad + Manny = Branny. That never happened but I still had most of the footage, so you’ll see a lot of that in this. Me and my buddy Nicky Lamarche always just liked the name Branny so I figured we’d call this video Branny.

You have hard copies of Branny available to sell at the premiere and thereafter. Don’t you know skate videos go online these days? Why make a hard copy?

I only made 100 copies. I’ve already sold some pre-orders online, but the real reason I made copies is for everyone involved in it. One day we can all be diggin' in our attics and be like shit… remember this? We used to not change diapers and have car payments.

I want to know why I wasn’t bombarded with hashtags and trailers before this thing came out...why no hype for this new Shape?

Nobody was “filming” for this video. It’s just all the footage we somehow got since Shape Deuce. And some of the footage is from even before it. Was I supposed to have a hashtag and have people hype it up? I must have missed that memo.

How would you say the crew has changed from the first video to this new one? Does everyone still talk/skate together? Have there been any VH1 Behind The Music-esque fall outs?

No fall outs. Everyone still does here and there but people are more busy than they used to be. The golden days are fading away.

Of all the Shape memories, partying/skating/traveling etc., which is your favorite? Give us a good story from the glory days.

Oh man. I miss Kuzmas van. My buddy Kuzma had like a 13 passenger van. He drove it up from Florida, we’d all just cram in and go skate. Didn’t even matter where, just anywhere. Sort of made all of us feel like we were actually doing it, like actually professionals on a trip. I always miss that.

Of all the Shape parts, whose is the stand out and from what video? Which are you most proud of and why?

Matt Fenell and John Coyne split a part. I always liked that because there were random guns and four wheeling in the part. It showed who those dudes really were more than just through their skating,

Is this it for Shape? Are we witnessing the final chapter? Or can we still hope for some more on the horizon?

Oh man, this could be the last of the series. I sort of thought after Shape Deuce that it was all was over and then this happened, so who knows. I wouldn’t be upset making another.

Why don’t you give some advice for some kids thinking about making a video, what would you say to this young generation eager to put their videos all across the internet?

For me, putting out multiple short edits just gets lost and forgotten. I like the idea of working towards something. Something that represents a time in your life. One day I’ll look back on a handful of full length dvds rather than 50 web edits. Just my preference.

Any last words/shout outs?

Thanks to everyone involved and anyone that supports it.

 

*Special thanks to Donfro for providing the photos and taking the time. Premiere is tonight, info on the flyer above.

SMLTalk With: Wild Will

What’s up Will? What’d you do today?

Hey Dave, I just got up a couple hours ago, went to McDonald’s to get some breakfast, and will be locked in the library all day.  I’m a graduate student, and it’s been “finals” time for the last month, so I’ve been inside a lot these days.


Let’s start this off the right way - when did you start skating / what did your first setup look like?

I started skating back in March or April of 2000.  My friend Ben had just started skating a few months earlier.  I remember bumping into Ben’s mom in the post office, and she said Ben had been having a great time skating, and some switch flipped in my brain and I just really wanted to start skating.  There was this Baseball card store in Lexington Massachusetts called Hit and Run that had a small board supply.  My first board was a World Industries wet dream board with blue Thunder trucks and extremely dark purple spitfire wheels.  Looking back, that setup was awesome!


I think one of your more notable accomplishments was your appearance in the “making of” PJ Ladd’s WHL. How did that all come about?

So there was this skate shop chain called Blades Board and Skate, and the people who worked there were a little bit sketchy and my mom didn’t really trust the staff.  We had been shopping around for my first set-ups and my folks were not really feeling Blades Board and Skate, so that’s why I got my first board at this Baseball card store I had bought games and toys at many years earlier.  I needed a new pair of shoes at one point, so my mom took me to the Coliseum in Melrose.  This was fall of 2000 when I was in sixth grade.  I got a sweet pair of Reynolds ones in all white for really cheap on sale.  Matt and Arty (the owners of the Coliseum) were really friendly guys, and I was a huge skate nerd, and I think they both found me kind of eccentric and interesting to talk with, even though I’m ~15 years younger.  I was always hanging out at the shop and when the VHS video came out Matt and Arty wanted me to do a screening with Colin Fiske, and a couple other people to make sure the video looked all right before it premiered in the Davis Sq. movie theater in Somerville.  Obviously the video was amazing, and I was so hyped to go to the premier, which was around April of 2002.  The PJ DVD came out in October or November of 2002 I believe.  I think we filmed the making of literally a week before it came out.  Again, I think Matt and Arty saw me as this kind of weird and eccentric but interesting kid who could add some flavor to the making of section.  I think they wanted someone in there who was a bit younger, and I was 14 at the time; everyone else was in their late 20’s and older at the time of the making of.  Everyone in there was kind of a nut if you remember, but all cool guys.      


Did you predict Jereme’s future?

Haha, so here’s the backup story.  I had never met Jereme until the Premier for the Wonderful Horrible life VHS.  There was this blonde kid asking me who’s part I was excited for.  I said Jereme’s part to the kid because I had seen the part a week before, and it was awesome.  It turned out that kid was Jereme (someone told me this a couple years later).  He started kind of making fun of me saying. “The Dungeons and Dragons premier is down the hall, are you looking for it?”  Then I’m like, “Fuck this dude”, so when the making of came out I just said I think Jereme’s going to be a murderer when he grows up which is the most random thing to say.  I think it’s because Matt and Arty said he was listening to a lot of gangster rap at the time.  Back in the day it was against the “Coliseum code” to listen to rap music, but now it’s my favorite type.  So I was 14 at the time and I didn’t see Jereme again until I was 18 when Mister Rogers Neighborhood premiered in Boston.  Eli Reed was still living in Boston in the warm months, and he’d be out skating Aquarium with all of us.  Eli took a bunch of us up to Torey, Lamar, and Jereme’s hotel room before the premiere.  Jereme was super cool and we all had a great time.  Jereme was hanging out and skating with us a couple years ago after he quit all his sponsors to become a rapper.  I remember him saying, “I’m starving,” and buying fried dough, eating a bite, and then claiming he was full.  He’s a nut, but a really genuine guy and still kills it skating.  He really wants to make it as a rapper, and had this Ipad and headphones, and was just rapping to himself the whole time.  My friend Thompson and I were going to a party in Central Sq, probably at some kind of grimy spot, and Jereme wanted to come, and we’re like how can we lose this guy.  It’s kind of amazing, Jereme goes from making over 2 million dollars a year from Red Bull to getting denied going to a semi-dirty Central sq. party.  


