Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Chuck Treece

Anyone who saw the opening street section in Powell Peralta's 1988 video 'Public Domain' will know- or be able to tell you- how that section smashed open the floodgates for street skating as we know it today. It's likely that if that section hadn't appeared when it did, things would be pretty different now... we might well all be wearing lyrca and doing flatland freestyle, or vert doubles in pink headbands. As much as the filming and skateboarding in this ams section shook the skate world, this grainy black-and-white televised revolution wouldn't have had quite the same impact were it not for the tune used- 'Weakness', by former Santa Cruz pro Chuck Treece's band McRad. The music fitted the section perfectly- both were raw, fast, hard, gritty, innovative, stylish- and punk. These few short minutes were a massive, necessary, turning point for skateboarding. And that's not all Treece has done.
From being a pro skateboarder and soundtracking some of the most influential Santa Cruz and Powell Peralta videos of all time, to playing with artists as diverse as Bad Brains, Urge Overkill, Sting, Pearl Jam, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Billy Joel it's fair to say that multi-instrumentalist Chuck Treece has achieved a lot. Still living in Philadelphia, Chuck finds enough time to record and tour with the re-formed McRad, look after his kids (who also play music and skateboard) and rip the FDR park as often as he can. He even made time to have a chat with us here at Bite My Wire. Read and be inspired.

What have you been up to recently?
Making things happen they way I want them to go and all... Mainly recording more music, writing more songs- different styles of songs. Skateboarding as much as I can, enjoying my kids and family. I just won a Pew (Philly music college) grant and I'm about to finish a new McRad LP, and re-release a bunch of music... more than anything have fun.
Have you always been musical? I'm guessing you started out pretty young...
I started out with music at age 2 and started playing drums at age 6. At 8 years of age I was playing shows with my father’s top 40 cover band. My parents supported my music from the start- I'm so stoked they took a chance with me and music. They weren't  music industry people. I learned a lot from going through the motions and learning how to support myself and my family though music and skateboarding. 

 Who first switched you on to punk rock? What bands were you digging at the time?
My friend Mark Manuti started me off on my punk rock sessions. We had a band together called Jerry's Kids in '81. We all lived in Delaware and Mark and I skated Sherry Hill all the time, and he would crank Devo, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Police, 999, Buzzcocks, Joe Jackson and a bunch of other groups. The Sex Pistols were my favourite. Then I started listening to Black Flag, Minor Threat and  Bad Brains. Tom Groholski was responsible for turning me on to those bands. Music was always centered around skateboarding. It's so crazy to think that skaters would act like real artists when it comes to the music they listen to. I always loved music and would listen to most styles of music as well as punk rock. I wanted to learn how they were getting the tones, and the energy behind the music got me thinking about the way I lived my life. Then I learned how to play 'God Save the Queen' by the Sex Pistols from a good friend of mine called Todd Werny. Todd also showed me how to play a bar chords on guitar- I freaked out and went right into learning all my favorite punk songs, and then I went back and learned all the songs I listened to on guitar, bass and drums.

So when did skateboarding come into the picture? 
I started to check out what skateboarding was all about around the age of 11- it was metal wheels and decks with no grip tape. Then I moved to the 'burbs and my dad went out and purchased a skateboard for me. I've stayed on since age 13. I'm 46 now and I still love skateboarding. FDR skatepark!.
What were your parents and teachers like when you were growing up? Your parents sound cool, but skateboarding and playing punk rock aren't the most widely accepted things for a teenager to be doing...
Growing up in the 'burbs rocked. My school was fun and my parents let me do the things I wanted to do. We all go through the process of being accepted by the people we look up to. I'm glad I had the chances to live my life through the events that I chose, and the times and hobbies that I loved and put my effort and respect into. That’s the only way kids learn how to be responsible- get out there and get it done. No one really understands why kids do what they do... it’s all living at the end of the day, we all want our families and loved ones as safe as possible.

