New Balance announces their skate team with this video and quick interview with TM, John Rattray.
Posted: May 3, 2013
An interview with the TM, John Rattray
So the New Balance team has been announced and you're name is not on the list, why is that?
I'm old and haggard and need a zimmer frame to move around so...
Are you on the team?
Well, if the team consists of the TM, the filmer, the brand manager, the web assets manager, the photographer and the sales team then I'm on the team but if not, if it's just the advertised riders, then I'm the team manager.
In the age of big budget super teams what makes new balance different?
The lack of the word "big".
What do you look for while creating/curating a team?
Good skating, good attitude, team player/not a prima donna.
Any Spoilers? When can we expect a video?
The plan is to make a few shorter projects very soon.
How were you approached to be a part of NB, and what is your role over there? Team manager, pro, or little bit of both?
Seb, the brand manager, called me up and asked me to be a part of it. I'm team manager with a little marketing assist thrown in for good measure. I'll continue doing my best as sort of a semi-professional skater but I'm pretty happy to take that role a little slower. I've had a lot of pain to deal with the last couple of years and it all gets very blah blah blah
You've got a small group of great skateboarders along for the ride with you. What was the process of choosing the team?
Well, the team was pretty much in place when they brought me on board as TM. Some of the thinking is that New Balance is from Boston and they know how to make shoes and PJ is from Boston and it's very widely accepted that he knows how to skate. He's an east coast legend. Arto is legendary. Levi Brown is a rad stylish underrated skater. Tom K is an epic skater and a ripping dude with a great attitude. Part of the idea is that it will be rad to have a couple of well-respected, well-established, hopefully emotionally grounded dudes sort of captaining the boat and from there we can build a solid team of young rippers that can have an opportunity to make something of a career from skateboarding.
New Balance is rooted in Boston but the Numeric line will be distributed through Blackbox. How involved will Jamie Thomas be in the direction of the program? You've had Jamie as your boss for over a decade riding for Zero, has it been interesting to now work alongside him in a different way?
Jamie organized the distribution deal and likes to stay reasonably involved with decision making as far as who gets on and graphic design and bits and pieces like that but he has a lot of stuff to deal with his other brands. It's mainly been Seb, Russell, me and the dudes on the team. The stuff I might discuss with Jamie regarding NB stuff isn't too different from Zero stuff really.
With doubts arising about another large sports company entering skateboarding, I think many will be relieved to hear that you are spearheading it. What plans do you have for NB# in the coming months? (trips, videos, Russell Houghten involved? Additional riders, etc.)
I can understand it with New Balance because they might be perceived as having a traditional image of being the sort of shoes that Larry David might wear and Larry David's great but we don't really want to see him wobbling around on a board, that would just be sort of sad.
New Balance Numeric is a skate program and will hopefully be fun to work on and will give some great dudes the opportunity to do rad stuff in skateboarding. Basically, the shoes go out to shops and if enough people like them and buy them then we'll continue doing stuff with skaters we love and continue trying to produce videos we hope people like and that offer something fresh to skateboarding.
We'll get out on a couple of trips this summer and work on a couple of video projects. Russell and the dudes are already frying their minds off working on a video due to go up mid summer.
With the whole large-sports-company-entering-skateboarding thing I'd say it's a myth that skateboarding somehow exists in its own little bubble. I rode for éS and look how amazingly well that worked out; pro careers plonked on the chopping block by some teddy-baker-shirt-wearing financial consultant with an MBA. That is what skater owned is. I don't even mean it's bad or wrong I just mean that it doesn't make a blind bit of difference because business, inside spreadsheets that will self-destruct if they don't provide a sensible return, is just business and it makes no difference if you skate, or you're some dude who used to skate, or you don't know the difference between a fingerboard and a Bridgebolt.
New Balance Numeric is designed by skaters, run by skaters, the shoes are skated by skaters, the videos are made by skaters and the production...the production is overseen by people who've been manufacturing footwear for a long time and if the skate shoes do well then those people become fans of skateboarding because their kids continue to get to eat. That's how the world works. It's a big company but its owned by one person, they're not doing it to answer to shareholders they just want to make good skate shoes. If the shoes sell then we'll keep going and if they don't then I'll be looking for a job down the coal mines.