Interview with Concrete Disciples – Jeff Greenwood

Interview with Concrete Disciples and Jeff Greenwood

Way back in May 2008 I was able to hook up with Jeff Greenwood, the man behind Concrete Disciples (along with his partners Christian and Ray). CD has always been one of my main sources of input and I respect the amount of energy and time that has been put into keeping the site up and running while having a normal job. It’s definitely not always easy and I know what I’m saying, doing basically something in the same direction.

Jeff took the time out to answer my set of questions which gave me a lot of insight into what makes up Concrete Disciples and Jeff’s opinion about skateboarding today. All the pictures are from Concrete Disciples or MRZ (thanks guys, hope it’s okay and the pictures are just right for this interview!)

To give the Europeskate readers a little info to go on, could you tell us in a few words about your background (name,age,where you from,what you do).

I am Jeff Greenwood, a skater from the suburbs of Los Angeles, nothing very glamorous, and I started skateboarding in about 1982 on a big board. I’ve been skating pretty solid the whole time until a couple years ago when my back gave out and I went through hell for a long time before getting cut open and fixed. I run the Concrete Disciples website which got its start in 1997 as Skateboard Northwest while I was living in Seattle Washington. I work a regular job for a big internet company full time and run Concrete Disciples with my partners Christian and Ray on the side.

Concrete Disciples has been around since 1997 which is quite a long time for any website. What got the whole idea started and how has the entire concept developed over the years?

The idea came about because skateboarding was in the dark ages at the time and I got introduced to the internet. I saw it as a great medium to share information on the rare places to skateboard. Some, lame by today’s standards, parks started to pop up around Washington and Oregon so I thought getting the word out cheaply would help everyone in a lot of ways. Who wants to spend 3 hours driving to a shitty spot you heard about from some random person that said it was awesome? But, at the time it wasn’t enough to get it online. Most people still weren’t going online. So me and lots of DIY skaters in the Northwest decided to try to make a small magazine called Concrete Disciples. We were not satisfied at all with the local Action Sports rag that was in the area at the time. This is also how the name got switched eventually to CD. Skateboard Northwest didn’t fit it when I moved back to Los Angeles in 2000 and Concrete Disciples was a much better name. It just kept on growing into the monster it currently is today.

Jeff back in the day - check out the Madrid banner
Jeff back in the day – check out the Madrid banner

The Death Race 2008 was your latest sponsored event which is already the third death race held by Concrete Disciples. In July 1999 you put together the Revolution Street Contest which also had an original contest format. What moves you to do your contests just that bit different than othe contests?

Man, I really didn’t think hardly anyone remembered Revolution Street. It was pretty fucking out there as a concept and we somehow pulled it off. I kind of always get spooked throwing events, I always think someone is going to get killed and sue me for life. Why do we do contests? I like the comeradery and chance to see ripping. I hate the whole judging aspect because it always seems to be fucked by favoritism, localism or politics in the end. At least with a Race its just skater vs. clock. No judging.

With Revolution Street we had a Video Premiere party and gave out ballots to the attendees/skaters in the contest to vote for a bunch of Viewers Choice Awards. We try to make our events fun, we don’t pressure anyone to compete and we always got skating going down outside a contest, like a bowl jam or something. We don’t do them for profit. We always end up spending more then we bring in, but if we gotta buy our friends a keg of beer, that aint going to be a bad thing.

After the story with ESPN calling vert off and then putting it back into their contest series this year, the “Vertical Skateboarding – 1975 – 2008” article by Christian Cooper was posted on Concrete Disciples which clearly states the disapproval of big industry (ESPN) of getting involved in skateboarding. As you’ve seen the development of skateboarding in the last few years, where do you see skateboarding heading? Is the big fall yet again ahead or is it going to get even more mainstream?

