Dave Maxwell at Drakes

Duty Now For The Future Artisan Skateparks Dave Maxwell

Duty Now For The Future Artisan Skateparks Dave Maxwell

Dave Maxwell has been building concrete parks and wooden bowls over the last two decades to live out his dream to skate and create terrain that is fun. Dave has that underground reputation of a straight up ripper and, when you see what he has helped create with Artisan Skateparks, along with his crazy bowl complex in his backyard, you can understand how hard work and determination can make a skater’s dreams of a myriad of roundwall creations come true. He doesn’t do it for himself but more for his friends and generations of rippers to come so that they can experience the same stoke that skateboarding has given him. So FTDS, here comes Science Fair.

DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE: ARTISAN SKATEPARKS – DAVE MAXWELL

INTERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY

 

We want to update the world on what Dave “Science Fair” Maxwell is doing. Let’s talk about Artisan Skateparks. What year did you start working for them?

It’s been a while. It was around ten years ago, since 2008.

How did you come about working with concrete and working with Artisan? Had you done it before?

It just kind of worked out. There’s the yin and yang of everything and for whatever reason I ended up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and I met up with Andy Duck. I did a little bit of pool work with him and, the next thing you know, we were doing some skatepark work together.

Did you have any concrete skills before that?

I had worked with a little bit of concrete before that. I had worked with RCMC. Rick Carje hooked me up. I got a job through Brett Turner, who hooked me up with Carje. After that, I worked with Grindline on a project. I had worked on a couple of parks, so I had gotten my feet wet.

When you were working with Andy, at the very beginning, skatepark building really started to take off?

Honestly, at that point, I was just trying to figure it out. I didn’t know where things were going to go. You just take it day by day. The company, Artisan, started and I got in and I was working on pools and this and that.

What was your first project with Artisan?

The first pool that we did is a secret pool in our area. I can’t even say the name.

What were you doing? Were you forming dirt and tying rebar?

Well, I was trying to figure it out. It was like, “Okay, let’s do this pool.” The whole thing with Artisan has been that there’s multiple people putting a lot into it and I learned a lot from them. I’ve just been there and I do my thing and I’m learning and I’m thankful I have a job.

Artisan has been making a ton of killer parks. Do you get to skate the parks that you guys build?

We get one or two runs in because, after it’s done, you’re moving on to the next park to build that one. What I like about building skateparks is that you get to check out the scene and skate the area around it. You get to skate and meet people and that’s always been the thing about skateboarding. Whatever you’re into skateboarding-wise, you just have to adapt as skateboarders. It’s like, “This is what you have to skate.” It’s kind of cool and I like that. With that said, now there are a million things to skate. You don’t have to worry if there’s something to skate, because obviously there is. I’m just trying to have a good time as always. I think what we’re doing is fun.

Tell me the names of the parks you built in the early days.

Raleigh, North Carolina was the first skatepark I worked on with Artisan.

Dave boosts a proper frontside boneless over another killer concrete creation in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo David Ostlund

What did you build there?

We built a vert bowl and a street area. It’s so funny because everything changes as far as what people want over time.

When you guys designed it, did you have a lot of input from the town?

I had nothing to do with the design. I was just a worker. We went in there and changed stuff as much as we could. That was the earliest one I can remember. For a park, that was fun. We’ve done a lot of really cool private bowls too. I think Andy Neal’s pool is one of the coolest private ones that we’ve done.

Where is that?

It’s in Maryland. It’s a backyard pool bowl eight feet deep. It’s got a backyard pool feel to it. It’s fun. I like that one.

Let’s talk about Woodbridge. Did you build that park? I heard the pool is killer.

I worked on it with a bunch of other guys. It was Mark Gwaltney and the whole crew we had at the time that did all that. The pool is nice. It’s 11-foot deep and that’s the kind of stuff that I like to ride. I was stoked on that one. When you work on these projects, it takes more than one person to make it happen. That’s what I want everyone to know. It’s a lot of work. It takes a lot to get things done, especially with concrete. I’ve worked with wood and you can figure out ways to do things by yourself, but with concrete it’s a different monster.

