If Luke Malaney had been born in another time he would be smashing an axe over the head of a gladiator right now in a Roman colluseum or raiding a small village with a Viking helmet on his head. But he was instead born in Long Island in the late 80's and chose a skateboard as his weapon, skating shit so crusty that it would make the dyed hairs on your little hipster head stand on end. His hands alone are a testament to his blue collar personality, with the wear and tear of someone who busts their ass in everything they do.
There are so many brands and so many ripping skaters these days, yet few of them pair up as perfectly as Luke with the vibe and history of his board sponsor, Traffic Skateboards. Luke recently finished a full part for Traffic's new "Look Left" video which released around the world last week. And if you've followed Traffic over the years and also had the pleasure of seeing Luke skate, you probably will understand what I'm talking about. With Jenkem launching Luke's part live on their site today we decided to catch up with this maniac to hear a little more about his life beyond his skateboard. And a little more about his amazing new part in the Traffic video. Enjoy. - Josh Stewart
Interview by Andrew Murrell
Welcome to Theories, Luke. What are you doing right now?
Thanks man, just stepped out of the shop to get some food.
When did you first start skating?
My freshmen year of high school, so 2000. I grew up playing ice hockey and soccer so I didn't really find the board until later on, but I'm glad I did.
Do you still play ice hockey?
Yeah! I grew up on the ice and I'm still at it. I stopped playing for quite some time, but a little over a year ago I got new gear and hopped back in. I've been trying to play one night a week or so, just pick up games for now. It's a good feeling, getting out on the ice and sweating out all the sins.
What was the skate scene like out on Long Island? Did you have a crew?
It was pretty good, my friend Nick and his dad opened up a skate shop a little bit after I started skating so I met all those guys and that was it. We skated all over the island, took the Long Island Railroad into the city, it was a rad time. Being an innocent derelict skateboarder is always something nice to look back at.
What was riding for Chapman like? Was it an actual company, or did you just get blank boards? Was your Chapman part your first real part?
It was a pleasure riding for Chapman -- some good memories for sure. Jeremy Cohan and Greg [Chapman] decided to put together a team and work on a video, so I would say it was more like a company for that time. Chapman printed some of their own graphics so it was a mix of boards. My first part was for my friend's skate shop on Long Island, but I guess you can say the Chapman part was my first real one. RIP Chapman house, 42-68 Hunter St LIC.
Who lived at the Chapman house? I love a good skate house story, what's the first one that comes to mind for you?
Jeremy Cohan and Zach Malfa-Kowalski moved to the 4th floor sometime in 05-06. Shortly after that, Keith, Jake, and Buchman got the first floor. Throughout that time, a lot of different people lived and crashed there. Kosta [from Quartersnacks] had a room for a bit, and everyone's favorite Jason LeCras (Negative). It all ended around 2012, it was a good run. Keith and I were couch surfing upstairs one summer, he is the worst snorer by the way. There were two couches, and one was the better then the other, so we came up with this rule that at 10 PM, whoever called "couch" first got the better one. Keith is a pretty clever guy, and one night he tried to be a little too slick. I had a call from him at 10:01 PM, I knew what he was doing, so I picked up the phone and I didn't say anything. I waited for him to say "hello", and I just called "couch!" He was so bummed. Our landlord's name was Gazi, and my friend Justin White, of Popills fame, was living there for a while. He paints a lot, so he painted this weird face and it said "fuck Gazi" on it. Our landlord was down our ass a lot, and at one point, this painting was hanging next to the door. There were numerous times Gazi would knock to break our balls about something, and he would open the door, and there'd be a "fuck Gazi" painting right there. A couple of times we took it down, but a couple of times we just left it. The visual image was hilarious. That was a good one. There are endless stories from the Chapman house.
When that video part came out, did you know Jake Johnson would grow up to be the underground hero he is today?
It was inevitable, Jake had the fire. He still does.
What was the moment when you realized, "this dude is the real deal?"
I met Jake on my first trip with Chapman, we went to Philly. It was on that trip that I realized he was on different level. One trick that comes to mind is his last trick in the Chapman video, the switch flip back tail on that rail in Philly, that kind of put him on the map. He was just kind of throwing it out, flicking it and not really getting close, but he had it in his mind. Then he just did it. It was insane. Seems like that's how Jake works -- full mental commitment and barges, you see it in his skating. Jake's one of a kind, no one can really fuck with him. One of my favorites.
Same here. Do you still see Keith and Brian Clarke on a regular basis?
I do, two real ones. They need to film another TOA game of skate. My money is on Brian.
You filmed a part with Paul Young, too, right?
We worked together on a short part for his latest video Bleach . I had a part in his older video Nevermind . Although, I wasn't really involved with it, or knew it was happening, per say. At the time I wasn't skating much at all. I was in the middle of the woods somewhere hiking the Appalachian trail when it came out. Not sure how I feel about that part, oh well. Love you, Paul.
Yeah, let's hear about that time in your life -- Map Masquerade, and hiking the Appalachian Trail.
In 2012, Jake hit me up to do the Map Masquerade trip and I flew out to San Francisco, stayed for a couple days and then we hit the road. We drove south through cali then cut across , taking the southern route, hitting cities along the way. I had already planned to start hiking the trail that March so when we got to Atlanta it was time for me to leave. Part of me wanted to stay on the trip but my eggs were already in the other basket so I left my board in the van and said my goodbyes. My brother drove up from Florida to pick me up, and my buddy Alex took the train down from New York, so we all met up in Atlanta and headed to Springer mountain in Georgia. I went from full-on skate trip to minimal skating for six months, it was a good breather. After finishing the trail I stayed up in Maine for about a month and Jake was back in PA, he ended up driving up to Maine and brought me a board, we kicked it and skated with some locals for a couple days, then ventured back to NYC. Thanks Jake.
