Still Crusty Full Length and Interview with Bryan Nambo and David Gackstetter
by Corey Henderson
The midwest is full of anomalies. Rockford is no exception. It's got a lot of spots, a pretty vibrant skate scene, some heavy hitting skaters, people always go there to skate, yet there are not too many videos based from there. We've put together this interview with Rockford Native and Filmer Bryan Nambo as well as the tech trick machine and all around great guy, David Gackstetter.
Bryan, the filmer \ mastermind behind a lot of what goes on in the Rockford skate scene has a lot to share, so let's get started!
So this is full-length number?:
Well, I believe it is number four. SUPLEX (a wrestling themed video, great skating and hilarious), Garbage Day, Embrace the Crust, and now Still Crusty. I've done some full-length projects before that ("The SK815 Vol. 1 & 2), but I don't count those because they contain a lot of park stuff as well.
How long have you been filming skateboarding?:
Man, I'm not really sure. Maybe since like 2007 or 2008? When I first started, it was just messing around, making edits from each road trip we would take to parks. Each session had its own edit; they felt like (and still do) time capsules of those parts of my life. I suppose my style has always been no-frills, not as refined as others. It's kind of just guerilla style; get out there and get it done.
How long have you been in Rockford? Tell us about the Rockford skate scene:
I was born in Rockford, so it's home. During college (and a bit after) I lived in Dekalb, IL, and a ton of my family lives in Rochelle, IL, so that whole area is like my second home. As far as Rockford skating goes, it has a really rich skate history: with things such as the PIT skate park and The Station skate shop (formerly the Rotation Station)-- both of which have been gone for quite some time. All I know is, I want to help contribute to the Rockford skate scene in any way I can, because that history belongs to all of us. We have two main parks that people skate, and there has always been an ebb and flow in regards to the street skating scene. There are so many great spots, and the cops usually leave you in peace, so it's actually a great place to skate. The only complaint people sometimes have is that some of the spots are crusty.
Right now it seems like the next generation of Rockford skaters is starting to blossom.
Tell us about how you got started filming:
One of the guys who got me into skateboarding, Joshua Black, was an excellent photographer, and introduced me to the world of photography/videography. He had a really interesting eye for style, which I feel helped me out a lot. One day he sat me down and showed me this Philippe Halsman book titled "Jump Book" which really made me step back and realize that photography/videography was so much more than what I thought it was. And even though I've been documenting skating for a long time, I'm not entirely sure I totally see myself as a filmer; I think my strength is in editing. Initially, my main driver to film was so that I had something to edit. I think I've only taken filming more seriously in the past handful of years (in regards to "perfecting my craft"). There are plenty of people who are better filmers than me & have better equipment, but I put in the time to be out there and that goes a long way I feel like. You can be the best filmer in the world, but it doesn't mean sh*t if you aren't making time to hit the streets.
What makes you want to work on a full-length, as opposed to an insta-edit?
Well, I kind of worked in the opposite direction of mainstream skating haha. When I first started filming, I would make 30 second to 5 minute videos, and as time progressed I moved towards being more interested in full lengths. A lot of it has to do with meeting new people, and seeing how many skaters had something interesting to offer with their style, and I felt like they deserved to film a part.
If someone is down to put in the work to film a part, I'm always willing to match the energy.
For me, I'm trying to film them doing things THEY want to do,
it doesn't matter so much to me if someone has filmed the same thing (know, taboo), or if somebody else could do it better. There is something special about a full-length: you get to build something with people you know (or get to know people better) and really paint a picture.
Give us some idea of the level of crust we are talking about:
Man, so many people see Rockford spots and ask for pins, and I willingly give them up, because once they come to the spot, they are like, "Yo, this spot is f*cked" haha. Don't get me wrong, plenty of spots that are chill and clean, but a lot of Rockford skating is gritty and unforgiving, but I feel like that makes for interesting skaters. Rockford is a bigger city, but isn't set-up/laid out like the suburbs, which just gives it a different feel entirely, and the crustiness of it is like the cherry on top.
How many spots have you made in Rockford?
Over time, a handful. Mostly just rub bricking & clear coating. Every now and then some Bondo work. There are two spots that I am particularly proud of though: This three-set ledge that Dave Green and I prepped by the mall (BUTTER, low-bust and can pretty much be skated anytime during the day), and this out-ledge behind a breakfast spot (about 6 or 7 feet long, maybe 3.5 feet high). They are both close to my house, so anyone can feel free to send me a message and I'll film you at either spot haha.
