Amazing enough I only heard about and saw Rich Lopez just 2.5 years ago when I was at Vert Attack 8. And if you’ve seen him skate vert, you can understand that you just stop what you’re doing and watch him rip. I finally got some questions together to ask him and here it is – enjoy the style and high flying Rich! Thanks to Thomas Rowe, George Medina and Matt Condon for the photos and the video (if more photos turn up, I’ll add them it!)
Hi Rich! Thanks for taking the time out and being so patient with me! Let’s get this started with the basics: where do you come from/where do you live now, how old are you and what do you do besides skateboarding?
I am 46 years old. I was born in Cuba and I grew up in New Jersey. I now live in San Diego. When I’m not skateboarding I am flying RC helicopter, playing bass guitar or video games. Read more
I skate everything but if I had to choose, I would pick riding vert anyday: it’s just something you feel or you don’t. In the past couple of years I’ve been skating again with a lot of vert skaters and I met Christopher Hudson from England. He happens to be the man representing Moonshine Skateboards in the United Kingdom and together with Adam Moonshine (who started Moonshine) they have a HUGE vert skate team from all around the globe.
So I decided to get him and Adam who started Moonshine Skateboards to do an interview and here it is!
Give us a little background about Moonshine Skateboards: who started it, when did it begin, where’s the homebase and who is currently involved behind the “brand”?
Adam: I started Moonshine around the summer of 2014 after getting some positive feedback/greenlighting from some of the artists i wanted to work with and the thumbs up from a few of the pro’s i asked to join at the time. Officially I launched Moonshine Skateboards in January of 2015 with 4 pro models and some organic shirts etc. I struck up a partnership with Christopher Hudson in the UK around that time as well. So it mutually launched in both countries around the same time. Been growing bigger and better every day since then.
Chris: Moonshine is all Adam’s fault. He did the hard work to get some big names on board, find some rad artists and commit to it. I got involved because Jake got Jesse (my latest child, even though he’s the oldest) on the team and I wanted to find out more about Moonshine. I messaged Adam and it turned out he needed someone this side of the world to get involved. No brainer for me, vert skaters, the name Moonshine, the guys he already had on board. Simple, I was in.
An all vert skateboarding team: AWESOME! Am I wrong or is this the only company I know about that has only vert skaters riding for them?
Adam: I think there’s definitely a few out there trying to promote this type of skating. Skeleton Key for instance has been hyping the vert in a positive way so I actually see the interest growing. But it’s really about what stokes me and what stoked Chris and that’s skating we grew up with in a certain time. And it’s honestly changed little if at all for me since 1985. Nothing against street but to me it’s what you push your board on to get to the next ramp.
Chris: In the UK it’s the only company that is targeting vert skaters which is good for me cos that’s the scene I’m involved in. the vert scene is pretty small in a way, very close community but I’ve been a vert skater for 30yrs. Had some absent years due to misbehaving and vert being dead. Loving it again and the UK vert scene is growing very fast. Proud to be giving something back to the scene I always loved as a kid.
As Adam said, nothing against street but doesn’t really interest me. Stoked were doing a freestyle team. Lot of respect for that shit and we got some talented guys involved. Freestyle is like vert to about 90% of the skateboard population, it doesn’t exist so it’s rad to offer something to those who appreciate it.
Skater: Sean Goff / Photo by Sika de la Gala
Tell us about how this seriously great team of riders was chosen and how you were able to convince them all to join.
Adam: I get asked this a lot. So let’s just say pre-internet it would have been impossible to start with the caliber of riders I did. I had a short list to start and that list came from following events, pages, blogs, Instagram etc. It was a lot like a research paper, I knew what I wanted my team to look like so it was just a matter of “if” I could get those type of skaters onboard. I can tell you in all honesty I got 6 out of the 8 initial riders I really really wanted, and then pretty much built it up to around 23 riders or so – ams and such- without much difficulty. But believe me when an X Games gold medalist returns your initial email in under 10 minutes with “sure” then you get stoked!! And you get a bit stronger and start thinking well maybe such and such will ride for me now. Things like that. I think offering pro models instead of the same lame things people get from other sponsors helped a lot. I think that was crucial in some decisions with a guy like Jake Anderson for instance.
Chris: For me Adam did the hard work with getting Rich, Gaby and Jake on board. Getting those first pro models for such good skaters was the hard thing. Ivan was in my house when I asked him to skate for us. He was staying with us for a comp in the UK and was having a few issues with his current sponsor. Jocke I asked at the beginning of vert Attack 9. He said he would think about it and on the last day said he was in.
I waited To ask Sean. I held out for a while, I then gave him a deck to try out, make sure he liked it. I wanted to be able to prove that moonshine was a serious brand and we wanted to sponsor vert skaters who we respect. It’s been a bit weird sponsoring the guys I looked up to as a kid. Sean and Jocke are 2 of my all Hero’s so it’s pretty rad to be working with them and giving them what they deserve. The teams rad worldwide, the Brazilian boys are gonna be names to watch out for, and 11yr old Finley Kirkby here in the UK is on fire. We have an exciting team. Age doesn’t matter.
Skater: Jocke Olsson / Photo by Roy Løsnæss
Of course you’ve got decks starting from 8.25 and up. Where are your boards made and who makes the great graphics?
Adam: Boards are exclusively done at Pennswood MFG in Pennsylvania. All are decks are 100% maple, stained and with silk screened graphics. I am making what I consider to be the best of the best as far as decks go in both quality and graphics. There are no compromises in either with Moonshine and I think the decks speak for themselves on that front. As far as the art, I was very fortunate to be able to hook up with not only David d’Andrea initially but also Chris Alliston as well almost from the beginning. David ended up doing the Ben Schroeder deck and the Owl logo and Chris has done basically all the rest. Chris is our resident artist and there is none finer. All our graphics are done by him with my input, but certainly his talent and vision has been instrumental in the way Moonshine has come to being.
