chrome ball interview #132: fred gall

chops sits down with uncle freddy for conversation. 

Talk to me about the new ramp, Fred. Looks amazing.

Yeah, I finally got a ramp at my house. I’ve always wanted one and since I’ve been working a bunch, I had some money saved up. It basically came down to either buying a car or building a ramp… so I chose the ramp. (laughs)

The way I see it, I’ve gotten by without a car for a long time, I can probably go a little longer. Let’s get a ramp!

I saw that photo you posted the other day with the fireworks. So good.

Yeah, they always have a fireworks show at this park behind my house so we thought we’d take advantage of it.

My knee’s been hurt so all I could get was a little grind that day. We had planned on getting a real photo of me actually doing something but I couldn’t really skate the way that I wanted to. But we figured that we might as well get something, you know? Still a sick photo.

So what’s all going on with you these days? Looks like you’ve lost some weight… I can even hear it in your voice.

Well, I’ve been sober for something like 140 days now. I went away for a little bit. I had to change my life around.

Congrats, Fred. I wasn't sure how much you wanted to get into all that but it’s awesome to hear, man.

Oh, it’s totally cool. I was just going down a really shitty path, man. Straight up, I had to fix some things because it wasn’t going to end well for me. It's just something that I had to deal with. It was my time, I guess.

140 days is a long time.

Yeah, I guess they say that 90 days is the big hump. I’m fine with it, though. I’m just going with the flow.

Because I know you were at Bam’s thing last year and then you just kinda disappeared.

Yeah, Bam was the actually one who got me into rehab, him and Brandon Novak. I went in for a 30-day program and I was doing okay with it. But at the 2-week point, my Mom came to visit and she’s the one who actually handed me something.

“Oh fuck… what the fuck? Why did I even tell these people to visit me?”

I ended up doing it and they piss-tested me the next day, so I got kicked out. And I went back to the same shit again, like immediately. But on January 13th, I found my Mom dead. She OD’d. I found her with a needle in her arm. So that was it for me. Fuck this shit. I’m done.

I still ran with it for another month or so… until I was able to get into a rehab. But once I got in there, that’s when I fully committed to changing.

I knew your Mom had passed but I wasn’t aware of the circumstances. I'm sorry to hear that.

Yeah, it was gnarly but it’s just something I have to deal with, you know? I just know that I can’t go down that road anymore. I’ve seen what can happen.

And you have a job now, too?

Well, I’ve had a lot of jobs throughout the years but I’m actually doing good this time. (laughs)

Before, I’d just work enough to get by, but I actually enjoy my job now. I work with some tight people and my boss is cool. It’s all working out pretty well.

What do you do?

My friend has a set-building company and he hired me… I’m actually trying to figure out how to get a ride into work right now.

Fresh off Matt Price’s Golden Hour photo show, what’s your outlook on the “Legend of Fred”, especially in the face of this newfound sobriety?

I mean, I appreciate it. People have done so much for me. I like that everyone is so psyched on me and they're into it. But it’s a little weird that people look at me that way. Like, going to that photo show was really challenging for me.

How so?

Because I’m known for being this wild maniac guy, drinking and shit. So going to this show, everybody is trying to drink with me. They got 40s and everything… and that’s fine. I’m not trying to ruin anyone else’s time. I appreciate people wanting to do something nice for me. That’s just not my thing anymore. I had to politely decline.

“Nah, I’m good.”

It was challenging, but people understood. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’m not trying to lecture people or whatever.

But being “Uncle Freddy” had to be difficult at times, right?  

It was all good when I wasn’t sober. Because I’d just go for it, you know? I didn’t care, I’d party with anybody. And a lot of time, that meant free shit, too.

But I’m 40 now, man. I can’t be this maniac guy anymore. Shit catches up to you. 

You’ve talked about acid and shrooms actually helping with your focus in skating. Do you still feel this way?

My sobriety now doesn’t really have anything to do with that. Because I’ll be honest, I actually thought acid was my key to doing shit for a while there. And I’ve definitely done some shit on acid and mushrooms that I couldn’t do otherwise in a normal reality. I know this, for sure. Because I’ve done things without a filmer while I was tripping my balls off that I couldn’t do the very next day sober. Not even close.

Like what?

I carved the big bench at China Banks in ’96 on acid one night.

Because we’d just go out, take acid and skate around. We wouldn’t even think to take a filmer with us… we’re on fucking acid, man. But then we’d do all this amazing shit and none of it would be documented.

So once I carved the long bench at China, I was dead-set on going back to film it the next day. But I couldn’t even come close. It’s like I couldn’t even comprehend it… even though I just did it the night before. I tried my ass off on that thing, too. Never got it.

I can’t imagine you being sober when you bombed Bam’s driveway either.

Oh, I’d been up all night, fucked. But for whatever reason, I got psyched and decided that was the time to do it.

“Yo, I’m doing it right now.”

I hadn’t skated in months but I just took that thing, wearing this big ass coat.  I got some gnarly wobbles but that was it. Bam was freaking out. I guess a bunch of people have done it since but he said that I was the first to do it.

Didn’t he pay you $100 bucks for bombing it?

I think so.

That dude… seriously, after staying at his house that day, I went home with over $500 dollars. Just from him getting excited and slapping handfuls of money in my hand. Like at the bar, I did something… I don’t even know what I did but dude slapped $300 bucks in my hand. So I bought everyone drinks and pocketed the rest.

