Is it just me, or is Torge Derichs widely perceived as an upcoming skater? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It would, however, be plain wrong to think of Tom Derichs as a member of the newer generations of skateboarding, or even as a newcomer. Don’t worry about it too much, it’s a mistake most people seem to make, even eye witnesses of his German Championship title of the youngsters age group. He was a newcomer then—back in 1994, at the ripe age of 14. His first video was Virtual Reality, that’s 1993, 15 years ago. First board in 1991, pretty much when skateboarding went out for a walk. He was born in 1979, so he’s got the big 3 looming on the horizon. Upcoming? Newcomer? Nah. Semi-continuously at first, when the times were just like that, nowadays solid, focused, and happy—that’s more like Tom. Here’s a toast to one living proof that skateboarding can keep you young. To Tom Derichs, who is just as good as he is unobtrusive.
Can’t blame ya for feeling that way, he never really stood in the limelight. His hometown of Wuppertal is not exactly what you would call metropolis, and growing up on it’s outskirts during the 80s, with farms around him, it rather provided a so-called safe childhood, then tons of footage. You just didn’t learn about bling in those areas at that time and age either. So, after the skateboard took over his life, making him a “newcomer” in the process, the wild side waited for him, and he knew it. He turned 18, moved into town, and floored it straight from safety to street life.
“Well, I got my first few photos in Monster, but I went through phases where I did a lot of dumb stuff—it happens fast in Wuppertal. I didn’t skate for a while, then I got hurt, and I didn’t really start again until the skatepark [Wicked Woods] opened. That was when I got my first board sponsor, too. Before that, it was…I don’t know… I did a lot of graffiti, hung out with some bad boys—some of who spent time in jail by now—and somehow found my way out of there again. My girlfriend played a huge part in that, too, as well as skateboarding. I got into an apprenticeship through skateboarding. Must have been 2002 or 2003…”
Just like everyone else who travels loads and—for most of the time—has to focus solely on what’s going on underneath his feet (aka the ultimate, real-life, actual, present reality), Tom has a slight problem recollecting his personal timeline. But that’s okay…as long as he remembers where he already has been, because that’s some places to remember. Mongolia with Carhartt, for example.
When Tom finished secondary school, his parents told him to chill for a year—to go somewhere. Places. Tom chose Bromley, outside of London, England, for a few months, as he had met some skaters from there a year before. “I just skated, that was all I did there.” Not too long after that, he became a San Francisco resident for a few months.
“I lived at the 6th/Newell house for a few months, shared a room with Frank Gerwer, slept on his floor. Dustin Dollin was living there at the time, John Klein, and JR Nieves, too. Nieves got me my first shop sponsor, Failure skateshop. Mark Baines was there. That was, like, my main crew there, the people I went skating with every day. That was fun. And I learned about the circus that skateboarding is, magazines, industry, and all that—I didn’t know any of that before. I had been given some stuff from a shop in Wuppertal, G-Point, but I had never gone on photo missions before, or met up with Helge [Tscharn, German photog extraordinaire], or anything like that. I had no idea. And it took some time until it finally worked.”
Worse things have happened to teenagers before, but what looked like a promising start—or a jolly good time at least—was followed by, well, worse things. The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak. And life is what’s happening while you’re busy planning something else. We’ve all been there, right?
“When I came back from the States I was so pushed, so motivated. That was the first time I had encountered how ‘it’ works, over there; meeting up with a photographer, and focusing on getting a certain trick done. I got sponsored by Failure skateshop, they even sent some stuff to Germany later on…kinda strange, but cool. So, I was really motivated when I came home, but I broke my foot—badly. It went downhill from there; in Wuppertal, I shared a place with some guys who did bad stuff, and I joined in on the fun. Took me out of skateboarding for four or five years, pretty much.”
None of that is left today. Tom enjoys the life of a sponsored, Europe-based skateboarder to the fullest, while bouncing in between skateboarding in Barcelona and his girl in Wuppertal on a more or less monthly basis, while not worrying about the future too much.
“Right now, it’s supergood. I’ve got the best life. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have a good life. I’ve got a great girlfriend, good friends, I’ve got good sponsors—the sun is shining out of my ass! No, seriously, I can’t complain at all. (…) In the future, I’d love to do something in the skateboarding industry, but I don’t have a real vision, and there’s no offers yet…let’s just say: I haven’t taken care of it, yet. Mainly, because I feel really comfortable just like it is right now. Might be a bit blue-eyed, but whatever. Let’s just see what happens.”
Tom is not to worry. He’s a smart, relaxed kid, and if you take a look at the people that have gotten well-paid jobs in this industry before… Let’s just say he can absolutely focus on the ultimate, real-life, actual, present reality underneath his feet.
Tom skates for Antiz skateboards, Vans, Carhartt, Independent & Spitfire (through Jefferson dist.), Vestal, Eastpak, 21 skateshop Marseille.