Chris: I’ve had some 8″ decks in the UK and got some more coming. Pennswood supply’s the best quality of decks in my opinion. In the early days, which is not that long ago. I looked at getting decks cut in the UK but it didn’t seem right. Moonshine is Adams baby so it is an American brand, we had to have an American supplier. I’d skated Pennswood decks before and the quality was always amazing. Add the stain colours there capable of And then put our amazing artist Chris Alliston’s designs on top of that we have one of the finest products available. I get so excited posting decks out and unwrapping a new one to skate for myself. There pieces of art which is why I have them hung up in my kitchen at home.
How did you decide to choose Jake Anderson, Gaby Ponce and Rich Lopez as your pros? And what’s up with Jocke (*hehe* I have to ask that because he just shreds as well)?
Adam: Well those were some of my first picks so to speak and became the three initial pro models along with Ben Schroeder, but I started the team with quite a few high caliber pros and some recent add ons like Chris Guilfoose, Sean Goff, Jocke Olsson, Jesse Thomas and Ivan Federico. Several of whom have models coming out in the next few weeks!! But literally I wanted the best of the best in all respected divisions – and my pros are a force to be reckoned with at any event.
Chris: As I said Adam got the key guys to make the team noticeable. Gaby has an X games gold medal, Rich is a grandad who does 8ft 540s, jake has more tricks than anyone I’ve ever seen skate in 30 yrs. How he got them is beyond me but stoked he did. We chat about who we should add as obviously there’s a few miles between us. The pros are pretty easy to decide on. Having Sean Goff and Jocke Olsson on board is massive for me. I’ve watched these guys skate for years and know how hard they work in the industry to promote what they do. Having them associated with moonshine is massive.
Chris Guilfoose, he’s fucking rad. They all deserve pro models, The vert kids we’ve got is beyond. Ivan in Italy is so committed to his skating, he’s travelling loads and killing it every where he goes, Gustavo in Brazil I’m really looking forward to meeting. The footage I see is amazing. Jesse has not only grown in height but for me is one of the most exciting vert skaters of the century. Little Finley Kirkby is serious. Only been skating vert just over a year and already landing Mctwists. We got a few rad gnarly bowl riders too, and the freestyle boys. It’s all looking good.
Skater: Chris Guilfoose / Photo by Matt Roy
Does somebody have a leash for Jake when he’s at contests, he’s known to go a bit nuts…(Jake, you remember me right *haha*)
Adam: Quite the opposite. I feel I may have a hand in encouraging some of it. I think he told me once he got 5th at a contest cuz that’s how many pints he’d had. But he sure does place 1st a lot so not sure that’s a constant set back for him if you know what I mean.
Chris: Jake’s a big girls blouse. Haha, he likes to party, we all do. Being a skateboarder is about having fun and we encourage that. He knows he’s very talented, that’s why he’s got a pro model. I’ll always encourage him to drink before, during and after a comp. he could skate blindfolded better than most.
Skater: Jake Anderson / Photo by Fred Ferand
Getting back to serious business: you have a great guy running the business in Europe with Chris. What are your plans for the rest of Europe and stores, are you looking to expand? It’s never easy with “vert” decks but with the rise of pools and bowls in Europe this could work.
Adam: Well Chris has been doing so well there I’m not sure what kinda of limitations there are to potential expansion. Chris and I are old school skaters who are on the same page as to what we want to put out there and how we want Moonshine to be thought of. Having all “vert” decks or team isn’t a problem for either of us. You can ride our decks anywhere, in fact I’ve heard really great feedback from street riders on the pop and durability of our decks. So we aren’t trying to be a one trick pony and we really have no limitations. If it’s rad then Chris and I support it.
Chris: I think the UK / Europe side is easy to get the name out there as I do travel and compete in the vert scene. We have an amazing product and an amazing team so that’s the easy side of it. Figuring out distribution and the right store to stock thro out Europe is the tricky one for me. Import taxes, exchange rates is all new to me but we’re getting a lot of interest and there’s some rad guys skating the brand in Europe already. 2016, moonshine will be all over Europe.
Skater: Matthew Wilcox / Photo by S. Hsu
Are more vert skaters from the team going to try to make it to next year’s Vert Attack X? I’m surely going after a year’s break and I’d love to see more of the team.
Adam: YES !! I can’t be sure but last count was a tentative 13 Moonshiners going. In all divisions. Our team has riders as young as 11 and old as 53. Plus I’m going if I can make it!! So maybe I’ll be on that leash instead of Jake!
Chris: Who knows how many are going to VAX. Will definatly have a few in each category. Last year (sorry you weren’t there Jonathan) we had a good moonshine presence, not just from the team but a lot of people wearing and skating the brand and we were a brand new company. I know the UK and European team will be there, we’re hoping we can get as many of the US and hopefully the Brazilian boys over. We are worldwide Radness and that’s what vert attack is all about. We’re very confident that brand, the skaters, the way we are will make a big impact within the beautiful world of vertical skateboarding, I for sure will be drinking very expensive booze the whole time and hopefully skating injury free this year.
Skater: Luke Jarvis / Photo by Lewis Royden
Any plans for adding more skaters to the team in the near future?
Adam: Yes, absolutely. Chris and I have recently added 4 freestyle pros to the team and I am working on a few more riders here in the states. Can’t name names just yet but if it happens trust me you’ll know it. The team is heavy and nearly 30 strong. That’s a lot. But you know we’re both always looking to see who’s getting down at things and who might fit. It’s a lot of fun.
Chris: As Adam said, were always on the look out, the states is so big so Adam has such a big choice but he’s gotta find the right guys. I’m very happy with the UK team, we have the best vert skaters in the UK, some rad bowl and freestyle skaters. I’m definitely looking to find a new edition at vert attack, maybe an am from Europe or maybe someone for a guest pro, who knows.
Where do you see skateboarding heading in the next five years – are we heading towards even more big companies jumping in the game or do you think it will all simmer down again for a while?
