Interview by Nick Shields. Photos by Eduardo Sanchez.
Grant Fiero loves skateboarding. Hands down, no question about it, Grant’s passion for skateboarding and the culture that surrounds it is unmatched. His self-proclaimed obsession led him to join Andrew Arellano on his Skate Fillet podcast on episode 12 and has since helped guide the show to over 200 episodes! We got into what he’s been up to and what his plans are for the future. Last year, Fiero put out a full length part under the elite San Francisco based distributor Deluxe. Even so, he still has a level-headed, humble attitude that has helped carry him through his accomplishments in skateboarding so far. If you watch or listen to the podcast you’ll find that Grant’s appreciation for skateboarding transcends all it’s genres. He has an acute ability to find the positive in every video he sees and skater he meets. The twenty-one year old, soon to be college graduate, has a bright future ahead of him that exceeds the realm of podcasting. So we dropped in with Grant and talked about Skate Fillet, Youtube skaters, the industry and much more.
What’s up Grant? How’re you doing?
What’ve you been up to?
I was just working on some school stuff, hungout, stretched. I’m on this routine of stretching every morning, so I just did that.
That’s good man, I need to get on that routine too.
Yeah it feels good. The other day someone hit me up on instagram and asked if it helps, and my body does feel better. So I’m just trying to keep that going.
What I always forget to do, is stretching after I go skate.
I know, I’ve read stuff about how that’s good too. I should probably get on that a little better.
Do you stretch even if you’re not going to skate that day?
Yeah, I’m probably not skating today because I’ve got school most of the afternoon, but I’d rather just do it everyday and then you’re body probably just feels better.
What are you going to school for?
I’m going to school for business management. I did two years in merchandising and marketing and now I’m in my second year of business management.
What motivated you to pursue higher education? Because a lot of skaters don’t do that.
I was in my senior year of high school and I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do after high school. But I’ve known for a while that my goal was to work in the skateboarding industry. Education probably isn’t looked at like a necessity to do that, but it can’t hurt to be more educated. I had the opportunity to go to school so I felt like there was really no reason not to. I enjoy school a lot more now than I did in high school. In high school I was doing a lot of stuff that I wasn’t interested in. Now it’s a lot more focused on stuff that seems applicable and realistic to me.
You go to FIDM right?
I do yeah.
So does that mean that your education is very fashion industry focused?
Not too much, probably not as much as people would think. It is a fashion school so a lot of people do go to FIDM for fashion design or product development, or stuff like that. My focus is business so it’s fairly broad and it’s a lot of projects where you can choose where you want to take it. So my stuff isn’t super fashion based, like I can do projects about big companies or even smaller stuff that would be a little more skating related.
Now that you’ve gotten an education on marketing and business management, are there any brands in the skateboard industry that you have more respect for now than you did before you went to college?
Yeah, I’d say there is. I really like paying attention to the way that brands market stuff or the way they maybe do a lookbook or a catalog. That is cool to me, even more so now to look at, because I know that a lot of thought went into it.
I’ve always been a fan of everything that all the Deluxe brands do, I’ve always thought they killed it. Then there’s even smaller brands that I think do cool stuff like Quartersnacks. They did a really funny lookbook where they were eating food wearing their new clothes. [Laughs] They had spilt stuff all over the new shirts and just funny stuff like that. I think it’s cool, just because it’s different and you wouldn’t expect that or see that from many other companies or websites. So I love paying attention to it.
What other brands do you look up to that you could see yourself working for after college, or maybe if you wanted to start a brand that follows the same model?
I mentioned Deluxe because I’m honestly a really big fan of the way that they work. They do a lot for skateboarding and that’s something that I pay a lot of attention to: companies that give back. Whether that’s through skate shops or constantly doing stuff with skateparks or events.
Another smaller company that I think is cool is a hat brand from New York called Grand Collection, I just think their product is cool. It’s just super nice hats and jackets. I think that type of stuff is sick. Not that I’d really see myself working for them, and I don’t really have a big desire to have my own company. I’d more so rather work for an established company. But I do think sometimes that just having a little thing at some point would be fun and I think seeing something like Grand that’s a little smaller makes me more motivated to do that at some point in life.
Yeah, owning a company is a big feat. I think its interesting because it’s super hard to do, it’s a lot easier to just not do anything right? Like you could just go skate the park everyday and some people are perfectly happy with that. Some people decide to take it further and invest their lives in companies, what do you think it is about skateboarders specifically that drives them to start brands and stuff like that?
I think it’s just that starting something like that can get you even more involved in the industry or even more of your time is going to be spent with anything related to skateboarding. Skateboarding is a pretty obsessive thing for, I’d say a majority of skateboarders. It’s pretty much always on your mind; you’re always looking for a spot or anything like that. I love that. I think it’s so cool when you see, like you guys starting the mag, or even this upcoming weekend Gabe Gussin is doing that art show and video premiere. Any little things like that, I love to be able to go to or post about it because that stuff is sick! I love whatever little skate thing is going on, it’s so cool to me because it brings so many skateboarders together and people get to have fun and it’s just sick to see people put effort into skateboarding related things.
So speaking of that let’s get into some of the podcast stuff. How did you get involved with the Skate Fillet podcast, and how long have you been involved with it?
Drew [Arellano] started it and I think I came on around episode twelve. I mentioned earlier how skateboarding can be very obsessive, and it is for me. I want to watch every new video that comes out and read all the interviews. So Drew started Skate Fillet and I was listening to it and I hit him up and said ‘Yo this is sick. Like this is super cool!’ He asked if I wanted to come on for an episode, so I was just a guest and we talked about whatever went down that week in skating. We finished up and he asked if I wanted to be a part of the show weekly. I think that was 2016 so it was probably over three years ago.
That’s crazy that you guys can schedule that every week and get it posted no matter what.
Yeah, we’ve definitely made it a point to be pretty consistent. In that whole time there’s been very few weeks where we’ve missed a show. It’s definitely something you have to be committed to.
Drew left the show for a bit and you kind of had to take it over right?
Drew was trying to figure out some career related stuff and took some time away for about two years. Up until that point, to me it was Drew’s show and I was just someone who was on it, and then when he left my role changed a little bit. It was me and a guy named Mike [Medina] and we just kept it going, kept it afloat. I wouldn’t say we progressed it very much, the last few months since Drew rejoined the show he’s been a big help with getting us onto new platforms and stuff like that. But I definitely wasn’t just going to let it die, I’ve been able to connect with so many new people, so many new skateboarders through doing the show. Like I said, I love watching all of that skateboarding stuff so much that having a place to talk about it each week is fun for me. It was never a thought for me that I was going to let it die off just because Drew couldn’t do it for a little while.
“I definitely wasn’t just going to let it die, I’ve been able to connect with so many new people, so many new skateboarders through doing the show.”
That’s dope! You kind of answered my next question about what inspired you to keep it going, but it’s just your passion for it.
Yeah I just love talking about skating. Even just being at a skatepark or on a session, when you chill and sit down because you’re done skating a spot and someone starts talking about a new video part, I just love that. It’s just fun to talk about.
What do you think about all the other skateboard podcasts out right now? Do you pay attention to those? Are there any that really stand out to you?
Yeah, I mean probably the most popular one is obviously The Nine Club. That’s the one I watch the most consistently. They do their regular show as well as The Nine Club Experience which is a little more like Skate Fillet, kind of news based. I listen to just about every episode of both of those. It’s cool to learn about so many skateboarders and hear cool stories.
Other than that there’s The Bunt which is a Canadian one, which I’ll listen to here and there. But mainly just The Nine Club honestly, I think it’s a cool show and they do a good job, and those dudes have also been super supportive of us with Skate Fillet, which is really cool.
Have you been involved with The Nine Club? Haven’t you been on set with them before?
I’ve never been on a show. I have been to the house that it’s filmed in. One of my good friends from Toronto comes on trips out here to LA to skate and film, he’s good friends with them so he’ll end up staying there. Actually Kelly, Roger, and Chris have all been guests on Skate Fillet at different periods of time. So they’ve all been on Drew and mine’s show, which is cool.
That’s rad you’ve had them on your show.
Yeah I was stoked that they were down. Obviously they’re platform is way bigger than ours, like it’s not benefitting them in too many ways to come on Skate Fillet. It was just cool that they were down to do that. I always think it’s cool when people do stuff like that, that they don’t have to do.
On The Nine Club one of their main elements is that they film every episode on nice cameras. Is that what you would ever want Skate Fillet to turn into or are you okay with the webcast, over the internet, recording that you guys are currently doing?
It would be great to have that for sure, but at the same time there are benefits to the webcast way that we do it. One of them being that we can have a guest that is anywhere in the world that has internet. We have used that to our benefit, of not having to meet up with all of our guests, which helps with planning. Also, Drew worked really hard on getting us to a point now where we don’t have many technical issues online. It’s been really hard, it took us a while to get it really dialed in. Yeah it looks great to have those real nice cameras and the super nice microphones, and sound all proper, but honestly I’m happy with how we sound and look now. Also, that benefit of being able to not be in the same city as a guest or even as a co-host, like I live in LA and Drew lives in San Diego, and Reef [Willard] is up in Northern California, so it’s cool to have that flexibility.