Does part of you now wish that you took skating more seriously over the years, without the partying? Or was that your process and just part of what made you Freddy?

That was just my process, man. That's just how I was living... And there’s a difference between hard drugs and just partying. You can get away with partying and still perform good. It’s once you start fucking around with hard drugs, that’s when shit goes downhill.

But I will say that there were a couple years that I probably chilled a little too much. If I could go back, I’d want to take those years a little more seriously. But no, not overall.

What years were those?

Probably from around ’99 to 2001 or 2002. Back when shoe sponsors really started becoming a thing, I was probably a little too into partying at that point.

Who’s Brebick?

Aw shit… (laughs)

When I was a kid, I used to always point to my reflection in the mirror and call him “Brebick”. That was his name, the man in the mirror is Brebick. I have no idea what that means or how I came up with it, but my Mom and Dad would always talk about me saying that for years.

Somehow, it turned into whenever I got into blackout mode, I became Brebick. He’s my alter-ego. Lou even ended up putting it on one of his Metal boards.

“Brebick was here.”

Pretty funny.

You have so many insane stories over the years that have only added to the Freddy legend, but what do you look back on as the craziest experience of your life?

Probably the one where I’m pulling people out the truck in Thailand. That would be the one if I had to choose. Because it was all this crazy shit happening so fast, man. Like, first, I’m lost in this crazy foreign country for hours and I can’t find my hotel. So I’m in a tuk tuk going down the street when, all of a sudden, there’s a pick-up truck full of people rolling right at us, flipping end-over-end. Boom, boom, boom! And then, we look up and there’s a telephone pole about to fall right on top of us. It was like something straight out of the movies, dude. And it just missed us, man. We seriously drove right underneath it.

Me and the tuk tuk dude just looked at each other afterwards in total disbelief.

“Holy shit! We’re okay!... Let’s go help those people in that truck!”

Because it was full of people, man. And they were fucked up, too. Bleeding all over the place. But what are you gonna do? You can’t just leave them there…

So yeah, that’s the craziest one in my book. Just because it was so hectic.

In your estimate, how many times should you have probably died over the years?

A lot. Seriously, I would say at least 10 times. I’ve had some pretty close calls, man. Not even getting into all the party stuff, I’ve almost drowned. I almost fell out of a moving car. I got stuck under a bridge one time, hanging off the edge on some graffiti shit. So much shit, man.

Not to get too deep into this, but how is Fred Gall still alive at age 40?

(laughs) I don’t know, man. I really don’t. I should be dead, for sure.

A brawl breaks out in a crowded street. As chaos ensues, in rolls Freddy with a perfect 360 flip. End scene.

That was at the Meanwhile spot in London. Some kids were having a graffiti fight. I really don’t even know why I did that, man. Burnett just had his camera out and I guess I saw my opening. I thought it would be funny so I just went for it with the tre flip. Beaming the camera. I think I even said, “That’s what’s up!” or something stupid like that.

I love it. Is the chaotic tre flip a common one for you?

I’ve done a couple random ones over the years but that’s probably the best example. I did another one in the middle of an outdoor aerobics class in Thailand… All these Thai people, 30 deep, doing aerobics under a bridge. I had to hit’em with the tre.

What about you pissing in your own face for Golden Hour?

I don’t know, man. I just think we were in the van for too long. But you can always count on Matt Price to have his camera close. Once we pulled over and could finally get out of the van for a little bit, it just popped in my head.

“Dude, take a photo of this real quick. I got something.”

And I just did it. I think it’s hilarious, man… Even though I had piss all over me. The only other person I know to do that shit is G.G. Allin. And now me. (laughs)

Reminds me of that tuck pose you were running for a while.

Silence of the Lambs, dude. You know that movie, right? That’s where I got that from. The dude tucks his shit in during that part in his basement. I love that shit.

So going back now, how’d you end up on New School and Tracker as a little kid in New Jersey?

All of that came through a local shop I skated for, ADC. They were the ones who actually got me on flow for Skate Rags, back when I was super young. I guess they showed them some stuff and talked me up real good. Tracker was under the same roof as Skate Rags so that’s how it all worked out.

Brian Ridgeway was TM for Tracker back then and he came through Cheap Skates one time with Omar Hassan and Adrian Demain. That’s how I officially got on the team. We found out they were coming so I skipped school and my Mom drove me for what was basically a try-out. I had to skate in-front of them so they could check me out. Whatever I did must’ve worked because I got on Tracker that day.

I was actually on Alva prior to it becoming New School, before they changed the name. My shop hooked that up, too. I was on Alva flow for a long time and then I was in that Tracker video, so they bumped me up.

Yeah, I’d never heard of you prior to Stacked but Tracker really seemed to back you.

Yeah, that’s my 12-and-under part. Ridgeway and I filmed that all in one day. He was on this big trip for the video, filming dudes up and down the East Coast. He ended up stopping by my house so we hit some local spots and my ramp in the driveway.

But I was hyped when that part came out. When you’re a kid, skateboarding is all you care about so it was cool to see my shit out there. Filming a whole part in a day wasn't even a big deal back then.

When’s the last time you did a front-foot impossible?

A couple years ago, actually. I did a front-foot impossible to rock fakie at Shorty’s, man. I was psyched! We even filmed it but I don’t think it got used for anything. Gonna have to post that on Instagram!

How’d you end up on Alien?

That was through Dyrdek. I was at the Am Finals in ’92 and Dyrdek was there. I don’t even know why he was there because he was pro already… I guess he was looking for dudes to put on the team. But yeah, he just came up to me that day.

