After over a decade at the forefront of blading, Alex Broskow is still pushing boundaries and his passion for his craft is unrelenting, with more sections and blader-owned products on the horizon.
There have been some big changes in Alex Broskow’s life in the past few years. At the end of 2012, he started Dead Wheels with close friend and fellow professional Chris Farmer, releasing their respective pro wheels that would go on to sell out before things went mysteriously quiet. He has also relocated from Kansas City, Missouri to Portland, Oregon for a change of pace and a considerable change in scenery. It would seem that we are about to see developments on both fronts as Broskow has recently finished filming for his Thee Strange VOD section, which takes place exclusively in Oregon, and apparently there are new Dead products on the way, along with plans for a video. It looks like it’s going to be another busy year for the man who hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since he rose to prominence through his sections in early KFC productions.
When we spoke to Broskow, it was a week after he sustained a head injury on a drop rail that resulted in him requiring six staples and put a temporary halt to filming with Amir Amadi. We are happy to report that he has successfully completed filming for his new section with no further injuries, so while we wait for what is likely to be another exceptional part from the Valo professional, he fills us in on what he’s been up to recently and gives his side of the story regarding the alleged fall out with Sean Kelso over royalties for KCMO.
Wheel Scene: How are you doing after your head injury?
Alex Broskow: I’m good. I feel normal now, basically. I’ve just got to get these staples out.
Was the fall as bad as the photo suggested?
It was bad, it was really bad, but luckily I just needed staples and nothing else.
When things like that happen, does it freak you out or knock your confidence?
This one just made me really mad because it set back filming. I wanted to be done filming right now. It was a stupid fall. I blame it on the spot.
Seems fair! How much longer until you are finished filming the section?
I have about five or six more things I really want to do and then, once I do those, we’re basically done. Then we just have to edit, which will probably take a little while. Amir’s schedule is pretty busy. Hopefully soon, though.
When you film a section, do you plan out the tricks you want to do or the spots you want to skate?
I have a list of spots that I wanted to skate and then a lot of it is random too. It kind of depends. If you are on your way to a planned spot, you might pass something that’s cool on the way. When I get nearer to the end of filming, it’s more planned out. I save some tricks for the end.
The ones that you’re worried you might get hurt on?
That or just forgot about them, you know? Sometimes you watch all the footage you have and then you’re like, “I could use more of this or that.”
How long have you been living in Portland for now? It’s been a while, right?
It’s almost a year. It will be a year this month.
What prompted you to move there?
It’s just a really cool place. I wanted to live somewhere completely different from Kansas City and this is it. It’s completely different, it’s beautiful. It’s like a really cool, young, fun city. The skating here is cool.
How does it compare to living in Kansas City?
Oh, it doesn’t compare at all. (Laughs) It’s, like, way better. I don’t know how you can live in a place like that anyways. I did before, but I wouldn’t be able to do it now.
So there’s no chance of you ever moving back?
Maybe Kansas City, but it wouldn’t be any time soon. It would have to be the right circumstance or something would have to happen to bring me back there.
Am I right in thinking Amir Amadi moved out there first?
Yeah, he’s been here two years now.
Who does the group consist of now that you guys are located in Portland?
For the most part, when we skate, it’s just me and Amir. It’s challenging because I’m trying to get clips and he’s filming, so I’m skating by myself. We get Ross Kuhn to skate every now and then. Ben Magaziner, I skate with him quite bit. There’s a lot of dudes that skate here, there is a pretty good scene, but as far as filming goes, it’s pretty much just me and Amir, unless friends are in town.
I know that Amir is working full-time in a restaurant…
Yeah, it’s a restaurant/bar. It’s the same one that Ross works at. He had two jobs for a little while, so it was really hard to skate during that time. Between his jobs and his social life on top of that… He’s a busy, popular guy! A lot of people are trying to hang out with Amir.
(Laughs) Are you working or are you managing to get by on a blading salary?
I’m getting by just skating. It’s tough, but it’s working out.
What are you loving and hating about your new home?
The worst is that it’s more expensive – that’s about it. Kansas City is very cheap to live in. Other than that, it’s great here. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just beautiful. There’s always something to do, inside and outside the city. There’s nature, crazy shit, 30 minutes away.
I’ve seen some photos of you guys on nature walks, hanging out at waterfalls and stuff like that. It looks incredible.
Yeah, and it’s right outside the city. It’s crazy.
I know that Jeph Howard was out there visiting you recently. Was he there for anything in particular or just hanging out?