Speaking of guests, are there any guests, including the members of The Nine Club, that were your favorite or memorable that you were just really stoked to have on?
A pretty old episode, but one that comes to mind was with Josh Kalis. He’s pretty legendary and it was so funny. One of my favorite moments ever on Skate Fillet is, obviously everyone knows Kalis is known for his great tre flips and Drew loves to tre flip. Drew was asking him, maybe just about the trick in general and Drew said, ‘From one tre flipper to another,’ and it was just so funny in the moment, Drew just put himself up there with Kalis’ tre flips [laughs].
Chris Ray came on the show a few times and he’s been super cool. I also was able to interview Trevor Colden on the show. He’s always been a skateboarder that I’m a fan of. I actually ended up meeting up with him and doing that show in person, which was a really cool experience and something I’m always going to be able to look back on and be stoked about.
“Drew just put himself up there with Kalis’ tre flips”
What do you think makes your guys’ podcast stand out? Why do you think your listener base comes to you guys every week to listen to you?
I think they listen to us because it sounds natural and relatable to people, almost like it’s them talking to their friends about skating. I think it’s a benefit to certain people, where they think it’s cool that we’re not [in the industry], just relatable skateboarders, people that haven’t done a ton in the industry, at least yet.
Do you guys have any goals for the podcast?
Yeah we have goals for sure. I think anybody who’s running anything like that or a part of something, you definitely need to have some goals. But honestly, I think right now a part of it is to keep doing what we’re doing and work on little things to improve the show. To be honest with you, I don’t have some big aspirations of Skate Fillet being my income, or my whole life. It’s definitely just a fun thing but there is more thought into it than being just a fun thing I do every Wednesday or whatever, you know? I’m not sitting around hoping I can make that my long term company or something.
Yeah, what you always hear from anybody who’s ever accomplished something is just do it, just go out with your friends and just do it and have fun with it and then everything will come with it. It doesn’t happen overnight.
It definitely doesn’t happen overnight. Anybody who’s done a podcast or little website like you guys or whatever you put time into, you realize it doesn’t happen overnight. Honestly I’m so happy with it. We were just talking about some of the guests, and thinking back to that and all the funny moments on Skate Fillet and the people I’ve been able to have as guests or just connect with and talk about skateboarding through the internet because of Skate Fillet is so cool to me. I’m super content with all that’s been able to happen so far.
I think that’s what discourages people from trying new things is that they’re not willing to go through the slow part of it. So I think it’s cool you guys have kept it going, for years now!
Yeah I mean, obviously everybody wants some success, or attention, whatever you want to say. But that can’t be the only thing that’s going to keep you going. I mean if that’s all the desire that someone has then I could see how they’re probably not going to want to do something, or they’re going to get over it pretty quick.
You already mentioned your respect for Deluxe, but what’s your involvement with them?
The connection actually originates back to Skate Fillet. Jim Thiebaud is a long time viewer of Skate Fillet. Jim’s just been super cool and supportive of the show and supportive of us individually. He’s been able to introduce me to a lot of other people at Deluxe, which has been super cool with my time at school and being able to talk to these people that work in skateboarding and basically do what I would like to do one day. Whether that’s working in marketing, or anything, within skateboarding. That’s pretty much how it originated, and since then it’s grown. I’ve been able to help them out at different events. They just did a thing down at Cherry Park in Long Beach recently, and not that I played a big role in that at all, but I was there and there were a bunch of skateboarders. I just filmed everybody and made a little iphone edit. I just love to do anything I can and those dudes have been so cool and supportive to me and I love what they do for skateboarding.
That’s pretty dope that Jim Thiebaud is a listener, that’s a pretty heavy name in skateboarding.
Yeah, and he loves [skateboarding] so much. When we talk about The Nine Club his name comes up on so many of those episodes and people will say how much he’s done for them and how good of a dude he is. Everyone has one of those stories who’s met him because he’s so cool and he does so much for anyone he’s friends with, or just skateboarders in general. He’ll really do everything he can to help you out, which I really appreciate and admire.
When you go to an event like that at Cherry Park with all these skateboarders, do people you don’t know ever come up and talk to you about Skate Fillet?
Yeah it’ll happen here and there, not all the time. There’s been times where I’ll be at a skatepark here in LA and someone will be like ‘Yo! You do that skate podcast right?’ [Laughs] It’s happened a few times, it’s pretty funny. I’m always stoked that when someone does recognize the show or whatever it’s definitely rad that they bring it up and want to say what’s up and talk about skating or anything. It’s funny to think about but it’s so cool that they’d be down to mention it.