“Yo, you should ride for Alien Workshop.”

“Oh really? Cool.”

I honestly didn’t think too much about it but when I told Brian Ridgeway, he got all psyched. He’s really good friends with Carter and gave me his number right there on the spot.

“Yo, this is Chris Carter’s number. Call him up. You should ride for Alien Workshop. This is a good decision.”

It still took me a while, though, because I felt loyal to the New School dudes. I was 12-years-old, man, I didn’t want to just quit like that. So I remember calling to tell Jim Duhamel that I quit. He was bummed, too. It was hard.

But still, that was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

Were you a big Memory Screen fan?

They sent me that video and I didn’t even understand it. I watched the shit out of it because I loved the skating but I wasn’t feeling the rest of it at all.

“What the fuck is all this weird bullshit!?!”

I got an appreciation for it later, but that’s a hard watch when you’re 12.

As one of the first non-OGs and being so young, was it difficult getting into the Alien mix? Were you going out to visit Ohio yet or just doing your thing in Jersey?

Yeah, I’d go out and visit Ohio sometimes. I remember skating with Dyrdek and John Drake a lot whenever I was there. I went up to Canada and skated with Thomas Morgan, too. It was always fun, man. It never felt like a big deal. Maybe I was just too young to think about things like that? But those dudes were always super nice to me and really seemed psyched I was on the team.

Did you ever experience any of Carter and Hill’s conspiracy stuff? Water wells and burying gold?

That was more Hill than Carter, but yeah, they’d sit around and talk about the Illuminati. I definitely remember them talking about having guns and ammunition, just in case of whatever. And they did get money in gold as well, for sure. 100%. I’m pretty sure I saw some.

Were you tripping?

I just remember thinking to myself, “Wow, these guys are on some weird shit.”

But it was cool. You kinda want those dudes to be like that, you know?

Any good Bo Turner stories?

Well, there was one time when the dude at Sub Zero owed me money. He kept on claiming forever that he was gonna pay me but never did. So I told Bo about it, who happened to be in Philly at the time. He went into the shop and shook him down for the money.

“You fucking owe Freddy money!?! Better pay up, bitch!”

Classic Bo Turner-style, shaking him down. And I got the money, too!

How did you start going over to Philly and Love anyway? Would your Mom drive you over?

No, the first time I ever went to Love was with Ken Salerno, the photographer for Thrasher, and Derek Rinaldi. I never heard much about Philly back then but Ken was all into it.

“Philly’s the fucking shit. We gotta go to Love Park.”

I didn’t even know what Love Park was. I must’ve been 12 or 13...  but it was awesome. This is back when the top ledges had bushes on them so everybody just skated the stairs and the lower ledges. But I loved that place right away.

Ricky Oyola was actually there that day, too. I remember him trying to ollie the fountain but he didn’t make it. He kicked it away and got broke.

How’d you fall into that crew with Ricky, Reason and Dan Wolfe?

Just by going to Philly all the time. Before that, I’d always go to New York because it was closer. But once I saw how dope Philly was, I only wanted to skate there after that.

I started skating Love with Eric Ruwadi a lot and those guys happened to be his crew, so I just fell in with those guys. Then I ended up moving to Philly and we all got tighter.

Dan didn’t come onto the scene until a few years later. He just showed up at Love Park one day with a camera.

“Yo, I’m a filmer. I want to film. Can I film you guys?”

“Shit… yeah! Whatever.”

It was on after that.

As a 12-year-old at Love Park, would you ever get sketched out?

Ah, dude… I saw people get stabbed with screwdrivers. People smoking crack. It was insane. I remember this crackhead calling Lil’ Stevie the n-word one time and dudes fucked this guy up. They smashed him with skateboards until he was a bloody mess, man. Broken teeth. Not moving.

Next thing I know, there’s sirens and we’re all running away. I’ll never forget that shit.

You made a rep early on through a lot of switch stuff. Switch 50s on rails, even pushing switch…

Switch was just really big at the time and you always want to be learning the new shit, you know? Because a lot of that shit had never been done before, we didn’t even know if it was possible. Like I did a switch 50-50 down the City Hall rail, I remember building myself up to do it with regular grinds first, and even that was hard back then. But once I got that, I got a little more confident… fuck, I’ll try it switch. I think I can get it. And it worked out.

I feel like the switch push stuff came from Rick. He was the first person I ever saw pushing switch and I thought it was so sick. Our whole crew got so into it that switch pushing kinda became our thing. Everyone had to do it. Never switch mongo. Mongo was wack.

Don’t turn around in the middle of a line, either.

I actually still live by that rule to this day. If I’m filming something, you’ll never see me turn around in a line. Never. That is major. Not even a question.

And don’t turn your stance around, either. Like, if you’re going switch, don’t just step around on your board to change your stance. That’s just as bad as wheel sliding around.

Are you one to camp out with tricks for hours until you make it?

Yeah, I’ve always tried tricks until I got it. Typically, I’ll get ‘em but if I don’t, I’ll come back the next day. I’m not one of those dudes that just gives it a handful of tries. Nah, if I’m trying it, I want to make that shit. 

There’s been shit where I’ve had to go back three or four times...

Like what?

The kickflip wallride in Cincinnati at PNG. I had to go back a few times for that one. Because I’d get kicked out or there’d be cars there. That thing took almost two years to get because it was in Ohio, but I’d always try it whenever I was in town.