Tell me about PJ's van. 

So when I first started hanging out at the Coliseum, I remember seeing this guy skate down the large hill before you get to the Coliseum.  This was around 2001, and I was reading the mags a bunch. I remember reading about the Vans Triple Crown, and I thought if you won that you were the best skater.  So that day, I was in the Coliseum, and I was saying, “Ryan Sheckler won the Vans Triple Crown (maybe it was another pro, don’t remember), how crazy is that?”  Matt at the Coliseum said, “PJ, who skates for the shop, came in second in the Vans Triple Crown.”  I’m like, “Who’s PJ?”  Matt said he was in the corner of the shop like ten feet away from me.  PJ was the guy skating down the street.  He’d always drive this old green Plymouth Van.  I remember it would constantly break down in front of the shop.  The tailslide PJ does on the van in WHL in the line at Windows was that green van.  Another rags to riches story-- Plymouth vans to Land Rover’s LOL.

Rob Gonzales at the time did a lot. So I just went up to Rob and said to him, ‘Stop doing varial flips and let PJ leave.’

Didn't something happen with you at a Popwar demo?

Ah, so when I was 14 and the PJ DVD had dropped, I was a very impressionable young lad.  Arty thought that Flip was the best company around, so I by default thought that Flip was the best company around.  Arty really pushed for Flip to take PJ on as an am, but the problem was that PJ was locked into a contract at Element (really GIANT distribution).  Basically Arty was telling everyone how wack GIANT was and how PJ should be on Flip.  Popwar at the time was under GIANT, so I already thought they were wack, and had preconceived notions about the whole team.  Rob Gonzalez pulled up with the team, and at all these demos the Red Bull women would be there handing out Red Bulls.  I think I had 7 or 8 Red Bulls.  When I was 14 I wasn’t aware of the concept of self-confidence, but looking back I had a lot of it.  Being in that video kind of made me feel like the shit everyday walking into school.  That video sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and people knew who I was all around the world.  Arty loved me at the time, and I think having Arty kind of back whatever came out of my mouth just gave me validation to say whatever I wanted to, to any pro or whoever out there.  Everyone hated on varial flips at the Coliseum, so obviously I hated on them too.  Rob Gonzalez at the time did a lot. So I just went up to Rob and said to him, “Stop doing varial flips and let PJ leave.”  I was talking shit on Transworld because I thought Thrasher was the best mag out to the photographer Brian Uedya [Transworld photographer].  Brian and Rob took me into the team van, and told me I couldn’t be mouthing off to these guys.  I think I made them all feel kind of down.  In retrospect I get it, but I really meant no harm.  They really didn’t want to give me a free board, but I’m a master of getting boards in product tosses, so you know I got one :D.


You were also in the intro of Riding Shotgun with Weiger, what’s the story behind that?

Ah man, Lance Mountain, Weiger, and Jani were all in town for that tour.  I thought Weiger was the best back then.  Long back tails, and I just told Weiger how dope he was in my silly way like in the ending of that video.  Weiger was under the weather but he thought I was funny.  Jani found me annoying I think, as he told me to calm down, and Lance was loving it and gave me a free pair of Adidas.  Again, I had a lot of self-confidence, and was sitting with those guys while they were signing autographs.  


Wasn’t Filho in the intro, too?

He was.  Him and Zach Crockett were in the intro.  Fork, and Zach were all Coliseum locals before WHL dropped and grew up in the town next town over from the shop.  So yes, Coliseum was a local shop.


Lightning Round -

Bill Strobeck or Bill Danforth

Bill Strobeck.  VX and Photo fo’ life!!

Willy Santos or Billy Marks?

Willy Santos.  I have relatives out in San Diego, so I’d always go to his shop.  Santos is really nice, and even recognized me from WHL.

Will Fyock or Torey Pudwill

Torey Pudwill.  Such a nice guy.  I met him at the Mister Rogers Nbd premiere.  It could be someone else but I remember Fyock whining at a bayside expo contest.  No one likes a whiner!

 

Alright - Standard question here, what’s your favorite VHS era skate video?  

The first one that comes to mind is Photosynthesis.  So that baseball card store hit and run had a trick tip video in it that I bought to learn to ollie and stuff.  I thought all skate videos at the time were trick tip videos.  My mom took me to blades board and skate and there’s this video display by Alien Workshop.  I asked for this orange trick tip video, and that video happened to be Photosynthesis.  Yes, I didn’t know non-trick tip videos existed until I got Photo.  I was amazed, and believe it or not Dyrdek had my favorite part when I first watched it.  I loved the song and the jumping over of fences.  Believe it or not, I didn’t like Wenning’s or Dill’s part right off the bat.  It wasn’t really until I started skating a lot of ledges that I really appreciated how amazing Wenning’s part was, and until I could appreciate and recognize great style that I could really appreciate and love Dill’s part.  Blueprint’s WFTW is a close second.


What has been your favorite era in Boston skateboarding?

Backside Tailslide, Photo: Josh Swett

Backside Tailslide, Photo: Josh Swett

My favorite era was when it was all new for me.  Up until WHL I read a lot more about skating than I actually skated.  When I was in eighth grade, the Lexington skatepark was built.  I loved it; there was this metal ledge and big drop you could do tricks off of.  I’d go everyday after school and skate there for hours, even though I lived in Winchester, the town next door.  Gavin Nolan, John and Tommy Wisdom, and this kid Richie would be there.  All these kids represented Concepts in Harvard Sq and they got free Nikes, and I still am friends with all of them.  I was young and impressionable and started really wanting Nikes too and wanted to go to Concepts and get a tee.  I was allowed to go to the city on weekends, and would skate Copley Sq, Aquarium and windows in Nikes.  My favorite era for me was when I had become really good friends with everyone downtown and was skating there everyday.  Ariel Perl had just gotten back from New York, and we’d skate and film together everyday at eggs.  It was just go to eggs, try the hardest trick possible there, and just not care about your tricks at AQ and skate flat.  I think Boston now is probably just as dope, even though to me it doesn’t look it looking in from the perspective as an outsider.  My whole body isn’t in skateboarding anymore, so I can’t reap all the highs it has to offer.  For me skateboarding is the most fun and rewarding when you really care about it a lot.  Like when you’re trying a trick forever you get it, and you feel amazing, but with that comes the lowest and most frustrating lows of not being able to do your tricks and wondering if you’ll ever be able to do it again.  To me having my whole body in skateboarding is what makes it the richest experience it can be and that’s always when the scene has felt the best.  I can look at it now externally and kind of think of how cheesy the Instagram stuff is, or how having really good videos come out on VHS was great, or how it was dope back in the day or this or that.  I’m so busy with coursework right now, and trying to figure out relationships and careers that realistically I can’t have my whole body in skateboarding.  I still skateboard though and I think it’s the most wonderful thing.  It is the best stress-relief to me, and puts whatever irrational thoughts I have into perspective.  I’ve learned so much from skateboarding and the people from it.  Looking externally though, my favorite Boston era is the EST 1-3, Steve Costello and Zeb footage with Adidas-- fresh to death!

