Photos by Mike O’Meally
Jack Fardell’s a skater’s skater, a style unique unto himself and the attitude to match.
And while he’s got more tats than an inmate and has been known to rock a pornstache more than twice, once you get behind the gruff exterior you’re quick to discover he’s not just one of the best street and park skaters on the planet, but a legend human to boot. We caught up with the Aussie export in LA to talk his transition from the back blocks of Queanbeyan NSW, to becoming an Adidas team rider and calling the streets of Silverlake home.
Jack! You’ve been in the US for a few years now and landed some big covers. Has it been harder or easier than you expected?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I never thought I’d be able to say I was on the cover of Thrasher or Transworld. Or be a part of the Adidas skateboarding team, be living in America with my beautiful wife. In saying that, it wasn’t easy and it doesn’t get any easier if you want to progress. I don’t think you can ever have the mindset of ‘you’ve done it’ and you’re good now. You have to keep producing all the time, stay relevant and skate your arse off. I’ve been out here six years. I was previously living in San Francisco for three years before heading south.
It’s almost like being a pro skater these days is like being an actor, you need to move to LA to make it?
I don’t think you have to move to LA, some of the best skaters in the world have found a way to do their best skating in their hometowns, and it works out great for them. As for me, I moved out here from Aus because my wife is from here and because I wanted to skate everything this country had to offer. And after SF I was ready for something different! The most difficult part is being away from family in Aus and the great lifestyle that we have down there. But I guess that’s what holidays are for. And LA, it’s just a really great city for skating. You can go any which way on the compass from downtown LA and skate an abundance of amazing spots. No two days are the same.
You’re filming a new part in LA right now?
Yeah, I’m just wrapping up an In Transition part for The Berrics. It’s a project they do every year where basically they pick eight skaters, then each skater picks a filmer and a skatepark. You have a deadline and you go to that skatepark day-in and day-out, and try and rip that thing to shreds until you have a video part. The viewers then vote on their favourite part for the grand prize.
And you’ve been heading out to East LA to shoot it, yeah?
Yeah, I chose Belvedere Skatepark because it has a lot of rad obstacles and different sections that give a lot of variety to a video part. I’m filming it with Jake Laeger, who films for The Berrics, rips on a skateboard and is a rad human. I’m also working on some other top secret projects that will be out early next year, as well as a bunch of travelling with Adidas. They’re the best crew ever, and we always have a blast.
It seems like skating is becoming more accepted by the day in the public eye. What’s the vibe on the streets?
It’s so different now to when I got here. Six years ago you’d nearly be face down in cuffs for skating a school. Now on weekends school grounds are packed with kids skating. The cops know who the pro skaters are these days and love having a chat. You spend more time chatting than skating sometimes. [Laughs]. You just have to be respectful and things are cool.
Similarly, what are your thought on skating culture being appropriated by high-end fashion?
[laughs] These blokes are busting their arses on a skateboard and if they get some love from high end fashion and can pay the bills, more power to them I reckon. I wouldn’t mind a couple free suits either!
The past couple years a lot of money has been put into skating with different series in the bid for the Olympics. Now it’s official, what are your thoughts on skating’s mainstream progression?
This is such a touchy subject for skateboarding. A lot of people are up in arms over the fact that their passion is going to be an Olympic sport, but a lot of other people are going full throttle into training and doing whatever they can to make the list for their country. If I get the call to represent Australia, of course I’m gonna be there. If not for me, but my country, my family and something to tell my kids one day. I owe it to my mum for sitting at the skatepark all those hours! Don’t get me wrong, core skating will always be the heart of skateboarding, that’s why we fell in love with this bloody thing.
Rumor has it you used to sleep with a can of VB by the bed back in the day. How’s your lifestyle changed the past few years?
I’ve definitely had a change of lifestyle! I got married, have a career now and plenty of obligations. I like getting up early and making the most of my days. I play a few rounds of golf a week whenever I’m home. I grew up playing with my old man, watching all the tournaments and as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more and more obsessed with the game. So life is good for the Fardells in America.
In surfing these days you’ve got comp surfers, free surfers, and big wave guys. Plus guys who do a bit of it all. How would you categorise the skating factions and where you sit?
It’s all similar now. You have guys that just skate contests, hate contests and like to do it all. That’s the best part about skating and surfing—it’s a reflection on who you are as a person, what you like to skate, what you wanna wear, who you listen to and who you look up to. In surfing, John John can put out the best part you’ve ever seen, then win a world championship. Mark Gonzales can be the most creative person on and off a skateboard and people love that—it’s influential. I do what I like to do.