Birdhouse pro and Minneapolis legend Steve Nesser has been one of my favorite skaters for at least a decade. He skates with so much energy and power, I sometimes think he can ollie cars off flat. Not long ago, Nesser had a sequence wallieing up into a back tail on the tight tranny ledges of the old Big Brother offices at the Larry Flynt building (1:30 in his intro video). I'd walk by those things day in and day out hoping someone would finally do something on them other than Bam. I'm glad it was Nesser. When I called him to tell him I was stoked he told me he was making the switch to IPath shoes, so we decided to talk about it a bit more in depth. Here's what he had to say.
The reason we're talking today, SvenCan I call you Sven?
I like that. There's a Sven Shoes on the way to my cabin that people are always like, "Why isn't your name Sven?" You can call me Sven.
Well the reason we're talking, Sven, is that you just made a big shoe sponsor change to IPath. I never pictured you to be an irie, smokey sort of fellow.
Yeah, I guess I don't put off that vibe but I'm working on it. I'm kidding. I've always seen IPath as doing their own thing. They were pretty Rasta in the beginning but it seems like they're going towards all around, raw skateboarding. I mean, Freddy [Gall] and those dudes on the team are dudes that I like to watch skate and now I get to skate with them.
What happened with Adio? It seems like a lot of guys are leaving. For a guy like Kenny Anderson who was their best seller for years to leave says a lot.
I don't like to get involved with all that stuff but I'll just say that once Jeff Taylor and Chris Miller were no longer a part of it, it lost what it was for us. Jeff was the first dude to actually give me a shot and put me on a team and advertising with me and put me on trips. It was sick back then but everything is changing in every aspect of the skate world right now so you gotta change with that.
What is your take on the current state of affairs? There's rumors of other shoe brands going out of business or considering being sold in Kmarts and Targets and such without any shame.
I just think the same thing as a lot of other people who are trying to hang on to what skateboarding should be. But sadly everything is going to get blown out at some point. You can't stop people from wanting to grow. It seems like everything will come down to five brands pretty soon. I think everyone is doing whatever they can to make a sale and the people that aren't doing that aren't able to survive right now.
Then there's us, with mom and pop skateshops [Nieratko owns NJ Skateshop. Nesser owns Famila Skateshop]. How is this New World Skate Order treating your business?
It's hard. How do you explain to people on a budget that these shoes are $100 when to their parents say a shoe is a shoe? You go to the mall or somewhere like Payless they have tons of shoes for way cheaper. I think it just opens up lots of room to do cool things with your own store that other people can't do and that keeps it unique. I can see that you do that at NJ. All the shops that are standing out right now are doing it because they're figuring out what they need to do to stay in the game.
Are you in Familia Skateshop a lot?
As far as going in to the shop I do that about three times a week when I'm home. I'm always talking about the shop and promoting it and trying to communicate with the skate world to keep the shop name in the mix.
When you're in there, can I get you to grip my board?
Yeah. I do it all the time.
What if I needed a line or a picture cut into my griptape?
Yeah, easy. I've been gripping boards probably as long as you have. I'm pretty good at it.
How has life changed in general for you since having a baby?
In general I'd say I'm awake longer and I do way more things in a day then I used to: with the shop, the baby and trying to skate. Her name is Rowan Grey Nesser and she's 13 months old. Parenthood has been real good though. The main thing is no matter what you do at night you have to get up at 7am. So you're digging your own grave the later you stay out. And it's not like you come home from a trip and there's nothing to do. You come home and you jump right back into being a dad. Last year I flew all day, got back to Minneapolis, thought I'd pass out but Rowan was having some breathing issues so we had to drive right to the ER and stay there all night.
Your brother in law, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, recently did a Broadway musical of "American Idio.t" Do you think if I wrote "Birdman: The Musical" that you could show it to Tony Hawk for me?
It would have to be called "Birdman On Broadway." But yeah, I think it would be epic.
Do you think Tony can sing?
I think we both know that Tony can do a little bit of everything.
What's the biggest perk of being associated with Tony Hawk?
Hands down, he put me in the video game.
Your other teammate [via IPath] is Bob Burnquist. In a fight to the death, who wins? Bob or Birdman?
I'm going with Birdman. Birdman is still standing strong; he's not going anywhere.
But Bob has magnets and if Birdman came at him with a knife Bob could take the knife away with the magnets. [ed. Bob does not really skate with magnets. This is a long running joke due to the amazing stuff he can do on the MegaRamp.]
He does. And he has that Brazilian Capoeira. That would be an epic scene. It would go well in your Broadway play.
Oh my God! That would be perfect! I have to go so I can start writing this masterpiece.
I hope you do.