Adam: It’s always been changing ever since I started. It was sincerely dead when I got my first deck and then it exploded about 3 years later. Who can tell. I see it in the Olympics soon to tell you the truth. For better or worse skating is here to stay. Hopefully the best parts and the true spirit shine through all that. I really can’t say it will affect my mindset or Moonshine. If a skater wants a real deck, from a real company, then Moonshine will be there for them. If not, then good luck and god bless Red Bull and China.
Chris: Who knows over the next few years. I see more people skating every week, from 6 year old kids to 40 yr old men skating for the first time in 20 years. It will go in the Olympics, just hope they put vert in there. Our priority is Moonshine, if vert is dead, as it its, hopefully we can be remembered as one of the brands that killed it.
Skater: Jesse Thomas / Photo by Sable Jacks
Thanks and any final words for everybody out there?
Adam: Keep it rad and gnarly in all the things you do! Don’t worry about hype and who wears what or who rides what. Skate for YOU and if it comes your way then it comes your way. Keep your head down, mind free, and your bearings clean. Neil Blender is still God.
Chris: Thanks to Adam for coming up with moonshine. My amazing wife for making me go skate, the kids, the team and all those who have bought the product. Enjoy life, go skateboarding and fucking smile. Neil Blender is God.
I met Tyler Edtmayer while I was for the first time visiting and actually skating at the Vert Attack VIII contest in Malmö, Sweden in March 2014. I met him on the stairs while going to the vert ramp and he was as you can expect wondering who the hell this dude is who was asking about his skating.
After traveling with him and his mom, Amy, to the Norwegian Skate contest this year, I wanted to give this young skate talent a chance to be seen a bit more. After a lot of waiting and back and forth with me here’s finally his interview. A lot has happened inbetween so I definitely be adding updates about this all-round shredder who skates vert, pools and street so well for his current only 13 years of age. Really glad to get this online – check it out, share and let us know if you want to know more. This kid has sponsors but surely deserves more!
Hi Tyler. You are by far the youngest skater I’ve ever done an interview with, but you’ve been skating so well, improving so fast and placing great at contests lately that you deserve some recognition. As a lot of our people visiting our website probably don’t know you, let us know some basics about yourself: how old are you, where are you from and when did you get started with skateboarding?
I’m 13 years old and I come from Lenggries, Germany, which is about an hour south of Munich. I started skateboarding when I was about 3 ½. My mom is from California, so when I visited my grandparents on vacation, I saw everybody skating around everywhere and wanted to try it, too. When we got back to Germany, I saw a skateboard at the supermarket and bugged my mom to get it for me. It was only like 20 Bucks, so she bought it for me to play around on. At first I just scooted around on it on my butt or knees in the driveway, but when I was like 4, I started trying for real.
Tyler at Vert Attack – photo by David Östlund
Then the kid next door to my grandparents in California saw me trying to do ollies in the driveway and told me my board, wheels, and trucks were shit and that I’d never be able to do any tricks with it. So he gave me one of his old setups and then I really started learning stuff.
These days it’s not so unusual to see skaters your age who already have a big bag of quite difficult tricks – at least for the skaters in my age group who are stoked to see people just doing some airs, inverts or some lip tricks. It’s probably just the normal development in this day and age that you have seen more difficult tricks done by a lot of people earlier in your life that has helped you develop faster, BUT once you get used to a vert ramp, a concrete skatepark or whatever, you seem to just let go and your skating flows. Now the question – do you get a lot of you ideas for tricks from videos and other skaters or do you just know what you want to try yourself?
When I was younger, I used to just watch guys who were better than me wherever I was and ask them for tips. I still do that in street, but for vert and bowl, that doesn’t work anymore where I live. So when I’m home, I just watch contest live streams and all the good transition videos I can find on the Internet and then go out and try stuff by myself.
With my 540 there’s kind of a funny story behind it. I had just learned a gay twist in the mini ramp extension and one of the guys was laughing and said, “What are you going to do next, a McTwist?!” I didn’t even know what a McTwist was, but when he told me it was a 540 we both laughed again. Then when I got home, I looked it up, found some videos and decided to try it.
I didn’t even skate vert yet at the time and that guy told me he and his friends had an old vert ramp out in the woods and I should come skate with them. It’s kinda far from my house, but I convinced my mom to take me there. I tried doing McTwists on somebody’s trampoline a few times first and it actually wasn’t that hard.
Tyler doing the 540 in Marseille, France / Photo by Aurian Sempere
Once I landed it on my feet, I tried spinning it on the ramp. I could already spin it the first day, but I was too low because my setup for it was only a drop-in (in couldn’t even do a fifty on vert yet!), so I was trying to spin it really fast and couldn’t keep the board under my feet while spinning. Then I started trying it in the vert extension on the mini ramp, because I could do a fifty there. It was really hard, because nobody could help me.
I just watched „How to McTwist“ on the Ride Channel over and over and when a guy in Brasil I was on Facebook with found out I was trying it, he told me to post a video so he could see what I was doing wrong. We chatted on Facebook and he gave me some tips, too. It took me about 6 sessions and then I landed it in the less than 8 ft. high mini ramp vert extension. That’s the story of my life when it comes to learning new tricks!
Photo by Faby Reichenbach
Living where you do, you usually don’t have a vert ramp around the corner to skate at. Where do you get to skate and practice on a regular basis and how much travel and time does this mean for you and your family?
Well, Munich’s an hour to the North and Innsbruck, Austria is an hour to the south. I’m more in Innsbruck, though, because they have the WUB Halle, which is a good indoor skate park where I can practice a lot of different stuff. When it’s dark, raining, or snowy, it takes even longer to get there and back and I go at least 2-3 times a week.
