Skateboard videos are at a crossroad. On one hand, you have the mainstream vids that look like Michael Bay's Transformers; on the other, there are video makers like William Strobeck and Josh Stewart who are opting out of $30,000 cameras and Hollywood gimmicks to focus on the purity of skateboarding.
But in recent years, no one has bucked the current trend of over-production more then Queens-born Peter Sidlauskas, co-founder of Bronze, a skateboard hardware company in New York City. Over the past three years, Bronze has made quite the name for itself with lo-fi internet videos laced with public access TV commercials, homages to 90s dial-up era web browsing, countless visual inside jokes, and tweaked acid-trip editing. VICE spoke to Sidlauskas about Bronze, his fucked-up YouTube and Vine pages, and the deep, dark internet.
VICE: Bronze's first low-fi video, 56K, came out in 2012 just as Pretty Sweet was released with all its drone angles, dizzying edits, relentless slow-mos, and extreme close-ups. What prompted you to take your videos in a more light-hearted direction?
Peter Sidlauskas: I was just jaded. I wanted to make a video so stupid that it would ban me from the industry. But then it backfired—I was really surprised by how many people liked it. 2012 was a weird time; I wasn't really watching skate videos anymore and most of the friends I grew up with were getting full-time jobs. Skating just wasn't their main focus anymore. I was pretty much over it, too. I would go out to film, and when I'd take my camera out of my bag, my death lens would just roll all over the floor and it wouldn't even bother me. Nothing was really inspiring me at the moment except all the old videos I used to watch when I was a kid.
Once we came up with Bronze, it really got me hyped on skating again; I definitely would have quit this shit if it wasn't for Bronze. Here was a new thing that we could do whatever we wanted with. 56k was really inspired by a video called Supper's Ready made out of Canada from the Green Apple Skateshop. That video is very underrated; it broke all the rules before anyone else. It really made me want to make something ridiculous.
What do you think is the future of skate videos?
The future of skate videos is going to be a lot like Shorty's Guilty. Kids aren't stupid; they're going to realize that this whole East Coast vs. West Coast, low-fi vs. Hollywood, Rodney vs. Daewon shit is getting played and that the true essence of skating is in the Shorty's Guilty video. Actually, there probably won't be any more skate videos. I think the future is just going to be 15-second Instagram edits.
You splice in a shit-ton of old commercials and random footage into your videos. Do you have an office job where you're spending hours on the internet searching for that stuff?
I used to have an office job at an insurance agency. I took the job pretty seriously for a month and then I just ended up not doing anything there for the next two years. I would just be online looking up shit. The boss would be like, "How's our social media reach?" I'd be like, "Will you shut the fuck up! I'm lookin' at things!" YouTube can be pretty crazy; have you ever been on that site? Check it out at youtube.com. I waste a good part of my life online.
What's the most obscure, bizarre thing you've ever come across on the internet?
Nothing is really bizarre to me anymore. Although I was on Vine the other day and someone edited Winnie the Pooh crashing into the Twin Towers. I was like "OK, that's enough internet for today."
Three dudes, one hammer is kind of crazy. Those two guys getting their heads chainsawed off, that was pretty bizarre. The bar for crazy has been raised so high, I'm just waiting for the suicide YouTube channel where people find creative ways to kill themselves on YouTube, like you're ordering food at McDonald's and then when you ask for extra BBQ sauce and they say it's 65 cents, you just shoot yourself in the face. And then the comments will be like, "Yoooo! The look on her face! Had me dying, son!" Then someone will say, "This is horrible! Why would you film this?" And someone will reply back, "You're racist! Bush did 9/11." It's a new world. But I can see the internet being illegal soon.
Kevin Tierney rides for Bronze. Does he stuff the back of his pants with toilet paper like in those old Charmin commercials to protect himself when he falls? Or does he shit his pants each time before he goes skating?
I think he shits his pants every time he skates, because he's always shitting on the haters. Kevin gets a lot of shit for his style, but I like the way he's just holding on for dear life on every trick. Most people don't know that he's skating on the worst pair of knees ever. He got surgery on his knee and I guess they didn't do it right so now he needs another surgery on the same knee. It's just a mess. He should NOT be skating, he should be in a wheelchair. Yet he's switch wall-riding some gnarly stuff. Give the kid a break, go to the Stussy store and buy a shirt off him.
What was your last video camera?
Before the VX1 my last video camera was a 7D that I pissed on. I put it up for sale on Facebook but no one wanted to buy it. Probably because of the piss. It still works great. If you want a 7D, let me know.
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Although Bronze is very NYC-centric, your personal videos on YouTube come across like a very bored suburban kid killing time by fucking off with his friends. What's your story?
I'm from Queens, but the town I'm from (Glendale) is so isolated from everything. Shit looks like Hogwarts. I wasn't next to any subway trains. I'd always have to take a bus to a train, so going to Manhattan to skate as a kid was a mission for me. I went to school two blocks from my house so for the first 12 years of my life all I knew was this two-block radius. I don't even think I saw a black person until I was 12.
I remember the first time I took the subway to the city to skate, I was on the J train and I was like, "Whoa! There's no white people! Where am I?" Glendale is just full of white people addicted to painkillers; it's easy to just get stuck there and hang out at the local McDonald's and bum cigarettes. I'm glad skating got me out of the neighborhood.
As much as I enjoy your Bronze videos, I'm actually more of a fan of your absurd non-skate Vines and YouTube videos. Why don't you include more of your skits and weirdness in your Bronze edits?
Then I'd be Bam Margera, and those are some hard shoes to fill.
Tell me about your fictitious Adult Swim show, Pete's Office.
It's going to premiere on Adult Swim. Fictitious? You can buy the box set at Blockbuster, where have you been?
In Microwave Love, you depict your romance with a microwave. In other interviews, I've read about how unlucky you are with women. Do you think that's a result of watching hours of porn videos online?
Well Microwave Love was actually Ernie depicting his romance for microwaves, so chill. I actually had to play that video in front of a class of 30 kids. Most kids laughed but it was really uncomfortable. My teacher showed no emotion; he was really bummed. I think porn is good, but it's a little misleading. I was appalled to find out most girls really don't like three dicks in the butt. Maybe it shouldn't be that easy to get either. It's kind of hard to invest time in a girl when you can go online and have your imagination fuck whoever you want. In the end, what is real?
You're of the Facebook and Tinder hook-up generation. I love hearing the stories of sexual fails from the kids at the skateshop. Any funny dating stories?
My first girlfriend I met off MySpace. She had a good song on her page so I dated her for a year and a half.
What's next for you and for Bronze?
I'm going to try my best not to die. Got some collabs in the upcoming year. Going to get Bronze into more shops. Make another video, I guess. Make our first pro model bolt. 2k15 looking good.
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