How did your Known Associate part come about? That part was dope, by the way. But how did it come about, putting a part together that was posted by Deluxe?
Thank you. I had just been filming, and I didn’t really have a plan of what I was going to do with any of my footage. So I ended up talking to Jim and this dude Christian who works over there and they were super cool and kind enough to be down to release it. They’ve had a couple other of those Known Associate parts, which is just someone who’s involved or someone who helps out with stuff Deluxe related. So they were down to put it out that way, which was super rad of them and I’m stoked that happened the way it did.
Are there any standout tricks or moments from that part?
Yeah I guess the ender, which is a trick I do all the time but that spot was a little intimidating to me. It’s an asphalt bank and you go over a wooden bar. We were there with a bunch of people, it was on Thanksgiving a couple years ago. It just worked out, it was one of those things where you’re at a spot and you kinda know you can skate it but it’s just getting that first attempt in. So I ollied over it, went from there and it worked out. Not too long after the cops showed up so I was glad I got it when I did. I think that spot’s hit or miss and they ended up skate-stopping it not too long after, so I was definitely stoked about that one.
Do you have any new parts in the works?
Yeah actually, I think I’m going to have some footage coming out pretty soon. My friend Daniel [Policelli] spent a lot of time out here in LA during the end of last year and the beginning of this year. We were able to film a lot while he was out here. We went on a trip to San Francisco, and then last month I went out to Toronto with a couple friends to skate with him. It’ll be a little short for a part but he’s not going to be out here for a while and I’ve filmed with other people here and there, but he’s my favorite dude to film with. I know him really well and he’s a good friend of mine. We decided it’d be cool for him to edit it and put it together now. That’ll actually be out pretty soon.
That’s cool man, anybody who’s not a sponsored skater, who goes to school or has a full time job, and manages to go out and get a couple minutes worth of street footage for a part is super respectable to me!
Thanks man! Yeah that’s something I’ve paid a lot of attention to as well. Like one of the interviews you dropped last week with Billy Jackson. He works all the time, and works crazy hours, and he is always down to go in the streets and try and film stuff. I always thought that was so tight. If someone has ever seen him or watched his part, Billy should be so hooked up. He is such a good skateboarder but he has so much other stuff he has to do with his time.
Speaking of which, who are some skateboarders you think deserve more coverage, or any coverage? Is there anyone from LA or SD that really stands out to you?
Billy has to be on there for sure. Nolan Lively, he’s had some footage come out, especially recently like the Slappy’s full length came out and then he had another VX part on Transworld. So it’s not like his name isn’t out there at all but he’s somebody to me who’s name a lot of skateboarders should recognize.
Jake Martin, another San Diego skateboarder. He can skate switch super well, he’ll switch flip or switch heel [a spot] no problem while other people are still skating it regular and figuring it out. He’s already jumping over the thing switch. I think that’s so tight.
That’s just a few off the top of my head that for sure kill it. All those dudes work jobs and Nolan finished school not that long ago and it kind of goes along with dudes that definitely have a full time schedule but they make time to film and skate all the time and it’s super rad. I love watching all three of them skate.
Since Skate Fillet is kind of based around videos and content that came out that week, it kind of depends on the skate industry constantly producing content, and there’s almost a seemingly infinite amount of skateboard content on the internet nowadays. Do you think that aspect is helping or hurting the industry in any way?
I think it’s definitely changing the industry. I don’t know, I guess you can kind of make a case for helping and hurting. To me the only thing that’s a little bit of a bummer is, it’s kind of sad when you see a super crazy video part come out with some up and coming kid or even if its a big name pro, people will watch it and talk about it for a couple days but it’s pretty much buried in the realms of everything else after that. Everybody knows the amount of time and effort that goes into making a video part like that, and it doesn’t matter how skilled you are on a skateboard, they still put so much time, effort, injuries, and traveling into a video part. Seeing it get buried after two days of internet content is just kind of a bummer. I don’t think that’s going to change, I try not to be somebody who complains about it all the time because it is what it is. Everything progresses and skateboarding isn’t going to stay the same forever.
“Everything progresses and skateboarding isn’t going to stay the same forever.”
Nowadays you’ve got these “YouTube skaters” and a lot of them are really talented skateboarders, they have thousands of followers on their channels and they’re probably making nearly the same amount of money off YouTube as some pro skaters are making off of board sales honestly. Which is funny to think about. It’s kinda quantity versus quality I guess. Youtube skaters might have an unlimited quantity of videos, but they’re not the best videos, they don’t really mean anything if it’s just nonsense. Then these professional skaters have one video part come out a year maybe, and it’s amazing but then a week later nobody remembers it, until the rough cut comes out. What do you think of that?