In the summer, I try to go to The Cradle in Brixlegg, Austria whenever I can. It’s only about 45 min. from my house and they have one of the most gnarly bowls ever! It’s huge and I can practice almost everything there. Unfortunately, since it’s outside, it’s only open half the year and you have to be lucky with the weather. That’s the problem with everything around here, even in the summer. Luckily since last year I’ve been traveling a lot, so during the week, I just skate after school somewhere within an hour or two in Austria or sometimes in Munich or Augsburg, and from spring to fall I travel almost every weekend within Europe. Then I get to skate all kinds of different awesome parks with all kinds of different skaters, which is really cool, because at home I’m used to skating alone most of the time.
Since we have no full-sized vert ramps anywhere near where I live, that’s the only way I get to practice vert too. Either way, I skate pretty much every day and my parents drive me or fly with me, wait for me, watch me, cheer me on, and have to play with my 3 year-old sister the whole time when she’s there while I’m skating, too.
Photo: Marco Freudenreich
A Camp Woodward is supposed to come to Europe soon and it will be in my town! (Red: we’re waiting for this to happen!) There’s no date yet, so I’m just waiting and hoping… Everywhere I go, people keep asking me about it, so I know lots of people want to come when it opens. It’s going to be the most amazing training facility ever and then I’ll finally not only have something right by my house, but also pretty much the best thing I could even imagine and lots cool skaters to ride with!
I met you – just for a few minutes – at the Vert Attack 8 in Malmö, Sweden this year and the next time we met at the Oslo airport with your mom to drive and skate at the Hangup Contest 2014 in Horten, Norway (which was a blast as well everybody, sure to be even bigger and better next year). How do you feel to be able to travel around so much in the world to skate contests and parks with the support of your family?
When I travel, I’m lucky to be able to ride with really good guys, so I get lots of cool trick ideas and they help me out with stuff, too.
It’s very cool to skate contests and parks all around the world, because you see a lot of different cultures, meet a lot of different people, and hear a lot of different languages. I always make new friends wherever I go and I stay in touch with lots of them on Facebook and Instagram. When I go back to a place, I just tell my friends I met before that I’m coming and then we all meet up to skate.
Some of them have even stayed at my house in Germany when there were contests in Munich and I’ve stayed at different guys’ houses in other countries when I’ve been there for skate stuff, too. It’s really cool that my family is helping me travel because not very many people have a family like that.
Tyler at the Bergfest contest in Münster, Germany with a backside boneless / Photo by Gerd Rieger
Keeping with the contest questions – you won the AM bowl contest at Sosh Cup 2014 in Marseille, France, got the wild card for the pro contest, and then made it to the quarterfinals and placed 16th there. The next weeked, you won the Munich BE(A)ST Tour Hirschgarten 2014 bowl contest in Germany, a week later placed 13th place at the Mystic Cup 2014 pro bowl contest in Prague, and then the next weekend you really won the Bergfest 2014 bowl contest in Münster, Germany (which unluckily I wasn’t able to make it to – I was supposed to be a judge as well!) which is one of the coolest European “underground” skateboard contests around. As if that wasn’t enough, you even rode a couple big street contests and won the Volcom Wild in the Parks European U15 country qualifier in Germany.
Do you plan your runs the night before, dream about how you are going to skate, list your tricks on paper (I used to when I could list them *hehe*)? And is it difficult for you to skate with a lot of older skaters or is it just skateboarding for you?
I usually plan parts of my lines the day before, but not everything. Most of the bowl contests I skate are death match jam sessions, so I do try to plan my introduction runs, because you only have a certain amount of time alone in the bowl and I want to make sure I get certain tricks in. I’m still learning how to do that, but it’s getting better. You can’t really plan for heats where a bunch of people are skating at the same time, though, so I just try to practice certain tricks in a row and then somehow get them done during the jam.
There are so many different things you can do in bowl contests and sometimes it just comes to you while you’re skating. I’ve tried and landed tricks in contests that I’d never even thought of before in my life! Vert contests are different because you usually skate alone, so although I could actually plan lines for those, I don’t really, because if something happens and you loose speed off a trick, then it messes up the rest of your line. Of course unless you have a time limit, then you kind of have to.
Tyler at Vert Attack – Photo by Eddie Think
So sometimes you have to be flexible and spontaneous right during the middle of your run! I do have some tricks I like to do in lines though, and otherwise I more just skate and see what comes. When I skate street, I do actually plan lines, because you don’t have very much time and you have to try to get as much as possible in before time is up.
When I first started skating the same events with guys I’d only seen on TV, in videos, or at X Games before, I was like, oh my God, that’s so and so! And I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to say to them and I was scared I’d get in their way. I’m getting used to that pretty fast now, though, and now it’s all just about have the best, most fun, and gnarliest sessions! Skating with older guys is just fun and about seeing what skateboarding was like 20 years ago, seeing what like the roots of skateboarding are and a different style of riding.
You were sponsored by the European representative of ZOO YORK clothing and skateboards until recently, they then had to stop their business due to let’s just say business problems as I don’t have all the facts and this is not the place to discuss it. You still have a good amount of sponsors though so let us know who they are and are you still looking for further support for skateboarding?
Yeah, with Zoo York that was a real bummer and really bad timing! Right in the middle of the contest season and now I have no decks and no help with travel costs. I’m riding flow for Bones Wheels and TSG through 24/7 Distribution, wear power bands from Efx Germany, get my socks from Stance Socks Germany, and special insoles for my skate shoes as well as shin and ankle protection socks from Footprint Insoles.
Tyler in Copenhagen vert – photo by Tobias Plass
I’d actually had the same shop sponsor, Neokeltic Skate Shop, helping me out since I was 8, but now they just closed down their shop and started something new in the next town, so they’re not going to have a skate team anymore.
Of course I’d love some additional support! Who wouldn’t?! I’m always open for brands whose image fits good to me, my style, who I am, and where I want to go with skateboarding. It’s really important to me that I like and can stand behind the products I’m riding for and that I ride for companies I can grow with. Because I skate mostly transition, I have to travel internationally all the time, since most of the big contests and events are out of the country.