How do you get through the winters?
A handful of us have maintained a warehouse in town, for the past decade. Mostly "older guys" (so far as skaters go). It's nothing glamorous at all, but it gets the job done (much like our street spots). Our first warehouse was smaller, but the layout was amazing; really great use of the space. Our current spot is slightly bigger, but a little more wild; SUPER DUSTY. And Fargo is within an hour, if we get the urge to skate an actual park.
What are your top 3 favorite moments in the video?
Damn, this is a tough one. I feel like everyone surprised me this time around. Steven [Bailey-Murray] is always trying new tricks when we film; it's hilarious, because instead of practicing new tricks at the park, he learns things in the streets first and then takes them to the park. Filming with David [Gackstetter] is always fun, because you never know what he's going to do; if he lived on the west/east coast, we would see him in Thrasher for sure. And just filming another part with Thom [Ping]. Thom is the most low-key Rockford legend; he's played a part in so many local videos (Land of Lincoln, Sidewalk Chalk, literally all of my projects) that have spanned over such a long time. He had a bad injury a while back, and his skating showed it, but somehow this past year he just looked really comfortable again and has been killing it.
Did anyone film a part that you didn't expect them to film? Like, did any of the parts come together unplanned?
The funny thing is, the only two people in Still Crusty who had for sure planned on filming full parts were Steven and David. Everyone else was just out to get a few clips, and somehow stacked enough for full parts. As far as I know these were the first video parts for Morgan [Crane], Cody [Chanthalangsy], John [Gackstetter] and Kayne [Coniglio]. I was super proud of what they did. And like I said before, Thom just came out of nowhere in the Fall and stacked some awesome clips to add another part to his body of work. I wasn't expecting to see the guys who are newer to street skating really improve their skate IQ's.
What keeps you hyped on the Midwest?
We're built different haha. Anybody can go to "skate meccas" and film clips that look great, but if you can thrive out here, you've got something special. We have to search, scrounge, and prep our own spots. If it was as easy as just having to hop a fence like in the west coast (I know, generalization haha), it wouldn't be as special to me. And there is a ton of great skating going on in the Midwest-- so many Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois rippers so don't get the shine they deserve. Plenty of great filmers, spots and companies out here too.
What do you see in the future of Rockford skateboarding?
Hopefully a ton! This will be our 8th year of King of Rockford, and 4th annual Forest City Game of Skate. This past year we did our first annual Rockford-SOTY as well (shout out to the winners). It has been exciting to see a lot of younger skaters coming up too. If we could get an actual outdoor park in Rockford, that would be great too; Skateworks is in Machesney Park, and Flodin is pretty much in Cherry Valley, so there isn't a "true" Rockford skate park. My wife keeps telling me to open an indoor park haha. So possibly plenty of awesome things in the future of Rockford skateboarding
Any travel plans?
Sh*t, Spain trip round 2?! Realistically though, it seems like me & the homies will be making plenty of road trips this year. Peoria (IL), Iowa, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee all seem to be on the list for this next year. Plenty of time in the car. I'm really looking forward to connecting with skaters/crews from other locations and having them show us around (and for them to come visit us in Rockford too).
Any future projects in the works?
Truth be told, Still Crusty was going to be my last full-length, but from the sounds of it, the guys have officially wrangled me into another one. However, before that starts up, I'm going to be helping Ben [Larson] with a team video for his board company Losing Skateboards-- so keep your eyes peeled for a project from them. Once that's wrapped, then I'm hoping to start a new video-- probably a lot of stuff outside of Rockford, for a change of pace.
Last but certainly not least! We have a few words from the technician himself,
I always see this dude skating, with different crews or alone, landing so many tricks. Watching David skate makes you want to get into better shape, so you can skate like he does.
Tell me about how you started skating:
I started skating when I was 12 years old after seeing my two older brothers skating in the driveway. They made it look like so much fun. Once I picked up the board I have been doing it ever since.
Printboys Screen Printing, Losing Skateboards, First Gear Skateshop, Mass Transit Wheels
Who are some of your skateboarding influences?
I liked Kristian Svitak a lot growing up and Mark Gutterman. These days, I like watching everyone skate but never hesitate to watch a Brad Cromer, Franky Villani, or a Preston Harper video part.
Are you a Rockford Native?
I was born in Rockford, IL and lived around the area of Rockford until I was 16 years old. Since then, I’ve lived in Marietta, GA; Bloomington, IL; St. Louis, MO; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL; and now Oak Park, IL.
How did you meet Bryan?
