Cobblestone cracks, visible breath, frost damaged concrete… You've got to love it. Well, maybe you don't. Perhaps it's an acquired taste. But even if you don't prefer skating aged spots full of character and texture, it certainly is cool to look at. After filming and shooting the majority of his footage and photos on the smooth ground of Southern California during trips over the years, Tom Asta has released his first part consisting of what he skates most: The East Coast. While exploring the suburbs of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware in filming for this part, he has been able to come through with a stack of original spots, all chilled to perfection. – Luke Callahan
"This looks like it's in Europe or something, but it's in West Philly at the University of Penn. We were the first people, and still the only people to skate this thing. We waxed it up right then and there. We had gone back to shoot a photo on it and it was sandblasted and we had to rewax it some so he could do it again. This university is a really gnarly bust. They won't ticket you but you get kicked out right away. They don't skatestop anything but they have bike cops that circle the place constantly." – Ian Berry, filmer.
Your last interview was in 2011, you had just turned pro. Since then—you've started competing in Street League, you're now a father, and there's been a few sponsor shifts. How would a session differ now than it did back in 2010/2011?
They're kind of similar. A skate session is always a skate session, you're always trying to get stuff done. With Street League, I definitely take it a little more serious. It's a way to make some extra cash—being a father that definitely helps out. A normal session, that's the same; you're always going to try to make a part the best that you can.
"Every part I've every done I've traveled to California and filmed there…
This part is mostly East Coast. It's the first time I've ever had that."
You have a part coming out on twskate.com with this interview. What's the ratio of West Coast footage to East Coast footage in it?
Probably like 90 percent East Coast, 10 percent West Coast, which is really cool for me because I've never really had that before. Every part I've every done I've traveled to California and filmed there and only had a few things from PA. I was kind of like, "Crap, man, I'm filming all this stuff and I'm not even from here," you know? It was more businessy almost. I couldn't just go skate with the homies and make a video, I had to go out there and do it. This part is mostly East Coast. It's the first time I've ever had that.
"This rail is in Ridgewood. This one's out there. It's almost at the border, right where Jersey turns to New York up there. This is actually [laughs] where Governor Christie shut the bridge down from New York to Fort Lee." [The New Jersey Governor denied knowledge of the bridge fiasco and the alledged intention of punishing Fort Lee's Democratic Mayor for not endorsing Christie's reelection.] "This is the town right next to there." – Ian Berry
How vast are the East Coast missions you guys have been going on for this part?
I live in Langhorne, which is right outside of Philadelphia, so we're always in Philly skating around spots there. But it's really easy to get bored of; it's the same stuff over and over again. We've been venturing out to suburbs west of Philadelphia. Suburbs you wouldn't even really think of—Reading, Morgantown, Westchester. We're not even in cities too much. Philadelphia, Wilmington, Trenton. We do a lot in Trenton and North Brunswick actually. Delaware. Everything in this little zone.
"We've been venturing out to suburbs west of Philadelphia. Suburbs you wouldn't even really think of."
How has it been filming and shooting this project so far into the winter?
For the last couple years I haven't really spent too much of winter in PA. I would go out to Cali a bunch, at least a week or two out of every month. It's kind of cool having to skate in the cold and snow. You take advantage of those days that you get. You get a 40-degree day, and it's sunny, it's like, "Let's do this." We're super hyped, because you don't get them too often in the winter. Especially this winter, it's been real gnarly, down into the teen degrees. In California, you might get a good day and be like, "Nah, we don't need to go out today, we'll go out tomorrow." Every day is going to be nice. Out here you don't get that—you've got to take advantage of those nice days. You've got to really try to make something happen.
"The backside flip is up in Pennsauken, New Jersey. We filmed a lot up there. This used to be a shopping center and now it's closed down. It's super old and shitty, you can almost see the potholes everywhere. You have to land in a certain path to not hit them. I'm sure bums live in there. It's huge. It's a half a block of shopping center, just closed down."– Ian Berry
How much does the aesthetics of the spot come into play for you?
On this last trip to California, we went to a foundation spot. They were cool gaps, but they were plain. Concrete, concrete, gap. It's a little boring looking. It's cool, just for fun to skate, but I don't really want to film on it. This spot was made by skaters too. It's kind of weird. That always kind of tripped me out a bit. If the spot looks cool, it gets me more hyped to skate it for sure.
Is it tougher to be selective spot-wise in PA?
