Chris Pfanner was recently in Milan at the pop-up House of Vans celebrating Vans' 50th year anniversary. Fortunately, Lovenskate Stu was on hand and kind enough to put a few questions to Chris on our behalf; basically a check-up of Chris's life after Propeller, talking the world tour, that double set kickflip in Split, skating with Daan Van Der Linden and more.
Words: Smith, Broadley, Kliewer | Pics: DVL, Vans
Hi Chris, what have you been up to lately?
I just came back from a trip with Volcom, a filming mission for the video Holy Stokes. I was at home for Easter with the family, had a little bit of time there. Alexis (Jauzion, from Vans) called me up and asked if I wanted to come hang out here, I thought why not? Maybe I can catch some sun rays!
It’s Vans’ 50th anniversary, can you tell us about your relationship with Vans?
It all started back in 1998, I started getting shoes from Vans Germany and from then on things started picking up. I skated all the European contests and got on the Europe team in 2003, then at some point I moved to Barcelona, got bumped up to the global team in 2007. It’s been the same but somehow different. It’s really good, I can’t complain, the support from Vans has been killer all through the years. I get to do what I love doing, so what’s there to complain about?
Did you survive the Propeller premier tour ok?
At first it all sounded really fun, we’re going to tour the world like rockstars you know! It seemed really adventurous in the beginning. But after the first three stops – L.A, Sydney, and Shanghai – and being lost in different time zones within three days, it was kind of like ‘woah, we still have ten days ahead of us like this?’
»Definitely needed a break, sort my marbles!«
I imagine all the time people expect you to be on the top of your game and you just want to go to bed?
You get interviewed after you’ve travelled half the world you’re just lost, you don’t know where you’re at or what time it is, you have a little vertigo going on and then people ask questions like ‘What are the 5 worst things you’ve done in you’re life?’ and you’re like ‘really?! I should have to think of that right now?’
In the end it was a really good experience, a once in a lifetime thing. When do you get to travel around the globe in two weeks and see all this stuff? The people were super nice everywhere, they were really stoked on the video, it was all good. But you definitely needed a break after that, sort my marbles again!
There was a lot of talk about Jaws hitting the Boulala stairs in Lyon. What did you make of it? Had you ever thought about trying them yourself?
To be honest, not really. I mean Boulala tried it, it’s always some kind of thing where someone tries something and then people go there. But that’s how things progress, someone had to do it and Jaws did it. No matter what anyone is saying – ‘he had full armor on’ or ‘he grabbed’ or whatever, before you start hating go there yourself and fucking huck yourself.
»No matter what anyone is saying – before you start hating go there and fucking huck yourself!«
Did you go there?
I haven’t seen them in person, but just judging from the sound of the impact of him pounding into the ground it’s pretty gnarly. But yeah as I said, before you hate, go there and do it yourself. Respect man, it’s fucking crazy. I wonder what he’s going to do next…
Who knows, something bigger…
Can you imagine?
Didn’t his wheel explode or something? Oh, that was on a different gap, that one he did for the Mountain Dew thing? Those video series, he had one, he ollied this big gap and his wheel exploded and he still rolled away from it…
Tell us about the gigantic double set kickflip in Propeller, Split I think it is. Looked like quite a battle – even for a guy like you. What’s the story?
The whole process was about ten years in the making, the first time I went was with Muki (Rustig), in 2003 we went to Split, Croatia on a vacation, skating and whatever. One night we come out of a bar and walk past the stairs, I was all souped up so had a big mouth so I was like ‘I got this, I’m going ollie it, backside ollie it, what else do you want? Kickflip too!’ He was like, ‘alright, you’re spitting like this, we’ll see’.
»People can talk a lot, but you got to back up your talking!«
So the next morning the first thing he did was say ‘I got breakfast for you’. He took me straight to the stairs, gave me breakfast and coffee right at the top and when we were done he was like ‘right, let’s see it’. I tried to ollie it and landed on the last two steps, I just didn’t have the power back then, landed on the last two steps and couldn’t do it. Five years later I went back on a Vans trip and managed to ollie it and backside ollied it. Then for this video we went back again, I tried to kickflip it the first day and just died.
Then you went back the next day?
No I had to take three days off, get some sauna in me! I went back and after a few tries my board broke again. I was about to give up but Chima was like ‘come on’, he set a new board up for me, so I had to try it again. On that go I rolled away from it, and I was like ‘I’m done with this, I’m never coming back’.
Was Muki there?
No he wasn’t there, but I was screaming ‘fuck you Muki I did it!’. Because he was giving me shit for the longest time saying ‘people can talk a lot, but you got to back up your talking!’
