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Conversation With: Kevin Terpening On moving from Ohio, working on his Huf part and celebrating his dog’s birthday at Petco

Kevin Terpening is a pro skater for Huf. He’s said that he gets psyched to skate by watching Marine Layer. We went to his house to work on an upcoming Fairly Normal part. And we lucked out, it was his dog’s birthday. So we partied at Petco and talked about how a small town boy from Ohio could make it to LA and be skating for Huf.

[This first part takes place at Kev’s house in Burbank. First he receives a phone call, which he answers and puts on speaker.]

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Caller: What’s going on?

KEVIN TERPENING (to caller): I just left my house, we’re going to slappys  ’cause Jimmy just bailed on me, no one wants to skate with me now that I’m supposed to be skating for this thing [us videoing him].

Damn dude, nobody likes you.

It’s gonna be all sad, like filming this loner dude in his house with his dog and then he goes to skate slappys by himself.

Is your dog with you?

Yeah he’s with me. It’s kind of his birthday today, I think.

It’s kind of his birthday?

Yeah, I can’t remember the exact day. I think it’s today. We’re going to Petco.

Rad! OK, I’ll talk to you later. 

[Hangs up phone]

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 I moved to LA with the idea that if I was going to do anything in skating it would happen here, so if it does, it does. If not, at least I’m not in fucking Ohio and some white trash fucking ignorant idiot dude.

What Youth: So what do you do here? How did you end up in Burbank?

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t hang out much. I live in Burbank and there’s nothing to do. My friend Scott lived here and that’s who I moved in with and then skating with the right dudes at the right time in LA and just kinda got lucky. Then I met my friend, Scuba Steve, he was the team manager for eS and he fully helped me out. I owe everything to him pretty much. Got me on trips, filmed me, picked me up every day, bought me food, just everything. With his help and a lot of luck I just fell into getting hooked up and shit. I moved to LA with the idea that if I was going to do anything in skating it would happen here, so if it does, it does. If not, at least I’m not in fucking Ohio and some white trash fucking ignorant idiot dude.

So did you always look up to the Workshop being from there?

My brother got me into it when I was like 10 or something but he was already older, working jobs, so he wasn’t really skating that much, but there were a few indoor parks that we would skate so you’d just meet people. But you definitely are out of the industry or the mix. Kids out here in California progress so much faster. I actually skated with Rob Dyrdek’s cousins and I kind of got hooked up. We made a local video then they started flowing me boards and stuff, and then I quit to ride for this company that didn’t end up actually happening. Element was gonna do this company and they hit me up and I was like, “Fuck it, I’ll do it. There’s no way I’m ever going to get on Workshop.” So I just went for it and then I moved to California, then that company ended up getting canned and the Workshop let me back on ’cause I started skating with AVE, and Dill and Greg Hunt and shit so they let me back on…Thank God! That was Workshop and then Ave and Dill quit to do FA and I didn’t really have any choice, which I was psyched to do. And then now Workshop’s back.

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Wait yeah, take a step back. so what the fuck happened with the Workshop? Everyone’s saying its not the same and its done and its back. Whats the real story?

I don’t know exactly but I think it just came down to maybe the way the money was being handled — or I don’t know, the business side of it. I don’t think it had anything to do with them not selling enough boards or anything like that. I think it was just something to do with Dyrdek and money. All I know is Dill and AVE quit and then Grant quit and I think that maybe did something too.

“…cause being from Ohio, that was my main thing that got me psyched — to see Workshop shit — it was sick. That’s what we all skated and stuff so it was kind of sad, like I’m not gonna ride Workshop boards anymore…It was a long time of me riding those boards and just being such a fan of the company. I think Chad knew, he’s not stupid. He knew what was going on and it would’ve just been lame for me to stay and collect a check for something even though I was gonna quit.”

 

Shit. Yeah, so AVE and Dill and Grant bailed. What’d you do then? Were you thinking you’d stay on AWS or were you over it?

I laid low for like a week, then the team manager called me, who’s my friend Chad Bowers, and he was just like, “What’re you gonna do? Are you gonna leave?”

I was just like, “Yeah.” It sucked ’cause being from Ohio, that was my main thing that got me psyched — to see Workshop shit — it was sick. That’s what we all skated and stuff so it was kind of sad, like I’m not gonna ride Workshop boards anymore…It was a long time of me riding those boards and just being such a fan of the company. I think Chad knew, he’s not stupid. He knew what was going on and it would’ve just been lame for me to stay and collect a check for something even though I was gonna quit.

