Kristian Svitak cares about skateboarding. He doesn’t just ride skateboards, he doesn’t just own skate companies, but instead he has done everything in his power to help promote what is good about skating. Kristian has always poured everything he has into his skate life, his music, and his family. He is real. He is genuine, and he is full of heart. Kristian’s type of authenticity has become far too rare in our world. He’s a skate rat to the core, and he’s a guy that has kept his head on straight in an increasingly crooked industry. I had the pleasure of getting to sit and bullshit with one of my favorite skaters of all time last month, and this is what came about…
Chauncey: I saw recently you have your first deck, and I know you’ve collected all your decks over the years. I was just wondering though prior to that, what was your very first skateboard? What was your first setup?
Kristian: All right, so the first board I had ever had was…remember Nash used to do those boards called the “Nash Nightmare”?
Chauncey: Yeah, yeah.
Kristian: With all these supposedly like scary creatures on the bottom of it? Yeah it was one of those. I don’t remember how old I was. I was pretty little, and I remember I wanted a skateboard, and my grandma got it for me for my birthday. I actually still have that deck too. The trucks and wheels I think I traded to some kid back in the ’80s or something….but I still have that deck. So that was technically my first board. I don’t consider that my skateboarding days though. When I was a kid I played with Star Wars and GI Joe, and I had a skateboard in the garage, you know what I mean? Then from that board there were different boards that my cousin handed me down. Then once I saw the Valterra Skate Zombie in the trashcan down the street, so I grabbed that, I sanded it down, and I painted it. I took a magic marker and I drew my own graphics on the bottom of it. That’s the board I was actually riding when I got in and really found skateboarding. I rode that board for a little while, and these older guys I used to skate with, they got me in touch with someone that had a used Vision Gator that he wanted to sell for $15.00. So then that was like my first brand new professional good board.
Chauncey: I think a lot of people from our age group kind of went through that same thing. Where you start off with some sort of Nash or maybe Variflex deck of some kind, and then maybe a hand me down deck, but I think everyone really remembers more than anything that first real company board. I think that’s a huge thing. Now I take my son out, and Tony Hawk has his Nash version at Target or something, it’s crazy. So what would you consider to be the first trick that you really ever learned?
Kristian: I think my first real trick was a Boneless in a parking lot. Before then, we all did the weird little like tricks when we didn’t know what skateboarding really was. We would just make up tricks. When I met those older guys though, they showed me the Boneless.
Chauncey: Right. It was like Tic-tacs and stuff, and then jumpin little sidewalk little bumps before that. So I noticed you throw our front side 360’s a lot. Are those just one of those natural comfortable tricks for you?
Kristian: It is now. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to do that trick, and I’ve never ever been able to do them. Then about five, six years ago or something I was at the skate park with a Euro gap, and I think because the wood was slippery, it was helping me slide em around. So then after 20 years, all of a sudden I learned it. So once I learned how to do that front three, I always made sure I didn’t lose it.
Chauncey: Very cool. And so then what would you say in terms of your favorite trick of all time, just something that never gets old?
Kristian: What never gets old….? I mean, nothing every really gets old. Maybe front blunts…I really like those. I remember as a kid seeing people doing front blunts, I used to think “Man, that’s such an awesome trick.” So once I learned it, I never wanted to lose that one either. You know, I think front blunts, and front threes, and heel flips are all tricks that I always thought were cool. So once I learned them, I always kind of made it a point to not lose them. And front feebles too, I always thought that was a really cool trick.
Chauncey: Wasn’t that slap cover a front blunt?
Kristian: Yeah, it was…but one of my gnarlier front blunts for sure.
Chauncey: That was heavy. I think a lot of people look at Label Kills, and that was such a huge part, and it was such a huge trick thrown in there, that front blunt was epic. I think it’s one of those images that kind of stands out. One of those covers that stood out big time for a lot of people….
Kristian: Ahh thanks man.
Chauncey: So I’m based in Utah here, do you have any experience with skating in Utah?
Kristian: You know my experiences in Utah are very slim. I’ve been there before skating, and I honestly don’t remember much of it. I grew up in Ohio so every once in a while I drive back to Ohio to visit family. When I head that way we always drive through St. George. It’s funny because every time I go through St. George, it’s kind of like the gas station stop area for me, and I always think, “Yeah, man, who lives out here? This is crazy, right?” Then I found out one day, that an old friend of mine, I don’t know if you remember James Atkin?
Kristian: Yeah. So I was reading something about him, and it said that he lived in St. George and I ended up bumping into him at some event out here. I was just tripping outand I asked him like how do you live there? So crazy. Then in the late ’90s, with Invisible we did go to Salt Lake City. I don’t really remember much of it. It’s weird, it’s very rare that skateboarding takes you up that way. You know what I mean?
