I wasn’t planning on interviewing Joey Marrone, it just sort of happened.
I met him at an event over the summer with his hands cupping beers and face glowing with genuine excitement about traveling and skating. He’s unapologetically Italian-American, and I was hooked by his goofy ass charisma and how much of an open book he was willing to be to a stranger. He’s truly a character, but not in that fake, manufactured Instagram way.
As an Am on Jacuzzi and backed by Asics, he’s at that special point in his career where your potential feels limitless. Your crew is on the up and up, and everyone is hungry to put themselves on the map, but still juggling those conflicting feelings of invincibility and self-doubt as the challenges come along.
Despite the City of Philadelphia tearing apart their main spot, Muni, Joey and his crew are continuing the grind and filming there every day until they deem it fully un-skateable. The loss of Muni is obviously a huge blow to Joey, his crew, and the skate community at large, but he’s looking on the bright side and is motivated to make it all work for the better.
Maybe that’s why I liked hanging with Joey. He’s a good reminder that new beginnings don’t always have to be scary.
I heard you did Uber before going all in on skating. What was that like?
I don’t do it as much anymore, but there was a time when I was a full-time Uber driver and I would just get the craziest rides. Especially in Philly and during party nights like Friday night. I remember I had this couple in the back and they were fighting. The dude was like, “I just don’t wanna be with you anymore.” And then the girl lifted her shirt and was like, “You’re really gonna break up with this?!”
The dude was like, “Hey, just pull over, let me out,” and the dude just walked out. The girl’s crying. I look at her, and was like, “Don’t worry, y’all don’t have to gimme a tip!” [laughs] I was trying to cheer her up.
I’ve had other riders just talking about the gnarliest shit too, like talking about stabbing people. They’re all in my back seat, and I’m just like, “Have a good day!” [laughs] You get rides like that all the time.
I don’t really do Uber anymore. When I do, it’s more of the fact I’m in the mood to talk to people. If I’m sad or in the mood to talk to somebody, I’ll turn it on and I’ll drive around and then whoever gets in the car, it’s game, a therapy session with Joey Marrone. They hear about all my problems [laughs].
I feel like it’s a good distraction from life. You see different people, a little chit-chat…
Oh, dude. One time I remember I was going through a breakup and I was just Ubering all the time. This one dude felt so bad for me and gave me like an $80 tip!
Have you met dates through it?
Dude, not really. I mean, girls gimme their numbers and shit, but I never pursued it. When I was doing it a lot, I had a girlfriend. Now I’m focusing on skating. I’ve been getting a little bit of money from Jacuzzi, so it’s more the fact that I don’t have to do it as much.
Did you carry mace in the car or anything as a defense at all?
Yeah, I mean, I have mace but it’s not like if they get out a knife or a gun I’m gonna be like, “Hold up, wait a second, lemme get my mace.” [Laughs]
Did you finish college or nah?
No, I did not finish. I went to Temple University and then, during COVID, that’s when I started taking skating more seriously.
I was so depressed at the time. It was just like, is the world ending? Am I not gonna be able to do this? In my head, sitting in my room thinking, if the world stopped running right now, what would I want to do? And what I wanna do is skate and hang out with my friends.
I was going to school for media studies and production. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was just kind of there, just cause my parents wanted me to go, you know? So I just stopped going to classes and we never talked about it.
Did your parents bug out when you stopped going to school?
They were cool. They were just like, oh yeah, he’s just doing his thing. He’ll figure it out. He’s not at home doing nothing.
My dad is old school, my mom’s more about like chasing your dreams and shit. My dad actually used to be a producer. He used to produce music for Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg… My dad was just like, yeah, Snoop Dogg used to come by our office with his dad….
I think that’s another reason why my dad kinda lets me do this whole skating chase. I think he was so into the music thing, but at the same time, my dad is money oriented. He just always chased the bag wherever he went, you know? For me, I care more about being happy than having a lot of money.
So your dad has production credits with all these famous rappers?
