1.20.2022

chrome ball interview #153: frank gerwer


Chops and Frank sit down for a little conversation.

photo: brook


Frank: Wait, I have too much clothing on right now for this interview. I’m starting to sweat. 


I feel like I’m sitting down with that guy… James Lipton. You’re gonna pull out those big blue cards. 


CBI: (laughs) Honestly, yours is gonna be easy because it’s not like you’ve ever potentially been involved in any murders over the years.


Not that you know you of. 


Good point. 


So it’s like it never happened! The whole slate has been wiped clean of that little murder spree I went on through 13 states. That’s on them. That’s their problem. We’re in California. Alabama is a long ways away. That whole string of robberies through the South in the late 90s? That’s if-y talk. 


Straight if-y talk. But I'm gonna warn you that I will be taxing the brain cells in this thing, and it’s totally okay if you don’t remember. 


“Hey Frank, you did a three flip at 3 Up 3 Down and it looks like you're riding both 54 and 56mm wheels with orange shoelaces. What’s going on there?”


What’s the APEC rating of those bearings?


Swiss.



(laughs) Alright, so something I saw on IG the other day, a letter addressed to you from 101-era Natas? What was that all about? 


Oh man, that’s a little kid wanting to get sponsored and not knowing anything about skateboarding. That was me. I sent Natas a handwritten letter... I wish I had a photocopy of that letter, just thinking about what I probably wrote in there... Name, age, big fan, I’ve been skating since ’87 and you’re my favorite. 


I had no idea what I was doing. 


But you should clearly be on 101.


Totally! I’m sure I was like “I just learned manuals!”


It was definitely along those lines. But I still remember coming home one day and that letter being on the kitchen table. To this day, getting that letter was the coolest shit ever. A handwritten letter from Natas with a little 101 catalog? It had the first run of 101 stuff in there because it had just started. All because I wrote this stupid letter. I still have it. 


For some reason, I thought since Natas was my favorite skater, we’d automatically be cool with each other. Because why wouldn’t he want to hear from some kid in Long Island? 


photo: marcopoulos


Didn’t you give Gino a sponsor-me tape back in the day in hopes of getting on 101? This wasn’t a response to that…


No, that was years later. I seriously doubt that made its way to Natas, actually.


Because, again, what the fuck was I doing!?! Talk about being a pushy little kid. Fuck, man. 


That was right when Gino got on 101, but Snuff hadn’t come out yet. He just lived one town over from me, in Westbury. The gall I had to fucking give him a sponsor-me tape. Like, what’s he even going to do with that?


“Hey, here’s some dude that I barely skate with on Long Island. Put him on the team!”


I was such a kook back then. I’m so sorry to have put him in that position. 


Gino and his whole crew, they were all a bit older than I was. They were from all over New York... and clearly better than everybody else. Even before everything, whenever you ran into Gino, it was always fucked up. Like, I remember when the New Deal video came out and Ed Templeton was doing impossibles over everything, I was at the White Building doing some kinda half-impossible step-off thing. Out of nowhere, Gino shows up and starts wrapping impossibles over everything like it’s fucking Christmas. That was one of the first times where I remember thinking to myself that this Gino guy really seems to be onto something. 


photo: bobshirt


Was Number Nine your first sponsor? 


No, 13 Colonies. 


Oh wow.  


Yeah, I met dude at Newburgh Skatepark and he came up to me like, “Hey kid, saw ya skatin’ out there!” 


Straight out of the movies. 


Yeah, I can’t remember which colony out of those original 13 the company was actually in... one of the smaller ones. Plymouth Rock? Who knows? But that was my first sponsor. 


Then I met Vinny Raffa and ended up riding for Dead End for a while. Vinny was super rad… Although you had to drive to his spot in order to get boards, Vinny was still awesome. He just didn’t like to mail stuff, apparently. 


And from there, I went to Number Nine. 


Talk about that Number Nine video. Because while it was such a regional thing, your part is really good in there. How seriously did you take it? 


I mean, I was in my late-teens at that point. The skatepark that I’m skating in there, that was all I did. All day. That’s why there’s so much skatepark footage, because I was always there… and that’s how a lot of that part came together. They’d want to film and I’d just happen to be there. 


It wasn’t like I was working on that part as some type of project. It just so happened that my buddy had a friend with a camera. He’s around and wants to film me do this… okay, let’s film it then. Back and forth. That’s basically how that whole part got done. 


It’s not like I was looking to make my big break with it. 


…And I definitely stole that song from the FTC video. Whose song was that? Chico’s?


Jeron. 


Yes! Jeron! 


"That was a hard one." Courtesy: 4Ply Mag


So you were aware that he’d used that song before? 


Of course, I was aware! I’m aware of how many times Jeron fucking pushed in that part! Are you kidding me? That part with all the EMB footage was so sick… and there’s that line at Black Rock! I loved that shit, which is basically why I wanted to use that song, too. I wanted some of that! After all, it worked for Jeron! Fuck yeah, Jeron!


Dude, I was such a nerd. If Instagram existed back then, I’d be cut. I’d have seven followers and they’d all be family members. I wish that I had some guy hanging out in my room back then, so whenever I came home each day, he would just slap me in the face. 


“What the fuck were you thinking today, dude?!”


“But Jeron used that song in the FTC video! It’s sick!”


“Yeah, it’s sick… because he used it! Not because of you, ya fuck!”


Ignorance really is bliss, man.


You definitely went big in your early footage when the predominant trend on the East Coast was wallies and garbage cans off flat... 


I liked to jump. And I was just such a nerd when it came to skateboarding. I was so easily influenced by everything I saw. Every video that came out, I wanted to emulate…


...Alright, Walter Cronkite. Do you remember that video Caught Clean with the juggling? 


Yeah? 


I bought that and learned how to juggle. I bought juggling balls and everything. 


(laughs) No, you didn't! You’re fucking with me. 


I’ll fucking shoot a photo of the juggling balls right now! I just found them at my Mom’s house. They’re real juggling balls. 


You’re lying!


Nah, there’s a red, a yellow and a blue. I’m looking at them right now. The dog was playing with the red one, it might be under the couch. But I’m gonna send you a photo! 


I just bring this up to demonstrate how impressionable I was back then. Because it’s winter and these guys are juggling, let me learn how to juggle, too… I even got my friend into it. It was actually a pretty good time!


He wasn't lying.

Were you skating while juggling, too? Was there a unicycle, perhaps? 


Nah, juggling was hard enough, man. I wasn’t trying to combine skills. I’d always get hit in the head by the pins… I got hit in the lip a couple of times. That really sucked, actually. It’s not always fun being a clown, bro. 


So, no Zoo York for you? Because I know Number Nine was in that Chapman mix. 


Oh, I definitely wasn’t cool enough for Zoo York back then. I was just some weirdo out on Long Island. 


A big thing for me was when I started filming with Anthony Claravall. Because before that, I’d just be down to do whatever. Go to a spot and mess around. Anthony was the one who started taking things a little more seriously. Because he was trying to film, you know? 


Like, “Why don’t you go here and try this?” or “I think I found a rail you might like.”


It was a good relationship to have, especially for me back then. Because he was so much more methodical about everything. And it probably shaped my skating a bit, for sure. 


I actually did help make boards for Zoo York for a while there. After I quit being pro for Number Nine... Turns out that being pro for Number Nine Skateboards wasn’t as lucrative as one might expect, so I started working in the shop for a while, making Zoo York boards. My friend Dan and I screened and painted a lot of that earlier stuff. Everything with clouds and blue sky that had a city skyline or whatever, we did most of that shit. I remember running out of paint sometimes, Dan would just flip it with whatever other paint we had. Basically making custom graphics. They were so sick. 


“Fuck it, we’re gonna make a swirl through these Gangemis.”


I remember doing all of the Illuminati boards whenever they came out. They were fucking huge! Like 33 by 9½! I remember the Matt Reason wouldn’t even fit in the box. The one with the keys on it? We screened all that shit. 



So what are you doing for boards here? 


Well, I kinda floated around for a bit after Number Nine. I was actually flow for Invisible for a minute. I told you, man… I was a juggler! I would’ve fit in well on that team. If Laban wanted to pass me the ball, I would’ve caught that shit. I would’ve done the rainbow and the waterfall. 


