Frank Shaw

Frank Shaw

FRANK SHAW
INTERVIEW & INTRODUCTION by ELIAS PARISE
PHOTOS BY ELIAS PARISE

Frank encompasses everything it means to be a native Oregonian skateboarder; dirty and fast. He is a true skate rat, which, unfortunately, is a bit of a dying breed these days. He’s down to skate anything that lies in his path and will do so with a smile on his face. He’s on a continuous hell ride to explore every square inch of skateable crete on this globe. Constantly jammin’ up and down the 5, splitting his time between the sunny skies and smooth concrete of San Diego, getting some healthy doses of cancer dust in the wasteland of Central Valley and then ripping in his current home of clouds, bridges, beer, coffee, strippers and skateboarding: the one and only Portland, Oregon. Frank’s style is raw, quick and powerful and when he skates, he does it right, no shortcuts or handouts. Frank has sacrificed much of his blood and sweat in honor of the wooden plank and he has much more to spill.

You’re a rare breed these days, a true Oregonian, born and raised, right?
Yeah, mainly Medford, but really all around southern Oregon. I lived in Ashland, Grants Pass, the coast and then moved to Portland at 17 and have been here ever since.

How was it growing up down there?
It was super good. When I first started skating, Southern Oregon had a really good skate scene and there were a lot of people to skate with, but it died down a bit over the years. I grew up skating Talent, Ashland, Medford, Jacksonville, Central Point, White City and then Klamath Falls about an hour north, so a bunch of rad stuff for sure, but I’m stoked to be up here in Portland now.

Living in Oregon, do you feel forced to skate only transition and parks?
Nah, there are a lot of street spots here. It’s not like southern California ground by any means, but we have spots. They might be super crusty, but we got ‘em. It’s just that we have so many sick parks and backyard bowls to skate, therefore, we skate a lot of tranny.

What migrated you up to Portland?
I just wanted to skate with more people, basically. When I was 15, the scene down there started dying out and a lot of my friends that I grew up skating with, all started moving up to Portland, so I just pretty much followed them up.

The Northwest is known for some of the most creative and gnarliest skateparks in the world, like Eugene, Lincoln City and Orcas. Do you feel that parks like this are changing the future of skateboarding?
All these great parks are just spreading and growing like wildfire. When I go to some of these parks, the locals are just killing it super hard. I think that they are just going to continue to pop up all over the place and continue to produce more rippers.

What are your top three favorite parks in the Northwest?
The new Eugene park underneath the Washington-Jefferson overpass is one of my new favorites for sure. Obviously, Lincoln City and, also, Burnside.

Did you know what was going on with Burnside when you were just a young gun, living down south?
Oh yeah, I’ve known about that place forever. The first time I skated down there I was 12 and it was the middle of the winter and I was all psyched up to skate it. I drop in from the pyramid, take my first run and then hit a sheet of ice and knocked my ass out cold. (laughs)

Welcome to Burnside! You were traveling down to Fresno quite a bit with Peacock. How is it down there?
It’s insane! Peacock has an incredible amount of pools there. They are just everywhere, every block. It seems like every house has a sick ass pool.

Are there more going now because of how gnarly the drought has been?
For sure, the drought has a lot to do with there being more pools than ever, but also how poor of a shape the cities are in that area of California. Nobody wants to buy a house there or people move out of there because of how harsh it is. Or they just simply can’t afford to maintain their shit, and they end up cooking meth and having an empty pool in their backyard.

When you’re not combing the Central Valley for pools, who are you skating with these days in Portland?
I definitely like to skate with Donovan (Rice) and I’ve been skating a lot with Ben (Raybourn) since he moved up here, but I’m down to skate with whoever. The meet-up spot is usually Burnside. We skate down there for a bit and then cruise.

