It is convenient to think of Andrew Allen’s love of flatbanks as a post-Propeller phenomenon. However, winding back a decade reveals the bank to be as intrinsic to his output as a flannel shirt.
His onscreen career begins in 2007 with 522 On The 411, a Krooked/DLX-themed installment and one of the video magazine’s final. We open to A.A. surfing through a schoolyard, calmly hitting a Lockwood-style bank-to-bench before hopping a handrail switch, landing into a sizeable bank. Prevent This Tragedy came a few years later, and with it, the “breakout part” status earned by the first clip alone.
A switch ollie over another handrail, into a “flatbank” the size of a snow slope floors A.A. once he reaches the bottom. A set-up of similar proportions is mirrored for his ender: another handrail, this time popped over regular, handled through two aggressive kinks. (It was recently memorialized on a Hockey board).
“I like the idea of landing into something because it seems less strenuous on your body than jumping to flat,” says A.A., somewhat paradoxically. “A long time ago – maybe 2005, we were on this Vans vacation starting to film for what eventually turned into Propeller. I remember telling Dylan Rieder I wanted to do every trick in my part where I landed into a bank. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I really wanted to do that. If you look back at those parts, that’s what that was.”
Prior to interviewing A.A. for his “Favorite Spot” piece on L.A. High, I consulted his friend and photographer, Andrew James Peters who shot a good deal of his skating in this era. “He definitely set off a bunch of old spots, which made a lot of other people want to get a trick ‘at the thing Andrew Allen skated,’” he recalled. Here, A.A. himself runs us through a few of the banks populating his tenure as one of skateboarding’s most productive leading men.
Handrails to Hillbombs
AS SEEN IN: Prevent This Tragedy (2010)
I went to San Francisco and was hanging out with the dudes at Anti-Hero, skating with Gabe Morford. That spot is in the Lower Haight, maybe. Sergei Trudnowski ollied over it back in the day. With something like that, if somebody has gone down it regular, you either flip your board or try to go down it backwards.
I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea.
There was a big hole in the landing. We found a broken piece of granite and stuffed it in there. I didn’t even go down the thing halfway [beforehand]. I bailed the switch ollie for about an hour-and-a-half because I was scared, but also didn’t want to land in this weird thing we’d fashioned to roll over. It looked like you were going to get stuck, eat shit and roll down the massive hill.
I was so over myself being a chicken and not sticking it. I got to the point where I was like, “I don’t care anymore, I’m going.” That mentality went into what that clip looks like. When I hit the kink at the bottom, I got wheelbite and was somehow able to get out of it. I kind of slid around upside down, flopped over and thankfully didn’t get that hurt.
Everybody was shocked and I was pissed, like, “I can’t believe I bailed that for so long.” It was more that I had to try it, not because I wanted to, but because I was sick of myself. I had to prove something, but after that attempt, I was over it.
Original Photo by Mike O’Meally
The [ender] ollie is in Laguna Beach, California — a couple of towns away from where I grew up. One day, my friends and I were cruising around and stumbled across it. We went back with Joe Krolick and Mike O’Meally, and it’s basically the same story. I was trying it for a while, not sticking it, trying to talk myself out of it. I got angry and put one down, looped out and slammed. At that point I figured, “Well… that’s what it feels like to put your wheels down” and I was able to roll out of it. That felt pretty cool.
The West Adams Barrier
Photos by Andrew James Peters
Another tall nightmare of a spot.
Kyle Mitchell and Anthony Acosta made that. Originally, it was like a channel — they put two pieces of concrete up and you could go from one to the other. The first photo that came out on it was Ray Barbee doing a frontside 5-0, but taking that route of going off one transition and back down the barrier.
I’ve never thought about whether it’s easier to skate it switch or not because I’ve not had the opportunity to skate it in regular. Spanky did a switch crooked grind, Jerry [Hsu] did a switch frontside crook – they were both sick.
That spot’s terrible.
Eagle Rock Boulevard Channel
That spot had been there forever. It goes down a couple of city blocks and there’s a few things you can skate. I think people had skated it differently before: you could go off the part where most people pop for the channel, and hit this little flat rail.
