Friday, December 23, 2016

On The Move with Chuck Treece

Chuck Treece "Tile-Tuners" Guest Pusher Model
Pen & Ink Art By: Shawn Beeks

Skateboarding has always had close ties to music. Skate-videos themselves rely pretty heavily on it. Certain parts stand out, because of their music. Certain skate sessions are burned into our memories, because of a specific track playing from the boom-box that night. So, it is natural that some of us who skate also play music. Chuck Treece is not only that, but someone who in the 1980's excelled at skateboarding with a truly unique and memorable prescience while also excelling at music; to almost legendary status. Chuck is a true well rounded man of culture and substance. He has seen skateboarding grow up, fall down, come back, recycle trends, and he's never stopped rolling his own way no matter what the skate world was eating up at that hot-moment. Traveling for skating and music over the last 35+ years has not phased him one bit. In fact, he might be more juiced than ever. He is the recipient of a Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship in The Arts for his long creative work history in skateboarding and music. That work includes not only being the first black skateboarder from Philadelphia to turn pro, but also being a founding member of Philly skate-rock band McRad, and playing along side the Bad Brains, Sting, Pearl Jam, and Tommy Guerrero throughout his career. The name PUSHER sums up Chuck pretty well; the guy is always going for it, he always has. He's non-stop traveling, moving and shaking, and jamming away with a smile on his face the whole time. The guy radiates positive vibes and skate culture from his pours. I'm proud that Chuck hails from the Tri-State; he's been a truly great ambassador for what we respect and take pride in here.
-Pusher Rob

You are in fact originally from Newark, DE. What was it like growing up there back in the day (1970's) and what brought you to Philly in those early years of skating and music? How did you find skateboarding?

- My mom lived in Philly and my Dad in DE, so I had both cities to grow-up in while learning to ride skateparks and ramps. I skated a bunch of parks early on with that rage-of-the-70's lifestyle. It was common back then for skaters to regularly travel pretty far to skate their favorite parks. Skateboarding will always be a word-of-mouth family, so when you heard something was going on you figured out how to get there. We as skaters are always on the go, non-stop. Even if its just to pick up your kids now, AKA myself with rug-rats.

During the 1980's what was the Tri-State skate scene like? Obviously, vert skating was a lot bigger at the time, so what role did the backyard ramp scene play in skating and your skateboarding in particular? Is there a ramp from back in the day that isn't around now that you wish you could bring back?

- Skateboarding in the 80's was super fun, but raw at the same wasn't easy. Ramps would be found in all sorts an shapes back then...along with the state of skateboarding at the time too. There were changes going on in skating then, just like now. Wheels were changing then, boards, the scenes too...the people were changing it heavily. Backyard ramps have always been around, but in the 80's a good amount started getting built a lot better. No ramp in particular, but that time itself was rad. The Tri-State area creates great skateboarders, driven skateboarders, because back then you had to travel around to skate and be apart of it. We are all really products of, or culturally influenced by the roots of skating from the 80's. I'm honored to be from here,and apart of this scene. The energy is still around, and it is a big responsibility for the current skateboard-family to carry on here. Man, if anything...I wish we just had warmer weather.

Bowl-riding down in DE

Who were you riding for back then when skating was so spread out and a bit disconnected?

- I went AM for Santa-Cruz back then and that was hands down my favorite time riding for a skate brand. I had so much respect for what those guys at NHS had done for skating and the industry. I later rode for Madrid Skateboards when I turned pro, and then I headed over to SG (aka Sure Grip boards) to continue my pro career. I was on Thunder Trucks through all that, and back then OJ wheels too. OJ's wheels were so sick back then, one of the first wheels back then that felt good on all terrain.

It seems that even at that time you were traveling a lot eh?

- Yeah for sure, I was traveling not just on the East. I was probably traveling more than a lot of kids even now honestly. Like I said, in the Tri-State at that time you had to take the train, or hustle a ride, or take a bus to connect to the scene(s) to skate.

You were also sponsored by AIRWALK during that era, which was a time when most amateur or professional skaters did not have shoe sponsors at all. That company and Etnies changed the game of skate shoe footwear forever. What was it like to be apart of that? The shoes were totally different than the ones now obviously, but they were some of the first to really take the risks and push what defined the skateboard-footwear genre.

- I loved AIRWALK. At that time they worked so well for what I was skating, and especially being on the East with Winter...they just worked for us. A lot of ramp skaters rocked them hard, and that was a big part of my career. It was the best riding for them back then, they really looked out for us and took care of us. I know they changed up later on, but my generation has some rad classic skate kicks and memories to look back on, so that's cool.

You've been playing music for pretty much the same amount of time that you've been skateboarding. Did they naturally go hand-in-hand for you? Which did you discover first?

- Music was first, at the age of two to be exact. By age six I had a legit drum kit. By age 8 I was playing my first shows with my father and his band down in Chester, PA at Boots and Bonnets. Skateboarding and music are one for me; once skating came along it just made sense to have access to both. I want to ride skating and music off into the clouds, staying on the ride as long as possible.