Definitely. If you find a spot that's skateable out here, they don't come around that often. Even being out in California for the past week, they were taking me to spots that they haven't even been to before. That would never happen out here. If someone came out here, they'd be taken to our spots. We find new ones every once and a while, but they don't come around that much. At least where I'm from, I don't want to speak for the whole East Coast.
The LRG Nicaragua trip was a little different than other tours for you. You guys got to stay with Chico Brenes' family right?
Yeah, they've got a super nice place. It's almost loftish. You're outside the whole time. It's just gated in; it's not an enclosed place. There's mango trees that the house is built around. The mangos would just be banging down on the metal roof the whole night. His family and all the neighbors, they all knew each other. It seemed like they were way tighter than anyone around here. Usually [on trips] you're just in a hotel or you rent a little apartment. There we got to see everything, how they run it. You're on their block.
TOM ASTA TIMELINE
HOT WAX CAMEO
Between a silent car ride to and from the spot, a young Asta frontside flips a two-flat-two for the friends section of Chris Cole's homie video.
HOT WAX 2
Tom proves himself in his full part in the second Hot Wax video. Around this time Tom moves up from rep flow to being officially on Zero's radar.
TWS CHECK OUT
With a well composed frontside feeble as well as some solid words from Chris Cole, Tom makes his first appearance in TWS.
Tom becomes a part of the Zero video legacy sharing a part with Chris Cole. Tom signs off with a nollie backside heelflip down the Hollywood 12.
TWS ROLL CALL / PRO DEBUT
Tom's first interview is published and his pro part drops in Mystery's Color Theory series. He closes with a switch frontside heelflip down the LOVE fountain gap.
JOINS STREET LEAGUE
A year after his pro debut, Tom enters one of the busiest contest circuits of this era. Frequent contest stops are worked in between tours and filming.
TWS PRO SPOTLIGHT
Tom graces the cover of TWS and releases a part on twskate.com along with his interview. It is the first part of his pro career filmed mainly in the East.
"This is actually going to be an LRG commercial too. They went to ten or fifteen ledge spots. They're switching out the background, so there're ten backgrounds flying by as he's doing the trick. He only did the full trick once. But he did like ten different bigspins into ledges, ten different tailslides, and then ten kickflips out, and they pieced it all together. This is the actual make from the commercial." – Ian Berry
CHRIS COLE ON TOM ASTA
How long have you known Tom?
Tom is from my hometown. He was really young when we met. I was probably somewhere around 19 or 20. My best friend Ian [Berry], who's Tom's best friend now too, he met him through the skate shop. We wanted him to have a trick in the friends section of the Hot Wax video, so we went and picked him up. I remember Tom got in the car and didn't say anything the entire time. We went to this two-flat-two double set and he frontside flipped it. We drove him back home, and he never said a word.
How long did it take for him to open up?
It took a year. With Tom it's funny because he's reserved, but he's not shelled up or a boring dude. He just doesn't unnecessarily fill the air with his own voice. He's really a super sick dude, and then it just helps so much that I'm such a fan of the way he skates and the tricks he picks and the way he does something.
What stood out to you about Tom's skating when you initially met him?
The way we grew up skating is really similar, like we skated on a flatbar and a grind box like forever. You'd skate it alone, you'd skate it with friends. But he was a skate rat; he learned all the tricks and didn't skip shit. He learned it like Lego blocks to build on. It makes a good skater, if you're just building from all the blocks you have. Basically he can learn tricks without learning them—he just puts tricks together and lands them.
What made you want to push for him at Black Box?
If I'm pushing for a dude, it's more than tricks. They have to be able to come through. We've noticed over the years, with skaters and great pros, it's not all about how good the skater is. If it were just about how good the skater is, then it would be really small. It would be super flavorless and just boring. First and foremost it was because Tom's character is awesome and his skate ethic is awesome. And so I knew that he would produce and he would grow to be a great skateboarder. On and off the board. He wasn't going to fly loose canon and blow of all his money on partying and burn out. He comes from a great family, great area, great friends. He's a solid individual and is totally confident in who he is.
What are you most hyped to see from Tom next?
His TransWorld part. You know a lot of people don't see much of Tom throughout the year, and the reason why is he's kind of gone dark is because he's constantly filming and on tour. He's been filming a part and nobody knows, so when the part drops it's going to be really good.
