Five Favorite Parts With Neil Herrick

Photo by Sam McKenna
Interview by Farran Golding

The year started off with this series talking to Tony Hawk, so it felt appropriate to bring it closer to home as we wind it down.

Neil Herrick has the distinction of dropping one of the first great parts this year — filmed locally or otherwise — in Brandon Stepanow’s Open Container video, which is definitely worth running back if February feels like an eternity ago. It had a timeless, gimmick-free feeling of a section that could be dropped into any video from any era of street skating and fit, so we had Farran ask Neil about his inspirations.


Mike Maldonado — Toy Machine: Welcome to Hell (1996)

I grew up skating in Westchester, PA where Mike and Bam [Margera] grew up; Mike was ahead of his time before Bam was really getting famous. That was his breakout part and everybody was pretty inspired by it, myself included.

It’s got a lot of memorable tricks that were pretty groundbreaking. The ollie over the Federal wall is crazy. Someone like him coming out of a place like Westchester was a big deal and it still has impact on the scene there. When it came out, I hadn’t started skating yet, but when I got into watching videos, it was one that people always told me to check out. I started skating in ’98 or ’99, so Welcome To Hell had been out a few years.

The way he does lines, they’re not super long and drawn out – maybe two or three tricks – but they’re authoritative. He stomps tricks and has cool style. The 5050 on the rail at the end where he rides down the steps and then flies off his board: when he hits the ground, there’s a little outlet sticking out. He hits it and it bends. The way he falls down the stairs, I always thought that was crazy. The boardslide step off — I’d never seen anybody do that. I do a lot of boardslides on rails, so Mike is an inspiration for that kind of skating.

I was apt skating rails and stairs because I felt comfortable. I wasn’t a tech, flip in, flip out type of skater. I was, like, “I could grind this hubba. I could jump down this gap. I could hit this rail,” and his skating was a similar approach. Watching him skate made me think: “Well, maybe I could skate like that and make it look cool.” Not necessarily doing technical tricks, but doing cool tricks at the right spot, like a rail maybe no one skated before or a gap maybe no one looked at. That approach really rubbed off on me.

Kevin “Spanky” Long — Emerica: This Is Skateboarding (2003)

I loved Emerica when I was a kid. The shoes, the team and the way skating was going at the time – that whole era had a big impact on me — Spanky especially, because he was younger. He was still older than me but doing it like that. He made think that maybe I could make something out of it too, if it’s possible for somebody of that age.

His part always stood out because of the song [“Close To Me” by The Cure]. I hadn’t heard music like that before. [The part] wasn’t aggressive; it was almost dreamy vibe which I thought was neat. My skating was impacted a lot by this video part. He’s my favorite skater, still. I love how he’s transformed too. His skating is still amazing and I look forward to seeing new footage and photos. You see the progression and him getting older, changing his skating up. It’s cool to see it go from one thing to this new version, reinvented.

Jeff Lenoce — Baker 3 (2005)

Baker 3 was on repeat — it was one of those videos you had memorized. Jeff’s part was sick because it wasn’t really like the rest of the video. The Andre Nickatina song is so classic [“The Last Rap I’ll Ever Write”]. It was so catchy. And in the slow-mo section when they slow the song down at the end, I thought that’s how the song was, but later learned they edited it.

I didn’t know much about him as a skater either. The whole video is so quotable and memorable, but that part, I thought he was doing his own thing. Short and sweet. His intro as well was cool, plus the guy trying to steal Beagle’s camera was raw and real.

Jimmy McDonald— Chris Mulhern: Few & Far Between (2006)

This one was pretty early [for Chris Mulhern]. I feel like it was his first full-length video that a lot of people saw. He made a video before that called I’d Rather Skate Cecil, but it was more of a local video.

Jimmy skates a good mix of spots, with good taste in tricks; the style is dope and the filming makes it really easy to watch. I hadn’t been to Europe for skating at that point. Seeing all that mixed in with Philadelphia and east coast stuff, I was like: “Whoa, these guys are getting all over the place!”

Jimmy was skating in Philly and occasionally I’d see him around a couple of years after the part came out. His skating and Mulhern’s filming paired so well together. It was my introduction to 5Boro in a way, because I was, like, “I really like this guy’s skating, what board brand does he ride for?” I feel like his skating made me really want to skate for 5Boro.

I started skating with him when I started coming to New York more consistently. Jimmy knows a lot about skating, and we have a similar sense of humor. He’s always got funny stories: if you’ve ever had a good conversation with him, you know what I’m talking about. When you know somebody, it makes you feel more stoked about what you’re watching. If you have a connection with that person, it definitely hits harder.

Devon Connell & Steve Durante — Chris Mulhern: This Time Tomorrow (2010)

I would watch This Time Tomorrow over and over again. The filming, the music, the editing is outstanding. To me, it’s a perfect video. Devon and Steve’s part is super complimentary, but Devon’s tricks and spots really stick out. The Nina Simone song they skate to in the second section [“Ain’t Got No / I Got Life”] really did it for me. I would watch it over and over again because I liked the way it made you feel.

Steve, right when the second song starts, does this line with crook pop-out to fakie on this planter ledge, fakie ollie over a wall into a bank, a switch heel on flat then switch tails this ledge into bank. Wanting to do the right trick at a cool spot — that kind of approach — changed my taste in what looks good on a skateboard.

I’ve started skating with Devon over the past year or two, with our friend Zach Sayles, who’s working on a full-length video. He’s in his late-thirties, so how he’s still filming video parts and skating a lot is cool to see.

Honorable Mention: Guru Khalsa — Habitat: Origin (2010)

Previously: Trung Nguyen, Nick Boserio, Elissa Steamer, Casper Brooker, John Gardner, Bobshirt, Brandon Turner, Shari White, Nick Jensen, Tony Hawk, Naquan Rollings, Jack O’Grady, Josh Wilson, Maité Steenhoudt, Jahmir Brown, Una Farrar, Chris Jones, Mason Silva, Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams