This is Zach Lyons. He kind of looks like a skinny nerd, but don’t let that fool you. He’s one of the American dudes pushing the artistic side of skateboarding, focusing on style, spot selection and interesting unique ways of riding his skateboard, with or without tricks. He might not be a big household name yet but he’s blazing his own path and doing it on his terms and his way. Skateboarding for the French brand, Magenta skateboards, and recently traveling and getting weird globally, we hit him up for stories about Mexico, Japan and introduced him to Genki, the famous and disturbing Japanese eel porn.
You wear a fedora a lot right?
Don’t lie, I’ve seen you wear a fedora hat in pictures
No way [laughs]. I’ve had like that material, like sun hats, but they are not fedoras they are a different style of hats.
Is Greg Lutzka your favorite skater?
[Laughs] Nah, no fedoras for me.
Have you ever met anyone who said Greg Lutzka is their favorite skater?
It’s so funny I feel like he somehow gets shit on more than like Nyjah or something, but what’s the difference between the two? They are on the same level, they are both truly amazing skateboarders ability wise, they both do contests, they both have major sponsors. It’s just so funny like, who gets “passes” and who doesn’t for no apparent reason. Depending on who they are affiliated with..
Yeah but I guess some people do “cheesier” shit than others?
Yeah, that’s the thing, I don’t know if there’s that much of a difference.. I feel like if you are a taking paycheck from a giant sponsor and doing cheesy photo shoots and whatever, it’s all the same shit.
In another interview you talked about the importance of skate spots and their culture. Why is that important to you?
I dunno, I think it separates the kooks from non-kooks. You know what I mean? Like one of the lessons I learned from skating at Pulaski [DC spot] is like, just don’t be a kook. Don’t fucking put stickers up, don’t bring attention to this place, don’t make it hot. Don’t snake people, respect everyone around you. And that’s something that I think is totally lost, especially when there is no main spot for people all to skate at anymore. I think skateparks have been taking that role but at parks, there’s no real etiquette or cultural dos and dont’s. Skateparks can just run rampant with wildy kooky shit. That doesn’t happen as much at actual skate spots, but unfortunately most places don’t have that anymore, so I feel like that mentality is gone. You would see people at Pulaski get schooled, like, “Hey dickhead, don’t do that,” and the kids like, “uhhhh… Sorry.” It used to happen all the time. I learned a lot from skating there, I went from just being a kid that skated in the suburbs all the time and not knowing anything to learning the ropes of being in the city and how to interact in that environment.
”There’s no real etiquette or cultural dos and dont’s. Skateparks can just run rampant with wildy kooky shit.”
You just went on a Trip to Mexico City with Coalatree. Any sketchy run ins?
Well, one day we were coming home late at night from a session, and had to drive through this sketchy outdoor market. Apparently it’s not safe for tourists to go to cause it’s just like crazy fuckin’ gangster ass dudes selling shit. On either side there’s thousands of people selling anything you can imagine and it’s basically stop and go traffic the whole time. Allen Danze was filming the trip and he was shooting left and right just getting stuff for the edit. All of a sudden this dude comes over to van and starts talking to our driver. We’re thinking, maybe it’s just the driver’s buddy? Who is this guy? Then all of a sudden, there’s a dude standing at the shotgun window and this dude is bigger and looks much gnarlier. At that point we’re all just kinda like, “Oh man, what the fuck? Are they trying to sell us something?” Then there’s a guy standing in front of the van, two guys at either door and behind the van, so we are completely surrounded. We just start completely losing our shit and it got heated real fast, the dude at shotgun was apparently kinda like backhanding our photographer, Matt Price, yelling, “Don’t be stupid!!!”
They wanted the camera that Allen [Danze] had been shooting photos with, they were like, “Delete photo! Delete photo!” and, “Memory card! Memory card!” Luckily Allen, super sneaky style, leaned back, dug around his bag and handed them a different empty memory card that he hadn’t used yet. As soon as he handed them this fake memory card, they just disappeared. Everyone was shitting themselves at this point. We couldn’t move, still stuck in traffic and kinda worried that they were gonna come back once they realized the memory card didn’t have anything on it. It was such a weird feeling, feeling kinda completely helpless, and not knowing how far this situation could escalate to.
I heard you stayed at some sketchy hotel too?
It didn’t seem sketchy, it looked nice, but we got there and realized pretty quickly that it was some sort of sex hotel? There was free porno on the TV… and we were like, “Whoa, holy shit! Look! It’s free porno!” And we switch ahead, and we’re like, “What? Oh my god, it’s another channel of free porno!” And then another channel, and a channel with a split screen montage of porno. And it’s playing 24 hours a day at our hotel. Then all the way at the end of the hall, Lars and Charlie had a room, and they were sandwiched between two other rooms that had people actually fucking pretty much 24/7. Like, gangbang style. I don’t know if they were filming porn, but you could walk by and just hear chicks getting… getting done [laughs]. It was also weird because I never saw people coming or going. You’d think you’d see people constantly coming and leaving, but they seemed to be posted up in these rooms.