Dave Bergthold was always cool to me. I definitely sent him a sponsor-me video after I saw Caught Clean. 


Did you put some juggling footage on your tape to sweeten the deal? 


No, I figured I would unleash that on ‘em once I got out there. Like, “Oh, you juggle, too!?!?”


Blow their minds like that. Maybe they’d send me to clown college or something. 


“Get this kid some face paint!”


So I was Invisible flow for a minute, then nothing. I think Anthony hooked me up with New Deal, too, which was right before that 7-Year Glitch era. Then nothing again. 



When did you make the move out west? Was that straight to 6 Newell? 


Yeah, I came out West in ’98, I think. I’d been going out there for a couple years before that, though. 


I lived in a car for a while… I did that for about a year or so with my friend John Kline. Driving back and forth from New York to California and wherever else. Let’s just say that was ‘97.


Nomad style?


Total nomad style. I just happened to be in San Francisco at the time... 


John is a wild dude. Shit would just come out of the blue with that guy. I didn’t even really know him, we were just skating this spot on Taylor and Villejo and he goes, “If you make that trick, I’ll give you my car.”


“Really?”


“Yeah.”


I ended up getting murdered, but still… 


So I’m limping back up the hill and he goes, “Do you want to go to Portland? Skate Burnside?”


“What?!?... Sure…”


“Okay, let’s go.”


And we just drove to Burnside. Completely out of nowhere. 5:30 at night. That’s basically how I met the guy! And then we lived in his car for the next year. An ’87 Audi.


It turns out that he’d gotten kicked out of the Newell, that’s why we were driving around. Just living in the car.


photo: atiba


That’s awesome but also kinda nuts, too. 


Right? Because you’d get an idea to go do something…


“I want to skate here!”


“How many hours is that? Fuck it, I’ll drive. Let’s go!”


And that’s how it was for an entire year. 


After a while, we ended up going back to SF and went by the house. I remember everybody being like, “Hey, John.”


“Hey, this is my friend, Frank. He’s gonna be living here, too.”


They’re all like, “…what?!”


He was totally bumrushing a spot back into the house… and bringing me along with him. They had an open room. Some other roommate had moved out while we were living in the car. John basically decided on his own that he was moving back in and that I could split the room with him. 


And that was my introduction to the Newell.


The first time I ever heard of you was that 411 Wheels of Fortune part, which had footage from just about everywhere. From Hubba Hideout to that kickflip down Madison Square Garden. 


Yeah, that was a Claravall project, back when I was living in the car. Riding around with John, Anthony would sometimes tap in for a bit and we’d film. Pick him up in New York, hang out there for a while, and then drive to California. That’s basically how that part came about. 


I gotta ask… why are you so serious there? 


(laughs) Dude, I don’t know! I watch it now and that dude is so not me. Like, “Hey, guy with the stick up your ass.”


It’s not like we had any art direction or anything. It takes a while to figure out how this stuff works. I mean, we’re on Long Island. Let’s go to the Long Island Railroad tracks and sit there with a weird square sweater. And talk in a robot voice like I’m serious skateboard guy. 


I just shut down! The camera came on and it was like Talladega Nights! What do I do with my hands? You mean I gotta talk about myself and someone else is gonna hear it? 


It didn’t dawn on me that people might perceive my acting that way as really fucking stiff. Like, look at ol’ serious here! No freeform jazz for this guy! He’s strictly by the nose. Nothing outside the box here!



When do you feel like you were able to start letting your personality out there more? 


I’ve always had a silly sense of humor, but it was only with my friends. Because there’s always that risk of people you don't know thinking you’re an idiot. At one point, I just stopped caring. Fuck it, dude. 


It was probably once I started hanging out with Lance a lot, because he’s the best. And I was so juiced to be around him. And then hanging out with Hewitt in the back of the van… 


Hanging out with like-minded people is such a big contributing factor. Because Pete is definitely not on the same beat as everybody else. He’s sitting back there, doing weird little projects… throwing popcorn at people. I feel like those guys got me engaged a little more, so when the camera came on, I could be myself. 


Because I saw that 411, too. That dude had a stick up his ass… which I’m sure that didn’t help me at the time. I mean, who wants to put that dude in the van? I don’t want to be that guy.

What happened with all the fresher fits and bucket hats? When did the crazy haircuts and gear start to happen? 


When I moved out. It would’ve been too tough to come home like that whenever I lived with my parents. And also, you’re in your early 20s, so you’re not doing laundry. You go to Goodwill and find some crazy shit. Like, “Wow, that’s fucking sick!”


No, dude… that’s really not that sick. 


Let me just say this: I tucked my shirt in at one point. That’s where I was at. Tucking my shirt in to differentiate myself from my friends. I have a line on film where my shirt is tucked in. I consciously did that, on purpose. 


…I guess you’ll try anything when you’re younger. 


How did that transplant perspective shape how you skated SF? Because I feel like you hit all the big spots early on, like your frontside board down Kezar or the switch hardflip down the 7? Not a lot of hills at first. 


I was just stoked to be in SF at all the spots I’d been seeing for so long. 


I remember being with Cairo that day at EMB. He switch backside flipped the shit out of it, and JR Neves switch frontside flipped it, too. So I figured I’d hit’em with the hella hard. 


Actually, if you watch it, it’s kinda like a switch frontside pressure flip. I might’ve cheated it around a little bit… but hey, it worked. 


I was just so green, man. Green, green, green. 


There was a hill behind my house that probably wasn’t even as steep as your driveway, but I’d still drag my foot going down it. You could probably push faster than you went going down that hill. I just had no concept of anything. 


What I did was while everyone else was out at night, I started going out and bombing hills by myself around my neighborhood. That’s how I learned to bomb hills. Because that’s such a part of skating in San Francisco, but it’s also like a do-or-die type of situation. 


I never had that kinda shit in Long Island. And looking at these hills in videos, I didn’t really get it. I remember watching Sean Young bomb that shit in the rain and thinking to myself, “Dude, I’m gonna get out there and bomb everything in the rain. This is gonna be awesome.”


But then you get out here and you’re looking at these things, like, “What the fuck!?! These people are crazy!” 


It’s pretty fucking shocking at first. But slowly, Nate Jones and I started chipping away it. Peter Ramondetta started coming along as well. It was a good time. 



How’d you get on the Firm? 


Well, the Firm and Girl had actually gone on a tour together years before that came through Long Island. They did a little demo at my local shop and Weston Correa and I ended up playing a little game of SKATE together. We started talking a little bit and he goes, “Hey, my Dad lives on Long Island.”


“No way! Next time you come out, hit me up and we’ll go skate together.”


And that’s what happened. He’d come out to visit his Dad and we’d skate around together. It just went from there. It was basically Wes and Salman who got me on. I met Salman at skate camp one year. 


Knowing a few of the dudes already, I sent Lance a sponsor-me tape where I’m wearing a baby blue leisure suit in all my footage. This 70’s leisure suit I found in a thrift store that was way too big… yeah, that sounds like around the time I started loosening up. 


But yeah, Lance liked the footage and put me on the team. 


photo: humphries


Could you be the good times party guy on Firm tours? 


I mean, we always had fun on the Firm. It was always a good time. Because whenever you’re with Lance, there’s this whole other dynamic sense of humor going on. You don’t even really need anything else to have a good time, other than Lance. 


And yeah, I could be good times party guy with Lance, but I was definitely drinking a little more toward the end… 


I did show up at the airport one time for a trip without a board. Doing wheelies in a wheelchair, drunk. When we were flying up to film the opening to the Firm video? Yeah, not the best look. 


I remember Ray looking at me and going “Aw, man….”


You know when you’re so blissfully ignorant about whatever it is you’re doing? You're so self-absorbed that whatever you do somehow feels perfectly fine? It’s really not. Throwing up in the airport… yeah, it’s a funny story now, and I’m sure somebody might’ve been laughing at the time, but it’s embarrassing to think back on. That whole thing was dumb. Just a dumb kid. 


But what are you gonna do? You just gotta live and learn. It’s not like I went out, got hammered, and stole a car. 


