Chris Nieratko’s ‘late’ Arto Saari interview

Chris Nieratko and Arto Saari

Chris Nieratko – you may know him from his past editing in the Big Brother magazine, from his book ‘Skinema‘ which relates directly to his authoring over at VICE magazine as a reviewer of porn movies. If not maybe you stumbled across one of his interviews like the one of him “roasting” Tim O’Conner, taking apart a lot of the skateboard industry (check the video below…)

Well, Chris did an interview a few month back with Arto Saari, one could say a typical Chris Nieratko interview. No beating around the bushes – straight to the point and getting the answers we want to read. Definitely entertaining and in my opinion, why else would you want to read an interview anyway? The interview was pulled off the shelve in a sense for whatever reasons and Chris decided he didn’t care…here’s the entire interview until he puts a link to it directly. Just make sure you visit his site though as I’m not stealing this!!!

Chris Nieratko website
– Chris Nieratko’s Pro Skater interview page

Wow. I just got off the phone with my good friend and boss at THE. He told me that former child star Arto Sorry insisted on having the following interview I did with him, 4 months ago, killed. I’m still not sure why. No one is. I think it’s a great interview. I think Arto said all the right things and we had a good time. He even offered to mail me mustard afterwards. I guess the mustard ain’t coming. I’m not sure who got in Arto’s ear and told him to shit-can this interview and I don’t really give a shit. It just speaks volumes about the state of skateboarding when agents and big contracts can have a grown man question his own words and opinions. It’s pretty sad. Sadder yet is I really wanted to try real mustard from Finland. Arto, this could have all been avoided if you just sent me some mustard. Or would that have been a breech of contract as well?

Where the hell have you been? It seems like after Really Sorry you went into the Witness Protection Program and disappeared.

I’ve always had issues with my health. I have been dealing with some severe knee injuries and have had four surgeries since the Sorry video. Really Sorry didn’t really happen for me. I have been going in and out of rehab and skating in-between, filming for the new video and not participating in the contests. But I’ve been around, doing my thing. Just a little up and downs.

How are your knees treating you now?

Good. I just got a new ACL on Sunday. That’s my fourth one. It’s all good now. Five days and I can already walk around on it and almost go straight. It should be pretty tits by the summer.

After four of them, do you know how to change them yourself? Do you have spare ACLs that you keep in the fridge?

Yeah, I take about five boards and three ACLs on every trip I go on these days. I have a skate key and a little penknife I bring with me and when I change my board and wheels I pop in a new ACL too. No, I haven’t learned how to do it myself because it could be fairly painful. The amount of whiskey you’d have to consume to do that yourself… it probably wouldn’t go too well. You’d end up chopping your toe off.

I hear you can handle a fair amount of whiskey, though.

Not really. Those advertisements for Chivas Light are a complete lie. The world does not look like that after a bottle of Chivas, let me tell you that.

Is it true you stood outside KCDC Skateshop with your pecker out for an hour, drinking whiskey and greeting customers?

No, I think that’s a complete urban legend. Did they take it off the web yet? I have never been to that shop.

Are you Peter Pan? You seem to not age. You’ve gotten taller but not older. You’re like a man-child.

It must be the frozenness of Finland for 17 years that keeps my skin good or something. It must be the Finish genes that keep me refrigerated even though I’m abroad. I usually roll around in dirt all the time and at night I try to wash it off with Chivas but it doesn’t all come off. I think it’s all the Chivas sweat pouring out; that’s the technique. You have to sweat out the Chivas. You don’t actually apply anything to your face; you apply it from inside. You sweat it out, your face turns all red for a day and then it’s all clean afterwards. I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody though.

It seems to be working for you.

It’s been a good few years even with all these injuries and all these things happening. I have gotten in a fair amount of skating footage. It puts you back on track when you get injured. Sometimes it throws you back in the right direction. Sometimes it throws you under the bus too. It’s been a learning experience. I go through phases. A lot of sauna and a lot of stretching make it easier.

Tell me about the sauna you have on wheels.

