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Rune Glifberg interview

Interview with Rune Glifberg

The third and final Volcom ‘Holy Stokes’ interview in our series is the first one we conducted on the day of the premiere, when we sat down with Flip Skateboards OG, vert innovator and all around ripper Rune Glifberg. Covering subjects ranging from the rise of Copenhagen as a skate tourism destination to skating 70s New Zealand parks with Lee Ralph to Tom Penny’s Carlsbad gap onslaught sans filmer, amongst other things, this offers up a solid slice of skateboard history for someone who has never stopped.

We’re speaking in advance of the premiere of Volcom’s Holy Stokes! Video: Having been involved in both Freedom Wig, Chicahgof and True to This before the new video, how has this one differed during the filming process from your point of view?

I think for me, with the other videos, they were a lot earlier on so I played a greater part in those. In this one there’s a lot of young, newer guys on the team, so for me it’s more like I went on a few trips and then we focused a lot more on the pool skating. I’ve been skating a lot of pools around California with all the guys – various crews at different times – Pedro (Barros), Arto (Saari), CJ (Collins) a bunch of times, just different crews all the time. They took everyone out to the Nude Bowl, Grant (Taylor) was out there. So it’s been a bunch of little missions here and there, then a few trips on the road like the New Zealand one.

I think the other videos were maybe a bit more focused for me, while this one was a little bit more relaxed. But I’m just stoked to be part of something great – this video focuses a lot more on some of the younger guys, and the global aspect of things too. You got parts from Axel (Cruysberghs), he has an amazing part in the movie, a really strong section in the milieu. Him and Jackson Pilz share a part so you’ve got Belgium and Australia and it works really well with how it’s put together. You got Louie (Lopez’s) part you know, all the young dudes have really strong footage so it’s nice to just be in there and be back in that mix.

Having been through a couple of premieres now, whose footage surprised you the most?

Well you know, I was expecting good stuff from everyone, but probably Jackson Pilz. It’s hard for me to answer that one because there’s, like, over twenty guys so it’s hard to go through everything in my head…but yeah to me, Jackson and Axel’s part is a really strong one. Then obviously like I said Louie…I’m probably forgetting a whole bunch of people!

So when you’ve been travelling, what have been some of your favourite places?

Definitely New Zealand – that was a really cool trip with the Thrasher guys and Lee Ralph. Really beautiful scenery, and we skated really authentic, old, crusty spots. I think some of the skateparks were older than I am! We were skating stuff from way back in the 70s, so that was really cool. Just being on the road with – actually to go back to your question here – with Daan. His part is incredible, so that was one that surprised me…well not really surprised me, but that was really strong too. But yeah, just being on the road with Daan, Grant Taylor, Remy, Arto, it was just a rad crew.

We had the Phelper out there, P-Stone, a heavy posse rolling two vans deep. There was a really kind of relaxed vibe, but we got work done at the same time so it was a good mix. Fucking Grant gets up one morning and starts looking at this sketchy rail that no one’s ever touched down there – he gets up at 10:30 in the morning or something like that and just grinds this massive 20 stair handrail, for breakfast, with a hangover, on P-Stone’s board! Just being out there with everyone, Pedro was out there as well, it was a really cool trip.

Rune graces the cover of Sidewalk 206 back in 2013

Moving a bit closer to home, Copenhagen has seen itself revitalised in recent years as one of the most skate-friendly cities in the world. Has it always been that way and only recently been discovered, or was it a gradual change in the way skateboarding was perceived there?

It actually completely blows my mind that Copenhagen is a hotspot for skateboarding in Europe right now, because ten years ago it was terrible. It was all rough spots you know, cobblestones everywhere; I mean London’s kind of the same. But as skateboarding changes, I guess some spots appear that you never looked at, or maybe people weren’t capable of skating back in the day. Then with all the new Danish architecture popping up all around the city a lot of new spots have opened up over time. Plus I think we have one of the best skateparks in the world in Faelladparken – that definitely helped to elevate the scene and did so much positive stuff for the younger generation of skateboarders in Copenhagen. It’s definitely one thing that I never thought would happen when I grew up skating there; mind you, I left back in 1994 to go with Flip. Back then there was nothing there, not for me to skate. A couple of street obstacle based parks and that was it.