As you were growing up, how did you find the East coast scene at the time? Your first show was with Minor Threat. That must have been pretty rad.
The East coast scene and the Philly scene were filled with tons of creative people. I grew up with the best skaters, musicians, punk rockers and all these other people living out their dreams. We had Love Hall in Philly and that’s where McRad opened up for Minor Threat. I still have the VHS tape from that show. I trip out the the shorts and socks we are were rocking. We didn’t care about much other than having fun and playing shows with the bands we looked up to. That and skating and hanging out with the people we looked up to. Philadelphia is a great city to grow up in.
Did the music take a back seat when you turned pro?
I put the same energy into to both. My responsibilities changed when i turned pro. I had more pressure on myself to skate better and to create better- that’s all being pro is- take it to the next level and respect what you're going for. Direction in proper thought tactics. Goal driven people get things done at a pro level. Turning pro means you've turned your entire world into being as perfect as you can get it. The business is another story...

How did you get involved with Powell Peralta?
Through Stacy Peralta. I wrote him a letter when i was 14 years of age after reading his interview in Skateboarder magazine. I was so stoked that Stacy took the time to tell me about all of what he was doing with creating the Bones Brigade and how he wanted to make skateboarding a bit different from how he grew up in it. It’s amazing when you get good thoughts to come to life. 

Who do you think were the best out of all the other Skate Rock compilation bands?
I liked them all. If I would have to choose it would be JFA and the Big Boys, however Earl and H.R. (of Bad Brains) were skateboarding before most of us- they lived in Hawaii with their parents and learned how to surf and skate when they were kids. So the Bad Brains would be my favourite skate group.

Who have been your favourite musicians to work with, and why?
All musicians are my favourite to work with. I've had fun learning from all sorts of musicians. If I were to choose it would be my kids, and then my parents. I have a blast making music with my family - my brother Chris too - he plays guitar, bass and drums. My kids play music... Creating with people that you respect is the best.

Who have been your favourite people to skate with, and why?
My favourite people to skate with would be the FDR skatepark locals, Tom Groholski, Tommy G from SF, Isaac Treece, Kieran Treece, Jurni Treece and Dovi Treece (Chuck's kids). So many sessions and so many parks, ramps and bowls. It was all about having a good time with people you met at the spot and then people who you considered family. That’s what made skating and music have the best memories. 

What are you listening to these days?
Black Sabbath. Tons of reggae music. I've been listening to whatever makes my ears happy.
You've worked with so many people, musically- what was it like recording a whole album completely on your own?
I learned how to create music from the respect and love that I had for music. The people and all the great situations made learn how to keep it moving through my age of music. Now I get to choose what I do and how I do all of my work. Before I felt like it was choosing me. Being around talented people or people with a ton of drive for what they want to do rocks. Pushing the limits makes a certain sound in life. It’s like walking down the street and hearing a band rehearse off in the distance, it sounds like fun... Or when a skater is cruising down the street. You know there's some dedication and/or just plain fun happening... always moving.
Do you still skate FDR every day?
I skate FDR about once a week, or whenever I can get there. I was there a couple of days ago. I love that park, it keeps you on your toes... concrete...

Who would win in a downhill between you and Brian Brannon?
Brian would probably win and all, for where I am now with downhill skating... I still have to practice my downhill skating. Brian is a rad skater for sure. I'm so stoked he still has JFA going.
What's in the future for Chuck Treece? What are you working on?
'Never Ending Dominant  Force' is the next McRad LP. I have a couple of side-projects titled Jessie Texas and Jah Jah Rank’n. Reggae style rock and some punk-country with Pink Floyd styles thrown in the mix of all of it. I plan on being a better father and overall person. I have a lot more to do and I don’t want it to get in the way of having a good time with being creative.

What records do you think are essential listening?
Black Sabbath, Basement Five, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Bad Brains, Squeeze, David Bowie and whatever make you feel good about music... music is like your personal doctor. It heals your life up and makes you think about what you're doing at all times. It can also take you away to a better place when you're stressed or unhappy. Whatever you put into to music you get it right back.

Cool. It's been a pleasure talking to you. Is there anything else you want to say?
Stoked to be involved with Robot Gut, Ace Trucks, Bambusa Skateboards and all the people who have supported my dreams thougout my life and onto the future.
So stoked to make these dreams come true- it may sound like fantasy talk, but it makes a fantsy much better when the talking comes the person who follows their dreams..
Thanks for having me involved with this interview.
I've been working on a trip to Brazil with Ray Barbee- we leave today and it's been some work getting our work visas.
All of y'all learn how to travel and learn about what it takes to get in and out the place you live in....the right way...

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