Not only were you a founding and current member of the Philly skate-rock punk band McRad, but a huge portion of your musical career has been as a session-musician. For those reading who may not know what that is please tell them, because that side of the music industry has allowed you to play along side artists like The Bad Brains and Billy Joel, which is pretty remarkable.

- Being a session musician is like cooking food. Depending on how or what you eat governs how you're gonna' cook right? Music is the same way. If you want to play for this type or with this person you simply have to play and record a lot. The choices are endless with ways to be musically creative. Session-work really helps me with live music shows; it allows me to treat the recording studio like a theater. It takes a lot of time to understand that music of all genres takes constant attention (sessions) and work to really be a professional at it. Make sense?

McRad at FDR. Photo: Jeff Davis

In more recent years you've spent a lot of time playing along side Tommy Guerrero on some of his solo projects as well as in the band you have together called BLK TOP Project ( BLK TOP is Tommy G, Matt Rodriguez, Chuck Treece, Ray Barbee, and Josh Lippi).  The music in that realm is different than what you are known for with say a band like McRad, which begs the question what music gets you the most stoked? What do you enjoy playing the most? Any East Coast BLK TOP tours in the future?

- A BLK TOP tour out East would be nice. Timing is the situation; getting everyone on the same schedule is the real challenge. All the guys in BLK TOP come from long traditions of respecting all types of music, so they are some of the best to jam with. I like being creative...I love playing music, so if I can handle the music-task I'm simply down to learn it and play it.

BLK TOP Project in Japan

In the 80's you got the cover of Thrasher Mag with one of the most iconic cover layouts of all time. Did you know the photo was going to be sent to Thrasher? What was it like to become the first black skater to grace the cover of Thrasher; was the significance of that something that resonated with you at the time?

- The front cover design was something motivated by Thrasher. Tom Groholski and I created this new backyard scene at the time and Glen Friedman showed up to take photos. Glen was one of the best at the time and was the perfect guy to have on a session. It was just tons of fun to be skating there and to be photographed by one of the best to shoot in that era. That really helped out our scene a lot. Everyone started pushing their limits a lot more cuz' we were entering the cusp of the era where Sean Miller and Baker Barrett were ripping. I wasn't even concerned about being black at the time, it was hard enough just being a skateboarder. Someone actually had to tell me later on it was in fact the first cover with a black skater. About 20 years later I realized it at this event in LA called "As We Roll", which was an event honoring ethnic skateboarders and their impact on the culture.

You and McRad actually released a Nike Dunk colorway based off that Thrasher cover and the band's history in skateboarding. How did it feel to create that shoe?

- I designed that sneaker with Jerguen from Berlin and Kevin over at Nike SB. It took about 8 or 9 months to get things sorted out and then finally it all fell into place. It was fun, good people to work with. To have my childhood band on such an iconic sneaker will forever bring a smile to my face.

You Know What It Is.

Your instagram handle is @chucktreece and if one was to follow you on there they may wonder how in the heck is this guy all over the place?!? I say this, because it seriously seems like everyday you are in a new town, city, or state hitting up skateparks, playing music, and just living life to the fullest. This isn't just the tri-state either, sometimes you'll be taking crazy coast to coast trips on a whim for the weekend and then boom you're back in Philly skating FDR on Monday morning. At 52 what's it like; what's the secret to moving and grooving at such a pace of life?

- Yoga is truly a major part and having my family around me; I'm stoked on the situation I've been able to create. Skateboarding, travel, and music are the best. I have met amazing people in my travels and hope to meet many more in the future, so that's a big motivator right there. I do have a strict diet and I stick to it in order to keep my body working at its best. I am constantly asking people about new ways to live and eat healthy, so I can continue to do this for as long as possible.

FDR, Chuck's all-time favorite spot. Photo: ZOLI

Your son is a young skateboarder, and he also plays some instruments as well. In particular, he's quite good at the drums. Have you guys recorded or played shows together? Has music always been a family affair with you?

- I have always had the kids jam out with me. We do live recording sessions; I'll engineer and then set up headphones and let the kids hear the sounds in the room. Then we would move on to talking into the mic and then singing. They've grown up around it their whole lives. My son Kieran has been serious about music since about age 2. They just grew up in the world of music studios and live shows. Skateboarding as well, so they would be likely to pick that up too. Music is good for a family. My son and I are recording some stuff for my new record, so I'm definitely stoked on that.

Chuck hittin' it frontside. Photo: ZOLI

What's on your list to tackle in the new year? Any thanks or shout-outs before we wrap this one up?

