Chris Cheshire‘s smooth execution and effortless style changed rollerblading. Back in 2007 Wes Driver flew to Philly to stay with Adam Killgore and shoot the photos for this interview. The weather was cold. The schedule was hectic. At one point I suggested to Adam “Just tell Wes he’s the best.” Anything to get it all done and ready for our print deadline. Looking back ten years the results are pretty striking, visually, and telling, personally. As the years have wound on people come and go through skating, Chris has been no exception. Take this interview as a time capsule into another time for blading, and think about how what we do today can impact our tomorrows.
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Interview by Justin Eisinger
Photography by Wes Driver
The rollerblading scene in Philadelphia has always been notoriously militant when it comes to grooming young skaters. Legends like Jeff Frederick and Jimmy Shuda established a high bar for style and attitude, making sure that new skaters knew that looking good was serious business. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that Chris Cheshire is a unique mix of both style and attitude. Sometimes soft-spoken, but deliberate with his words, Chris took some time on the first day of 2007 to tell us what he’s been doing and what he’ll be doing as he and the rest of the Denial crew work to make this a year that reminds everyone that Philadelphia is the style capital of the rollerblading universe.
(The following interview was recorded on Jan. 1, 2007, at 4:39 p.m.)
ONE: All right, Chris, happy New Year.
CC: You too.
What’d you do last night?
You know, went to a little party event at a friend’s house with all the rollerbladers down here, and a bunch of friends from the area. It was a good time.
Cool. Anything particularly exciting happen?
Just your regular party scene; nothing too special.
How about the holidays, a good one for the Cheshires?
Pretty good. I’ve been going to school a whole lot, but I got a month off for the holidays so I’ve just been chilling at home, doing my thing.
Well, it’s been awhile since you and I talked, so I’m sure other people out there are with me in wondering what you’ve been up to. Besides school, what is new for you? I know a lot of things have changed in terms of skating, but what about all around?
As far as skating, I haven’t had a lot of time to do it because school has really been taking up all my time. It’s a really intense program that I’m doing, so I don’t have as much time to do other stuff, and for a while I was working, too. I don’t have that much time to skate, but I quit my job, so I’ve been skating more, filming for the Genre video and doing a lot of stuff for Denial. There’s a lot going on there – (Adam) Killgore’s been working that ou
Before we jump into Denial, what’s the program you’re talking about for school?
Well, I was in the graphic design program at my school, and it’s just a really labor-intensive program that is very demanding of my time. I pretty much would go to school from 10 in the morning to 8 at night, and then have projects to do all the time.
Man, I know how that feels. It’s like your time is spoken for. Something that’s happened that I don’t know how many people know about is the sort of torch passing at Denial, from (Chris) Majette running the show to handing it off to Killgore. You want to tell us how that worked, and what’s up with it?
Majette was running it for a while, then he got really into working on Genre, so Denial sort of started fading a little bit or whatever because he didn’t have enough time. Killgore saw what was happening and had some funds to back it up, and he wanted to run it, so he approached Majette and then Killgore got really into it. He gets super into getting new designs, getting people to make stuff, and working with new materials. He’s really into the whole idea. I think it’s good. Majette can focus on Genre and Killgore can focus on Denial.
I understand Killgore is taking you guys to Winterclash. Europe and shit, huh? That’s cool.
Sure is. I’m excited. I haven’t been there yet.
When was the last time you traveled for skating?
I think it was probably, well, I went out to Kansas pretty recently, this past summer, to film for Vibralux. That was probably the most recent travel.
But before that was it when you were with Salomon?
I haven’t done anything like that recently, no.
You know, I’ve seen all the photos, but I still can’t always tell. What are you skating on?
Right now I’m riding some Salomons with USD parts on ‘em. And recently I got some USD Realms, so I’m trying those out a little bit.
Are they like the old Fila rollerblades?
They are the same exact thing, pretty much.
They feel good?
I like ‘em. They’re pretty simple but light and they work well.
I saw ‘em and it made me think about B Love backsliding up the Eiffel Tower.
Ha, ha, that’s sick.
What’s Philadelphia like these days? How’s the scene in Philly?
Well, the scene’s a lot different. Back in the day I would come down to the city all the time and skate all day every day. I mean everybody was down here – the Kelsos, Killgore, Malik (Kamara), Lukas (Friedrich), all those guys. I think people are kind of doing their thing more now. Everyone is growing up a little bit. There’s not quite as many up-and-comers skating with us as much. I mean there are still a few, obviously, but the sessions are usually just a couple people now as opposed to back in the day when it would be like 15 or 20. But it’s still cool when we get together and have Thursday night sessions at Borderline.
So it’s evolving, not necessarily better or worse, just different?
Yeah, the people are different but the mentality is the same.
What is that mentality?