Well, let’s talk about the monster bowl you’ve been building in your backyard for how many years now?

Well, it took eight years to get built and it’s finally done. The Spruce Goose, or whatever you want to call it, is done. I don’t know what influenced me, but it started out as a thing and then I just couldn’t stop. It’s an obsession. You’ve got to get something done and you get to a point where it’s like, “I’ve got to do it now.”

What was the initial idea?

The initial idea was some kind of big cock and balls bowl. It was just a general idea. I had this idea of maybe having an over vert pocket or a full pipe and then I said no. That’s too much work with just the framing, so I just did this pocket and I stuck with it. I got a lot of wood from the beach and wood that was discarded. There would be Nor’Easters and storms and all trees are lumber, so I would just go pick it up. That was cool. I’d grab wood and then just throw it in the ground. My idea could be someone else’s nightmare. It could be easier for them to do it out of concrete, but it just worked out for me.

I remember talking to you when you were building it. Were you pretty much building it by yourself?

Yeah. At first, it was my girlfriend and me and we were doing it. After that, it was me. I had friends that would bring wood and stuff, so I wasn’t completely by myself, but I can say that I did honestly build a lot of it by myself. It took a while and it was fun. After finishing it up, I think I had to do it by myself because I don’t like people telling me what to do sometimes. It was my project, so I had to do it my way. That’s just a skateboarder thing. It’s like, “Don’t tell me how to do a trick.”

That’s cool. You can be proud because it’s your own creation. You put your sweat into it and now you get to ride it. How is it riding?

I love it. It’s my favorite thing to ride. When I’m home, that’s all I ride.

How deep is it? What are the dimensions on that thing?

Well, first of all, it’s more like a halfpipe with a bowled pocket. There is a 20 foot wide halfpipe section that is 12 feet deep and then it escalates up to 13 feet deep. Then the other side has a 7-foot section and a 9-foot section. It’s really hard to describe with words. You’ve got this and that. It rolls up and back down. You go from the 12 foot section up to the 13 foot section and back down to the 9 foot section. That’s the whole thing. I like the idea of being able to pump from one bowl to another bowl. Nine and 12’ and 13’ sounded good to me in my head as far as height.

Does that 9 foot section have vert?

Oh yeah. It’s got a foot of vert. The 7-foot section doesn’t have vert, but I didn’t want it to. It’s 8 feet of tranny just like the Hanger bowl didn’t have vert. It’s the perfect shallow end for a rebound.

You can slingshot over it?

Yeah. It doesn’t work like a slingshot, but you can slingshot over it. You just have to come and skate it, Murf. You can totally redirect in it. It’s fun. I didn’t know how it was going to work out. When you’re building something to skate, you have to generalize how it’s going to work out. It’s all experimentation. You have a general idea of how things are going to work and then based off that, you have an idea of how to take things to the next level and how to change it to make it better. You have to try ideas out, but then you may have to tweak it to make it better. It’s your personal skateboarding expectations. It’s like bowl skating. Once you’ve got it, you can tweak that a little bit and then go on with that for days. It is interesting and it gives you ideas to change the radius of this or that.

That’s sick. With the evolution of building with Artisan, do you look at it and think that you’ll build something different or make a different shape pool or make more snake runs?

If we had the budget, we’d definitely do some snake runs. I would love to do a snake run. Who wouldn’t? Are you kidding me? Me and Tom and everyone talked about doing a moonscape with crazy things you can pump off of and you’d have coping to skate too. I like the idea of having an area to skate that is flowable, but you have to have so much room to do something like that. A lot of times the plan comes down to the room you have to work with. You have to be a realist. You’ve got this much area to deal with so you do what you can with what you’ve got. I’d like more room to expand on skateparks. More room to build more stuff would be great. Everyone wants their own thing. Skateboarding is so diverse now.

What would you like to build in the ultimate skatepark from Dave?