That was a little Christmas project, we thought we’d go to Oklahoma and visit some of our friends over there. Some of them had visited Finland and got super into saunas. So I thought, “I might as well build a sauna and tow it there and introduce that whole Viking vibe to the Oklahomans.” And they seemed to dig it. It fits about 8, it’s made out of clear western red cedar inside and the outside is rough cut redwood; it resists warping. If you ever plan on building a sauna I advise you to use something that doesn’t warp too much. It has a wood heated stove made by a family from Harvia, Finland and shipped over. I made it with my friend from Finland. He always wanted to build a sauna too. It’s sitting behind Blitz right now since it got kicked out of Matt Costas’ driveway. He didn’t tell the landlord what it really was. After blasting it every day for three weeks in Appleyard’s complex the owner showed up and freaked out like, “What the fuck is this porn cave? Get this fucking thing out of here now before I call the police.” So it’s taking a little rest at Blitz right now.

Would you freak out if you walked in and saw Birdman butt naked, laid out in a sexy pose just waiting for anyone to come through the door?

That could be slightly disturbing, I must say. I would be very happy that he’s experiencing Finnish culture but the sexy pose might throw me off a little bit. I’d definitely have to throw some more loyly on the kiuas. It could be a pretty funny scenario.

How do you feel about the footage you have logged since you’ve been hurt so much?

I could always do better but I think I have a pretty good part together but it’s not like Sorry or anything where it’s just jumping down shit. It’s mellower, different spots. A lot of banks and ledges. I tried to explore other areas than just blasting down things. I tried to learn something different for a change. I feel good about it.

I heard you ride for Alien Workshop now.

It is true. Yeah. It’s been an ongoing process now for a little bit and I decided to ride for them. I got abducted. I should have a part in the Alien video if Greg Hunt puts my footage in; he’s got a really high work ethic so my part is probably going to be chopped down into pieces. Hopefully I’ll have some tricks in it. I’ll have two parts: one in the Flip video and one in the Alien video. I’m going to have the same part in both videos. Don’t tell anyone.

How was that, after all these years of being on Flip, to go to them and say you were going to ride for Alien?

It was really heavy but they took it pretty good. I thought they were going to come and chop my legs off but they were very reasonable about it but it’s been a heavy process. It’s been on good terms. I just felt like I had to move on. I changed all my other sponsors, I might as well. Why stop now? New knee, new liver, new shoe company, new board sponsor.

What if you get real wasted on whiskey one night and upper decker Jake Burton’s toilet? Then you have no sponsors. You’ll lose your board, shoe and clothing sponsors.

I know, that’s going to be a very sad day. I’m going to try and stay away from that bad stuff. That is the path I have chosen to go through. They actually have that in the contract; if you show up drunk in public and they don’t think it’s cool then they can basically tell you, “That’s it. You’re done.” They’re a pretty gnarly company in that way so I gotta be careful. Don’t tell them about that naked blog I have.

Did you cry when you had to tell Jeremy [Fox] and Ian [Deacon]?

Yeah, I did shed a few tears. It’s like getting a divorce; even though I’ve never been married other than Flip. I can imagine it’s something like that. There’s parts that you like but there’s parts that you just want to move on past. It’s really hard to deal with. You wonder, ‘Are you going to lose friends? Are you going to lose business?’ It was a tough decision to make and I’m still spun out about it. I can’t believe that it’s all happening but I think it will be for the better for everyone.

What made you want to leave?

Just the gnarliness of it all; I just couldn’t take it any longer. I couldn’t take the madness and I thought it would be better to move on than to stay somewhere where I don’t think I necessarily belong anymore. Things have changed a lot over the years and I thought it would be better to explore something new, to be like a little kid in a candy store.

But gnarliness in terms of what? Of the business? Or of the new, young skaters on the team?

A little bit of everything. I don’t want to slow anyone down and I don’t want to slow myself down yet. I still have a couple more years in me, hopefully.

Did your injuries play into it?

Yeah. A little. The thing is, I never quit Flip. I just got abducted by Alien.

I doubt Flip is looking at it that way. I don’t think they’re going to have Flip / Alien collaboration boards any time soon.

Yeah, I have to work on that relationship a little bit. It’s the very early stages so it’s tough to talk about it right now. But so far, so good; everything has been going pretty smoothly.

What did Geoff say when you told him?

