Featured in North 21
Interview & Photography by Graham Tait
Where are you originally from and why did you move to Philadelphia?
I’m from Douglassville Pennsylvania, it’s an hour outside of Philly. I moved here because there’s a good skate scene and it’s close to home.
That's pretty small town, less than 500 people. That's quite a difference from Philly, what was it like growing up there?
Yeah it’s an extremely small town, mostly just woods and cornfields, some horror movies were filmed in the area. It was a decent place to grow up though. Luckily we had this shitty skatepark where I spent all my time. It’s a big difference from living in Philly that’s for sure. Philly is an interesting city and I’m glad I moved here.
This was my first time in Philly, my only experience of America up until that point had been New York, where I feel pretty safe. It was obvious to me that Philly has lot of character but I felt a little intimidated to be honest. How long have you been there and do you feel safe for the most part?
I’ve been living here for a little over two years now, before moving here I lived in LA for about four years. I do feel safe in Philly for the most part, there’s some really nice parts of the city. There are also extremely depressing parts of Philly. Some areas are just consumed with violence, poverty and drugs. My girlfriend actually got robbed at knife point last week. The cops did something for once and found the piece of shit!! We do place ourselves in some pretty rough areas to go skate. Sometimes people are interested and let us skate their block but it all depends. Skateboarding can be a hood pass.
Whoa that's crazy, I hope she's ok. What happened to the guy?
Yeah she’s fine, thankfully. This junkie showed her a knife and said “give me all your cash”. Some construction workers watched it from a far and they called the cops, they circled the area for a bit and found the guy. He got arrested and she got most of her money back.
Glad they got him. It was weird when 20 kids turned up for an organised fight at the American street banks spot, it definitely changed the vibe.
Yeah that was insane, I’ve seen that happen there a handful of times. Young kids just beating the shit out of each other for fun, it’s awful. You don’t really want to stop them either. Kids can be the most dangerous.
What was LA like?
LA was cool, I’m actually going out there in two weeks. Hyped to get away from the winter, it’s been pretty rough.
What encouraged you to make the move to LA?
I went on a trip out there for two weeks and had a great time.The weather is perfect for skating. Being from the east coast I wanted that. I had a lot of good times out there but after four years I wanted to switch it up. Traffic isn’t as bad in Philly. Haha!
Did you know anyone out there?
I knew a couple people. I originally moved to a place in Long Beach with homies I knew from Florida. It’s pretty easy to make friends out there because there are thousands of skateboarders.
You were working as a pizza delivery driver right? I got told that you were on a tv prank show, what happened!?
Haha! Yeah, this always gets brought up. I was working at this place called Hollywood Pies, they make deep dish Chicago style pizza. Everyone that worked there skated, which was sick. Anyway, I knock on the door to deliver a pizza. This girl comes out in only a towel and it falls off...I'm like uhhhh and then she invites me in. There are four other girls there basically naked and I'm just like what the fuck is happening. They ask me to have a pillow fight, so I'm down and just start hitting these chicks with pillows. I was still very confused but just went with it. Haha! After that, they ask what they can do for the pizza because they don't have money. Here's where I knew something was up, this is so bizarre. I knew they wanted me to say something gnarly but I didn't. Eventually it gets awkward and like five dudes jump out of closets with cameras. "You're on a prank show!" They tip me 15 bucks and I leave, I didn't think anyone would really see it. I was wrong, I've been asked about this so many times!
Haha! Luckily you didn't do anything too incriminating! I found it on Youtube, it has over 8 million views!
Yeah seriously good thing they didn’t get anybody real creepy and I had to sign a waiver. Eight million views and I get paid 15 bucks that doesn't seem fair. Haha!
Haha! Yeah right. Did you have a plan before you went to LA to try to 'make it'?
Haha! Nah I don’t think so. I wanted to skate and film that’s for sure. I worked pretty much my entire time out there. I mean getting paid to do what you love is the dream right? These days it’s pretty really hard to “make it” though. Kids out there are so fucking good with just a grizzly grip sponsor, you know?
It’s different times for sure. That would’ve been the time when Instagram and social media was kicking off. Was it hectic with kids filming each other all over the place?
Yeah Instagram has consumed skating, basically every video is straight to the internet. You see it on Instagram first, then go watch it. Sometimes it would be hectic with other crews skating at a spot. J Kwon and spots like that were a total zoo on the weekends. We tried to avoid those spots and skate something different though.
You filmed a couple of parts out there. Who with and for what videos?