I’d like to see a mogul wasteland. When I say a mogul wasteland, I’m not talking about something that’s unskateable. It’s the whole idea of having pump bumps and things you can pump off of everywhere. At the same time, when you go towards the outside, you’d have coping to blast airs and then make a street area too. Within the modern area, there are things you can go up and do on the deck, and hit your ledges and all that stuff and then everyone is happy. That’s what you want in a skatepark. To do that, you’d need a lot of space and a lot of time and a lot of focus. I would love to see it happen. It needs to happen. Imagine ditches and pump bumps and moguls. There was an old mogul skatepark in North Myrtle Beach and that was left over from the ‘70s and there were pump bumps everywhere. It was killer. That park was fun. When I talk about this idea, it’s a hybrid of that and you could pump off of all these things. It would have to be a massive area, but it would be awesome.

Science is a rad skater, inventor and an inspiration to watch, and his energy in marathon runs in a pool or on a ramp has carried through to his hardcore work ethic to build the best concrete parks he can for the community. Here’s Dave lien grindin’ the fruits of his labor at the Highvalley Skatepark in Stockholm, Sweden! Photo © David Ostlund

It would be a skatepark where you would never have to put your foot down, right?

Right. You could be skating a bowl that is connected to this whole deal or whatever we can imagine. We could do giant things or we could do smaller versions of things. It’s just things I think about. Or maybe you’re carving around the outside of the park and there is a shallow end of stairs that you just carve over because they’re there. As far as I’m concerned, we could get some red curbs to slash on the outside too. I’m trying to fulfill everyone’s appetite here, so to speak. We’d need some banks and ditches too. Maybe there’s a rail section on the other side of the park, but rails don’t work for me. To me, a skatepark should offer something that you don’t have in your natural environment. Maybe we can have something that is in the natural environment but it’s slightly tweaked in the skatepark environment. There are things that are cool, but you always think it could be cooler if it had a little more this or that, maybe a little bit more tranny or whatnot.

Let’s talk about the park in Burlington, Vermont. What was that experience building that park?

Burlington was epic! The thing I liked about Burlington was being in Vermont and not ever being there before. It was cool. We stayed on the lake and we had a really good time in Vermont.

What was the design of that park?

That was a Grindline design. We were stoked to work on that park. It was a killer park. You need to talk to people like Durand Beasley. Durand Beasley had a lot to do with making that stuff happen. He is a really hard worker and he’s a good guy and he’s a ripping skater too. Vermont was a big learning experience for us. We ran into a lot of drainage issues in Burlington, and we learned a lot. That had nothing to do with the design. That’s just park building. Drainage is a main issue. You have to keep the water going in a certain way. The crew has to think a lot about drainage. We all think about drainage so much that it’s like you have to drink your piss if you don’t make the drainage right. As long as you have the drainage right, you’re good.

That makes sense.

It does make sense when you’re doing it, but it just sounds funny.

How does Burlington ride?

Burlington rides epic. Let me put it this way. I skated the big bowl for 30 minutes and destroyed my hip. I want to go back and ride it because it was so epic. I just hit my hip really hard and that was it for me.

Was Andy on that job with you?

He was.

What’s it like working with Andy?

Andy is the man. He makes stuff happen.

Is he the guy that has taught you through all of this?

I would say that Andy has taught us the majority of everything. There are some other guys too like Mark Gwaltney and a few other guys. People have taught us a lot and we just go in and do our thing. After a while, people show you a few steps, and you learn from that and go on. I’m constantly learning. With this type of work, you’re always learning and you’re always dealing with something different. It might not be like that for everyone, but it is for me. I’m constantly challenged. It’s cool and I like that.

What is your main job on these gigs?

I work on form work and I’m the top guy when we do concrete. I’m on the top, working on the coping. Within the realm of what we do, there is the person that works on the top, so they take care of that. There are people that take care of the bottom too. You have people cutting and, if you have metal coping, you have someone cutting coping to make sure it’s right and that the finishing is right. I do that and I do form work and whatever else needs to be done.

