Friday, July 18, 2014

The Kerry Getz Interview

There are some key people who personified the kickflip through the 90's and beyond. Tom Penny, Carl Shipman, Andrew Reynolds, and the North East had Kerry Getz. Kerry's kickflips were perfect; and hell, they still are. It doesn't matter the terrain, Kerry understands perfect execution. 20 years ago Kerry decided to quit working at a yogurt factory in the Lehigh Vally of Pennsylvania to pursue skateboarding. This moment is highly pivotal in his life and Pennsylvania skateboarding as a whole so we felt it was only right to do a wheel graphic referencing his decision. This actual graphic is about one of Kerry's last days at work when he was so over it he drove a forklift through a bunch of yogurt cases. Kerry went on to skate for two of the sickest board brands to ever grace the skate world and have countless colorways of pro model shoes; not to mention epic parts and global travel. Kerry played major roles in brands that had massive impacts on all of skateboarding. All of this was done while calling Philadelphia his home. Kerry never followed the trends or pressure that pushed him to move to LA and that speaks leaps and bounds towards his character. More skaters should push to not operate inside the confinds of the old out-of-touch California guard. Guys like Kerry, Maldonado, Ricky Oyola, Robbie Gangemi, and Zared Bassett were ahead of their times in this ideology. It is the modern world and if the act of skateboarding can exist anywhere than someone can make a career out of skating anywhere they see fit. The following is a recent interview with Kerry on his life, history, business, and the future. Read on and enjoy this honest and insightful conversation with a true East Coast professional.
-Pusher Rob

R- What was it like growing up skating in the Lehigh Valley back in the day? How did you even get into skating?

K- When I first started skating I would skate on my knees and race my friends in a circle. We would design a racetrack in the middle of the street with chalk. Racing was big in my town and my older brother would always take me to the races. I loved it; I would put carpet on my board to be softer on my knees and I’d just fly around in circles. I eventually started to watch some Powell videos and It made me want to stand up on my board and start learning tricks. Once I learned Ollie's and 180's I was hooked. Also, my little town actually had some rad spots to skate. Everything was within 10 to 15 blocks away from each other so we could skate to all the spots. Then when my best friend at the time Brian "Herm" Mangold got his license we started to skate in Allentown, Hazelton, and other towns that were close by. Herm and I were always filming. I had a big VHS camera my brother let us use, so we made little videos all the time. My good friend Aaron Borger was usually our filmer. We had some great times man. After those guys started to fade away from skating I stayed with it. Then I got my license and started skating an indoor park in Shimmerville, PA. It was about 40 minutes from my house and I skated there probably 5 times a week. That place helped me progress quickly to be honest.

When exactly did you quit working at that yogurt factory?

When I was 19.

Who or what got you to quit that place?

Bam Margera, he said quit that fucking job and come stay with me and we'll shred and film in Philly everyday. He said you’re too good at skating to be working some bullshit job like that. So I quit the very next week. My Pops was pissed, but the risk all paid off and in the end my Pops was so proud of what I went on to accomplish.

You moved to California for a bit after that?

I did not move there. I would just stay with Ed Templeton most of the time.

So you chose to never really fully move to Cali during your career, how come?

I never was a fan of Cali. I liked to just visit there for a week or 2 then roll out. I grew up East Coast, so it just always felt more like home and a place I would never leave. Don't get me wrong, Cali is amazing for skating, especially now with all the incredible free concrete parks.

Toy Machine sponsored you during what probably was its dopest era. How did riding for Toy Machine come about?

Bam and Maldonado. Maldonado was riding for Toy at the time and Welcome to Hell was dropping all around that time. I then flew to Cali with Bam and Mike and stayed at Ed's house. I skated my ass off at every spot I went to and turns out Ed was hyped. He put me on Toy Machine after that trip. I realized then I reached my dream and there was no stopping me from there man, I was super stoked. I went full speed ahead at being a pro skateboarder. Some days I still can't believe I made it.

After that you skated for Habitat skateboards. Did you know at the time how influential Habitat would be to skating as a whole and East Coast skating in particular?

From the moment I first saw the Habitat logo I was hooked, and yes I knew it was going to impact the skate world for sure. How much was unclear, but it was going to do something special. Our team was full of heavy hitters and all of them had great styles. I think style goes further then a bunch of hammers or rail tricks with no style. Plus, with DNA/Alien being the legs under Habitat I knew it would be a strong company. With Joe Castrucci running the ads and art department I knew something good was going to come out of it.

During your time on Toy Machine you filmed a Transworld part for Feedback with Bam and Mike Maldonado. How was it filming for that part and how was that era in general? How do videos feel to you now?