- I am working on a website that will host all the music that I have created and played along side skateboarding over the years. I have a new LP that I'm working really hard on too. I have a board coming out in 2017 with Remy Stratton's company Pocket-Pistols, and yeah just keeping the groove going man. Shout-outs and thanks to Pusher Wheels for the guest wheel and all the other companies that have helped me out including PRS Guitars, Eminence, Pocket Pistols, Joey at ACE Trucks and Diamond Supply, Adidas Skateboarding, Placid Audio, Hazelrigg Industries, The Wilmington Skate Park Project, my loving family, and of course coffee.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Welcome to The Team Interview with Matt Rodriguez

Hailing from Northern California, Matt Rodriguez has been creatively killing it for decades. He is a highly respected skater amongst many OG rippers in the industry. He's been a part of incredible, and culturally significant, skateboarding brands such as Stereo, Supernaut, Diamond, and IPATH footwear. Not only that, but he has been a professional musician for much of the same time as well; playing along side Tommy Guerrero for most of it. Known for pretty much his whole career as the man with the loosest trucks, he has given the world a plethora of uniquely executed photos and footage. Originality and pure enjoyment come to mind in regards to his skating. Matt was once quoted saying, "If skateboarding were a contest then he who has the most fun wins." Words like that are very important, especially for the current state of skateboarding and skateboard media. Matt keeps it real 100% of the time. He's from the old-guard that pretty much created the ground work for modern street skating and he's still out there pushing. Matt is pure skateboarding, real skateboarding, and a truly unique individual on and off his board.
-Pusher Rob

-Where are you originally from? Where do you reside and skate now?

I was born in San Jose, CA. Sacramento, CA is the city where I dwell now; been here 30 years.

-Why have you chosen to remain in Sacramento for so long? What are the special things about that city that keep you there and make it unique?

It's where I really took off with my skateboarding career honestly. The things that make SAC unique are the mellow everyday people, and pace of life here. As well as all the trees and nature we have inside the inner city.

-You've always had a profoundly different and personal approach to skateboarding. Who influenced you the most in terms of skating when you were growing up and what gets you stoked now?

The skaters that influenced me the most would be Gonz, Tommy G, and most of my day to day friends growing up skating here in SAC that supported me and pushed my limits of skating. I have a great thirst for always trying to come up with some shuffles I haven't seen yet, or build off in some way of what has been done by guys that get me stoked. It really is endless as far as what can be done and expressed on a skateboard, so I'm always and forever searching.

 "The Rollriguez"

- You are also a very well known and credited musician. Who has inspired you over the years in that realm?

When it comes to musical influences I would definitely say Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Carlos Santana, Billy Cobham, Michael Shrieve, Elvin Jones, John Lee Hooker, and John McLaughlin

- How do you not get bodied doing the bs-180 to wheelie 180 out thing (Stereo Tincan Folklore video)? My friends and I growing up always tried it and kept eating shit or never could commit to getting the timing right. How did that one come about [question from Pusher team rider Jeremiah Babb]?

Ohhhhhh, that bona-fide strugg-shuffle? I used to call that one the Mexican U-Turn and you just gotta give yourself whiplash!

Age of Resistance

-Did/do you continue to personally design your board shapes? You've gone through phases and skated popsicle shapes, football shapes, shovel nose, block-head shapes, etc. What about changing it up do you like so much?

Yes for sure indeed. Over the years I have done some shapes that for the time period(s) were "out of the box", but most definitely I was behind them all. I just get bored with the run-of-the-mill and I have to try different shapes to stoke me out on skating and feed the creative fire.

-Is it true that you designed the Cats shoe for IPath? The rumor is that it was supposed to be their first pro-model and your's at that, but they later decided to just issue it as a team model. Gotta' say it is still one of the raddest and most unique skateboard shoes of all time. They later gave you an official pro-model version of it, but it was a vulcanized style instead right?

Yup for sure, I gave IPATH the Cat name and the design idea to do as one of the first 3 shoes we put out for the brand (The Grasshopper, Buffalo, and Cats). Obviously it was just taken from a Clark's Wallabee boot, but nobody had ever tried to put a skateboarding sole on anything like that before, or a bit of padding to make it functional to ride in. It was also rad just for the simplicity of it. You know, it had the easy-on-the-eyes looks, which was what we were going for with IPATH. Yeah they had held out for years until they finally made a Cat model with my name on it (the "Cat-Rod"), better late than never eh?

-What other shoes have been your favorite to skate in over the years?

My top shoes to roll in gotta' be the Es Sal Barbier's, Vans Chukka's, Chuck T Converse, Vans Cabs, and last but not least that IPATH Gato (that's the Cats, duh').

-After your time on the original Stereo Skateboards you spent some time on Supernaut, which was an awesome short-lived brand with tons of rippers like Paul Sharpe, Will Harmon, Matt Pailes, Carlos Young, Trevor Prescott, Tony Cox, Steve Young, and Chris Head. How was that era and filming for their videos Infinite-Momentum and Urban-Canvas? How and why did the company end, and did you return to Stereo directly after that?

After I quit Stereo I didn't have any plans of who to ride for and then I met up with Matt Pailes to skate one day and he was like "Dude, come ride for Supernaut"! So, I rode a board and I liked the feel of it and then later I went down to the manufacturer in Pinole, CA. We chatted for a bit, and it was a wrap. Their boards were some of the best in the industry at that time and we made a couple videos. As always man, I had a lot of fun filming for both of them and stacking whatever chips I could. I got great memories for sure form those days. Supernaut was a very unique brand in that time and had a good lil' run, but unfortunately it came to an end.  After that shutdown it took a couple years, but I ended up back on Stereo; it all happened at the right time(s).