To me going into the city was only half about skating. You’d see people get stabbed, get into great conversations with strangers, there would be parties and you’d be chilling with the homies, and just witness crazy stuff skating in the city.


How do you feel about the “everybody is good” era of skateboarding that we live in?

Ah man, I’m so out of the loop with who the newest pros and ams are that I just don’t really care.  YouTube has allowed kids all over the world to see what’s possible right off the bat and every kid is just learning every trick at their local skatepark.  To me this robotic style of skateboarding is just so sterile, like a sparse metal doctor’s office.  There’s really no culture or antics involved it seems.  To me going into the city was only half about skating.  You’d see people get stabbed, get into great conversations with strangers, there would be parties and you’d be chilling with the homies, and just witness crazy stuff skating in the city.  It really doesn’t matter how good someone is at skating in Boston, it really matters if they’re a cool person and fun to skate and chill with.  So at this point in my life skateboarding is a lot more localized to myself.  Unless you’re out skating with me when I skate or are friends with me, you’re usually not too relevant.  For instance Gavin is a great skater but he’s also a good person and interesting to talk to.  I’ve seen Gavin try tricks for many hours and not film a thing.  He’s been building his skateboarding foundation for years and hasn’t been on the media’s radar until recently.  When I watched Gavin’s Zoo York part it felt raw and real because he’s a friend of mine.  Obviously the part was amazing too.


Thoughts on the new Boston park?

I think it’s great!  I was on the design committee for the park when I was fifteen, and I’ve seen several media spikes regarding the park in the past 12 years.  Every time the skatepark has been in the media, the park is supposedly about to start being built.  This has happened in 2006, 2007, and 2012.  I really didn’t think the park was going to get built.  I really wasn’t excited for the park until I saw it, but it’s amazing and has more transition than you could ever dream of.  I think in the next 5 years or so we’ll start to see a trend: there will be a lot of inner-city kids who may not have a lot materially, don’t have a lot of parental supervision, and will start lingering in the park.  Some of these kids will really like skateboarding a lot, and their parents won’t care, they’re there for 12 hours a day-- these are the kids that will get really good at skating and some of them I think will probably be in the mags and videos.  I think the world should get ready for a new wave of inner-city skaters with unique personalities.  I think this park will be great for kids in Boston and Cambridge and will keep a lot of them out of trouble.


What in your opinion, is the hardest trick on a skateboard?

I’ve always been more of a nollie heel type of person.  I’ve been able to do some nollie flip tricks but they never came as naturally as the nollie heels for me.  Every trick though in skateboarding is hard for me though which is one of the reasons I like it so much.  I love things that are challenging for me.

Switch Backside 50-50, Photo: Josh Swett

Switch Backside 50-50, Photo: Josh Swett

I have no recollection of this, but Nate Keegan told me many years after this took place that I was talking to my friend (several years before I knew Nate existed) and said, “Those kids are wearing Concrete Wave shirts, they must be posers.”


What caused you to become such a knowledgeable source of not just general skate stuff, but specifically the local scene? It seems like you know everything about every skater to have passed through the area.

I started skating in the city when I was 15, and started coming in everyday from the ages of 17 to 23.  Before YouTube, there was only a small number of sources where you could get information about the Boston scene without being directly in it-- Zoo York Mixtape and EST videos were good history lessons but you really had to be out skating with everyone to know what was up.  I’m obsessive, so I learned everything I could from the old mags and vids as I could about Boston, but just being around everyone was how I know everything I do.  I became friends with everyone who was skating everyday or coming up in Boston.  Going to the Lexington skatepark and being around some of the city skaters made me really want to start skating in Boston.  When I hung out at the Coliseum after Wonderful Horrible life I was a bit cocky.  For instance during the Hot Chocolate Tour, Concrete Wave and Coliseum were hosting the filming of the Boston skit through the city.  I have no recollection of this, but Nate Keegan told me many years after this took place that I was talking to my friend (several years before I knew Nate existed) and said, “Those kids are wearing Concrete Wave shirts, they must be posers.”  In retrospect that was a totally stupid thing to say.  I still had that Wonderful Horrible Life arrogance.  It turned out one of those kids wearing a Concrete Wave shirt was Nate.  At the time I guess he hated my guts, but now we’re good friends.  When I started skating the city I tried to be nice to people, and people eventually liked me for me and accepted me.  I became friends with and skated with everyone in the know in the city.  I’ve seen people come and go over the years, so I’ve lived the history of Boston skateboarding for some years.  I learned from skateboarding in the city that to get along with people it’s easier to just be nice to everyone until you have a reason not to be, and that most people are good people, so you should continue to be nice to them.  I’ve got a weird memory.  I suck at remembering things like song lyrics-- like really suck, but I’ll remember what tee-shirt and shoes someone was wearing skating back in 2007.  I think being around skateboarding in Boston combined with my memory strengths have allowed me to build a deep framework of Boston skating over the years.   It’s hard for me to have multiple interests at once, so when I’m into something, I kind of immerse myself in it.  Back then I was totally immersed in skateboarding and Boston.  I still skate now, but I’m totally immersed in Mathematics and Computer Science.


Predictions for the future of the Boston skate scene?

I think eggs will be a wrap in a couple years and I think kids will have to find new places to skate.  They’ll be a lot of new gnarly rail transition skaters coming up due to the park.  Before eggs, we’d skate at Chinatown courts during the day, as there were some boxes there, and skate tons of flat in financial and AQ after five.  What I’m trying to say that if eggs is un-skateable the skaters will be resourceful and figure something else out.  Believe it or not, I like Aquarium much more than eggs!


Shout outs?

Zeb Weisman, Ariel Perl, Nate Keegan, Gavin Nolan, Thompson Bond, Seth Thompson, Brett Star, Brett Sullivan, Ben Ogilvy, Apple Tom, Jonah Miller, Spongie at Concepts, Steve and Kevin at RAW, everyone at eggs, Chris Valone, Josh Swett, the Coliseum Days, SML talk for giving me the opportunity to do this interview, the Wisdom Bros, Richie hope to skate with you soon, Matt and Arty at Coliseum, and anyone else I forgot.