Do you shoot the gun?

No. I don’t deal with that. We have young kids that deal with that. I would do it if it needs to be done, but we’ve got ‘eager beavers’ that are doing that. That would be Jesse. He really wanted to shoot the concrete, so we let him have it.

[Laughs] Describe to people what’s it’s like to man the gun.

Well, it can be good, but you can also get shot back onto your ass. I’ve had that happen. Before I worked with Artisan, when I was working with RCMC, I had that happen and I was just holding the hose while they were doing the clean out. What happens is that sometimes a rock is going to come through there and it’s bigger than you thought, and the person that is shooting is going to get shot back. You try to get your mix right so you’re not having big rocks, but that doesn’t always happen.

Dave Maxwell at Drakes
Dave kicks out the jams at Brian Drake’s halfpipe in North Carolina with this judo air. Photo © JJ Kefalas

Tell me about Baltimore and what you guys built there?

We did phase two of that park. We added the street course onto the bowl that we built there a few years ago. It turned out well, I think. I can’t complain. I was there with Mark Frady and we made things happen. We formed up a fountain in the middle as a centerpiece, and it has these pump bumps and some ledges and stuff. I think everyone is going to be happy with it here in Baltimore.

Do you guys hang out for the skatepark grand openings or are you out by then?

We’ll be out by then. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a grand opening. There was one grand opening in Saranac and I missed it. The other guys went to it, but I’ve never been to a grand opening. I’m on to the next job.

Have you been overseas with Artisan?

Yeah. Artisan has been overseas twice, but I only went once. I went to Sweden and it was fun.

What were you building there?

That was probably one of the sickest parks we built. It’s a giant flow bowl. It’s just huge. It’s probably 30,000 square feet. It took up a lot of space. We did that one, but I never got to skate it.

Was that your first time to Sweden?

That was my first time to Europe and I had a really good time. I traveled around and skated.

Were the locals stoked on what you built?

They seem stoked. They’re having a good time with it. On top of that, we went to Helsinki, Finland, because they paid for our crew to go over there and while we were there we went to this old abandoned fort from WWI. By the time WWII came around, it was already considered obsolete, and it was totally skateable. We went and skated that and it was insane. It was really fun. It was built out of concrete and it was kind of like a mogul park from the ‘70s or something. It had edges on it and then it went to vert walls and you could ride off the sides. It was really cool. This thing was built in the 1900s and it’s totally skateable. It’s out in the middle of nowhere. I will have to say that was probably the coolest thing I got to skate on that trip. Then we did the booze cruise and went past it and I was like, “Wow. I skated that.” In Helsinki, there are a million little islands everywhere. So you’re going from Sweden to Helsinki on a booze cruise and the cruise ship opened up and you could drive your vehicles up. It was basically a barge as well to move vehicles. It was a pretty cool deal. It makes sense considering there were so many islands around between Sweden and Helsinki.

Right on. Where do you go from here? What is your Duty Now For The Future?

That’s a good question. I just want to survive and see where it goes from here. I want to keep going.

Okay, here’s the most important question. What is the gnarliest thing you ever saw Chris Collette do? Let’s talk about survival life situations with the Keith Richards of skateboarding.

I saw him do a backside tailslide over the hip at Skatopia to the deep end and that was the gnarliest thing I’ve seen him do besides 6-foot body jars and that kind of thing. He looked at me and said, “I had a dream about this one.” And then he did it. I was like, “Oh, wow.” What about the guy that can’t do a backside air, but he can do a 6-foot high body jar? I’ve never understood it, but that’s Collette. How about Tom Risser? Tom is still going and he’s got stuff happening at Whip Snake Park. It’s never going to end for all of these people that we meet. There are all these things going on. It’s insane how crazy it’s gotten. I’m building and I think about how crazy skateboarding has gotten.

Well, I’m proud of you. You’re killing it and you’re on the road. It’s sick. Are you stoked on your lifestyle or are you getting burnt out on it yet?