Chauncey: Yeah, it’s funny, the scene’s been growing though and recently we’ve been getting some teams coming through for stuff like Thrasher King of the Road and Lowcard. The kids that skate out here have a lot of heart though. I’m in Salt Lake and it’s pretty small, but there’s a close group of guys that skate together, and we’re getting more and more parks though too. So if you ever come through needing people to skate with, let us know, there’s plenty of guys that will show you some good spots.
Kristian: Awesome man. Thanks.
Chauncey: Now are you still doing the real estate thing?
Kristian: No, I haven’t done that in years. I got the real estate license, and I was interested in the investing side of real estate, so I got a license, and I kind of was just dabbling. Not really to make a career out of it, but more just to expand my frame a little bit. Then once I started 1031 and Landshark and all that started taking off, the real estate gig went on the backburner. That is what my wife does full time though. She’s a realtor down here in San Diego.
Chauncey: Well yeah, so speaking of that, how are things with Regulator going? It’s seven years now at 1031? Is that right?
Kristian: Yeah. I think, well I think we’re at six right now. Yeah, we’re coming to the end of six. It’s cool man, it’s great. We’re in a really weird time right now as far as the skateboard industry goes. It’s definitely not an easy ride for a lot of companies. But the one thing that we have going for ourselves is that we have very low overhead, and we have a realistic business…I don’t know what you want to call it….?
Chauncey: Model maybe…?
Kristian: Yes business model. So I have a lot of buddies with some of the biggest companies out there, man, and they’re really hurting. They’re having to lay off employees, they’re having to cut riders fees, they’re having to cut riders. I mean, it’s rough. So considering all of that, it’s cool. We don’t have debt, and we have really low overhead. Yeah I would love to be making and selling more skateboards, and maybe making more money so we can push this thing further. But at least we’re in a situation where we’re not owing anywhere, and we do have quite a few fans out there that like our products and it’s enough to keep us moving forward. It’s really good.
Chauncey: That’s great. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to interview you too is because you’ve obviously gone through skating as a professional, you know a young skate rat punk at heart always, and then you’ve transitioned into running and managing your own companies. It’s an interesting story for a lot of guys either leaving companies or aging pros that are maybe getting to a point to where okay, “now what do I do?” It’s interesting for you to go into this business, and then run it lean and mean too. I’m stoked to hear you guys are doing so well. That being said, you’ve picked up some guys recently, and you’ve lost some guys recently to other bigger brands unfortunately. Can you talk about that a little bit? Like you picked up Cyril and Ben, and then these kids are just shredding, and then they’re moving on. I know that’s always a tough transition. Can you talk about that a little?
Kristian: Yeah that is always a tough transition and there’s a few sides to that coin. There’s a side that is totally understandable. You have to really stop and take a look at why you’re doing this and what you’re doing. So there’s the side of it when someone like Cyril tells me, “Hey Andrew Reynolds called.” I know how much that means to him. I’ve known Cyril since he was 13, 14 years old. He’s a really good kid. He rips, and he really appreciated his time with us. He’s very appreciative of skateboarding in general, and he’s still on Landshark. I know how much he looks up to Andrew too and that means a lot to him. So you know what, I get it, I get it. I don’t have the budget that they do, I can’t do half of what they can do for you. So I get it. And when a skateboarder handles it in a, when they handle it in a uh..
Chauncey: Mature way?
Kristian: — yeah, when they handle it in the right way, then it’s easy to deal with. That’s cool man, I appreciate and respect that. It’s still very difficult, but I want them to move forward too. That’s why you stop and take a look at why you do this. I do this because I love skateboarding. There’s other things I could do but I enjoy this because I like being able to help skaters. I want every rad dude out there to have a chance to do something cool with skateboarding. So that’s bottom line. I helped this dude as much as I possibly could, and that’s rad…..but when somebody else handles it a different way, well that sucks. So the other side of that is the side of I grew up in a generation where…when somebody brings you up from nowhere and has done all this stuff for you, you kind of owe it to them to stick with them. So for me, I just have to find that middle ground and just kind of keep on doing what I’m doing. As you move forward it makes you really pay attention to the guys you’re sponsoring. When I got sponsored, I wasn’t about climbing a ladder. I worked for Invisible, and I would have stayed with those guys forever, but they went out of business. I would have stayed because I believe in my team, and I believed in that company. Not to mention they believed in me. I was nothing before those dudes hooked me up. Unfortunately though they went out of business so I got on Black Label. When I got on the Label, I had offers to ride for bigger companies well before that time. This is pre them blowing up with Label Kills and all this. This was still very tiny budget, and there wasn’t much going on there. To me, I didn’t care about that. I didn’t sign up to be some mega skateboard star, or make tons of money. I just wanted to ride for something that I believed in and I thought was really cool. Even if they were the smallest company, I would have stayed with them. So you have to understand with these kids just getting into skating in the past ten years, they don’t see it that way. Because for some of them it’s this huge thing, and it’s this way to make a lot of money, and be a star.