“To film a whole part in LA is fucking crazy. Everything’s been done. It’s a lot easier to go on a trip and try and get some shit and then you don’t get kicked out of spots and there’s new shit to skate. LA looks sick on film though.”

So you’re filming a new part for Huf right now. You got a list of shit you wanna do? What are your thoughts going into this thing?

I have stuff in mind that I want to do and there are tricks that I can do but I just have to find the right spots. But there’s shit that I’ve tried for days that I still need to land. It’s gnarly. I have a lot of footage of just sidewalks, just shit like that, just shit on the side of the street, no schoolyards or stairs and shit. It’s a lot of bump to hydrants and cool looking shit like that, so it’d be cool to stay in LA and keep filming that stuff cause you don’t see a whole part of that. But that’s going to be really hard to pull off. LA is really hard. To film a whole part in LA is fucking crazy. Everything’s been done. It’s a lot easier to go on a trip and try and get some shit and then you don’t get kicked out of spots and there’s new shit to skate. LA looks sick on film though.

[We return from Petco and Home Depot back to Terp’s Burbank home. Notice a Bolex 16mm camera on his desk.]

You into shooting this?

I got it for the Huf film. We were working on some shit so I was like, “Dude I want to shoot 16,” and I had some extra money, so I was like, “Fuck it, I’m gonna buy one so we can use it.” I don’t film with it but I’ll take it on trips when we go on Huf trips and we’ll film B-roll shit with it.

[We skated all day with no mics on. When we finish skating. Sun is setting. We walk up to a lookout point at Griffith Park]

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So moving from Ohio to California. Did you move out here blind? Did you know what you were getting yourself into?

I have this one friend, Scott who is older that lived here in LA who I lived with and I slept on the floor of his living room and then he got me a job. I had known a couple skaters but I had no idea of what I was really getting into. Basically, I graduated high school, then that summer I had some money saved and went out for three weeks and stayed with my friend. Then I was like, “Fuck, I could totally live here and just take the train everywhere and skate everywhere and take the bus.” That was when I was so new to it that shit like that was fun. Now it’s not that fun ’cause the public transportation here sucks. I pretty much just went home and bought a ticket back out, then started working and skating. Then my friend, Cody Green — who I actually grew up filming with — moved to Long Beach, so I just started filming with him. So then I had someone to film with, and a friend.

So were you getting hooked up at that point? 

I was getting flowed shoes from DC and I was getting boards and shit so I knew people a little bit. I got back on Alien because I quit to ride for some other stupid shit.

What came first? éS, Alien? How’d you get your foot in the door of the industry?

Scuba put me on éS before I even had a board sponsor or anything. Then through that I got on Workshop ’cause they put out this little éS part. But yeah, I got on éS and that was kind of my in on getting on Workshop and some other stuff ’cause they were backing me. So thank you Scuba Steve (éS filmer and  TM).

What happened with éS?

One day they called Scuba and it was done. I lived with Scuba at the time so I found out through him. I went and bought a pair of Vans. Then I got a call from Arto that same day and I’d never even met him and he was saying he was down to put me on Gravis, so that was cool. That hit everyone kind of hard, they were like, “Shit, this is gnarly.” I pretty much got kicked off éS and fell right into Gravis so that was cool. I didn’t have to sit around and try to prove myself again to get on some other shit.

Who was on éS when it went down?

Bobby Worrest, me, Mike Anderson, Rick McCrank, Rodrigo TX…Pretty much Sole Tech had a company come in cause they were not really doing that good and they came in and just pretty much said, “You have to get rid of éS.” So they did.

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So you went through éS, till it died and then you went on Gravis, till Gravis died?

I don’t even think I rode for Gravis for more than a year. I think they were already kind of on their way out by the time I was on ’cause we went on a few trips and I remember those dudes saying like, “Yeah this is mellow. Old Gravis trips we were like balling out.” Maybe they were spending too much money or something, I don’t know. I was on just long enough to have a welcome video part clip and then it was over.

How long was the downtime before you went on Huf?

It seriously was probably like a week or maybe a little longer between Gravis and Huf. I used to work at Huf before they were a shoe brand, when they were just a store. So I’ve known the owners — Keith [Hufnagel], obviously and his partner was this girl Anne, and she hired me to work at the Huf store.

Where was that, LA?