SMLTalk with: Brian Delaney

Who did you grow up skating with on Cape Cod? What were some of the spots you skated out there?

When we were kids the crew was Jack Kelly, Devin Woelfel, Dillon Buss, Buck Squibb, Tim Burlingame, Billy Campbell and a bunch of other dudes. There really wasn't much to skate but prefab skateparks and some random schoolyards. My driveway had some pretty heavy sessions.

What is it about the Cape that constantly produces some of the city’s best skateboarders?**

There are a lot of small towns that make up the Cape and they pretty much all had a skatepark. If you got bored at your local park, you could always just go a couple towns over and skate something new. That's how I met a lot of people that I still skate with to this day.The Boarding House Skateshop has always been a big part of keeping skating alive out there, but when it finally comes time to move to the city I think you appreciate it more because there really wasn’t much to skate back home. Most skaters from the Cape dream of living in the city.

Frontside Noseblunt

Frontside Noseblunt

Do you remember the first time you skated Eggs? Who regularly skated it back then?

The first time was in 2007. Tom Mayo took me there. On the way there I was hungry so I asked if there was food at Eggs. He told me there was a omelette station. When I got there I realized he was fucking with me.. But I wasn't mad. I don't think I ended up eating that day, I couldn't get myself to leave the amazing spot. Back then, it was mostly the city people crew running the spot. I remember seeing Jason Jenkins filming for his log clips.

In your opinion, what’s the craziest trick/line ever done at Eggs and why?

Its really hard to say.. Basically every line Gavin has filmed and every trick Dana has done is the best. Also John Wisdom's switch tre noseslide line was fucked..

What is the craziest, non­skateboarding related thing to ever happen at Eggs?

So much crazy shit happens there on a daily basis it's hard to keep track. One time this old dude came through and started handing out 20$ bills for flat ground ollies. He was a creep but fuck it.. he gave out like $200.. pretty chill day.

Could a skatepark ever replace something like Eggs? Or do you see skateparks as a non­solution to a non­problem?

I am really excited for the new park, but I don't think a skatepark could ever duplicate what goes on at Eggs. Skateparks are given to you, Eggs took work. From de­nobbing and bondo­ing cracks, to dealing with cops on a daily basis, it took time and effort to make it what it is today.

Your #eggsreports are all works of genius. Who are your directorial influences? Are any of them ever thought out or are they always spur of the moment?

They are definitely spur of the moment. I just try and post shit that me and my friends would think is funny. I think my favorite video is the one of K.C. riding some girls paddle board in the river. You could never plan that shit.. My influences come from different things.. music, Worldstar, Dimestore, squaa...

One time we skated together out in Southie and you told me you were on a vacation from Eggs. How often are these vacations needed and why are they important?

Once in awhile you just need to make yourself leave Eggs. It's good to get out and skate other shit. I forget how sick downtown is sometimes.

K-Grind

K-Grind

A lot of people from out of town feel vibed out when they go to Eggs. Are there any rules about how to skate/interact with people at Eggs? Have you yourself ever vibed anyone out?

For the most part anyone can skate there. But the spot isn't that big and if you're constantly in the way or have a shitty attitude, someone will call you on it. If it's your first time there and no one talks to you it's not because we are assholes, it's because there are so many new faces there everyday, if we took the time to talk to everyone there wouldn't be time to skate. I'm definitely guilty of vibing whether I like to admit it or not, but fuck...If you don't hold it down, the spot would turn into a zoo. I think it's sick that people are intimidated. It has that EMB feel.

Have you ever vibed your own self out at Eggs, gotten #thefear, and just called it a day?

Once in awhile it's just too hot, there's too many people skating, and you're just too fried...But for the most part I get the fear when I'm not there. Serious FOMO.

Is Eggs the best spot in America? If not, name what you think may be the best.

I would say it's one of the best spots in America, if not the best. Kinda biased though...But since LOVE is still skateable I would have to say that is the best spot besides Eggs. So much history there and all the new Philly dudes kill it.

Have you ever thought about relocating to another city? If you could pack up and leave tomorrow, where would you go?

Thought about New York once but I got the fear last minute...But if I could move anywhere I would move to Montreal. I fuck with Canada.

If you had to give up smoking weed or backside tailslides which would you choose to stop forever?

Probably weed. Anyone can smoke weed, not everyone can skate. Forever IS a long time though...

Frontside Flip

Frontside Flip

Give us your top five backside tailslides in skate history - can be any variation (switch, shuv out, flip out, etc.)

Gino’s battery park line In Chocolate tour, Kenny Anderson across that grate ledge, Nate Jones at 3rd and Army, Tiago Lemos switch back tail gap to ledge at Jkwon, and Brian Anderson on that hubba that Carroll eats shit on in Harsh Barge. Always liked that one.

Name your top three rap albums currently in rotation:

  1. French Montana and Fetty Wap “ coke zoo”
  2. Future and drake “wattba”
  3. Young dolph “16 zips”

Top three favorite styles?

JB Gillet, Zered Bassett, Andrew Mcgraw.

Tell us how you ended up skating for DQM.

They opened a shop in Boston and I got a job working there. That’s how I met the owner Chris Keefe. He saw some of my footage and let me film a welcome part. Really happy to be a part of such a rad company.

How much wax is too much wax?

For the most part there can never be too much wax. To the people saying “just skate faster”, go skate a pole jam or something. Your opinion does not matter to us.

Explain the “Forbidden 14”...When is it ok to skate that section of your board?

14 inches is the length of the middle of the board from truck to truck. Forbidden 14 means that you do not do any lip or board slide tricks. It is definitely a Boston thing. It's more of a joke than an actual way of skating.

To piggy back on that last question, what are the ultimate ledge sins that will make the ledge gods puke? i.e “Thou shalt not nollie 5­0”

The older I get the more I realzie every trick can be sick if it's done well. But the frontside nosegrind to lipslide is definitely an unforgivable combo...just do one or the other you idiot. I see that one a lot at Eggs smh..

What’s the worst skate fashion trend you’ve ever participated in?

Probably tall tees. I would wear 2XL at one point. Definitely kept it G. Maybe too G..

You and Lee Madden collaborated for both your RAW part and your DQM part, tell us a little bit about what it’s like to film with him. Does he pitch you tricks/spots? How do you guys operate as a team to make a clip work?

