Switch Fishbrain – Lake St. White Ledge

Photography by Mike Donovan
Interview by Joram Nijs


Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I was born in Okinawa, Japan but only lived there for 6 months because my dad was in the air force and my mother went with him when he was stationed there. We then moved to Illinois, right outside of Chicago for most of my childhood years. When I was 14, we moved about 25 minutes further from the city to a suburb called Bloomingdale. When I turned 18, I moved to the city for about a year, a few other suburbs, and even Long Beach, CA for half a year until I landed back in Bloomingdale for the time being.

What do you like about Bloomingdale?

It’s central to almost everything worthwhile in IL. I’m a half hour from the city and most of my long time blading buds. There are lots of unique outdoor parks in all surrounding suburbs. Always parking available and minimal traffic. My family is also nearby, so that’s always a plus. Also, there are a variety of spots to skate nearby.

What should people definitely do when they visit your hometown?

Eat at Portillo’s Hot Dogs, you will thank me later. Hit me up so I can show you around and take you to spots. If you want to get your drink on, Thursday nights at Bulldogs is the place to be. Can’t beat 2 dollar craft beers on tap.

What’s your favorite spot when you go out blading in Bloomingdale?

I wouldn’t say I enjoy any spots in my hometown enough to call them ‘favorites’, but that is only because I’ve skated them more times than I would like to admit. Roselle Train Station is sick if you like low and slightly angled handicapped rails that you have to tip toe up to in order to remain on your feet, haha. Bad run-up there, for sure.

Most of our spots are far from perfect. Lake Street White Ledge is really dope, but it’s pretty high and hard to approach. It slides like every ledge in California (perfect). Lake Park Guard Rail would be on the top of my list because it’s a fatter rail and only properly accomplished at high speeds.


Zero AO Top Soul rewind 3 – Lake Park Guard Rail


Some people stretch, others watch a blading-dvd. Tell us about your pre-blading routine.

I always stretch before I skate anything. I like to plan out tricks to try on obstacles I know I’ll be visiting. I think a lot about what I’ve already done and how I can do something different. I don’t normally watch skating dvd’s before I blade but sometimes they’re on the tube while we partake in our herbal remedies.

Do you go out blading alone?

I don’t like to normally, but if I need to I will, or if I’m properly motivated. The pictures for this article are from when I was skating by my lonesome self while Mike took the shots.

Why don’t you like blading alone?

I don’t like blading by myself because I like to feed off of my friends. Your trick is only as cool as it looks, and if you can’t get your buddies approval then how do you know if you’re looking fresh or not?

Sessions with the homies are always fun. Who do you skate with in Bloomingdale?

Mike Donovan, Joe Smith, Luke Belding, Eddie Dombrowski, Steve Lerner, Art Garza, Patrick Groark, and Doug Sharley. The blading scene is lazy but always pulls through. We’re all old guys with full time jobs but we still know how to get clips and put out edits as often as possible.

Here’s an edit by Mike Donovan featuring some of the guys:

What’s the one trick you absolutely have to do every session?

True Top Acid because it’s awesome.

What’s the one trick you wipe-out on the most?

True Fish because you die if you miss.

What gets you juiced or makes you smile while on blades?

On my way to sessions, I like to listen to Mac lethal and Biggie Smalls. When I’m skating, I don’t really listen to music, because then I can’t hear my surroundings.


Top Mistrial – Roselle Train Station


Do you ever go out blading with specific tricks in mind?

I do go out with tricks in mind but I’m usually not wrapped up in any one trick. I like to surprise myself sometimes as well. I train on tricks I don’t have, or the ones I want to learn.

Staying hydrated is important while throwing down hammers. What’s your preferred blading-drink? H20? Coffee? Beer?

Coconut Water is a must for hot sessions because it’s the best way to stay hydrated. If I’m on a budget, I’ll stick with water. I do drink energy drinks as well as coffee but I try not to when I’m blading because they give me heart palpitations.

We all know weird stuff tends to happen during blading sessions. Tell us about at least one random thing that happened while you were out blading in Bloomingdale.

Well, I don’t like getting kicked out of spots by pedestrians, and one just happened to rain on my parade about 6 or 7 years ago. My friends and I were skating these fancy rails at a church and some lady and her husband decided to have a random conversation with me about skateboarding. They obviously wanted us to leave but I did not want to partake in an escape. The husband then leaned on the end of the railing and I jumped on it anyway, almost colliding into him. Then the lady starts to freak out on me. I replied ‘We’re just having fun’, she then said ‘Well, have fun at the skatepark.’ I sarcastically replied… ‘Yahhh, ‘cause that’s so much fun’. We just so happened to have been filming as well.

You can watch it here:

What your ideal after-session routine?

I like to partake in more herbal remedies with my buds while we watch whatever footage we got that day. If we didn’t film at all, I like to teach my friends how to play various video games such as Halo 4 and NBA2K13. I’m usually icing or applying tiger balm to my ankles or knees. Lastly, I hope my girlfriend is ready to rub me down, because I’m always sore.

NBA2K13 probably means you’re into basketball. Are you a Bulls fan?

I’m a huge Bulls fan. I love basketball in general but when you grow up watching Jordan in your own city, you can’t help but get into it.


Do you think they’ll get far in the play-offs this year without Derrick Rose?

I think this question is funny because I know Derrick will be in the play-offs. If he is not, I honestly don’t think we will get too far. Our team is very talented but they need Rose’s guidance and leadership to really win a championship.

Back to blading: what’s the one spot or trick you’ve been thinking of doing in Bloomingdale, but haven’t got around to yet?

I want to True Fish this infamous drop rail at our courthouse. I tried last year and racked. My backside wants redemption, so I plan to go back after I get surgery for my knee at the end of May.


Misfit – Lake Park Guard Rail


You just recently found out about that knee injury. What happened?

I just found out last week actually. I have a torn ACL in my right knee. I’m pretty bummed about it, but I’m glad I found out what’s wrong and it’s being taken care of. I’ve had issues with my knee since last summer. After a comp in MN this past January, I got fed up with not being 100%, so I called the doc. I’m going to be out for 2-3 months starting at the end of May and I’m still skating until the surgery, just not taking any big drops or gaps.

What would you like to say to someone who’s reading this thing just before going out to blade?

If you’re reading this, come out here and blade. I’ve got a huge couch, and a lovely girlfriend who would probably wash your clothes and cook for you. If you’re about to go out blading, have fun. That’s all that matters.


Any shout-outs?

Mike Donovan for making me look good sometimes. Joe Smith for being lazier than me, but always wanting to blade. Andrew Kazlauskas for making the best Chicago blade films and just for being so dope. My girlfriend, Brooke, for supporting my passion and dealing with everything that comes along with it. Dan Fabiano for bringing back Scribe Industries and hooking me up with the best urethane for almost 5 years now. USD for sending me skates for 4 years and for making classic thrones. Hakeem Jimoh and Brian Lewis at Create Originals for flowing me frames whenever I need them and for pushing our industry in the right direction.

Check out some more of Brian’s blading here: