Lets start at the beginning. How did you get into skateboarding and what things influenced you?
First memories of skateboarding are these dark knight skateboards with clay wheels that my dad bought for my brothers and I for x-mas, I actually still have 2 of the decks. Then I didn’t skate for a few years, picked it back up at age 11, plastic board, then a variflex, then a valtera, then a Hosoi skull skates. I always had a draw towards skateboards. Miles and Mason
Phillips were the older dudes that had 1/4 pipes and good boards, i definitely looked up to them, Ajax killed it also. I remember seeing a Vancouver vert contest video with Neil Blender that was sick. We were ghetto, just bank and launch ramps mostly, usually made out of chip board.Kick turns, acid drops, mute airs, those were our tricks.
ITSSS ON Photo: Hamid
What was it like having to start out skateboarding in Maine? How many days of the year can you actually skate?
Growing up in Maine was just like any other small hick town, cops hated us, jocks hated us, most parents hated us. Lots of fighting for sure. Lots of our ramps thrown off bridges into the ocean and rivers by the hicks. Fuck all of em’. We did our shit. All those people are probably still stewing in their own shit, hating their own lives. As far as the weather, we dealt with it. In the winter we’d skate in basements. Laban lived there for a few years and had a barn that we made a bunch of wall ride ramps in. We had a mini eventually outdoors and would shovel it off in the winter and gear up for the weather- gloves, scarves, thick jackets, and we weren’t accessorizing! So we actually skated most of the year, we had to work for it.
When and why did you decide to get out of Maine? Where did you go?
I left Maine as soon as i graduated high school in 1992 with $600. I helped my friend Nate move to Indiana, I stayed there for about 8 months wash dishes at a diner do to lack of money. I met Jay Marsh in Indiana and we had plans to move to SF. Although first i took a train to San Diego, stayed with Laban for a month, skated, partied and went all the way back to Maine to raked blueberries for some money, went back to Indiana to work on a golf course with Jay to save money, then finally moved to SF in 1993 and have been here since. i left Maine because i wanted to skate, see and do new things.
Tell me about your quick stint in SD. What was the scene like? What kind of spots were going then?
My quick stint in SD was fun. That was still the small wheel big pants era. I stayed up in Encinitas, D street at Laban’s skater apt.. We skated mostly Street spots. Laban rode for blockhead/invisible back then, so Dave Bergthold would take us to some spots. We skated his ramp, San Diego college, jump ramp school, those ledges in Solana Beach. All kinds of shit.But Laban didn’t have a car so we just skated around Encinitas a lot and went to moonlight beach. We partied a lot also, drinking was a daily deal. It was definitely one of the best times of my life, skating, partying, no job for a month, it was great experience.
BS Indy Pivot Log Shop, Photo: Chris Atwood
You definitely did some traveling before settling in SF. What did SF have that all these other places didn’t?
What made me decide to stay in SF is the feeling it gave me. You could just skate around and it was the best natural skatepark ever. You could take a bus to Fort Miley and skate back towards downtown through the avenues hitting gaps, ledges, just all kinds of shit, and it was like that all over the city. Endless hills, scary as fuck, … EMB was still going then, although there was some shit heads there at EMB, the people that held that scene down there were always cool to us. Most of the skaters here are down to earth. There was also wallenburg, dmv, civic center, and tons of spots everywhere, it was unreal. You don’t need to own a car here.I never felt at home more anywhere else, not even Maine. This is where i was born to live, the bay area, it’s just a feeling.
|Work, Photo: Nick Sherman|
When did you realize that your skating wasn’t gonna pay the bills? What kind of jobs did you have before Lowcard became a full time thing?
I actually never had any false hope of my skateboarding paying the bills, I always knew I didn’t have the skills required. Alot of drive with lack of natural talent does not usually equal getting payed. I’m just psyched when i got a clip here and there in random videos or a web clip. Also have had a few pics in some mags i’ve always been psyched on since childhood, so those things alone are payment enough to me, that’s very gratifying. Thanks to those who hooked it up, work pays the bills, not skating. As far as jobs, i worked at a Halloween store, Taco Bell, Starbucks, washed dishes, grounds keeper, furniture store. Lowcard has been a full time job now for about 2 years now, but i also move furniture on the weekends to pay the bills.
