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Hanging out with Donovon Piscopo & John Fitzgerald

This headline would have almost kicked ass. But since Donovon and his brother John didn't move to Mother but Hockey after Alien Workshop died, it’s just an average headline which indicates how close the two from Covina, CA actually are. But who wants to blame anybody? If you are going to read the following interview you’ll understand why it just made sense that they are now the face of Fucking Awesomes recently born and a bit odd looking, hairy, pale babysister. Now that John followed Donovon to the dreamfactory with the swoosh on the roof, it seems like they reached the end of a sponsor journey. We met the insepereables for a beer while they were on a Nike-trip in London.

Sitting in a Café right beside the Thamse and Southbank on a sunny day, waiting for Donovon getting Drinks.

~ J: How’s the weather in Germany?

Pretty good actually. Like here today. But obviously that’s not the standard like in California.

~ J: You know, I have family in Germany. My Oma and Opa are from a small town in Germany. I always wanted to go, but I never did.

Do they still live there?

~ J: No they moved to the US. When Hitler came, my Oma and Opa fled, because they knew shit was gonna get fucked up. So they fled on a boat to the states. But their sisters and brothers still do. I don’t know them at all, but I know that they are extremely nice and that they will do anything to help our family.

It’s funny that you say Oma and Opa, because these are German words.

~ J: I know, I call them Oma and Opa, because that’s what I have always called them. I have a grandma and grandpa that are American and my Oma and Opa on the other side. I took German in school and my Oma and Mom taught me a little bit. I want to go really bad.

Were they jewish?

~ J: No, they just knew that it was gonna be trouble.

Fitzgerald isn’t a German name, right?

~ J: No it’s Irish. My Mom’s maiden name was “Rietzer” and Fitzgerald comes from my Dad’s side of the family.

"Dill just wanted to give a little psychotic vibe to the world"

Cool. What’s Donovon doing? He has no money again…

~ J: I think he went to the bathroom… No money… [laughs] We both had no money here at first. He lost his card and I couldn’t get cash out anywhere and we had no phones either. Some nights ago we got lost for fucking hours at four in the morning, didn’t know how to get back, no phone, no money.

What were you doing?

~ J: We picked up weed first of those two dudes that we had no clue who they were. We are hanging out with them in a I guess sorta sketchier side of town. When we took of, we got lost. We don’t know where we are going and shit and there is this little mini cab place that’s like a whole in the wall and there is this dude right there. I had my phone but it was dead and I just asked him for a charger and he was trying to take it and have me come back later to get it. I was like: “No, you’re not taking my phone, motherfucker”, but he ended up being cool and we went inside. I charged my phone a little bit and we got back. But it was a mission man, we were lost for so long. … There’s Donovon.

[Donovon is handing out beers and water]

Donovon Piscopo – Frontside 360

Donovon Piscopo – Frontside 360

John just told me about his background – now it’s your turn.

~ D: Well, I was born in southern California and the first thing I ever started doing was skating 'cause my Dad was one of the originals in the 80’s trying to make street skateboarding happen, which was insane. My whole entire life, I just grew up skating with him and that’s basically what I have been doing ever since. It’s pretty fucking crazy. It’s all I know.

You both started riding for Pawnshop Skates pretty early on, right?

~ D: Pawnshop is my fathers shop that he does to kind of keep his sanity, because he has a day-job and shit. But we have the shop and John, myself and a couple of my friends were riding for it from the very beginning.

So you guys basically grew up skating together.

~ D: Yea, I’ve known him for my entire life.
~ J: I used to see him when we were super little. He was always good. I would always hear shit of him and he was like five man. I think we really started skating together when I was like eleven or twelve.

How old are you now?

~ D: I’m 21 and he’s 24. I remember this dude since I can remember skateboarding. It’s insane, 'cause now hopefully it’s just gonna keep on going. We are lucky as shit to be able to grow up in southern California. It’s just surf and skate every day.

And your Dad started skating in the 80s?

~ D: Yea that was his era. He grew up in northern California and came down to southern California when he was still young cause it was more developed and kids were starting to skate. He found skateboarding and it completely took over his whole life and he basically passed that on to me.

When your father started, the Bones Brigade was…

~ D: My Dad hated the Bones Brigade. He only likes Santa Cruz. He loves Santa Cruz videos. That was our shit, that’s what I grew up watching.

Was skateboarding already big in California at that time?

~ D: Yea, it was huge in California, but it was still a little weird actually from what he says. Only a couple people did it, like nowadays every fucking kid in California skates, no matter what. And it’s rad and I’m stoked on that, but he says in his days if you were a skateboarder you were a weirdo. You were in your own little world and that’s the best part about skateboarding, to fucking do whatever you want with it.

