FRITZ MEAD

FRITZ MEAD

INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY XENO

 

These days, there is a special breed of skater coming from a combination of street, backyard pool and park skating that brings technicality to roundwall. Guys like Fritz ride everything, and it’s amazing to see what they throw down in all of the different spots they annihilate. Just the combination of tricks that Fritz can throw down over the stairs in a tight shallow end of a pool, like Sloppy Sam’s, is ridiculous! Then you see gnarly photos of him from the C Pool and other spots around the country and you realize that he can shred no matter where he goes. I wanted to interview him to get to the roots of his skating and to find out what inspired him to ride. So this is Fritz, and when you get to see him skate, you’ll understand why he’s in Juice Magazine.

“We met up with Darrel Delgado and skated some cool little pool that was awesome. That dude is so fun to party with. He showed us videos of him and Tony Farmer. That guy is the man. Delgado kills it. I’ve never seen anyone skate a shallow end like that guy.”

Yo, Fritz. Are you ready to do this interview?
Yeah. Let’s go. I have to get everyone to be quiet. I’m in a car driving home from Philadelphia. Let’s do it.

Where were you born and raised?
Brookline, MA.

When did you start skating?
I think I was 7-years-old when I really started to enjoy it.

What kind of set up did you have?
My first board was a ToysRUs board, but then my brother did a couple of ollies and the wheels broke because they were plastic. I got a pair of Indy Trucks and put them on the board and rode that. My very first real board was an Eight Ball board. Eight Ball was a skatepark, but also a company.

What was the scene like?
We’d just build launch ramps and skate on the streets. I got into it because my older brother was into it. He was really into it. For a while, I was just skating with him and his friends just to get attention. All of a sudden, I was like, “This is really fun.” So I started doing it all the time.

So you guys were riding transitions?
Yeah, we’d build little launch ramps and quarter pipes. We’d collect trash and make it into something. My dad was really nice about letting us learn how to build stuff. My first couple of ramps we duct-taped together. It was pretty funny stuff, but eventually we learned how to build, which is cool.

Killer, man. Did you ever get over to ZT Maximus?
I didn’t. That was the day that I quit soccer. My brother was going to ZT Maximus, but my dad wouldn’t let me go. I had a soccer game, and he said that was more important. I was so mad because he would let me skip soccer for a birthday, but not to go to the skatepark. I had a huge fit and never played soccer again.

How old were you when that went down?
I was ten years old. I remember Maximus closed the next day. I was really pissed. So I never got to skate Maximus.

Whoa. So your brother would skate Maximus. Would he tell you about all the locals he would skate with and all the sessions?
No. He would go, but he was still just a beginner. He’d say, “Dude, I dropped in on the vert ramp.” The vert ramp was all of nine feet, which was pretty small, but that was a big deal. He was like, “It was like looking out a six-story window!” He’d come home and tell me about skating it. It’s funny because now I skate with Doug a lot. He’s the guy that owned ZT Maximus then.

Did your brother ever ride the pool across the street from Maximus?
Yeah, but not back in the day. He just started, because I enjoy riding that a lot now. I’m like, “Dude, we’re riding this shit. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before.”

So you quit soccer in ’98 and Maximus closed. How pissed was your dad that you quit soccer?
He was pretty mad. First went soccer and then hockey right after that. I was like, “I’ll never play another team sport.”

Why didn’t you like it? Was it too jock-oriented?
I didn’t like hockey because ninety percent of the time, it was just skating around the rink, and you only got to touch the puck ten percent of the time. That sucked. I wanted to skate because then you get to always be having fun. When you skate, it’s a more fun-type competition. Nobody is like, “I can’t believe you missed that. You ruined the whole game.” What’s a game? It’s like 20 minutes and then you forget it for the rest of your life. It’s not worth all that hassle.

What was the vibe at school? They knew you were a skater, and you were into sports, but then you were getting out of the team sports. Did anyone vibe you about being a skateboarder?
No. I think people at school thought it was fine. I think the teachers were into it. It was middle school, so they didn’t really care. No one really knew what was going on. As long as you went to class, no one really cared.

Did you have kids that you were hanging with that were skaters?
Oh, yeah. Actually, it was really neat because we had the smallest school of all the Brookline public schools. When we got to high school, there was a class of 600 kids and the only kids that could really shred were from my middle school, because we were so obsessed with skateboarding. It was like no one else really got into it except the kids from the school that we went to.

So when you got to high school, it was just you and your friends?
Yeah. It’s interesting. When you get to high school, kids get into different things. I had one friend that got super into classical stand-up bass, and he was the best skater in middle school. He was doing kickflip back tails on stuff that I still can’t do. It was interesting to watch certain friends sort of fall off and get into other stuff. It was just a natural flow of events. I still get together with them and go skate with them every now and again.

At that point, when a good friend of yours quit skating, what were your feelings about that? Were you like, “Dude, you’re ripping. Why did you quit?”
No. It’s cool, because if you really get into something else, you’re just into something else. I’d be like, “Dude, we can still go skate sometimes, just to go out and mess around. We can still go skate and it’s awesome. One of my friends, Max, we’ve been skating together since middle school. We went to skate FDR today.