-You generally have spent most of your career stemming away from contests and things of that nature. Instead, you've focused on the classic street skater mentality of photos matter, demos matter, touring matters, and video parts matter. Why did you decide to go that way and what is your take on the current state of skate media or large scale marketing that overly promotes a contest or quantified skating mentality?

Yeah I definitely wasn't down for the monopoly money side of things coming into the culture; being that it was not for the culture by the culture. Rather, it was just another stream that is primarily youth based marketing. Those big companies are just searching for new wells to tap into to push their garbage. I was and still am always down to go tour and skate/demo live and direct for the people and definitely for the younger skaters to keep it more personal and fun. I'm always down for the grassroots contests like FTC, TampPro/Am, or any other people coming from within the culture and for the culture. The one thing I do actually like about the big monopoly contests is that at least vert skaters have a place to still thrive and be recognized for how gnarly it is and always will be. Other than one aspect I could care less about supporting that stuff in any other way. As far as video parts go I always felt like putting out a video part was like putting out a record and a chance to put out something special that takes time to showcase the personal touch of who you are. Unfortunately, these days the attention span to watch a video-part let alone appreciate the work and time that goes into it is getting lost to the aether's of instantaneous cyberspace that is reprogramming people's attention spans into nothing.

-First person to get a switch front blunt on an actual ledge documented, yay or nay?

I'm not quite sure if I was the first person to film a switch front blunt on a real ledge, but if I was I'll take it to the bank and cash it in for the measly struggle-bucks its worth. 

-What has Matt Pailes been up to out in SAC? Do you guys still play music together?

Yup, Matt Pailes and I still roll through SAC hitting the streets trying to motivate our vintage carcasses to move like we always have. As for music; we still jam and we both currently play in two of Sacramento's premier reggae rock-steady bands and we often play shows together (look up the Scratch-Outs and Sacramento Storytellers). 

World Threat

-When is BLK TOP PROJECT (a band featuring Tommy Guerrero, Matt Rodriguez, Chuck Treece, Josh Lippi, and Ray Barbee) coming to the East Coast to do some shows or tour?

Blk Top will be back sharing the good vibes with the East hopefully soon. We for sure will try to get some skating in as well. We went there a few years back and had a blast, so I'm looking forward to coming out there again with the crew.

-You recently went to Japan with BLK TOP; how was that trip? Get any skating in or was it strictly playing shows?

The Blk Top tour to Japan this Summer was amazing as usual. Hanging out with old school rollers, playing music, and keeping the good times rollin' out there. We didn't get much skating in due to traveling a lot from city to city. Hopefully next time we can rip the streets and get some documentation of it. There's an edit of it online somewhere that Josh made.

-How has skateboarding helped or hindered you in other areas of your life? How has it inspired you or how has it potentially frustrated you as well, because we all know skateboarding can be the best of times and the worst of times all rolled into one [question from Pusher pen and ink artist Shawn Beeks of @slapstikskateboardart]?

Skateboarding has helped me have a long enduring creative outlet to express myself in many ways. I can honestly say it has fueled my creative quest in both visual arts and in music; as well as finding an overall sense of self. 

-What's up with Es-La-Boom, tell the people...

Es-La-Boom is a spirit and overall outlook of how to approach skateboarding in a sense of "pave your own way, which is always in the eye of the beholder". I want to put out some personal unique and creative things in the near future. Some shirts, softgoods, a few hardgoods, etc. I have a lot of art and a direction that I don't really see any other entities doing that I would like to see. So in the time coming soon I will be putting out a roster of goods with my personal touch and flavor, down to the spirit. It will most definitely be hands on and personal; remember, the small fries are a part of one big batch.

Skateboarding is The Number One Dose

-What's next on your plate for the rest of this year and in 2017?

As for my future, just working steady with Pusher Wheels, Ace Trucks, and Stereo Skateboards. Gonna' be making new music and having adventures with the Sacramento Storytellers and Blk Top Project, and just straight propelling those good vibes Es-La-Boom style.

Let The Voices of Freedom Be Heard Worldwide


Stereo Skateboards: A Visual Sound

Stereo Skateboards: Tincan Folklore

The SUPERNAUT Urban-Canvas video in-full

IPATH promo part

UPRIZE Skateboarding: Matt Rod

SOLE REBEL (Alt. Edit)  Documentary by IPATH

Thrasher Double-Rock Part

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mike Maldonado Hittin' The Bowl

Mike and crew went up to a bowl on a farm in the woods near his hometown of West Chester, PA. Here is what happened when we drove up that afternoon a couple weeks ago. Enjoy.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rise Up & Over: The Jake Rupp Interview

Jake skating across the Mason Dixon Line 
by his home in Glenrock, PA.

Jake Rupp has long been known as one of the East Coast's most underrated skaters. He became somewhat of a cult hero to many. Jake is in the realm of "your favorite skater's favorite skater." Talk to anyone from the East over the age of say... 28, and Jake's name comes up as one of the kings-of-style and one we all wish got a bigger slice of the pie (remember, a decent pie was actually available back then). His unparalleled flexibility and super pop allowed him to ollie up and over some of the most mind-altering objects. Combine that with his loose and almost gumby-like body movement and you have a skater that looked as if everything came naturally and easily. Jake always looked as if he was having fun while skating and he was one with his board; a confident-cool one might say. He made his mark in between the cities of Washington DC, Baltimore MD, and Philadelphia PA. Growing up on a farm along the boarder of MD and PA we felt it was important to showcase a graphic that not only represented some of the cities Jake was known to skate (Baltimore being his favorite of all), but also an ode to growing up on a peaceful farm that impacted him quite heavily as a skater, a man, and a father. Big-Ups RUPP, much respect!

