Brian Fick has been a inspiration to myself and many others especially in the San Diego region. He never cool guyed anyone or thought of himself higher then us. We (Brandon/Alex Perelson, Josh Stafford, and the rest of us at the Clairemont skatepark) would always watch Brian shred the bowl with these long Backside tailslides, then he would pop out onto the deck and start setting up flashes to shoot photos of people like Peter Hewitt, Darren Navarette, and all the other pros at the time who were also our inspirations and still are to this day. He shot some of the most creative covers of Automatic Magazine back then too, recently married and happy as hell.. couldn’t be any more stoked to see Brain Fick on the board or behind the lens. Regardless he’s gonna destroy it.
Mississippi doesn’t seems like it has a big skate scene. What made you choose skateboarding over lets say horseback riding?
Well skateboarding wasn’t exactly the cool thing to do growing up in the south, Fishin and Deer huntin were the popular things to do…Horseback riding? I’ve ridden horses before, but seriously that’s some Kentucky shit, we would kill fish, eat deer jerky and get drunk with fake I.D.’s on Bourbon St!
So yeah, basically skateboarding saved my life…
Skateboarding was actually pretty big at that time on the Gulf Coast. It definitely was not popular though, back in the late 80’s early 90’s skateboarding wasn’t as trendy as it is now and it definitely wasn’t as accepted as it is out here on the west coast.
The industry got really big in the late 80’s and its influence reached all over, even little towns like Gulfport… especially for me after those H-Street videos came out. There was a couple different pockets of skaters all over the gulf coast, there was maybe 10 of us in Gulfport…for a little while we had this roller skating rink called Fun World that would let us skateboard there on wednesday nights. We would set up jump ramps, a quarter pipe, a wallride thing and a flatbar…that was what opened up my eyes to it all, a couple times different crews would roll thru, from the New Orleans area there was Sal Barbier, Duane Pitre, Shannon May, and Charlie Thomas and from Pensacola Floridirt, there was Kris Markovich, Scott Stanton and Aurthor Adams…those dudes were so far beyond everyone that I had skated with before…I remember one time that Duane Pitre was making fun of me cause I couldn’t do a pressure flip…
Jeff Marshall, Backside Smith.
Did you have a local shop out there? How did you get boards? Whats mags and videos where you into out there?
No shops really, there was a bicycle shop that caried a couple things…the nearest and pretty much only skate shop in the state was an hour east from me, it was called Steve’s South Coast and it was in Pascagoula, Mississippi. They actually had it going on, they had the only skatepark in the entire state! Most of the product that I got was mailorder from CCS (California Cheap Skates) a couple times we got blanks and cut them out and sanded them…we made stuff last so long…
The videos that got me hooked was first off Search for Animal Chin, then when H Street came out, wow! Hokus Pokus was the shit! That entire video is etched into my memory…after that was probably Santa Cruz’s videos and then of course there was Blind’s Video Days. Gonz is so inspirational in that video…But my personal all time favorite would probably be G&S Footage! That video introduced me to Neil Blender and Dinosar Jr…the video just made me want skate with my friends, travel, and just have fun!
The man himself, Backside Ollie. Photo: Amy Caron
Peter Hewitt, Backside Smith.
I just found out you served in the military? Give me some details on what you did there? how long where you in? what branch? how long where you enlisted for? Did you go to war or anything like that?
First off Austin, If I told you everything, I’d have to kill you…
Basically my parents didn’t have any money to send me to college and I saw the Army as a way to get my college payed for and a way to get my ass out of Mississippi, so I shipped out 2 months after I graduated high school.
So yeah I joined the U.S. Army right after high school. I volunteered for the Army and then volunteered a 2nd time be in the 82nd Airborne Division…I did a total of 8 years. Besides Special Ops units, like Rangers and Navy Seals, its probably one of the gnarliest units in all of the armed forces.
I did several jobs, first I was a Paratrooper, I did a total of 59 low altitude static line jumps, that’s when your parachute opens right after you jump out of the plane. Most of those 59 jumps were at a very low altitude…around 650ft to 800ft AGL (Air to Ground Level),most were at night and I usually carried around 200+ lbs of gear!
During the day, my 9 to 5 job was basically a helicopter weapons technician. I was basically a mechanic and electrician for everything that had to do with the weapons systems on attack helicopters…I worked on Hellfire Missles(Laser guided), Stinger Missles(heat seaking), 2.75″ Rockets with different warheads, .50 Cal machine guns, Laser Range finders, 20mm and 30mm Cannons, and all the fire control computer systems that go with each one, not to mention all the different hand guns…it was fun, I got to shoot everything!
Toward the end of my enlistment, I went to school for 6 months and got retrained and learned how to work on the helicopter airframe and learned how to do sheet metal repair, but I got out of the military right after I finished that school.
Luckily, I never saw actual combat. I came REALLY close though. I joined active duty right after the first gulf war and my last day of service was one week before Sep 11. Parts of my unit were deployed to Afghanistan 3 days after the collapse of the WTC!
