Behind the Scenes of ‘Manhattan Days’ with Pontus Alv & Aaron Herrington

September 26th, 2014 | 3:36 am | Features & Interviews | 10 Comments

aaron-houstonsteps

All Photography by Nils Svensson

Been a slow news week around here. The web store ate up most of the time (thanks for all the support, your stuff should finish shipping today!) In consolation, here’s a quick convo with Polar Skateboards man-in-charge, Pontus Alv, and Aaron Herrington, Polar’s resident New Yorker, about their Manhattan-based sequel to last year’s “Trocadero Days” video. Have a good weekend.

+++++++

What is the concept behind the “Manhattan Days” video?

Pontus: For both this and “Trocadero Days,” we approached it like we were tourists discovering a new city with our skateboards.

Aaron: We watched the New York section from Powell-Peralta’s Future Primitive a few times before we filmed it. You see them skating the streets together around Times Square, World Trade, and Rector Street as a big crew.

Pontus: We wanted to use diamond plates for it. The sounds they make are very distinctive to east coast skateboarding. I really wanted that noise in it. The shopping cart was another aspect. Coming from Europe, the homeless people pushing around the shopping cart with all their belongings really stands out for us. It’s not something we really see. We wanted to customize that idea for skateboarding โ€” us pushing around New York with junk. We added a pole jam as a Ricky Oyola tribute, to Philly and that whole Eastern Exposure era.

Aaron: In “Trocadero Days,” they used pieces of wood, but we wanted to make it so that the diamond plate material was accessible everywhere. You always associate it with New York skating, just seeing those old Tribeca spots and bump to bars made out of it.

Was the Future Primitive section a big guide for the vibe you guys were trying to achieve?

Pontus: My biggest inspiration for both videos was the Trent Gaines, Rueben Dominguez and Paul de Jesus section in Propaganda. That part has always been a huge inspiration behind what I do. I want to showcase skaters skating together: doubles, triples and more of a gang vibe than about the individual. When skateboarders go skate, they go in a crew. We have fun together and we laugh together, but in the final product, the video always turns out to be about the one guy who’s doing the trick, even if the whole crew is there with him. Skate videos have a way of portraying it as more about the solo artist. I really miss seeing people doing stuff together.

An Interview With Johnny Wilson

September 18th, 2014 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 19 Comments

cyrus-johnny-kickflip

Photo by Colin Sussingham

You can probably recognize Johnny Wilson’s crew when you see a mob rolling twenty-five deep to a Manhattan skate spot. In a city full of cop-outs (“We got kicked out because there were too many people,” “There are no good spots anymore,” “It’s too easy to get caught up partying,” etc.), they have managed to complete four full-length videos in two years, all while releasing a weekly video blog series, which is up to volume #214 right now. That’s roughly ten or maybe thirty hours of footage, in a place that we often insist to be pretty frustrating to skate in. These guys might truly be the most productive skate crew in the history of New York skateboarding.

A week from the premiere of his new video, Paych, we talked to Johnny about where they come from and how their operation functions. Sorry for not including the obligatory “VX V.S. HD!” and “Is the internet ruining skate videos?!”-questions ;) ♥

+++++++

Where are you from?

Born in South Florida, moved to New Jersey because my dad worked in the city, back to south Florida, and then to Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, which is the capital and two-and-a-half hours from Philly. Once I graduated high school, I moved to Brooklyn.

How’d you get into skateboarding?

I have two older brothers, Mitchell and Andrew. If one did something, we all had to do it. My oldest brother started, so we all had to start. I’ve been skating since I was around seven-years-old.

Were you always the dude with the camera, or was that later down the line?

This kid in our town [in Pennsylvania] made a little video when I was in seventh or eighth grade. He stopped filming immediately after, so I asked to borrow his camera to film my brothers and our friends. It was a shitty Panasonic with a baby Death Lens. After that, I got a bigger Panasonic, which was sort of the predecessor to the DVX. I ended up trading the Panasonic for a VX1000 to this dude in Long Island. I cannot believe that trade went through; I definitely got the better end of it. The dude even emailed me saying “I’m not really feeling this camera. Could we trade back?”

Alternate YouTube Link

Where’d you trade for it, Skate Perception?

Yeah, the kid who I originally got my first camera from had an account on there. He stopped filming, so he ended up giving me his camera, and eventually his Skate Perception password. He had 500+ posts, which grants you permission to post in the classifieds.

When I got the VX, I had no idea how to use it. This dude Kevin Winters, who made Bruns and has maybe five VX1000s, really helped me out with how to set everything up.

Were you only filming friends around your town at that point?

Both of my brothers went to college in Philly, and I was a senior in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, so I’d be going out to Philly every weekend to skate with them.

