Portrait by Pep Kim. Intro and interview by Jan.
Not all that well known this side of the pond yet, Polar Skate Co.’s American Am, Aaron Herrington is definitely bound for true skateboarding greatness. With a handful of creative, quick-footed, flavourful parts under his belt (google them!), he is once again sitting on a stack of footage as well as a completed section in the highly anticipated, soon to be released, East Coast Josh Stewart epic, Static IV. Working a day-time job at the same restaurant Bobby Puleo used to work for, we caught up with the current big apple resident for a little lunch-break chat about past, present and things to come…
Aaron, are you alright to talk? Down to use up your free time for a Kingpin interview?
Yeah man, it’s chill. My friend owns this place, it’s all a bunch of skaters here. We make vegan food and I’m one of the guys who delivers it. As long as we don’t get any deliveries in I have to take, I’m good to talk – and usually it gets pretty slow after five o’clock.
I hear it’s the same place Josh (Stewart) was working for.
Yeah, he was one of the first to start the skater-trend. Bobby Puleo, too, this photographer Allen Ying and a bunch of other dudes. All sorts of people.
Any well-known skate-heads working there along with you now?
Yeah, I'm not sure if you know them. But my homie Chuck Cameron is working here and my homie Dustin Eggeling, who skates for Hopps – he’s serving coffee today.
For some reason I thought, you were originally from Canada, I always linked you to the dudes from that DIY place up there, P45 in Montreal. But in fact you are from Oregon. Did you grow up skating all those amazing parks over there?
Yeah, I grew up in Corvallis, which is about two-hours south of Portland. It’s a quitter college town – kind of a bit like Malmø. I grew up skating all around there, drove to Portland a lot and skated around a bunch. I skated a lot of skateparks, too. Mainly the college campus in my hometown Corvallis though, that’s where Oregon State university is. It’s got all sorts of spots spread around the area and it’s pretty mellow for skating.
And then at some point you decided to make the move to California in order to “make it" as a skateboarder. Is that right?
Well, I was partying a lot in Oregon and actually wasn’t even skating too much at the time. It was my nineteenth birthday and my mom bought me a plane ticket, kind of saying, “Get out of here! Go to California. I don’t want to see you for a little bit."
But was that an actual gift then or proper stress.
A bit of both. She was giving me this gift because I think she thought I was blowing it. She wanted me to be around other people and to have me actually doing something productive. Still, it was the best gift I ever got. I moved to San Francisco, stayed for about three years and had a really good time. For my skating it was a very productive time.
Back then you were skating for Blood Wizard, right. Isn’t that a bunch of long-haired big-tranny dudes? Proper change, skating for Polar now.
Yeah. It was through my friend doing this shop that I was riding for. He was really good friends with Toad, who was doing Blood Wizard. They liked my skating and I started getting some boards. That went on for about two years. But I wasn’t really too stoked on how things were going so at some point I called them and said I quit and that I wanted to buy some boards. I just wanted to buy boards, buy products that I was really stoked on at the time.
What boards were you buying at the time?
Uh, to be honest I only bought a couple of boards once Blood Wizard was a wrap. I was filming a lot with Josh (Stewart) then for my Static part and he was always really kind and would give me Hopps or Magenta boards and pretty much anything else that I needed.
So you didn’t actually have to buy any?
Not really. I think I bought one Workshop board and a Krooked board I think.
Did you pay full price?
No, I only paid like thirty bucks. And then Josh told me to quit buying boards.
I heard it was an injury that made you decide to leave S.F. and make the move to New York.
Yeah, well, it was me and my friend Waylon, we wanted to come to New York to skate for a month. The first night there we went skating and I rolled my ankle pretty bad so then I couldn’t skate for a month and a half. I was feeling like I was wasting a big opportunity and wanted to make sure I get to utilise the place that I came to visit. I really liked it over here. Just the whole way of living made me want to stay. A bunch of my friends were also just transitioning to come over here. So I decided to give my roommates back in SF a months’ notice, paid one more rent and just stayed over in New York. It’s been almost three years now.
As far as “making it" in skating goes, New York would not really be seen as the ideal place though, right? Compsred to California I’m sure it’s much harder getting good hook-ups. Or what are your thoughts?
I think it’s harder for sure. I think that the west coast seems to turn a blind eye sometimes on the east coast. I mean it only makes sense because most of the industry is based out of California. I'm just going to keep filming and doing what I do.
So, we need Josh’s new video to get some sort of “Eastern Exposure 3" status, putting people on the map again?
Yeah, for sure. It seems like everybody likes Static 1,2 and 3. Josh has always had a very good eye for people he wants to have [involved]: John Igei, Puleo, Pat Steiner, Nate Broussard to Danny Renaud. All the skaters he chooses are the ones people want to see more of. And I feel this upcoming one might be the same. And – he might kill me for saying this – having people like Jahmal Williams and Quim Cardona in there, makes it a staple video again and gives a vibe. Me along with some other younger skaters were given this opportunity to showcase our skating. The chance of being in a video with Jahmal and Quim is like a dream come true. So yeah, sure I feel we’re all part of an Eastern Exposure kind of thing; but 2013, you know?
Do you get to skate with those guys a lot then? Are you guys going on filming missions together?
