Zach Lyons’s style, creativity, and positive vibe are definitely going to take him places in skating. He just put out a heavy part in Get Familiar, so now is a good time to get acquainted with this East Coast ripper. We recently sat down with Zach in order to give our readers a proper introduction.
Interview by Keir Johnson
Keir: Zach, of all your sponsors, your clothing sponsor is probably the most esoteric, tell me about them.
Zach: It’s called Constance Clothing. The thing I like about Constance is that it’s based out of the East Coast, it’s small but tight, I’m friends with everyone on the team, all of the designs are awesome and it’s independently owned so we have the freedom to do whatever we want. The team is Toebee Parkhurst, Pete Panciera who does all the art shit, Danny “firecrotch” Gotimer, Sean Cronan, Matt Douthwright, Lee Berman who is the newest team member, and myself.
Keir: How did you meet Toebee Parkhurst?
Zach: I met Toebee in Maine with my buddy Forrest Hagerman. He was the first sponsored skateboarder either of us had ever met, so we were hyped! He used to give us a pretty hard time, but he helped us out a lot too, he would give us hand me down boards and stuff, and he also got Forrest to stop pushing mongo.
Zach: Big tings big tings – a lot of new designs, a lot of trips, a lot of web stuff.
Keir: What kind of training do you do for skating?
Zach: Well I don’t want to give away my secrets or sound too much like a kook, but yeah, I try to stay pretty physically fit. I hate not being able to skate because my body is sore, or I don’t have enough energy. I don’t think I am that limber, I just seem limber because I’m skinny.
Keir: You got to be doing something to get on some of that stuff, but hey the spots maybe help too?
Zach: There are some of the best spots in the world just in the little areas of downtown, but you can’t front on how amazing Pulaski and Welfare are, but there’s a lot of other shit too, just a ton of spots around.
Keir: You like watching old DC vids?
Zach: Yeah, I love watching old DC skate videos, but most the time if I see a spot that I have never been to before it’s probably because it’s long since been destroyed…
Keir: Yeah that’s sad, so how did you first hear about a spot like where you had the lipslide transfer sequence in Skateboarder, Malcolm X park bowls?
Zach: I’m not sure when the first time I heard about it was… people would just tell me that there were little tranny’s in this fountain but that they were a little too small, plus every time I would go there they would be full of water.
Keir: Then you finally got to skate them?
Zach: I remember I shit at how fun they were! And I was mad at myself that it took so long for me to actually get to skate them. For those that don’t know Malcolm X is a public park in DC with 100 fountains that have transitions in them that make them perfect little two foot mini ramps. It kind of sucks because a lot more people are skating there now, so it’s kind of a bust. Park Police comes and takes down all of your info and kicks you out even though five feet away there’s crackheads ass fucking and doing crack in the bushes, and we are the one’s getting hassled!
Keir: Yeah, tough to film at?
Zach: It took me awhile before I thought of anything to film there really, but I was psyched when I finally did. A lot of people have done really really good stuff there, Lil Danny ollied off the ledge on top into the fountain which is crazy! I found out a few weeks ago that Wes Bell and I filmed the same trick at different times without each other knowing which is pretty funny.
Keir: Did you know that guy who owns Ramptech Ramps, Micro, had basically his first video part there? (Old Gullwing Video) You can even see Tucci super young ion the background.
Zach: Wow I’ve heard that, I would love to see the footy.
Keir: That leads me to the next spot you’re known for skating, Welfare, how steep are the banks really?
Zach: They are vertical! No, but they’re pretty steep. I think they look pretty steep in videos but people do always seem a little taken aback when they skate them for the first time.
Keir: In your opinion, what are the craziest tricks that have been done there?
Zach: Man, anything Tucci has done there is crazy!! He kills that place, a lot of insane shit has been done there.
Keir: How did you end up doing the 270 to boardslide on there?
