JC: Where are you originally from and what was it like growing up and skateboarding there?
RK: I was born in Collinwood, a neighborhood on the East Side of Cleveland. We lived there for a short period of time and moved around that area quite a bit. When I was about 7 my mom, sister, and myself moved to Euclid, OH and that’s where I got my first taste of skateboarding. My mom rented a house on Abby and E.185th Street, probably the best part of town in Euclid. 185th runs from Lakeshore down to St. Clair, the other side of the tracks, it’s the sketchiest part of town I guess. But 185th was great, lots of activity around that time…CD Game Exchange, Adriatic pet shop, 185th st. Fair, National City curbs, Medic etc. There was always something going on. My first board was a rip off Value City style Variflex, (it just had that little variflex sticker on the tail) with solar system graphics, plastic wheels, plastic trucks, all the good stuff. I remember taking the board apart because it was shrink wrapped in plastic, it was stuck in the hardware and it annoyed me, so that’s when I learned how to disassemble my board and put it back together. That board didn’t last to long, and I eventually did enough yard work to upgrade to another plastic type board, it was red and had a bunch of diamond shape holes in it, I think my mom got it from Dicks sporting goods, either way it had metal trucks, semi soft cruiser type wheels and way better bearings so I was stoked. I rode that thing up and down the street and all over daily. It wasn’t long before a really good friend of mine by the name of Richard Willrich aka Grady saw me across the street from the barber shop he worked at, cruising around my house on my board. Now I can go on and on about how awesome of a dude Grady is, but it would take days and my answer to this first question is already long. The 185th st. Mayor does his name justice, and he’s a chicken wing and skateboard connoisseur, he gave me a nickname as well (lunchmeat) it stuck, there’s still a select few that call me that. Long story short he gave me my first real 7ply maple wood, hand me down, skateboard decks, they were both Elements, can’t remember what series. But I was stoked, I went and changed over to one right away and got rid of that heap of plastic. I skated those boards until they weren’t anymore. From then on I’d pop over to the barbershop sweatin’ Grady for more hand me downs, annoying the hell out of him with questions about skateboarding, and flipping through the Thrashers he had laying around. I couldn’t get enough, skateboarding was ingrained in my mind. Grady introduced me to a few local rippers up at our local Euclid skatepark, Jeff Weisenburg, Jacob Edwards, Matt “skillet” Lonzereda. The park was all metal, a couple quarter pipes, flat bar, box, launch ramp, concrete pyramid you know, the good stuff! I skated there just about every day. They had been talking about taking a trip to Columbus and I wanted in! My Mom wanted me to get a haircut and I took that as a great opportunity to meet Grady, so we went over to the barbershop and they got to meet. I begged her to let me go to Columbus to skate with them and she finally budged, that was my first skate trip, I think I was 9 maybe 10, got to skate my first real concrete parks and it was a blast. From then on I called those guys every day seeing if they wanted to skate.
JC: We are both from the Northeastern Ohio skateboarding scene. What makes skateboarding in Ohio so rad?
RK: Northeast Ohio is different than any place I’ve been, when you think of California, it’s California, or New York and it’s New York. Ohio is kinda unique I guess you can say, the people, the scenery, the culture. I think Ohio has a little bit of everything. When you start doing something/anything here you basically suck the life out of whatever it is because you’ve finally found something to do in this place to keep your mind occupied and busy, but the great thing about Ohio is that the crust and the grit keeps whatever your doing fresh because it’s a little harder and takes a little more work to finesse whatever your goals are with whatever your doing. The skateboard scene here just keeps on pushing! People here are involved, and want to see skateboarding, skateboarders, and the community progress, everyone feeds off that energy. You , Vince Franz, and many others stick out in my head as people that make shit happen here, and it doesn’t go unnoticed, it’s very much appreciated!
JC: What is your earliest memory of skateboarding?
RK: Probably taking off that plastic on my first board, and itching to get it off so I can go push around on that thing
JC: How would you describe skateboarding to someone who has never seen it before?
RK: Well the first words that would probably come out of my mouth is that it’s mega fun and you should try it. It’s kinda hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, but I’d try to explain the many feelings of satisfaction that I get from it and just hope they’d understand enough to get out and step foot on a skateboard.
JC: If you could only skate one spot for the rest of your life what would it be?