Carrying on with new Danish parks, how did the Street Dome project come about originally and how involved were you with the building process?

How that came about? Well this guy Morten Hansen who’s from there – Haderslev, a small town in Southern Denmark – he’s been fighting to get a skatepark there for about ten years, it took him ten years to realise this project. When he went to the city the city kept laughing at him, telling him he was crazy and it was never going to happen, because his visions were really big. It started as a smaller project, just a skatepark, but every time he got turned down he’d come back even stronger – six months later he’d be back up in the city’s face, the municipal offices, and the project just grew. He started adding more stuff on there like rock climbing, parkour, basketball, and they finally gave him a location.

Somehow he ended up being down on the waterfront, by which time he’d started getting some grants and funding from companies and the government. I got involved around 2010 and we started really working on the design as by that time he had most of the funding together and it was a go. My partner and I came up with the design, the dome was already there so we just had to build around and incorporate what was there, which was the vision we had. That turned into the whole skatepark design company I have now with the friend I designed the park with. So that’s how that came about – in a quick, but long story [laughs]. But yeah, he fought for that place for ten years, he got it and it’s insane! As a skatepark it’s out of this world, it’s some dreamy shit.

The Copenhagen Pro is fast becoming one of the biggest events on the skateboarding calendar, what has been your favourite year for the event so far? And can we expect any changes this year?

Well the thought behind it is that it’s always changing; they don’t want to repeat the formula. I think that’s the biggest problem with most skate contests, that’s why the Munster contests, which were the biggest in Europe during the 1990s, died out. I don’t know the exact plans, but I know it’s during fashion week so there’s been talk of making some links there. It will be interesting for sure! As for favourite year, I don’t really have one you know? I just love having the skateboard community come to my hometown, enjoy it and see it, and now that we have great skateboarding here it’s even better.

I always used to bring my friends here and it was like, I mean everyone loves Copenhagen because it’s such a rad city to be in during the summertime, but I couldn’t really justify going, “Hey come to Copenhagen, it’s so rad” and then there’s nothing to skate, I’d have fuck all to offer in that department. But that’s all changed now, and every year has been really good. In the past when I’ve been in contests and stuff I’ve always had such vocal support from the local skate community, so it’s exciting for me to get to, whatever you want to say, I guess perform to a home crowd? It gives me a boost. I’ve always liked that element of contests or demos, when the crowd is hyped and you start feeling that energy. I mean I know some people hate contests, but it’s cool to feel people’s appreciation and get that as a return; it’s such a direct piece of feedback when the crowd are cheering and stoked.

You’ve been with Flip since their original Deathbox incarnation, what are some of your favourite memories or trips from over the years?

Well what’s it been now, 26 years? Yeah, since 1990 when Jeremy Fox saw me at a local event we had in Copenhagen. I think a month or two later the first box arrived at my door – a Rocker, which I still have. It’s the first Deathbox board I had, it’s half snapped, got cracks on the top, but I still have it. So when I was in England at the age of maybe 16, 17, 18, I used to travel over here a lot. The company was pretty much dead at the time I got on and we were struggling to keep going. We’d go down to the skatepark, sell a couple of boards or whatever and that would give us enough money for some gas and for Jeremy to buy some cigarettes. We’d go to a Little Chef or gas station, get some dinner, and that was the day to day operation.

We’d sleep in the factory on top of the office, which reeked of paint and fucking screen printing fumes, it was gnarly. Just me and Jeremy and his dog. We’d screen up a couple of boards during the day, get that ready then go to the skatepark and sell them, that was dinner. You’d get maybe 40quid, get through to the next day and that was that. Jeremy had a few scams going, like selling old Puma’s for a while. He somehow found this massive container full of old Puma shoes, which at the time were booming in skateboarding – that was pretty much the first retro shoe thing to happen in skateboarding. He’d fucking found them in fuck knows where – Poland or something – and got them for nothing. So he bought them, then he’d sell them in skate shops. That was just surviving and getting by.