How was that session?
It was awesome. That park is so sick. I had the most horrible time the first few times I went there and now every time I go it’s so much fun.

What did you think of the new pool?
The new pool is sick. That thing is so fun. It’s so well built. The kids that are building down there are getting so good.

Right on. So let’s go back to high school. Were you road tripping when you were in high school? That must have been the early 2000s.
Yeah. Basically, when I went to high school, I would skate the underground mini ramp a lot. The only other ramp that I had heard about was Doug’s ramp. Eventually, I started knocking on his door and saying, “Can I skate? Can I skate?” After I did enough stuff with him, like moving crap around the lawn, he was like, “All right. You can skate.” That immediately became the scene. I would go to the ramp and skate or go to a park or go to Attleboro. I was really lucky to have that. It was awesome.

Tell me about when Doug first took you to Attleboro? Were you blown away when you walked up to Attleboro?
Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. I’d seen it in the Thrasher videos and heard about it. After I skated it, I called my brother who was in Florida and said, “I skated the ramp with the tree built into the deck. It was so sick!”

Can you describe what the vibe is at Attleboro, for someone that’s never been there?
It’s awesome. It’s hard to describe. It’s a great backyard bowl. It’s almost a compilation of ramps. There were a lot of Maximus ramps that went into it. You can see the time that’s gone into it. Everyone that is there is having a good time. The people kill it. You kill it there.

[Laughs] We all have fun there. Was that your first time riding roundwall there?
No. I rode that Eight Ball Skatepark when I was a kid. That was the big thing then. I was like, “Mom, it’s my birthday. It’s raining. We’ll clean the whole house. Drive us to Eight Ball.” My brother had friends in Ashland, so we were really lucky. We could go there. The minute we skated that bowl, we were like, “We’re building something with a corner.” We put together the shittiest bowl. It took us four tries to build it. We spent forever trying to build a corner. We’d put plywood in water and try to put weight on it to bend it. We just didn’t understand anything about building. Immediately after skating that park, we were obsessed with the idea of skating around a corner. That was a little bowl too.

I never got to ride it. I’ve seen video of Chickenhawk riding it and killing it.
Yeah. That was a great park for me. That was the highlight of my year, to go to Eight Ball.

Did you ever get out to Skaters Island when that was up and running?
I loved Skaters Island. I hated the kids there when I was a kid because they would always skate the flat bottom of the vert ramp and I wanted to learn to skate the vert ramp. That drove me insane, but I loved that park. Everyone that worked there was so cool. I remember going there one time and I was waiting on my mom to pick me up with my kneepads on. The owner of the park said, “Are you waiting to get picked up?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well, go skate.” He only made us pay for one session and let us skate all day. That park was awesome.

What did you think of that bowl? Was that the first time you rode a vert bowl?
Yep. The snakerun was the first time that I ever did a front 5-0. I remember that day. That was a turning point. I was like, “Oh my God. That was the coolest feeling.”

That’s when the addiction really kicked in.
Yeah. That bowl was perfect.

Do you remember when Skaters Island closed? Where were you skating after that?
I remember Skaters Island closing and being really bummed. Then we were skating Rye Airfield. I never liked it as much. I knew it wasn’t a cool park, but still I looked forward to getting a trip up there, if I was lucky enough to get my dad to drive me there for my birthday or something. Eventually, it was like, “We can’t do this anymore. They’re playing Britney Spears music. It’s not going to work.”

That’s a different atmosphere up there for sure. It’s a lot different from the atmosphere at a place like Attleboro.
Absolutely. It’s great if you live up there and you’ve got nothing else, it’s better than living in the middle of nowhere with nothing. I’d kill to have a vert ramp nearby that I could learn how to skate. They just re-sheeted the vert ramp at FDR. I can’t wait to try that.

Have you gotten to ride it yet?
No, I didn’t get a chance. I spent the whole time riding the concrete. Then we went to some little pool and skated the shallow end. We didn’t get to ride the vert ramp, but I definitely want to go back and ride it. It looked so fun.

Rad. After Skaters Island, were you going on missions to skate other stuff?
Yeah. In the middle of high school, I started skating with Doug and going on trips and stuff. I was really fortunate.

What is it like going on a road trip with Sgt Sk8?
Going on a road trip with Doug is like going first class. You’re macking. You’re psyched. You’re in a huge van. You’ve got a dog that will bark at anybody that pisses you off. You go to the sickest spots. Doug hooks it up. It’s always a blast.

Where are some of the places that you guys go on the East Coast?
Well, we just got back from a month long trip this summer to California. It was awesome. We went to Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas on the way. We hit all of these places. We got back from there and skated around here for a while, and then we went on another trip and tried to skate all the new stuff in Carolina that looked sick. Then it started raining, so we made a beeline for Skatopia, which was awesome. That was a huge thing to check off the list. I’ve always wanted to go there, so that was really cool.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #66 BY CLICKING HERE…

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