Hiking the trail was quite the adventure, six months in the Appalachian mountains that span from Georgia to Maine. My cousin and I talked about doing it for years and the timing was right for me. I was 24, saved up money from working and was kinda burnt out on skating. On top of all that I didn't want to be some old fart saying "shit, I wish I would of hiked the Appalachian trail when I was younger." So I said fuck it, quit my job and was out. I started with a good friend of mine Alex and his friend hopped in last minute. He quit after a month and Alex and I finished up in Maine. It was a mixture of solo hiking/camping and with a small crew. It's your own trip so you can do as you please. I would say 80% your camping in the woods..you have to hitchhike to and from towns to get food for the next stretch of the trail...there were brutal stretches of the woods and multiple extended stays in random towns piling out. The whole thing was beautiful . You meeting amazing people, your engulfed in nature and you're at its wrath when it turns ugly and when you're in some random town and you see someone skating you're the dude who's like "hey, can I see your board?" What more can you ask for?
So, I've been told you're a super talented woodworker. How'd you get into that?
Thanks, I appreciate that. In high school shop class, I took a liking to the creative process of making furniture and the longevity that comes with it. After graduating, I moved upstate to the Catskill mountains and studied carpentry/woodworking. I got a gig working for this old time woodworker from Rome on Long Island. I stuck with him for about five years and learned pretty much everything I know today. I've been doing a lot more of my own work lately, which is an honor. Anybody interested in some custom furniture? Gimme a holler.
Do you have a favorite piece you've done, or something in particular you enjoyed working on?
A recent commission piece I did comes to mind. It was based off a walnut coffee table I designed and made a little while back. This one was out of ash, but basically I kept the same design/aesthetic and enlarged all proportions accordingly for it to be a credenza. It's a pleasure working on a piece where the clients trust your vision and let you do your thing.
Are there any parallels between woodworking and skating?
Sure, for me skateboarding and woodworking are both forms of expression and creativity.
Between the two, what's caused more bodily harm?
Haha, I'd have to say woodworking. I haven't had too many bad injuries from skating somehow, knock on wood, but woodworking definitely got me. It was about five years ago on my mom's birthday. I was working with that old-timer from Rome and was milling a bunch of Spanish cedar on a machine called a jointer. There were a lot of small pieces, which is always sketchy on the jointer. So there I was, milling away in a woodworker's trance, as I like to call it and whoops, had a little slip up. Next thing I know, there is blood everywhere and my hand is fucked. I looked back for my finger but no dice, no saving it anyway. My middle finger got chewed up pretty good and a nick on my ring finger too. Truthfully, it could have been worse. A big thanks to modern day surgery and hip skin grafts. I'm part of the nub club now. The reality is you're working with machines and hand tools that don't have a conscious, so injuries do happen. It's part of the game. Happy birthday mom!
So how long until you got hooked up with Traffic? How'd that come about?
I've been on Traffic for about 3 years now. I was skating with Brendan Carroll a bit around that time, and he mentioned that Pat [Steiner] and Josh [Stewart] were down if I was into it. A company like Traffic and what it stands for makes sense to me so I was in, especially with someone like Ricky Oyola starting Traffic and all the people involved, past and present. It's humbling being a part of it.
How does filming for the Traffic video compare to filming for your past video parts? Has the team been going on trips, or is everyone mostly doing their own thing for their respective parts?
A little bit of both. We did a Traffic trip to Toronto, a couple other Traffic/Theories trips -- Los Angeles, Chicago, and a handful of other cities along the east coast. We are planning a Japan trip in November, looking forward to that one. The fact that we have been going on trips has been helpful, it's always refreshing being in a new city. Other than that I think the approach is the same, a bit stressful.
Did you guys get out with Ricky Oyola [Traffic founder and east coast legend] at all during the filming process? How's he doing?
A little bit. I met Ricky for the first time on a Philly trip we did a while back, it was rad meeting and pushing around the city with him. Ricky is a legend, a real straight shooter. Aside from the Toronto trip, I haven't skated with him since. I know Josh was trying to link up with him. You'd have to ask him, I'm sure he's doing his thing. I would bet he hopes the Flyers can beat the Rangers this year, we'll see.
Do you have a favorite clip or story that occurred during filming?
There were plenty, but I would have to say being on the Toronto trip with Ricky and everyone else. It was rad! The guys at Blue Tile skate shop in Toronto hit up Pat [Stiener] and they wanted to do an article in King Shit, so they got us a hotel in Chinatown. We drove from New York, stayed in Albany for a weekend, hung out with Trevor from Seasons, and drove up to Toronto. It was a good crew in the van -- me, Pat, Brendan, Coakley, Brian Clarke was a guest on the trip, Joe Bressler was filming, Joe Yates met up with us, and it was one of my first times being with Ricky, so that was amazing. He's hilarious. Everyone in Canada is super friendly, and Toronto kind of reminds me of New York and little bit in terms of its variety throughout the city. We kind of didn't get the best stuff, skating-wise, just because the weather was on-and-off, and we might have partied a little too much, whatever. One of our last nights in Toronto, we ended up at some wild house party, good way to end the trip. Ricky can dance. It was just a good time. That one sticks out for sure.
What do you hope to add to Traffic's legacy?
Shit, whatever I can.
That's it from my end. Any final remarks or shoutouts?
No final remarks, shout out to all my friends and family and of course, Theories of Atlantis.
Thanks so much, Luke!
Now, check out Luke's FULL PART in the exclusive Jenkem feature below! Enjoy!
Interview by Andrew Murrell