He just came out to see the city. Him and his wife are actually moving here at the end of July. He came here to check it out, it was his first time, and then he fell in love with it, like everyone does.
Wait. Did he decide he was moving to Portland before he came to visit or…?
Him and his wife wanted to move to the northwest, they were pretty much set on it, then he came and he was like, “Oh, yeah.”
That’s pretty random. Aside from the section you’re working on with Amir, have you got anything else coming up? I noticed you didn’t have anything in Main Dish.
Right now, I’m just trying to finish this Strange part. I wanted stuff in Main Dish, but we don’t have an HD camera and nobody really had any unused footage. AJ didn’t have any footage, so unfortunately I’m not in there. After this is done, hopefully I will start working on something else almost instantly.
I do find it strangely amusing that now that there’s no money in the sport, professional bladers seem to be a lot more productive. In the past, when there was money in the sport, pros were active for a short amount of time. You would only get pro skaters for a few years and then they would disappear. Now, with little money, there are pros that have been going for over a decade – like yourself, Franky Morales, Chris Haffey etc – and you’re all still progressing the sport in different ways. What motivates you to keep progressing?
I just love to do it. It’s fun, I’ve been doing it so long and I know it so well. And if things do turn around, the people that have been doing it so long know both sides – money and no money – so when it does turn around, those are the guys you want at the front to push things forward. It’s still fun. I would be doing it anyways. I might not be doing it at the same level.
But you are still doing at the level where there are great risks involved, which is evident by your recent head injury.
(Laughs) I don’t know. It just comes with the territory; you gotta pay to play.
That seems like a healthy attitude to have. On a completely unrelated topic, what is happening with Dead Wheels?
We’re just trying to figure out a couple of different wheels. We want our own wheel – not piggy-backing on another brand or another existing wheel and putting a logo on it. We’re trying to create a wheel from scratch, so it takes a long time and it takes a lot of money, but it’s close. We’re almost done, so when that’s finished there will be a full revamp. The wheels will hopefully come out at the end of summer.
How long have you been testing wheels for the new line?
Since Blading Cup, so I guess since October. It’s been a while. Farmer has been doing more of the testing than I have. He’s in California and the new wheels are made in California, so he’s been doing more of the testing. Some of the testing wasn’t even skating. It was, like, you get a wheel, cut it open, look at it, see what’s good about it, what’s wrong with it. We’ve been seeing the kind of moulds we can get, stuff like that.
Checking for bubbles in the urethane and stuff like that?
Yeah. We’re trying to figure out the more affordable way to go to create our own wheel rather than spending $60,000, which we clearly don’t have. Soon we will have new wheels and they will be different from every other wheels, basically. We’re going to try and do a video shortly after that…or something like that.
We got a random question on the Facebook page to ask you – what is your favourite trick that you have landed?
Erm…I don’t know. Certain tricks feel good to land for certain reasons. If you’re scared of it and you do it first try, the feeling you get is… You can’t explain it. It happens. You’re overcoming that fear. Nothing is better than doing a really buttery back royale, though, that’s a great feeling. I’ll go with a back royale.
You’re telling me there’s no trick that you’re just glad you survived trying?
Definitely a lot of the tricks when I was younger because they were just crazy and stupid. I’m like, “It’s a good thing I landed that”, or, “I don’t know why I tried that but I’m glad I did it.” It might have looked like shit, but I didn’t care then, so whatever. (Laughs)
You did a lot of terrifying tricks when you were younger.
I guess, all of us coming up at that time, we were all doing that, but we were coming up and the main pros were Dustin Latimer, Brian Shima and Jon Elliot and those guys; you couldn’t compete with that. People like Dominic Sagona and Randy Spizer and Louie Zamora… or Josh Petty. You couldn’t compete with those guys, so, coming up, you just had to do the craziest shit you could, otherwise you would never get noticed. No matter who you were, you weren’t going to do something as sick as Dominic or Petty, you know?
So your plan was to go as big as you could to set yourself apart?
Exactly. Then it was like, “Holy shit, this kid is crazy.” Then you start getting packages and you don’t have to do as crazy stuff, but then that became our normal way of skating. Luckily, we grew out of that.
“No matter who you were, you weren’t going to do something as sick as Dominic or Petty, you know?”
Thinking back on how close to death you could have come with some of those massive tricks, and you were doing them for about five or six years, does it not surprise you that you have not had more serious injuries?