It was across the street from Supreme where the Odd Future store is now. So I worked for them and they were starting a shoe brand and they asked me to be the first dude on Huf. That was right when I was getting on éS and I couldn’t quit éS cause that would’ve been fucked up. I would’ve been such a dick. And I almost did. I even told Anne the chick, “Yeah I’m down,” and then I had to call Keith and be like, “Dude, I can’t do it.” And he totally understood. So it’s pretty funny, I could’ve been the first dude on Huf and then it was gonna be me and Mike Anderson actually. So we would’ve been the first two. But then I went onto éS and then Gravis and now I’m on Huf. But I will never regret staying on éS, it was a learning experience and rad trips dude. We went to so many places.

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Do you have any Huf trips coming up?

We did the Asia one last year, then we did Europe before that, and then this year we’re doing the US. I guess there’s some crazy plans for it that are supposed to be really sick, but I don’t wanna jinx it.

They have to be if you’re doing the US.

Yeah, they’re trying to do a big tour bus. Remember those old tour video edits where they would have their van with all their ramps and they would set up in someone’s parking lot? It’s sick as fuck. That’s the idea of it. We’ll see.

[Overlooking LA]

What’s this city here [pointing to Glendale]?

This is Glendale. Where I live is right over that hill.

Aside from the Huf tour, what’re your plans for the year?

I’m just gonna be here probably til the summer, filming for that and then we’ll do the US one, I think in August. In between that I’ll probably go back to Ohio for the summer for a week.

Is there good skating out there?

No.

Who was your crew out there?

My friend Cody, my friend Chris and Scott, my three friends that are triplets who all skate and all of those people live in LA now. I mean, there is but not super-homies.

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Is there anyone that’s made it in skating from Ohio?

Rob Dyrdek. And this dude Christian Svitak and I’m sure there’s a couple other ones I can’t think of, but not that many.

Is Dyrdek from around where you’re from?

No, I’m from up north and he’s from Dayton, which is three- to-four hours south ,but we would always go down there. There’s shit to skate but it’s cashed out. It’s dried out.

What do most people do in Ohio?

It’s super slow-paced, so mellow. It’s totally different than LA. Totally different.

How far away did you grow up from Cleveland?

I grew up an hour from Cleveland and that’s where we would go to street skate and go to indoor parks and shit. So there was stuff to skate and there were some good indoor parks in the winter. We always had somewhere to skate and there’s some pretty good spots out there.

Is Cleveland a cool city?

It’s getting way cooler now. I went there last summer and there was way more shit, like young people and cool stuff to do. I wish there was more to do, I’d probably go home more.

At one point you were selling boards to LA Dave. What was that all about?

Yeah dude. I quit working and I rode for éS and they would pay me $500 a month as a flow dude which is crazy but that’s not enough money to live in LA if you’re trying to survive. So Scuba would give me boxes of shoes every month and I would sell half of my Workshop box, just whatever I could find. So that’s how I would eat and have fun. Scuba was giving me the shoes to go there. He would drive me there with shoes to sell. I think it’s kind of a thing, companies know that kids are doing that shit, like they’re not getting paid, they gotta eat. They don’t want to work a job because they want to skate every day and film and try to make it. So they know. I mean if you’re calling every other week for a box then yeah, that’s sketchy, but a couple boards every once in a while is fine.

What was that like? Did you just roll up to his house?

He had this weird shack in Echo Park. But now he has the craziest, biggest skate shop in Hollywood right off Hollywood and Western. He upgraded to some gnarly placed. He’s still doing it, buying old boards off you or whatever you take there. When I found out it existed I was shocked. I was like, ‘There’s no way, this dude just buys shit off kids, how is this legal?” I don’t even know, but it’s sick. I don’t know how he runs his shit.

When did you finally get to the point where you could survive off of skateboarding for real?

Probably after I got on éS and Workshop. I made enough money to where I didn’t have to do that shit. No one wants to go do that, you know what I mean? It sucks. After you see that dude so many times you’re like, “I don’t wanna come here and sell fucking shoes.” I didn’t do that for that long, thank God. But I did go there last time I moved, I found a bunch of old shit and took it there.

After you graduated high school, did you know you were going to skate or were your parents telling you you had to go to college?

No, I was doing whatever the fuck I wanted to do and they weren’t going to be able to talk me into staying or going to school or anything. They knew what I liked and they were always supportive of me doing this skate shit. I’m sure they were freaked out but it all worked out. Now that I look back, I was 19, but I was oblivious to the world.