RK: Weird, I was actually thinking about this the other day when I was skating the PR Banks on the Eastside of Cleveland. It’s a fun natural bank/pyramid spot, with hips, gritty ground, slide able, not really grind able, but there’s a random parking block someone brought up there to get your slappy on if your feeling that. I hear it’s getting ripped out, hopefully not, but that would probably be it, and I couldn’t ask for more.
JC: Where is the craziest place skateboarding has taken you so far? A place where you said to yourself ” man, I can’t believe I’m here because of skateboarding”
RK: I’d have to say San Francisco. Portland, Oregon was rad too. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in both places, Portland was first and I lived there for about 2 years. Right after I graduated high school I left Cleveland and hit the road to Oregon to stay with a couple people from Cleveland that already had a house out there, Josh Moore and Julia Tozser are great people. I got a call from a friend Lenny Henderson, who is from Chicago, but has lived in SF for a bit, and he told me to come out, he had a valet gig for me and a place to crash until I got on my feet so I took him up on it. I got out there and had a job right away, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I stayed on a sleeping mat on the kitchen floor in his studio apartment on the corner of Van Ness and Eddy..right down the street from the library. Lenny, his wife, and daughter were all there and it was crazy packed but everyone was chill with me being there, it was awesome, they had a free babysitter and I had a rad place to stay. A few months went by and a friend had an open spot right down the street in the TL on Polk and Eddy, I jumped on it. Rent out there is hella expensive, and space is tight but it’s totally worth it. Needless to say I rented a walk in closet, packed all my shit along with myself in that little room and I was stoked.
Skateboarding in San Francisco is amazing, it’s like no other place. The hills, the spots, the crazy encounters with crazy people, the skateboard community out there is massive, and everyone is chill. I had a great time out there and I can’t wait to get back, that’s definitely a goal of mine. I still have many years to live, and a lot more places that I’m sure skateboarding will take me, but for now SF is the craziest place skateboarding has taken me so far.
JC: So what’s up with Snack Skateboards?
RK: Snack Skateboards is what’s up! Adam is the big, big homie. I met him while I was living in SF, I’m pretty sure Waylon Bone introduced us, it’s kinda hard to remember, but either way Adam is a rad dude, he’s been helping me out tremendously for a couple years now. Adam is Midwest as well, he’s from Milwaukee, and he reps it. I’m pretty sure he lived in Chicago for a period of time as well, but lives and kills it in SF now. Shit started rolling for Snack in SF, and from the looks of it everyone including myself is hyped on the company. Adam is definitely involved, he’s always doing events, premiers, little pop up high Ollie contests around the city to keep shit rolling, it’s sick.
Last year me, Adam, Mike Baptista, Sean Cullen, Jesus Arellanes, who are all Snack affiliates, got to skate in the Chicago All City Showdown, it was a blast..Adam put us up heavy and held it down for everyone out there and that shit was super fun, hopefully we are going to do it again this year. Regardless Adam is always doing what he can for us, were planning on taking a trip to Japan in October of this year, it’s a great opportunity for everyone including the company to get out and see new shit, it’s going to be rad. I’m super stoked to be a part of Snack, good things are coming.
JC: For those that don’t know about Ohio Surf and Skate can you please explain it a little and tell everyone about the owner Tim Rigby?
RK: Man, Ohio Surf and Skate was awesome. That was the first shop I rode for, and the first legitimate skateboard shop that I ever went to. Tim was a shop owner for over 20 years, he knows skateboarding in and out. Tim is a great man, I owe so much to Tim for the rest of my days. He put me on the team at a Vans Warped tour, I think Grady and Jeff had mentioned this little kid named Lunchmeat to him a couple times, and he had seen my face in the shop a few times as well.
Anyway, I would go to the shop all the time and I had heard about that ramp they set up at the warped tour so I asked Tim about it at the shop one day and he hooked it up with some tickets and a wristband to skate the ramp. I went and we all skated, by the end of the event it started pouring rain, so I squeezed my way into the Surf and Skate tent that they had set up and he pulled me aside. He must have had a few too many beers and decided to put this little kid named Lunchmeat on the Ohio Surf and Skate team, he hooked me up with a Consolidated board, I just tried to look up what board it was but I couldn’t find it…there was a roach getting smashed on it, help me out if you remember, and another board, I think it was an Alien Workshop. But I just remember thinking, “damn this Consolidated board is awesome” and I was stoked.