He's pretty much the only person I really film with. We're just on the same page when it comes to skating. Lee is more into making full length projects rather than random web clips. Sometimes he'll gives me spot ideas and what he thinks I could do there, but it's more about how the skating looks on film than just doing the hardest tricks you can think of. Sometimes I'll be hyped on a trick we got but he won't use it because the lighting was bad or it wasn't filmed to his standard. I don't ever really question him because I know ultimately he is the man with the vision and he knows what looks good and what doesn't. I don't give too much input into the editing process either, I know he'll make something better than I could imagine. Dude is really talented. Thanks for putting up with my shit.

When you go to a spot that isn’t Eggs to film a back tail fakie, you clearly mean business. Tell us about the back tail fakie at Revere’s MGH / Beach ledges. What made you want to try it, or even think it was possible? Is that the longest back tail you’ve ever done?

I skated it a couple years back and I kinda messed around with it, but it didn't really see possible at the time. I kinda forgot about the spot but once Wonderland was built we ended up going back. I tried for awhile one day and failed. I went back a week later just me and Lee and with the help of a lot of wax it worked. Probably the longest I've ever done.

What is the best thing about the Boston skate scene in your opinion?

You don’t have to call anyone to meet up...You just go to Eggs and everyone is there. I don’t think many other cities have that.

*Special thanks to Delaney for taking the time and Liam Annis for providing the photos.

SMLtalk with: Karl Watson

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Sarcasm translates very poorly via text...Take a Karl Watson exclamation point, on the other hand. Here we've got something that can be immediately read, digested, and diagnosed as 1,000% sincere. In an attempt at upping the output of positive vibes radiating off of computer screens everywhere, we sat down with Karl himself to ask some questions and gain insights from a skateboarder who has existed throughout the entirety of Bay Area 'street' skating's lifespan.


Manny Sequence

Your part in Mad Circle’s “5 Flavors” opens with a line at Somerville High School, one of greater Boston’s greatest plaza-esque spots from the late 90’s/early 00’s (RIP). Tell us a little bit about that trip, what brought you out to the East Coast, and who you were skating with at the time. Did you hit any other Boston spots? 

That was a rad trip! I was in New York just skating and Vinny Ponte invited me to come stay with him in Bosstown.  Saw him slide some super high rails. Loved it there!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjLu9o5tNTg&w=420&h=315]

Why the pretzel out (for people unfamiliar with the term, the slide and 270 the opposite way)?

There was an ON video segment on Hubba Hideout and Koston named my trick as his favorite trick that went down there. While explaining the trick he said "pretzel way out" and now people still use that term.

I feel like the iPath team anywhere from 2003-2005 was really setting the tone for Bay area skating at the time. Maybe I’m just thinking of you, Nate Jones, Matt Field...what was it like being on that team at that time? 

Those were the days! Matt Field brought the east coast flavor and we all loved it. He had this hippy/bohemian thing going on and that helped create Ipath.

If you could have been a part of any plaza culture, during any era, besides EMB, what would it be?

Love Park or Pulaski for sure!

Karl Sequence

Is Sam Smyth secretly the reason behind everything that has been good in skateboarding post 1995? (hint: the answer is yes) 

Haha! I love Sam! Thats my brother. Him and his family really looked out for me when I was young. Staying at his house was the best!  Nick Lockman introduced me to Sam and after that we were tight.

Favorite video to come out of the ‘VHS era’? Let me rephrase this: If you could only watch one VHS era video for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Man! Tough question! I'd have to say Public Domain (Powell video)

powell public domain

We’ve been having a heated debate at SMLTalk HQ as to who is more naturally talented, Grant Taylor or Bob Burnquist. Who has your vote?

Thats another tough one!! Grant is a skate God for sure but Bob grinded a rail into the Grand Canyon. Bob has some balls for that. So my vote goes to Bob.

There’s gotta be some sort of intelligence requirement for Organika team riders. Walker Ryan and Alexis Sablone are both super intelligent people, with years of higher education under their belts while balancing careers in skateboarding. By and large, your company and team sets a pretty good example for the kids. Is this intentional?

Not a requirement, but I highly encourage younger skaters to have a plan B or to learn some skills they can use within skateboarding. Most youngsters think if you turn pro you're set for life, but that's the furthest thing from the truth unless you're one of the few lucky ones.

Speaking of the kids, we noticed you are very supportive of the incoming generation/youth of skateboarders nowadays. Who has been getting you hyped lately/anyone we should keep an eye out for the future?

We've got some young bucks on the Organika squad that are killing it. Kilian Zehnder, Zion Wright and Tafari Whitter. And Miles Silvas was one of those younger kids that i've been blessed to have hooked up from a young age.

Any big plans for Organika in the not-so-distant future? 

We just turned Miles pro, which was a big deal for us since we've only turned two dudes pro; Walker being the first. We'll be traveling this summer and spreading the good word of skateboarding. Thats the best gift we can share with the world. Since skateboarding promotes positivity by breaking down barriers such as race, age, gender and language.

Any shout-outs or last words? 

I'd like to shout out all of the unique people who looked outside of the box and picked up a skateboard.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11OpvpYNzQE&w=560&h=315]

SMLTalk with: "Apple" Tom Atencio

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Tom Atencio is a dude who has seen some shit. A skateboard nostalgia fanatic, dripping with knowledge that has built up with over 2 decades of skateboarding under his belt. Basically, Tom encompasses everything we aim to celebrate and unearth from skateboarding's golden, dead past. If you have gone skateboarding in Boston, visited True East (RIP), Orchard, or any of the various local shops that have come and gone in between over the course of the past 15 years or so, chances are you have run into "Apple" Tom Atencio, and been greeted with a friendly smile or handshake. What you may not know however, is that Tom has one of the most insane board collections East of the Mississippi (probably the whole world, but we'll keep it conservative). What you're about to read is a conversation with Tom about this collection, his views on board collecting, and why sentimental outweighs monetary value every time.

*Note: All pictures were taken by Tom himself. These ain't no archival photo sets from the Spring 2001 CCS. Really think about that.

When did you first start collecting skateboards?