Your Sub Zero part is still incredible but how serious did you take what was, essentially, a shop video?

I didn’t even care that it was a shop video, I wanted to do the best I could. I just didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew we were working on a video but it’s not like I was thinking about anything being “before its time” or whatever. We were just filming. I would always be out skating and if Dan was around, might as well film, too. I just wanted to get some good shit.

Like, the day I got that switch flip backtail at Love, I was psyched. Because I knew that was a good one. Obviously, I was happy that we got it on film, but I wasn’t really thinking about it like that. I was more psyched just to have landed it.

What about the backside noseblunt at Afro?

That was back when I was living with Matt Reason. I was actually hanging out with some girls that night. And it’s funny because we were drinking, too. That’s why I say that shit into the camera at the end of my part, “Skuhhhh…..”

I remember it being night out and Matt saying, “Come on, we’re gonna go skate Afro.” It was kinda out of nowhere.

Honestly, I hadn’t skated that shit in years. But I had all those quarterpipe tricks from my old ramp, let’s see if I still got those. And that’s what I did. In my mind, I was just trying to skate my old quarterpipe from when I was a kid.

That back noseblunt did not come easy, though. It definitely took a minute. I did one to revert there years later and that was hard, too.

And the switch pop-shuv nosegrind at Love?

That one took a little bit, too. Because I’d never even done that trick before. So I was learning as we were filming it. I think I saw Moses Itkonen do one and it got me hyped. Trying tricks that I was psyched on other people doing, I used to do that a lot back then. Matt Reason’s switch front boardslides… I remember doing a lot of tricks that Salman was doing back then, too.

Like what?

A lot of switch shit. Or, that backside 180 nosegrind to noseslide Salman used to do? He’d do it regular but it almost looked like it was switch? There was a sequence of him doing it on the small Wallenberg curb. I used to do that one a lot.

You largely shared an EE3 part with Jerry Fisher and he famously chose your Canned Heat SubZero song that Stevie hated. Talk about Jerry’s influence on you.

He was all about doing rails. And this was back before big rails were common, you know? I actually used to be scared of rails and he’d make me do them.

“No, you’re gonna do that rail.”

And I’d end up doing it. A few more times like that and you’re not as afraid of them anymore. So yeah, he had a big influence on my skating. He was my boy. I mean, getting me to do rails, picking out the song for my part... which, I actually like that song. But yeah, I looked up to that dude.

How come he never made it?

He was on Think back in the day but he broke his leg, which fucked him up for a little bit. And once Think faded out, we had Metal for a minute but he just wasn’t into it anymore. He was more into selling weed.

Do you two still talk?

Nah, last time I talked to him was on the phone, maybe 10 years ago.

How’d that gap to 50 at Love go down?  

Jerry was actually the one who first showed that to me. I’d been eyeing that thing up for a long time…

I’ll be honest, I was up all night on drugs before I did it. Fuck, the only reason I was even out there so early was because I’d gone out to buy more drugs and ended up buying crack. That morning was the first time I ever smoked crack. Straight up. So, obviously, I’m not in my right mind… let’s go to Love Park! (laughs)

So I’m out skating around Love Park, fucked up. And it’s not like I’m even planning on really doing anything out there because I’m on a cruiser board. But I start looking at this thing. Dan was there with the camera. Fuck it, I’m gonna give this a try.

The first time I tried it was actually on that cruiser board. Again, I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t make it but that was enough to get me going. So I asked Matt Reason for his board and ended up doing it on that. It only took a few tries.

I did one and came off early into the ramp, so I went back and did another one. I got on a little weird but I committed to it anyway. Somehow, I was able to stay on and roll away.

That’s insane. Had anyone even skated that thing before?

No, no one had even touched that thing before. Like I said, I wasn’t in my right mind… but I don’t remember anyone hitting it afterwards for a long time, either. Until Kerry did that lipslide, which was sick.

Was your legendary ’94 trip to SF always supposed to be this big thing for you or did all that stuff happen organically? Thrasher and Slap interviews, staying with Huf, skating Hubba…

That was all planned, for the most part. It happened in September after being in Europe all summer for those contests. I met Jake Phelps over there and that’s where it all came from.

“Come out to SF in September, I want to do an interview with you.”

I was out there for about a month or so, which meant I also missed my first month of school. But that trip gave me my first taste of shit, so there was no way I was going back to school after that. The problem was that I was still 15 and you can’t quit school until you’re 16. This was October, my birthday is November 5th. So I'd just go to homeroom-only and leave every day for an entire month until I could finally quit.  

Because that trip was the best, man. Skating all those spots, skating the hills. I remember staying out there with Roger Browne for the first night and then him dropping me off at Huf’s house the next morning.

“You’re gonna stay with these guys now.”

I didn’t even know Huf… Sean Young was there, too. But I remember those guys taking me on a mission to Fort Miley and bombing hills all the way back down. Sean gave me a THC pill before we went, too. So I was tripping my balls off. It was the most epic day ever.

Had you ever skated Hubba before that trip?

No, I’d never skated Hubba before but it was definitely on my list to hit, for sure. I was looking forward to that one. I did all those tricks in one day.

Switch crooks, switch five-o, switch 180 5-0.

Yeah, that was all one day with Huf filming. The stuff that’s in Timecode. And then I went back to shoot photos of the switch 180 5-0 with Lance Dawes for Slap.

How’d all that go down?

Well, I remember starting out with some grinds down it before I did the switch 180 5-0. Then I did the switch crooks, which came pretty quick. So after that, I was feeling pretty good.

