Looking Forward, Looking Back with Kevin Spanky Long


MC_JZ_2015_SPANKY_INTERVIEW_12Photography and Interview by Joshua Zucker

Skateboarder Mr. Kevin “Spanky” Long has had one hell of a wild ride. After he found himself living in the Emerica Mansion in the hills of Los Angeles before he could count his pubic hairs on two hands, he spent most of his adolescence traveling the world under the intoxicated wing of an older crew. Now, at 30, he’s on the other side of the fence. We sat down to ask him how that feels, and what his plans are for the future.

JZ: What’s been going on?

KL: I’ve just been fucking skating a lot – we’ve been busy filming this Emerica Made Chapter 2 video, so that’s been like, full time job style trying to get street footage. Then I’ve got a couple tours coming up for summer.

What do you think about skating demos, at this point?

I’ve kind of been having fun skating demos for the first time in a long time. I dunno, they’ll never be anyone’s favorite thing to do. Or at least they’ll never be my favorite thing to do. I’ve definitely been having more fun skating parks I wouldn’t normally. I’ve been a bit of skate rat recently.

You got your Baker board back, did you know that was gonna happen?

Andrew (Reynolds) and I had been in communication for a while. I certainty didn’t know it was gonna happen then – he had communicated it was in his plans for the future – when I started cleaning up my act and skating a bunch for my part – but it was still a surprise that it happened then, and super rad.

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How long have you known Andrew?

14 years or something. When I first me those guys I was just a little kid, I was such a fan. It was just a trip. Those guys were like gods to us. I feel like I almost didn’t want to be around them because people say, “don’t meet your heroes,” type thing. That all changes really quick when you’re traveling with someone, and suddenly we were living in that Emerica mansion up in the hills so I think those barriers broke down really quick. And that was around the time that Andrew was cleaning up his act and getting off drugs and drinking, and trying to stay away from the typical party stuff he’d been doing.

Now that we’ve looked back, let’s go forward. You’re getting older as a skater. Where do you see yourself in 5, even 15 years?

Shit, that’s the difficult part of skating—it most certainly doesn’t last forever. That’s something I’ve been very aware of for over a decade. I dropped out of high school to travel the world skating, and I was so lucky to be able to do that. But, that’s been in the back of my mind this whole time – like, fuck, what the hell happens after this? Right now, I’m just happy to be a part of skating in any context and I’m just trying to enjoy it right now as it’s happening. Living in the moment. You’ve got certain guys, like Andrew or Ed, that are so legendary they’ll always be at the forefront of skating. I’d never assume I’m gonna be one of those guys so I’m just gonna skate how I skate now, and then I’d love to be a part of skating one way or another if I can, for the rest of my life. Or, if not, whatever, I’ll get a fucking job.

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What is your career motivation?

The drive is there because—I was explaining it to somebody recently, and I was going through a bit of hard time, and they were like, “are you able to work right now?” And I was like, “yeah I fucking skate for a living!” I get to be outside, exercise, push myself to do what I absolutely love to do most in the world and travel to do it, and the best part is that I’m surrounded by my best friends while I’m doing it. So it’s not hard to get the motivation to go out skating. It’s a fucking luxury and a privilege to be able to go out and do it. As far as pushing myself for a video, its an interesting time in skating where not everyone is expected to compete with the top level of whatever everyone’s doing. It’s like a post trick era where it’s nice that everyone’s doing their own shit and I think that’s a radical fucking formula for skateboarding because it’s like when you’re a kid and you’re learning to do it. You battle yourself and your own expectations and your own potential. So I have enough of a gage with my own potential to try and just reach what I can do as a 30-year-old street skater.

Is it hard to make it last so long in skating?

I came into skating at a really fortunate time and place, where if I were 16 now trying to get into skateboarding it’d be such a different thing—there’s so many more fucking kids that rip right now and so much more access to information and what’s cool—it’s such a different time. I feel like when we were kids, because there was less information, you really had to forge your own style a little more and the spectrum was a little different. It was easier to stand out. Now kids are so tapped into what’s “cool” that it’s harder to stand out. As far as longevity goes, that’s an ever changing thing as well, as there’s more kids that come about doing gnarly shit, standing out for whatever reason. There’s a quicker turn around these days, it’s harder to establish something that would cater to a longer career. So I just feel fortunate for the time and place that I fell into skateboarding.

What are you guys filming now?

We’re filming for the Emerica Made Chapter Two video. It’s the second installment of Emerica’s Made video. The first part, chapter one was Leo Romero, Brandon Westgate, Collin Provost, Jeremy Leabres – this ones gonna be a full length video but with another section of the team which is like us older guys pretty much, me, Jerry Hsu, Andrew Reynolds, Bryan Herman, and Figgy – not that Figgy’s older! It’s one of those real videos where you fucking work for a couple of years to try and do it. That’s how we grew up – really goal orientated. Check in everyday, research spots and write down your trick list, and work for it. It’s fun like that.

Would you say this is the most fun time in skateboarding right now?

For me, somehow it is the most fun I’ve had in skating. I think I’ll really look back at this point as like, for whatever reason, the most charged I’ve been—something to do with drifting away from skating and then finding that thing that makes me feel like a kid again. Also, as you get a little older you, look at things differently, and I feel way more fortunate this time around to be able to put in the time towards something and have anyone give a fuck to even grant me the opportunity to film a video part.

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