Chauncey: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. It’s tough because our history in skating is so small in so many ways, and we’ve had so many ups and downs. I hate to sound like some old fart, but some of the sense of entitlement I see from kids skating now is super frustrating. The whole we back you, you back us loyalty is fading. Unfortunately, I don’t think that happens as much anymore. Anyway I think that’s why I love seeing companies like 1031 thrive though. I think it’s rad that Cyril’s on Landshark, and I think it’s cool you guys still have that connection too.
Kristian: Yeah, yeah.
Chauncey: Ok so….what is good for skateboarding right now? What’s good for skating and what do you see as maybe not so good right now?
Kristian: Well, it’s funny because this has been something that’s been running through my mind for the past year or so. I’ve been actually bringing it up in conversations with certain people. So I guess…what I think is not good for skateboarding right now?
Kristian: I’m a firm believer that there are lots of horrible trends in skateboarding. But I honestly feel like the worst thing going on for skateboarding right now is message boards. Usually when I bring this up it kind of catches people off guard. You know you go on Thrasher and everyone can leave their comments. People go to Slap and can leave their comments. You go to YouTube, everyone can leave their comments. Well I honestly feel it’s just making skateboarding turn on itself. I was shooting photos with Chris Ortiz, and he’s been around forever. I was with Chris and we were talking about his son that’s a skateboarder. When he got into his early teens, he was telling me that all of a sudden he just quit skateboarding. So I was like, “Well why did he quit? Why isn’t he skateboarding anymore?” He told me that when he started that he and his buddies were making videos of themselves and putting them on YouTube. Then all these people would just go on there, and tear it apart, and talk so much shit on him and his friends. He just said that, I honestly think that through his eyes, to a young kid skateboarding now…that “skateboarders are dicks.” You know what I mean, they’re assholes. It just turned him off so much that he’s just like fuck this, I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. If this is what skateboarding is….kids just go on the internet and just talk shit about everybody? Why would I want to be a part of it? That’s when I really started thinking about it more and more. I was just thinking, “You know you’re right.” It used to be you picked up a magazine, picked up a video, and you had the ability to form your own opinion. If you had bad opinions or shit talking it would really just be amongst you and your neighborhood buddies. Now, I just don’t get it, I really don’t get how all these big magazines, and I don’t know — like YouTube’s just a whole another deal. But other skateboard magazines, and websites, they have that responsibility. I feel like they have that ability to just not provide the option for every dickhead behind a computer in nowheresville –
Kristian: — yeah…planet earth whatever…to all of a sudden to give their shitty two cents. The majority of people that go on there are just idiots. It’s hard for me to comprehend why would you even want to do that. It’s like people feel they need to be heard or something. Then the problem with it is now you’re giving every moron an avenue to go on there and spew whatever they want. Then when a kid goes on there, he’s like, “Okay, I’m going to watch this dudes video.” He watches it and he’s like, “Wow, this is really awesome. I really like this.” And then he gets done watching the video, and he scrolls down and he sees 200 comments of people hating on it. Now all of a sudden that kid’s like, “Whoa, wait a minute, I guess this isn’t cool. Maybe I shouldn’t like this. Maybe I should hate it too.” You know what I mean? For them they can start thinking this way or the other thing too is well maybe they think “Well fuck, I guess if I like this then I must be an asshole too, so fuck it, this sucks. Like why do I want to be a part of this?
Chauncey: Yeah. I think that’s a huge issue. And again I kind of take it back to my son learning to skate now, and it’s I just because of for me just personally just because of how to skate, he didn’t naturally start to push mongo, he just started pushing naturally. But had he done that, I would have probably said, “it might make sense for you to push this way, use your back foot.” Thinking that though…when I was a kid and hearing the way people talk shit about certain things now, and it’s like seeing Bill Danforth, which I believe Bill pushes Mongo, right?
Kristian: Oh proudly, proudly.
Chauncey: Right. And someone like that, I mean, to think that someone from our age group would have been robbed of the greatness that is Bill Danforth or something because the bulk of people hated him, or maybe he had stopped…is….is bullshit.
Kristian: Totally…and you know what, like I said, it doesn’t even just stop at skateboarding. I was having a conversation with this other guy, and he was saying “I put a video of my son playing piano on YouTube and all these people were just saying the meanest things about my son, my 11 year old son.” That shit….I’m over it, and like I said with skateboarding it really bums me out. I feel like that sense of camaraderie is fading. I honestly feel that much of skateboarding is turning into a Jock mentality. It’s just a constant feed of like you’re, you’re a kook. Really? I thought we were all kooks. Like if you’re a skateboarder, you’re supposed to be a kook. Now this whole elitist thing is going on, and you have all these people going on the internet being dicks, and no wonder more and more kids are riding scooters at the skate parks. Can you imagine? These skateboarders are fucking assholes. Like all they do is talk shit. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion. I just feel like message boards are just like dude…I can handle Mountain Dew, I can handle Abercrombie and Fitch ads on Thrasher…I can handle all that. I can’t handle skateboarders going on the internet, and bashing other skateboarders, that’s where I draw the line. That’s the worse thing.