So not having help with travel costs right now is really difficult and although I’ve still been able to make it to all the events I’d planned for this year, it was really hard for me and my family to do it, because we didn’t have the money, but somehow we did it anyway. Next year’s going to be even more difficult, though, with some bigger events further away.
It would also be really cool to have a team to travel with or meet up with
sometimes, just to have other fun guys to go places and skate with. So I’m really hoping to hook up with brands that support that.
Is there something besides skateboarding that you really like to do or is it just all skateboarding for you right now?
Mostly I just want to skateboard right now. Until recently I was playing ice hockey, too, but it’s too much for me with both sports now. I stopped doing gymnastics for the same reason a couple years ago. I
actually like doing lots of different kinds of sports just for fun. Here in Germany, I live in a ski resort, so I go freestyle skiing a lot in the winter. Surfing is really cool, too, and I have a short board at my grandparents’ house in California. When I’m there, I try to go when I can, but I still kinda suck, LOL.
Tyler at the Flora pool in Hamburg, Germany
While I’m writing this interview I know you just got back from Scandinavia, California, and some different places in Europe. Where did you go and what did you skate (which parks and ramps)?
First I went to Copenhagen, Denmark to skate with some friends and then on to Malmö, Sweden to skate Ultra Bowl 6, where I made it to the finals and got 4th in U18, which was really cool because it’s one of the only truly international U18 contests there is and it’s just so fun like every contest John Magnussen puts on! The parks up in Scandinavia are so awesome and there are so many cool guys to skate with! I really like Fælledparken and Stappelbädsparken and hung out there with my friends most of the time. They have huge flow bowls and street flow areas and Fælled even has a massive outdoor vert ramp with a roll in.
After that, I went back to Germany for two days, stopping by the Cristiania bowl in Copenhagen and the Rota Flora bowl in Hamburg for quick sessions on the way down. Then I flew to California for 3 weeks. There are so many good things to skate there and rad guys to skate with, that I don’t even know where to start! Of course I hit the Combi Bowl at Vans, the Volcom park in Costa Mesa and tried out the new Vans skatepark in Huntington Beach. I was at Etnies in Lake Forest and Venice a couple times each and love them both. And they opened up a new bowl-only park in San Pedro called Peck Park while I was there, so I checked that out, too, and then got to have a quick session at Channel Street nearby.
I went down to San Diego twice and got to combine a little surf trip to San Onofre with a visit to the Stance Socks company headquarters in San Clemente, where I got to check out the whole place (awesome is all I can say!!) and ride their new bowl. I also got to go to the Sector 9 Skateboards headquarters in San Diego and got a tour of their on-site factory (yes, they actually make their own skateboards right there!) and got to ride their cool bowl, too. I was privileged enough to be able to ride two of the most awesome (and famous) private vert ramps ever, which I was so stoked on! And inbetween I hit up the Alex Road Skatepark in Oceanside and the Alga Norte Skatepark in Carlsbad with some friends. Oh, and I made a quick stop at Washington Street, too, which was just gnarlier than gnarly!
As soon as I got back, I went straight to Italy for the Big Sunday vert contest, where I got 6th, then onto Spain for Volcom’s Wild in the Parks European Finals in street, and I’m just flying back from Birmingham, England from Blockless Combat 11, which is part of the UK Independent Vert Series, right now. I got 4th and am super stoked on that.
It was funny being in so many countries in just a few weeks! Today in Birmingham I couldn’t believe how many awesome stairs and rails and curbs they have all over the city and nobody has even skated them (and there aren’t even skate stoppers!). My friend told me no one skates street in Birmingham. Bummer it was raining when we were walking around!
As you are still really young, you are still going to school which is a great thing as you never know what will happen in the future. How do feel about going to school during the week and going to skateboard contests during the weekends – do your friends all really think it’s “cool” or is it something you keep for yourself? And is it hard for you to combine both?
I actually wish they had home schooling here in Germany, but it’s not allowed. I have a special athlete status, so whenever I have to miss school for a contest, my parents can request permission and the school checks to make sure my grades are good and that I’m not in trouble, then it’s no problem. But I can’t miss too much, though, since they’re pretty strict here on that. Right now it still works like that, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do it when I have to travel more.
Kids at school see what I’m doing on Facebook and Instagram, so sometimes they ask me about it. I guess they think it’s kinda cool, I don’t know. Some of my guy teachers used to skate, too, so when I go to big contests, they usually ask me how it was and we talk about it a little. I just started 7th grade and some kids in my new class actually skate, so I met them at a street park in the town where my school is (I only live in a small town, so I have to go to a town 7 miles away for school) and that was pretty fun to skate with kids again.
For me it’s quite rad to see you already doing 540s anywhere and all of the tricks you are doing. We’ve talked a bit about you looking at new tricks, trying to get new stuff done – do you have any special tricks, types of tricks you are looking at that you really want to learn next or do you just go out and try it them when you are at a certain spot?
Even though I have to do it that way a lot, it’s really hard to learn new tricks by yourself from videos, especially if you don’t have the right places to learn them or you can’t figure out why something you’re trying isn’t working. What I especially want to work on now are different kinds of flip and varial tricks in vert and bowl and some more difficult grinds, but I’m having trouble figuring some of that stuff out on my own. I’m also working on learning to pop my ollies and airs out better in transitions that aren’t vert and lots of the other guys I’ve been skating contests with have been really helping me with that. So I’ve been getting better at those things while I’ve been on the road the last few months!
Tyler skating at the 2014 Mystic Cup in Prague / Photo by Burkhard Zacher
Always a favorite question for me – can you name a few skaters who you really like for their skating skills and style and tell us why?