It was the last couple days of filming for the Pitcrew video, and I went there with my buddy Mike Goldman to film a 180 nose grind revert, but I couldn’t do it! So I started trying the 270 lip slide, it just felt a lot easier so I did that instead. After I did it I wasn’t even sure if I liked it, but I went back with Mehring and shot a sequence of it and then they used it for the curtains in SLAP! I was blown away.
Keir: Do you have more tricks in mind for it now?
Zach: I’m always trying to think of something new there, I would love to do some more stuff. I feel like there are endless possibilities.
Keir: Tucci has definitely racked up some ish there, what’s up with Brian anyway?
Zach: Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t know much about Tucci. Everyone should know that he’s been doing it longer than anyone else and still kills it harder than anyone else. He deserves to be pro for whoever he wants. Tucci is king. If you’ve ever seen him skate in person then you’ve seen him do the craziest shit ever. Watching Tucci skate is like watching pure improvisational originality, it’s epic. Just the single tricks on whitewall alone are crazy, frontside 50-50 backside 180 out, switch wallrides every time. I saw him get into a lipslide on it just cruising around. I’m sure he will still be killing it 20 years from now!
Keir: Switching gears, when was the first time you went to SF?
I went there when I was 14. I was homeless at EMB. No, I’m kidding, I went there with my family. My dad had some conference for work so we were just staying in a hotel. I was just solo most of the time, but Thrasher had just done an article about Pier 7 so my brother Cameron took me down there one day. It was so awesome I couldn’t believe it – Chico Brenes was there and Pat Washington. I must have looked pretty scared because Mike York came up to me and was so cool. He told me not to worry about how good I was or what everyone else there was doing but that I should just have fun and enjoy the spot because it was a smooth ride, and it was! It was the smoothest ground I had ever skated. That was also the first time I met Karl Watson. I was trying to front nose slide off the two stair and my board slipped out and was about to go into the road and Karl jumped up and caught. I was stoked. I went to FTC and they gave me some stickers too! I was definitely hyped then.
Keir: Who would have known years later you’d be skating for Karl’s company, so skating the Pier really sticks out in your mind then?
Zach: Yeah definitely going there and everyone being so nice. You have to understand, at that point I was living in a very small town in Maine with no spots and bad weather and I got to go to SF and skate the Pier with my favorite pro skaters and not only did I get to skate with them, but they were super nice to me! And they had no reason to be. They just were, that really affected me. I’ve always tried to keep that in mind and try to be cool to every skater I meet.
Keir: Have there been other times where you found yourself at a spot and were just like “damn I’m actually here!”
Zach: Yeah for sure Love Park, Pulaski, I remember when I moved here I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t find Welfare. I was so bummed, I would have dreams about it, so when I finally found it I was so happy.
Keir: I know you guys play SKATE constantly just like everybody else, who’s got the fiercest competition in DC?
Zach: Bobby for sure, it seems like he always wins and could care less. Also D-Suburbs AKA Daniel Kim and I always have good games. Also Jimmy McDonald, Tyler Tuffy, Wes Bell, and James Anderson. I always have fun games with those guys.
Keir: Daniel Kim – who is he?
Zach: He’s a young up and comer out of DC. At first meeting he seems like a dick but he’s not, he’s also a lot weirder than most people know.
Keir: Is he any good?
Zach: He’s super good!
Keir: Who tries to pull some shady shit on you in SKATE games?
Zach: We all do pretty much all the same tricks, but when Tyler thinks he’s going to lose he starts doing double flips of every variation – which are real tricks but I can’t do them, so it always drives me crazy.
Keir: I bet Jimmy Pelletier throws some craze into the mix, talk to me about JP.
Zach: Jimmy is the best dude ever, there’s no way around it. I heard someone describe him as the mascot for skateboarding, which I think is a pretty good description. He’s Chris Hall’s partner in crime, skates for PitCrew, and loves skateboarding. He’s a very genuine person and a great person to have as a friend. He has a ton of awesome no comply combos that seriously no one else has. But he also has a very unique style. Hanging out with Chris and Jimmy at the same time is the best because they just feed off of each other and say the funniest things.
