Nick LaBarre Interview
October 11 2014
It feels odd writing an intro for Nick because although he hasn't really done any interviews, you already know who he is and have probably talked about him a fair bit. That simple fact is what I love about him, Nick doesn't talk about it he just gets on with it. He is a perfect example that actions speak louder than words and you can inspire and make a difference without having to spout a load of bollocks. We could do with a few more Nick LaBarre's.
Your last full part was in KCMO, at the time it was released you were living in Kansas and had been for some time. What’s changed since then and why did you decide to make those changes?
I had been living in Kansas City for about a year in the summertime. Throughout the year many good friends living in the city had moved out to other places or back to their hometowns. When Alex moved to Portland it was a pretty big deal for the skate scene in Kansas City since he really was the man of the city as far skating goes. He knew the whole city and where to skate all the time. I had been itching to get back to Chicago for some time but I didn't want to bail out too quick on the people I care very much about in Kansas City. However about 3 months ago now I made the move back to Chicago. Now I stay on the north side of the city with Thinh Le, Eric Woods, and Spencer Eckl. All very good guys. Also Malcolm Heard, Andrew Nemiroski and Tim Kelly all live within a 1 mile radius of us so we got a nice thing going here. The crew is strong here and there’s always something for us to do in the city.
What are some of the differences between skating and filming in Chicago compared to Kansas?
Well, it's a pretty big difference really. Kansas City is a really small city. You can be from one side of the city to the next in 10 minutes. It’s gritty there with a lot of old beaten down stuff to skate. It’s a very pretty place with really scenic areas and generally people don't mind you skating there quite as much. Chicago on the other hand is definitely a big city. I always relate Chicago to NYC as far as skating goes. I think it’s just as good to skate as NYC is. There's honestly never ending stuff to skate here and you can find any type of obstacle whether it be a beaten down old warehouse district or a brand new marble plaza in the inner city. I also think its really cool to skate here because people always say there’s nothing to skate or no skate spots which is completely absurd it is in fact the exact the opposite.
I had a look before doing this for other interviews and realized for someone that is held in such high regard there really isn’t much information about you around. Is this your choosing or has skate media with the exception of Haitian just been lagging on you?
Haha yeah skate media has never shown too much attention to me or the people I enjoy skating with.
Do you pay attention to blade media, watch edits and read articles? If so who’s content have you been enjoying?
I pay a small amount of attention to blade media. Mostly because I can't stand the way people skate nowadays. I do however enjoy all the DRC stuff, anything Strange Creatures puts out is always a plus, I like Michael Briggs's fun online edits and all the dirt box videos of course.
You skateboard too, have you always done both?
I skateboarded when I was a young boy at the age of 5 until when I was about 11 then I went full blade mode. Then when I was living in LA I kind of picked it up again. Just being in perfect LA skate schools and hanging out there it was fun to take the skates off and pop around on the deck. Since then I have been doing both pretty equally. I don't see any reason not to since they're both fun and positive activities. Both can take my mind of real world things just as easily.
What do you think of what's happening in skateboarding at the moment. Seems companies like Polar, Palace, Welcome, FA, Bianca ect are trying to take skateboarding back to a place it’s lost with so much corporate involvement?
Yeah I think all those companies are great with the exception of Polar since I'm not too down with their hate propaganda. Skater owned companies are always best.
Would you take a Nike paycheck if they ever venture into blading?
Ehhhh where I'm at right now I probably would haha, I will not lie.
What are you doing for work at the moment?
At the moment I work back stock at an American Apparel store downtown.
Do you think people should be more concerned about laying a solid foundation for blading and any culture it might breed than stats, sales and wages in these formative years?
I think people should just chill out and have a good time skating. As far as bringing it to outsiders there’s definitely right and wrong ways to do it. I think its much more enjoyable for someone who has no clue about skating to watch some kids having a good time out with their friends doing tricks than seeing Franky doing some type of mysterious deal in California while it just so happens that he has skates on. If people are real with their skating and enjoy what they're doing then a real person will be able to look at it and enjoy it, if not at least respect it. With that all the good stuff will come too. Whatever though skating is a leisure activity in the end, those who can get money off skating or any activity with artistic integrity are very lucky.
If you look at things from a future perspective it’s quite exciting to have been part of something in its first 20 years of existence right?
Oh yeah definitely.
How often do you manage to get out and skate each month?
Probably skate like 3 or 4 times in a month. Sounds crazy but I'm really picky about when I'm going to go skate. I only really want to skate if good homies are going to come out or if there’s a good cause to go skate for. Also I strongly prefer to go skate downtown at night since all the people have gone home from work and we get kicked out a lot less at night. I'd definitely like to skate more but right now everyone is focusing on real world things like keeping rent and keeping the kitchen full.
Do you have any pre/post skate rituals, stretching, yoga, coffee, weed ect?
Yeah I have to drink coffee, smoke weed and have a pack of cigs to go skate haha.
What are your favourite things to find on a session?
I really like a good road barrier, a nice curb, or maybe a nice skate ledge. I don't like rails lately I think they’re really scary. A good friend of mine once said "that stair set was made for people to walk down" and I fully agree.
You’ve started skating flat, what made you decide to switch to 8 down and has it effected what/how you skate?
One day last winter I got new Valo’s with the stock frames and stock flat set up and decided to try it. I loved it right away and knew that'd be the only way forever. I like flat because you can really feel the ground a lot more and I feel like you just have more foot control. You just have to think about things a little bit more when grinding but I like that. It makes it more interesting.
Haha no that's not necessary.
How long have you and Malcolm been filming for this?
We've been going out as much as we could for about 2 months.
Are you pleased with how it came out? Must be nice working with Malcolm again?
Yeah I was actually very surprised when I saw the edit. I owe Malcolm my life, he's the best. Always down to go out and do it, that man has carried more sessions than anyone I know straight up. Big shout out to Malcolm aka Meard aka PigJuice.
You don’t seem to get hurt much, whats the secret?
I just do stuff I'm comfortable doing.
Do you like going to events?
Yeah events are cool. It's nice to see all the skaters together.
What do you guys like to do in Chicago when you’re not working/skating?
We chill out a lot, drink way too much coffee and eat really good pizza. We'll go out on the weekends and listen to music, dance and stay up way too late. We'll often go to music shows or good gallery openings when they're happening too. Chicago's been really fun lately though. Lots of good things happening here nowadays.
What gets you through winter? Give us some tips to staying sane if you have some?
I just see it as the down time of the year. A time to rest and gather thoughts. I like to make art in the winter. Last year I was painting a lot but this year I want to get more into printing things. As far as staying sane it's probably good to have a lady to stay warm with. Or a good side hobby to stay busy.
Thanks for taking the time to do this. Is there anything you would like to add?
SHOUTOUT MY CITY 312 CHI CITY LES GOO.
Filmed & Edited by Malcolm Heard
Photos by Andrew Nemiroski & Sean Kelso
Text by Sam Currie