Chauncey: I’ve been on message boards, and I can agree with that. I heard one of your previous interviews, and the guy talked about seeing a group of skaters at a fast food restaurant back when…and someone had an Indy sweatshirt, it’s like that sense of immediate camaraderie. That’s gone, and it’s easy for people to sit behind a computer and just bag on kids, it’s a bummer, it’s a bummer definitely.
Kristian: There’s still is a whole group of skateboarders that are…like the term “rejects”. You know what I mean, it’s hard to explain but you can tell when you see them. They are the skateboarders out there that are super sincere about what they’re doing. They’re not trying to be like this ultra hesh guy, they’re not trying to be like this ultra elitist guy with diamond earrings in their ears. They’re just weirdoes, and that’s what I relate to. The super straight up weird, artsy kids that are maybe into music or whatever. You can tell they don’t really click in with all the other major kind of cliques that are going on in skateboarding if that makes sense. So I do have faith, there are still those people out there.
Chauncey: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to say — I think the kid’s name is Andrew Cannon and I saw something with him a little while back where he was talking about what bums him out. I think it was like free lunch or something. He was saying, Dude we make fun of people for mall grabbing, like the way you’re holding your board when you’re walking down the street? When did we all become fucking jaded assholes? I’m afraid it’s going to cramp some individuality though in skating too. I mean, that’s one of the things I love when we talk about skating, and certain guys are so great at certain things, and certain people are so influential in certain areas, but I think we could all be different…we could all be individuals. So many individuals have inspired us you know. And so saying that, so who were some of your favorite skaters growing up? Who inspired you?
Kristian: In the beginning it definitely started with people like Mike V skating in Public Domain man that was awesome. Tom Knox, Public Domain, the rubber boys…Ray Barbee, he’s a big one. Uh and when I discovered H-Street…like Hensley of course. Jason Lee…oh man, Wade Speyer, the list goes on and on. I mean, it’s kind of hard. Those are kind of my go to’s. Neil Blender of course and, I don’t know there’s a ton. Basically if you were in a skateboard video like before 2000, I’m probably pretty stoked on you for one reason or another. Donny Barley, he’s always been really amazing oh and…..Ed Templeton of course, and really anyone that came out of the Eastern Exposure days.
Chauncey: That’s cool. Yeah, and the way its grown too is awesome seeing all the different guys come up. For my very first skate video I ever watched as a kid, was Street Skating with Rob and Natas.
Kristian: Yeah I remember that.
Chauncey: And it was like –
Chauncey: That like changed my life. Watching Natas at that point was just like amazing…..and seeing the veterans continue to be involved with skating is so great too. Okay, so are you still playing with the Heartaches?
Kristian: The Heartaches are kind of estranged right now.
Chauncey: Oh really okay.
Kristian: Yeah, we haven’t played in a long time. We never really officially broke up, but we just thought, “Let’s just chill for a while.” So there’s never really been an official breakup or anything, but we just are kind of on a long hiatus. At any day one of the guys can call me up and go, “Hey want to play this show?” and we’ll be there, and we’ll play. But it’s been like a year now since we’ve actually practiced, and played a show.
Chauncey: Sure. Sure. Now for some reason I thought you were heading back to Ohio for a while, and it sounds like your back in California now again. Is that right?
Kristian: Yeah, because last year my wife and I decided to go to Ohio and see if we liked the idea of moving there or not. So we went there, we rented our house out here in California for a year. We went to Ohio and just posted up out there for a while. I haven’t lived there since 1997. So it’s been a long time. We were back there and thought it would be cool, we would be close to our family and stuff. So we did that for a year and then we were kind of over it, and we came back this past June so…
Chauncey: Good deal. You enjoy being back?
Kristian: Yeah, I love it man. I mean, I love Ohio though. You know I got my reasons for loving Ohio, I mean, I grew up there, that’s where my roots are. I’ve been in San Diego for 14 years now though, and I definitely love it out here, that’s for sure.
Chauncey: That’s cool. Okay, what was the last music you bought?
Kristian: The last music I bought….I bought a….frankly, I bought a best of Def Leppard CD. I think that was it.
Chauncey: Hahha Okay, that kind of — that might transition into my next one here too. I was going to ask you if you had any like guilty pleasure type music that people might not know about you.
Kristian: I got plenty — I’m not ashamed of it at all. Now the base for my record collection is all mostly punk rock and hardcore from the ’80’s. I also have all the staples of ’70s and stuff to the early ’90s. But I’ve got tons of stuff that my friends all the time make fun of me. This is the best Def Leppard from the ’80s that I bought. At the time, I hated Def Leppard. I hated it. I listened to the Sex Pistols, and The Misfits, and The Exploited, and I hated that shit. But now being 37 years old, I just saw myself in it a bit. Every time I would hear one of the old ’80s Def Leppard songs come on, I would be like, “Oh man, that reminds me of being a kid.” Because my brother always had those albums. Finally I was like “You know what I’m going to go buy this.” Yeah I got plenty of stuff like that man.