I mean it’s true, those YouTube dudes have their audience right, and it’s probably not us for the most part. It’s probably younger kids, and it’s nothing I watch and I don’t really care about it that much. But at the same time, those dudes found their own way to make a career, for some of their life, out of skateboarding. Which not that many people do so in that sense, good for them that’s sick. The quality over quantity thing, I would definitely rather watch a quality video part over somebody’s day to day whatever video. It’s just those dudes are doing their thing and pro skateboarders do their thing and its two, pretty separate worlds.
It’s great for these skaters, they’re creating an audience and making a name for themselves, it’s cool but at the same time they’re shooting themselves in the foot. You can have a vlogging YouTube channel and be an amazing skater like Chris Chann or something but by doing that you’re kind of blacklisting yourself from the industry. Those guys aren’t getting ads in Thrasher or interviews or anything like that so you really have to choose which route you’re going to take right?
Yeah I agree it’s pretty one way or the other, at least currently. I was just talking about how nothing will ever stay the same so we could potentially see that change or mix a little more in the future. But you’re totally right, it’s basically one or the other right now. Maybe those dudes don’t care, maybe they don’t care about big sponsors or Thrasher interviews and they just want to do what they want to do. But if you’re doing that type of thing the chances of you having a video part on Thrasher, or having an interview in Thrasher is pretty slim based on what we’ve seen so far.
Do you think we’re going to start seeing ads printed in Thrasher for “like and subscribe,” YouTube channels?
[Laughs] I don’t know, a part of me wants to say if those dudes like Chris Chann wanted his own ad I don’t think Thrasher would turn down his money, but I don’t know if we’re going to see a big shoe brand back that dude in that sense.
I mean you don’t see Revive commercials on Thrasher right?
That’s true you don’t. Maybe Revive doesn’t feel like that’s even their, it seems weird to say, but maybe to them it’s pointless. Like why do they even need that? Obviously that stuff is more directed at kids, a brand like Revive has all those kids probably watching their videos more than they’re watching anything on Thrasher.
You mentioned you’re going to school for business management and your goal is to work in the skate industry. Do you have any idea what kind of job you would want to do in the industry?
Yeah, I mean I don’t care about the title. If it’s working for any company in skateboarding that I think is doing cool stuff, then I’m down. I have goals but I don’t have any expectation that just because I went to school I get to skip over these certain positions or anything like that. Down the line I would love to do anything marketing related within a skateboarding company, or even a brand manager down the line. From my perspective right now, a lot of the stuff I’m learning in this business management program is pretty practical and relative to that.
Do you ever worry that if you were to work in the industry that you might lose some of your love for skateboarding?
No. I don’t think I’d let anything affect my love for skateboarding. I mean I’m sure there’s stuff people see on the inside [the skate industry] that the average person who just goes to the skatepark would never think about. At the end of the day, no matter what you’re dealing with, I just think that getting on your board at the skatepark or going to skate a spot is still going to be just as fun. I don’t think anything inside of an industry would affect that.
“I don’t think I’d let anything affect my love for skateboarding.”
But it’s almost like two different loves, we have a love for the physical act of riding our skateboards but we also have this love for the culture that surrounds it. I used to worry that if I worked from inside the industry, like the part that helps develop our culture, it might ruin it for me somehow.
Personally I don’t have that worry, or see that happening to myself. I totally understand what you’re saying. You don’t know what you are going to experience in any job but there is definitely stuff you would experience within skateboarding that maybe as a kid or even the average skateboarder would not realize was happening within the industry. Stuff like that could maybe turn you off of it a little bit. But I’m not too worried about it personally.
It looks like you’re doing pretty well: you’re living in LA, you’ve got the skate podcast, I see you skating The Berrics all the time, you’re friends with some crazy pros. You’re living a lot of kids’ dreams, from the outside at least. Do you feel like you’re fulfilling something you’d hoped of as a kid?
I do think about it like that honestly. It’s funny that you asked this because just earlier this week I was thinking about it. I don’t want it to come off like ‘Oh I know all these cool pros,’ like it’s some sort of ego thing at all. It is cool to think back to being fourteen years old and wanting to skate certain skateparks or spots, or see certain pros skate in person and being able to experience a lot of those things now. I’m super thankful for all those opportunities and the amount of people in skateboarding that have looked out and helped me out, it means a lot and I try to thank them for that all the time. To be honest, it is pretty crazy to think about what I’ve experienced within skateboarding so far. All the cool memories I’ve made and traveling and all that stuff, I’m very thankful for all those people and all those opportunities for sure.
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