It’s just weird how quickly you can get almost too comfortable with people at that age. Because Lance has always been one of my favorites. I still remember the first time I met him, I was flying out for what was basically my first Firm trip. We're solidifying everything on the phone beforehand and he’s like, “I’ll pick up at the airport.”


And I’m like, “YOU’RE picking me up at the airport?”


You don’t have any minions to do that for you? Matt Beach ain’t coming out? 


No, Lance picks me up at the airport in a minivan. And I think I maybe said three words the entire drive to his house. I was so nervous. But then you’re on the team for a bit and it quickly becomes, “Yo, what’s up Lance!?!” as you drunkenly put your arm around him.


You start rationalizing everything, like it’s okay to be the blow-it guy. But it’s never okay to be the blow-it guy. 



When did the Firm tattoo happen? And why the bicep? 


Well, it’s not like I have the biggest arms anyway. And I definitely didn’t want it on the outside of the arm, like “Check out my tatt, bro!”


I don’t know, I just kinda got it one night. I figured that I could still see it on the inside of my arm if I wanted to, but I didn’t have to show it off to everyone.


How’d Lance react?


I’m not sure if I ever even showed it to him. I definitely wasn’t like, “Yo Lance, I got a tatt!”


I don’t think I ever said anything to him about it and he never mentioned it. I just got the tattoo and that was it. 



So what happened with Can’t Stop the Firm? Because you were in the intro, I have to imagine the video was almost done…


Yeah, I’m winding up the window.


I was on the Firm for a really long time… well, back then, everything feels like a really long time because you’re young. I was on the Firm for three years, maybe? Working and living at the Newell. 


Then Rodrigo got on the team… and he’s amazing. At that point, you couldn’t stop Rodrigo. I felt like he was way up there, and I’m way down here. I just couldn’t compete with that. I started to think that this probably wasn’t going to happen for me here and that I should probably just let this go. I don’t want to embarrass myself, so I probably need to move on.


I was living with Nate Jones and Dustin Dollin at the time, I can just get boards from them. That’s fine. I’m cool with that. I’m still riding for Thunder and Spitfire, too… so I’m covered there. It's just time for me to go. 


I just had to do my thing and figure everything out. Not that I wasn’t cool with Lance anymore. He had done so much for me. Even when I quit, I probably cried… Actually, I’m gonna go ahead and say that I did cry. Even if I didn’t, I should’ve. It was like breaking up with your first girlfriend. It wasn’t easy at all. 


But Lance was cool about it. He just let me go. And all of my footage that was supposed to be for the Firm video ended up going to Cash Money. They just happened to still be working on that video when I got on the team. I got super lucky with that. 



How well did you know the Antihero crew prior to getting on the team? 


Man, the fucking cobwebs are flying out of my ears right now! My mental rolodex is at capacity, bro. What? Ed Templeton was there? I don’t know. Carl Shipman? You want to talk about when I was on Stereo with Jason Lee? Wait, that was a dream!? Huh? 


…Hold on, one of the brain cells just sparked! 


Okay, going back to the Newell again, Tony Trujillo was staying at our house a lot. Tony and Dustin were super tight at that point. Dustin was living at the Newell and had just gotten on Stereo. Tony was living in Santa Rosa and was still super young, maybe 16. But they were doing Deluxe trips together and Tony’s just killing it everywhere he goes. 


Tony started coming down almost every weekend and hanging out with us. He and I started skating a lot together and I want to say that it was Tony who mentioned something about me for Antihero. Putting the bug in people's ear. 


I’d probably bumped into a few of the dudes before that, but I didn’t really know them. And you don’t really want to bother guys like that. But eventually, through hanging out with Tony, you start to make those connections and I ended up getting voted onto the team. I think Cardiel was the last dude to vote for me, putting me on. I was stoked on that. That was serious. 


Bob was gone by that point…


photo: humphries

Yeah, you and Bob did the switcheroo. 


Yeah, I’ve heard that Antihero wanted me so bad, they had to trade Bob in order to get me. 


…It’s a way better story that way, right? (laughs)


“You know, we have Bob who’s really good but there’s also this Frank guy who lives in North Beach. He’s valeting cars right now. I saw him out drinking last night… it looked like both of his eyes were open and he was dancing, but that’s debatable.” 



(laughs) That Cash Money Vagrant part is a monster. How’d that come together? 


That was probably about a year-and-a-half of filming, plus Firm stuff. Because like I said, a lot of that stuff was originally for the Firm. All of the LA and Barcelona stuff in there was on Firm trips. 


It’s kind of a loose collection of stuff, to be honest. There was a lot of trying to remember random shit I filmed and then having to track down the tapes. Like, “Oh yeah! I did do that!” 


Was Ol’ Dirty your choice?


No, that was actually Julien’s idea. I’ve always been a Wu-Tang fan and this was right when that album came out, which is still great. But that was all Julien. 


I honestly didn’t have anything to do with the editing of that part. That was all Tim Fulton and Julien… they actually edited it at the Newell. But using the dancing clips and all that, that was all them. 


Was filming party shit at the Newell a common occurrence? 


Yeah, Milligan always had the camera going. I think it started out as a way to capture all the stupid antics we were up to. If shit started getting a little crazy in the kitchen or maybe we’re playing soccer in the house, someone would grab the camera. We charged it in the living room, so it was never that far away from the action. It just became part of living there after a while. It was always out.


To be honest, there were a couple points later on where we definitely used it for fill in the video. Like, we need a little something here… let’s go in the basement and film some fire or something. That’ll work. Fire’s always good. Go grab a spray can and a lighter. 


So yeah, if you’re seeing that stuff later on, that’s probably where somebody should’ve had tricks but was drinking instead. 



The Clipper front nosegrind… is that a Mr. T haircut? 


Yes, excellent catch. That is a Mr. T haircut. 


That would be a “Hey, I need a haircut!” type scenario. 


We were in the kitchen, pretty drunk. 


“Where are the clippers? What kinda haircut do you want?”


“I don’t know… I never had a Mr. T haircut.”


And there you have it. 


Because Mr. T didn’t have a regular mohawk.


No! He had the side pieces that connected in the back. 


We very well may have been watching the A-Team when all that came about, too. Because there was a heavy T-influence going on at the time. Bad Ass Baracus.  


But yeah… that frontside nosegrind? Yeah, it was a little squirrely. I’m not gonna lie. But I’m alright with that. Personally speaking, I like a bad make. A good hold-on? Fuck yeah. People like to call them “Baker Makers” and this or that. No way. It’s a make. Granted, not the cleanest make. I’m not trying to hype it up. But it counts. At least, I thought it did. And there was no way I was going back up there to do it again.


…You weren’t there that day! You don’t know what’s going on in this fucking head of mine! (laughs)


photo & gratitude: hart

(laughs) Talk about your front tail Taylor bomb ender. Because that street is fucking nuts. Was that just an impromptu decision?


That was impromptu. We’d always joke about bombing the whole thing. Because if you’re coming back from Union and make that left, you can bomb the last two on Taylor. We’d do that sometimes, which was really fast. 


I chipped away at the third one prior to that, but never from the fence before. I think there’s five of them there, but the last one is pretty mellow. 


It was just that day. We were up there, skating the fence. I remember this little broomstick we laid down to stop our boards from going… like what the fuck was that gonna do? But yeah, it was just one of those impromptu decisions. I just remember thinking to myself, “I’m going.”


…which was shortly followed by, “This was a bad idea.”


You actually roll into it with a cigarette…


Yeah, I spit that out about halfway through the second hill. I had to get rid of that fucking thing. Because fuck that, I’m not slamming with a smoke in my mouth. 


Did you mention to anyone that you were thinking about doing it? 


No, I just went. I figured that if I made the tailside, I’m just gonna go. Because I’m already on the board, I might as well. But you also have to go from the sidewalk to the street, which is pretty hairy. I almost hit the parked cars there. It was a wild ride, for sure. 


There was definitely a point halfway through where I was regretting my decision. Like, “You’re so stupid! Why did you do this, you dummy?”


But I got away with it. 


It’s an amazing clip. And even better that the filmer wasn’t prepared. 


