VANS SLIP-ON PRO

One of the new talents on adidas Skateboarding's global team, Frankie Spears. He's been challenging endless possibilities with his skate buddy he grew up with, and keeps one-upping himself.
──FRANKIE SPEARS (ENGLISH)

2019.12.21

[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]

Photo_Junpei Ishikawa
Special thanks_adidas Skateboarding

VHSMAG (V): Where you from and where do you currently live?

Frankie Spears (F): I'm from Long Island, New York, and I currently still live there. It's only maybe 16 miles from Manhattan. I drive there at least four days a week.

V: I heard that you grew up skating with Tyshawn?

F: Yes, I did. I did grow up skating with Tyshawn. We used to have sleepovers and such. We were really young.

V: What was it like skating with him back in the day? I saw you guys' video part from 2012.

F: Skating with Tyshawn was motivating. I knew from the jump, before he was on Supreme or adidas or anything, I knew he was going to be one of the best skaters in the world. I just knew it. I just seen his potential. When I seen him back overcrook a huge handrail when he was probably not even 13 at that point, I was just like, "Alright, this is serious." And the way he did it, it wasn't just an ordinary backside overcrook, you know? Very proper.

V: How old were you guys back in twenty twelve, when you guys came up with that part?

F: When we came up with that part in 2012, I actually... I probably even knew him maybe two years before that even happened. So, I think the first time I ever met TJ was at an Element Make It Count contest, and I forget what year that is. But maybe I was 13 and he was 11. And then maybe it was two years later when I was 15 and he was 13, when we probably filmed that part, I would assume.

V: Yeah, that was a great part.

F: He showed me what my body was capable of, and what I could actually do. I feel like he'd pushed me more than I would push him to do things. I was different than he was when I was younger, I just noticed that he had this crazy drive... knowing that he was going to go for what he wanted and not give up. On the other hand I was like, "Oh, I got to go to school, I got to do all these things before skateboarding and filming," and he would stay out late and just do what he felt like doing. I wish I was like that when I was younger, but I had a little bit of discipline through my parents. Not that he didn't, it's just that he had a different mentality than I had, but I respected it and it was cool watching him grow to what he is now.
 


 

V: Who was your first sponsor?

F: I had a whole bunch of little sponsors growing up when I was younger, like a skate shop. And then I guess my first board sponsor was Shut. But things didn't really work out and when I started skating with Tyshawn, he was really good at emailing people and stuff. So, there was these few weeks of while I was in high school where he would do the emailing for us and he'd be like, "I got us on Diamond, going to get you a Diamond package," and it'd be like the next week he's like, "I got you Silver Trucks." Then the next week would be like, "I got you on Dekline and Pig Wheels."

V: That's a good buddy to have.

F: He always wanted to get on Toy Machine and Emerica when he was younger. And when he emailed Mike Sinclair and we had our footage together, I started talking to Mike. He offered me Pig Wheels and Dekline, and I took all his offers. But Tyshawn wouldn't take anything. Which is really, really cool to see someone so young knowing exactly what they wanted, because it's hard to know that at that age, it was just, when you're at that age, I feel like most kids are just like, "Free stuff, sick!" and that's how I was. And then he started filming. I was there when he was filming the video, I think it's called "Buddy," right?

V: Oh, the Supreme one?

F: Yeah, I was there during that, not only flipping the courthouse and this and that and then at that point his career definitely took off. It was pretty crazy. Then few years after that, I was getting Real boards for a little bit because Alex Midler, and then I always stayed on Spitfire and Thunder. And Jake Johnson called me to ride for Alien Workshop. When they went out of business, Jake was potentially going to get back on the rebooted Alien with along with me but he went to Quasi. So, I've been on Alien for about five years. I'll never quit that ride until it dies or I die.

V: What was your big breakthrough skateboarding?

F: I was in graduation year of high school, where I was just constantly filming in Manhattan and I was just getting some of my best skate stuff. Back noseblunt and front blunt kickflip on this out ledge. I was just filming my best stuff and starting to skate handrail switch. I remember switch smithing a big handrail. So, then it was this one summer, maybe I was just graduated high school. Joe Face was staying at my house with Jake Johnson, and I didn't know what was happening with adidas because I was getting shoes from them before Tyshawn was but he was really out filming all the time and I was still in high school, figuring things out.

V: Okay.