The first one was called 'In Transit'. My good friend and roommate at the time Darien Brown made the video. We both worked at HUF together and would go filming on weekends. That was a fun time, there are some really good parts in that video. Billy Davenport has last part, it’s really sick. The next one was Cody Tompson’s video, 'Deep Fried'. That video was also really fun to film for. Jeff Carlyle would whip all of us around in his van to go skate. Everyone worked hard for that video. Half of the people involved ended up moving to San Francisco including Cody.
How come you didn’t go to SF with them?
I moved to Philly beforehand. I love SF and would really like to live there someday. It’s my favorite city to skate, it’s just so damn expensive. There are no hills in Philly which sucks.
SF is going off right now with those GX1000 dudes, they love hills!
Yeah a lot of those dudes from 'Deep Fried' have really good footage in that new GX vid.
Let’s talk about Slap’s ‘One In A Million’, you were on the last one of those, how did that come about?
Shit. Haha! That always gets brought up too. Yeah I was, the whole thing was garbage. Met some good homies though!
Did you have to apply? What was the process?
Yeah you just had to send in a minute video of skating. I guess I didn’t put any of my contact info with the video. The dudes said it took awhile to track down my number.
It used to be a pretty legitimate way to get yourself out there. What do you think went wrong with that season?
That’s what I thought, the previous years were just skating. Alex Kline was in charge my year, he was a total kook. The dude used to skate but totally lost touch with it. He decided to do eliminations and challenges and all this bullshit. It was like survivor meets skateboarding. Hands down one of the worst ideas ever. They also didn’t tell us the format until we got to New York.
That really sucks. Had you been to New York much before that?
Yeah, I used to go all of the time. I would be in New York once or twice a month. My friend Cooper Winterson made a video '\m/' so I was always up there filming for that. Colin Read filmed One in a million so that put me in touch with him, he made Tengu and Spirit Quest. I would go up there often and stay with him before I moved to LA. I’m gonna start making it up to New York more once it’s warm again.
What was it like filming with Colin Read?
It was sick, Colin is a great dude. He let me stay on an air mattress on his kitchen floor for over a month. He was putting these edits out through slap for a bit, before Tengu came out. We would just go skate and film for those. I’m pretty sure they all got deleted when slap went out.
He definitely thinks outside of the box with his work which is rad. What gets you hyped on skateboarding these days?
The Atlantic drift edits always get me hyped, those dudes are extremely creative. GX1000 edits are amazing, anything to come out of Philly. Chris Mulhern is always putting out good stuff. There’s a lot of good skating out there. Skating with your friends is what gets me the most hyped though.
Are you still filming something with Mulhern? I think you guys mentioned something about that when I was there.
Yeah, every once in awhile. He is really busy with adidas stuff and it’s freezing here. We have a good amount of footage saved up. Hyped to get more when the weather is normal. I’ve been trying to finish this part with my friend Zach Sayles. He’s making a video out of Philly.
Who's going off in Philly right now? There's a lot of love for the older generation, but who's killing it these days?
All of the sabotage dudes are always killing it. Hyped to see their next project. I know Joey O’Brien has some crazy footage with Mulhern. Josh Fiest has been on one, our friend Ricky Gieger just got a board. There’s a lot more, there’s a good skate scene here.
Did you get to skate the original Love Park much?
I skated Love occasionally when it was still there. We would take trips to Philly almost every weekend from Douglassville when I was younger. With Love being gone now, I kind of regret moving to LA. Haha! Municipal is cool but it’s not the same. New Love Park is a joke, it’s a walkway and a parking garage.
It's sad when iconic spots are demolished, I could watch Love Park footage all day.
It really is sad. Philly is always destroying iconic spots, city hall was amazing as well. I think the goal for the city was to make Love and City Hall into flat surfaced areas. To keep the homeless and the skateboarders out. Seeing an entire park from ground level really helps security. I miss seeing new Love footage. I actually think of ideas for lines at love even though it doesn't exist!
Do you know anything about Mulherns documentary about Love?
I was talking to him about that a while ago. He said it’s going to take another two years to make. He’s Going through old tapes from Bill Strobeck, Eastern Exposure days, etc. It’s gonna be really sick. Neil (Herrick) actually has a lot of old Philly tapes as well. I’m stoked to see it, footage and interviews from all of the best of the Love Park era.
That will be epic! You mentioned earlier that you're working on a part with your friend Zach, will that be out in 2019?
Yes for sure! It will come out right before the summer at the latest. We have been working hard on it and I’m exited to see the finished product!
Any shout outs?
Extra special shout out all of my friends and family. You Graham, for making this happen. Anyone who I’ve filmed with over the years. Shout out to anyone that has given me free shit to keep me skating, it means a lot.