Clay Kreiner Interview
￼Where are you from, anyway?
I’m originally from a little town—Simpsonville, South Carolina. Just outside of Greenville, if that makes it any easier.
How did the kid from Simpsonville get into skateboarding?
I think I just played hockey with my brother as a youngin’. We were super reckless. Had some blades so that we could play in the streets. We ended up taking the blades out to a skatepark that the neighbors recommended one day; we saw some skateboarders. We ended up moving and the kid down the street had a skateboard and I asked for one for Christmas. That following year I got a board and game over.
Is there a thriving skate scene in South Carolina?
Nah, not one bit. Growing up my pops taught football, baseball and wrestling at my local high school.
Twelve feet out, five hundred and forty degrees, not a Rector in sight. Hashtag reckless!
Yeah, Coach Kreiner! So I just followed my dad’s footsteps and played those regular sports. No one in my family skated or had ever thought of skating, really. No one around my hometown did it at all.
How did your dad take to it?
My dad has been the fuckin’ man since day one about skating. He’s had my back and took my annoying ass to the skatepark growing up. I would be, like, the only dude there from sunup to sundown. He would have to drag me out. He just took me around traveling whenever we could. I’m blessed that he kind of let me do my own thing. At one point I was balancing skateboarding and baseball and all that shit. I can still remember him telling me, “Dude, if you want to skate and you don’t wanna play baseball or any of this shit anymore, I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me, but you’re gonna finish the season. You’re not a quitter. Go skate and do what you want to do.” I would take my board to football practice and take my shoulder pads off when I was nine or so. I would still have on the padded pants and throw on some massive shoes and skate the three stair outside of the stadium.￼
A lot of people, back in my day, skated because they didn’t like those other sports. Was there anything good about playing those other sports as far as your approach to skating?
They are opposite ends of the spectrum. I enjoyed those at the time and thought those were the sickest things. Those were always super fun to me growing up. Once I did find a skateboard and discovered the whole freedom of it—not having to give a shit about anything else, just doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time. I didn’t have a coach telling me to do this or do that. I don’t do push-ups and shit just to go ride my skateboard. I could just go hang out with the dudes I wanted to see and do what I wanted to do.
Frontside heelflip at Winkowski’s
Did you gravitate towards ramps and transition early on?
Yeah, I think as a little kid you don’t really give a shit. You just see everything and you want to do it all. Everything excites you. I grew up skating parks. I didn’t have a vert ramp to skate or anything like that. When you’re a little munchkin you thrive off of anything that is put in front of you.
How early did you learn airs and stuff?
I was doing shit little stink bugs at maybe, like, eight or nine. Shortly after I started skating I would just hang onto anything. No matter how awful it was, I was going to try and land it. I would body my shit over and over until I figured it out. I was pretty young doing super-shit stink bugs and stuff. I remember Jeff Fletcher from Australia once told me, “You’re not going to do that stink bug no more!” He didn’t give a shit that I was ten years old. “You gotta learn how to do that behind your knee!”
What was the story about you getting a free pass to Woodward?
I went to Woodward when I was super young, maybe like ten or something like that. I would save up all of my money from Christmas and my birthdays and split the cost with my parents and go out there for one week. Then I didn’t get to go for, like, two summers. Me and my family couldn’t make ends meet; I couldn’t get out there. I ended up getting introduced to Gary Ream, the owner. He somehow found out that I wasn’t able to afford to come to camp. He gave me his number and said whenever I want to come on out—money is never an issue again and we would love to have you. Blessed, you know? They took good care of me. With the skate scene being so dead in South Carolina and with some of the parks I was skating closing down, I owe a lot to those dudes. I would skate maybe once a month or so back at home. Nothing to skate. I would go up to Woodward and spend eight weeks over the summer just skating everyday, having a blast.
￼Getting his fix with a big flip eggplant. No grumpy asshole here
So you would barely get to skate over the year and then skate non stop all summer long?
Yeah, I would just try to get all of my young energy out during the summer and then the whole year I was just a grumpy asshole to my parents, not getting my fix.
The first time I kind of heard of you was when I saw you on the Internet hitting the ceiling in Sweden with no pads. Why did you give up the pads? Aren’t pads safer?
I mean, I don’t really know. I grew up just skating whatever—pads, no pads. I don’t really remember. I came out to Cali and was skating loads and was more comfortable on my skateboard than I had ever been. I was staying with a bunch of Brazilian fools and they were pretty much insane. We ended up cruising around with no pads and they said, “Just fuckin’ do the contest with no pads!” They kind of talked me into it and I was like, “Yeah, whatever. We’ll see.” It just kind of became this funny thing of “Ooh, pad-less guy!” It’s no difference for me! it doesn’t change the skill level at all. It’s just this weird hype-factor-bullshit. I can’t really explain it; it’s pretty funny.
Tucked and torqued, frontside 540 at the Bridge
What’s the trick to bailing big airs and 540s with no pads?