Not really, to be honest. Josh is pretty busy with all the stuff that he does. Quim is a family man, I’m sure he would like to skate more than he gets to. Jahmal is pretty busy doing Hopps. So everyone skates on their own agenda. It’s been a few times that we skated together, but not every mission.
When do you think Josh will unleash his new piece then? Anything set?
I’ve heard the end of August. But I try not to bug Josh about it because I know everyone does. I try not to bug him too much, I try to let him do his work so he can focus on this video.
Working at the same place Bobby Puleo used to, you also picked up the same habit of large scale searching and exploring the city for spots.
Yeah, I guess, any time that I’m not skating or at work I try to lurk around or just walk and get lost in hope of finding something new; or something old that I’ve been trying to find… It’s basically an outlet for skating. Sometimes I ride my bike around, but most [of the] spots I find, are just walking around with my friends. Say it’s raining, then I just decide to go to an area that I’ve never been to and lurk around for a bit.
Anything crazy ever happen while on the look-out?
Nothing too crazy. I’ve had some stupid slams, like for example, I tried to bomb a hill switch that I didn’t know, way out in the Bronx, and fucked up on a powerslide and ate shit. It’s more these random slam stories than anything crazy to ever happen. I feel like most thugs and gang bangers theses days really appreciate skating.
Did Bobby ever give you any advice for finding good cellar door spots? Or is he keeping them all for himself?
No, no advice on spots from him. See, Bobby is a really, really nice guy and really cool to talk to, especially on conspiracy and 9-11 stuff, but the second you switch the conversation to skating his mood can change. So talking about skate spots would be the wrong topic when you’re with him.
Pontus and him used to be teammates back in the day. Did you know?
Yeah. It’s funny to think. Pontus told me good story once from when he was krooked grinding the Cardiel ledge in SF. Bobby was sitting on a manhole cover with all the steam coming up. And he was filming with all the steam around, saying, “Alv, it’s super artsy. Looks super dope!" I guess Pontus had rolled his ankle, yet managed to do the trick on adrenalin, before the pain set in. So then they went back to a friend’s house to watch the footage, and it turned out, all the steam had fogged up the lens, so you couldn’t see shit on the footage! Pontus was out for a few weeks and with no footy, sighing, “God damn it, Bobby!"
How was it for you coming over to Europe? How did you like it?
It was amazing. For skating I think I liked Paris the best. I’d love to go back for a month. Copenhagen was really incredible too as far as skating and chilling and the quality of life goes. Everyone was super nice, whereas I felt in France people tended to be a bit rude; not really stoked that I didn’t make an effort to speak French. Malmø was sick, though it was hard to find weed there, plus I’ve never been called a junkie before in my life! Haha.
So was coming over here when you really got to know Pontus? Any good P.A. stories?
Yeah, pretty much. Most of the Polar guys came over to New York and that’s when I officially got on the team. But yeah, I think I really got to know Pontus when I came over. He was really accommodating, everyone that he introduced me to was.
How do you feel riding for a European brand, living in the US? Do you ever plan on staying over here longer?
The way skating is going I don’t even see Polar as a European brand anymore. I couldn’t be happier. And, yeah, I could see myself come over to stay another three months, or six; travel a lot, see everything.
I guess living in New York for you going anywhere must be considerably cheaper [than most places]...
It’s not even that bad. I make the same amount of money here, that I made in San Francisco, yet my rent is more than it ever was in California. It’s just that you acquire money much easier in New York. In SF so many people skate that you could get free product everywhere and can go without money for week. Here, it’s easier to come up on 60 bucks than a free board or some trucks. But yeah, this is the place I like to be at the most right now.
Anymore travels for your Static part then?
Not really planning on it, it’s pretty much done. Just trying to diversify it a bit more. Like exchange some tricks for different or better ones that I might film – there are times where I just skate rails for a month, just do fifty-fifties. I’m also sitting on a bunch of other things. I’m really just waiting for Static to be out to release them.
Seems like Pro status is just around the corner then. So next year will we get to see you tear up Street League?
To be honest – and Pontus thinks I’m crazy – but I would really love to skate Tampa Am next year. I don’t know why. I used to skate it as a kid. I had really funny sponsors then: I skated for this company called Snot Skateboards. I’d never even met the guy who was running that company in person, he just stumbled upon my footage when I was 13 [and] then, for four years, he would give me five boards a month and he would fly me out to any contest I wanted to enter – pretty creepy the more I think about it! At Tampa Am Tim O’Connor was the announcer and he would tear me apart! “….Riding for Snot skateboards and booger wheels…"
How did you do?
I think my first year I got maybe 90 out of 110. The next year around 70. The last year I went I got 36, and I remember being very content with that. That was when I was still in high school. I went to Pheonix Am after that and qualified and that was the last contest I’ve done in six years.
But you think it’s going to be Tampa Am or Tampa Pro for you next year?
You know, Pontus and I have been talking about this. But since I’m still flow for some of my sponsors, I want to be recognised by them as an amateur skateboarder before I go pro for Polar. Talking about my upcoming parts only does so much. I want to wait for all this to be out and make it legit. Turning pro, though, that would definitely be a dream come true.
Aaron is supported by: Polar, Huf, Dickies, Venture, SML wheels & DQM.