So Jake, most people associate you with MD, but you are in fact from a small town in Pennsylvania, correct?
-Well actually, the Mason-Dixon Line goes straight through my property. So yeah...I grew up in like the South East PA/North East MD area. The line that divides the states cuts right through, but in reality I spent more time in Maryland in terms of skating, school, family, business, etc.

What was it like growing up skating in such a rural area and when did you start skating? How did you even become aware of skateboarding?
- One of the cool crazy older kids had skateboards that we rode. I spent a lot of time in grocery store parking lots and lots of homemade ramps. I started skating in 89'.

More-Skates Skatepark was close to you; do you miss having indoor parks like that? To me it seemed like there were more of them back in the day, or they lasted longer, or at least there were bigger scenes around them back then.
-Indoor parks in the 90's were a hot commodity; skate crews were smaller back then and maybe not as many. That made everybody know everybody from all the different states up and down the East Coast. But yeah, More-Skates in Lancaster, PA was awesome. Before that there was Spunk park too. Lots of for real legit skating went down at those parks. Many heavy sessions; people would drive hours from other states to skate there and vice versa for us. We'd drive to fuckin' Newburgh, NY to skate that indoor park, so cool though. Good times.

Your coverage over the years has been primarily in the North East Corridor, but you have also spent many years traveling with Element and IPATH during the cultural heights of both brands. What are some of your favorite places you have skated and why?
- Favorite places are Baltimore, NYC, SF, Barcelona, and Japan. They all have sick street spots and they're just raw I guess. 

Your breakthrough part was arguably in STATIC 1 by none other than Josh Stewart; however, your part was a secret part after the credits. Did you know that was going to happen? Was there a particular reason Josh did that? I thought it was awesome, kind of like how Tom Penny's part in SORRY was a surprise too. Even though the surprise only works once it's still sick.
-I knew Josh from way back during times in Tampa; he been the homie for a long time. I ended up going on a trip with him, Selego, Meinholz, Mullendore, and Steve Brandi. We went just to skate and maybe get some tricks for his video. I ended up getting pretty much a whole part so honestly it was kind of unplanned and quick. That's where I fit in; I was super stoked for sure.

How was filming for that part? How did it differ, or how was it similar to say filming for something like the Element video with Tosh?
-Man...we were all just younger and those were simply some good friends to travel with, skate with, and live with. It just came so naturally. 

Pitcrew's WHERE I'M FROM video was also a major East Coast gem. Who filmed your footage for that part? How long were you guys filming for that project?
-Mark Nickles filmed the WHERE I'M FROM video for Pitcrew. How long did we film for? I don't even know how long to tell you the truth. It was more spread out than STATIC. 

During your career you skated for IPATH during its heyday. What was that like and were there any crazy stories from your times with that crew? Grasshoppers, best shoe they ever made?
- IPATH was an awesome team; great friends. We were killin' it there for a minute. Just skating with legendary dudes like Matt Rodriguez was epic. As for the shoes, yeah I just wore grasshoppers all the time; I liked the black on black. With IPATH it was really rad being in San Francisco at that time. We had a lot of fire and a lot of momentum behind us; bombing hills with Kenny Reed, Matt Field, Big Foot, it was just so radical and cool. It was...whatever you want to call it; just real honest, raw, and in the moment. Pretty epic tours to Japan man. Not only skating, but traveling through the the country side as well searching for Buddha and bamboo you know?

The tweaked-out ollie was somethig you personified over the years; allowing you to go up and over some incredibilty tall objects. Was pop and flexibility something that you always had in your skating or did it develop over the years? You got a secret to pop like that or is it a "you either got it or you don't" kind of thing?
- I just like ollieing over things. The feeling of floating over objects felt so awesome. I think it's just being flexible I guess?

After your part in the Element video you disappeared for awhile. Care to discuss why and how you took a a leave of absense from professional skateboarding?
- I just retreated home, had two kids, which has been awesome. Going on strange journeys...some light some dark. 

What are you up to these days? Where have you been skating and what is your daily routine like?
- I skate at some local parks like York park, skate some local city spots, chillin', trying to eat better, farm life, doing tile-work on the regs. Putting good stuff into my body; trying to teach that to my kids. I've been in the food business with my family for a long time so eating well is important to us. My grandmother is from Kentucky and started a restaurant here 55 years ago that my mom ran. She just sold it though, but it was Southern food made from scratch. Chicken, corn fritters, super good stuff.

You joined the world of social media only about a year ago, but during your leave you mentioned to me that you were not keeping up on the day-to-day of skate media. Now that you are more involved again, what's your take on it all right now?
- Yeah I just got on social media a year ago; specifically to reconnect with my skateboard family. It's cool to see everybody living and ripping. I like seeing the local rippers at the local spots doing crazy shit that I never could have imagined.