Um, there’s a little bit of this and that. I get burnt out all the time. With that said, I would be burnt out with my lifestyle if I were just a regular dude for sure. The main thing is to keep it interesting. It’s tough to do that sometimes, but we are trying. Murf, you’re doing a good thing. Keep this going. You’re my favorite. I remember you were in Poweredge talking about skating ditches in the lean times of skateboarding, and I think that people need to think about that. That is why I skateboard now. When you talk about that kind of stuff, that’s what it’s about.

Yeah. Skating ditches is sick.

Tell me how hard it was to scrap through then. We have all this stuff that’s so easy to skate now. What was it like for you trying to find stuff to skate?

Well, here’s the deal. When I was young, we’d build these little quarter pipes and then, boom, we had Cherry Hill, the most epic concrete park ever and then a few years later, it was gone. We went from heaven to hell. All of a sudden, a lot of guys quit. Then we stole wood and built ramps, but we were addicted to concrete and roundwall and those beautiful tiles, after watching guys like Mike Jesiolowski do 15 block board slides and Jami Godfrey blasting backside airs. We were so addicted that we needed to ride tranny in any way, shape or form. We wanted to feel concrete under our trucks, so if you found a ditch, you were in heaven. You’d drive forever to skate that thing.

Yeah. You can’t quit.

You can’t quit. When I went to college, I’d street skate and skate Tom Groholski’s halfpipe. Groholski kept it going. His dad put a clear plexiglass halfpipe in his backyard because he wanted his son to have something to ride.
You and Groholski and that group, were it, for me. You guys made me want to skateboard. Even though I didn’t know you then, I feel like it was an eclectic time.

Well, you know why this magazine exists. This magazine exists because of guys like you, and me meeting Terri Craft in New York. I said, “We have to put more vert skating in the magazine.” Terri said, “Right on. Let’s do it.” I said, “I want to interview Science and Merk and the core guys that are still doing it.”

Yeah. I just like skating vert because it’s fun. It’s an eclectic thing.

You’re the definition of eclectic. Everyone has a great Science story, like Merk and the crew meeting you at the Badlands in Florida skating that pool.

That was the best time.

Spruce Goose
For the last 10 years, Dave has been telling me about this bowl that he was building in his backyard by himself in between skatepark builds. I knew, from Day 1, that Science would git ‘er done and, a decade later, here ya go! Deep backyard bowl creation with pool coping and waterfalls all day! Photo © Dave Maxwell

Back in those days, we didn’t have shit to ride. That one park down there was so random, but guys would drive from up North for a day just to get there to skate.

That was insane. I really appreciated it. I moved from Charlotte down there and we had good times skating there. I met Merk, Bato and Sloppy Sam and they stayed at the house and we watched VHS videos and skated. Everyone was stoked.

You’re in an older generation now, and you’re with these young guys and now they’re looking up to you. You’re basically doing what me and Groholski did.

I don’t know why anyone would look up to me. I don’t think they do.

You are clueless to how rad you are and how rad you skate. Everybody that has seen you skate knows you’re the man, so you’re being super humble. Let me just tell you right now. You’re still ripping hard. I’ve seen photos of you riding that crazy bowl of yours. What you’ve got to keep doing is doing what you do.

I try.

You just gotta know. Everything you said about me and Groholski, now you’re that guy that these kids are looking up to. You’re the greatest example of what a true skateboarder is, so keep doing what you’re doing. Believe me, Dave. You don’t need an ego boost, but everyone that has seen you skate knows how rad you are. One of the raddest things about you is that you’re humble and you do it for strictly the right reasons. You don’t have an ego and you’re not a jock about it.

Well, thanks. Coming from you, that means a lot. You know what I do have, and I’ve got to find it and send it to you, is a video of us doing doubles at Tom Risser’s ramp in ‘93. It was the first time I met you and I was just a kid like 19 or something. We were skating together and you were living in Charlotte. I’m going to send this footage to you.