Chauncey: Okay, then what about books? Do you read at all? What’s the last book you read?
Kristian: I never really read. The last book I read, I don’t even know man. I have books, and I’ve read books. But I can’t –
Chauncey: Get hooked on something?
Kristian: Yeah, if there’s certain books that I really like, and get attached to, I’ll re-read them over and over. Like I just re-read “Get In The Van” by Henry Rollins, that’s a great one. I have a lot of random music and punk rock books. I have different skateboard art books that I like to look at. That’s not so much reading as looking at pictures. I actually have a whole stack of old TransWorld’s that I found. When TransWorld was moving couple of years ago, I found this whole box of magazines that they were just going to throw away. I mean, it all went like issue #1 all the way to the early ’90s. So when I’m looking for light reading or looking at the pictures, I pull out one of those magazines and just kind of like chill for a couple of hours or whatever.
Chauncey: Yeah, do that same thing too. Like talking about Hensley, I read “Among the Thugs” and some of those soccer hooligan books over and over. I guess he’s into those books. They’re kind of like my go to.
Kristian: I have a little stash of books, like I don’t know five to ten. So if I feel like reading something, I’m just going to reread one of those books, that’s pretty much it. I went through this mental dilemma years, and years, and years ago. I came to this big conclusion. When I started traveling a lot for skateboarding, I had a lot of time on airplanes. So I felt like, okay, like I’m on an airplane, I should start reading like everybody else does on airplanes. Then just one day man, I got on the plane, and I was like, “This sucks man all I want to do is stare out the window and daydream.” I finally came to this major life epiphany, I just thought, “I really like to daydream, and that’s okay.”
Chauncey: Yeah for me it’s specific to my interests usually…old skating stuff or some Henry Rollins 2.13.61 stuff too. A lot of those books are interesting to me, I stick with those. Other than that, I’m not going to get excited about the next best seller. All right. Okay, what was the last movie that you watched?
Kristian: I just watched, “Sex and the City” last night.
Chauncey: “Sex and the City”?
Kristian: Totally hooked on it.
Chauncey: That’s cool.
Kristian: Along with books, I’ve never been a TV or a movie guy. My friends are always talking about movies and TV shows, and I’m lost. I’ve seen movies, but I don’t ever remember things. I’ve never been a TV guy. I actually haven’t had TV hooked up to my house for the last five months. So I’m totally out of the loop with that kind of stuff. Just recently my wife’s friend let her borrow whole box set of “Sex and the City.” I had heard of “Sex and the City” but I thought it was something that was going on now. Like I thought it was a current TV show. This shows you how much I know about TV. Apparently, it ran from the late ’90s to about 2004. So I’m totally out of the loop. I started sitting down and watching this. I thought it was like a total chick show, right. I started watching a couple episodes with my wife, and realized that this show is amazing. I don’t know if guys have realized it, but that TV show is like soft porn for guys. It’s crazy. Dude they’re so honest, and vulgar. You should see how rad it is. Not just for women, but for guys. So then I thought, “Oh, this show’s amazing.” Now I’ve watched every night for the past month or so. I seriously just finished watching all the episodes. So then my wife told me that there’s two movies. I actually went to Blockbuster last night, and rented the first one. I’m probably going to Blockbuster to rent number two tonight.
Chauncey: That’s awesome. I have to admit, I’ve watched — my wife was into it a while back. I watched a couple, and I’m going to have to watch some more now. That’s pretty funny. I wouldn’t have guessed that at all.
Kristian: It’s great, it’s great. Like I said, I don’t have anything to compare it to. I’m not a big TV or movie guy. But like I said, I started watching it with my wife, and I thought, “Holy crap, this show is amazing man. It’s so good.” I thought it was really geared for women, but I really am unsure now.
Chauncey: Okay. So I was going to ask, any — did you get any word or anything about from like Mark Mothersbaugh or any of those guys about the “Mr. DNA” cover?
Kristian: I haven’t heard anything coming from the Devo camp on it. There’s definitely been a lot of interest in it, that’s for sure though. More than I thought there would be. I just did it for a little project, and I thought it would be fun. But I definitely got hit up by a lot of people wanting to hear more and talk about it. So yeah, that’s cool, I don’t know. From what I understand Mothersbaugh..he gets a cut of royalties on the sales of that…soo –
Chauncey: Does he really?
Kristian: Yeah, I think so….we released that with phratry records. They explained how the royalties get broken down with the sales of the stuff when you do a cover. I’m pretty sure a certain percentage of that actually goes to Mark Mothersbaugh.
Chauncey: For just writing it.
Kristian: Yeah so.