That certain confusion of why is the filmer running? Yeah, I like to think that adds a little something to it. 


photo: morford


I love your front board down Mason as well. I think that was a Skateboarder cover, too. 


Yeah, Cairo filmed that from up above. Gabe shot the photo.


Jesse McMillan actually boardslid it and ollied over it, which is pretty nuts. 


I was taking that route a lot at back then, whenever I was leaving North Beach. Going up Mason Street, that was our route to downtown. There was a street gap up there that Cairo was skating a lot, too. And we’d always pass that rail, which got me thinking about it. It seemed possible enough… one of those. The idea floated around for a while until I finally just had to jump into the fire and ask Gabe to go shoot it. 


Getting Gabe involved was always a motivating factor. Because if you couldn’t get something, there was always that sneaky suspicion that Gabe could put down his camera and do it for you. That not only is he going to shoot the sickest photo, he’s also probably got your trick, if he wanted to. That always added a little extra bit of pressure to things. He was always a motivator to get me to follow through on things… or get completely murdered. 


Are you a battler?


Oh yeah, I’m a full-on battler. Nine times to a spot? That’s me. Not that I’ll skate it for four hours at a time. I’ll battle for 45 minutes at most, and if I still haven’t gotten it, fuck it. But I’ll be back.


Because you know how it is. The first one you try, you’re just kinda feeling it out. Some people can just make it. Unfortunately, I am not that dude. But if it’s close, okay, there’s a shot I can get this in the next half-hour… But I’m not gonna beat the fuck out of myself for the next three hours. 


If there’s a session and I’m in the little “line-up”, I will probably be the last dude to make their trick. Everybody else is rolling joints, looking at their phones… somebody will inevitably ask what we’re doing for dinner and it’s only lunchtime. Thinking they’re gonna be there all day waiting on me. 


I’m not afraid to come back, because that’s skateboarding. Am I gonna be bummed with having to come back and try it again? No. What’s the big deal? I gotta go skating again? I just might make it this time! And all those previous seven times there will be null and void. 



So what’s your process like with filming? And your outlook towards coverage, in general? Because I’ll be honest, I was kinda blown away in my research by how much incredible shit you’ve done over the years, but it’s kinda all over the place. 


Nah, I’ve never really methodically tried to film stuff. I think that largely has to do with how many trips I’ve been on. I have a good amount of footage, it’s just hardly ever in parts. It’s a couple tricks in a Spitfire video, a couple tricks in a Converse video, a few more in the next Antihero thing…


I feel like it was hard for me to readjust to things after I moved out of the Newell. Because all of a sudden, I didn’t always have that crew around. Like I said earlier, there was always a camera around back then. After I moved out, I was still skating with everyone, but it was more about going on trips with Peter Ramondetta or whatever. Stuff like that. So a lot of the footage I was getting for a while was more sporadic, because I was trying to take advantage of the one day I had at that spot. 


Granted, I throw shit at the wall a lot. And every once in a while, you’ll get that realization of, “Oh, okay… this might work at this spot here.” But that's rare.


I love the cover of Cash Money Vagrant with you in the tuxedo shirt without any eyebrows…


Oh, I loved that tuxedo shirt. 


But the reason I have no eyebrows is because I felt bad after shaving my friend’s eyebrows off when he passed out. So before he woke up, I shaved off my eyebrows, too. That way, whenever he woke up the next day, he’d probably say something like, “Hey, you don’t have any eyebrows!”


“Neither do you.”


That was my way of softening the blow. 


You mentioned Gabe being a motivator earlier, isn’t that how you ended up kickflipping Wallenberg? To hype him up for Chomp On This? 


Yeah, because he’d ollied it before when he was younger, just for fun. He didn’t even film it. So he wanted to go back and do it again for his part.


But kickflipping Wallenberg was the farthest thing from my mind that day. I was just there to watch. Matt Field had actually picked me up from my house and my board just happened to be in Gabe’s trunk. That’s the only reason I was there. I was just hanging out and cheering him on. 


Was that a battle? 


Well, it was a long time in-between tries but it really wasn’t a battle. It’s kinda funny how it worked out, because I’d never even ollied it before. The thing was, Gabe was about to give up on ollieing it, so I told him if I gave it 100% and tried to ollie it with him, would he give it another go? Like I said, I was only there to watch before all that, which is why it probably worked. 


So I go to ollie it and I actually hit the bottom step. I hit it with my back truck and one wheel kinda hung up, but I was able to roll away. I still remember… because it was super scary, but then I realized, “Holy shit, I just ollied Wallenberg!”


Granted, I did fucking hit the bottom step, almost like a backsmith, but fuck it. 


So from there, Gabe tries it a couple more times... Let me try a kickflip and see how close I come. Well, that first one was surprisingly close, actually. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, this might work.”


I think it was maybe seven tries later… but it was also probably an hour-and-a-half, too. Because I didn’t have a roll-in. I had to figure out my run-up, which was like the SATs. 


“Okay, start at the top of the hill, cross traffic, do this, turn there, fill in that bubble…”


But yeah, I did it. And then I went to a Halloween Party later on that night at the ramp. I didn’t even have a drink, I didn’t do anything but dance. It was one of those rare moments where you’re totally aware of riding that skateboarding high. It was so sick. And Max was killing it. He had a DEVO suit on with a plastic wig and was absolutely killing that ramp. A great day of skating and then I got to see all those dudes rip, in costume. It was the best.



King for a day. Seven tries isn’t that many, have you ever thought about trying anything else there over the years?


No way! That’s like going to Vegas and walking into a casino, putting your first quarter in the slot machine and winning the million-dollar jackpot. You don’t stick around after that and play blackjack! Fuck that! I’m getting a first-class ticket the fuck outta there!


I’ll come back later on if somebody else wants to check it out, but I’m never gambling again!  


Well, that’s not true… I did ollie it again one time when the roll-in was there. Just to make a clean one.


It is weird, though… because you stand at the top and you start to get these ideas of “Man, I wish so-and-so tried this.”


Like, if I was Chris Pfanner, I would do this. Or if I was Brandon Westgate right now, this is exactly what I’d do.


Maybe you should write them a letter?


(laughs) Right? I’m gonna need some more stamps!


“Hey, big fan, first-time writer. My name’s Frank and I was thinking…” 


photo: morford


What about that ollie over the rail at China Banks in FM 2? That photo is bonkers.


That just got re-opened, actually. 


I think BMXers… is that the proper term? BMX guys? The BMX Rippers? 


Anyway, those guys cut the rail out at the bottom so you could ride through. But the bank was different then. It used to go down and straight into a curb. In order to ollie in, you had to ollie out, which I didn’t do. That’s why that sign is there. 


I do think someone was able to skip one out of there not too long afterwards. Good for them, dude. Because that thing is quick. It’s not like you can get away from the bottom of that bank, either. It just keeps coming at you faster and faster. 


…And then I got folded on the big bench right after I did that. It was epic. Talk about feeling good about yourself. I was like, “Alright! I’m skating pretty good today. Fuckin’ big bench, you better watch out! I got this!”


I carved up and immediately had to bail, so I stepped right in the middle of the bench and like I pendulum, I went straight into the crack. I got fucking stuck, too, right there between the wall and the bench. Fully into the crack… it was terrible. 


That’s what happens when you start thinking you’re a hot shot!


What do you miss most about at Newell? And what don’t you miss at all? 


I think I just miss that point in my life. The Newell was the vessel for all that to happen, which was epic. We wouldn’t have gotten away with all that shit if we didn’t live at the end of an alley, surrounded by no one. Yeah, some noise got out, but I’m sure we made a lot of fucking noise. 


The part I miss is all of the skateboarding and impromptu shit that you could get into with your friends. Just having someone around at any point and they’re game for anything. Like, do you want to go play stickball? That’s what I miss. The spontaneity and camaraderie of my friends being together.


It’s done now. And it’s funny, because I did have to go back one last time at the end and pick up some things. I was looking around, like wow. It was weird, man. 


Living there again would be great… but something down deep inside knows that the second I moved all my shit back in, I’d realize it was a bad move. Because you can never really go back. 


It’s like having a Great Dane for 20 years and he’s the best. Once he passes away, you want to get another Great Dane… but the new one sucks. Because all you’re doing is comparing him to the last one every time. You can’t do that. You gotta get a Chihuahua and see what that guy has to offer.