Oh sick. Did I rock n roll your board or did you rock n roll my board? It was like the Eric Grisham and Steve Hirsch doubles lines where the guys rock n roll.

Right. I knew that shit and I wanted it to happen and I was hyped on it and we made it happen.

You know what the raddest thing about that day was, Dave? That was at the point where the skateboard industry had just shit me down a chute and I was no longer valued as a skateboarder. I lost all my sponsors and I was in Charlotte, North Carolina completely unemployed and skating that ramp going, “I don’t care. I’m a skateboarder. It doesn’t matter if I’m not sponsored. I’m going to keep skating.” When I met you, I was like, “Cool. Here’s a dude that is all about skating. It’s about the fun of skateboarding.” I was at a point where I was just so hungry to skate and be out of that pro stardom bullshit.

It’s crazy that you’re telling me that. I was like, “Fuck, this is Murf.” I knew who you were.

Yeah. I went from touring the world to them saying, “You’re done. See ya. Next.”

It was the shutdown.

The only person that stood by me was Indy. Independent Trucks hooked me up through all that. I’m just letting you know that what you do is great because I saw you at the beginning and it’s rad.

Well, hey, maybe it’s because you were there at the beginning. You have to think about that. I have to thank Tom Risser too. That dude definitely influenced me. He built that crazy ass ramp and that definitely influenced my skateboarding.

I loved that thing. It was so sick. It was like a little skatepark made out of wood.

How fun was that? He just kept adding on and adding on. Tom is a really good dude. He’s got a crazy place out past that now too. He’s a good guy. What I’m trying to say, throughout time, skateboarders have been trying to do crazy things, and I’m just part of it and you’re part of it. I guess we’re all just part of it, at this point. It’s kind of crazy. I’m working on these skateparks and I just feel humbled by all the shit that’s happened. I look back through time and meeting you and Tom and we did all that. Everything in general throughout time, you’re just skating and it’s really kind of crazy.

Science's Spruce Goose. Photo by Dave Maxwell

Well, you guys are really building killer skateparks.

I do the best I can. Believe me. You need to interview other guys too. I’m glad you interviewed me, but there are other people in our company that are doing it. Durand Beasley is a major contributor. Thanks for caring to talk to me and thank you for all the years you’ve sent me boards. I’ve always looked up to you as a skateboarder.

Thanks, dude.

Seriously. You’re the coolest pro skater I can think of. I always thought, “Murf is the coolest pro skater there is because he doesn’t give a fuck.” For the older guys, things got tough. Then I met you in Charlotte and we skated together and we still skate. We’re still skateboarders. The fact that we’re still skating is crazy. It’s still happening. I’m stoked on the skatepark thing.

Thank you for building kick ass parks.

Well, the kids need something, dude, otherwise, whew, this Olympics thing… I don’t even know what to think about it. It could be more work.

Are you stoked on the Olympics because you think it will bring you more work building more skateparks?

It was bound to happen. People that do what they do are going to keep doing what they do anyway. The fact that it’s happening doesn’t even matter. To quote Tony Hawk, “The Olympics needs skateboarding, but skateboarding does not need the Olympics.” I agree. Skateboarders are going to do what they do anyways. Skateboarders are pretty resourceful people. As much shit as society gives skateboarders, we’re pretty resourceful.

Look at what Monk and Red did.

Yeah. Look at what Monk and Red did. Look at skateboarders as a whole and how many backyard ramps have been built. Think about that. Let’s talk about the DIY projects that have been done that were inspired by Monk and Red. Skateboarders are just misinterpreted. They have a mission, but their mission gets pushed away because it’s not allowed. I think it’s getting more allowed these days because it can’t not get allowed.

You’re on the cutting edge of shit. You’re doing it night and day.

I’m just saying the guys out there building DIYs are doing it. Things are looking good in skateboarding. How can it be bad? I remember reading your interview in Poweredge in the ‘80s and, at that time, we were just scraping for places to skate. We were just looking for whatever we could find. I was thinking, “Wow. We’ve got it really good now.” Sometimes, I think it should be not so good for the kids because it’s too much enjoyment. They need a little bit of a setback.

