Am Scramble Interview: Frankie Decker

FrankieDecker header
We invited Frankie Decker as a last-minute wildcard this year. And like Ducky on the first Scramble, he ended up being the break-out star as well as the glue that held the whole thing together. He cheated death, cried at least three times, tried harder than anybody and won us over with his huge heart and tremendous enthusiasm. We love you, Frankie!

frankie decker 360 flip into rock BURNETT DZ Tré flip to rock, Hsu homage in San Jose

How did you become Krazy Frankie? What’s so crazy about you?
I think my friends from Vegas started jokingly calling me Krazy Frankie. And then around the time that I met Chris Milic and started getting on Frog he heard my friends calling me Krazy Frankie. He thought that was really funny and it kind of just picked up out of nowhere.

FrankieDecker pullquote I'm a smart guy but I do dumb stuff all the time
Was there more than one Frankie? So you were the crazy Frankie?
No, I’m the only one. I feel like craziness might have to do with some of my random decision making. I’m a smart guy, but I do dumb stuff all the time.

Example, please.
I will drive past parking spaces and park way out for no reason. I take the long way to get somewhere. Honestly, I miss turns and exits on the freeway all the time.

frankie forklift grindParked in a weird spot? Frankie goes 5-0 on a forklift in a familiar predicament

Does it have anything to do with how you like to take the big drops?
I’m sure that might have something to do with it, too. Yeah, just a mixture of being crazy on a personal level, and also maybe skateboarding as well. I didn’t pick it. It’s just something that kind of happened. And I thought it was funny.

Have you always enjoyed the airtime like that? The sign drop you did on this trip was a buckler.
Yeah, when I was a kid growing up at the skatepark, I was definitely the fly-out kid. I would get as much speed as I could from across the park and do big melon grabs out of the bowl and just learn different grabs and try and get as high as I could. And then eventually l became the ollie-to-flat kid as well.

Frankie Decker sign ollie sacto BURNETT DZAnything’s a spot if you’re Krazy Frankie enough

Were you one of those maniacs ollieing into the deep end of the pool for no reason?
Yeah, for sure—the most dreaded kid for skaters who actually skate the bowl. They’re just like, Come on, dude. The last time I did that was at Garvanza. Me and my friends were messing around before the sun went down. And then my friend joked about it. He was like, Give it one shot. And I ollied into the deep end and I actually broke my board in half and did the splits.

Dude, you deserved it then.
It was really, really funny.

Frankie Decker half cab KF BUNRETT DZHalf-Cab kickflip, 13 stairs short of El Toro

Before you became a Frog superstar, what were you most famous for?
Before Frog videos, me and my friends in Vegas—Daniel Dent, Robert Blazek and Nick Michel—we made videos, one called Snot Job and then we made World Peath.

But wasn’t there something involving El Toro, though?
Oh, that thing! Yeah, that was around the time I was filming for Snot Job. It was just another one of those crazy ideas. At the time I was doing late shoves all the time, like down staircases and stuff. And then they were joking, “What if you did it down El Toro?” We took a trip to California and took a look at it. And while we were there I ollied it. And then I was like, Alright, I’m gonna give it a go. I gave it about two tries and I bailed one. And then I technically stuck one, but like firecrackered on the last two or three stairs or something and just tumbled on the ground. And then I take one more jump and it was just so haywire and I bailed and I got a hairline fracture in one of my heels. It was kind of done.

FrankieDecker pullquote So I’ve ollied El Toro about four times
So are you ever going back to get it?
I actually went back a couple of times, but never really gave it that good of an effort again. But every time I went I would ollie it. So I’ve ollied El Toro about four times.

Holy shit.
I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of, but it’s pretty funny. I guess I just realized, This thing is way too big.

frankie decker board bounce BURNETT DZ
Tell me what you think the appeal is of the Frog program. Because when I first saw it, I thought maybe it was a joke—like little pink backpacks and shitty little-kid art with crayons. But now it’s really turned into an industry juggernaut. It’s probably one of the more exciting companies out there. What’s it like from the inside and why do you think kids love it so much?
I feel like kids love it, because we love it. Like, we all just skate and have fun. And I think that’s what the company was born out of, you know, like we were all just friends skating. I feel like the appeal is just that it’s not serious all the time. I think it kind of goes back to the skating that you do in between spots, like just messing around. Like finding yourself skating in this random parking lot for two hours because there’s this little piece of metal on the ground or something. It’s hard to describe, but I think that’s the way that a lot of us have fun skateboarding and maybe that’s why some kids can really relate to it.