How’d Newell become such a thing? Because it had multiple parts and a full video… for a skate/party house, it was very productive!


Yeah, the drinking team had a serious skateboarding problem. 


I think it was just the perfect combination of being that age and hanging around an amazing group of friends. We all skated. We had a filmer in the house and were able to edit all our shit right there… We all had that energy, which manifested itself in those projects.


Because I lived there for 11 years, which was my twenties in their entirety. Those are the prime years of your life. I could go to the bar, hang out, listen to music all night, get three hours of sleep and be totally fine. 


“Hey, want to grab a croissant and go skate the ledges at Wallenberg?”

“Yeah, let’s do that!”


Because you didn’t want to just sit around the house.  


photo: morford 


I interviewed Nate Jones a few years ago and he told a story of riding in a cab with you to the bar. He said you threw up in your shirt on the way there, but when you got out, you just acted like it never happened and greeted everyone with hugs. Do you remember that? 


(laughs) I’ve thrown up in my shirt on a couple of occasions in people’s cars so they wouldn’t have to clean it up. I feel like if I’m going to get sick, I’m just gonna grab the bottom of my shirt and puke in the sail. Because I knew that puking in someone else’s car is the worst. You don’t want to do that. And I’m always conscious that they’re doing me a favor by driving me to the bar… even if I was already throwing up before I got there. 


In cabs, too. You don’t want to piss the cab driver off, either. Because you don’t always know how far you are from your house. It’s more of a courtesy thing. 


Now, I do not remember the hugs part. How it usually went down is that after throwing up, I’d curl up the sail like a baby in a basket. Then, after I got out of the car, I’d take both hands and hank the shirt down to shoot it all off. That was definitely my MO at the time. 


…And then walk into the bar, like, “Yo, Milligan!”


How much input do you have with your Antihero graphics? 


Very little. I’ve suggested a few things over the years but not much... 


I did have Dennis McNett do an awesome graphic for me of these gangsters getting shot. It’s like a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre-type of scene on a linoleum carving. But that might be the only board I’ve ever had input on, that I can recall. 



What’s your favorite graphic you’ve had? 


I always like the ones where I’m teamed up with Pete. Like the aliens sitting on the couch, or the two aliens at the strip club. I liked all those graphics where Pete and I had conjoining boards. 


Has there been a graphic that you didn’t think was particularly funny? Because a lot of them could be seen as coming at your expense, with all the nose stuff. 


Well, I don’t see all my graphics… and I don’t really pay that much attention, either. But there’s never been one that I was super bummed on.


Honestly, if I didn’t have a sense of humor, I’d still be the dude sitting on the tracks in Long Island… 


(laughs) With that watch on. 


Yeah, with that weird watch on. 


I’m from Long Island, dude. You gotta understand, the fashion sense was crazy. I needed that watch to tell what time it wasn’t. 



(laughs) What about that “Every Morning's An Antihero Morning” ad? 


Dude, that was so fucking amazing! I remember seeing that ad for the first time, I had to think about how they got that! Like, “Yo! I never did that! How did this even happen!... Holy shit, they photoshopped my face onto that!”


I was so amped. I loved it. 


There’s another one where they photoshopped my face onto Tony doing a frontside air. Which, somehow, my sister ended up seeing it. I don’t know how but she found out. And it had all the stats that he did that summer, like “#1 at Marseilles” or whatever. 


All of a sudden, she calls me up, like, “Holy shit, Frank!”


“What?”


“You won a bunch of contests this summer?”


“What are you talking about?”


“I saw your ad!”


“Ohhhh…. fuck. No, they photoshopped my face onto my friend Tony.”


“Well, Mom’s gonna be giving you a call here in a little bit.”


“Aw shit.”



Did you break it to Mom?


No, I couldn’t do that to her. I was just like, “Thanks, Mom.”


But my sister made it a point to tell me that she had doubts about the photo because Tony’s arms are so much bigger than mine. 


“I knew something was up. Those arms are way too big in that photo to be you.”


So not only did I get shut down, I’m too skinny as well.



Yeah, I was wondering if you ever had to pose for that stuff? Like the Scorpions graphic and Serpico… 


The only one I remember posing for was the “Star Is Born” one with Barbara Streisand. That’s all this dude, Mike Novak. He would use whatever photos Gabe had of me and make them into different graphics. He was a genius with that shit. But yeah, that was the only one I knew going in. 


He goes, “Yo, I have a digital camera. Let’s go outside.”


He shows me that album cover and says, “Stand like this, like you’re kissing her.”


I remember having to stick my tongue out all weird.


“Okay, we got it.”

 

The rest were all by surprise.



Tell me about the “Rent An Asshole” saga of you at the TWS Awards. 


Well, the reason I have the duct tape over my mouth in that ad is because I may have gone on a slight tangent at the Transworld Awards that year. Because if you’re gonna give out free Jagermeister in a little beaker, you’re gonna get results! 


I don’t know, dude. I was charged up on Jager and for my liking, at that point in my life, whoever was announced as the winner of that award was not up to my particular standard of street skating. So I got up on stage and told them about it… for the children. 



Andy Mac, right? Yeah, you went full ODB/Kanye on ‘em. 


I was feeling that my yelling from the audience was not being heard, so I went up to the podium. Maybe I felt a bit slighted that my opinion wasn’t being recognized? 


Because I’m an idiot.


“Let me tell you what I think about the situation! Listen here! You’re goddamn right!”


So wrong, all the time. 


So yeah, I jager’d myself up on stage and they escorted me away. But it was just about me being stupid and not agreeing with somebody. What the fuck do I know? I mean, it’s a southern California event… I had no business even being there! But that’s what happens when you let the riff-raff in. One bad apple spoils it for everybody. 


Not exactly known for lux accommodations on the road, what was the roughest AH trip you’ve been on over the years?


I wouldn’t say that they’re “rough”, but there’s always a night where you chose the wrong spot to pitch your tent. 


“This fucking spot sucks! There’s a giant rock under my back!”


That’s about as gnarly as it gets.  And being a little more seasoned from having done this for the last 20 years, I’ve learned a couple things. Now I know to kick all the crap away and check for roots and rocks… you’ll still get one every now and then, but it’s okay. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoy sleeping outside. But granted, I have a nice sleeping bag and all that now. 


The hardest trip for me was probably my very first one, and that’s because I just wasn’t prepared. It was actually all my fault. 


They’re like, “Hey, I think we’re going to Europe for a month.”


“Siiiiiick!”


But the thing is, I didn’t bring a sleeping bag or anything. Tent? No way. Luckily, I happened to grab a little airplane blanket on the flight over, thinking it would be a nice extra something to have in case it got a little chilly. Look at me… fucking smart!


So yeah, one month of sleeping outside with an airplane blanket. I remember having to collect cardboard boxes so I could make myself a-frame huts. There I am, sleeping outside by Lake Geneva in a cardboard box. That kinda sucked… but again, it was all my fault. And that was my first real introduction to going on Antihero trips.


I’ve learned a lot since then. 



Andrew Allen told me about what you two used to always do at the bigger transition parks on tour, like flipping a coin to roll-in on stuff… 


Oh, totally! Because you have to know your skill set. Just because Grant is blasting 20 feet high doesn’t mean you are. You have to be realistic. 


I gotta say, those big parks are probably the hardest part about those trips. So Andrew and I would always make up these little challenges for ourselves. 


“Alright, let’s roll in on this.”


“Think we can do a blunt fakie on that?”


Just seeing what all we could get away with. Trying to have fun but still skating at our transition level. Because it’s not that unusual to find yourself at one of those parks on a trip where there’s hardly anything for you to skate.


“Hey, want to film me do something over the hip? How about the pyramid?”


No, Pete’s going around the cement loop without a helmet on. It doesn’t look like I actually have much to contribute here. 


Sometimes you just have to recognize your own mortality whenever you’re skating with those dudes. And just have as much fun as you can. Challenge yourself, get a little thrill, and hopefully get a little better at skateboarding with your friend. Because you’re both learning a new thing at the same time, which is super cool. 