Then in ’94, that’s when he somehow got mixed up with Tony (Hawk) and Tony invested some money in it so we were able to move to America – Geoff, me, Andy and Tom. It started taking off, it was a rough start but Tom and Geoff were just so much better than everyone else in the world at the time. As much as a lot of the Americans probably hated that, it was undeniable, so they tried kind of saying, “Fuck these Euro dudes” or whatever but after a couple of years it couldn’t be ignored. Then I met Boulala in Sweden; I went up to Stockholm one time, saw him and thought he was fantastic so I told Jeremy about him. We slowly got him on, Arto was next – well he actually came to Copenhagen once so I think I saw him before the other guys – anyway he ended up placing podium in Munster or somewhere like that. Everyone had seen him, he got hooked up with someone else but switched over a year or so later in America.

That was maybe ’98 or ’99, when more people were involved – Mark, Boulala, Tom, Geoff, the original wrecking crew in the Sorry video. We did that video and that was obviously when the company exploded for the first time.  We rode that wave for a while, then…well it wasn’t like everything fell apart, but the balloon started deflating a little bit. Then some horrible incidents happened, like with Shane. We were losing momentum. Arto left for a while, then Jeremy, as smart as he is – you know he’s always had a focus on finding these kids, like myself or Boulala or whoever – he’d seen David Gonzalez, Curren, Louie. We went through that whole phase of people I guess laughing at the company a bit, the industry people asking, “What are they fucking doing with all those little kids?” They were these weird little long haired kids you know? I mean I went on the road with them loads as a team and we all knew they were going to be fantastic; it just took time. That was the time, probably six or seven years, it took. Now they’re reaching 20 or whatever and we’re getting all this great momentum again because now they’re kind of the next generation of what the team in Sorry was. That’s kind of how I see the company evolving over the years.

Backside ollie on the hallowed curves of Rom Skatepark

So when you went over to the States with the crew, Penny and Scotty became well known for their ability to throw out unexpected tricks. What were some of the best off-the-cuff moments you witnessed from those two?

Actually it’s funny that you mention those two guys together, because one of my best memories from that time is me, Tom and Andy going to the Carlsbad Gap for the first time. Obviously Andy and I were kind of just there to watch, skate around, maybe session the ledges a bit. We finally found the gap, the big one. I forget exactly how it went down, but I know it was just us three, no camera, not even a point and click, nothing. I think it went something like Tom trying to ollieing it, landed on it, fell. Then he tried to kickflip it, landed on it, fell again. The third try he kickflipped it no problem, then frontside flipped it first try the go after. Then he tried a switch frontside flip, bailed that twice, then on the third or maybe even second attempt he made that. So he jumped down it six or seven times, during which he put down a kickflip, frontside flip and switch frontside flip! And we were just skating about, chilling you know?

That was the level of how insane Tom was at that point in time. He could do whatever the fuck he wanted, and he didn’t care about it. It was so pure and rad to see that. At the time as well, I think the best thing to have gone down on it previously was Kris Markovich’s kickflip – that was the big thing that had happened. It was the cover of Transworld, and Tom just went and took the piss out of it without even having a filmer or anyone to document it. So yeah, that’s the moment that will always stand out for me, that’s one of the raddest moments I’ve seen.

Finally, now that this project is over, what do you have planned next?

Well I’ve got a few trips over the summer, I just want to keep skating as much as I can. I’m at the point in my life when I’m not really going after specific projects, they just fall in my lap sometimes. If stuff happens I’ll get involved. I have a few trips planned for the summer, plus it’s my 30th skateboarding anniversary year so the plan is to hopefully do a big event back in Copenhagen, sometime around the Copenhagen Open. Something like a big party, just do something rad and give back to the skateboard community that’s given me so much, like I was saying before. Just keeping active, I’m just happy to still be healthy enough to skate, thirty years later.

Lets finish this with a reminder of Penny at Carlsbad. BOOM!!!

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