It’s pretty hard to skate. It’s definitely got the steep thing going on, like L.A. High, but it’s also kind of lumpy. I did a kickflip over the little channel and a switch ollie. Like I said, people had skated that way before me but, after we used those, the fucking hammer got laid down on that spot. I think every trick possible was done over that thing.
Griffith Park Bank-to-Ledge
Sequence by Heaps Chat
People first started skating that in 2005 or something. It’s like a natural skatepark.
The ditch flows downhill — like a snake run — and throughout it, there’s a bank-to-curb, that bank-to-ledge, and that weird bank that turns into a straight wall. Up at the top, there’s these big long banks you can do tricks into, and there’s that barrier I switch boardslid in Hockey 2.
That bank-to-ledge is fun, so it turned into a default spot. The darkslide was scary, but part of why I wanted to do it on that spot was because your board hangs over either side.
The One-Push Cheese Wedge
Photo by Anthony Acosta
I didn’t find that spot, but once I discovered it, I did one trick and – like with anything for me – if I can go down it regular, then I want to go down it backwards. If I can pop normally, then I want to try to do something nollie.
From a standstill, I tried to do something in each stance and once I’d done that I was like, “There’s nothing else for me to do here.”
A bunch of other people started skating it too and did some crazy shit, like landing to manual down it, which I think is pretty gnarly.
There are tricks that have been relatively easy like, uh…
I may be lying. I think everything took forever.
Patience, persistence… “Fucking get up and try again.” As cheesy as it sounds, that’s the overall lesson with skating that place.
I spent a lot of time there so it does hold sentimental value, if you will. I’m thankful that spot existed, but it also took as much as it gave me. I did a lot of skating there, but there are other people who have done a lot there too. Spanky and Jerry put in a lot of time and did some amazing tricks. Then you backtrack and Mike Anderson used to live around the corner, so he’s done some insane shit. This kid named Zach Lyons ollied up to smith grind on the tall one, from flat and I remember tripping on that; my friend Jeff Kutter ollied to 5050 on it and that was crazy. Dustin Dollin tried to backside bigspin in from the stairs, where that ride-on is. He stuck that, then he sprained his ankle. I wish that would’ve gone down. Cyrus Bennett kickflipped into that same thing and took one of the gnarliest slams I’ve ever seen. He smacked the ground, but got up and ended up landing that. Austyn Gillette’s fakie flip was dope.
One day around 2006, 2007… my friends and I wanted to skate the banks out front and, for whatever reason, we went inside. While there, I ended up seeing this guy named Tom Krauser who I knew from a couple of years before. Tom was there with the photographer Seu Trinh and the filmer, Colin Kennedy. I was talking to Tom, like, “What are you up to?”
“I’m thinking of tail-dropping off of this roof and into this bank.”
It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
Photo by Seu Trinh
Above where the handrail was, there’s a second story to the school. There’s a brick wall, which acts as something of a guardrail, then underneath it is a [rooftop] bank made of bricks, about 15-feet-long, then drops off at probably 12, 13 feet high. Tom wanted to tail-drop into this “bank,” then take the drop. You’d be landing in the courtyard, to the left of the handrail, by where Sean Sheffey ollied over that whole bank.
I don’t remember if it was the first try, but he stuck it and his body leaned forward. So he fell and started sliding down the bricks on his stomach to the point where he was going to fall off this roof. It was in slow motion. I was sitting there, watching with my friends, and he was going and there was no way he was going to be able to stop himself because he’d gained momentum and the bricks were too slippery.
Sure enough, his body goes off and he’s falling upside down, headfirst. I don’t know how he did it, but about two feet away from the ground, he flipped his legs backwards and basically just ended up falling onto his back. Like, flopped off of this fucking thing. Obviously everyone was, like, “Oh my God!”
The funny thing is, I saw Tom Krauser at a skatepark within the last year or two. We hadn’t had any contact, but he looked at me and was like, “What’s up Andrew? I think the last time I saw you was at L.A. High.”