Andrew and I did a lot of that kinda stuff on tour. And it was tough when he left, because he was my guy. There was always Drew. We could always skate the hip together. 

What Beauty and the Beast memory stands out the most in your mind?  


The ferry trip where we’re all playing dice. Everybody being together on the deck, going into Seattle or wherever. I always think of that. 


That and when Preston put the girl’s bathing suit on. That rings clear in my mind. Because all of a sudden, Preston’s getting ready to go swimming and he’s got a one-piece on? Which is super funny. He just jumped in. Then I found out, years later, that the girl had just bought that suit and he totally stretched it out. She was so bummed, which makes it even funnier. 


photo: broach

How'd bombing Lombard Street happen? 


It was just another one of those things where you keep walking past it... 


I don’t know what we were watching, but somebody suddenly got this idea, “Hey, we should go get crates and hold ‘em down to do four-wheel slides down Lombard!” 


Like, if you’re going backside, put the crate out in front of you to slide, then use the crate to push yourself back up and stand up. Then putting it on your butt to go frontside. 


And we’re sitting there, listening… like, “You’re a fucking genius!”


So we all get crates and go up there. But as I’m going into the first turn, I didn’t realize the bricks stuck up like that. And you’re going so fast with all your weight on your hands, the bricks just yank that crate right out. It wasn’t going to work. 


…we got fucking worked, dude!



That’s such a bummer!  


Right? I was so stoked going into that first turn. I thought I was in The Bones Brigade Video Show with those hand gloves on. And I went in full force, too. Like, “Hold my beer. This is gonna be sick.”


It was one of those moments where you thought you had it all figured out. This is gonna be so easy. I mean, we seriously thought that we were gonna doing this crate thing all fucking day. We were gonna make it an event!


Turns out, it’s impossible. 


So, I figured since we were already up there, I might as well just try it. And that was basically it.


If you watch the footage to the end, there’s somebody walking up the middle of the street. That’s Elissa. She was actually on her way to meet us up at the top because she wanted to do the crate thing, too. She was just a little late. 


She saw me and ended up waiting for me. We walked back up together and I’m like, “The crate thing sucks.”



Of course, the switch hill bomb thru the kids is legendary… That was for a wheel promo, right? 


Yeah, Lance got a wheel. And you know, just like everything else, “We gotta get some content quick!”


And it’s not like I’m gonna go to UCI and back noseblunt it. That shit’s not happening.


Gabe goes, “Let’s just go out to Quintero and film something real quick.”


So yeah, we’re there and we bombed it a couple of times. We’re walking back up to bomb it one last time and I actually see those kids three blocks away. Those yellow fucking shirts. And I remember thinking to myself they’ll be long gone by the time I’m coming back through here again. Don’t even trip. 


Because you can’t really see anything once you go… not that you’re looking at the third hill anyway. But as I came down that second hill into the third one, those kids were just… there. 


“Oh, shit! I’m going backwards! This sucks!”


You can see the panic. Because all I can think about is how I don’t want to kill some little kid. My hand, dude. That weird wave! It’s like, “Please! One of the grown-ups! Make a hole!”


It’s like I was trying to erase the children out of my way.


Because not only am I going to take a child out, Gabe might be taking out a couple, too. I mean, this whole thing is bad. 


But once they saw me, they instinctively knew to get out of the way. I saw it parting… and there was the line. There was the hole to go through. 


I remember going through those kids, like, “Holy shit, this was the worst timing of my life.”


Yeah, I was wondering who filmed that. Because Gabe never even flinched.


That’s just a true testament to Gabe. Because he could’ve dragged his foot. I couldn’t because I was going switch, but he was going regular. He had that option, I guess. And he was holding a camera. But he didn’t miss a fucking beat. He got the whole thing. He didn’t panic at all… which, what the fuck were you thinking, Iceman!?!


I guess he was operating on whatever I was going on. Because we both picked up on the fact that the women watching these children realized, “Hey, there’s two idiots flying down the hill right at us with a camera. Move the kids.”


If it wasn’t for good hearing and the quick action of those parents, it could’ve gone awful. 


…That and my invisible eraser superpower. 


photo: morford


Talk about bombing Kearny. You said that you’d been looking at it for a while, but when you say that, what are you actually looking at? 


Well, there’s a bunch of bars right there at the bottom. And leaving that zone, the fastest way home is up that hill. You obviously can’t help but look and imagine if it’s possible as you’re walking up that thing. 


There’s a fixed gear video called “Mash” with all these dudes bombing gnarly hills on bikes. There’s a short clip of this dude, I think his name is Emi, and he bombs it. But he actually ended up skidding, catching a crack and got high-sided off his bike. It was gnarly.


But seeing that, I figured if this maniac tried it on his bike, you could probably bomb it on a board. But that’s where it kinda stayed for a while, just something we talked about. 


Then one morning, John Alden comes over to my house and goes, “Do you want to go skating?”


“Yeah, whatever.”


So we get in the van and I notice he has a hard hat, a sign and a vest in there with him. And he starts driving to Kearny on a Monday afternoon at, like, 2pm. 


“What are we doing?”


“Yeah, I got a stop sign and a vest. Do you want to bomb it?”


Just like that, he fucking springs it on me!


“Dude, this is fucked up! I know I’ve talked a lot of shit but now you’re really doing it to me!”


They wanted it for the video that was coming out later that month, Destination Unknown


“Dude, let me come back Sunday morning. I’ll try it, but not under these circumstances. This is fucking nuts. Anytime you try to get something like this, it always goes bad… especially at 2 o’clock on a Monday, crossing Broadway at full speed.”


Because those streets don’t exactly line up. You can’t just go straight, which means there’s oncoming traffic coming up that hill. I wanted the least amount of cars possible. 


So this was Monday, I basically had a week to do it. And as crazy as this sounds, I went home and fucking Google Earth’d the street to look at all the cracks. I did that for, like, a week. Every night leading up to that Sunday, I’d just stare at that fucking map on my phone… I’d get cold sweats, dude! But I started chipping away at it every morning, all week. 


I ended up bombing it on Friday from the last tree and made it. Alright, cool. I think I can do this. 


You just went there on your own?


Yeah, I’d go there by myself and chip away at the line I needed to get down it. Because if you walk up it, there’s a fucking footprint in that concrete from 1932. Seriously! Like somebody was crossing the street in ’32 and fucked up the street. And it’s huge! You could probably grind it!


There’s a bunch of fucked-up patches… a weird spot by the sewer cap that from far away doesn’t look bad but up close is pretty crazy. It’s like they were laying the concrete down and somebody called for lunch. It’s all weird and wavy. 


…And it’s got this rise that comes out at the bottom of the hill, too. That’s another fucked up thing. Your exit has to be over something. It’s either over this giant square thing or a couple different sewer caps, which are all strategically placed in smooth spots. And it's hard to get to those smooth spots because there’s a shit ton of rough spots around them. It's fucked.


It's like a video game. 


But when you come out of that hill, Broadway is on a rise. I didn’t think it was gonna make me collapse like that at the bottom, but that’s basically what happened. My legs came back up while the momentum of the speed was pushing my weight down. Once the hill came back up like that, I just had to sit down. And that was it. 


I wasn’t going to do that again. 


Holy shit.


Do you even remember sliding under the tripod? 


That was just dumb luck. I actually thought I was going under the car. It was so scary, dude. Because I started spinning, I’m like, “Oh fuck, now I’m going head first under this car.”


Luckily, I was able to slow down in time. 


Did you wear special shit that day?


Yeah, Hewitt sent me those Carhartt Carpenter Pants and under that gold windbreaker, I had a flannel tucked into the pants. I knew that the windbreaker would slide, those things are great like that. Just turtle up and take it. 


Is that the scariest hill bomb you’ve ever done?


Yes. Taylor was the scariest before that. But Kearny was just one of those things. We knew it could be done, it was just gonna take it minute. It wasn’t gonna happen on a Monday. 


photo: morford


I know you did a backside 3 down it for an ad, but I don’t think your no comply down 3rd and Army gets enough credit. 


Oh yeah! What was that in?


A sequence in a Thrasher interview of yours about 10 years ago. 