In a few of the shots for this interview, we went to some of our buddies’ backyard bowls that were made to skate. There are a lot to choose from, huh?
Yeah. It’s insane that people have bowls like that in their backyards. It’s the sickest thing ever! Having a bowl in my backyard would be a dream come true. It’s just great that Jessica (Starkweather), Dave Tobin and Tavita made it happen along with everyone else in Oregon who has their own shit to skate.

What is your favorite backyard spot?
I would have to say Jessica’s. It’s just so smooth and perfect.

They did it in one pour?
Yep, one pour, that’s so insane. I tripped on that the first time I skated it. A single pour on a bowl that size is incredible.

How about that shallow end?
Yeah, a 6-foot “shallow end” is a pretty damn gnarly shallow end and then into a sick 10-foot deep end and then all done up with Tedder Stone.

Phil Tedder is another Northwest staple who makes the best pool blocks in the land and also has a great bowl at his spot, right?
Yeah. Tedder’s is super fun and it’s covered. I try to make it out that way as much as I can.

Any goals for the year coming up?
I would love to spend some more time in Europe, maybe for like a month or two and really get the feel for it. Other than that, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.

You have a good knack for going upside down and planting that hand. Are there any legends that you have gained inspiration from doing some of those tricks?
For sure. I’ve always been a huge Neil Blender fan. He’s the man. Lance Mountain is one of my favorites too. When I first started skating, I got a Steve Caballero Powell board when I was four and it came with a VHS, which had about 20 minutes of Cab skating and talking about his music and that had a huge influence on me. It was the only video I had at the time and I pretty much watched it everyday.

When you throw up a FS invert for instance, does it sometimes feel like a time machine to that era of skating when those tricks were new, or homage to the dudes that are considered pioneers or legends of that aspect of skating?
Yeah, of course, when I do things like that, I want to do them correctly and as proper as possible, and I will think of how some of my favorites do them, guys like Hewitt and Grosso, as well as Duane Peters. He has had a huge influence me as well.

Sick. Here is a tough one. Burnside or Washington Street?
Oh, that is tough. They both have a couple similarities as far as both being DIY and underneath large slabs of concrete but, at the end of the day, they both skate completely different. Washington Street I’m not as used to as Burnside and the lines there are just insane. I try and skate with Chris Cope and Brandon Perelson a lot when I’m down there, as both those dudes have that place well figured out. Burnside might be easier for me to skate, just because I have put so much time in there. I do really like that Washington Street has a lot of pool block and almost no steel, but it’s also harder for me to keep lines going there. Damn, I honestly don’t think I can pick one over the other.

No worries. Bike or car?
Bike, for sure. I don’t own a car and, even if I did, it would probably just sit in my driveway because gas is so damn expensive. Portland is so easy to get around in. Anywhere in the city you want to get to, you can easily get there by bike, and it helps you warm up if you’re biking to a spot or down to Burnside.

When that rain rolls in for the winter here in the Northwest, what do you do?
I skate a lot of parking garages, a lot of slappy curbs, head out to Tedder’s bowl or skate the old Department of Skateboarding Bowl as well as Tobin’s bowl and the tons of garage mini ramps in town as well as my mini. If the rain really starts to get to me, I head to California.

What’s up with your front yard? You’ve got some fun little transitions poured that meet the sidewalk.
Perks of living in an area that some would consider a “tougher” part of Portland. My roommates and I live off of MLK and we pay our rent on time, so our landlord is cool. He told us that his other tenants hardly ever pay their rent on time, so he was like, “Yeah, go for it, as long as you have my money.” (laughs)

Sick! You’ve got to love Portland. Who is keeping you rolling around these days?
Vagrant Skateboards, Vox Footwear, Independent Trucks, Jivaro Wheels, Dakine Bags, Hoax Clothing, Shrunken Head Skateshop and Plague Hardwear.

That’s a healthy list. Any last words?
Skate until your legs fall off and thanks to all the homies, thank you and thanks to Juice for having me.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #73 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

FRANKSHAW

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