How much of you will we get to see in the new Volcom video? How was filming?
It was just right after Propeller, so I had a year to film for that. It went pretty good, no injuries or anything so I got to film a bunch for it. I’m not sure how they’re going to put it together because it’s a really big crew, you can’t bring out a video that’s going to be 2 hours long.
»It’s like ‘this spot's really shit so let’s skate it!’«
Did that involve a lot of traveling too?
Yeah, it’s pretty hard because my daughter was born right before Propeller came out so I’ve been gone a lot. But hey, this is what I do, this is how I pay rent so I had to do it. I had fun doing it, I got a lot of good stuff that I’m really happy with so looking forward to premiere.
Your list of sponsors consists of some of the most illusive teams and individual skaters. Which team’s tours are the best and why?
Well every tour is unique in its own way. Traveling with the Anti Hero crew is a different madness, traveling with the Vans guys it’s some other madness to the Volcom crew. The ones I enjoy most are the Anti Hero trips, those are really lose there is no agenda or anything. It’s like ‘this spot's really shit so let’s skate it!’, so it’s always whatever goes. Everybody is always so hyped, just to be with those guys – Frank (Gerwer), Pete (Hewitt) it’s always comedy on the road so I enjoy those trips a lot.
Do you ever get to do any fun tours with the Yama guys?
Lately that’s been hurting because I have all these obligations with videos for these companies and stuff. Once in a while we get to hang out together, there’s not much time for skating anymore but we love the beer too so!
You must be stoked to have another European, Daan Van Der Linden, on the Anti Hero team?
Holy shit dude, unbelievable! I can’t even find the words to describe, people just have to see for themselves. I mean they’ve been seeing already, but only his Instagram slaughter which has been insane.
»There’s not much time for skating anymore but we love the beer, too, so…!«
He must find you an inspiration, do you find he gives you a bit of a boost?
That’s the beauty of skateboarding, everyone feeds off each others energy and having Daan is definitely a wake up call. That guy doesn’t sit down at any spot, every spot he goes to he’s always skating. For a grown up man like me, it’s a goal to keep up with him, and yeah it’s pretty hard.
We’ve seen a lot of cool #Pfanngles lately. Any plans on how far you want to go with your photography?
I got to keep that a bit low key, I think people have been getting a bit upset about it. I’ve always had a camera with me, it’s kind of a back up for my memory. On skate trips there’s so much down time, sit around doing nothing, I have my camera so why not shoot a photo? I don’t do anything with it, I show them to my friends and if they want the prints I’ll print it out for them so they have the memory. Then I have my gallery which is Instagram, check out #Pfannngles that’s my gallery, it’s for free and I get to show my pictures. People ask for it, Jelle did a thing in his magazine, Collectif?, and gave me a few pages, but it’s just a little fun thing I do.
You’ve had a stint staying in the US before the Propeller deadline. Are you back in Germany now? What are your plans?
I’ve always been in Germany, that’s where my wife and kids are. I really want to stay in Germany, I don’t know about bringing up a kid in a big city you know, it’s hard enough as it is. Where we live is pretty good a lot of nature, it’s pretty quiet and laid back. I go on the road and get my fair share of it, then when I’m broke off I go home recharge the batteries and hang out with the family. It’s a good balance I have, as long as I can keep the balance then I’m happy with it.
We’ve got a few quick-fire questions to finish off:
Favourite city to skate?
I’ve got a few, I’d have to go with San Francisco and Barcelona.
Fucking Muki man! Are you kidding me?!
I’ve always loved Tent City. It’s not because I ride for Anti Hero or anything, I’ve always loved Tent City. The whole vibe of it, that’s what skating represents for me, the freedom just going and doing it yourself. It’s so easy, everyone can do it. What’s easier to do than pack up a tent with your homies and go somewhere and have a good time? Doesn’t take much.
»Frankie – he’s got the gnarly hill bombs! I’m a bit scared of the hills…«
Favourite hill bomb?
Well you got to ask Frankie (Gerwer) about that he’s got the gnarly hill bombs, I’m a bit scared of the hills. I mean I get some once in a while but all the cycle things those guys do, no I’m too scared man. I got kids you know? Running stop signs and stuff, I got to watch out a bit.
Lastly, what is your favorite trick?
The ollie. I mean, it’s the basic, you need it for everything. Just cruising through the city you have an ollie, you can ollie up the sidewalk keep going, there’s a little thing you ollie over it, get juiced keep going, it’s about staying in motion. If you can ollie and pass some obstacles what more do you need?