The modern skate video has never looked as polished as it does in 2014. Every dirtbag on a skateboard has an HD camera, and professional videographers are renting Reds and Phantoms, hoping to make the elusive Spike Jonzian leap from skate videos to Hollywood blockbusters. But while all these newfangled gadgets have made skateboarding more beautiful and stylized than ever before, the end result feels very soulless to me.
I miss the gritty and grainy way skating used to look on VHS tapes filmed with Super 8s and VX1000s. But lest you think I'm some Luddite reminiscing about the olden days, I think there's room for every form of skateboarding film—I just wish things were a bit more diverse. So when I got an email last night from Boston's own Fancy Lad Skateboards' CEO, Nick "Big" Murray, with the subject line "House 2," it was like someone farted fresh air into my inbox.
House II: The Second Story
Inside was a link to their new web clip and the words, "Nieratko, I'm not fucking around, I think we have done it this time." I considered deleting the video without watching it (you have no idea how many times people email me claiming to "have done it," when they most certainly have not), but I've been keeping tabs on Fancy Lad's lowbrow aesthetic for quite some time now, and so I decided to give their latest opus a shot. My response to Big: "HOLY FUCK! THIS SUCKS! I LOVE IT!"
It was simultaneously the best and worst web skate clip I've seen in quite some time. Filmed like shit and edited by a baboon with the comedic timing of Neil Hamburger, it is some of the silliest and most ridiculous skating since the old Landspeed videos. I decided to call up the Burger King employee/food-stamp dependent CEO to find out what the fuck the deal is with this pack of fucktards.
VICE: Who and what is the Fancy Lad crew?
Nick "Big" Murray: The Fancy Lad crew is a bunch of nobodies. Names that if I wrote down would be quickly read and even more quickly forgotten. We are a ragtag group of misfits who were never chosen. A crew, who despite their lack of talent, love skateboarding too much not to be a part of it. Our style comparatively is based on ingenuity rather than skill. We like to make fools of ourselves because it's good for a laugh. The first merried skateboard team of jesters as we sail the ship of fools.
And you all live together in one house?
It's more like an asylum. We're all broke and the only reason I think I own the company is because I'm the least tapped-out of everybody.
Are these videos an accurate representation of what day-to-day life is like in the Fancy Lad house?
Yeah, pretty much. The skits are all spontaneous and on the spot. It's 100 percent genuine. There's no pre-thought whatsoever. The camera is not always rolling, but with Fiske in the house you never know what he's going to do. The other day he stormed out on his bike and yelled to everyone, "Get on your bike and go north! Trust me!" Then he took off and that was it. He came back the next day, but no one knows where he went.
Do you guys worry about being compared to Jackass and Bam?
We actually haven't had too many of those yet, but I encourage them because I love Bam and I love the heartagram symbol.
Do you like skinny Bam or new, fat Bam?
I was more of a skinny Bam fan, back when he was just doing it for the love. Back when he had a good varial heel.
I don't want to insult you, but is Fancy Lad one of those hipster skateboard brands?
What separates FL from all other new crappy brands popping up is that we actually suck at skating way more than any other company ever could. A purity of essence. It's something that you just can't fake. To quote Mike V.: "Nothing or no one can take that away from me." Also, we sell our boards at affordable prices.
What's Colin Fiske's deal? He was a former member of PJ Ladd's entourage. Wasn't he supposed to be somebody? Is it true he went insane?
Colin Fiske is actually the only co-owner of the company. Like many other great artists, he has done the unexpected by changing the medium of his art completely to BMX. Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Colin Fiske. Colin Fiske was the future of skateboarding, and if you think tugging on your foreskin every day to get re-uncircumsized is crazy, then lock him up in an institution.
So what if he says he met an alien on government assistance who was trying to buy a bike off Craigslist? I guess he lives in a different sort of world than the rest of us. A world where the government is putting Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 3 into your food and using fake food that's actually nuclear waste that they're trying to get rid of to control your mind. At one point Fiske had a month's worth of filtered water to reduce fluoridation saved up in kombucha bottles, as advised by a Y2K survival VHS tape narrated by Leonard Nimoy. I guess he's just more in touch with nature than the rest of us.
Is he really all about BMXing now?
He spends his time between BMX and skating, but his first passion is BMX. He sees it as a return to his roots. He does still skate as well, and has a part in Matt and Gene's "GIANT SPIDER SKATES TO RAVE (on weed laced with PCP)" video.
What happened to him? Why did things between him and Heroin Skateboards shit the bed?
It's tough to tell. I think Fos (founder of Heroin Skateboards) didn't really like how Fiske sent him fully edited parts with his harsh techno. Fos thought he was sending him too much poetry and techno and not enough skate tricks. Apparently Fiske didn't play ball too well, but when you have a creative skater like him you should expect erratic behavior.
You just released House II: The Second Story, the sequel to your beloved original House clip. Whose house is that, and what's the story behind the destruction?
That was Matt Roman's house. He was the original owner of Coliseum skate shop (which put out PJ Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life). He was tearing it down, and he wanted us to go in there and fuck it up as much as we could before he did. We feel that to create anything new you have to destroy the foundation on which it was built.
What's the skate scene like in Boston nowadays? It was internationally renowned in the 90s, but not much has come out of there since Zered Bassett, PJ Ladd, and Eli Reed.
I'm gonna pretend that Brandon Westgate never saw this question. It's tough to say what the scene is like now. It's a small scene and everyone knows each other, but it's kind of divided into three crews: Orchard, RAW, and Fancy Lad. For the freaks there's this new shop called Maximum Hesh, and they're starting a new crew. Orchard is pretty much the biggest thing around, and they have a certain aesthetic to them—they make the nice polished videos where ours are just shitty. And RAW are pretty much ledge gangsters who love Josh Kalis and Rob Welsh.
Is it the goal of Fancy Lad to restore the Boston skate scene to its former glory?
No! The goal is to make fun of what you got. The city that you live in is what you make of it. Everyone is moving to New York or LA to make it, but we don't give a shit about that. Fiske is a bike messenger, and I work at a café, which is nice because they let me wear that Burger King hat. I don't think any one of us could get a glamorous job. We are all on food stamps due to our low-paying jobs, and we even made a board graphic out of all of them. We're just in it for the fun times.
Any chance of getting Jereme Rogers on Fancy Lad after Selfish Skateboards eats itself?
I really hope we can get Jereme Rogers on the team. He's gonna have to provide his own Magnums, though.
What's next for Fancy Lad?
I am proud to announce the NEW Colin Fiske pro-model board, designed by Fos before he was kicked off Heroin Skateboards. Also, FL3, the third full-length Fancy Lad video, should be dropping by the end of the year. The best-worst video ever made. We are also working on the worst-shaped board ever made.
Last question. If Fancy Lad could be any other company, what company would it be?
I'd probably want to be Shorty's around the Guilty era. Jesse would be the Crazy Monk because he's got the nollie inward heels off the loading docks, Fiske would be the Muska, and I'd be Smolik. Or maybe we'd be Monster Energy. I'd probably be Nyjah Huston because he's doing it for the love of the game.
Follow Fancy Lad on Twitter.
More stupid can be found at ChrisNieratko.com and on Twitter.