Hang Time — An Interview With Brian Reid

Intro + Interview by Adam Abada
Photos by Liam Annis

Following a now-growing list of skaters making Cape Cod, Massachusetts a proving ground for east coast talent, Brian Reid has been adding to his repertoire this year. At 26 years, he is deceptively young for his wealth of wisdom. His hometown of Hyannis (yes – adjacent to that Hyannisport where the Kennedys famously summered) serves as a base for excursions into the northeast’s city centers, where he has a keen eye for a brick-and-mortar aesthetic.

Right after finishing up my interview, Orchard dropped “The Trail” with Mr. Reid front and center. That’s before mentioning Tim Savage’s “Brian, Brandon, and Will,” DGK’s Zeitgeist, and the Boston-area based AM Scramble Brian was invited to this summer — so honestly, I’m patting myself on the back for the timing of this one. Let’s get this man a board.

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Let’s dig into some basics real quick. How’d you start skating out in Hyannis?

So, Hyannis, Massachusetts — a small town on the Cape — kinda close to where Zered grew up. It’s the same town as Dutchy [Delaney]. Dana [Ericson] was here for a bit. [Lurker] Lou’s from the area too. I tried every sport growing up. I was so trash at basketball. Sports weren’t too fun to me and I didn’t watch them on TV at all. I remember I would be playing them, but I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I grew up two minutes from the park, which was next to the rec center. When I started going to the skatepark, I liked being able to go whenever I wanted. It was my mom’s house, across the street was my grandma’s and then there was a small path through the woods over a little creek with a bridge and that was my aunt and uncle’s. And then two seconds from there was the skatepark. I could go there any time of day whenever I wanted.

When was that?

I started going over to the park on my bike around ten. I didn’t skate then. Have you heard of the Boarding House? That’s our local shop around here. Everybody from the Boarding House was probably in their early twenties or late teens then, so they were all there skating a bunch. I ended up becoming friends with this dude James Nickerson from the area. He’s only 2 1/2, 3 years older than me, so I started hanging out with him. Him and my friend Kenneill and Lawrence both skated, so I gravitated towards that. It was more fun than biking, rollerblading or anything else happening at the park.

Why’s that?

I had a higher level of satisfaction landing something new on a skateboard, especially because everyone else was skateboarding. I had people who were older than me to look up to. It was an event when I learned something new on a skateboard.

On Cape Cod, you could have been not near a skatepark and would’ve been doing something entirely different growing up. Is that fair to say?

Yes, it is. I played the sax a lot growing up. I was in band. My dad bought a sax before I was born and he didn’t get into it, so there was just one around. I thought I would pursue music. I wanted to go to Berklee [College of Music] as a little kid and be a saxophone player. I ended up doing band all the way until high school, where they made you do marching band. But marching band was after school and I couldn’t skate, so I was over it.

Everyone in the country really only knows of Cape Cod as a vacation destination. What was it like growing up there?

Where I live, it’s a bit more dense. I wouldn’t call it a city, but it’s the most populated area on the Cape. Most of my friends were white and I had a couple of Black friends, including my best friend who lives down the street from me. I never really had a sense of “Cape Cod.” Hyannis is pretty diverse. Other parts of the Cape, like you mentioned Chatham or Wellfleet, or say Harwich –– it does get a bit more desolate as far as people of color go. Where I’m at, there’s a huge Portuguese population, a lot of Spanish people, and a decent amount of Black people. I would just lurk around Hyannis. Two of my best friends that I would skate with every day — one was Black, one was Jamaican, and then we had James who is a fucking redhead. So where I was was super diverse. It’s a thing, though. When I say I’m from the Cape, people get an idea. For the most part it’s a beach town, but it’s not all a beach town.

My mom was an art teacher and I think her status as an art teacher had some influence. If we were bored at the house, she’d tell us to go draw or figure out something for us to do to be creative. A lot of times, she’d bring stuff from the school home. Clay and paper mache. I’m no great artist, but I can doodle a little bit.

The first footage I remember seeing of you was in RAW videos. How did skateboarding solidify and become something that you were good at and wanted to pursue?

Exactly – RAW. Watching Kevin Coakley, Dillon Buss, Jack Kelley and Dana all getting hooked up — those were dudes I would see skating a lot, so it became something that I could see happening if I tried really hard because I saw it happen to people around me.

Dutchy was on RAW, Jack was on RAW. A bunch of super good dudes from Boston like Tommy Wisdom and John Wisdom were on RAW. They were all getting boards and I just thought that was sick – I wanted to be a part of it. James Nickerson is probably one of the biggest reasons that happened. He would go really hard with skating. I remember times coming home with my mom late at night and I’d see James over in a parking lot. Then, I’d have her drop me off to go skate with him for a bit. He was my biggest motivation and he started getting RAW boards after Dutchy moved up to Boston. I’d start taking the bus to Boston, tagging along with James. He was 14, so I was probably 11 or 12. They would let us sleep on the couch on the weekends. I hung around them enough and they were down to hook me up as well. It was pretty natural how that happened.

Wait, when was that?

I started getting hooked up around 13 or 14.

Who are your sponsors now?