Are there skaters you pay close attention to now? Who gets you stoked?
- There's so many! It's all so cool from the VANS video to the instagram videos of the homies.

Who or what were your early influences when you were first coming up?
-Jason Lee, Blind Video Days, Ban This, The Stereo Videos, and definitely Eastern Exposure. 

Who would be on your list of top five favorite styles ever in skating?
- My top five of all time? Oh man just that natural outer-space-hello-style! You know, The Gonz, Guy Mariano, Mike Daher, Ray Barbie, even Heath. So many others too though.  

What's in the works for you for the rest of the year and beyond?
- Let's stay on the good foot for the future and keep moving forward. For real, the last year has been a real humbling adventure in my life and I'm glad you guys have been apart of that and I'm glad to be apart of your adventure too.

No doubt, anything else before we sign off? 
-For real, thank you skateboarding! Everything that goes with it is important in this fucked up boring place. Its our creative release and the way to take in this life. Way honored to have a guest wheel out with you guys with such a heavy team, and the Rick-O and Scott Kane guest joints too. Just very stoked to be apart of the fam' and to still be thought of to this day in skateboarding. That's the thick ties and bonds that skateboarding can create. Also, thanks to my daughter for helping get these answers across and all the typing back and forth. Peace






Saturday, March 5, 2016

The G-Mix

We present a collaboration piece of some of Mike's most classic footage and a couple unseen items too. PUSHER / PLAIN & SIMPLE present The Mike Maldonado G-Mix part. Enjoy

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mayor: The Ricky Oyola Interview

Ricky Oyola; a powerful skater with a powerful personality. He has a vision at all times and he thrives on integrity, pride, execution, and stubbornness. He may also have the most iconic push in street skating history, as well as one of the most classically stylish ollies ever. Going fast with purpose is what I think of when I think of Ricky Oyola. He's East Coast to the core and typically we on the East don't give much of a rat's ass if someone doesn't like us or our point of view. We have our own styles and we view them as the preferred methods-of-approach. You may or may not agree with each approach, but the people here at least have the balls to voice their strong opinions and showcase their perspectives. There are countless skaters who are motivated despite the skate industry's continued denial of talent here on the East. Ricky lived through the initial industry-denial of that talent and well...he and his friends pretty much blew the doors off that question of doubt when Eastern Exposure released. Ricky continued to lay down his vision of skating and cement his place in history by skating for and starting several iconic brands, and producing some of the most influential skate-coverage the world has laid eyes on. This interview hopefully gives some other insight into Ricky, his point of view, and some classic career stories. Ricky is a pro skater who has seen every facet that a skate career can offer, and we should all respect that. He's a guy that has a wealth of skate-knowledge to bestow on the world, and also a great person to just sit back and talk shit with. This interview and guest pro model project mean a lot to me and Shawn Beeks here at Pusher. Ricky truly is an inspiration for those of us who appreciate really good genuine skating that comes from true self expression. The kind of skating that embraces the battle against one's own mind, and results in something awesome. Ricky, you rule man, 100% respect. 

Rob:Where are you originally from?

Ricky: Born in Pemberton, NJ. I grew up in Medford, NJ.

What year did you start skating?


Throughout your career you stayed on the East Coast. In particular, you chose to stay around the Philadelphia area, but over the course of your career was there anywhere else you lived or spent a significant amount of time skating in?

 I stayed in the Philadelphia area pretty much the whole time. I spent 3 months in Australia on my first visit and then 6 months on my second trip there. I thought about moving to NYC at one point, but Philly had too much to conquer. SF was the only city out West that I could have ever seen myself moving to. Trekking though those hills, and seeking out new spots with Matt and Sergel were some of the most exciting experiences of my life. 

What other cities and scenes have you respected or been inspired by over the years?

From the start of my skating every city in California was highlighted in the magazines. So I can't help, but have tons of respect for what I saw in those mags early on. New York City, especially during the early SHUT years was out of this world. It seemed like every SHUT rider was the best skater. After we blew up Philly, it seemed like the mindset became from Boston to DC we were all one big scene, because of the close proximity of the cities. I also got a lot of love for ATL. The Japanese scene is like no other. I went there later in my career, but I wish I had gone during my peak. After going to Barcelona though, I wanted to live there. I couldn't believe the way they laid out that city. There were amazing things everywhere you went; I like banks and they're all over that place. I honestly wished I had made enough money during the height of my career, so that me and my wife at the time would have moved there for a few years before our first child was ready to start school. To experience that would have been amazing. 

You've obviously been on a lot of skate tips over the years. What has been your favorite trip and what is your favorite international destination?

