Making a name for yourself these days is no trip to Cleveland. Dudes be really, really good. And almost everything is HBD (has been… yeah, you got it). But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Jack Fardell came out of Queanbeyan, Australia, a few years back and promptly did the impossible, literally. He frontside carved the long bench at China Banks, 50-50'd the rail Cardiel took a beating on, and landed himself covers of both TWS and Thrasher—fresh off the Koala boat. Adding to that, he even managed to land a spot on the legendary Antihero roster, a thing perhaps even more difficult than any NBD or mag cover. From there, the story only gets crazier. He departed Antihero, something so dangerous only Bob Burnquist had done so previously wearing a parachute—then proceeded to shack up with Louie at enjoi and Skin and Gonz at adidas. He's now on the cusp of dropping his part in Away Days (premiering this May) and a happily married man—so we sat down for a conversation to get the full story of his exploits.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
Portrait By Dave Chami
How's it going, Jack?
Everything's good. Just busy. Away Days is coming up, so everybody is going crazy for the video—skating our asses off.
Is it definitely parts for each of you as far as the format?
I probably shouldn't give away all the surprises, but it's definitely parts, with some other cool shit in between. I think they want to make it a little different, so it's not just the usual skate-video format.
Do you approach it focusing on your part, or do you just sort of head out skating like usual?
Definitely focusing on it as a video part. Going out every day. Planning spots. Planning tricks that I want to get. Trying to think how I could do something differently or gnarlier. I just beat my own ass every day.
It's a heavy lineup to picture having a part in.
It's crazy. There are so many heavies on the team. Obviously Gonz. Lucas [Puig], Dennis Busenitz, Silas [Baxter-Neal], [Mark] Suciu, Miles [Silvas], [Rodrigo] TX, Jake Donnelly. Gonz alone has got such sick footage. Everyone is going to be to stoked watching what Gonz has.
Was this kind of your first experience being around him?
More or less. I had met him before, but filming for this video, we went on a trip to Barcelona together and it's so much fun skating with him. We skated that big wave near the water [underneath Forum], and he's just so amped. He just wants to go and go. I feel like I have pretty high energy like that as well, so it's so fun. He's just nonstop, like, "Let's do this, let's do doubles, let me film you on my iPad…" I'm just like, "Hell yeah." It's so much fun. You'll be pushing down the street as fast as you can next to Mark Gonzales and you just have that moment like, "Holy shit. I'm actually here right now. I'm on adidas and I'm pushing next to Gonz."
Moment of clarity.
Yeah. It's pretty rad.
We're about three and a half years from being in the Olympics [Tokyo 2020]. Opinion?
I don't know. Everyone seems to have such a strong opinion. It's either, "Oh, it's a great thing for skateboarding," or it's, "The Olympics suck." I don't want to be the cool guy going, "It sucks," or the athlete cheering for it. I don't know. I'm just neutral. I think that skateboarding is going in a direction where it was inevitable for it to happen. I don't really see how it could be the most terrible thing to ever happen to skateboarding. But who knows?
If anything it seems the more that Street League has come up, the harder the alternatives got pronounced. Almost like it feeds the non-athlete side of it even more. Whichever side you fall on.
Exactly. You can go into the financial side too. The reality is that big contests and things like that are where people are putting money back into skateboarding. They might not be doing it for skateboarding's sake or have the best intentions or whatever. But it's still going back to skateboarding, and it benefits it in the long run. Everyone still has jobs. Another positive thing about it is you go street skating now. And in Los Angeles maybe six years ago you would go street skating and you would pretty much be in handcuffs with your face to the ground half the time. Now it's like, "Oh hey, do you know this guy? I saw him on Street League," or "Oh, you guys are trying to film this? All right, 10 minutes. Come on. Get it. Let's see you do it." That's a positive to me. Honestly, two months ago, I was at the spot and the security guy came out. The spot was basically divided between the sidewalk and a hotel. The security guard from the hotel was like, "You can't skate here." Whatever, we got in this massive argument. He calls the cops. The cops show up. And I'm going, "Look, I'm on the sidewalk here. I'm not touching hotel property." The cop goes over to the security guard and tells him, "You can't tell him not to skate here. He can skate here as long as he wants. I want to see him get his trick. You have no right to tell him not to skate. He's a public citizen doing his job. Leave him alone." Stuff like that makes it positive to me.
That's a rad cop. Can I dig a little deeper into what made you leave Antihero? You mentioned people not having morals. I thought it was interesting since most people think of Australian skaters as pretty rugged. What kind of morals crossed the line?
It's a complicated one. I don't really want to name names and do the whole thing. Growing up as a kid skating bowls in Australia, seeing the things that those dudes did—Cardiel, Julien, or Trujillo. Those dudes are the best, you know? Antihero is the sickest. But I can't just watch someone walk down the street and just spit on some random human and then try to start a fight with them for no reason. Yeah, Australians are rugged. They drink and get into bar fights all the time. But they shake hands afterwards and there was a reason for it. Not just starting it to be a show-off. I don't know. I don't even really want to talk about it. As far as morals though, I'm a respectful human. I have heart for people. I'm not trying to make other people's lives more miserable. Those guys probably have the same feelings. It's just in the moment, like, "Everyone's around. I've had two beers. I'm gonna do this because it's probably gonna look rad."
Dave Chami seems to have been pretty pivotal in getting you on adidas and enjoi. Does he get some royalties from your paychecks?
[Laughs] I always buy him a nice bottle of whiskey. Definitely after he got me the cover of TransWorld [February 2014 issue], I went and bought him a nice bottle.
I think you earned that one fair and square. That was gnarly [China Banks big bench carve].
Yeah. But it still works both ways. Dave's one of my best mates. He was a groomsman at my wedding. Without Dave… he got me my first cover in the States. That's such a big thing for anyone. But especially me just having moved from Australia. It was like my third or fourth photo ever published in TransWorld, and it was a cover. It helped so much with getting on adidas. He's a great friend. He's a great dude. He's the best photographer ever.
We got into it a little, but skating seems as fractured as ever between the athletic side and the no-comply Chuck Taylor rolled-up beanie clicks. Will it just keep splitting, or will one side of the vine die?
I think people just like watching people skate. So these VX videos now getting back to fisheye and being as close to the skater as you can possibly be without touching them, they're just jamming down the street, going fast, and street skating. People like it because they just want to feel like they're skating themselves. Having fun doing it. Then the competitive side, where people are watching Street League or the hardest possible skateboarding I think is more geared towards watching just these incredible feats. I think it's good to have both. It's good to have different outlets. I feel like I'm lucky because I love filming video parts. I love beating myself into the ground for it. It's the best feeling getting home just bleeding everywhere. But then I can go skate a bowl contest too, and you just want to go crazy with everyone there. It's good to have different outlets for it. If it were all the same all the time, either way it would get boring. Everybody can do whatever they want. That's why we skateboard.
I guess the ATV label would be an obvious one for you. Who would you say represents the ideal hybrid?
Gonz. Have you seen him do a frontside invert? Holy hell. He holds it for like 10 seconds. And then he boardslides the longest rails ever. Still.
How is marriage treating you?
Awesome. She's American. From the East Coast originally. We met in San Francisco then moved to LA together. She's super supportive.
One day. I gotta finish this video part first [laughs].
All-time best style?
Gonz, Cards, AVE.
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