I heard about you a while ago, but then it seems like you fell off the map before you got on Magenta. What happened?
Well there was a period when I was skating for Organika, where I was getting a consistent amount of coverage. But then I stopped skating for them and didn’t have a board sponsor for a period of time, wasn’t getting coverage in mags or having video parts or anything. But that just seemed like a sign of the times too, just a change, it was harder to get coverage if you weren’t skating for companies that were advertising in the magazines. I kinda had to reevaluate where I was at, I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do. Looking around, there weren’t any companies I was into at that point, that I even wanted to skate for if I could have. That’s when Magenta entered the picture. As soon as that became an option it was like, oh right, this is exactly where I want to and should be at.
I’m never gonna have to deal with the same bullshit that I would have to deal with skating for any major American company. Jumping through the hoops of doing whatever fucking trick tips, Transworld skatepark, Berrics shit. Watching and doing awkward “my setups” and stuff.. Like dude, some people are good at talking on video, and some aren’t. Don’t force that guy who’s not good at it, to talk on video, and listen to this awkward dude trying to explain his new pro shoe, you know what I mean? Some skaters are just not meant to be behind a camera other than skating. That was a breath of fresh air, I will never have to do this stuff if I don’t want to do. Magenta only wants me to do what I wanna do, and skate the way I wanna skate. That is the most important thing in the world to me. Being yourself.
”These little mindless internet clips, people forget about a second later. Who fucking gives a shit?”
Isn’t that working against you as an upcoming skater / brand coming up in skating though?
Well, with companies in California it’s like, you have to be on the Berrics, get on the exposure meter on Transworld Business… but you really don’t have to do any of those. Skateboarding is so big, it’s so international, that’s just one zone and these little mindless internet clips, people forget about a second later. Who fucking gives a shit? There’s so many cooler zines, mags, websites all sorts of cool stuff. Skating is so big, there’s so many different ways to be a pro skater, sponsored skateboarder or skateboarder.
I was watching Gou Miyagi’s part in that Heroin video. I was watching that dying laughing, not at him, but it’s impossible to watch that part without it bringing a smile to your face. It’s just so enjoyable. And this dude is not doing a single thing that would be considered a conventional skateboard trick. I don’t know that he even really like ollies in that part.. but it’s the sickest part. Same with Takahiro Morita, he has a part in Soleil Levant – he’s like the kingpin of Japanese skateboarding. That dude does not do anything that would be a conventional skateboard trick, but everything he does is so awesome. Skateboarding doesn’t have to always be about tricks, the idea where everything is focused around how hard a trick is, seems so ridiculous at this point. Skateboarding is so much more than that.
Going to Japan with Magenta and meeting the crew there, how was that?
Going to Japan was amazing and being able to meet the Tightbooth Productions guys.. It’s 3 guys essentially, in their 20s that run a full time clothing company, design all the clothes, they have their own magazine, they are all professional skaters in their own right. They are all professional filmers. The amount of work these guys do, holy shit, these dudes do so much more with their lives than I do. Like Takahiro Morita, talking to him, he’s truly an inspiring human. He told me, “All I want is to do more with my life. Everyone has 1 life, only 1 life, I wanna do more. I wanna skate more places, I wanna meet more people, make more videos, magazines, clothes.” These dudes are truly passionate people and truly artists too. They don’t just do it to do it, or to make money, it’s their artform, expression of themselves. I’ve gotten to see this through skating, and skating for Magenta. It’s insane the amount of discipline they have and they love it.
You go to the cuddle cafe while you were there?
No, I didn’t get to see any of that sort of stuff. But a bunch of Japanese people we had met, had gone to a whorehouse essentially, and had all gotten butt play and stuff. We were like damn, there was definitely a whole ‘nother element here that I wasn’t tuned into yet. I’m curious about it. There’s some sort of seedy underbelly, like the whole used panties in the vending machine shit. I didn’t see any of that but supposedly it’s there.
It doesn’t seem like they go out to bars and hook up with chicks and have one night stands. That doesn’t seem as prevalent there, so I’m sure they have to let that want out someplace. In America, you go out find some random whore at the bar, but they can’t do that as easily, so they have women’s panties in vending machines [laughs].
Have you seen Genki, the famous Japanese eel porn?
Eel porn? No I haven’t seen that but I would like to see it.
You say that now but once you do… I don’t know, it’s pretty brutal.
Really, like people, like, fucking eels?