I gripped the boards under the tent with a pop can because I didn’t have anything else. And from then on I showed up at the shop everyday making Tim regret ever putting me on the team. Eventually I was working there with my best friend Johnny Grogan, it’s the best job I ever had. He taught us a lot, and I speak for both of us because I know we both learned a thing or two from Tim. Best thing he ever told me was when he put me on the team, he looked me dead in the eyes and said don’t be big headed or your fucked, thanks Tim. He helped so many people, and I think he helped to much sometimes, he always put others first before himself and I think it hurt him in the long run. Unfortunately the shop no longer exists and it fucking sucks. But it is what it is, nothing great lasts forever.
JC: What’s your daily motivation?What gets you up and out of bed every morning?
RK: Well I guess at this point in my life the ultimate morning motivation on the weekdays is getting up for work. It keeps me busy, out of trouble, and making money to survive in this wild country. I’m doing my best to save for a trip to Japan, I’ve gotta make it happen. On the Weekends my motivation is to get up in the morning before all the yuppies get to Rising Star so I can grab a cup of coffee in peace and chop it up with Jewlz for a bit before I go skate.
JC: Who are some of your influences in skateboarding?
RK: I’d say big influences to me are the people that I grew up skateboarding with like Grady, Jacob, Dan Byler, Nate Malinsky, Jay Croft*, Marc Scott, Johnny Grogan, Dale Busta, and people that I didn’t grow up with but Definitely look up to are Gabe Peterson, Taylor Nawrocki, Aaron Herrington, Bobby Worrest, Dennis Busenitz. There are so many people and so many more that have been a huge influence to me in skateboarding, I’m just grateful to have that and still be a part of skateboarding and some of these peoples lives, it’s an awesome feeling.
JC: So what else are you into besides skateboarding?
RK: I Definitely enjoy other stuff, I live and breathe skateboarding for the most part, but I love mashin’ my bike around the city, swimming in a nice river is the shit, I don’t do it that often but I enjoy fishing, work definitely takes up a big portion of my time, 40 hours a week. I Definitely like the art of trying to figure out a female or at least where she wants to eat or what the hell she wants to do for the day, but that’s a whole other struggle. There’s endless possibilities, I try to keep an open mind and try new things as much as possible.
JC: Is there anything you have learned from skateboarding besides tricks?
RK: Man, I learn something new from skateboarding every day, just being out in these streets cruising around and seeing shit, searching for new things to skate, running into sketchy or not so sketchy people, I mean a day skating downtown we probably see more shit than a lot of people see in a year or two. A good analogy I heard from my room mate (Cuzins) when I was going thru it in SF was ” you fall on your skateboard and get back up do it again and again, same with life just get back up and do that shit again, you’re all good don’t sweat it “. It really makes you think simpler, and simple is good.
JC: Whats does skateboarding mean to you?
RK: I wouldn’t be anywhere without skateboarding, I’d probably be getting into trouble somewhere. I guess I’d never really know what it was like if I didn’t end up skateboarding, but I feel like I have a good idea. Skateboarding is right up there with family when it comes to meaningful things in my life. To me it’s not just a material piece of wood with wheels that is a lot of fun, I say material because meaningful things to me aren’t material, and skateboarding has brought me nothing but a passion and a shitload of experience..that’s meaningful.
JC: Any words of wisdom or life lessons that you have learned that you would like to share?
RK: I would say to all the young cats out there that are looking for something to do, pick up a skateboard and ride it around. Also, when your homies and basically everyone around you is hinting to you, or straight up telling you something over and over again then you should probably listen. Read books, have fun while your young. Keep an open mind, take responsibility for your shit… Live life, have fun, enjoy yourself.