What got you out of Mississippi and over to California? From what age to what age did you live in Mississippi?
I was born and bread in Gulfport, Mississippi but after I became addicted to skateboarding, I knew that I wanted to be in California! I wanted to skate, especially wanted to learn how to skate a vert ramp! Plus most of my heroes where out here…so I guess I just followed my dreams and just drove out to San Ðiego.
You where my skate camp instructor one year. I remember you used to kill the mission valley ymca vert ramp? What companies supported you back then?
Aw man thanks! I really enjoyed doing skate camp, it was fun, I think I did it 3 summers in a row? Yeah the main reason I moved out to California was to learn how to skate vert, and me and my buddy Augie would skate every day, all day. We ended up rebuilding that ramp because it SUCKED when we first moved out here in 2000. There were these huge speakers on top of the vert ramp too and we used to blast Slayer so loud! It was like a concert sometimes…Andy McDonald would get mad at us for playing metal…so we would play the heaviest shit whenever he showed up! Good times…
Back then Matt Moffett gave me a set of bolts called Randoms and a T-shirt and said he wanted me to ride for them, so Randoms Hardware was my first sponsor, I was the token vert dude on the Route 44 team, Matt Ohlin had my back, so I definitely have his…Route 44 is the sickest shop in SD! Then my buddy hooked it up with Conspiracy Skateboards from Colorado and they started mailing me boards. I think I was getting one a month…Pusshead was doing the graphics! And the owner Lindsey Kuhn was also from Mississippi, So sick! Besides that I used to get kicked down used product from everyone I skated with…like PLG would always give me his old wheels, he would ride them for a week and switch them out, I was so hyped because they always had Swiss bearings!
Vert died down a bit around that time. Did that have anything to do with you getting into photography?
Come on dude, Vert never died, get your story straight, that shit is a myth. People have been progressing tricks on vert since day 1, and it has never stopped…skating vert is awesome, you don’t have to push and you go really fast!
As for the photography part, I was so into it way before I moved out here, I just sucked at it. It was around then when my film would actually have some ok color and not just all white or all black! They still seemed to be out of focus though. I was just so stoked to be skating with some of the pros that I’d always looked up to and seen in videos and magazines that I wanted to get a photo of them for my personal scrapbook. All my life I wanted to skate a vert ramp, but there was never one around where I lived…
To me, what got me into photography was when I’d look at one of Grant Brittain’s images and I would try to figure out how he got the sky to be so blue, or when you see a Sturt photo and try to figure out how he found that angle or that composition. It was like a giant puzzle and every now and then you would learn something new, and a whole world would would open up…
Where would you be now if your contract hadn’t ended on time and you had to go to Afghanistan?
I would’ve most likely done at least a couple tours in the middle east depending on what country the U.S. wanted to control…there’s no telling! if I would’ve gotten out of that safely, I would’ve still moved out here to California to skate all the best vert ramps!
Do you ever see skateboarding returning to the time when shit still mattered or is this jock mentality going to fully take over. I feel there are still a few people left putting up a fight
I think it’s funny how some people will go to a spot that “so and so” skated and try to one up that skater…that’s kinda weird to me, but I think that thru the years, skateboarding has always evolved and I’m really stoked that over the years, it’s just gotten more and more creative! That’s the main thing that always got me excited about skateboarding, there aren’t that many limits on what you can do, and how much creative fun that you can have! To me the most important things in skateboarding are style, speed and creativity…
Where do you see skateboarding going in the next 3 years? Is street-league the future?
Skateboarding will always progress… every single year there is someone new that gets you excited and there are new tricks that you never thought you would see. As far as street league? I’m not big on contests, but I do respect what it takes to fire off those difficult tricks and land every single one of them. That’s definitely gnarly in itself.
Being around skating all the time, what young guns do you think are the future for skateboarding?
This is a tough list… but some of the people in this list are well known and others are soon to be well known.
this list is nowhere near complete, just some names that I’m thinking of right now…
Ladies first: Nora Vasconcellos
Jimmy Wilkins, Al Brunelle, Alex Perelson, Brandon Perelson, Wes Kremer, Brandon Westgate, Jamie Palmore, Grant Taylor, Jeff Marshall, Jimmy Cao, Figgy, Vincent Alvarez, Taylor Bingaman, Raven Tershay, Elijah Berle, Ishod Wair, John Dixon, David Gonzales, Colin Provost, Dakota Servold, Ben Raybourn, Milton Martinez
and I could keep going but I’ll stop there. If I left your name off, get over it! There are way too many great skateboarders out there to name them all. If you feel like your name should be on the above list, then just add it…
You’ve always have a good selection of pools as well as street spots. Any tips or clues for some spot hunters?
It’s a never ending search…its hard to say. Maybe go the long way instead of the most direct route and hills always produce gaps?