F: Tyshawn was kind of slowing down with going with school, and I wasn't always filming as much as he was, and I knew that he was putting himself out there a little bit more than I was. So, I didn't get on adidas before him and it didn't upset me but it was confusing. And then at that point I was like, "Alright, it's been over a year. He's on, I'm not on. What's going on? I have really good skate footage. This is confusing." So, Joe Face sent the footage to Vans and they're like, "This is great stuff. We're not promising you to get on the team, but if you start wearing our shoes and film a part, you can be on the team." I spoke to adidas about that and then they're like, "No, we're going to use all of your footage you get on, it's all good." And then at that point I was hyped. But actually, to bring it back, I think to say my actual major break in skateboarding was getting on Alien and speaking to Brennan Conroy, and him seeing my potential was... I owe a lot to him.

V: Yeah, it's nice to have someone who helps you get your name out there.

F: Yeah, I guess at that point, when I first went to San Francisco and started talking to Brennan Conroy, was a major thing and getting a Lunatic Fringe was big. Because there's so many skateboarders who were still so good, but they don't have major content in Thrasher, which is, I think it's such a big thing to have. Not many people actually get to have Thrasher interviews. And I've had quite a few in my past few years and I'm still working towards more, and I had quite a few ads and I just never want to stop. I want to see how far I can go with it, and just push my body and see what I can do and achieve. Skating technical wise too, that's exciting to me because I always thought of myself as a handrail skater being younger stair skater. But now I want to really think of tricks that people haven't done or do tricks that are like, "Fuck this is really hard, but I know I can do it." Stick through it, practice it and figure shit out.

V: You turned pro last year and had the Control Room part, which was amazing.

F: Thank you. I appreciate that. But I had another three minutes of footage that's saved. I have another part finished right now, and I think it's incredibly better than that one. My next footage is way better than what I put out. I think what was amazing about that part was some of the bangers I did and maybe the backside smithgrind. I think that was an amazing thing.

V: I wanted to ask you about that.

F: I always literally, always dreamed of backside smith grinding that. That's my favorite handrail trick ever. So, I was on a Zumiez trip judging the contests, and I landed in Cincinnati. So we went there and there was two cars parked there. I was looking at it and I was like, "It's kind of big, but I could do it." Finally, one car moves and then this other ones parked right in front of the rail. And you could see it in the footage and the photo, but there's maybe three to four feet of room where you could actually go through the car and actually skate it. And one thing before I continue the story is, the license plate of the car said 666. So that throws me off. I'm like, "Fuck, I'm going to get hurt just because this license plate says 666." I hate that shit. That shit bugs me out. When I do a backsmith on a rail that I'm scared of, usually I have to boardslide and backside 50-50 it. And I was so scared to boardslide it, I literally ollied the whole gap before I fucking even jumped on a boardslide. And then I boardslid it three times and I back 50ed it and backsmith was easier than both of those tricks. It was probably like three tries.
 


 

V: You've been on adidas' flow team for a long time. How did you get on the global team?

F: I guess just getting on the global team was just working as hard as I can, and just filming my best stuff in Manhattan. Just pushing myself, doing what I thought I possibly couldn't do and just really wanting it. That's the major thing, really wanting it. I get hurt all the time but that's part of life. You're not going to get better without failing. I guess I got on because I don't mind failing. I failed so many times. I've had so many injuries and I just keep pushing. I don't really want to do anything else at the moment in my life.

V: Memorable project with adidas?

F: Filming for Broadway Bullet was epic. Just always being able to go on trips, and filming for whatever with adidas is amazing. Filming for Liberty Cup, that was pretty fun. I've already filmed a part for adidas that's finished right now that'll come out at the end of the year, but I'm just filming towards it more. Lately I've been learning a lot of new ledge tricks, because of Mark Suciu, and just trying to film my best ledge tricks and manual tricks.

V: How satisfied are you with the part?

F: I'm very satisfied with the part. It's better than my last one and that's how I hope to keep filming parts, is just doing better for the next, oneing myself up. That's how I want it to be, always. Or just skate differently. I definitely skated differently in this new part that's coming out. I've done so many things that I've never done in my life and it's really sick to see myself do a lot of tricks I never thought I can do. Like, wallride stuffs, and bump the bars, and handrail tricks, and ledge tricks. I feel like I even have one line that I was like, I don't think anyone has done the second trick in a line at least before, which is I'm hyped on. I just want to keep doing shit like that.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2GZpaXiqJ8
 

Frankie Spears

Born and raised in Long Island, NY. He first gained recognition in his low teen with a video part with Tyshawn Jones and started his pro career in 2018. He just released a new part from adidas Skateboarding.
@frankyspears

 

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  • NB Numeric: New Balance