Shouts to my mom, Mandy and Brian at Westside skates, Adam Egre at Snack, Lenny Henderson, Charlie Rockwood, Tim Rigby, Jesse Braun, Derek Ironwing Matt Brack, John Stashik, James Anderson, Joey Johnson, dude at Fulton foods, Korrie and Jarrod Scholl, Marc Scott, Ryan Poorman, Herald Martin, Dan Byler, Damien Guess, Jacob Edwards, Isaac Edwards, Jeff Weisenburg, Grady Willrich and Sarah Willrich, my sister Eva, Richard Pedder, Christopher Merritt, Lowcard Rob, skatejawn, Waylon Bone, Mike Baptista, Federico Chicago, Drew Connors, Josh Rego, Eddy Hernandez, Yt small axe, Regge Jesse, Richard Blackshaw, Nate Malinsky, Joe Charlton, Taylor Nawrocki, Ryan and Bridgette Dunbar my PO, Jay Croft, damn it’s hard to remember everyone, big John Johns and Karen for keeping it real, Jakprints for holding me down with a job, Dustin Sheesely and Emily, Brian, Aaron Herrington, Brian and Shawn Mowell and Julie, Carlos Canãs, Eric Viccarone, Johnny Grogan, Joe Bressler, lil Joe, lip dawg at work for buying my ps3 so I can pay for a passport, Ryan Webb for buying the TV Adam king, Nick Levi, Rudy, Dylan Dumbrowski, Nick Perry, Julia Tozser, Tristan B in Portland, pupusafool, this list is getting long..my family, and anyone I forgot. Much love.
Street Canoe would like to send out an extra special thanks to Roger, Jeff Weisenburg, Dan Byler, Jesse Braun, Ryan Poorman and Herald Martin.
Now enjoy this Street Canoe exclusive brought to you by Roger and Jesse Braun. Forward Motion forever.
JC: So How long have you been in Spain and filming for El Sol?
TN: I was in Valencia from January 16th to March 12th. Now I’m in Milan, chilling.
JC: When you left for Spain was this something that you wanted to do when you went over there or was it something that just kind of happened?
TN: I came here knowing that Alejandro (Marco) wanted to work on a project. The initial invite came over an Instagram comment. Maybe it was reckless going across the world on the strength of an IG comment, but you can’t half step something like that. Plus I was watching The Secret Basement before we even met, I knew I’d like skating in Valencia.
JC: What has been you’re main motivation for filming El Sol?
TN: Basically just trying to get the most out of skipping a New York winter. From what I can tell, it was a good one to miss. Also, getting my money’s worth, paying for this shit yourself is motivation enough. Going to these countries and producing something is like a visual passport stamp in a way. In the future, it’ll be cool to look back and have something to watch.
JC: What was the hardest trick for you to get while filming?
TN: Maybe it wasn’t a trick so much as the situations. When people think Spanish skateboarding, they think Barcelona or Madrid. Which puts Valencia under the radar. That means the people aren’t as used to skaters, they don’t know how to handle it. Towards the end there’s a traditional Valencia holiday called the “Fallas”. People from all over come to Valencia to see fire works, party, music, festivals, then at the end they set everything on fire. You can’t skate, it’s insane.
JC: Are they any crazy stories or incidents that happened while filming?
TN: Our homie broke Alex’s camera. I was kinda stressing because nobody else had one in Valencia. Luckily Marcos Gomez in Barcelona came through with a VX. Marcos is an OG too man, one of my favorites. He rode for Santa Cruz back in the day. So an extra special shout out to Marcos.
JC: You seem to put together video parts easily and quite often where it takes most people years to film for one part. What do you think allows you to do this so easily?
TN: I think filming keeps me active. If somebody has an idea, I want to execute it with them. It’s a collaborative effort. Also, I don’t want to pile out.
JC: How has it been filming with Alejandro Marcos?
TN: He’s the best man. I’ve got respect for someone who skates everyday, has a vision and makes it happen, patient enough to deal with me being a baby and he balances it with his other life, being an artist.
JC: So what’s up with the soundtrack? Word on the street is that it was specifically made for the edit? Where did the inspiration come for that?
TN: I’m excited about the soundtrack for a couple reasons. I started skating in 2000 so Photosynthesis played a major part in my introduction to skating. If you remember all the songs in the Habitat section were done by Mr. Dibbs. The songs were edited perfectly to match the skating. I think Joe Castrucci and Mr. Dibbs got together in the same room and put everything together at the same time. So we decided to do the same thing with El•Sol. If you saw Alejandro’s last project, Voodoo, our friend Quique made a couple songs for that. They’re both from Valencia, like Mr. Dibbs and Joe Castrucci are both from Cincinnati. It will make the project stronger. Hopefully El•Sol will be nostalgic for skaters from my generation.