Chauncey: That’s crazy. Now can you talk about the Bull Taco thing and how that came about, and how that’s going?
Kristian: Well it came about a couple of years ago. I live in Oceanside…and uh Nate Sherwood… I don’t know if you know who that guy is?
Chauncey: Yeah sure.
Kristian: He’s an old friend of mine…and I ran into him somewhere and he was telling me “there’s a new restaurant out here,” and blah, blah, blah, and they’re sponsoring guys, and he got Pat Duffy on and whatever. Apparently he was the head of putting a team together. He asked me if I was interested and of course I was in. So yeah, it’s going great, it’s awesome. It’s like two brothers, Greg and Steve. They’re guys that came out of the LA skateboarding scene, and the hardcore scene of the late ’80s. I hang out with Steve quite a bit, to skateboard and stuff. But it’s rad man, they grew up with some food background and I guess they just got that punk rock spirit. They’re two DIY dudes that just started they’re own gig some years back and it’s progressed from there. They started one down in Cardiff which is about 20 minutes south, and then the one here in Oceanside. So they sponsor me and I get pretty much all the free food that I want. It’s cool man, they’re super cool. It’s Mexican but, it’s hard to explain so I say Mexican food, but it’s not at all like typical Mexican. They put a whole twist on it, and it’s super good. They’re constantly sponsor surfing events, and skateboarding events, and they’ll just throw a tent up and make tacos for everybody. It’s great.
Chauncey: Yeah, because as an outsider, you’re like whoa, he gets flowed burritos? That’s awesome. Like taco’s, what a rad setup.
Kristian: It’s amazing, it’s super great man I love it.
Chauncey: So what’s punk rock anymore?
Kristian: How do I answer this? Well let’s just say that my punk rock might be a lot different than a lot of people’s. Well do you mean like what bands are punk rock anymore or …?
Chauncey: I think of punk rock as like kind of the contrarian mentality, like we said that DIY spirit, and I think I read something a while back where you’re — this was a while back when kind of everyone was suddenly wearing their sisters jeans and trying to look like Joey Ramone. I think it was you who said, “Dyrdek and those guys that were super hip-hopped out, that was punk rock at that point in time because that was not the norm.” So now, with skating becoming more and more of a commodity, that’s kind of what I mean. What’s punk anymore in our world?
Kristian: Oh I see. Well I mean, for me it’s still the same thing. Like for me, it’s funny, I’ll have a couple friends that know I’m super into punk rock or whatever, and we’ll be in a conversation, and sometimes I won’t want to be involved in certain things. Their response will be…”What do you mean man, you’re punk rock? Like come on.” It’s a little hard for me to explain. But I’ll go somewhere, and I run into these dudes that got their tattoo’s, they got they’re trucker hat, they got the PBR, and they preach about how they don’t give a fuck about anything. I just feel like the punk rock world that I grew up in was the complete opposite of that. I’m not preaching against fucking drinking beers and stuff. I’m just saying we’ve all had these people in our lives who are slamming their beers and they don’t give a shit and whatever. Then I was thinking, that is the same shit we used to fight against. That’s what the jocks did. We listened to lyrics that were up there — it was all about rise above. This was about being a total social outcast and having ideas that were like fuck this, we’re better than this. I don’t know, it’s so hard to explain man. Like I said, I feel like a lot of people that listen to a lot of those punk rock bands, they totally miss the direction and the root of where the lyrics are coming from.
Chauncey: Absolutely. I think a lot of people — my personal opinion too, I think a lot of people see it as more of an image. Or it’s kind of like this nihilistic thing where it seems like that apathy, that “I don’t give a fuck or I don’t care about anything mentality”…wasn’t ever part of it for me at least. It was more about how you could affect change somehow or how you could do it your own way.
Kristian: Exactly. It was all about change. You know what I mean, all that apathy, and all that shit, that was for the jocks, that was for the stoner rockers. We just did not have anything in common with that. It wasn’t like we were such smarty pants nerds though either. We were just as rebellious as everyone else, but it had direction. Then there’s always people that think GG Allin was the ultimate punk rocker. Don’t get me wrong, hey I’ve got every GG Allin album. So I think there’s a place for it in my record collection that I think is hilarious. But that was never my take on what punk rock is. So going back to what’s punk rock now like if we want to talk “in skateboarding”…like you said it’s people that are doing it DIY. Some claim to be doing it DIY but ultimately are having some dude with a big wallet hiding in the corner funding it all. I mean truly the people that are doing it on their own, doing it their way regardless of what is popular or what people think is cool or not cool. We’re definitely living in a skateboard world that’s funded by suits. People have no idea about it though. You know it’s all this backdoor stuff. Even the gnarliest so called hesh companies, it’s like come on dude, I know who owns that shit. They’re not fucking as hardcore as you think they are. They have a great team, they have the money to give you a great image, they sponsor great people, but in reality we know who’s really behind it. I know some of that shit isn’t real at all….whatever that’s just my opinion. I don’t know if it make sense.