An Interview With Akira Mowatt

September 12th, 2014 | 1:02 pm | Features & Interviews | 7 Comments

akira mowatt by corn

Photo by Corn

Growing up, there was never a ton of footage from younger New York dudes. Most of the guys from the old Zoo videos, EE3, etc. had begun waning out of skateboarding by that point. Akira was tangibly closer to all of us in age; there weren’t a whole lot of New Yorkers you’d see in videos then who weren’t a good ten years older than you. His Vehicle ad of the ollie over the bar at Ziegfeld is still one of the sickest tricks done in this city (nobody has stepped to that spot since.) Seeing footage of Akira was cool because New York footage was still sparse at the time, and hey, “He’s not much older than me.” Except after a while, he sorta disappeared.

Fast forward and he’s been on it these past five or so years. He posts Instagram videos of himself at the skatepark at 8 A.M., puts out video parts, learns new tricks at the rate of someone half his age, and is an embodiment of the fact that nobody has any excuses. You’re never too old, too rusty or too busy. Below is a quick conversation about where he went, and where he is today.

+++++++

It’s still a trip to hear you speak fluent Japanese. What is your background originally?

I’m from Okinawa. Japanese was my first language. I went to American school out there, but once I got to New York when I was 12, I was speaking a broken up Japanese version of English. Eventually I started hanging with kids out here and it cleared up.

Where did you start skateboarding?

My friends in Japan would skate a little bit, but it was more of a curiosity than a real interest. I left Japan and moved to Houston and Suffolk with my dad around 1995 or ’96 because my parents got divorced and a bunch of shit happened. My dad was psycho, so I bounced.

When I moved out here, I remember hearing skateboard wheels all around the streets. One day, I was walking my dog and heard a board snap, I turned around, and saw a skate shop called Swish, which was on St. Mark’s, near where the pizza store on Avenue A is now. I saw Harold Hunter putting his board together and was blown away that there were skaters in my neighborhood.

Harold was like “Cool dog.” I was never out here before, so I thought skateboarding was a whole different thing. I thought, “Whoa, a black dude skating? This is crazy” because I was still thinking of it in terms of who I saw skating in Japan. He asked me if I skated and I said “kinda” because I still had this board my mom bought me when I left Japan. I ran home, and next thing you know, he was showing me around Astor, Union and Washington Square.

Filmed by Bradley Cushing and Goshi Goto

Did you meet all the locals from that time through Harold? When everyone my age was growing up, you were like the one “young” dude at Supreme and everyone else was way older than us.

There was always this bonding factor with a lot of New York kids back then. A lot of them have problems at home or they’re runaways, so we’d stay up all night just hanging at Astor or Union and never go home.

I think Harold gave the word to Jeff Pang that I was progressing a bit and Zoo started flowing me boards. Eventually I started to meet A-Ron [Bondaroff] and all these people who didn’t necessarily skate, but still ran in that same circle. A-Ron took me under his wing since I spoke Japanese. He’d always have me helping out at Supreme until eventually I got a job there.

Five Favorite Parts With Scott Johnston

August 13th, 2014 | 5:03 am | Features & Interviews | 35 Comments

sj-bill-ben-colen

Photo by Ben Colen

Dropped the ball with this series a bit throughout the summer (skating and traveling bro), but getting back on it now. The request line is always open btw :)

The latest installment comes from a guy who is synonymous with style and proper form on a skateboard. A close associate of the website once described one of his maneuvers as “the greatest trick ever done.” (Not to be confused with “the greatest trick never done.”) This also means that we have unintentionally covered 60% of the guys with parts in Mad Circle’s Five Flavors video, and that Sheffey has shot up to second place in the “Most Frequently Discussed Part” ranking for this series.

The Greatest Guest Tricks in Skate Video History

July 25th, 2014 | 5:05 am | Features & Interviews | 17 Comments

cameos

(Plus their guest verse in a rap song counterparts.)

As America’s premier inventions, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that both rap and skateboarding have similarities. For example, guest verses on rap songs and guest tricks in parts virtually operate in the same exact way: they start careers, they rejuvenate careers, give way to friendly competition on the same spot/beat, and sometimes, they simply provide material for the nerds to nerd out over.

…and yes, this is maybe the nerdiest thing ever posted on this website.

Putting your team on is the most hip-hop shit you could do in any realm of life, even if it often results in bankruptcy. We dug through the rich dual histories of putting other dudes on your song, and other dudes in your video part, seeking comparisons whenever they were applicable. This is rather Transworld video heavy because they embraced the power of the cameo far more than other institutions. Think of them as the Hypnotize Camp or Wu-Tang of skate videos…or something.





Advertisement