You know what you can do. You’re going to be scared of it, but you know what’s in your boundaries and what’s not. You know what tricks you’re good at, what tricks you’re not good at. I would pretty much stick to royales and topsouls with crazy shit…or a variation of that. The people that do really crazy shit, technical tricks on big things, I don’t understand that. If you’re doing a disaster, for the most part, it’s a disaster back royale or topsoul, or a true mizou. Always try to stay in your trick range and…yeah, get lucky!
(Laughs) But friends of yours that have been seriously injured, like Brandon Mateer’s head injury in Barcelona and Yuri’s fall on the drop rail, they were both doing tricks well within their skill set at the time. They were just really unlucky.
Yeah, they got very unlucky. Brandon could have done that trick to that rail extremely easy. He could have done it to soyale just as easy. It was like an inch flaw that happened, but that’s now skating is though. Sometimes you miss something by an inch, or a quarter inch, and it fucks everything up.
Unlike a lot of pros, you have never really courted any gossip or controversy, or involved yourself in disputes with companies or other skaters. When you left Rollerblade, you just left.
(Laughs) In a way, yeah.
What did you think about it? Were your surprised by what he said?
Yeah, I was just hurt. To hear your friend say that stuff about you, it’s just hurtful. Everything is fine now. A few days after that came out, we talked and figured everything out. He was going through a rough patch. A lot of things were changing in his life and his skating career. I mean, I understand it. There were also a lot of things that got misinterpreted through our own friends, you know, the whole he said/she said kind of thing.
In the interview, he did sound genuinely upset that, as a result of the video, your friendship had been affected. What was the dispute regarding money? Did you guys have an agreement before the video came out and then it changed once the video was released? Sean’s explanation in that interview was a little unclear.
We never really talked about money or anything in the beginning of filming. But it’s a known thing, when you make a homie video, and then it ends up making money, you give some of the money made to the homies in the video, it’s just a normal thing. We never really talked about it, you… I don’t know. You expect it, I guess ‘cause you’ve been paid for other videos. You get paid after the video makes money, that’s just what happens. We had no idea the video would make the money that it made because it was just such a brand new platform of selling it online. I think how long it took was when we started getting frustrated, but it was never an issue of how much money we were getting; it was never about that. Everybody in the video got paid the same amount, which is awesome because everybody deserves the same amount. Everybody filmed for almost two years and… There was just a lot of confusion.
And there’s so many different people and once the internet gets involved, it just fucks everything up. It wasn’t even way after we got the money… It was just a confusion thing. Lack of communication once the video came out.
It sounds like you’re being a little diplomatic. Everyone did contribute to the video, but if you and Farmer didn’t have sections, surely there is no way it would have been as successful as it was?
I mean… You never know.
(Laughs) This is exactly what I’m talking about! You are far too polite about it.
I mean, of course having big names in a video is going to draw downloads and sales and stuff, but… I don’t know… I guess, if you’re going to have a payment plan for something like that, for the larger names in the video, it would have to be discussed beforehand…and then it’s also up to whoever makes the video. It’s their video, it’s their project, so they have the say in the long run. Everyone deserves money, for sure, as long as you’re coming out on top. If you’re getting money, give it back to the people that helped out, but whoever made the video gets the most amount – that just goes without saying.
So you guys are back on speaking terms?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, right after all that happened, even before I left Kansas City, everything was all good. We talk all the time, a couple of times a week sometimes.
I saw that he was riding your pro skate for a while, so he was obviously showing you support.
What did you think of 18Plus?
I liked it. It made me sad because I wasn’t there to skate and hang out with everybody but as far as watching it, I really liked it. It’s, out of recent videos, the one I would put on the most before I’d go skate. It’s just such a fun video. They’re having fun the whole time, just filming themselves having fun. They’re skating cool shit, they look cool and really stylish doing it. It’s a good “get yourself ready to go skate” video.
It definitely has the random session vibe about it.
It’s like, “Skate anything and everything and have fun.” Of course, all of Darst’s footage is tip-top.
He has some really surprising tricks in it. Before that, a lot of people had only seen his Create Originals edit. Even now, with his section in Haitian’s lost tapes, there’s a lot of hype around him being the new generation but there’s very little evidence that people can watch of his skating. He’s had other sections, but not too many people have seen them. It seems to be more word of mouth, and people meeting him and being impressed by what they see.
Seeing him skate in real life is something, man.
Yeah, exactly. You mentioned you sometimes watch 18Plus before you go out, but what other recent videos have you found motivational?
Definitely Bolino’s Vibralux part.