Keir: What’s going on with him right now?
Zach: Well he hurt his knee, but he’s going to make a comeback! C’mon Jimmy!
Keir: Park Police, whats the deal with them?
Zach: I have been chased a bunch of times, nothing too bad, but I’ve probably paid close to a grand to the DC government by now.
Keir: Damn, that is whack! Have you seen them do some trife shit to other skaters?
Zach: I saw a Park Police shoot a skater in the face with his gun… no, I didn’t really see that haha. I have seen people getting tackled, that was pretty bad. There was one time Darren was filming a trick and Park Police came and Darren reasoned with him and told him that he was from the ghetto and that this is how he makes a living and it’s better than dealing drugs or gang banging and the Park agreed with him and let him finish filming. I couldn’t believe it! All in all they’ve been pretty much the same the whole time I’ve been here so I don’t know… just as long as it doesn’t get worse.
Keir: Let’s talk about your first big time video part, Pitcrew’s Where I’m From.
Zach: Well Mark Nickels filmed most of it. I didn’t have long to film it because they were already in the thick of it when I started, but I went on a cross country trip with Mark, Paul, and Matt Willigan. We stayed in LA for two months so that helped out a lot. Most of my footage was from DC and then from that LA trip with some stuff in between.
Keir: What’s the story with Paul McElroy?
Zach: Paul’s been killing it forever also, and has never gotten what he deserves. I skate with Paul a lot and it always trips me out because I always really liked his footy and photos and stuff, and now he’s one of my good friends. He’s raw, skates fast, and is well rounded.
Keir: Who do you think in DC should be the next pro?
Zach: Without a doubt, Paul, Tyler Tuffy, and Adam Graham all deserve to be pro, and then some. We’re working on something right now, so hopefully it will all work out and they will “Finally” get what they deserve.
Keir: Get Fam part, talk about that.
Zach: Chris told me he was going to do a video with Darren, and he wanted me to be involved, so of course I was down. He hadn’t filmed since the True Math video, but we filmed my first two tricks for the video together, one actually made it in. We went to a lot of different places for the video including NYC, SF, LA, Boston, and Cincinnati just to name a few. There’s one line in the video at the tow-in pound in NYC. People always comment that I’m smiling after the first trick, but in reality that line had become a nightmare. I just couldn’t land it for whatever reason, and I was smiling, not because I was happy, but because I was so mad I was about to explode. I thought I had landed the first trick so bad. But I think it turned out okay.
Keir: What about the song you used?
Zach: This band Blonde Redhead. Finding the song was also a nightmare because we had to get the rights to the music, so I found 1000 songs that we could not use, and finally we got the rights to that song.
Keir: How do you manage to get so many photos in the magazines?
Zach: I try and shoot a lot of photos, and I get real lucky. I don’t have a secret, but I do try and shoot photos of spots that I think are interesting, stuff that maybe you don’t see as often?
Keir: So to make money you do skate camps, talk about those.
Zach: My buddy Chris Oppila hooked it up. They’re on the weekends in the morning. It’s awesome. I get to skate and give little kids pointers and I get paid for it. I’ve also worked at Woodward for the past few summers too so that helps.
Zach: Basically Chris introduced me to Karl at Pitcrew and he was hyped and I was hyped so he hooked it up. It’s crazy, I remember when Organika first came out my friend Danny (Squirrel Master) Gotimer and I were so psyched on it. I remember thinking if I could skate for anyone it would be Organika, and here I am.
Keir: And it’s working out well?
Zach: Well as soon as I started talking to them it was about being full am. So it all happened pretty quickly.
Keir: Whats cracking with them now?
Zach: Hopefully we will be doing a lot of stuff for 2007. We are doing a Platinum Edition of It’s Official, so that should be really good.
Keir: Are your parents psyched?
Zach: They say they are. They know I’m doing what I love, which is what matters.
Keir: Thank you’s?
Zach: I want to thank everyone for everything.