Chauncey: Well it does, it definitely does. I think it’s tough because it seems like there’s that balance in skating for young guys coming up. It’s all they have, it’s all they know, it’s all they do, they want to make money, and they want to do it the right way. Having that conscience for skating while still trying to make a living, and feed your kids and everything else can be a tough balance I know for guys. But with a lot of companies I think you can tell though. You can tell it’s a little more grassroots, it’s a little more DIY, it’s a little more heart I guess. Anyway.
Kristian: Right totally… It’s a tough question to answer. You know?
Chauncey: And I apologize, it’s pretty abstract. But that’s kind of what I was hoping for.
Kristian: I hope I communicated my point well. It’s something that kind of comes up with me in conversation sometimes. I’m not ashamed to ever say what I’m into or what I back and what I don’t back. But a lot of times it conflicts so much for people’s…for their own ideas of what I should be supporting. I remember in California, I was friends with this guy that had this really amazing punk rock record collection. I always would tell him how much I loved the Dead Milkmen. I love the Dead Milkmen, love them. He was like, “That’s not punk rock, that’s college rock or some shit.” ….so here we go again. All people think about is that punk rock is having the “right albums” or the “cool albums”, and how much of a douchebag the front man can be to perform in front of all their friends. Does that make sense?
Chauncey: It does, and I think — I watched the YouTube clips on the Ride Channel thing that you picked. To me, that was so cool and really refreshing to see like that, the Sinead O’Connor thing with her and Kris Kristopherson. When she ripped up the picture and then re-sang “War” again was so heavy. To me, that’s as fucking as punk rock as it gets.
Kristian: Dude totally.
Chauncey: It doesn’t have anything to do with the clothes that you’re wearing, it has nothing to do with whether you party hard or fucking not. It’s just, it’s rebellion of the mind in many ways. It’s being true to who she was as an artist and doing so in front of fucking huge adversaries. That to me is super punk rock. Unfortunately, I just don’t think you see it as much anymore.
Kristian: Right. And that’s exactly why I picked it. Hey man anybody can put on an outfit. Anybody can slam a bunch of dope, anybody can slam a bunch of beers, anyone can go around acting like an asshole. That shits easy man. That’s easy. That to me…that ain’t shit. But for someone to stand up like she did, go on fucking national TV and straight up rip a picture of the Pope….for a very good reason (she did it way before people even understood why she was even doing that) then to go on that other show and while the whole crowd is just sitting in the wave of hate, she’s just like, you know what, no….fuck this. We’re going at it again, round two right here. That’s tough. Like that is tough. All that other shit, man, that’s all show. That’s all show to hide behind, everyone putting on a uniform and attitude, that’s just to blend into the herd. That’s my opinion. That’s just herd mentality shit. Put that trucker hat on and be an asshole, and you’ll be all right. You know what I mean?
Chauncey: Yeah, yeah.
Kristian: I mean, I’ve been wearing a trucker hat for years and all that just trying, you know what I’m saying, not being a dick, I’m just trying to paint a picture here… if that makes sense at all.
Chauncey: It does — it’s like — we used to call it the punk in a box kit. The kid that suddenly overnight had dyed his hair, this was like early ’90s. It was like the kid that suddenly dyed his hair and suddenly had piercings, and suddenly was partying and bought the punk in the box kit. It didn’t mean anything I guess is my point.
Kristian: Right totally.
Chauncey: So how are things coming on the mini ramp to shift gears a little bit?
Kristian: Well I’m looking at it right now. It’s just slowly coming along. I’ve been working on it by myself for a while. My buddy Dave Bergthold…
Chauncey: The Blockhead guy?
Kristian: Yeah the Blockhead guy yeah. He’s really great at building ramps. He’s been trying to come over and he’s been double checking my work. But he’s always really busy. I’m about 50% done though, so I think this guy named Jim Bell (which he’s in the business of building ramps)…I think he might come over with his crew of guys this week to just help me finish it like for free. So I’m really hoping this week it’s going to get done.
Chauncey: That’s cool man. Good deal. Okay. So what’s — and to kind of wrap up here a little bit. But you want to talk about your sponsors at all? You’re kind of still doing things with Rewind, and those guys?