Transworld videos and videos in general just seemed so much more important and long lasting back then. Filming that part was actually my favorite part I ever filmed for. It was much easier cause it wasn't a full part and our skating meshed together so well. It was the perfect combination; all three of us had something rad to offer the viewing audience. Videos back then meant everything to skateboarding; it was different. Now they’re just a quick watch once and then forget it. It's fucking sad times to be honest.

You've traveled a lot of the years. What was your favorite place you've traveled to for skating?

Australia and Mallorca, Spain are a definite tie for first. Just go, you'll see why. 

What's the best skate spot you've skated during your career and why?

The Philly Habitat TF. Why? Because we got to design it however we wanted and it was all built to practice and have fun on. Everything was perfect, you never got kicked out, and all my friends were there. I grew up skating indoor parks, so to this day indoor parks are my favorite places to skate. I've skated some amazing street spots and I enjoyed them all, but I always had the best time kickflipping over pyramids. I just like that feeling the most.

You've been in the Philly/NJ area a long time. How has the scene changed over the years?

There were a few years there where I thought skating in Philly was done. Everyone moved away and then the recession crushed the industry. Everyone was struggling to find a new beginning and not knowing where to turn. I think things have turned around and there is definitely a great skate scene again. I really feel in the last year Franklins Paine skate plaza has helped the scene get hyped up again. I could be wrong cause I don't hit the streets as hard these days, but that's just my recent view of things. The scene is alive and well for sure.

Got anything in the works for this year? Trips, videos, business stuff?

I have a Berrics/Cali trip coming up soon to promote my new app game Angry Skaters. I have a free version dropping on android phones and of course iPhones. The game has tons of new updates and much better game play. I'm so much happier with the new improvements for this launch. I worked my ass off on this game and it's cool to see an idea become reality. I never ever thought I'd design my own video game and I’m honestly pretty hyped I got to do this. Life's a trip sometimes.

With the closing of DNA distribution and all the rumors floating around I gotta ask, what's going on with Habitat and their squad these day?

To be honest with you I feel pretty bummed out on what's been going on with Habitat, but there’s nothing anyone can do at this point. It bounced around to a couple different owners and nothing seemed to go smoothly for the brand over the last few years. I just know I broke my neck for Habitat for many years. Every demo I skated in I gave it 110%, I was always professional, and I always respected everyone on the team. Recently I was told they will still give me a pro board, but just do limited runs for my shop only. So, if you want a Habitat Kerry Getz board you will have to order one directly from NOCTURNAL. I just want to wish the brand and everyone who's apart of the future of the brand the best. I’d also like to give a big thank you to Joe Castrucci for over a decade of great years.

Nocturnal Skate Shop has moved to a new location on South St. How's the shop been lately and how's it feel to be 14 years deep in the skate shop biz?

I feel so thankful that Nocturnal has been around for 14yrs. The first 7 years were amazing cause my first partner Tim Quinn was an incredible person. We both knew our positions and gave it 150%. We were always on the same page; no bullshit, no ego's. After Tim left it went through 3 rough years and the image Tim and I built for the shop was almost destroyed. It took me about 2 to 3 years to recoup the shop, and I ended up bringing in some new savy and educated partners that knew why Nocturnal should survive. We all see eye to eye. The shop is back on track and doing better than ever. We are very excited to be right on the strip of South St. That has been my dream for Nocturnal since it opened back in 2000.

Owning a skate shop and being a pro skater for that long has probably put a shit load of shoe samples in front of you. What are your top five favorite skate shoes of all time and why?

1) Airwalk Enigma's
2) Etnies Sal Barbier 23's
3) ES Accel
4) ES Koston 1
5) DVS Getz 1

Why these 5? They were all cupsoles, skated well, and looked damn good on your feet with some fresh jeans.

Miniramps, why are they the best and do you think younger skaters should skate them more? Do you think they even know who Barker Barrett is?

Kids these days definitely don't know who Barker Barrett is. They should, but they are being trained to only know 15 seconds of someone and then a second later forget about them. Yes, miniramps are important. It's tranny skating and it just makes you a more well-rounded skater. The more stuff you can skate, the better skater you will become.

Kerry, thanks for being awesome and supporting the brand over the years. I'm proud to have a wheel out with your name on it that addresses a pivotal point in your skate history; it's an honor man. More importantly, thanks for sticking it out on the East over the years and showing the skate industry that it's not all about that Southern California. Any last words before we sign off?

Thank you Rob and I'm super stoked to be apart of PUSHER!

My last words would be this...

Don't take advantage of people that help you get to a good place in your life. Always treat people the way you would want to be treated, and never grow a big head or feel like you own the world.