“Don’t do it.” He knew it had to happen. We’re still cool. He understands. He’s like, “Go do your thing. Go skate around.” It was a very, very emotional, gnarly thing. It’s been so many years in the same boat you have to start going in different ways. Sometimes the ship gets too small, too many egos, you got to jump overboard and catch the next one and see where that takes you.

You almost died filming Sorry. Are we ever going to get to see that footage?

No, no one ever filmed it. We went to skate this rail that I wanted to switch front board but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I got pissed off, focused the board and that’s where it all went wrong. The skate Gods got angry. I go to the van, set up a new board and as Geoff and Sturt are walking towards the van I skate past them and tried to feeble and I hung up on the rail, head first to the last step, laying there in my own puke. It was kind of a bummer that no one ever filmed that.

If you had the footage would you ever show it to a special lady friend to show her how tough you are?

For sure. Anything to get me laid. I don’t know if they find a young boy in a pool of puke very attractive. I think I need to get in the gym and work on my guns. Get my arms real big and then maybe get some tribal tattoos and see if that will uplift my atmos.

Speaking of jocking out and tribal tattoos, you recently left Etnies, a respected skateboard company, to ride for Gravis, a snowboard sneaker company with really goofy designs. What were you thinking? Didn’t anyone tell you Gravis is not cool?

Yeah, they told me but it is NOW because I’m on there. Things just came to an end with Sole Tech and I got a pretty good offer and my friend Oblow started working over there. Once again, the same old story, try and build something new. Things just got bland and drab over at Etnies for me so I figured I might as well continue forward.

Are they going to make some proper skate shoes or are they going to keep making those goofy designs for DJs and soccer dads?

Yeah, there are new designs coming real soon. No one has seen the skate shoes yet. The website is still all the weird collaboration shoes and all that other weird shoe company stuff but soon they’ll add the skate stuff. It’s not like they’re trying to say they’re a skateboard shoe company, they’re just a shoe company that makes shoes that are skateable. They’re going one way and the skate companies are going the other. They’re trying to get into skate while skate companies are trying to get into motocross. I thought that was cool to have more of a skating vibe and they’re really pushing it.

Is Gravis big in Finland?

They have a couple pairs of shoes. Finland is very small on everything they do except Nokia, Kimi Räikkönen, the formula one driver, Honoi Rocks, HIM, of course, and Bam. But yeah, I think Gravis is big in other countries. They like to use fine leathers.

You know who else liked to use fine leathers? Rob Halford from Judas Priest.

Yeah, I think he’s familiar with the Munich leather scene as well. That’s awesome.

Maybe you should get Rob Halford to ride for Gravis.

We might have to approach him on some sort of collaboration of a sleek, looped boot. That’s not a bad idea at all.

You named a few famous Finnish people but I read The Finnish Broadcasting Company voted you number 26 of the top 100 greatest Finns ever.

Yeah, it’s kind of retarded but I’ll take it. It looks good on paper. There’s some dead presidents and weird artists and warlords. That’s the beauty of the internet and the growing skate community. Once kids heard about it all the kids and their moms probably sent an email like, “Vote for Arto!” It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the reality but I’ll take it.

You mentioned HIM before. Have you ever whispered in Bam’s ear, “You know HIM sucks, right?”

No, I never had the balls to do that.

But you do know they suck, right?

Yeah. I quite like them even though they suck. You don’t like them?

I think they sound like new Bon Jovi with make-up on. Do you regret having let Ed Templeton take photos of your pecker when you were younger? Or do you find it to be an honor?

I think it’s an honor as he makes himself more famous. I’m hoping to reap the benefits of it sometime.

Do you ever show up at Ed’s house anymore, with your pants off, and ask him to take more photos of you but he won’t and then you get real sad?

Yeah, I think I tried to do that not too long ago. I went over there with a couple bottles of wine but Ed wasn’t consuming that much and he thought it was kind of weird. We were swimming in the pool in his backyard and the wine was all done and he was asking, “Ok, when are you guys leaving?” I think he found it quite amusing. I live five blocks away from him but I never see him.

It’s because he’s so white. He just blends in with Southern California. His whiteness is his camouflage.

Yeah, he’s just a ghost in the suburbs, glued to a screen eating soy ice cream. On the other hand he’s off in Europe being famous in the art world. I love Ed. Hello, Ed. I love you. Take more photos of me. Make me famous too.

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