Kristian: Yeah, I’m stoked on everybody right now. Of course I’ve got 1031 and Landshark, which are my companies. Airspeed Shoes, I’ve been with those guys for a while, it just got a lot better with those guys because a new owner came in and bought it, and they brought in Brian Sumner. Brian’s working full time in there to make sure everything is on the up and up. So that’s really cool. They treat me really well. Rewind Clothing is super rad, those are these two skaters out of Virginia, and their clothing company is great, and they do original signature stuff for me, so that’s really cool. Tork Trux, that’s another cool company I really like, another two dudes about our age out of North Carolina who are just skaters. They’re great. I still skate for Speed Metal Bearings, which that’s cool. We talked about Bull Tacos. Things are still good there too. Free burritos all day long. Tri Star, my buddy up near Cleveland, I still ride for them. And what the hell else? Oh I think my buddy that’s coming up to help me build this ramp, Jim Bell, he just opened up a skate park, a skate shop out here in Vista California called Aura. So I think part of the deal is him helping me finish this ramp up, I’m going to start riding for his shop out here too. That’s a cool, nifty little thing he’s got going on. Oh and Negative One Griptape they’ve been backing me for fricken over ten years now. And they’ve been around forever, they’re awesome. So yeah, man. I’m really thankful for everybody that’s got my back right now. It’s good.
Chauncey: So what’s happening in the future just to kind of wrap up then? You continuing on with Regulator Distribution obviously and what else?
Kristian: Yeah, just moving forward with all of our brands and all of that stuff, which is cool. I’ve got a daughter on the way that’s supposed to be born within the next few weeks….
Chauncey: Whoa, congratulations. That’s awesome.
Kristian: Thanks man that’s kind of been one of the reasons I’ve been trying to get this ramp done. I want to have this ramp so I can skate while she takes naps.
Chauncey: Right. That’s awesome. That’s very cool.
Kristian: Yeah, so I’m really excited about that. That’s my first kid, and I’m super excited about that. Right now I’m just in total baby world. I’m just getting ready for my daughter to get here. So and other than that, skating, playing music, I’ve been doing stuff with Kelly, Mike, R. Ring…the group I did that “Mr. DNA” cover with. We’re tossing around the idea right now of maybe doing a tour around the end of January possibly. I think that’s kind of it. Just playing around with R. Ring and I know Kelly was talking about trying to get me out there again to record another song with them. So then I’m maybe going to play some shows, and skate and yeah, and have a daughter.
Chauncey: Well that’s awesome man. Hey congrats again. That’s very cool and thanks so much for sitting down with me.
Kristian: Yeah, thanks man.
November 25, 2012 | Categories: Skate | Tags: Skate, Utah, Thrasher, Ray Barbee, Skateboarding, Ed Templeton, DIY, Public Domain, SLAP Magazine, Neil Blender, Matt Hensley, Mike Vallely, 1031 Skateboards, Kristian Svitak, Landshark Wheels, R. Ring, Kelley Deal, Cyril Jackson, Ben Raybourn, Tork Trucks, Negative One Griptape, Airspeed Shoes, Rewind Clothing, Bull Taco, Bill Danforth, Wade Speyer, Tom Knox, Eastern Exposure, The Heartaches, The Misfits, The Exploited, Henry Rollins, Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, phratry records, GG Allin, Blockhead, Brian Sumner, Speed Metal Bearings, Tork Trux, The Sex Pistols, Black Label, PMA, Andrew Cannon, Nash, Variflex, Regulator Distr, Valterra, Vision Gator | 1 Comment
Ok so I’ve written briefly about Ray Barbee before and here’s why. He is absolutely one of my all time favorite people. I don’t really fan out over anyone (except maybe Gonz). I am however more likely to get riled up like JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy when I come across someone like Ray, than say …(insert random Us Weekly celeb here). Ray Barbee began to influence my skating back in the Public Domain days. To see someone my age, with similar style, skating street, keeping it fluid, and basically stringing together trick after trick…was mind blowing. I followed Ray through the years, and always admired the way he was true to himself, and the way that he grew as a person. For those that don’t know, music and photography are very important to him as well. Ray is a positive person with an incredible outlook on the world. Often in skating the people that get press and highlights are the complete piles of shit. We all love a comeback story, but it just seems like the glamorizing of self destructive behavior is so rampant in our world.
I’m all for bucking the norm, and punk rock ideals influenced me tremendously in my life as well. I don’t think you need to be a lazy, negative, gutterpunk to carve your own DIY path though. You can be a responsible father and husband. You can save your money. You can live in moderation. You can be an educated postmodernist. You can be an artist. You can think for yourself…. Too many good people in the world of skating have been lost to apathy, drug use, and lack of forward thinking. Sometimes when you throw tons of money at 15 year old kids (that have had little guidance in general) this type of thing can happen. We all have free will though, and we all truly care about skateboarding. People like Ray Barbee should be highlighted more often. Take a look at Chris Nieratko’s newest Adventures With Chris, check out Ray’s Independent At Home, and watch the all too short Epicly Later’d. For the young skaters out there please just think for yourself, don’t be a pile of shit, and keep doing what you love. Thanks Ray.
photo courtesy of stussy.com
June 2, 2012 | Categories: Art, Design, Skate | Tags: Chris Nieratko, DIY, Epicly Later'd, Gonz, Independent, Music, offthewall.tv, Photography, Public Domain, Ray Barbee, Skate, Skateboarding, SLAP Magazine, Stussy, Vans, WeSC | Leave a comment