Ah, I hate that question! So I’m just going to name some of the guys I’ve skated contests with recently who I really like to watch and learn from… and who are all really nice guys by the way and they give me good tips, too! Danny Leon and Bjørn Lillisøe, because they’re both still really young, but skate everything from street to vert, have huge bags of tricks, great style, and are kind of like my big brothers when we all meet up at different stuff in Europe. When I watch them ride, that’s kind of the way I want to be riding in a couple years. I really like the way Jimmy Wilkins flies through the vert, too, and everything just looks so fun and easy. Alex Sorgente is a good one, too because he’s only 3 years older than me and he is getting so gnarly so fast in everything! And last but not least, Pedro Barros because he’s so gnarly, smooth, fast, stylish, and high!
I read a post the other day from your mom on your timeline on Facebook that she is very happy that you wear pads and a helmet, something which is not so normal these days with a lot of skaters but to be honest, I think this is the smartest thing you can do! Do you ever get anybody making fun of you for doing this…and do you care?
Oh, yeah, people give me shit about it all the time! It depends who’s giving me a hard time if I care or not. Some people say you get judged down at bigger contests if you’re wearing pads and a helmet, because it’s easier and you’re not taking as much risk, which I don’t really understand, because you could even end up in wheelchair from not wearing a helmet. I always wear one no matter what I’m skating. I’m still so young and it’s hard for me to run out big stuff with my short legs too, so that’s why I wear knee pads. I don’t wear those in small bowls or street anymore though. When I get bigger, I’ll probably just keep them on in big stuff. I also only put on my elbow pads now if I’m going to do a 540 or if I’m learning new big tricks in vert. I think everybody should be able to decide for themselves if they’re going to wear pads or not though.
Photo by David Östlund
Wrapping this interview up for now, what are your plans for the next contests and events in 2014 and 2015 and where do you plan to go to shred?
This weekend I’m going to Denmark for the opening of the new Street Dome skatepark, which is going to be totally amazing! After that, I’ve just got a couple local contests in southern Germany, one street and one vert and bowl, and that’s it (as far as I know) for contests and events this year. Then I’ll be going back to California again for Christmas vacation. (Update: Tyler already went to the Street Dome skatepark opening and skated the demos!)
In February there’s Volcom’s ISPO mini ramp contest which is really fun and I hope to be able to skate Simple Session (a street contest with huge ramps) in Estonia this winter, too. What I definitely have planned is Vert Attack 9 in Malmö, Sweden in March and I really hope to be able to ride the Vans Amateur Combi Pool Party in California that’s usually around the same time.
No dates are really out for next year yet, so other than that, I’ll just have to see when stuff is and what I can make it to. Hang-Up in Norway, Sosh Cup in Marseille, the Munich Be(a)st Bowl, Mystic Cup in Prague, Bergfest in Münster, Ultra Bowl in Malmö, Volcom Wild in the Parks Europe and Big Sunday in Italy again for sure, but there were also some other really good ones this year I didn’t go to yet or missed because they were the same weekends as other things, like the Denim Cup in France, the Vans Spring Classic in Italy, Murder Bowl Mania in Italy, the NL Contest in France, NASS in England, Bowlmasters in Austria, and the Copenhagen Bowl contest in Denmark that I will try for next year, too. I also like to try to hit up at least one stop on the UK Independent Vert Series and
there are always lots of other smaller things also worth going to around my part of Europe to fill the gaps in between!
Maybe there’ll be some cool new stuff I don’t even know about yet, who knows?!
If you have been skateboarding for a while and especially been into vert skateboarding, then you will know who Rob Mertz is. I heard about Rob Mertz back in the late 80’s when I got started with vert skateboarding in Germany as a couple of my friends were getting Zorlac decks on a flow sponsor deal. The whole Zorlac skate team was pure gnar and Rob Mertz’s skating represented just that: gnarly, fast and high. His skateboarding influenced my life and I’m more than happy to have the chance to do this interview with Rob.
You started skating all the way back in 1972. Can you remember how you first came in contact with skateboards and who was involved?
I really don’t remember (I’ve hit my head a lot!), but I think skateboarding was just in a big phase at the time. I was 7.
Your sponsoring began already in 1976 with the Source Skate Team. Who created this team and what did you represent, a shop or was it just a friend’s team thing? And who came up with your nickname “Radical Rat”?
Ha. That was just our crew of skaters trying to emulate the teams in Skateboarder Magazine. ‘Radical Rat’ came from Rat Stink from the Mellow Cat comics in Skateboarder. That crew evolved into our MFC crew in Pennsylvania.
BS Air – Hawk’s Ramp
You seem to be skating a lot at Tony Hawk’s indoor vert ramp and I’ve read that you like to do this real early in the morning (wish I could find a vert ramp to skate that early ). Who’s got that type of drive and time to skate with you and what do you like about Tony’s ramp the most?
I’ve just always skated by myself and whenever I can. Tony’s is only a few blocks away from my work so I try to hit it every morning. I’ve only had a couple guys skate with me in the morning over the last few years. Tony’s ramp is perfect and I try to take advantage of it. I’ve been hurt a lot over the last 5 years so I’ve got a lot of making up to do. Much thanks to Tony for the access.
As I’m interviewing you for the United Skateboard Photography Project, has cancer had any direct impact on you, your family or friends? And besides this project and the Grind For Life organisation – do you believe skaters and people involved in skateboarding can do more to help people in need – whatever need it may be – through skateboarding?
I think it has affected everyone in one way or another. I help out Mike at GFL whenever I can. Good dude.
The Zorlac team in the 80’s and 90’s was one of the rawest teams around. Skaters with attitudes, gnarly skating and some of the coolest deck and clothing graphics thanks to Pushead. What did it mean to you to be skating for Zorlac?
They had the raddest dudes on the team – Craig Johnson and John Gibson are two of my favorite skaters – and the raddest graphics. Back then skating was all about anti everything and Zorlac was the ‘anti’ company. Jim Murphy from New Jersey was a big influence on me and he rode Zorlac. Gnarly, aggro and committed. Murph rules. So, when I got asked to join Zorlac, I didn’t hesitate. I was skating for Santa Cruz at the time.