Did he tell you some stories from that time?

~ D: He has fucking great ones. All his shit was amazing. The way I grew up skating was… I don’t even know how to explain it. That shit was raw as hell. It was just him and I and a couple of his buddies. I skated to like impress those older dudes so maybe that’s what changed the way I wanted to skate.

When he started skating there probably were no older dudes to impress.

~ D: It was just those dudes and they were kids and they were basically inventing street skateboarding. It’s crazy to think about it. He would tell me stories of him first ollieing a trashcan and that used to trip me out, like how the fuck does that even work. Now, if you look at what people do on a skateboard, and know that people used to be stoked trying to get over a trashcan. It’s insane.

How does he see the evolution of skateboarding?

~ D: He fucking loves everything about it. I know that he respects what is happening, because skateboarding is in his blood, but I think he would like to see it go back to the basic shit. It’s getting so wild out there. I don’t even know if he pays attention to the new shit, it’s so saturated. He’s more into a classic ollie photo, old mags and general print. I don’t even know if he kept up to be honest.

John Fitzgerald – Heelflip

John Fitzgerald – Heelflip

How does he react to the level of skating that you two are on today?

~ J: A proud father for this one for sure!
~ D: Everything was so new. He has been trying to ollie on that plank of wood and try to ollie on our shaped boards. It’s completely different. He probably has to trip on it in a sense, but he is in his world. He’s the best and skating for him is funny as hell. He’s the man.

Are you happy you started skating around the millennium or would you rather have witnessed different decades of skateboarding?

~ D: Oh, dude on the one hand I would much rather go back in time. Growing up in the 80s would be rad, or even the early days. Or the 60s when Herbie Fletcher was supposedly riding pools. Those days to me are the raddest, because they had no idea what the fuck was to come. But on the other I’d rather live in this era, because now you have all this rad history to look back on, so you can take what you want out of it and kinda make it your own in this era you know what I mean? That in a sense helps a lot, because skateboarding is so fucking rad and it’s so different. You have that whole 90s era of flipping your board and you have the 80s with Hosoi blasting airs. You see all aspects of skateboarding when you look back and you see how it’s supposed to be done.
~ J: Even though it can get a little kooky nowadays.
~ D: Like the contest thing and people taking skateboarding serious. Come on, it supposed to be fun. I never understood that whole aspect of skateboarding. To even be a professional skateboarder is nuts. We’re in the streets all day, causing chaos in a sense and running away from cops. Kind of funny, but it’s the best.
~ J: But even though some people take it too serious, you can’t take away the rad history and you can’t take away the feeling of doing a smithgrind on a poolcoping. That shit’s a fucking gift. Like I skate whatever I want to skate, whatever feels good.

"We were not going to start a company and not put out footage, because we are skateboarders, you got to skateboard"

I saw photos of Curren [Caples] which show his California Lifestyle with all the great skateparks, surfing and all that stuff. Is it all heaven in California?

~ J: Curren lives in Ventura, that’s like two hours away. Go to Los Angeles and I guarantee you, you’ll see ten people shooting up and taking a shit in the streets. And then you go to Venice Beach – a bunch of crazy people.
~ D: Our area of Covina is close to LA and not like California. We live in a valley full of tweakers and it’s completely concreted. But then again you go down to Trestles, which is like two hours away, catch a wave and think: “Maybe we are in heaven”. California is the best, but the street aspect is rough as fuck and Cops are crazy. You might get arrested once in a while because of everything. That just comes with it. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. – But you can get that anywhere. As long as you have skateboarding you could live anywhere and have no reason to envy California. It’s sick to come and hang out with everyone, but you should be stoked for what you got.

What kind of stuff are you guys doing besides skating?

~ J: Surfing.
~ D: We wake up at four in the morning, go surf, come back after the hellride we have to do to get there and then we go fucking skate all day. All we do is surf and skate.

That’s pretty amazing.

~ D: It’s a gift from god, I can’t even believe it. I’m so thankful for this shit. It’s so great to be alive. And it’s crazy too we’re in Europe because of skateboarding. Being in London, having a couple of beers and being interviewed, enjoying our lives. It’s a gift.

Donovon Piscopo – Kickflip Backside Smithgrind

Donovon Piscopo – Kickflip Backside Smithgrind

John, your career got kickstarted by One in a Million – could you say so?