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What videos did you grow up watching?

I watched every single video I could get my hands on. Ones that really got me were Photosynthesis cause that was the fucking best video ever and then some Transworld videos in there, like Modus. There were so many. I watched everything but pretty much Photosynthesis and early Transworld videos were the sickest ones.

What kind of kid were you growing up? Were you a skater that was like, ‘Fuck the jocks’ or did you get along with everyone?

I was super quiet and I tried all the sports and shit up until I was maybe 13 or 14, then I was just like, “Yeah all this other shit sucks, skating’s tight.” But I was definitely active and trying to do stuff. The competitive shit was there when I was younger, but then I was just like, ‘This is stupid.” When you lose and you feel all bad in sports. It was like, “We suck so we’re always going to lose.”

Did you ever skate contests?

When I was a kid I did in local Ohio contests. I definitely won a couple of those but that wasn’t hard to do, there wasn’t that many good kids. I did, but that was just something to do it wasn’t like I’m training to go to this contest. We’d show up and skate and then I’d win a free deck or something. It was cool. I’ve skated Tampa Am twice and I just sucked so bad — I just can’t skate contests. I can’t do it. Tampa Am is where you go if you want to try to get seen, that’s the biggest one. If you’re a flow kid, you’re going to Tampa Am and trying to kill it. But I got sent there just like, “Let’s just go, it’ll be funny,” and my brother lives in Tampa so I kind of had to go a couple times cause I wanted to see him and shit. It was like a free trip to go see him but I would never go to Tampa Pro or any of that shit. It’s stupid. I’m not hating on any of those kids that do Street League, that’s just not for me. Dylan [Rieder] was doing that shit for a while, it was crazy.

I feel like growing up skating, every month you look forward to looking at new mags and new videos. Now that you’re properly in the skate industry are you still into it?

I look at them, but I’m definitely not as crazy and not dying to see a new clip. We’ve seen a lot of clips. But I’m psyched on new Thrasher, like AVE’s on the cover. There’s a lot of bullshit that’s out there with the Internet and stuff but there’s always good shit coming out once in a while.

What are you stoked on right now?

The younger kids on FA are sick and they have a good mentality when it comes to skating and style and tricks. So I like them.

How’d you develop that mentality?

You just follow what you think is cool. We thought Workshop was cool so you take whatever you’re into and try to emulate your favorite skaters.

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What skaters did you look up to growing up?

AVE and Dill. Obviously when you’re young-young, you like everything. I used to love Chet Thomas and dudes that, but obviously when you really figure out what you like is when you get a little bit older. But it was like Ave and Dill and Mike Carroll and Rick Howard — the Girl Chocolate dudes, the Habitat dudes, like Dane or [Brian] Wenning were sick when he was doing it. But I guess it’s weird meeting your favorite skaters and skating with them. It’s been cool though. It’s a little weird.

Do you remember the first time you skated with AVE?

I don’t remember. Probably somewhere in LA. That’s a good question, I need to really think about that.

Was there other shit you were stoked on, other than skating?

Obviously music is music. It’s weird if you’re not into that. I like indie shit. I don’t know, it always changes. When you’re a kid you listen to Led Zeppelin or something and now Led Zeppelin is so wack to me. What am I usually listening to? Cass Mccombs, he’s just a solid dude to listen to. Dinosaur Jr., Talking Heads, all that kind of shit. Skate music, pretty much. I’ll listen to a lot of shit. When I drive, I listen to the jazz station and the classical stuff. I was listening to classical when we were driving to slappys. When I’m driving I don’t want to go on Spotify and search shit, I just put on fucking 91.5 and just cruise and not even think about it. It’s weird when people don’t have a taste in music or they don’t care about music. You could ask someone that question and they’d be like, “Oh, I don’t really have a favorite or someone I like. I’ll just listen to the new rap song in the car on the radio.”

No you have a song picked out for your Huf part?

No. Don’t even get into that yet. I need to film tricks before I think about music. Me and Marty would figure it out together but if I had something I really wanted to skate to that I felt would go good with the shit then I’d be psyched. But I’m not going to sit around and be like, “I want to skate to this epic song.” It’s not even one of those video parts. It sucks when people use a really sick song for something that doesn’t deserve a sick song like that. So I’d probably just use something fun and fast and mellow. I’m not trying to skate to Bad Brains for some web part.

Fairly Normal episode coming soon…

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