Your best bet is to not bail! If you can make it, yeah, that’s a sick one. It’s no different from trying to get out of any other trick, in my opinion.
Aren’t kickflip 540s dangerous?
I always tell people those are so much more easier to bail than a regular 540, to me. I’m already off of my board when I do the kickflip or whatever. If I wanna bail, I can just throw my board and run. Any other grab or whatever you’re already committed on the board. On that trick you’re already in bail mode.
Speaking of balls… corner stale from the extension on the left to the seam on the right
What’s it like going through the sponsorship game as a guy who’s primarily known for skating transition?
It’s been a trip, dude. For me, it’s just learning the industry in general. Ever since moving out here, like, two years ago I’ve just been trying to find my way and meeting everyone. It’s funny how close knit it all is once you’re out here and in the heart of it. It’s funny. Just trying not to step on anyone’s toes and making everyone happy. Definitely being a transition skater is in a funny spot right now, especially for me. I grew up skating a lot of vert. I think vert more than everything, transition-wise, it’s in a super dead period. I like the direction that skateboarding is going and I’m going to continue to skate vert. It’s definitely a different ball game—between street and transition guys. I’m sure those guys have their stories as well.
The main thing you do besides going out skating, filming and shooting photos is the Vans pool series. Is that what you’re focusing on?
Yeah, this is my first year doing all of those events. I’m super stoked. I leave tomorrow for Brazil. It’s going to be an insane trip; I’ve never been to Brazil. Super rad travel schedule with all of the homies. Like I said, I’ve never done this before so hopefully I can do some shit! We’ll see.
￼Heelflip Indy for an audience of one
So you’re part of a new company getting started up through Dwindle. What can you tell us about it?
I’m super hyped! Madness is the name of the company. Dwindle is helping me and the boys out getting shit going. At the moment it’s me, Alex Perelson, Sam Beckett and Jack Fardell. Just kinda getting the right crew together and all the dudes that we’re stoked on. We’re working on graphics right now. I’m ready to put out some of my own footage and these guys are going to help me out with that. I’ve been filming for quite a while so I’m stoked to get some shit out for everyone. The product will be dropping soon and the boys will go on some trips and get some shit goin’.
Rad. This is being spearheaded by a nude verticalist, Bill Weiss?
Yeah, man. We’re stoked. Weiss is the best dude. Full on trip. Whenever I’m with that dude it’s all jokes and the sickest times. He’s got my back and I’m super stoked to be a part of something with Bill and Bod Boyle as well.
Before you sign that contract you gotta tell him he’s gotta do one more naked 540.
One more 540. I’m trying to see the balls drag the flat bottom one more time.
Kiss the grip. Who else is helping you out out there?
Shout out to Mike Sinclair and the guys at Nike SB for taking care of me. Independent trucks. The crew at NHS, OJ Wheels, MOB grip. Bronson bearings. Rockstar energy is helping me out as well. Huge thanks to all those dudes getting me to where I need to be and taking damn good care of me.
South Carolina’s Clay Kreiner goes spin cycle over the biggest gap at Prince Park with an Indy 540
Who are your top-three favorite vert skaters of all time? Or transition skaters?
I think GT is the fucking man. I love his skating. Raven’s skating is one of the best as well. I love that dude ’til death. I’m not necessarily only influenced by dudes that are skating tranny. Don’t get me wrong—someone like Zion Wright can destroy some tranny. I love watching that dude skate. Ishod. Even Bucky. I just take inspiration from everywhere, really. The guys older than me, the guys younger than me and the guys my age. All the dudes I live with—Alex Perelson, Sam Beckett, I grew up religiously watching their stuff. Just everyone has a different style and I just love it all.
If your country calls you, are you ready to do the Olympics?
Aw, man! That’s still way ahead. I think it could be cool to represent your country on a skateboard because that’s what I do and that’s what I love to do. But you never know what kind of direction it will take and shit like that. We will see.
9/04/2018Madness is a new transition-heavy brand out of Dwindle and this inaugural offering does not disappoint! If you like watching the vertical plane get absolutely scorched then you’re in for a treat. Sanity is overrated.
9/04/2018Get to know the men of madness and then click play on that Foolish Behavior vid again. Tranny tyranny at its finest! Skateboarding and insanity have always gone hand in hand.
8/28/2018Ms. Armanto goes where no skateboarding woman has gone before – all the way around Tony Hawk’s notorious loop. Though many have tried, many more have gotten spat out in spectacular fashion. We caught up with Lizzie to hear about her mental and physical battle with skateboarding’s most terrifying terrain. Congrats, Lizzie! – Michael Burnett
8/15/2018Prepare yourself for 20 minutes of raw, DIY annihilation, as seen through the lens of Chris Gregson.
7/20/2018A solid crew went over to Omar Hassan’s backyard bowl for an afternoon session before heading to SoCal skateshop for Tristan Rennie’s Indy video premiere.