Houston, Texas – tucknee in 1989 / Photo: Graham
OC bowl in 1990 / Photo: Graham
In 1992 you had a bad spill doing a 540 in Daytona. What happened and how long were you out of skateboarding?
I was skating the metal ramp at Stone Edge in Florida after the typical 3:00 thunderstorm and ran through some water from a seam and flipped up super high, landed on the coping on my side and flipped all the way to flat. I was out for about 2 years. Neck and back….
You definitely show a huge love for music and it seems as well for band t-shirts. And just recently you posted several photos from Elliot Sloan’s backyard vert ramp with some band members of As I Lay Dying and Lamb of God. How involved are you with bands and the music industry and what effect does music have on your life in general?
I’ve always been in bands. My first band was a skaterock band called MFC in Pennsylvania. We played with Suicidal on their first tour in 1984, played with the Faction when they first toured also. My current band is called One Choice. We’re a straight edge hardcore band on Seventh Dagger records. We’ve been around for 7 years now and have played with about every hardcore band out there.
Rob Mertz with his band, One Choice
What are your favorite spots/ramps/pools to ride and is there a place you still really want to go and skate which you haven’t been to yet?
Living in San Diego puts me in the heart of all the big skate spots and I try to hit them all. Hawk’s ramp, Combi pool, Bucky’s pool, Mancha’s ramp, Elliot’s Rockstar ramp, Encinitas Y pool and ramp, Burnquist’s, the new Vans pool in HB, just skated that Lake Havasu pool – really good…just to name a few. I really want to go to Arvada, Colorado and skate the Hanger replica pool there. The original Hanger bowl was one of my favorite spots back in the day. Cedar Crest, the Kahuna ramp in Houston, our MFC ramps, Farm Ramp in Raleigh, Leanords ramp in Florida…all great.
BS Boneless at Manchas / Photo: Brian Fick
For this interview I’ve been watching quite a few videos of your skating and you’ve always been known for your originality in doing tricks. Do you have any specific tricks which you always love to do in your runs and are there tricks you still want to really want to make which haven’t happened yet?
I’ve always tried to make up my own tricks or do tricks my own way…skate big and gnarly, hang on or hang up.
Reading your posts and seeing you skating so much lately, it looks like you’ve been able to stay healthy and be able skate regularly. How fit do you feel and besides the many injuries I’ve read about, are there tricks that you just don’t see yourself doing anymore to avoid injury and what do you do to be able keep on skating so much?
The last 5 or 6 years have been pretty bad for me injury wise. Having a major injury takes a lot longer to heal nowadaysand then as soon as I start getting tricks back, I get hurt again. It sucks but, what are you gonna do. Trickwise, I still have a ton of tricks on my list and a ton more to get back and more to learn.
one-footed invert at the Combi / Photo: Dan Sparagna
To round this interview off – when will we see you back in a contest/session again – Vert Attack 9 in Malmö maybe? I’m trying to organize a contest the week before that in Hamburg, Germany as well so maybe get a group of the “old” guys over to Europe – we’d love to see you rip over here!
Thanks but, I’m just not a contest guy. I would like to skate that VA ramp. Maybe I’ll come there a month before the contest. ha
And just for me – what do you have to keep in mind to do a really good backside boneless one – yours have always just been my favorite!
Just go up with speed and aggression. Throw it up there as high as you can and pull it down as fast as you can.
Thank you for taking the time for doing this, you helped me and many friends/skaters around the globe love skateboarding just more with your skateboarding, keep going Rob!
Channel FS Air / Photo: Brian Fick
Crailslide at Manchas / Photo: Brian Fick
Method at Manchas / Photo: Brian Fick
Saran Wrap Lien to Tail at Manchas / Photo: Brian Fick
Anders Tellen is a legend in skateboarding. Period. No, you don’t see him skating all of the big skateboarding events around the world even though he deserves to be invited to them all. He was already flying through the halfpipes and throwing down loads of tricks while I was just getting to know vert skateboarding – and he’s only three years older than me!
So it’s yet again an honor for me to have been able to get Anders Tellen to answer all of these questions and we can all enjoy a little dive into skateboarding history with this still top European skateboarder!
Let’s start this interview off with the expected and almost boring normal info: how old are you, where are you currently living, family status and (because it’s spreading around a lot) are you feeling supported by the church and Jesus when you skate?
I was born on a Sunday in May in the year of 1969. Just turned 45. Let’s say I made it halfway thru. I am living in Dortmund, Germany but moving up north to Hamburg in a couple of weeks. Father of a beautiful daughter named Kiana who is almost 14 years now. I feel that there is something watching over us but can’t find a way to get closer into it.
I always come back to the Vert Attack contest when talking to vert skaters. You’ve been there several times and this was my first year. I know we agree that it was amazing. What stoked you the most in this years’s contest?
Actually I liked it the best when they only had one group for everybody. That was just one big session with girls, kids, pros, ams and Master mixed together. But I guess to many rippers show up now which is great. It is such an awesome vibe with everybody pushing everybody and everybody is loving it. The Malmö crew is doing a great job for everything they do. Much respect and I am very thankful to attend the events in summer and winter.
Andrecht – Photo: Claus Grabke
“I’ve been skating for a long time” seems like something we hear from a lot of skaters theses days, of course we’re all getting older. When did you actually first ever get on a skateboard and when did you get started with vert and pools?
Oh, my mom bought boards for my brother and me in 1979. Makaha plastic cruisers. Before that I tried to make my own board out of my old Rollerskates. I rolled around on the streets and hills for a while before I met some skaters from my town (Florian Böhm) and got into skating small Quarterpipes. Did my first drop inn on a Vert Ramp in 1983 and after that is was on…!!!
You’ve had quite a few sponsers in your life – who were your main deck and board sponsers and who were you pro for?