JC: And finally are there any shout outs or thanks that you would like to say?
TN: Shout out to Alejandro Marco first and foremost. He laced me up with everything. His wonderful girlfriend, Victoria for housing and feeding me. Hugo, Joaquin, Ricci, Cok, Gerardo, Scott, Ricardo, Quique, Ruben, Julio and Mario. Everyone else I met along the way, thank you. I have a special place in my heart for Valencia, I hope to see everyone soon. I love you all.
Marcos Gomez for the VX, without him, El•Sol wouldn’t have happened. Thank you!
LB: Alright, we have a ton of history skating together, but instead of me telling everyone about you, why don’t you fill us in with you. Where are you from? When did you start skating? Who were your influences at a young age?
BW: I’m from Indianapolis and started rolling around on a shitty Toys-R-Us skateboard in my unfinished basement on rainy days when I was 10 years old. I spent a good 3 months messing around with skating without any outside influence or knowledge about the skateboard industry (magazines, videos, etc…). Eventually all of my neighborhood friends also got skateboards and we started rolling around together trying to learn how to ollie all day long. I was really lucky that my friend Tom Eusey went to the same elementary school and introduced me to Rise Skateboard Shop and all of the older guys that skated, and pretty much showed me the way. My influences at a young age were mostly local Indiana skateboarders like Rick Eusey, Buddy Best, Nate Olp, Scott Wilson, Tony Allanson, Mike McGiness, you (Lee Bender), Ryan Smith and some others as well.
LB: How did you end up living in Arizona and why did you choose the college you did?
BW: When I was a senior in high school I wasn’t really planning on going to college. I had a halfway decent job in Indy with promise of promotion and felt good about the Indiana skate scene at the time. I thought long and hard but realized that there was a lot more out there that I wanted to discover. I love Indiana, but I would have fallen into monotony with my job and the same routine, so I made a decision to start applying to colleges in other states in hopes of starting something brand new. I was accepted to a couple of schools in the Midwest as well as some schools out West. As I weighed my options, Arizona just kept coming up in my head. I graduated high school in June of 2007 and moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in Tempe, Arizona on August 1st 2007. I chose an Arizona school because it just made sense to me as I would be able to skate everything; pools, ditches, street spots, and the plethora of well lit skateparks. I didn’t know many folks out there but you, Tim Ward, and Michael Tubbs were my guides into the Arizona skate scene. Moving to Arizona was easily the best life decision I’ve made thus far.
LB: Is this something you plan on doing for a while?
LB: Who do you want to thank after all these… well, you’re still young as hell, but after this past decade of skating, traveling, and train hopping?
BW: So many people have helped me out over the years and I could write about it for days. I’ll thank my amazing family for all of their support over the years. I’ll thank you (Lee Bender) for getting me out of Indiana and everything else you’ve done for me. Buddy Best, Rick Eusey, Hutch, Ryan Smith, Tim Devlin, Tony Allanson, Rob Walker and all of the other Indiana dudes that played a positive role in my youth and helped me out so much along the way. I’ll thank all of my East Coast friends such as Jersey Drew, Phil Jackson, Steve Marino, and Bruce B for putting me up and showing me the ways. My friends in the North West Erik Ursin and Kevin Willrick who continue to put me up year after year. Kevin Erst and Melissa Rodriguez for saving my life. All of my brothers in the railroad are constant inspirations and have contributed a lot to the culture. All of the NSL boys in Vancouver. My friends down south in RVA and Birmingham. Neil Shoemaker, Tim Ward, Ari Shiffrin, Matt Price, Nich Kunz, Jai Tanju and all of the film por vida family, the BOTY homies, the LFL boys, Benji Wagner at Poler, Sean Waeiss, Casson Valiyi, Dylan Messer, Brett Reed, Wez Lundry, and Hoss Rogers. I feel like I’m leaving some folks out but I just feel grateful for all of you! At the end of the day, my friends are the ones that really inspire me and keep me moving forward. Keep skating, doing whatever creative things you all do, and continue to leave your marks in the world.
Street Canoe would like to send out an extra special thanks to Brad and Lee. It’s skateboarders like them that make me happy to be alive and proud to be a skateboarder. Forward motion until the end my friends.