The Fred Gall Interview: Part 1

A shadowy kickflip to fakie before winter comes and Fred jetsets it to Miami's sunny beaches Randy Rivera

Fred Gall doesn't need much of an introduction. He's been one of the most recognizable faces of East coast skating since his early days as a Philly transplant with Jerry Fisher, Ricky Oyola and the Sub Zero crew. Although he's a little wiser and better day-by-day, he continues to be the same Fred we all know and love from Dirty Jersey. Read on...

Where are you at?
I'm in my warehouse right now.

What's your warehouse all about?
We have a screen printing business—a screenprinting warehouse. We have a miniramp in here, but it's just like a private ramp, because this is our business. We make T-shirts and clothing here, too.

Is that where you make Domestics?
Yeah, it's out of Carteret, New Jersey.

I've wanted to know that for some time, since you were in a lot of Philly footage from the Eastern Exposure videos. Did you live in Philly, then? Or, did you just travel up there from time to time?
I was always based out of New Jersey, but I had a place on 19th and Spring Garden in Philly. I had a little apartment with some skaters and I still had my mom's place, 'cause I was just a teenager back then.

You had some clips in "Eastern Exposure" with Jerry Fisher. What's he doing now?

I think he's in Williamsport, VA. I think he runs some sort of business out of there, but I don't really know. I haven't spoken to him in a while, but I think he's doing all right. That's who I lived with in that Philly apartment.

You still hang out with Lou Metal a lot, right?
Yeah, he's actually on his way here right now.

Is he a partner in Domestics?
He's not a partner with Domestics, but he has Metal Skateboards. We print whatever clothing that goes out for Metal here.

So, this is like your business on the side?
Yeah, I have a partner—Joe Diorsi. It's more his than mine. We had a skateshop at one point, but we were in a non-production zone and the skateshop wasn't doing that great, so we went to a warehouse, where we could print stuff, have our little ramp and have a shop in the front for the local kids who want to come get product. It's not like a storefront or anything, but people know we're here. The can come and skate the ramp and get hooked up. It's pretty low-key.

When winter comes around Jersey, where do you end up going?
I actually have a place in Miami that I had for all of last winter, because I'm too old for this cold weather. My body don't feel the same. It's a lot easier filming video parts and stuff to be somewhere warm. I actually still have that place, but I think my lease runs out in December, so I don't know. I'm gonna have to figure that out. I just try to travel usually—keep it moving during the winter. If you stay here in New Jersey, you can get stagnant.

It's funny. It's almost like the life a retiree, going back and forth between Jersey and Miami.
It is, but I'm not retired and I definitely don't have the money saved that I'd like to. I've still got a lot of working to do.

[Laughs] So, when you're in Miami, where do you stay in the city?
South Beach.

So, you're in the heart of it.
Yeah, I'm a block away from the beach. I'm pretty much surrounded by the chaos. But, we have MIA Skateshop down there, my friend Joel [Meinholz] and a lot of people, who are involved in the scene down there, so we can make a lot of things happen as far as demos and promotion stuff. We had a miniramp at Art Basel.

It seems like there's a really good scene down there, plus a Habitat connection, too.
We're all pretty tight down there. We work together with all the guys at MIA, Joel Meinholz, Ed Selego, Chris Williams—they hold it down hard out there.

Joel's kind of renowned as the party guy down there, isn't he?
He's a club promoter and he's a retired partier. But, if you want anything down there, that's who you talk to. He knows everyone.

That must be great for you and all the homies down there.
It can be dangerous, but it works out. It's really good when you have that connect and you can just talk these people into putting a miniramp in their club. Next thing you know, we have all these guys who are skating in this club that they couldn't even get into before.

Do you cruise around the beaches most of the summer or are you chillin' in pool halls?
My routine would be wake up, I'd go to the beach, chill out and then meet up with a bunch of people to go skate. I don't have a car down there. You don't need a car on the beach, but you need a car to skate spots off the beach. It's good when people come into town, because you have a team down there that needs you to show them around and you can just jump in the van. So, yeah, then at night, go to the bar or pool hall. I try to stay out of loud clubs usually, but a lot of my friends work at a club called Mokai, so free drinks for life, pretty much.

