Behind the Gnar:Evan Smith

The Musical Side of Element - An Interview with Pro Skater, Evan Smith

In a year full of tragic, hateful and sometimes just extremely bizarre headlines I, like many other of my fellow millennial’s have taken refuge into the safety of certain websites or apps. For some, catching Pidgey on Pokemon Go has helped quiet the noise being made from those running for leader of the free world.

For me, it has been the sounds of wheels rolling on concrete and wood grinding on metal that can be found on Thrasher Magazine’s website.

Specifically, I’m very thankful to Element pro skater and son of Orlando, Florida Evan Smith for providing distraction. The two video parts he dropped have been absolute epic weirdness with each one receiving comments calling for him to be named Skater of the Year (as most his video parts have). He even has his own camera filmed web series titled ‘Chronicles of StarHeadBody’ where the first episode featured a clip of GWAR performing and a montage of Smith and other pros shotgunning brews. And somehow he’s still found time to help run an acclaimed venue in Pittsburgh called Mr. Small’s Funhouse and play guitar for a psychedelic rock band called Drowning Clowns.

Smith was also able to escape the hurricanes of his busy schedule to talk to us here at Tropicult.

Currently, are you on tour?

Yes, we are! We are currently touring the northeast. Headed to Philadelphia. We’ve been filming and hitting up skate shops. Skated at three skate parks so far it’s been really sweet.

Kona Skate Park (in north Florida) just celebrated their 39th anniversary in June. Did you visit their when you were young?

I did! I have been going to Kona and even skating contests there since I was a little squirt. I love the backyard by the vert ramp.

Have you gone to Kona since going pro?

I haven’t been there in maybe four years so that would be a no. But 39 years OOOOOOOEEEEEEE! That’s incredible, sweet place.

How did you get into skateboarding?

My uncle Mike who is actually the main producer of the Drowning Clowns sound. He writes amazing music and is obsessed with fucking shit up on the music front. He is always trying stuff, being expressive and going off. But Mike as well skateboards. [Mike] Skateboard’s extremely radically. He used to fly like I rarely see these days. Blasting up a 13 foot wall to a 15 foot extension, gap to lip slides, smith to fakie, barely cutting the edge of the ramp.

Using the FLAT like an egg shell to gain speed. He bought me my first board and I was hooked. I’m still in love with skating like the first time I touched it. It makes this time in skateboard extremely valuable to me. Let’s shred please! And big ups to my Uncle Mike for showing me the arrow moves forward every second and we should be intent and the way will be laid out for you whether you like it or not.

How long have you been playing guitar? Do you play other instruments?

I have been playing for a bit. I can dabble on a few instruments. But the guitar is nice to compose with. For me, I like the bass guitar right now. The sound is perfect

Drowning Clowns is described as a psychedelic orchestra. What elements of it make it an orchestra?

I think the orchestral aspects of the band are based on big movements and a lot of sound. We have a lot of extremely talented musicians in Pittsburgh. Our local scene is amazing. Real top notch players. But our sound is expansive and orchestral. I really enjoy when a lot of players come together to make a movement. Music is out of this world.

With you busy schedule,  how do you find time to practice and record with Drowning Clowns?

It’s really difficult. The band is performing five songs on Friday and I’m missing out. I do practice with the band weekly when I’m at home. Skateboarding and camping have led me around and allowed me to film for parts and expand the network. There is a moment for everything. So many amazing people in skateboarding but I am obsessed with music and playing rock n’ roll. It’s very loud and I like that a whole bunch.

Since your 2013 release, All That’s Covered Over has the sound changed at all?

Yeah slightly. Our tunes are freaking sweet though. Our bass player Jesse wrote this song Sea Gods. Real cool. Then we made another song in five which is always fun. The sound will develop and will change to the songs. We all wrote a lot.

Any plans for a tour or new record?

I hope so! Nothing planned as of now but that can change real quick.

How has Street League been in comparison to what you’re used to?

Street League is so fun! I love traveling and meeting up with sharers from all over. The arenas are amazing. Crazy to be launching around in there. I seem to slam alot, but skating is nice in a stadium. 2000 people going OOOF when you slam. Live TV is fun. I have some cool ideas for TV.

Speaking of live TV, how was the X Games for you with all the weather delays?

It was so fun, fun. All of  us scrambling under the Ramos and trying to figure out what to do. I decided to take my shoes off and put them in my bag which kinda saved me. Alec [Majerus] didn’t though and he has wet ass shoes on live TV. Hahaha, it was amazing. Crazy mega ramp off in the distance as we launched.

You’ve had two skate parts come out this year and a lot of comments are floating around calling you SOTY. Is that something you’re working towards?

I am currently trying to release as much I possibly can cause I think it’s really fun. I have been working with Thrasher a bunch to release some edits. We all come up with some cool concepts and I’m trying all types of stuff out. Good times making stuff for all of us to view.

Florida is not known for street skating because of it’s terrain. How did you get so good?

The ground is crust, but we got some sweet spots. Maybe it’s a little different, but I don’t think I would be the same skater without it. That makes it the promised land.