“Fuck, I think I can switch 5-0 this thing.”

So I try one and actually missed the edge, doing a switch manual instead. But I knew I had it after that, because I’d gotten on top. And that’s when we shot my Thrasher cover with Morford.

Was there anything else you tried that day but couldn’t get?

I remember trying a switch front shove-it to switch crooks on that thing. I tried that one a few times but never got it.

I also tried to 360 flip California Street later. The one I switch ollied? After I got that, I tried 360 flips for a while. I’d land with one foot and ride but I could never put it down.

Was Huf tripping on all your tricks down Hubba?

He was more concerned with documenting it.

“Dude, I gotta get my camera!”

Because we didn’t even have a filmer that day, just a photographer. You didn’t really have filmers back then, it was more of just whoever had a camera.

Was that Timecode footage of you skating the hills from this first trip?

Nah, that was my second or third trip out there. But once again, that’s Jerry filming the hill stuff… like us almost getting hit by the car. We’d go out to SF and stay with Mike Daher a bunch. Take a bunch of acid and go skating all night.

Bombing hills on acid?

(laughs) Yeah, man. I remember one time being on acid on Upper Haight, where the projects are. On top of the hill. I’m tripping like crazy when all of a sudden, I hear Matt Pailes screaming.

“Dude, go! Go down the hill! Don’t look back! Just go!”

I look back and there’s a 40oz bottle flying right at me! Out of nowhere, barely missing me.

“What the fuck!?!”

The hoodrats were throwing bottles at us....

Well, I guess I gotta bomb this hill on acid now.

How were the hills for you, coming from New Jersey?

I adapted pretty quick. I was at that age where you’re basically unstoppable, you know? But I did get served up a few times. I fucked my back up on that trip, pretty much for life. It’s still fucked from a slam on that trip.

What happened?

I bombed this hill that was so fucking tall and steep, man. But I didn’t know there were speed bumps at that bottom. From the top, they just looked like painted lines. So I’m going mach-10 down this fucking hill and nail a speed bump. I fly off my board and I’m just airborne. I still remember that feeling. And then I landed on my back, right on top of the next speed bump. That fucked me up bad.

How was filming for Timecode compared to the EE/Sub Zero?

Well, as you can see by the footage in my Timecode part, we are all on acid. I was super deep into that shit back then. I mean, even the filmer is on acid. Look at how sketchy the footage is! It’s almost unusable. But I had nothing else… fuck it, just use it. It’ll work out.

That video was kinda rushed. Alien pretty much decided to put out a video and we all had to gather our footage real quick. I didn’t even know where most of my stuff was or who I even filmed it with. So I just ended sending in a bunch of tapes.

I remember Dyrdek calling me, because he was helping them edit.

“Dude, do you want to use this shit?”

He was talking about the New Mexico footage I sent in, the backside nosepick. He was psyched on it.

“I don’t really want to, no.”

“But it’s gnarly! You gotta use it!”

Because at that point, there weren’t a lot of nosepicks in videos, but Dyrdek talked me into it. And after that, we basically ended up using everything I had… even if you could barely see it.

Was this just inexperience with filming after having Dan Wolfe all those years?

For sure. Because I went from Dan Wolfe filming all crispy to handing my buddy the camera and hoping he gets it.

“Follow me.”

That was about as deep as it got. And here I did all this gnarly shit… fuck, it looks like shit! I knew right away that if Wolfe had filmed it, that part would’ve made a way bigger impact.

Do you like the part?

I do, actually. I like how the footage looks.

Even today, my friend was filming me… and he totally sucks at filming. But we got the clip and as we’re watching it back on his iPhone, it looks like shit. I just had to tell him, “Fuck it, dude. Timecode-style.”

What’s the story behind that big dude crushing at the end of your part?

That was just some dude at FDR one day. I don’t know who he is… I didn’t even know that was going to be in my part until I saw it. It’s pretty funny, though.

How do you go about filming parts anyway? Are you just out there skating? You’re not making lists, are you?

No, I don’t write shit down but I’ll have a mental list going. There are always certain tricks I want for parts but it largely comes down to finding the right spots for them.

Like for my Inhabitants part, I didn’t write anything down on paper, but I had a lot of stuff planned out. Like the Albany Pool? I knew I wanted to go there and do these specific tricks, I just had to get there.

We heard your Lennie Kirk laundry story but what was it like being on the tour with that guy?

You mean watching him go crazy at demos, trying to drive God into kids? I remember Carter having to wrestle a shop’s microphone away from him at one point. Because Lennie was going on and on, getting real crazy with it.

“You better repent!”

Carter had to step in.

“No more, man.”

Did he ever condemn you to Hell for anything? Evidently, he told Bo that he's going to Hell for getting a boner.

(laughs) No, he never condemned me to Hell for anything.

Good job, Freddy.


I just remember having to share the same hotel room with him. It was wild but what are you gonna do? So I’d just listen to him. For hours. Reading me the Bible… But you had no choice. You just had to accept it. This dude is out of his mind, that’s just how it’s gonna be. 

Being so close with those guys, were you ever asked about Zoo or Silverstar?

Zoo York tried to get me to skate for them for a long time. I actually did skate for Empire Wheels for a bit, their little wheel company. But I never got paid and I got all pissed off.

But as far as Silverstar and all that, I didn’t even want anything to do with that. I was fine on Alien Workshop.

Would Ricky ever talk shit on Alien Workshop with his hardcore east coast views?