I watch that one and I’m just like, “Fuck, yeah!” A lot of the online stuff that comes out, I will watch it for that week and then I just forget about it. David Sizemore just had that Blackjack edit – I watched that for those first three or four days about four or five times each day. That was really good.
And probably because it was filmed in standard definition and you seem to quite like that approach!
(Laughs) It was great and you could just tell that it was meant to be fun. Of course, there are really good tricks and really hard tricks, but at the same time it was like, “This is us having fun.” Making something that is sick and badass, and also fun… The fact that it was in standard def just kind of adds to that. You’re not trying to make some cinematic bullshit. It’s skating, it’s meant to look that way.
So you prefer the grittier ‘90s vibe to something that looks like it’s got a high production value?
Yeah. I mean, both are good for certain things, depending on what it is, but street skating is supposed to be a raw feeling thing. For it to be in super HD and filmed like it’s in some movie or something, it’s just not exciting. It makes it more bland. When it’s grittier, it feels grittier. A lot of skating is gritty, so… I don’t know. Adding that old school flavour to it is nice.
You mean it keeps the actual energy of what you’re doing with it?
Yeah. It creates a feel more than HD does, I think. It also depends who does it. Not everyone can film in standard def, or with like a VX, and make something and put it out. A lot of people will do that. They’ll think, “I have the recipe now. I’ve got a VX, everything I do is gonna be sick.” They put shit out and it just looks like garbage. At least they’re not using a GoPro or some shit.
(Laughs) It does seem like a lot of people are trying to capture the whole ‘90s vibe – constant fisheye, trying to make it looks as budget as possible to try and copy things like Strange Creatures, Haitian, things like that.
It also goes with the skating that these different crews are doing. There’s certain spots where they’re doing a lot of lines, or random, more creative stuff, you have to film that fisheye and you have to know how to use a fisheye, and you have to use a good fisheye. If you use a DSLR, it’s just gonna look like shit no matter who you are. I think that’s why a lot more of the standard def stuff is getting popular right now. You can use a good HD fisheye too, if you’ve got the money for it. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you’ve got it.
Another random question from someone on Facebook – name your top five favourite musicians.
I don’t know… I don’t listen to that much stuff at the moment. I don’t have a computer, so I don’t download music all the time. I have old CDs. I used to buy CDs a lot. Other than that, I listen to some shit on YouTube occasionally. When I drive, I just listen to the radio, pop stations and…
“If you use a DSLR, it’s just gonna look like shit no matter who you are. I think that’s why a lot more of the standard def stuff is getting popular right now.”
Do you have a car now or are you still on the scooter?
I have a little truck. My Vespa got stolen.
What happened there?
(Laughs) It’s Kansas City; it’s a hood city. It just got stolen in front of the crib. My ex-girlfriend’s scooter got stolen too. Sean Kelso’s scooter got stolen. Sean’s was locked up too. It was locked and it still got popped.
I didn’t realise Kansas City was like that. I’ve been there as a kid but that was a long time ago.
It’s hood. I was kind of asking for it too. If you have a nice scooter, if someone knows what a Vespa is, and it’s sitting out overnight and unlocked… That was my bad.
I can’t imagine a scooter would be that hard to steal either.
Yeah, you just need like three or four jacked dudes and a pick up truck, or a van. You just lift it up and put it in. I made a police report and everything, but nothing happened. I had it for like eight years too, man. It was such a bummer.
But you’re driving a truck now.
It’s like a little quarter…it’s small. I try not to drive it that much. Lately I’ve just been walking around town. I only drive when I have to go over to Amir’s house with my skates and my camera and shit. If people are in town… I drive to hockey.
To play hockey or to watch hockey?
To play hockey, yeah.
Are you still doing that regularly? Is it full contact?
Once a week, sometimes I play twice a week. It’s a men’s league, but no contact. The occasional contact, here and there, but you get a penalty usually. Temper’s flair, but…
It’s usually the highlight of my week.
It sounds like you have set up home in Portland and you’re really enjoying it.
Oh, yeah. It’s a very easy place to enjoy. It’s good.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m trying to go places. I was trying to go to Europe for Blade Days, Roskilde and stuff, but that didn’t work out. I had to move out of my apartment when that was happening. I really want to do something with Ryan Gillet for Cidy Life, so hopefully we can plan something out. I really want to make something with him. The Dead video, whenever that happens. Other than that, I’m going to the James Short Memorial in August. Other than that, no plans. It just means I have a lot of time.
Photos: Matt Langel and Keith Brierley
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