BS Smith Photo: Hamid
What inspired you to start a zine? How did you pick the name? Whats the Lowcard "buisness model"?
I’ve made zines on and off since high school, my 1st zine was called broken bolts, i had another called smut, i currently make 2 other xerox zines, one is called scraggler, the other one name changes each issue. I’m inspired by skating, my friends, and my father. He always encouraged me to skate and take photos and do whatever the fuck i want to do. He’d drive me 2-3 hours to a skate contest, sit in the parking lot for hours while i entered and fucked off, and when i was ready to leave he’d drive me home. He would give me cameras and really pushed me towards them. I could go on about how great my father was and how he pushed and supported my skating and photography, but I’ll leave it at that. Once again with photography, lot’s of drive with little natural talent, and I’m fine with that. That’s how i started Lowcard. Lot’s of point and shoot photos laying around, with no where to submit them besides thrasher photographiti. At the time(spring 2003) i was buying these lottery scratch tickets called "highcard", the object was for your cards to beat the dealers card, every time i scratched one it was a lowcard, at that moment i said lowcard, i decided that would be the name of my new zine. The name fit perfect, we aint rolling in limos or cadillacs, we’re rolling on the lower end of the spectrum, metro geo’s, buses and shit. So "the business model" is we don’t really have a "business model". It’s skateboarding, "getting by", while making fun of ourselves and those involved.
How do you feel about the current state of skateboarding? Seems like the fun of things has been forgotten and replaced with video deadlines, mtv shows, million dollar contest, hd slow mo movie style angles, ABDs. things like that. im not saying its all bad but most of that stuff seems to take away from the soul of skateboarding. Lowcard is on the complete other end of things like you said. what is your perspective of this era of big time serious skateboaring?
About the whole mtv, video deadlines, million dollar contests, movie scenes, abd’s, that’s their scene-who ever is involved with it, not mine. People can do whatever the fuck they want, I’m no one to say what’s bad and what’s good. Of course i have some personal feelings about it, but i don’t get involved in all that. There is a lot of bullshit out there, Lowcard is bullshit as well, if you like it -you like it, if you don’t you don’t, some people don’t, and that’s cool with me. And all that stuff mentioned up top, same deal.
Hows it feel to be a dad? What in your life has changed since becoming a father?
When my son was born last week it was insane seeing his head pop out, an indescribable feeling. it’s insane. got a long road of parenthood ahead of me, I’m blown away everyday about it.- it changed my life by putting me on a diaper changing schedule, awake every 2-3 hours. it’s an obvious change, gets me psyched everyday for sure.
FSR, Photo: Nick Sherman
Thanks for talking Rob, Do you have any last thank yous, shout out, words of advice for your fellow readers?
Too many people and companies to thank but here we go: Anybody or any company that has ever contributed to lowcard in any way, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! and every company that has held in there especially in this shitty economic state- couldn’t make it happen without you! Special thanks to my wife Reija who works on Lowcard shit 50-60 hours per week and has never got paid a dime for it………..and deals with my bullshit…..Thanks to all the dudes who come in and help get Lowcard out there-Dime slots, Hamid, Chele’, Zach g, jay marsh.- and all the photographers that contribute, i could go on for days………i have no advice, for anybody-thanks to typical culture for the interview!
One more thing, How did you get the nickname magnethead?
The way i got the nickname magnethead is from Drehobl. When i was about 14 i was hanging out with Drehobl and some friends at a rock corey swimming hole. The day before Drehobl had broke someone’s toe with a rock, so out of no where Drehobl starts throwing rocks at a couple of us in the woods, (he couldn’t see us). Next thing you know i get nailed in the head with a rock. Drehobl split my head open, then my friend start busting his balls about it, then Drehobl got pissed and left us there, (he had drove us there). So i put my sock on my head, walked about 2-3 miles down the dirt road out of there, then went to the hospital and got a few stitches. Fast forward a few years when i moved to sf, Drehobl would always throw shit at me and it would hit me in the head, also hit my head a few times while skating with him, so he nicknamed me magnethead.