frankie decker kf to lip BURNETT DZStretching a kicker kickflip to lipslide on the curb

You told me that almost every kid on the team has a parent or a sibling who skates, too, right?
It’s really strange. I mean, it’s not that strange, but it’s pretty random that there’s three of us on the same team, you know—me, Nick and Jesse. All our dads skate.

frankie decker gap to grind BURNETT DZLas Vegas curbs grind like no other. Gap to 5-0 back home

What happened at the Desert Skate Ranch?
Oh, catastrophe. Random accident. When you see the clip, I jump off the board like kinda stoked that I landed a trick and then I took one step backward and fell into the deep end of the pool.

Yeah, you stepped backwards into the deep end and just got bodied. You looked at me and were like, “What if I broke my insides?”
It was just so jarring. I’ve never taken so much impact in those parts of my lower back or my neck before and all of a sudden, I’m just like, What if I’m bleeding on the inside? What if I ruptured an organ or something like that? I was just having a full-blown panic attack. I was carrying a lot of pain. I wanted to get checked out at the emergency room.

Frankie Decker Fall Bowl 750 2A trip-ruiner for any normal human was just a slight stepback for Frankie

We were happy to do it. What was more surprising was that less than 24 hours later you’re trying to frontside flip a 17 stair.
It was probably not smart to do that. I told myself like, You know, you don’t have to skate if you’re not feeling it. And it felt so tight all day, but then I don’t know, we got to that staircase and Daiki started jumping down it. And I started telling myself, Well, you’re only gonna be on this trip one time, so you might as well just skate. I was taking a lot of deep breaths and trying to power through the pain in my head. They got me stoked. And then I tried a frontside flip for a little bit, but I kind of knew that I couldn’t do it that day. And there was only one day left of the trip, so I wanted to make sure I had energy to skate the next day.

frankie decker grasser desert skate ranch BURNETT DZBlasting sweet air seconds before his near-death experience 

Yeah. So let’s talk about that gap over the spiked fence in Las Vegas. Is that a spot you’ve visited many times over the years?
Yeah, I’ve skated it a couple of times. Like seeing it in a King of the Road when I was younger, and then in one of the videos me and my friends made I backside flipped it and frontside flipped it in another video. I had always wanted to do a no comply. I kind of thought that would be the coolest trick for it, but I was kind of always too scared because of the spikes or maybe missing my step or something.

TH0422 Cover cp7 Frankie Decker No Comply Las Vegas Michael Burnett 2000One wrong step and it's sack to spike, but our guy found his footing and went straight to the front, no-comply

What did it feel like to roll away from that?
I was so stoked! Huge sigh of relief, because I felt like that’s what I really wanted to do. I was so worried when I got hurt ’cause I was thinking, Dude, we haven’t even gotten to Vegas yet! And I knew I wanted to do that trick when I got there, but I was just so worried that I wasn’t going to be able to. When I landed it, I was just really stoked that everything came together.

We were too! We all wanted you to land it so badly! So the Scramble has kind of been a launch pad for some pros. Have you given any thought to that? Is being a pro skater a goal for you?
That’s hard to talk about. I feel weird even saying anything. I guess I’d just say that I’m so grateful for everything that skateboarding has given me already. I’m not really answering your question.

That’s alright. Let’s switch it up a little bit. What are some of your favorite memories from this trip?
Honestly, I just had a great time. I really enjoyed getting in the van with a bunch of people that I didn’t know. We didn’t really know each other at all and got more and more comfortable and closer as the trip went on. It was really cool.

FrankieDecker pullquote I saw his soul leave his body for a second!
What’s Brian O’Dwyer like?
Brian is one of the gnarliest skaters. I didn’t know anything about him before the trip. I remember watching one of his video parts in the van, and I’m like, Holy fuck, this guy’s insane and he killed it on the trip. He got some of the sickest clips and took probably the hardest slams I’ve ever seen in my life! I saw Brian's soul leave his body for a second! I was so worried. I just ran over like I was his dad. And then I was thinking, There’s no way he’s gonna get back up and try that again. And then he does it perfectly, like he never took that slam.