I first started collecting boards about 11 years ago when I got my first steady job since graduating from college, but I’ve been obsessed with skateboard decks since ‘87 when I first saw a professional quality skateboard deck. It was a Sims Kevin Staab with a pirate, parrot and treasure on it. The graphic, the colors and the feeling it gave me when I saw it are burned into my memory. Part of the reason why I started skating in the first place and continue to skate almost 30 years later is that I think skateboards themselves are the coolest things ever. When looking in magazines or watching videos growing up, I would always notice the way peoples stuff looked and would gravitate towards a skater if I liked the way his boards and gear looked. Sounds kind of silly, but that’s what always stoked me out about skating. Not necessarily the tricks or the spots, but the skateboards themselves and the gear of the skater. Skateboards are the ultimate toy and just to ride around on one and look down at it and get stoked was/is the best feeling ever to me. When I was growing up, I generally only got new boards twice a year, one for my birthday in August and the other for Christmas, so I had to choose wisely. But I can remember every board I’ve ever gotten for either of those two occasions. I always told myself growing up that when I could afford boards on my own, I'll get a new one whenever I want, but I missed a lot of rad boards that came out during my teenage and college years that I didn't have the means to acquire. A major part of my reason for collecting is getting those boards that I always wanted and also hunting down some favorites that I did have to keep the stoke alive. After 25+ years on the board, you gotta keep that fire burning and collecting boards is a major fuel source for my continued love of skateboarding.


Tri-Sect


How many boards do you have in your collection?

I have about 100 boards in my collection, but i would like to reduce that number quite a bit. I used to just grab any board that piqued my interest, which is why i have so many. Now, it's more about quality and I've been trading multiple boards for rarer single boards to make the trades even while simultaneously thinning out my collection. There's a lot of rad dudes on instagram trading boards and we've become a close knit community.

What is the oldest board you have in your collection?

The oldest board is a Foundation Ronnie Creager from 93. It's pretty rare and even Ronnie doesn't have one. He and I have been communicating a bit as he'd like to have it in his collection and I'd love a board of his from the 20 Shot Sequence or Trilogy era of bLind, so it'll be win/win.


Wenning


Favorite board?

Favorite board is the Co-Exist 3 Brian Wenning board. It's not super rare but what it reminds of is priceless. Alien/Habitat/Seek were my favorite companies from 1999-2006 and rode nothing but those brands. In 1999 I had just got my first job since starting college and had some steady income. I went to my local shop, which was 12 Fingers in Hebron, CT and owned by the raddest dude John Biase. Anyway, he had a steady shipment of Alien boards coming through and this is when Pendleton was just coming into his own at Alien. Those graphics looked to sick on the wall and Alien was pretty much an East Coast company at the time, so it felt right to support that brand. The shapes, the stains, the graphics, the team, the ads, the t-shirts, the videos... No one is as rad or ever will be as rad as Alien Workshop was at that time. Don't get me wrong, I was all about Rocco brands in the early through mid 90's, but the cohesiveness of Alien as a whole at that time was undeniable. And Wenning was just that dude and showed us all what plaza skating could look like. He was "it" on a brand that epitomized rad skating so this board will always take me back to those days. It also has the raddest 7.56 shape, super clean screen printed graphic and Wenning rode this board in a lot of his iconic footage from those days. This board is never leaving my possession.


Dwindle


Care to divulge what board’s worth the most? How much is it going for?

Anything that's collectable has a monetary value, but it's only worth what someone is willing to give you for it. I have a blind Lavar McBride board that's pretty rare, Keenan's last pro model, a Guy Mariano from 94 that Mike Carroll is riding on his SOTY Thrasher cover and Josh Kalis's second pro model. All are rare and have huge potential monetary value, but at the end of the day the sentimental value far outweighs any monetary one. That's why I prefer to trade rather than sell/buy. It just feels better.


"I was joking with a friend that I sometimes feel bad for robbing these boards of their intended lives: being shredded out on the streets. My life for them is like a prison sentence!"


Would you ever skate any of the boards in the collection? Some of those shapes are super sick.

I was joking with a friend that I sometimes feel bad for robbing these boards of their intended lives: being shredded out on the streets. My life for them is like a prison sentence! Hahaha. I would like to skate some of them; the late 90's Girl boards have such awesome shapes and are super flat, but I have a feeling that close to 20 year old boards wouldn't hold up too well though.


Girl


What board has your favorite shape? Favorite graphic?

Favorite shape would have to be the Wenning Co-Exist 3 or the Guy Ferrariano board, they pretty much have the same shape but the Guy is a lot flatter. I reshape every board that I ride these days and have been doing so for a few years now. I use those two boards as templates when reshaping my boards. My favorite graphics are a toss up between all the boards in the Rocco brands photo. Those graphics are timeless and the legend of Rocco is alive and well in those boards.

What companies are out there today are you psyched on? Do you have a year limit on what can make it in the collection?

As I mentioned, I reshape all the boards i ride. I do that because I feel that current shapes are bland and too similar on each end. I get that most skaters these days are very comfortable skating switch, so a symmetrical shape makes sense, but I prefer boards with a shorter, tapered tail and a long pointy nose. Most boards had some variation of that shape from 93 through about 2007/2008. Then boards started moving towards 8" or wider with a true popsicle stick shape and now I'm suprised to even see a board under 8" anymore. I like 7.625 or 7.75, so I usually have to order one as finding one in person can be a hassle. As far as graphics go, Boulevard has some really awesome series boards that remind me a lot of early Habitat stuff before they turned into a hippy company. And I like what Primitive is doing; they have a lot of cartoon graphics that look like they could have been on an early Rocco brand deck, but their boards have too much concave for me and the shapes are not to my liking.


Rare_Boards


Is there a board out there you’ve been looking for that you’ve been unable to track down?

I have a few boards that I'd love to have in the collection for sure, but they're so rare I don't get my hopes up too much. They'd be a Blind Lavar McBride board I got in 94, it had his name written in a script across a black background and leapard print on the nose and tail, a Menace Eric Pupecki from 94 that was a mock up of the King Edward cigar logo, a Blind Keenan Milton from 95 that's a hand reaching for a basketball and finally a World Daewon from 97 which has a dolphin in an oval with flowers around Dae's name. There's quite a few more from more recent years, but those 4 stand out.

Shout outs/Thank yous?

I'd like to thank you Rob for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and collection, my parents for always thinking skateboarding was cool and getting me some rad boards back when I wasn't able to get them for myself, my girlfriend Alex for supporting me and my passion for collecting boards & hanging them all over the house, Matt Gannon for being a great friend and skate buddy when most of my friends have moved away or moved on, Jonah Miller for being the raddest dude on the planet, John Foster for being an inspiration to shred into my 40s and beyond, Evan Collins for being a part of my favorite skate memories and Dan Taylor & Simon Hooper for keeping the trade circle flowing.