The first time I remember speaking to Bryan was when he reached out to me back in the winter of 2018 to skate a space in a warehouse they were renting called the ‘Litter Box’. I had recently moved from St. Louis to Milwaukee and was just getting reacquainted with the Rockford scene. The actual first time I met Bryan though, I do not remember. I knew of him from when I was younger, but I had never actually spoken to him until 2018.
Whats your favorite part about filming with Bryan?
Bryan is extremely easy to film with and is down to film whatever trick you want.
There is never a ‘that trick’s not cool enough for me to film’ moment with him.
Plus he’s laid back, motivated to get things done, and knows how to get what he wants. He’s a certified skate coach, too. I can’t tell you how many times he’s saved me from hours of failed trick attempts by speaking up when he notices something is off.
Who has your favorite part in the video, (besides yours):
All the video parts are my favorite! I really enjoyed the video. Bryan did a really good job filming and editing it. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.
Describe your experience skating in the midwest, spots, people, different cities:
I love skating the Midwest. The street skating scenes are tight knit. If you’re out there filming and visiting other cities, chances are you are mixing it up with lots of other crews and building connections. Everyone I have met and skated with in any city has been extremely friendly.
Spot-wise the Midwest has it all! If you go looking you will find something worth skating.
How often do you skate?
I skate at least 4 days a week but ideally more than that. I have a wet-weather board setup and a favorable-weather board setup so I’m ready to go whenever. I also have an old pair of shoes in the trunk of my car just in case I find some time right after work.
Sw front tailslide, trick tip, go.
The key for me is making sure I’m not putting too much weight on my back foot. When skating switch, a lot of people have a tendency to put too much weight on their back foot which causes their tricks to sag. For flatground tricks the sagging doesn’t really matter, but when you’re skating ledges or rails it throws a lot of stuff out of whack.
The key to switch tailslides (and anything switch) is to evenly distribute your weight on your board.
If you’re locking into a switch tail and slipping out, more than likely it is because you still have too much weight planted on your back foot. If you’re having trouble with transferring enough weight to your lead foot when riding switch, I would suggest turning your head and looking at the area just above your lead wheels (on the toe side) before you go to pop. It’s a small adjustment, but it’s a lot harder to lean back when your attention is focused forward.
TLDR: Distribute your weight more evenly on your board by looking at your leading wheels as you pop.
Why film a part when insta is so pervasive?
Instagram is nice but as soon as I see something on it I never see it again even if it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s also hard to compete for space on an app designed to be scrolled through quickly. I know for a fact I have seen more Instagram clips of skating in the past year compared to video parts, but it is the individual parts that stick out in my memory.
Skateboarding is way more than just landing a cool trick and posting it.
Where it really works well (in a viewing sense) is when the skating, the filming, and the editing all mesh together.
That only happens in video parts.
Did moving have an effect on you being able to get out a film for the part?
This question reminds me of something Bryan Nambo said once (not directly to me but to a group). He said,
‘If you really want to get out and film, then you will make time for it.’
That has been my approach to filming. There were moments where I lived 2 hours away from Rockford but made time to film a part because that is what I wanted to do. I don’t think the distance had much of an effect on completing the part. Whenever I came to town, I made the most out of it. I would try tricks at any spot we went to no matter what and tried to make something work.
Why is Rockford so fun to skate but so slept on at the same time?
That is a great question! Rockford has a lot of good spots. They look cool, they’re fun to skate, and you don’t get hassled at them. I think it is slowly getting less and less slept on. I have seen more and more skaters making stops in Rockford just to skate. It is awesome to see! I think the more Bryan’s videos get seen the more people will be coming down.
Are you out there makin' spots?
Yes I am! But I should be making more. Purchasing a rub brick is one of the best purchases I have made.
What is your travel itinerary lookin' like skateboarding wise?
Skateboarding-wise, touring more of the Midwest. I really want to skate St. Paul/ Minneapolis, MN and check out Davenport and Des Moines in Iowa, and also Indianapolis and Louisville in Indiana. Oh, and also Detroit, MI.
What new parts do you have in the works?
Another project with Bryan Nambo! I am also working on securing enough clips for Ben Larson at Losing Skateboards.
Who you shoutin' out to finish this off?
I would say a massive shout out to Bryan for pushing the scene forward! And shout out to Ben at Losing Skateboards, Collin at First Gear, and Tim at Mass Transit!
And a final shout out to Eric at Ground Floor Skateboards for keeping Rockford stocked and away from the store that sells boards in the mall.