"This is in Old City Philadelphia. This spot used to be a gnarly bust. Chris and I were arrested here a couple years ago and they took all of the camera gear. We had to go pay the fine the next day to get it back. They've closed that building down now so you can skate it. Back then you couldn't skate it at all. It's mellow now you can skate there all day." – Ian Berry
What happened with Fallen?
Fallen was good and everything was cool, but towards the end I started looking for other things. Jamie was psyched to have me on the team, but my contract was up and he was not going to pay me as much. And I was like, "Shit, man, this is the busiest year of my life." Street League, traveling, filming. I didn't really want to take a pay cut. He knew that I was looking for something else that would pop up on the way. I didn't have any other shoe companies hitting me up, so when my contract ended Jamie was like, "I'm going to continue to pay you, but pay you half". Which was cool, I was thankful that he even offered me anything. He could have been like, "You're looking for other sponsors?" Like, "Later." You know? He kept me on through the end of Road Less Traveled so we could have the video come out and I could have footage come out and maybe find a shoe sponsor. After the video came out, we went our separate ways. It was mutual. He knew I was going. I knew I was going. We stuck it out for a while so the video could come out. And after that we did our own thing.
"You've got to take advantage of those nice days. You've got to really try to make something happen."
What have you been doing for shoes since then? You've been skating a variety throughout this interview and part.
DC has sent me some shoes. I really like the Mike Mos. That's what I'm skating right now. I've skated a lot of Nikes. The way I wanted to do it was to go into the shop and pick shoes that I would want to skate. I never got to do that before. I've always had a shoes sponsor before. It's been the first time, aside from when I was a kid, that I got to go into the shop and pick a shoe. Any brand. The shop hooked me up with a couple pairs of shoes. Once I found what I liked, that's when I hit up team managers to see if I could get some shoes, just to skate in. That's how I've been running it, back and forth between Mike Mos and Koston 1s. Those are my two favorites right now.
"This spot is close to our house in Langhorne. By the time we got back, it was night. We don't have lights out here, we don't fuck with that shit really [laughs]. We get to the spot and it's finally skateable because everybody is gone. We thought it was going to be too dark but the whole place is fully spot lit up so it worked out better than the day time." – Ian Berry
Prior to Street League, would you say that you were a contest guy?
No. I don't want to call out certain contests, but I like Street League more than any contest I've ever done. It seems like it's got the best format going. It's easier than going to a contest where there are 60 people in it and you have to wait through all these heats. It's short and sweet. I've gone to some contests since and they're not really for me. It's weird that I feel comfortable in a Street League and I go to another contest and I don't feel comfortable. Street League is kind of the gnarlier contest when you watch it, but it's less nerve-racking, which is weird. That's how I feel anyway.
"It's definitely hard going from doing a trick on a flatbar to having to take it to a rail. It kind of sucks [laughs]. But that's what I do."
A lot of the Street League pros have personal training facilities with their own personal 10-stair rails. What do you skate to get ready for these events?
[Laughs] I'm definitely jealous of all of that. They have the best parks to skate all year round, which is amazing. I always see 'em posting videos "skating Chris' park," "skating P-Rod's park." What I'm skating here before a Street League, trying to brush up or whatever, is the flatbar or maybe some ledges. The closest thing I have to anything Street League style would be the indoor park. I don't want to go there on a nice day. It's definitely hard going from doing a trick on a flatbar to having to take it to a rail. It kind of sucks [laughs]. But that's what I do.
The front crook pop over [next page] is in North Philly, by Temple University. They always like when you skateboard there. They always watch and ask about it. When we were there a bunch of college kids just sat around and smoked weed the whole time [laughs]. I was like "this is kind of weird" but whatever. It's such a quick transfer because it's such a short bar. I think this one is going in the LRG video."- Ian Berry
Just to clarify, the flatbar you skate is at one of those portable plastic parks, right? That's the TF?
Hell yeah. We got two of 'em [laughs]. We've got Newtown park, which is 10 minutes from my house. The other one is Falls park which is 15 minutes from my house. The indoor park we have here is good, but you don't want to go there on a nice day.
You've just wrapped up this TransWorld part over your last trip to California. Now what? What do you have coming up next for projects?
Now that this is out, I'm working on the LRG video that is supposed to be coming out in November. That's not even that far away. I'm going to Taiwan next month. Mystery is doing a video, I'm going to have some tricks in there.
The LRG video is coming up quick. Are you starting from scratch?
More or less. Since this part I've filmed some clips. I'm sitting all right right now, for having eight months left. I'll be able to come through with a part.
Follow Tom: @tom_asta