You know that guy that comes to your town, smiles all day long, has just a good time and by the end of the day is friends with everyone, and even helps to improve the vibe? Just a mellow dude that skates harder than everyone else, but is hyped by watching you perform a simple kickflip. A guy that you wanna have around, that you love to invite to your home offering him a stay for the night and he doesn’t complain about sleeping on the couch. That guy is Evan Smith. After being at the Bright in Berlin, he went to the Street League in Munich and took the audience by storm. Everybody was so hyped to see him skate and Evan was hyped to be there. After that he went on a DC tour through Germany and Austria, where these pics are from, and guess what – he had a great time as well. Traveling a lot, connecting with the locals, appreciating every experience, and being creative on and off the board – this is what skateboarding is all about, and you hardly find anyone else that embodies that in such a pure form like Evan Smith.
[Interview: Stefan Schwinghammer | Photos: Fabian Reichenbach]
Hi Evan, I heard you are doing something with your band right now, is that right?
My Aunt [with which Evan also plays in the band “Drowning Clowns”, editors note] was throwing a music camp. The ”Real Life Music Camp” in Pittsburgh. So I taught and produced and recorded songs and we had a lot of performances the whole week.
You’re doing a lot of music at the moment?
Yeah, I’m actually at Woodward Camp at the moment and going to the music studio trying to make a track for their Woodward music disc. They have a big digital media program now and all the music that they make in the studio they use for their edits. This is fun times being creative and writing a song.
Sounds like you’re on the road a lot. How was Germany?
Germany was amazing, we had such a good time! It started off with Street League in Munich. This was all before the terrorist activity, so everything was all normal and fine there. We went to Street League, skated, went to awesome beer gardens. I went to one of the famous castles and bought some classic Bavarian stuff. It was a beautiful time in Munich and then we continued that journey through Passau and went to Innsbruck in Austria. It was a really cool time, I had my tent with me. So I would just pop my tent in people’s backyards. People were really cool, we just hung out.
Why did you travel with your tent?
Just because we made this video called “No Hotels”. We slept outside or in tents and it creates experiences, you know. In numerous situations, just because I had my tent, I felt so happy to be there and being present. That is what camping represents. An activity with campfire vibes trying to cook, hanging until it’s time to sleep, and then waking up with the sun. It’s a different style of living.
I heard in Berlin you woke up, because some guy sprayed at your tent.
[laughs] Yeah, I was two hundred meters away from the huge aluminum statutes that are in the river [Molecule Man, editors note]. It is a really cool area by the water. I popped my tent for the night and it was two in the morning and I went to sleep. Next thing you know, I got woken up by the sound of a spray can. I started smelling fumes and was coughing and got out and thought maybe I get robbed. Then I looked in the grass and there was a skateboard and I thought, okay, this is chill. We were hugging by the end of it.
"Bringing a tent let’s me walk that path, just following my nose"
Did he recognize you and apologize?
He did, but I let him finish. He already started, so I let him finish. Funny part of the story is, I have a cover for my tent for rain protection and five minutes later it started hailing. It was raining so hard, like ice raining. If he hadn’t woken me up at that time, I wouldn’t have had my cover up. But luckily I was awake and ran the cover for my tent and then we went to Munich the next day.
In Munich you slept at the Marijuth flat. Did you know the guys before?
Yeaaaaah, we met in the streets and around Street League. They’re just like the coolest, so we met up and were hangin’. We’re all skaters, how you should be a skater. We’re belonging to a group and can help people along the way skating your place and having a good time in your area. If people come to my area, I do that and if I go somewhere else, it’s nice to experience the same thing.
A lot of people go to hotels when they travel. But you like to connect to the people and camp and stuff?
Yeah, those dudes are so sick man, I had a blast. If I didn’t have that experience, I’d be bummed. Bringing a tent let’s me walk that path, just following my nose.
How was the Street League experience? Cause when you started your run, the people went nuts.
Dude, it was so cool. I had my first run and was holdin’ on and I guess I was just skating. It wasn’t like getting in a contest. I was skating off the course and stuff. Cause I think it’s fun to push the boundaries. It’s so cool to be in this experience and after that run it was cool, I was feeling happy. I felt like vibes, I felt presence from everyone. It was a really special moment. I’ll remember that forever and I thank all the people that were there cause it was really special for me.
It’s so fun to watch you skate. Everything you do looks so spontaneous. Do you even plan your runs at all?
I just step on my board and I kinda have lines I’m comfortable with. It’s not the first time skating the park, you know. I have the practice before the contest and I always have tricks that I’m hitting on the park. I guess instead of putting it all together… I guess what happened in Munich was, I jumped on it and was just heading towards an obstacle that I enjoyed. It allowed me to pick a trick as I was going up. Louie Lopez and Curren Caples skate like that, too. They just throw stuff out there. It’s difficult man, just watching people choose last minute, they do the trick differently. It’s so cool to witness. So I’m just going on the park and smashing it. Hitting the curb, hit the wall, do a wallride, hitting a rail, whatever.
I also saw you drink some Bavarian beer between the runs. Does that help, too?
Duuude, you guys have really good beer, man! I really like Hefeweizen and I’m enjoying that every time I come to Germany.
What do you think about skateboarding being Olympic? I think it wouldn’t be possible to take a sip of beer between the runs there.