It's kind of like you have to go there, right?
Even though you hate it, you're like, "Well, I might be broke today."

One of the things Ohio Dave Smith (Ipath TM) told me was that you're all right at cheating at poker. What's that all about?
When you're playing a bunch of little kids in a van on tour, yeah sure. I actually just lost about $3,500 down in Atlantic City on Blackjack. I'm good at Blackjack and I'm good at cards, but I have a tendency to get to a good point where I make the amount I want and then I want to go big. Sometimes it works and sometimes I get wiped out. And, that time, I got wiped out.

One of those times where the dealer's even telling you to leave?
Yeah, the dealer's like, "You should probably just walk away," and I'm like, "No way. Here, $500 right now.

I feel like when a dealer says that, it tests you...
Yeah, it tests me to go even bigger, especially when I lose...especially when you're pissed off...especially when you're drinking double Jack and Cokes all night. I try to be on the dealer's side, because you gotta work with them, but this last time I cashed out and I had about six or seven $500 chips and instead of just leaving, I'm like $500...boom. Done. $500 again...all right, $1,000. All my earnings that I made in eight hours, I wiped out in a matter of 60 seconds, you know? I'm thinking, "Great now I gotta start all over." But in the mental frame I'm in now, it's not good, because I'm willing to go big. That's how the casino gets you.

You gotta take those chips back to the cashier and break them up.
Yeah, that's why I gotta have a roll dog with me to be like, "Dude, chill the f**k out!" to get me to put my money away.

So, how were you cheating Jaws on the trip?
Oh, he was winning and just laughing—kind of annoying me. So, I'm like, "All right, let's see how you do this time." I was blatantly cheating, but it took him a really long time to catch on. Then, he did and I wouldn't give him his money, but then I did. But, at first, I was like, "You just won all that money in the X Games, man." But...no, I was joking. It's not cool to cheat him, but when he's joking on a plane and I'm tricking him, it's his job to catch on. I was trying to teach him a lesson.

What trip was that?
It was on a trip to Canada. We were on a plane and we had aisle seats, so we were playing right between aisles, and the whole plane was laughing, because I would lose and get mad and Jaws would be like, "You're cheeeating!" If you know Jaws, just his voice alone is enough to make you laugh, you know?

When you're down on you luck from gambling, is that when you get in on the five finger discount?
That's strictly for the sport of it. When we were on that tour...I can have five grand in my pocket and still steal a bottle of Jack Daniel's for the sport of it—just to see. But, I really try not to do that. I'm a 30-year-old man. If I get caught doing that, I'd feel like a real s**thead. But, I'm pretty good at it from my younger days. Actually, I stole some stuff from that casino because I was pissed. I stole some batteries at the gift shop.

Trying your best to get a little payback?
Yeah, like, "You got my $3,000 but I got you for $14 dollar batteries." It's like, I gotta get something back outta this deal.

I think I got to around the age of 25 when I realized that if I got caught stealing even a candy bar it would be incredibly embarrassing.

Yeah, I don't really condone shoplifting at all, especially when it's your friends or a small business. But, when you're young, stealing from a huge business...sure, I'm a scumbag, but it's not really that big of a deal. I'm not promoting stealing, by the way, though. But, when you're a kid, you do stupid stuff.

Part 2 coming next Wednesday: Hot sauce challenge, product tosses, shameless grown men, separated shoulders, Dr. Raybourne, Bionic Man: Ryan Lay, the Gypsy Tour, sticky-fingers Puig, JB Gillet: The Gypsy Queen, skating and hangovers: an inverse relationship, Mona Lisa's missing smile, Democratic vote posters, "The Nobodies," the "Lowlife," the Ipath promo, music rights, de-Habitization, Habitat's new video and dying a thousand deaths.