In Philadelphia, I mean, we got the perfect-your-trick mentality. We’re all very particular about our skating here. It’s fun.
So you haven’t been to Europe before? What is it about Winterclash that is luring the Denial team there?
Killgore just kind of approached me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to go. I went to Europe before, but that was to England to visit a friend. Killgore showed me pictures of the park, and I saw how big the event was last year, and thought it would be pretty exciting. It seems like a crazy competition. Murda is coming with us too, so it’s gonna be interesting.
That’s a good point. How is it having Murda (Mike Johnson) in Philly?
Yeah, that’s different. I mean, we used to go out to Cali to visit him for footage, and now he is out here. I was never used to chilling with him all the time and all that, but now we chill all the time. He’s a good kid.
I understand he’s out there doing design work, too, paying some bills; that’s cool. How old are you now, Chris?
I am 20.
When do you make that next step into adulthood?
Aug. 15; next summer I’ll be doing the whole bar thing. Ha, ha.
Good luck with all that, ha. Well, you say you’re not, like, skating a lot, but the photos tell a different story. Let’s take a step back to when you were a brand new phenomenon coming out of the East Coast, and Rollerblade was really promoting you. Can we take a flashback to how you’ve changed or matured, or what’s happened?
As far as skating?
As far as whatever thinking about that time makes you think about. I’m picturing you looking like a little meatball of clothes jumping real high and doing ill shit. And you’ve just come a long way as a teenager or young adult does. Have your views on stuff changed? What do you think about looking back?
It’s funny now to see myself back in the day and watch old sections, because my skating has changed a lot since back then. I still do a lot of the same basic stuff I used to, but now I worry more about how everything turns out, and how it looks. I still love skating for the camera and it’s still the same excitement, just different circumstances.
When that was going on, were you ever getting paid by RB? Were you officially on the team? I can’t remember.
That was a tricky situation. They kept telling me that they were going to pay me, and I skated for them for quite awhile, and it never really worked out. Then I got another opportunity because Deshi was coming out and they offered me a chance on the team, so I figured I’d move on. They didn’t actually pay me, but yeah.
How old were you when you first got sponsored?
I started skating for RB I think when I was 13 or 14.
Killgore, back in the day, skated for Rollerblade, and they were looking for people so he hooked me up.
How about this… so you’re 20 years old now and you’re probably skating better than ever and now you’re not making a lot of money from the sport?
I’m making pretty much nothing. Sometimes a little from Genre but…
So how crazy is it that 13-year-olds used to get paid and now you’re an adult and you can’t get paid? It’s just crazy.
I know. At one point I was getting decent money from Salomon for the time, but now that I really need it – going to college and doing stuff with my life – I can’t get it.
Do you think that if you hadn’t had those opportunities in the past that kind of showed you what could be possible, do you think that you would still be skating as hard or as involved in it as you are?
I don’t know. That’s definitely an important part in letting me know the possibilities that are there. It just doesn’t seem like a lot is going on right now. I mean skating is definitely getting better and bigger than ever, but as far as financial support, it’s got a long way to go.
I know. It’s great that so many people have the heart for what we do, to show the love. But to change it up, Killgore was telling me something about a new pro Denial shirt for you…
He had me design another shirt. It’s been like five or six years since the last one. I’ve been working on it a lot, so we’ll see how it goes. It should be out in less than a month.
Like for Bitter Cold Showdown?
Yeah, it’ll be there.
Well, we’ll see you there. Speaking of which, what do you think about contests? You going to skate in that contest?
I think I’m actually registered to skate in it. That should be interesting. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve skated in a comp. We’ll see how it goes.
Were you ever a big competition skater?
I went to a bunch of IMYTAs and I always tried, but I never really got past the first or second round. I still think they’re fun. It’s fun to skate with everyone.
It’d be cool if there were more big events where you could go pull in good money.
Well, Chris, we’re like 14 minutes in here, so is there anything else you want to touch on?
I think we covered pretty much everything.
Who is keeping you motivated to keep rolling and progress?
Honestly, it’s the older heads. I’ve been seeing clips of (Jon) Julio, and actually the (Dominic) Sagona interview in the last ONE was just ridiculous. It’s good to see people like that, who you’ve looked up to forever, still doing their thing and getting down.
I don’t know if you’re ever on the Internet, but someone recently directed me to a post that was a poll inquiring as to who had better style, Chris Cheshire or Mike Lilly. And I don’t know how it turned out, but at the time you were killing it in the voting.
Really? I don’t know about having a better style, I think we skate differently, but I am definitely a fan of Mike’s style. It’s funny someone would do that.
I might have to look up the results. Ha, and on that note, man, I’ll let you go.
Well, the best of luck for you in 2007.
Same to you guys. We’ll talk soon.
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