During the 80’s I was riding for Alva and Pavel Skates. And then I was riding for Titus Skates which was the biggest european brand by that time. We even had Advertisments in US magazines and sold our boards worldwide. After that I almost endend up on Deathbox but messed up on that and made all the guys mad at me. Then RAD (ride anders designs) came out and lasted a couple of years. Pro for Vision for a summer or two. Doing Process Skateboard. My favorite time was riding for Minus Skateboards with Matt. Great time skating and travelling. Old Man Army gave me a pro board a couple years ago…
Lots of the people reading this may not know it, but you your full name used to be Anders Pulpanek. Since when have you been Ander Tellen and why?
Very long story…too long to tell you now. I am Anders…do not worry about the last name…ha, ha, ha.
Boneless one – Photo: Floran Boehm
What’s the skate scene like in the part of Germany you are living in right now and where do you like to skate usually when you have the time?
I skate around all the parks around Dortmund. Bergfidel in Münster, Velbert, Factory Bowl and OMSA Pool in Düsseldorf, Unna Skatepark, Keuninghaus in Dortmund, Hagen Pool, Bielefeld vert, Hemer skate park and not to forget our own ramp in Unna which we are rebuilding into a bowl right now. The scene is great. Old guys skating with young guys… all perfect.
Are there skaters from the past that you wish you could still session and skate with?
My friends Marc Lorenz and Arne Languth who both passed away (RIP). My friend Florian Böhm. He was the best. Best style and tons of tricks. He is busy with other things nowadays. I wish old my old buddyies would still skate a lot more and we would have crazy vert sessions every week…
You just had a guest deck created by Pavel Skates out of Germany. What’s your relation to Pavel Skates and who came up with the idea for the design?
I skated for Pavel in the early 80’s. It was Marc Lorenz, Martin Wagner and me. Now the company is 35 years old and it was time to remember this. Team rider in the 80’s…friends and family for life…!!! Christian Hesterkamp did the design. Which is the reanimation of the cat that was used on designs on boards in the beginning. It turned out super nice and I am stoked.
Who’s killing it skatewise right now in your opinion? Who are some of your favorite skaters right now?
Ah… all the young kids…but I have most respect for the 50 year olds that still rip. As a kid you are fearless and injuries heal up quick. But when you are older it takes way more dedication to throw yourself down the curved walls. But right now almost everybody kills it. All terrain skaters are what I like the most. Skate everything and love all that skateboarding has to offer.
Who are you sponsored by currently?
Independent Trucks, Bones wheels, bearings and bushings, Koloss
Feeble grind at Oceanside – Photo: Rex Singleton
What do you have planned for 2014 with skateboarding, any contests other than the Volcom Bergfest 2014 in Münster, Germany (which is basically a big session)?
I am planning to skate as much as possible. Not much of a competition guy anymore but if its a good comp I enter. Looking forward to many sessions with good people.
What do you think about the incredible growth of the fast media response and spread of skateboarding from around the globe? These days you don’t have to wait for magazines to be published to see the latest skating and news. Is this something that’s only good or not?
Yeah. It’s way faster now. Back in the days you had to wait for contest results until the new magazine came out. Now it’s on social media the same day. I love the webcasts. Every good contest should have it. Sitting on your sofa and watch a competition on the otheside of the world live… awesome.
You recently went on vacation in the States with your daughter and you were able to combine family fun with a lot of skateboarding. Which spots were you able to skate and what did you like the most to skate or just visit?
I went with my girlfriend. Well she still looks young but shes already in her mid 30’s. Ha, ha, ha…!!! It was more of a vacation trip for us. We met a lot of all friends and had a great time. We checked out Tony Hawk’s Loop challenge which was gnarly. i skated the new Oceanside Skatepark with Jay Adams and Dave Hacket, Ffej and Adrian Demain. That was good. We checked out Bucky Lasek’s Helloween Bowl Party. Had a session with Mike McGill at the Combi Pool. Santa Cruz Skatepark. Just the weather and the vibe was awesome… And seeing all my old friends again.
Madonna at Vert Attack 8 – Photo: Eddie Think
You have a lot of pool and vert skills and tricks. Is there something that you are working on right now that you want to learn / relearn?
Working on keeping and relearning my old tricks as well as all my vert tricks. Not much on new tricks… A little bit trying here and there.
You love your music as I can see your contributions in a specific Facebook group. What types of music and which bands/musicians keep you going?
I like all kind of music but the Thrash Zone is what I like the best. Metal, trash and punk… And Ben Harper.
Skaters seem to be usually in two groups healthwise – living healthy, eating well, no smoking and little drinking or basically almost the complete opposite? How do you like to live and take care of your body to keep skating at your level?
I do ride my bicycle, eat what I like and have a drink every now and then. I think it is important to keep a good balance. Healthy and yummy. But if you want to skate at a older age you have to watch out for your body. Exercise helps a lot… Or just skate every day. But don’t stop… Your body will fall apart.
On the bass – Photo: Florian Boehm
What is your board set-up right now?
I am trying all kinds of different shapes. Right now it’s a basic board shape with a 14.75 wheelbase. I like a longer wheelbase. Board is 8.6 wide. 149er Indy trucks, 56mm Bones SPF wheels. Bones Seiss bearings and the best Bones medium bushings. They are really good. No break in time needed.
Any final words of wisdom or any shout-outs to friends/family/skaters for us?
Thanks to skateboarding for giving me the time of my life. Thanks to my brother Marc for pushing me when we started skateboarding in the late 70’s. Thanks to my girlfriend for having me. Thanks to all my friends for just being awesome. Thanks to all my sponsors that helped me during all those years… See you at the next session.
Frontside invert – Photo: Lutger Aundrup
Frontside carve grind – Photo: Gerd Rieger
Backside air a long time ago
Handplant at the Berg Fidel bowl – Photo: Dietches
Lien air – Photo: Gerd Rieger
Lien to tail at Vert Attack 8 – Photo: Gerd Rieger