Nah, Ricky was hyped on Alien. They were kinda like the good team from Ohio, in the middle of the country. So he gave it a pass.

I mean, I’m hyped on East Coast stuff, too. Obviously, it’s where I’m from and everything. But I was nowhere near as gung-ho as Ricky was about that shit. I’m more along the lines of “Yeah, I’m from the East Coast. Whatever.”

I’m not gonna fucking rant and rave about it. I feel like he got a little ridiculous with all that.

How’d the idea of you going to Habitat come about?

It was right after Joe Castrucci started working for Alien, I was staying with him in Cincinnati for a bit. And honestly, I think I was the one who actually brought it up.

“Yo, we should start some type of company.”

I wasn’t even thinking about doing boards, I was talking more about an apparel company or something. But I say this one little thing and it turns out, Joe had been already working on all this shit!

“Yo, I already got the graphics. Let’s do this.”

He basically showed me Habitat that day. He already had the name and a bunch of graphics done on his computer. He’d already been thinking about a team…

“I want you and Wenning…”  He named a few other dudes.

I didn’t really want to quit Alien at the time but with it being under the same roof? Fuck it. It was something new and fresh, you know? Plus, it turned out that almost everyone who rode for it in the beginning was from New Jersey. That wasn’t really the plan but I was psyched that it worked out that way. 

How was riding for Habitat different than Alien?

It was pretty much the same, to be honest. We’d travel with different people, obviously. But other than that, I’d still talk to Carter and everything. It was basically the same.

But was it weird to watch Alien change over the years as an outsider?

Yeah, that was weird. I was actually glad that I went to Habitat with the direction Alien was going there for a minute.

How so?

I just didn’t really like some of the dudes they were putting on. It didn’t feel like the same company to me anymore, personally.

Want to name names?

Not really…


(laughs) Nah, I don’t want to name anybody.

Well, you did go to Habitat right after so many of the Alien OG’s got kicked off.

Yeah, that’s not what I was talking about but that was weird, too. That was a big shift. Because all of a sudden, those guys are gone and Dill’s now on Alien? And he’s kinda like the main dude on the team? Oh shit!

I just didn’t really know Dillman back then. But through traveling with everybody and getting to know them better, we all got really tight. It ended up being a good thing.

But you almost went to Vehicle and Real at different points, too. Were you often unhappy with the Sect?

It’s not that I was unhappy with Alien, those were just some weird circumstances.

Real basically tried to bribe me into riding for them with all types of money. That dude Jeff Klindt was a snake, dude. I was young and he really tried to manipulate me. Offering all this money and juicing me up, saying he’ll get me a car.

“Alright… well, you gotta fly me and my boy Lou out there and put us on.”

Somehow Dyrdek found out and called me the night before I was supposed to fly out there. We talked about shit for an hour and the next day, I didn’t get on the plane… which, I didn’t even call the Real dudes. I’m sure they were waiting for me at the airport. And I know I probably bummed them out but I did end up getting the money from Alien.

And the Vehicle thing was just because I was tight with Robbie Gangemi. Huf was supposed to do it, too… Honestly, that was the only reason that I was even considering it. But once Huf backed out, I backed out as well. And Robbie is still pissed to this day.

But no, it’s not like I was bummed on Alien. I was never out there, looking around for something else.  

What were your thoughts on “Habiwack” and that weird inner-Sect Philly beef?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t give a shit. I wasn’t really going to Philly much at that time so what little I did hear, I didn’t pay any attention to.

But I do feel like that’s how we ended up with Seek. Because those dudes were jealous we had Habitat so they wanted their own thing, too… Which, good for you. Do whatever you want. I don’t care. But I really wasn’t into what they were putting out. The silver and all that. I knew it wasn’t going to last.

Why not?

It just seemed like a little too much, you know? It was unnecessary. Like, you guys aren’t happy with Alien? Really? But that was the thing, they were totally fine with Alien. They just felt like they needed to do something just to say they did it. That's not how you start a company.

How was filming for Photosynthesis? Had you already started filming while riding for Alien?

Yeah, I had a little bit of a jump on everybody with the Habitat section. Because I’d already been filming around Cincinnati with Castrucci from before Habitat was even a thing.

But Photosynthesis was a little different for me anyway, because I was riding for this new thing and didn’t really know exactly what it was. But that Habitat section came out sick... with the Mr. Dibbs and everything. That was one thing I've always been hyped on as a rider: you could always trust those dudes to do their thing and the videos to come out dope. Graphics, too. You never had to worry about stupid shit.

Puleo once called you the father of Wenning’s ledge tech. Thoughts?

I guess we do both have that kinda slouchy style…

But Wenning and I have always been tight. We’re still tight. I remember when he first started coming around, he was just this scared ass little kid on Alien. It’s funny to think about that now. He wouldn’t drink or nothing and he’d be at these gnarly parties with a bunch of maniacs. He’d be so scared.

A couple of years later, he wasn’t scared anymore. He ended up becoming a maniac just like the rest of us.

What about Danny Renaud? He always had a rep as not the nicest guy on tour, but would he ever cross Uncle Freddy?

Never. Because Renaud really was like my son. I took care of both him and Ryan Nix back in LA when they were, like, 15. I didn’t even know those dudes but I had to stay at their place for like 2 months because I got kicked out of Dill’s house. Back when they were on Habitat flow. But I was like a father-figure to those little shitheads… which is hilarious now. Paying for shit while they drank all my beer. Just the worst. The fucking Dirts, man.