I see skateboarding heading into a fall right now but I don’t think it’ll be like the last 2 times where it was really dead. We have so many public parks this time around that wont be going anywhere so there will be places to ride. I think the big shakeout will be the Big Industry. And I can’t wait. Seeing all the skateboarding ‘stuntmen’ getting used like little pets in a circus is a disappointment. The big X Games type guys are so secluded now, they rarely skate out in the general public. No one can relate to them anymore and they wonder why they can’t sell a pro deck? Those pros have so much talent and they hide it in private warehouse sessions. They’ll get hurt the most when the BIG industry pulls back on them purse strings. But on the flip side, skateboarding is also so much more accepted and ingrained in our youth that attitudes have improved prospects for long term revival/survival.

Jeff in the middle of a back smith
Jeff in the middle of a back smith

Living in Europe I get a different impression of skating in the States than you of course. It seems as if concrete parks are popping up all over the place. Is there really such a large “selection” of new parks or are they just being built in selected states/areas?

They are going up all over the damn place. I’d say the ratio is still 10 – 1 bad prefab type of parks to a good concrete one, but I think there is some good concrete in every area of the US and Canada now.

What are some favorite spots/parks/bowls? Tell us a few names…

My all time favorite is still Kalamath Falls Oregon. Oregon in general is the place for me. Lincoln City is amazing and I haven’t even ridden the new stuff. There’s a really sick new park in Fontana, Southern California. There’s been a lot of new stuff I haven’t gotten to ride yet since I had my back surgery and I’ve been couch potatoing it. I am starting to get on the road again lately, so I’ll be keeping the reports up to date on CD.

How long have you been skating for? Do you skate all terrains or do you concentrate on pools/concrete?

I’ve been riding 25+ years. Nowadays I can only ride tranny. The body cannot take a street beating anymore. I always liked speed and tried to fly as high as I could and street skating was always pain. I have loads of respect for street skaters but I can’t handle it anymore. (editor’s note: ahh, I can relate to this guy. Where can I get my new body parts to try more of the new tricks?)

You have been involved with Sacrifice Skateboards over the years and according to word of mouth, you have just returned to Sacrifice after a two year break. Describe your connection with Sacrifice Skateboards and the people behind the name.

It’s a funny question to me. It seems more like I took a forced exit because of my back. I’ve been friends with Rene Morales the owner since about 2001 and we would go skating together in pools or parks mostly. He has hooked me up with decks and some other accessories ever since. I don’t need much and I’m not high maintenance so I’m an easy team rider. I am also not out for glory but he would keep me on the team even when I was down for the count. I got to help him promote Raven Skateboard (pre-Sacrifice) and he would help promote CD back. We’ve got a really good friendship and that is most important. He created a nice company with no money, tons of hard work, and persistence.

Jeff rock n rolling between pool sections
Jeff rock n rolling between pool sections

If you could choose 5 skaters to session with, who would they be?

Oh man, I’ve been lucky enough to session with all my heroes many times. Backyard sessions with Blender, Gonzales, Lance, Hawk, Miller, Hosoi. But today its just fun to skate with a 4-8 person crew with a cooler of brews and some hooting and hollering. Something I am really looking forward to again now that I am getting healthy again.

Other than skating, what are some of your interests?

I like to travel a lot. The last skating camping trip I took with some of the Disciples to Oregon was the best skate trip I think I ever had. Even if its not a skate trip I like to check places out. I also like to shoot skate photos, but MRZ (one of my Concrete Disciples partners) shoots so good I barely even pull my camera out anymore.

Any future plans/final words you want to share with us?

I am hoping to be able to travel back to Europe for a Concrete Disciples tour someday. I made it to Italy finally 2 summers ago for a holiday, it was awesome. Rome was amazing. I tried to find some skate spots but came up blank for the most part.

I hope you and your readers that have stumbled onto Concrete Disciples have found it entertaining and informative. We have busted our asses on it year after year and never made any money from it until this past year. We pretty much are breaking even and we’re ok with that. We don’t have a marketing budget or anything like that. Just word of mouth so we have been laughing at all the startups that have come and gone with their big budgets. Just flushing money down the toilet.

Keep up the good work Jonathan!

A big thanks to Jeff for this really informative interview and i can only say one thing;: support Concrete Disciples and visiti their site. They represent what skateboarding should be about: fun, fun and more fun!

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