~ J: Yea, I mean that definitely helped, but if anything, it’s the shop – like Anthony [Piscopo] and Donovon. Or Ave. There’s a lot of people that helped me to get a start. I didn’t even want to do the One in a Million thing. These dudes pretty much entered me into it.
~ D: We did, but it was kinda as a joke. We just send the footage in and all the sudden that shit happened. It was the most random thing. Did you even know that we did it?
~ J: No. I remember Frankie called me and was saying some funny shit, but after that he and Jamie Hart got me on Vans. They started sending me shoes and he also rode for Zero.
~ D: Dude how crazy is that. We rode for Zero together, we rode for Workshop together and now we ride for Hockey together. It’s insane. And now Nike. That’s even crazier. My fucking brother. It’s so sick to have him.

What do you think now about One in a Million?

~ J: I’m so thankful for everything it did for me. I met so many rad people like Joe Brook and Mark Whiteley. It’s funny that people still talk about it.
~ D: That show was sick. Anything in skateboarding was fucking sick. It’s so funny that you didn’t even plan on doing it and ended up winning that shit.

Think back to January 2014 when you were in Berlin, Donovon. You talked to our online-editor and he asked you how you would name your band if you had one. Do you remember what you answered?

~ D: What did I say?

You said Hockey Mask, and that it would be a punk bank.

~ D: [Laughs] And that was no foreshadowing at all.

That was like ten months before Dill announced Hockey. There’s no way that’s a coincidence.

~ D: That was just in my brain. There’s no way. Hockey Mask is from my pops. I remember he would always say: “That would be an insane punk bank”, and I was like “Fuck yea, it would be”, because I grew up listening to music with him and going skating. It’s pretty funny. I was just saying what was coming to my head. Did we know about it back then?
~ J: I don’t know.
~ D: That was just a coincidence, but a funny one. Hockey was just Dills little brainchild. That’s all his shit. Dill just wanted to give a little psychotic vibe to the world. We’re all crazy, but he’s the craziest, I fucking love him.

Are you guys close?

~ D: Yea I’ve known him since I was like 14. I met Ave when I was 14 through Anthony Acosta when I rode for Vans. For some reason, me and Ave just kept on skating together. I was just some fucking kid at the time and I would go out and tag along with those dudes and I just grew up and even grew up with them in a sense. I was riding for Zero and one day they were like: “You want to ride for The Workshop?” And I was like “Fuck, yeah!“. Ever since I have been pretty much skating with Ave every day. Now obviously that stuff with Workshop happened, that’s done, they started Fucking Awesome and they had this idea of making a company for us and Dill ended up with the name Hockey for reasons we can’t understand. Everything randomly happened. Dill and Anthony helped me out so much, it’s insane.

And you?

~ J: I met Ave and Dill through him, because he would skate with him and I would come out and tag along.

So switching to Mother was never an option?

~ D: No, not really. We are friends of course but they never asked. And Ave and Dill helped us out so much. When they talked to us about Hockey it was a no-brainer.
~ J: It also didn’t take us very long to quit Alien after Dill and Ave did.

Are you guys giving any input in the art direction?

~ J: Yeah, I mean, they ask us. We are all friends and they are doing everything. They want us to give input.
~ D: It’s crazy, Hockey is based on John and I so with everything that comes out, they ask us what we think. They are obviously doing the graphics with Benny [Maglinao]. We are with Benny pretty much every day. He was the Alien Workshop filmer and basically stands behind the company. He and Dill are doing the art direction, we are the skateboarders and Anthony is the godfather. He does the whole package.

And Jimi Britches?

~ D: Britches handles everything. He’s everyones bodyguard and just handles everything. He’s a fucking psycho.

Who came up with the idea of making the first Hockey Clip a raw edit?

~ D: That was Dill. Basically we had this idea for the company and we were not going to start a company and not put out footage, because we are skateboarders, you got to skateboard. We were filming for three months and went out every day.
~ J: Well I had footage from the Vans video in there that Greg and Cody at Vans let us use, which is super rad. I also was filming stuff with Benny after I quit Vans and we just sorta threw a lot of things together.

What did you think when Dill told you that it was going to be a raw edit?

~ J: At first I was a little bit… you know… because I love music…
~ D: Yeah me too. – But what happened was, Benny basically went over and had all of our footage and was like: “This is it”, and it was just the raw edit. Dill was like: “Okay, this is it. We’re just gonna put this shit up.” That’s really all that happened.

Allright. Last question: Gino is on FA – if you could choose any legend to accompany Hockey, who would it be?

~ J: Guy Mariano.
~ D: He’s so crazy. Definetly Guy Mariano.