SMLTalk with: Tim Savage

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Tim Savage is a VX1000 enthusiast, Frankie Nash's roommate, and was once mentioned in the thank you section of Brandon Westgate's Thrasher interview. Hey Tim, what are you wearing right now?

Haha hey man, just jeans and a sweatshirt, pretty casual.

As a Falmouth skatepark OG, tell us something people don’t know about Falmouth Park scene (which could be anything because nobody knows what it is).

Haha good ‘ol Falmouth park! Hmmm well my good homie Sean Michon and his brother Kevin Michon opened up a local skate shop about 5 years back on Main St in Falmouth called “headway”. It was some of the raddest times ever and all the local rippers would just come in and hang out all day and just kick it. Sean and Kevin really put 100% into the shop and it’s quite inspiring to be honest. Dudes just opened up a small business right out of high school! It was open for a year or so before they decided to close down because they both had plans to move away from Falmouth. I’ll never forget that place though and it goes to show you that you can do anything if you just put your mind to it!

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When did you first get into filming? What was your first set up?

I’ve always really enjoyed video cameras growing up and took some basic film classes in High school, which increased my interest. One day I was skating this spot in Kingston and this dude we were shredding with just happened to have a vx1000 that he was trying to sell. I immediately just offered to buy it and like 2 days later we finalized the deal. That was about 5 years ago and I couldn’t be happier about that decision.

I remember when I first met you it seemed like you and Sean Michon were the team. You on the VX and Michon with the photos. How’d that come about?

Sean and I went to High school together so we just naturally became friends through school and being some of the only skaters in the area. Sean started taking flicks a few years before I got into filming but once I got my VX we just kept going out and skating and getting missions going. He has a great eye for skating and it was just good times every time we skated.

It’s no secret how you feel about the VX1000, why is SD so important to you? Would you ever consider HD?

Hahaha well honestly I just think that the VX1000 just makes skating look so raw and powerful. It really is a unique camera and the MK1 lens just seals the deal. I’ve thought about going HD a lot and I prob will get an HD camera eventually, but I’m always going to hold onto my VX1000.

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Given your preference for Vx footage, do you even watch all the new HD/GoPro/Sci Fi that’s constantly coming out? What videos are you inspired by?

Hell yea I watch new videos no matter what camera they were filmed with! Some recent videos that I’ve been really stoked on are Static 4 & 5, big fan of the sabotage videos, the RAW video was amazing, sk8rat video was dope, GX1000 of course, I could go on and on…  Anything local is always inspiring.  It’s the best to see people you know kill it!

Are there any filmers who’s style you try to mimic? What filmers are you psyched on.

Hmm well I don’t know if mimic is the right word, but there’s deff filmers who have inspired me to think twice about the way I may film something. Shane Auckland, the dude who runs Sk8rats has always stood out to me as an amazing filmer. Lee Madden also knows how to use his VX like none other. You saw that RAW video, goddamn!

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One time I hit you in the face because you were filming so close to me. Sorry about that.

Haha no sweat, happens kind of a lot haha

Who sucks to film with? Who’s fun to film with?

Whoah, ahhh well not just for filming but just negative people in general are always rough to be around. Nothing worse than someone who’s got nothing positive to say or is always down in the dumps. Haha hmm well there’s a lot of people who make filming fun. I guess just anyone who really goes for stuff. Nothing better than going to a spot where you know the person is definitely going to try a trick. Hate traveling far to a spot and no one steps up haha but that’s just how it goes…

I’ve seen you do some jumping yourself… what’s the biggest stairset you’ve ever skated?

Ummm maybe like a 12 or so? Hucking is one of my favorite aspects in skating. Ever since I was younger I’ve always been blown away by people jumping down the gnarliest spots.

tim skating

How bad is it living with Frankie Nash? Give us a good Franksy story.

Hahaha, Frankie's the man! Living with Frankie is rad and he’s always got some crazy spots or missions he wants to venture to.  I can't really think of any story specifically but I can 100% say that ever since I started living with him he has never missed a weekend at the Model. You guys were spot on giving him that award haha!

When you get a crew together to get out and skate, who’s job is it to have spots? The filmer or the skater?

Really depends I guess. Usually if who ever I’m skating with has a spot they wanna go to we just check it out and try and make it work. I’m all about spot finding though and going to new areas to see what lurks, so if I find a spot that needs to be skated I wont hesitate to bring it up to someone who I think could get down.

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You’ve just finished putting together promo #2 for Corner Store. What can we expect in tomorrow’s video?

The homies. Jimmy Lake and I really wanted to put something out that tried to incorporate as many of our friends as we could. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing better than watching a video filmed with all your good friends and heads in the scene!

Any word on a full-length for CS?

There’s definitely been talk about that for the plans after this promo. I think Jimmy Lake definitely wants to start working on one but he’s pretty relaxed about it all. We’ll just continue to go out and skate and have fun and see where it goes!

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You have your own full length coming out. Tell us a little about that.

Yes. Sooo basically I’m aiming for Fall 2015 to put it out. Between injuries, work, school, conflicting schedules, etc. We’ve been trying to stack as much as we can to really showcase the talents of the skaters I’m working with. It’s called “Gem”, and the line up is Nick Govatsos, Jordan Rodrigues, Pedro DeOliveira, Nick Rudzinski, Frankie Nash, Jimmy Lake, Steven Catizone, Serge Murphy and Eric Martinac. Super stoked to be working with all these dudes and I couldn’t be more excited to show everyone what we’ve been doing!

Any advice for people looking to get into the filming game?

Just go for it. It’s not about what you use also, It’s how you use it. Even Iphone edits are legit now a days haha

Shout outs/ thank you?

Everyone whose down for skating and good times!  Oh, and of course SMLTalk  =*

SMLTalk with: Brandon Westgate

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Brandon Westgate is one of the best skateboarders on the planet. He owns his own farm in Carver and has actually won SOTY two years in a row, they just keep giving his trophy to other people for some reason. He's a nice dude. Did I mention he's one of the best skateboarders on the planet?


First question, can you dunk a basketball?

Nope.

Wow, we were not prepared for that response.

(*scraps list of basketball questions*)

Okay. So, you’re currently living down in Carver. What’s life like for you on a daily basis there? Do you skate that much in Carver?

It's pretty mellow in the summer, I would do some work around the farm in the morning, then go skating later in the day. Now the weather sucks so I'm heading out west.

Have you ever found a body in the cranberry bog?

No, and I hope I never do.

westgate bog

Alright, we need the inside scoop here. How did Anthony Shetler get involved with Shake Shack? It’s a dream sponsor of mine, so I’m fascinated/jealous at how the AIN Crew has pulled this off...as a follow up, are you a shake shack fan - if so, shackburger, smokeshack, or shroom burger?