What would those kids do if all the public skateparks closed? Would they go DIY and do it themselves?

At this point, I think they would go DIY. A couple of years ago, they probably wouldn’t have. A few years ago they could have been influenced into not doing it. It was like, “Well, we just have this.” I think right now it’s a renaissance in skateboarding. There are skateparks going on and there are DIY spots going on and there is street skating going on and there are curbs going on and there are backyard vert ramps going on and there are people seeking out pools. Murf, I feel like I’ve never seen it like this. I’ve been skating since ‘84 and I’ve never seen anything like it. What is offered in skateboarding now, I’ve never seen anything like it. If you want it, it’s there.

Yes, it is. Do you have anybody you want to thank?

I just want to say that I like everyone and I wish that I could help everyone. I also wish that everything was like 1986 where we could all just do 360 early grabs off jump ramps. I’m only saying that from my view of where I was at the time. In ‘86, what were you saying, Murf? You were probably saying, “I wish Cherry Hill was here.” I was probably jumping off jump ramps or something. With that said, we found this common ground that we’re on. Everyone needs to find the common ground in skateboarding. I don’t know what it is, but let’s find it. It could be street skating. It could be handplants. It could be carving and grinding and slashing. I just watched Tim Jackson’s part in the Santa Cruz video, Risk It. If anyone hasn’t seen that, they need to see it. There are so many people to thank throughout time. Let’s go with Charlotte first. I have to thank the Deese family for giving us a platform to build whatever we could think of. I met Travis Deese in ‘87. We would skateboard together and we were going to school together in middle school. He had a jump ramp that went into the dirt and then his parents built him a 10-foot tall ramp with one layer and we skated that. Then they built an 8-foot tall ramp and then we added the spine ramp onto that with Chuck Powell. After that, we raised money through Chuck to have our second vert ramp at the Ramp Farm. Then we had our ‘90s vert ramp there. From there, it’s always been going on. I’m thankful for Joe Fagan whose got his own bowl going now. I want to keep everything going on in Charlotte. I’m thankful for all my friends that I hang with. There are crews up and down the East Coast. It went from jump ramp and streetplant times in the ‘80s to the ‘90s where everything was happening at Rolling Thunder. I met so many people there. What about Aaron Jones? That’s another person I used to skate with, and my buddy, John King, another skateboarder that I skated with. He still lives in Charlotte. You always leave someone out in an interview and I’m not trying to do that. I’m just trying to be eclectic. What about Load? I have to say something about Load. Come on! The Load Warrior invented heckling on the East Coast. Morris Wainwright was definitely my inspiration too. When I was a kid, he was going to college in Charlotte, and he was one of the first rippers I saw. Wade Gullage is another name that must be mentioned. Wade Gullage was another ripper from the Charlotte area and I must mention, Mark Hardy. Those three dudes right there, when I was a little kid, were the first people I saw ripping. Around the same time, I would go to Myrtle Beach to skate that mogul park and I’d have to say that Rob Mosley and Hank Biering were ripping. I have to give it to the McKinnon brothers too. They were the dudes that went faster than anyone at the old mogul park in N. Myrtle Beach. We were just blown away. That was the early stuff, for me, in my first two or three years of skating. Then there was the Farm Ramp in ‘93. It was on the same property as the original Farm Ramp that I didn’t get to ride, but you could see the remnants of it. By the time I could drive, Eastern Vert had opened and we were skating Eastern Vert. Eastern Vert was so major in skateboarding. If I don’t mention Eastern Vert, I will feel like a complete buffoon. The people that were skating there were Neal Hendrix and Mike Frazier. That’s why I’m into building skateparks. Those dudes ripped so hard. Frazier would show up and this one time he had nothing but shoe strings. I remember screaming, “Hot foot!” He didn’t care. He was ripping so hard and not getting anything for it. All he had was all of these shoe strings so he could keep tying his shoe up so he could keep trying stuff on vert. He was