 For me, Barcelona was head and shoulders the best city all around. I have so many memories from too many trips that to narrow it down to one location can be really hard to do though. From managing and surviving solo trips through Europe, to Hawaii with Kastel Shoes, to the OG Silverstar tour, to Hong Kong and Japan, to hitching a ride with Mike Manzoori through Germany to Amsterdam all the way over to the UK. I mean traveling to all these places has been amazing. New Deal through South America was totally ridiculous. At the time Giant Distribution was all about Element and the New Deal crew was the forgotten stepchild. Somehow they let me convince them to do this New Deal trip to South America. They let me organize the entire thing head-to-toe. It all came about from one photo of Peter Hewitt on the cover of Thrasher skating the "Skatepark de Carolina" in Quito, Ecuador. I saw that photo and I knew I had to go there someday. We made it happen with New Deal. The SLAP trip to Puerto Rico was epic too, because we went there before a lot of people had really traveled there for skating. Traffic's Spot-Seeker tour was dope; an original idea that was a little bit ahead of the whole DIY craze. TWS ran a 20 page article on our good times, which was un-heard of at the time for a company that wasn't an advertiser. 

I know Traffic has been very popular in Japan since it started, and that sparks the question...when is the next Deshi part coming out?

 I have no idea right now, but I am definitely hyped to see what Deshi creates.

Any plans for a Traffic trip to Japan in the next couple years?

 We shall see I guess.
TOA started distributing Traffic in recent years (Traffic was previously distributed by Syndrome). It appears a new spark has been lit for the company. What's in the plans for the future of Traffic, and what can we expect to see soon?

 Continued pushing. Original spots.

You just traveled to Canada this summer with TOA. How was it getting back in the van and hitting the road again?

 I was stoked to hit up Toronto again. My first trip there was years ago with the Traffic crew and it was so sick. Things changed up there a bit since that time. Bluetile Lounge is the main shop up there now and those guys took great care of us on this TOA trip. I remember more banks years ago, but where we stayed this time around didn't allow us to hit too many of those. Just being in the van again with the team was so fun.

You mentioned Kastel Shoes in a previous answer. Over the years you have skated for a lot of different shoe companies including not only Kastel, but also Airwalk, Duffs, Memphis, and Vox. What was your favorite footwear brand to skate for and why?

 I also rode for Vision Street Wear and Converse too. I was hyped on the possibilities that Memphis presented at the time. It could have been amazing, but it had internal problems. If it didn't end up having those I feel that I could have created a unique brand with them. Honestly, some of the people that I forged friendships with through these shoe companies is what really stands out to me. August from Duffs, Mike from Vox, and J Stone from Kastel; those are three people that I am very fortunate to have had a chance to work with and I'm stoked to have become long-term friends with them.

What was the deal with Kastel shutting down out of nowhere back in the day? What happened with Vox and your pro shoe under their camp?

 I can't say with certainty. I got in trouble in Australia when things went South for Kastel (many previous Ricky interviews address the Australia incident). Probably money and profits have to be involved I guess? I really enjoyed my time with them; my third shoe would have been so good. At the time we were going for the lightest skate shoe on the market and with that one it would have been if the whole operation didn't kick the bucket. As for Vox, it comes down to internal issues again. The core dudes like Ed and Mike eventually were no longer involved, so the image of the brand and team were adversely affected.

I ask everyone this, but since we are on the topic of shoes, what are your top five favorite skate shoes of all time?

 I never paid too much attention to shoes in general, but I guess I have a few. The Es Accel was by far my favorite shoe. My first shoe on Kastel was fashioned after the Accel; skated the same, felt very similar, so that's my number two. Vans Half Cabs are undeniably on that list for sure. I rocked a lot of Jason Lee's Airwalk pro model at a point in time. The Matt Hoffman black leather Duffs was probably my favorite Duffs shoe while I was on that team. Lastly, that final pro model I had on Vox was real good too. It was a mid-top fashioned after a half cab mixed with the silhouette of my first Vox pro shoe. It's so funny to me now, because so many of these shoes we have all loved over the years are really not very good for your feet. No matter the design, so few are really good for you.

Love Park, City Hall, or Muni; what was your favorite part of each plaza? 

 They're all one dude; one intersection, one big spot. Individually though, Love was the best. For diversity of spots, City Hall wins. As for Muni...Muni was the most guarded during that time, so it had a special allure to it that was different than the other two.

Was there ever another plaza spot you skated during your career that you felt compared to the quality and options these three Philly plazas had?

 Pulaski was always an amazing plaza to visit. Endless marble ledges with varying options for lines. Pulaski's scene was always one of the best on the East, so you knew when you skated there you were going to see some new shit. EMB was obviously the premiere plaza in skate history. Seeing it in the mags, videos, and watching what was going down there during its era made it a spot you had to visit. EMB offered so many options for the progression of modern day skating. Coming from Philly and being spoiled from skating perfect Love all day, I was not a fan of the brick ground at EMB or the cement ledges though. Henry, Mike, Jovontae, and the guys from that crew were basically pushing the progression of ledge skating, and after I skated EMB my admiration for what they were doing and what they had to do it on only grew. It would have been dope to have seen Henry and Mike skate Love. Love has to be one of the best plazas in the world, but I used to boast more about Philly having one of the best city blocks period. Muni, City Hall, and Love all at the same intersection across the street from one another, you can't get any better. 