Anthony knows someone on the inside that's super cool. Yeah I love shake shack it's the best, shroom burger all day.

So you’re originally from Wareham, Massachusetts. Was there much to skate there or did you travel around the South Shore for spots/parks? What about Boston? Seems like the first time I heard of you, you were skating in NYC a lot.

There's nothing to skate in Wareham. We did have a little indoor skatepark that I skated everyday, it was the best. I didn't have my license when I got hooked up with 5boro so it was hard to get around. I would have my parents drop me off at the bus station and take the bus to NYC and shred with those guys every weekend.

You seem on an island with your skating: not too concerned with trick trends/stair counts/etc. Do you keep up with skating regularly? What’s the best internet comment you’ve read about yourself?

Ya I check Thrasher, The Skateboard Mag, The Berrics, Hella Clips...I don't check everyday but  whenever I feel like watching something...I don't really check comments, you never know what people are gonna say.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNXRWgn8gRs]

Favorite VHS era video?

411

Does shameless self-promotion help or hurt the cause and will conveniently timed end-of-the-year video parts continue to rob you of the award you so justly deserve?

I don't know anything about how others self promote, I try and stay away from all that and just skate and film parts. For me that's what skating has always been about, filming and making parts, I just like to do that. If it works out and I win I'd be stoked for sure. The parts for that are all so good and everyone that's won so far I think has deserved it. I'm just stoked to be in the running.

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As we bring this to a close, I just want to make sure you fully understand how many hearts you broke when you boardslid up the JP rail. I was literally looking to boardslide down it the other day. Now what? Now. What.

Haha I've been looking at that every since I first went there years ago.

Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with your family’s business. Is this something you could see yourself doing full-time when skateboarding has run it’s course?

I basically bought a home with 7.5 acres of cranberry bogs. My families never actually owned any of our own. My Dad helps me so much, I couldn't do it without his help or knowledge. I love to do that kind of work and learning everything. I would love to take over the cranberry industry when I can't skate anymore.

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Shout outs/Thank you’s?

Thank you to my wife, family, Zoo, Emerica, Venture, Ricta, Bones Bearings, Dakine Bags, and Skaters Edge.


For more of Westgate Cranberries: http://www.westgatecranberries.com/about-us/

Photos: Rob Collins

Interview: Rojo, Dave Lewis, Evan Oppedisano

(special thanks to Tim Savage, as well)

SMLTalk With: Jesse Silvey

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Jesse Silvey is a damn legend with a solid resume, having been in two of the most popular skate videos of the VHS era (Fulfill the Dream, and Guilty) as well as parts as a youth in the Church of Skatan videos. If you were alive/skating/mentally aware during the late 90s and early 2000s, you know him as the kid grew up with Sammy Baptista, and one of the few dudes on Shorty’s could do tricks that didn’t look like a complete mishap.


 

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Alright Jesse, I need to know. Who came up for the storyline behind Guilty? I think we can both admit that it’s absolutely insane.

I believe they hired some Hollywood director

Wow. Who had your favorite part in that video?

I’d say Brandons for the fact he raps his own soundtrack an the sw hard at the end was just out right gangsta! But def Smolik now that I look back he had the most NBD’S and just way ahead of the curve, the flip in flip out stuff.

The weird thing about that video for me is that the distinction in style between guys like you, Sammy, and Toan is so clear from pretty much everyone else on the team. You guys had good trick selection, were really progressive, and skated clean. I know you were probably skating mostly with Sammy, but who else were you skating with at this time?

We’d meet with Toan and Smolik and B most every chance we got. But yeah it was just a great formula with hotel, filmer and van missions.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW51vQ95E7w]

 

Switch big flip at 3rd and Army. I just want to say thank you for that.

Thanks that was a tough cookie! These were the days when everyone shot in film and I could remember trying that trick for so long there was a mountain of film building the pressure is real when you have that on the sideline but thankfully all elements fell together

Can you give me a Muska moment?

I rolled with him one time to do a demo at Universal Studios and he was trying this kickflip off this ramp and fell and was like “FUCK!” some flash light cop was like “watch your mouth” Muska didn’t skip a beat and was all “ Fuck off” dude tried hemming him up and then Mike Vallely bum rushes the cop and Muska breaks and all hell cuts loose. I think Sheffey was chasing the copper around it was GREAT!

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That is absolutely insane. Alright, lightning round, would you rather skate like Tony Manfre or Tony Tave?

Manfre, That’s the homie!

Rick Howard or Ricky Oyola?

Howard

Jason Jessee or Jesse Martinez?

Jason Lee

 

What would you say is your favorite video from the VHS era?

The Alien workshop photosynthesis the orange tape ooof!

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So I gotta be honest, I was watching your video part in Hard Times But Good Times, and I noticed that the top comment is as follows:

“Fuck Dylan rieder, this fool is what skating is about. Fucker works a job and skates on the side. Dylan can suck my shitty asshole as i sit here taking my morning shit

 This might be the best YouTube comment in recorded history, and I think a lot of people feel that way. That pros like Dylan, who are also models, aren’t relatable. What’s your opinion on skating today and the way different pros present themselves?

I’m flatered haha! Yeah I don't know we're all skaters that love to skate whether you comb your hair to the left or right I could care less. But yeah theres a lot of kooks that don’t skate and mimic styles like come on really your gonna tuck your white T and wear high waters and not backside heel a table haha!

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLX4M4XHRGk]

 

 How’d you get to filming that video after taking a break from skating for a bit?

Everything I filmed was in Barcelona and I was just cruising it felt good to be in that place with the free will to do what ever I wanted. But yeah shaking off the rust can be a challenge but yet fun to learn everything over. I just didn’t care what anyone thought like fuck it this is where my skatings at just document the time we have and lets have fun.

 

Where are you living these days?

LA

I know you’ve been skating...saw the clip with the switch crooks on the instagram...liked it. You got anything in the works?

Im always obsessing on skating everyday but yeah I’d like to film another part. That’s always fun and feels good to accomplish.

 

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Wait, real quick before we end this, not sure if you saw it, but Smolik just had a clip in the Sk8 Mafia promo doing a switch bigspin heelflip frontside disaster revert on some transition spot. How insane is that?

Yeah I saw that too! Pete is classic!

smolik

Any shout outs?

ALL that love skating and don’t give a fuck! To SMLTALK for considering me for this interview! PEACE!