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.
Skater: Christopher Hudson / Photo by Man Key
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.
Skater: Rich Lopez / Photo by Dan Sparagna
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.
Skater: Carlos Brown / Photo by Jon Burgess
Skater: Finley Kirkby / Photo by Steven Kirby
Skater: Griffin Chase / Photo by S. Hsu
Skater: Gustavo Fujikawa / Photo by Alan Carvalho
Skater: Payton Moriarity / Photo by Patrick Moriarity