Anyone whose parents forced them to take piano lessons remembers that antiquated wooden metronome with a metal needle going back and forth. Practicing scales might “suck,” but maintaining a consistent tempo forms the foundation of any musical journey.
ANYWAY, a symbolic representation of the discipline necessary to achieve mastery of one’s instrument, the metronome at Stalin Plaza has become a metaphor for the technical excellence that locals like Petr “Euro Wenning” Horvat and others have created there since the 1990s. After the supernova of They Don’t Give a Fuck About Us, EuroTech™ expanded across the continent. Gunslingers from all over the continent migrated to Barcelona, but only a few — like Roman Lisivka and fellow Slovakian Marek Zaprazny — gained widespread recognition on account of their undeniable virtuosity.
Lisivka has produced some of the most forward-thinking EuroTech™ content of the past decade — including the “Stalinista” edit, footage in Sportsclass’ “Enter the Stalin” (the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx of contemporary EuroTech™), and a two-song last part in Primitive’s “Rome” vid — a section that I claimed as my favorite of 2020.
We caught up with Roman to discuss coming up skating in the aftermath of the Soviet Eastern Bloc, his new venture Métronome, and the process that goes into composing some of the most diabolical technical skating ever put down.
What was it like coming up skating in Slovakia?
Growing up in Slovakia at the end of 90s and beginning of the 2000s was different from western countries. It was the first decade of the country’s transformation from socialism into modern democracy, so people didn’t have as many economic opportunities or as much access to western influences as they have now. This impacted both the way people thought about skating, as well as the availability and affordability of products. The first time I stepped on board was in 1998, but I started skating in 1999 with my older brother, and I immediately knew that this is what I want to do. We were mostly skating some rugged street spots in my neighborhood, because there was no skatepark at that time. Later, we started going to other spots around my hometown called Kosice, met some other dudes and started skating with them. We were the youngest in the crew.
Who were some rippers in Slovakia back in the day?
Well, I started skating in a small town, so there were some older dudes and some of them were kinda good. But of course, you can’t compare that to the level of skating in the U.S. or other places in Europe. Later on, we started to go to other Slovakian and Czech cities to skate contests. Perhaps the most famous and most stylish skater at that time was Petr Horvat.
Are there any plazas or spots with marble ledges there from the Soviet times?
Yeah, most towns got at least one. Some are bigger, some are small, some are skateable, some are busts. Some cities were lucky and inherited a skateable plaza, which had all the components of a perfect spot such as Stalin Plaza in Prague. My city was less fortunate. We had a spot called “The White House” and there was just one marble ledge in the middle, which used to be a platform for Lenin’s statue and one set of five stairs. Nevertheless, we spent days at that spot, the local crew was huge over there.
How did you start getting product? Who were you getting boards from before Primitive?
I got my first free board from a local skate shop called Eastar, which was hooking me up for a while. I started to get some products from éS because of this. In 2006, I was skating for Eina skateboards, a little Spanish company. We were three dudes from Czech and Slovakia and they made us one board with three names on it and they called it the “Slav edition.” Then, in 2008, my friends started a company called Foomo skateboards and I had a board with my name on it, but I wasn’t an actual pro board in terms of getting paid and stuff. It was a local thing from my hometown that I wanted to support it to grow. After moving to Prague, I was getting boards from a Czech company called Impalla.
When did you first start skating Stalin, and what was it like traveling from Slovakia there?
Well, the first time I properly skated Stalin was basically when I moved there. I’ve been at Stalin a few times before that, but always only for a couple of days. It was a mission to get there from Slovakia. I had to take a train back then, which took nine to ten hours. I usually traveled through the night and woke up in Prague in the morning, which is cool, but is not as comfortable as you may think. It sounds like fun ‚ and it is if you have some friends with you — but it’s a long trip with many stops and on an uncomfortable old school train. But don’t get me wrong, it is nothing to complain about. Every trip was worth it. Stalin Plaza is a perfect spot for skateboarding. It’s built on a hill surrounded by parks and an amazing view over Prague. It’s also the place with history. Until this day, I still haven’t skated better place with such a good vibe and variety of options.
What’s the deal with Stalin Plaza right now — is it possible to skate there?
Yeah, it is, again. There was a big push in 2020 from the local government to build a museum of key events of the 20th century there, related to totalitarian regimes in Czechoslovakia. Doing a petition against this was rather difficult since nobody in the general public is inclined to sign a petition against such a good thing. Luckily, we were able to persuade the local government that the place gained unique cultural significance, and that we are not opposing the existence of the museum — but by building it there, they would be destroying something which has a value on its own. So, it looks like it will be possible to skate there again, at least until there is a change of minds in local government. Come and skate the spot while you can!
What was it like skating Barcelona for the first time?
As any skateboarder, you want to visit Barcelona because you’re used to hearing so much about that city. I was quite young when I visited Barcelona for the first time. I think I was about 16. I saw many Barcelona spots in videos prior to going there, so I kinda knew a little bit of what to expect. I had a great experience and fell in love with the city. Everywhere you looked, there was a spot. It doesn’t matter which way you go; you’ll definitely find something. There is insane architecture to admire, unthinkable skate spots with tons of marble and granite, plenty of sun, and on top of that, the Mediterranean cuisine. The perfect mix.
Have you been to the U.S? How has it been skating there?
Yes, I’ve been to the U.S. a bunch of times. I visited the west side plenty of times, but also the east side, which I like a lot. I like the contrast between the two. Overall, it’s nice to see the skate culture in the U.S. Going there was always my big dream as a kid — watching skate videos from there and wishing one day I could skate those places. Now I can go there and skate the spots with people I’ve seen in those videos.
Where do you live right now, and what is your day-to-day routine like?
I live in Barcelona at the moment. It’s been a year now. I got my place a few months before the pandemic started. They locked us down for three months and it impacted my daily routine quite a lot, as well as my habits. I started well by quitting cigarettes. Overall, however, my routine is always subject to many changes and adjustments due to traveling. But I love mornings anywhere I am. I take my time to wake up, make myself breakfast. Then I go out for a cup of tea and hang out with my friends. We have this nice little routine every day. After that, I go skate. Mostly, I try to spend my day outside skating, hanging out with friends, going to the beach or just exploring the city to enjoy its art and culture. But each day is a little different. I feel like every day is a new life, so I jump into it with all I have and I want to get the most out of it.
Who is your usual skate crew?
Lately, I’ve been filming a lot around the city and in this case, I prefer to be around fewer people. Normally though, I have this good Brazilian friend that I often skate with. We go to some plaza where we meet other friends and you never know who will show up. I mean, I’m meeting my people in the street daily.
Why did you start the Métronome brand?
I would perhaps not call it a brand. We call it a Sports Club, as we are planning to do a variety of projects — many of which may not be characteristic of what brands are usually doing. I guess we started it because we wanted to have our own project, have autonomy over our creative expression and come up with something different, something that would carry our own aesthetic DNA.
The brand uses a lot of images from European art and history. What story are you trying to tell?
I think the older you are and the more you travel, the more you start to be perceptive of all the art and architecture that is connected to European history. Travelling and living in Europe is then not only about skateboarding, but also about studying and enjoying the cultural and aesthetic heritage of this old continent. Métronome wants to rhyme with these ideas.
Any thanks or shout outs?
Shout out to Quartersnacks for giving us the opportunity to share “Métronome Noir.” I would also like to thank my family and my friends. Shoutout to everyone who has a love for skateboarding and to all people who never compromise their values. Also, shoutout to me for always being real!