burning through them. I remember so much stuff going down at Eastern Vert. People were learning so much stuff. We can’t not talk about Brian Howard and Mike Sinclair. All those dudes used to ride Eastern Vert. Eastern Vert was a meeting ground. A lot of people that ripped came out of there. It was a lot of good times and I met a lot of cool people. Let me put it to you this way. The early ‘90s in North Carolina were epic because there were a lot of good backyard ramps and indoor skateparks. You had the Carolina Beach Ramp House and Eastern Vert and Rolling Thunder. It wasn’t just the Carolinas because you could go to the Skatezone in Atlanta, which wasn’t too far away from Charlotte. I was 17 or 18 at the time, so I feel like I got to enjoy it from where it was as far as nothing to skate to that time in the ‘90s where there was a lot to skate. Kids could afford to drive and go skate places and I was fortunate enough to skate a lot of those places. This is one thing that I do want to say. The wooden stuff that was being built on the East Coast in the early ‘90s was epic. I’m not saying that other things weren’t going on in other places worldwide, but we had the Hanger bowl. We had the Skatezone. We had Carolina Beach. Those were three places in ‘90 and ‘91, as far as being built out of wood, that were pretty cool. It went from halfpipes to roundwall. Carolina Beach was more like a pool in comparison to other stuff that was being built at the time. I remember going there when I was 16 or 17 and it was crazy. Chet Childress ripped it, obviously. That was his home park. He was a couple of years younger than me and we were like, “This kid is ripping.” I just remember him ripping that park. I skated it a bunch in ‘89 and ‘90. It was crazy. Mark Frady just walked in. He just got here from Charleston where he was helping Ed Peck build a bowl. We all went to the SK8 Charleston park opening too. We didn’t work on that park, but I love Charleston. That’s one of my towns. I spent a lot of time there. Charleston and Charlotte and Wilmington are my towns. As a skateboarder, those are my East Coast towns that I’m going to defend. If I was going to have any type of blatant localism, and I couldn’t really have any because I’d get beat up by the locals there, that’s where it’s at. Hey, listen, I’ve got one. I have to mention Leaphart. I can’t not mention the Mouth of the South! I didn’t mean to forget about you, Jimmy. Yeah. I know who you are. Of course, Brewce Martin, I know who you are. I have to give it up to Savage. The Savage made me want to build shit to skate because I had to skate with Savage. I have to give credit where credit is due. He was doing his own thing and it made me want to do my own thing. I get it. I built my own stuff after seeing people build stuff. Brewce is a total inspiration. I’m going to try to make it back to his place soon. It’s hard because we’re out building parks all the time now, but it could happen though. Wait. What about Jerry Hahn? Come on. He’s another person. I’ve got so many people that I love as brothers that I didn’t even mention. I feel bad. I’ve left so many people out. My brain is not all there. Some of the people that I talked about that were original mentors, I don’t even see anymore, but it doesn’t matter. They were the original people that influenced me to skateboard. The mid ‘80s was a very interesting time in skateboarding. 1985 and 1986 on the East Coast was pretty fuckin’ cool. I mean stuff was going on in a lot of other places simultaneously and that’s how it happens. Stuff was going on all over the world, but look at the Hanger. A bunch of people got broke off at the Hangar. Shit goes on, man, and there’s a lot of good things going on now. I think everyone is pilgrimaging to their own point. Look at it this way. If we’re ten years behind on the East Coast, it’s a damn good thing because I also believe that we’re ten years ahead, and we’re just going to be building more killer shit to skate. It used to be that you had to worry about going to Del Mar or going to this one place to skate. Now there is stuff to skate everywhere and I want to thank everyone I ever skated with. Now we’re just doing our thing. I’m over here on the East Coast building skateparks and I want to say thanks to Andy Duck and everyone on the Artisan crew.

Killer. Any last words?

As the keyboardist, Viv Savage said in my favorite movie Spinal Tap, “Have a good time all the time.”

For the print version of this story, get Juice Magazine #76 here.

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