I know skaters often pretend they don't like "normal" sports, or at least many of them tend to hide the fact that they really do like them. I respect that you have always been open about enjoying other things besides skateboarding. You have always openly expressed your interest in hockey and you are a well known pool shark. How has having these other interests helped you in skating and in daily life?

 I'm not sure if it has helped me in anyway in terms of skating that I can think of, but being a genuine fan of all the Philly teams I enjoyed fucking with random people in the streets. Especially the New York fans. For example, I was recently skating a spot in NYC and I spontaneously started chanting E-A-G-L-E-S-EAGLES to a dude rocking a Giants jersey. You gotta do it in a way that the other person realizes that its a joking shit-talking manner so that you both can laugh about it. Sports are just another way of having a connection with a complete stranger out in the world. 

Who has been your favorite photographer to work with over the years and why?

 Damn, not fair. All the photographers were cool to work with. I respected the ones who were so talented that they captured the moment first try. I worked with Ryan Gee and Frankie the most. They lived in Philly and I lived in Philly, so they were natural relationships. Jeremy Traub was amazing to work with. Man, there was a lot that shot well. Mike O'Meally, Ed Dominick, Geoff Graham, Skip Millard, Adam Wallacavage, Dennis McGrath, Brian Uyeda, John Mehring, Dave Adair, Wig, Skin, Julius Reeves, Morford, Ortiz, Dawes, Swift, Andre Tur, Kingy, Iseki, and Tobin...the list goes on and on. Sorry if I missed anyone I have ever shot with. They were all important, but in the end Gee and Frankie were with me the most over the years.

Favorite filmer to work with over the years and why?

 Working with Dan Wolfe in the early years and getting to see him progress into what he is today was amazing. Josh Stewart is an incredible filmer that I have spent countless hours with as well. Although I have not filmed with Chris Mulhern that much, he is somebody that comes from the school of thought that Dan and Josh come from. I really admire his filming, editing, and work ethic. Vern of course being from Philly and being the only one I actually used to just go skating with before he became a filmer is definitely one of my favs. My buddy Ry who lived with Rich Adler is who I filmed and skated with the most towards the end. I always enjoyed filming and skating with him, but I bet you there's footy he hasn't logged yet, hahaha! 

What is your take on the prominence and emphasis on contest-skating in the current state of skateboarding media and industry?
 It is what it is i guess; a way for skaters to make money...a few skaters at least. You mentioned the word "current" within your question and it's fitting considering the direction skateboarding is being steered. The corporate dollars needed for the growth and longevity of the sport is going to continue coming in from TV exposure. Contests seem to be the only facet of skateboarding that translates to the non-skateboarding public. Even if a viewer doesn't truly understand the tricks being done they understand #1, #2, first, last, medals, and a champion. A difference going forward with skateboarding is that more kids are starting to skateboard with gold medal aspirations and the goal to be a "champion". I don't know if I ever met or skated with anyone since I started in '85 where those were the reasons they got into skateboarding. Times are different and the youth are being exposed to these things. Fortunately, skateboarding is unique and more multifaceted than traditional sports, so no matter how much corporate dollars push the contest side of skateboarding the essence of skateboarding will strive and progress. That essence will also be the reason why there will always remain a distinction between a skateboarder and someone who rides a skateboard. True skateboarding is the freedom of creating on your own and it will always be that deep down.

Lastly, what's your dream session? Spot, people, vibe, etc. etc.? What's going down, present time, future, or back in the day?

 I fortunately have had the opportunity to skate some amazing spots across the globe with some amazing people, but I will tell you that the sessions at the East Falls Philly warehouse were some of my more memorable ones (think Argentina soccer jersey in a blue indoor bowl). I became a key holder to this warehouse where over time an array of ramps were pieced together to create a bowl-type spot. A spine, an escalator, pool coping, hips, corners, a parking block, plywood floors, and varying sized transitions eventually were blended together to create a indoor winter escape for some of the FDR locals. There wasn't any section of the ramp that you could go back and forth like on a standard mini ramp. You were forced to learn lines to keep your flow. For me, the warehouse offered a change of pace from skating the city not only in the spot itself, but my mindset as well. I took it less seriously and the crew of Faas, Tex, Fernando and Yula to name a few were so much fun to skate with. The vibe was always positive and encouraging for anyone and everyone no matter your skill level. The camaraderie we experienced was something I never encountered skating through the city. The first time I went with Steve Faas he said to bring a 30 pack; a tradition I continued til' the warehouse was no more. Mike Bouchard, who lived near me in South Philly used to come with me a lot. In the beginning we had to watch and learn the lines the locals were using to keep their flow. After these rad night sessions with a lot of skaters, Mike and I would skate during the day when the warehouse was empty to work on the lines the rippers were using. It took awhile, but eventually Mike and I got shit down so that we were right in the mix when the heavy snake sessions took place and the spot got crowded.  It was a good change later in my life that made a difference in my outlook on skating.  Boosh-Ride!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Ricky Geiger, Carl Schmidt, and Mike Maldonado

We put together a little web clip of some extra footy that Rick and the crew got while filming for the video. This clip features Rick, Carl Schmidt, and Mike Maldonado. We are in the process of filming a full team video, coming sooner than you think...