Definitely not, it would be different. In an environment like Street League it is just skateboarders running it. I know the dudes running it, they’re skaters. That’s why it’s okay. Copenhagen Pro turned that up a few notches. Next thing you know, we were all full of energy, super happy, super hyped. We won’t take it too far obviously, but we wanna enjoy each other’s presence… Jordan Maxham just walked around the corner with an umbrella hat on. [Screams at Jordan, editors note] Yoooooo, dude you just made an entrance into the interview.
So would you skate the Olympics?
I would, yeah. I mean that would be sick. Another thing to elevate skating. Yes, it’s gonna be crazy, but it’s just skating, it doesn’t matter. Who actually cares? Street League was a big deal when that popped up. Everyone thought it’ll be ridiculous, now it’s just a part of skating. That will happen with the Olympics, too. It’s gonna be relevant like X-Games. It’s gonna be the Shaun White of skating. Like when Tony Hawk did the 900 on live TV. It’s just gonna be another form of that and it’s gonna be another opportunity. People think it’s too big of a deal, but it’s just skating man, it’s all fun. Just expressions with your body on four wheels, c’mon.
You enjoy every aspect of skateboarding?
Dude, I do and I do say it becomes gnarly too, because I do push the limits on traveling and try to skate every day. And sometimes I need to regenerate, so that is my biggest struggle: eating healthy and stuff, don’t get dehydration while I’m skating that keeps me skating harder. That’s so hard to do with traveling when you go through different time zones. I mean it’s so cool. All the money we get from skating we just dump it right back in and go around the world and make videos. It’s a rad thing that’s going on here.
Fabian Lang told me that you jumped on a handrail on the last day of the tour – in the rain, right before going to the airport, after three weeks of skating, like it was a normal thing. So it sounds like you manage it pretty well to stay healthy on a tour and always put out high level skateboarding.
Thank you man, that’s definitely good to hear, but at the same time it’s like you gotta be careful. You never drink enough water, like I could just tell. Even if I’m like pushing myself, I still don’t feel 100%. And that’s okay, I’m enjoying it and I’m young, so hopefully I’m able to rebuild all the energy and keep the flow and keep skating. Keep meeting people and make skating as big as possible. It’s sick man.
I heard you visited a castle in Germany. Why did you want to visit it and which one did you visit?
I was visiting the one that was only 15 minutes from Munich. It’s more like a palace with a big garden [Nymphenburg, editors note]. There is the Disney castle [Neuschwanstein, editors note], the larger one. Disney World is in Orlando, where I come from. So I grew up around Disney and I always wanted to go to the actual castle and shoot some Super 8 at a time of the day when the light is pointing into it. But I missed that and just ended up going to the local one.
What things do you wanna see when you’re on the road?
I really wanna take photos, that’s one thing I’m super pumped on. Getting a good photo of a cool place or person or landscape. There’s always something to shoot and put on film. I love shooting on 35mm. That’s the coolest. And I’m getting into cinematography filming with different cameras. I got a Super 8. The clip that will be coming is really cool and hopefully we use something of it for the new Element video that will be coming out. I got some really cool shots of like Nick [Garcia] in the field just like skating. It’s like the coolest on film.
" Next to me some gentlemen were getting naked and jumping into the fountain. That was crazy, so I thought, well, I can smoke pot when they can go naked into the fountain"
With which cameras do you travel?
I usually have my Super 8 camera. And I as well have a Canon A1 right now. I’m just running a 28 lens at the moment.
But getting back to Munich, I heard that one story that you got busted by the police. What happened?
I was smoking pot at the main square. It was late at night, so I thought everyone is sleeping and went out there and was smoking. Next to me some gentlemen were getting naked and jumping into the fountain. That was crazy, so I thought, well, I can smoke pot when they can go naked into the fountain. So I smoked a joint and a girl cop rolled up on me. Next thing you know, I tried to hide the joint, but she saw it and then they searched me and I told her where the weed was. Because of my honesty she allowed me to just pay a ticket, which is okay, because my point of them was like: okay, I found that weed in your little town square when I got here the first day. You guys watch the weed problem, this is an issue. We come from California where it’s just legal and it’s decriminalized in Pittsburgh. You go to a place like that, I didn’t think twice about it, like it’s legal in this state. And I was like, I found this here and if you don’t want it here, you gotta find it all and remove it from your country. But the funny thing is, they were really, really nice. They were young cops, they’re good people.
So they didn’t take you to jail or something like that?
No, not for the whole night. I just went into the station. I just followed them without handcuffs. They were kind. I was just hanging out with the cops and they did their job. Of course I was bummed that I got busted. But whatever, it happened.
Besides that, I hope the trip was good. Which spots were the best spots while you skated through Germany and Austria? I think you went to the plaza in Innsbruck.
Yeah, that’s by far the best spot I skated. That’s one of the top three skate plazas in the world, for sure! There are a lot of sick places to skate on this planet, but that place is next level! There are natural trannies everywhere, ledges, three stairs, six stairs, launches over channels, huge flat areas of marble and a massive mountain right behind it. [laughs] It’s like the best place in the world.
You’re in Woodward now. What’s up next on your tour schedule?
My schedule, it’s kinda hectic, I’m pretty excited. I went from Element Camp to Pittsburgh to the Music Camp and then came here to Woodward teaching some skating. Then I go to the Dime contest. After that Element is gonna be in Spain for a month for the “Make It Count” final. The plan is to take the six finalists from around the world and fly them to Spain to film a video part and we’re gonna judge the best part. And we stay there and hang out and film cause we’re working on a full length video.