I remember that one working out kinda weird. Because Gabe and I had talked about how sick it would be to no comply that gap for a long time, you just needed a curb to bonk off of, you know? But that was years before. Then randomly, that parking block just happened to show up there one day as we're shooting that interview.


“Gabe! Maybe we can finally get that no comply!”


We did have to schlep it over to the gap, but it wasn’t too bad. 


Is there footage of that?


That’s a good fucking question! 


…I think Aaron might have footage of that. I hope. 



So many of these things seem to have been done on a whim, versus chipping away at Kearny for a week. Is doing things on the fly easier for you? 


Yeah, because once I have time to start thinking about things, the pressure can get to be too much. Like with Kearny, for a week, I was studying all those cracks and shit. I’d put the phone down and try to think about the reality of it, my palms would start to sweat. Just thinking about it, I’d get so nervous. It was like I had to give a speech on stage or some shit. 


It’s almost always better for me to just try and get something as it comes. Like if I get an idea at a spot, I should just go ahead and try it. Maybe I’ll get lucky? That works much better for me than making it some big mission later. 


We talked about your footage being kinda scattered. I know Cardiel talked about this with Sight Unseen, but did you ever have any interest in making a “big” part?


I mean, it’s hard. Even getting something like that started is difficult. 


It was just never really my top priority… but at the same time, it’s not like I’m out there shooting photos with Gabe for nobody to see them, ya know? But my point being, whenever we went to film something, I just tried to work with what I had at the spot. It was never like, “Let me go here and battle this.”


Maybe a few tricks in my life, yeah. Once you open that can of worms, it eats at you. As a skateboarder, you have to. But as far as making some kinda crazy magnum opus part, the only thing I’ve ever really tried to film was my 411 part with Anthony. The Wheels of Fortune. Everything else was more of a product of that time, where footage got stockpiled. Being kinda in-between projects or whatever. I don’t know if I ever really thought about it one way or the other, that’s just how it worked out over the years. 



Who came up with Grimple and what does it mean? 


Well, we were at the bar and I was drinking a Greyhound. This was back when we were doing the five fake companies out of Antihero. I got asked what I would name mine and “Grimple” just flew out of my mouth. 


Because I wanted it to be the ultimate 80’s skateboard brand... Because 80’s graphics were so confusing. 


Honestly, the whole thing is based off this one Billy Ruff graphic from back in the day that made no sense to me. It was a hand with a puppet, coming out from behind a bomb. 



I know the one.


I remember looking at that thing, even as a kid, like “What is this? I don’t even know what this means! This is crazy!”


Because 80's graphics were just nuts. So yeah, that was the inspiration for Grimple. Let’s make this as stupid as possible…


Because it’s fun. 


Exactly! It’s fun! Who cares? Let’s do fun stuff. 


And then I figured, well, what’s a grimple? Why is it that? 


My friend actually had this concept where Grimple was “an evil, giggling ball”. That’s what he called it. You know, like in the Bugs Bunny cartoons where there’s always gremlins causing mischief? Loosening up stuff behind the scenes and causing chaos? I thought the grimple would be mischievous like that. Like, when stuff broke and you didn’t know what happened? Grimple. 


So, I tried explaining all this to an artist at Deluxe. And he’s like, “A critter?”


“Yeah, but goofier.”


 “Okay.” 


And that’s what he drew.


But what made Grimple keep going after all those other fake brands stopped?


It’s the graphic! That stupid grimple is just so bright and colorful. It’s so rad. You look down at your board and you’re stoked. Like, look at all these stupid little grimples!


I mean, it’s not the most serious thing on Earth. Pete and I aren’t trying to change the world with this. He’s not at the mega ramp right now, trying to drop in from a helicopter. It’s just fun… just like it’s fun skateboarding with your friends. And if you can get an Evan Smith on the team while he’s in-between projects or doesn’t have a home? Awesome! Give him a guest board or something. Who cares? 


Yes, you can play in the band for a couple of gigs. Come on over! But when you get your serious band going and want to focus on that, we won’t be bummed. You can go and be the lead singer for those guys, we don’t mind. 


It’s great, because I can put on different members of the Antihero team as Grimple guest members. It’s giving the same guy on our team a guest board for a team he’s kinda already on… which makes no sense. Isn’t it all the same team? 


Yes, it is. (laughs) 


If you could snatch anyone from the past, present or future to ride for Grimple, who would it be? 


Well, you need a Grimple-y rider… 


Would Billy Ruff be on Grimple?


Billy Ruff was really good! He might’ve been too good for Grimple! Maybe now, I’d put Billy Ruff on the team, as a dude in his 50s. Totally. If he’s out there skating now and having fun, he’s as grimpley as it gets. But 80's Billy Ruff? No. 


…Actually let’s have Billy Ruff as my mystery guest. Because I feel like he was kinda thrown into this haphazardly because of that graphic.


You kinda want somebody who probably wouldn’t want to be on Grimple. Like, the one guy on Instagram who keeps leaving “I don’t get it” in our comments. We want him. Go ahead and film your entire next part in a skatepark. We don’t care. We’re Grimple. 


Oh… and Andy Anderson! He’s fucking amazing! He’s definitely Grimple. 


But if I want an 80’s dude, I think I gotta go with Kevin Staab. 


Good fucking answer. 


Yes. Definitely Staab. 



Who’s idea was the Nighthammer? 


(laughs) That was my idea. Unfortunately, that was mine. 


We were doing shapes and I heard somebody say, “Why don’t you do the nose of this board and the tail of that board?”


It just came to me, why don’t we split the board down the middle instead? And the more I thought about it, just being stupid, I wondered what would those shapes be?


The Hosoi Hammerhead is the most recognizable shape, but what would be the most ridiculous board to combine it with? Obviously, that would be the Nightmare. The Mark Lake Nightmare. 


And it just happened to work out that the name is epic, too. The Nighthammer? You can’t write that any better. In 1980, you couldn’t have imagined a better scenario. It only took 40 years for some idiot to figure it out. But the point is, we landed on the moon. 


How does Jim typically react to these ideas? Because I love the True Full deck, but from a business standpoint…


(laughs) Dude, I give Jim so much credit for dealing with me on a regular basis, let alone when I hit him with an idea like the Nighthammer. He’s gotta be thinking, “What did I get myself into with this kid? I just want to do cool stuff for skateboarding and this guy doesn’t even want to cut the shape out of the wood.”


I honestly have no idea what he’s thinking but he’s always super supportive of everything!


“Do it, dude. You gotta do this.”


There has to be points along the way where he’s thinking, “What’s wrong with this guy?” But he’s always so supportive… which is great, but I also get concerned at times that I’m gonna put the company out of business. 


Has he ever rejected any ideas?


To his credit, no. And dude, I’ve done some of the stupidest stuff in skateboarding. We can start and end with the True Full. 


“Grimple Doesn’t Cut Corners” is incredible.  


It all started because of a board that didn’t fit in our boxes. My OCD made me so angry at the size of that board, I remember looking at the box and thinking, “How sick would it be to have a whole board that’s the exact size of this box? It would fit perfectly.”


We already had the mold and wheelbase to fit this criteria, so I ran into production and asked them to make me a board that’s the dimensions of our boxes.


“What?”


“Yes, so when you put them all in the box, they fit perfectly.”


That’s why that board exists. The True Full, the truest there is. 



How’d your Krooked Guest Board come about? And did you have any idea it was coming as a Deluxe employee? 


No, not at all. 


One day, Bram was like, “You should get a guest board!”


“No, dude… just no.”


But honestly, it was like turning pro again. I felt like a little kid, dude. I mean, you can only get on Antihero once… and then you get to be on Gonz’s team, too? It was awesome! 


The funny part is that I was having such a weird day. I remember somebody at work being like, “Hey, come outside for lunch.”


Come outside for lunch? Well… alright.


“We’re having pizza.”


“Dude, I don’t want pizza!” 


Just being a little kid about it.


So I’m eating my croissant and egg sandwich inside Deluxe, by myself. Tommy passes by with these two pizza boxes and he’s holding them extremely weird. He’s holding the pizza boxes side-by-side, instead of just putting the boxes on top of each other… like, why is he doing that? Well, it’s Tommy Guerrero. I’m not gonna ask. He must be on to something that I don’t know. I guess that must be the correct way to do it. Cool. From now own, I think I’ll hold my pizzas like that, too. 