I get hooked up from New Balance, DGK, Thunder, Ricta, Bronson, Mob, Grand Collection, and Orchard Skateshop, of course.

All this going to the city – what makes you stay on the Cape?

Zered was off the Cape before he was 18, I think. Man. I guess… well, nothing really. I don’t think I want to stay here much longer. It’s pretty boring most of the time, honestly. I drive up to the city every day when I can. It’s a bit cheaper where I’m at. Boston’s kind of pricey.

Stay away from New York, then…

Aw, hell no. I like visiting, but I can’t see myself living there.

I’m not really home that much. In the summer, it’s dope as fuck. I can ride my bike to the beach if I want. I can drive or take a bus anywhere I want to go. It’d be nice to change it up, though.

How did you get hooked up with DGK?

I was getting my RAW stuff and this dude Dave Ashley who worked in the industry was around Boston a bit when I was around 17. He called me one day and said that they were looking for someone in the northeast at DGK. He was hyped on the skating I had put out and offered up the connection with Matt Daughters and Brad Rosado. I thought about it for a bit and then decided it would be a sick opportunity and went with it. I’ve been getting DGK boards for almost 10 years now. It’s crazy.

One could say you’ve been on a tear in the last year. I’m from the east, but live in Los Angeles now and hear your name coming up as one of people’s favorites out here. What’s that ride been like on your end?

It’s been sick, man. I’m lucky to know so many people who are working on projects that I’m close with already. My last Grand part wasn’t supposed to be a full part, but it was. I wanted to have a few things come out in rapid succession. I’m kind of hoping this DGK video will be a continuation of that.

What stands out a lot in your skating is that it seems like you really consider your spots. I’ve noticed a lot of clips where the material of the obstacle is the same as the ground or the building behind it. There’s a lot more focus on granite and brick ground. Is that something you’re thinking of?

That’s the stuff I grew up liking to skate. Skating with Tim [Savage] now adds a wider variety. He’s so on top of finding new shit to skate. There’ll be a lot of times where we go to a spot and it’s sick, but not so visually pleasing to me. I try to put emphasis on how it all looks together. It’s funny when people come link with me, Will [Mazari] and Tim – they’ll be surprised at how many spots we just look at during the day. We’ll look at so many spots and eventually see something that sparks your eye. Thanks for noticing that, I’m glad you appreciate it. I know Tim puts a shit-ton of work into finding stuff and it makes it easier for us skaters to be pickier in the first place.

Speaking of Tim, how did “Brian, Brandon and Will” come about so fast after Grace? That’s maybe my favorite of the year right now. It worked so sick as a shared part, but you easily could have all had individual parts. It felt joyous and collaborative.

That video is the visual representation of how we all skate together naturally. Like I said, we’ll usually go to like twenty spots in a day. Sometimes we’ll skate a few of them; sometimes we’ll skate none of them. That’s how the last year of skating with those dudes has been like. Brandon had a bunch of footage that he wasn’t 100% sure what he was gonna do with. Tim brought up the idea to him and he was down. I’ve been skating with him a bunch for the last four years. He just knows when he can do something. We’ll go to so many spots, and when he sees something he fucks with, he’ll pretty much immediately go for it, and usually not too long after, he’s landed it and it’s usually something pretty fucked.

You have a pretty decent spot and trick range. Classic street and tech, but then, say, the opener of Grace where we get to see the process of you 5050ing that giant rail and then there’s the ender in “Brian, Brandon, and Will” with that mondo boardslide. Is there a different process for you when you’re skating different things?

I guess I don’t really think about it. I don’t know if this is a bad thing, but I’m not really one to skate things I’m shook of. I’ll sometimes push myself, but I know my limits for the most part. If I see a ledge and have a tech trick I’ve been trying, I’ll give it a try and feel it out. If I see a bigger spot, there’s not as much feeling it out. I have to really think I got it. I may still get smoked, but I’ll still be pretty confident. I don’t think I skate too much crazy shit. I like to occasionally – it’s skateboarding and I want to push myself, you know?

How about on the Boston-area AM Scramble you were just on?

Honestly, on the AM Scramble, there were so many times where I thought to myself “this is fucked.” I think I held my own, I got some clips. I knew everything we went to since it was in the Boston area – but there were a couple spots that I thought “this is gonna be the time I’m gonna skate this!” and then we would get there and I’d change my mind like “Nah, actually I still don’t want to skate this…” Some people can turn off the fear and send it. I gotta up my gnarliness a bit, I guess.

Gotta get some hang time.

It’s so funny you say that. For this DGK video, I feel like there’s a lot of ledges and stuff that I feel more comfortable skating. Towards the end of filming, I was like “I need some hang time in here.” I kept saying exactly that: “hang time.” I don’t really jump down sets, so I try to find other ways to float a bit when I can.

What about the sax? That’s kinda floaty. Is that gonna fit into it anymore?

It doesn’t fit in much. I haven’t played it in two months, honestly. It’s sitting here right next to me.

Hey, two months isn’t bad.

It’s still fun when I play it, but if you don’t keep up with it, it becomes a pain in the ass. I get annoyed because I’m not as good as I was. Your brain is telling your fingers to do something they just won’t. There’s a lot of muscle memory there.

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