But no, Danny never fucked with me.

So what was your experience like being on the road with him?

Oh, when we were on the road together, we could get into some shit, man. Trashing hotel rooms was our shit, man. I remember one time in Indianapolis, we got all drunk together I ended up going to jail for disorderly conduct while he went back to the hotel room and fucking trashed the place.

Here we are, in town for a Mosaic premiere, which wasn’t for a few more days and we’re already in deep shit.

What was jail like?  

Oh, that’s a good story. Because they put me in Population, dude. Some jail in Indianapolis. And the thing was, you had to find your own bed. So I end up finding a top bunk in there without a mattress. It’s just the frame or whatever but fuck it. That’s the best I'm gonna do.

So I’m up there trying to sleep, using my shoe as a pillow. Totally fucked. And I wake up to this dude standing above me with a broomstick! And we’re on the top bunk!

“Yo, what the fuck!?!”

I thought he was gonna kill me.

“Be quiet!”

There just happened to be a vent in the ceiling right above where I was sleeping, so he starts smashing the shit out of this vent with his broomstick. He takes the vent out and starts looking inside this hole in the ceiling. Next thing I know, he’s pulling out wires from up there and touching them together. Sparks start flying everywhere.

“Yo, I got fire!”

All of a sudden, all these dudes with cigarettes and joints come rushing at us, trying to light whatever off these fucking wires. It was crazy. I’m just trying to lay down and now I got all these dudes around me, lighting shit off wires. I couldn’t wait to get outta there, man.

What led to your One Pant Leg Up phase?

(laughs) I have no idea.

I was skating a lot in New York at the time and hanging out with these New York dudes. I guess I was just feeling it. And I kinda liked the way it felt, too. When you’re pushing with your pant leg like that, it actually feels pretty good. But you’re right, I did run the shit out of that.

So was there a point where you just embraced NJ crust and all its shitty spots?

Oh, for sure. That just comes from living in New Jersey. Because there isn’t shit to skate here. Everything that’s skateable is crusty, so what are you gonna do? A lot of times, it’s either that or nothing. So I started going out to these spots I grew up with that nobody else skated because they were too shitty. I filmed a couple of clips on them and people seemed to like it so I just ran with it.

It’s just a different type of skating, you know? And it’s changed a lot of my tricks, too. Obviously, you can’t get too tech on some of this shit.

Yeah, it was cool seeing the ledge dude from Love throwing pivot fakies and dump trucks all of a sudden.

For sure, man. I love those tricks… I did a dump truck today actually.

But why not just move? What’s kept you in Jersey all these years? 

I’ve just never really had the urge to move out to Cali. Everybody else did but I was cool with being on the East Coast. I mean, I’ll go out there and visit during the winter, don’t get me wrong. But this is where I want to be. I can be close to the city but also have my family here, too. New Jersey is home to me.

Who’s a west coast head that can shred proper New Jersey crust?

I feel like Silas properly shreds everything.  

And this shit isn’t easy, man. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hit up to show people around and they get all bummed. I’ve brought entire teams to spots and nobody gets out of the van.

“What the fuck is this?”

“This is what I got. You asked for it.”

Then I end up skating by myself. (laughs)

You’ve called Inhabitants your favorite part, how so?

Just the time period that we were making it, filming it with Andrew Pitello. The song and the spots. The trips we went on for that were super fun. I got that kickflip wallride we were talking about... Watching that brings back some good memories.

But at 5 minutes, it’s one of your longest parts. How’d all that come together?

It’s funny because that video wasn’t even planned out as much as some of the other Habitat ones. I just got lucky that it came at a time when I had a bunch of footage and I could give them literally everything I had. I didn’t have to split it up with anything else.

I've heard people refer to that part as a comeback of sorts, did you feel this way? Have you ever felt like your career was in need of a “comeback”?

Not really. I just wouldn’t do anything for a while and then I’d go out and do something. (laughs)

But no, I’ve never felt like I was making any sort of comeback or that I needed to make a comeback. I’ve just always done my thing. Maybe people weren’t expecting that kinda part from me? Like you said, that was one of my longest parts. Who knows? But that’s funny.

Of all the trips you’ve been on, what’s your favorite?

Probably my first time to Thailand with Kenny Reed and Dave Smith. Just because it was a new place and somewhere I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve been there, like, 4 or 5 times now.

It’s just so dope. Everything about it. The spots are dope, the food is good… you could buy drugs really easy. (laughs)

I’m not gonna lie, man. That’s what I was all about back then. And you could just walk into a pharmacy and buy shit. No prescriptions, whatever you wanted. It's wild out there.

What about wallriding a moving bus in Bangkok with Matt Price.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to do a wallride on a moving bus. It’s just an idea I’ve had. But I ended up finding the perfect corner on the bus line in Bangkok where buses would turn, so they’d have to slow down a little. And the curb was like a knee-high ledge from where we were to the street, so it’s like the perfect height with the bus.

It just became a thing where Price and I spent two days trying to get that photo. Ollieing onto the side of random buses. And honestly, I never actually landed the ollie but I did caveman into one and landed that.

Is the photo a caveman?

No, the photo’s an ollie, but I was coming super close. The problem was that the bus drivers would freak out on me. Because it’s not like we were asking or anything, I’d just hit the side of random buses all of a sudden, like, boom! And they’d stop every time and start screaming at me. I’d always have to run around the corner and hide for a minute before coming back. It was pretty ridiculous.