What was it like to get to take all these guys to your spots in Vegas, spots you’ve seen your whole life?
It’s cool. A lot of those spot I’ve seen for a really long time and kind of have a hard time thinking of new stuff that I could do or would even want to do on them. So it’s really cool to bring all these guys who are already so gnarly and then, of course, they’re gonna just fuck everything up. Like, honestly, Martino was ripping Vegas. He was skating the wave ditch like Nathan.

Wait. Who’s Nathan?
I always say Nathan. He skated it like it was nothing, but I say Nathan. He skated it like Nathan.

frankie fakie 360 flipFakie 360 flip like it's Nathan

Ha! Who do you think’s gonna be the first to get a board out of the crew?
Everyone’s so gnarly. And I think everyone absolutely deserves whatever happens to them, but probably Rowan and Christian first.

What are your goals for 2022? What does Krazy Frankie Decker want to accomplish?
I just want more time to skate. And hopefully when things get a little bit less crazy, maybe traveling. I really want to go to Barnside. Have you heard of that place? It’s like a wooden roller coaster inside a barn. Every time Chris or someone asks me where we should go I always say, “Barnside!”

Well, I think your dream can definitely come true. Thanks for showing us around in Vegas and for ripping so hard on the trip. You’re the best.

frankie decker grab grind2 BURNETT DZFrontside air to fence grind? Frankie doesn’t discriminate

Dad header
So, Frank, growing up skating, how sure were you that you wanted Frankie to skate? Did you push him?
Frank: No. Kenny Anderson actually brought him a board for his third birthday—a mini Planet Earth deck. It was just like, Give him a board and let’s see how it goes. There was no pushing necessary. It was just like, Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.

What were some signs that Frankie was hooked?
Frank: He just wanted to go all the time. He actually kept me skating. They started building parks in Vegas, finally, so we had spots. We’d just ride. People would come up to us all time and be like, “Is that your big brother?” about me. People weren’t used to seeing a dad who skated back then, I guess. It just worked out.

A father is protective. Were there any times where you were like, What’d I get us into?
Frankie: Remember that one time at Pro park? I let an older teenager kid borrow my skateboard and I had to ask you to help me get it back. You went over there and were like, “Hey, give my kid his fucking board back!”
Frank: It’s funny how dad status can change a kid’s mind. Then after we started going to Bunker, he was like 12 or 13 and I felt like I still needed to go with him. There were a lot of sketchy characters hanging out, but I soon realized that since Frankie was the one out there pushing himself, everyone was looking out for him. I remember I told my wife, “He’s gonna be fine. Everyone likes him.”

FrankieDecker pullquote I had to send him to Disneyland with a sling on.
Do you remember when it hit you—My child rips harder than me?
Frank: It was at Bunker! He’s doing kickflip grabs, all this stuff way beyond what I did in ’88. The first time he got really hurt, it wasn’t from trying something dangerous—it was opening day at the park and he thought he was going down a bank but it was stairs and he snapped his collarbone. I had to send Frankie to Disneyland with a sling on.
Frankie: I think that broken collarbone contributed to my fear of roller coasters!
Frank: I always feel so lucky that Frankie took to skateboarding right from the beginning and we’ve always been able to skate together. We skated together all the time and it kept me going. Then once I got to 35-40, there were none of my friends left and he’s getting way too good to cruise around with his dad all the time. He had dudes driving him around and skating. That’s when I almost started to phase out, but I love skateboarding. It’s almost important for me to keep skating because he loves skateboarding. And to make him proud. I want to always be able to cruise around with him.

Frankie’s one of the best ams in the world right now, that’s why he’s on this trip. How do you feel about Frankie pursuing this as a career?
Frank: I almost wish I had encouraged him harder to get out of here and chase it a little sooner. He’s going for it. Being around all the time, and knowing people in it, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere and I was fine with it. I just love everything about it and want him to keep going. I just want him to give it his all, and wherever he lands, he lands. Give it his best shot and enjoy the moment. He got to go to Europe! He gets to travel and do what he loves. Whenever that ends, it ends. And if it goes long, know you put in the work and you deserve it.

frankie decker and his dad Las Vegas BURNETT DZDouble heelflips—Chip and the Ol’ Block. Second-generation skater Krazy Frankie definitely lived up to his name and kept the Scramble scrambled AF. Big love, Frankie!
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