A couple minutes later, he walks back in. 


“Come on out, Frank. We got pizza!”


And Alden’s like, “It’s really good!”


Alright, I’ll have a slice. Jeez, what is this? The magic pizza? 


So I go outside and open the box… and there’s a board in there. Oh shit! Is someone going pro? But I work here, why don’t I know about this? So I close the box real quick, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. But who’s going pro? I don’t know… Talk about dropping the fucking ball!


All of this flashes through my head in, like, a tenth of a second. 


But then it dawns on me… was that? I open the box back up.


“No way!”


I was so stoked, man. Such an honor. 


But yes, Tommy’s pizza box transfer is something I’ll always remember.


photo: broach


So what projects are you working on? What can we expect to see in the near future from you and the Grimple massive? 


We’re working on some Grimple stuff. It’s a video with this dude, Ted. Pete and I are gonna have some tricks in there, too. We’re trying to make an edit of all footage we’ve gotten while skating together and use that. But this kid Teddy is gonna have a three-minute part because he’s just that good. So yeah, we’re working on stuff… but with that company being as goofy as it is, it’s kinda hard to say that we’re working on “projects” with a straight-face, ya know? 


I get it. And I can’t thank you enough for doing this, Frank. This has been a lot of fun. As we close this out, what would you say has been the proudest accomplishment of your career and your biggest regret?


Jeez, my proudest moment? That’s a tough one. Because I’m not really thinking about “achievements”, really. The proudest moments for me have always been when I'm around for rad shit. You can’t see behind the camera, but I was actually there for some landmark stuff over the years. And that’s what I’m most proud of: seeing my friends do cool shit and being able to enjoy their skateboarding like that. 


Yeah, it’s cool to have achievements of your own, which in my case would obviously be the Wallenberg business. But as far as “proud moments” for me, it’s more about witnessing cool shit and being with my friends on epic adventures. 



What’s a landmark event that immediately comes to mind? 


I saw the switch flip at Wallenberg. The switch backside flip, too... I saw Andrew’s backside flip go down there and even got the broken board from that day. They just left it at the school! We were pulling away in the car and I’m like, “He’s leaving that?!”


I ran over and grabbed it real quick. 


I guess that’s more about being stoked for my friends, but the stoke is the best part. I got to share those moments with rad people. 


And my biggest regret? I don’t really know... because I don’t really have any serious ones. Maybe the drinking? But I've also had some of the best times I ever had while out drinking with my friends...


Maybe not getting smarter sooner? I regret that, for sure. Yeah, I think that’s my answer. I’ll go with that. 



Special thanks to Joe Brook and Frank for taking the time. 


26 comments:

  1. Great Interview ! Frank is a Legend in my book. I've been to some of those spots he skated in SF and they are crazy. I actually walked up Mason St. and saw that rail and was blown away.

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  2. I thought I was the only one to sleep next to Lake Geneva under a train blanket. Was it next to the little monument to "smoke on the water"?

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  3. He's been a most skateboarder-ish figure to me, sounds strange to say…
    Love his drunk story, less known skate nerdiness, and improvisational skating of his story behind Taylor street hill bomb.
    I'm curious about how he rides his sets of Thunder trucks since deluxe stopped producing Thunder lows. In jenkem interview he said swaps regular corn bushings to low ones…

    Anyway, huge thank you for Frank and the CBI, every posts of interviews are Rosetta stone of skateboarding, as corny as it sounds!

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    1. Nah man we definitely need this, like daewon with just washers and no bushing on the top of his front truck I think.

      Delete
    2. This is a proposal that will change your life,when i join the Illuminati society 5 months ago,before i was a businessman who was trying to be more successful and I needed a new idea, I was lucky to be chatting with one of the great businesswomen in Finland, Then she introduce me to the Illuminati society, That I should contact Lord Alufa on Whatsapp Number +2349018100439, Which I did, Grand Master Alufa explained everything to me about the society, I understand that it was not evil or satanic, but helping each other and sharing new ideas, I got registered into the society through Lord Alufa, After the registration, the society donates a huge sum of 5 million euros to me, When I was invited to the meeting, then I saw so many great men and woman who I admire. Since I join this society, I enjoy all prosperity and success in my life, join the wise and get wiser, information of Lord Mr. Alufa EMAIL: (brotherhoodi692@gmail.com) or WhatsApp or call +2349018100439

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  4. What a nice surprise! Frank seems like the best dude.

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  5. Go to Kearny and have a look. I tried running down the stairs, oh yeah it has stairs because it’s too steep to walk up, to head home on BART and ate it..so rough…Frank is pretty amazing!

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  6. Frank is rad and Grimple is the best company ever

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  8. I filmed that Taylor Street Tail slide - Hill Bomb. I remember Frank saying something like "I'm gonna bomb the hill if I make the tail slide" on the walk up. But those guys got me sooo stoned walking up the hill, seriously i got fucked up. So when it went down I totally kook'd it. When he jammed down the hill I remembered what he said, so I ran after his ass. I was decent @ long lens stuff & was using a VX2 so I picked him up pretty quickly near the bottom. I was so bummed afterwards, but the crew dug it. Oh Well glad hes ok with the final result.

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  9. This interview was such a treat, huge thanks to you both.

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  10. great interview as always. frank is a hero.

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  11. I used to work at a place that made snowboards. The guys that ran it thought it would be a good idea to start making wakeboards. We all thought they were so lame, we started calling them wakeblades as a joke. I'll never forget flipping through that thrasher with the wakeblades ad!!1 I nearly pissed my pants!!!

    Frank is the best! You're interviews are the best! I was hoping for more Lance stories, but that Lance spitfire wheel video is soooo good. I'll just watch that for the 50th time.

    As I was typing this I also remembered the crank calls that Frank left on Lance's pool service hotline!!! There's 2 compilation videos on the tube. Priceless!!!

    Thank you!!
    L00

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  12. Bestest, humblest, awesome example of an awesome human. You like to see it! One of the most underrated rippers for sure.

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  13. Tim Fulton worked on an anti hero video at 6 Newell when he was…14-ish years old?!

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  14. Amazing interview-very grateful to have this in my life. Hey Chops could you reformat the 2-page ad pdfs so that they enlarge when clicked?

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  15. Again, such a great interview. Just keep going like that !!!!!!!!

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  16. This site is already the best, but this interview just launched it to the stratosphere. Best one yet,by far. I laughed out loud several times.

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  17. Just sat down to read this... 45 seconds in and my clean white tee is ruined with coffee! Frank is hilarious and I loved this interview! Thanks for great the content!

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  18. Thank you, CBI and Frank! Hans

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  19. Uncle Frank... I've had the pleasure of skating/cruising with Frank on several occasions. Anti-Hero for life. I have to be honest I'd never seen the number nine footy before. Geez rip much! hahaha. Don't take skateboarding or yourself too seriously and you may one day be as cool and down to earth as Mr. Gerwer. True street dog. Sense of humor and the ability to laugh and joke around with your friends. RAD

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  20. Hell yeah! Frank is exactly the kind of person that skateboarding needs more of right now. Keep it fun and keep it rolling.

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  21. Maaaaaannnn.

    Great interview! Love these interviews so much.

    I hope one of the next ones is with Berle or Chris Russell, if time machines existed, those two would be rollin' with the classic DLX crews for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is a proposal that will change your life,when i join the Illuminati society 5 months ago,before i was a businessman who was trying to be more successful and I needed a new idea, I was lucky to be chatting with one of the great businesswomen in Finland, Then she introduce me to the Illuminati society, That I should contact Lord John William on Whatsapp Number +2348119132137, Which I did, Grand Master John William explained everything to me about the society, I understand that it was not evil or satanic, but helping each other and sharing new ideas, I got registered into the society through Lord John William, After the registration, the society donates a huge sum of 5 million euros to me, When I was invited to the meeting, then I saw so many great men and woman who I admire. Since I join this society, I enjoy all prosperity and success in my life, join the wise and get wiser, information of Lord Mr. John William EMAIL: (wjohnwilliam18@gmail.com) or WhatsApp or call +2348119132137

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