I probably hit 30 buses over the course of those two days.

And you’d have to wait for the next bus in-between every try?  

Yeah, basically just waiting around for two days. And sometimes they’d be going too fast so then you’d have to wait for another one. Because one time, I tried to jump on a faster one without my board, just my feet on the bus, and it spun me around all crazy and shit.

But why Bangkok?

I feel like you could only do that in Bangkok. That’s the only place you could get away with shit like that. Because yeah, people were freaking out, but nothing really happened. Nobody ever called the cops or anything.

Did you know Dill and Ave were about to leave Alien?

No, I didn’t.

And did you know the Sect was about to collapse at the time?

I didn’t see that coming either. Because Habitat was good… at least, I thought it was good. It really wasn’t until Habitat got sold the last time that I started to get worried. Because suddenly, checks weren’t coming… but even then, I still didn’t think it was over. I just thought that I’d have to wait a little longer for my check this time. I never thought checks would just stop coming.

Fuck… What am I going to do now?

So what did you do?

Well, I was living in New York at the time. I managed to get by for a few months but when I still hadn’t got a check, I figured it was time to get a job. And that’s the one I still have to this day.  

How’d your FA Guest Board happen?

Dill just hit me up about it one day.

“Yo, we want to do a guest board with you.”

But I thought it came out good, with the Mets jersey and everything. I was psyched. They sold a lot of those things, too.

How does that work with Habitat? Do you have to get Joe’s approval on that kinda stuff?

I mean, I’m still on Habitat but it’s not like I consider myself a top pro or anything. I don’t get paid shit and they don’t really make many of my boards. They’ll make a few boards with my name on them every now and then but not much. So I didn’t even care. I basically told Dill, “Fuck it, man. Do it.”

What made you stick with Habitat during its recess?

Honestly, I didn’t really have anywhere else to go. By that point, I had pretty much accepted the fact that I was done being a pro skater. My board sponsor was gone and I didn’t really have anything else to fall back on. I figured I was done.

So when Habitat did come back or whatever, that was cool. I mean, I’m still skating and everything. But I’ve just got other shit going on now.

What happened with Austyn and Habitat anyway?

He just quit, man. I don't really know... I wasn't really involved with all that. But Castrucci was bummed, man. That was a big blow for Castrucci. 

I saw your Alien reissue. With everything you’re saying, is that a retirement board?

No, it’s not a retirement board. I’m still totally cool with them. If they want to put out boards with my name on it, I’m fine with that. And if they want to send me somewhere, go for it. But I’m not really expecting anything.

It’s weird. It’s like, I guess I’m still pro because I have a board out. I still shoot photos whenever I get the chance. If I can ever get Mehring out here, I have a bunch of shit lined up. I want to shoot all that. But skateboarding just isn’t my job anymore. I have a real job now.

So what’s next?

Well, I have to buy a vehicle, that’s for sure. (laughs)

Other than that, just working and skating. That’s pretty much my life. I have my ramp now, which is awesome. I can just walk outside and skate whenever I want.

I do want to try filming a mini-ramp part back there. I just gotta get some things taken care of first. But once my filmer, Andrew, gets his camera fixed, we can focus on putting some shit out.

I’ve also been working on something at this DIY spot we have going, Hebrew Hideout. I film something every time I’m there but it’s all on different people’s iPhones… so I probably have enough for a whole part already but tracking down all that shit is gonna be pretty much impossible. I guess I’ll just put it out on Instagram as I find it.

Looking back on everything, what do you see as your proudest accomplishment and biggest regret in all this?

Honestly, I’m most proud of staying with the same company for all these years. Having such a great relationship with those dudes through all this crazy shit. That means a lot to me.

And my biggest regret would have to be riding for Recs.

That’s your biggest regret?

Yeah, man! Because I left DC! They were gonna put me on, I just had to wait 6 months. I could probably still be on DC today if I hadn’t fucked that up. I would’ve been set for life! But I got a DUI and had to pay all this money… And it just so happened that Bill Weiss hit me up with this crazy offer for 5 grand a month! It was like the perfect storm! I couldn’t pass that up!

So I leave DC and 6 months later, Recs is out of business. Easily one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

Alright, Fred. Any closing words of wisdom for the kids out there?

Never give up. Stick with it and keep trying. Don’t get discouraged by shitty attitudes. Just keep going, man. Don’t look back… And stay off hard drugs.

Thank you, Freddy!


elhubro said...


Anonymous said...

I love you both. Great job!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Always top notch skating from NJ's finest. Keep it up! Scioli making a kissy-face made me chuckle!

lord of this world said...

great stuff. so much history, loved every bit of it. truly the best.

Anonymous said...

Amazing read.
Great to hear Fred is doing well,

Anonymous said...

Legend! Thanks for the interview.

Anonymous said...

So good! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The People's Champ!

zach slurp said...

pure gold - thank you for making this

Anonymous said...

Freddy was one of my top 5 growing up. His Alien part where he destroyed SF and skated to Sabbath!!! Sorry to hear about his mom, but really hyped on the sobriety. Honestly fuck anything except sobriety. Weed sucks and beer is just estrogen. Booze is just too harsh and sloppy, and every skater is too good for the hard shit. I'd love to see more people getting into eating healthy and staying fit. I am from Gall's era, and it's a shame how much of ourselves were wasted on drinking and drugging. YOUNGSTERS LISTEN UP! Be better than that and you will get more from life and lose less.

Mid 90's skater

Anonymous said...

Inspirational dude