I remember we searched it up and we found some shit, like produced by Joseph Marrone, which is my dad. He’s just a lawyer now. What did he say to me the other day? He was like, “In the next 10 years, I’m gonna sell the company.” He wants to be a DJ all of a sudden. “I’m only gonna do private parties and I’m bringing your mom, and we’re traveling the world.” [laughs]
I think he’s having a midlife crisis. I was like, “You’re losing it!” You know this guy, DJ Marshmallow? My dad was like, “I’ll DJ and I’ll be called S’more”
That’s incredible. Does he have a Jersey accent?
He has an Italian accent like, “Hey, how you doin’? Ayyy, I’m Joe Marrone. Nice to meet ya, babe. Fuggedaboutit!”
All his friends are small Italian people. My family’s like super American-Italian, you know? I just come from a super Italian family but we’re getting so Americanized. I don’t even know how to speak Italian at all. [laughs]
“You couldn’t do anything. It was like, do I just talk to myself all day? I remember people were drinking on Zoom and shit.”
When you were in school, were you ever officially diagnosed with depression? Did they prescribe you meds or anything to help?
I wasn’t taking anything. It wasn’t like I was depressed, but it just felt like I didn’t know what to do. It just felt like everyone had no choice but to be sad. For like, what, a year or two?
You couldn’t even go down to the store without it being a problem to walk in or some shit. You couldn’t do anything. It was like, do I just talk to myself all day? I remember people were drinking on Zoom and shit. I remember one time I had a 12-pack of Twisted Teas, and I just sat in my room and drank the whole 12-pack and was just like, “Fuck dude. This is ass!”
But I feel like if COVID didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have taken skating so seriously. If COVID didn’t happen, I probably would just have a normal ass job.
So COVID made you think, “I’m gonna go for it because it could end tomorrow?”
Kinda, yeah. Getting on a company wasn’t a real thing for me for a while. But I think when Kris Brown randomly got on Adidas and we were all like, what the fuck? So when one of your friends that you’re close with gets on something that’s outta anybody’s reach that anyone in Philly has ever done, it’s like, holy shit. We can do something, you know? This is possible, and you don’t have to be like fucking gnarly as shit. You kind of just realize that it’s all about knowing people, getting in there, kinda being cool, and doing your thing.
Do you feel like a “regular 9 to 5” kind of life was never for you?
I got away from it. Especially coming from an Italian family that’s like, finish school, get a job, do this, find a wife, have kids and stuff… That’s what, like most of my family is doing right now.
It’s kind of crazy that people actually live for the weekend. They work all week, drink all weekend, and they’re depressed from Monday to Wednesday. Then they feel good for two days and people ask why they’re depressed all the time.
It’s like, dude, I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. Monday comes around, and we skate. That’s what we do, you know? I’m just skating, enjoying life. When I’m done with this conversation, I’m gonna go get a haircut and then I’m gonna go skate. Maybe I’ll go have a beer with Brian. Maybe me and Mike, we’ll run around the city just cause we have nothing else to do. Life’s too short to just be “okay.” You might as well just try to go full-fledged.
“Life’s too short to just be ‘okay.’ You might as well just try to go full-fledged.”
Where’d you get this I Love MILFS hat from? What reactions do you get from wearing it?
I got that hat from a shop from the Jersey Shore MTV show. People love that hat but I think I get more reactions out of the other hat I got at that shop, it just says, “I shaved my pussy for this?” Definitely a good party hat.
What’s a dream non-skate sponsor?
Twisted tea for sure.
What do you think the secret to having a long, successful skate career is? I wanna ask you now before you ideally have a long successful career.
You just kinda gotta be active all the time. First, you gotta start off strong, do as much as you can while you’re young. Film as much as possible, be involved, as much as possible, and just be around as much as possible. The more people see your face, the more people are like, okay, that dude’s sick. The more you’re around, the more people are gonna be like “he’s doing shit.”
I feel like it’s also based around the people you associate yourself with, what you are involved in, and how things pan out. I feel like having like [Kevin] Bilyeu, Jahmir [Brown], and all those dudes revamp DC [Shoes]… If you told me eight years ago that DC was gonna make a comeback, I would tell you you’re out of your fucking mind!
All that Philly DC shit… if it wasn’t for Philadelphia, Brian Panebianco, Kevin, Jahmir, Chris Falo and all those dudes, DC would not be as sick as it is. It’s crazy. That’s why it’s so sad to see Muni go.
Philly has historically ruined great places to skate. You guys always get dealt bad hands.
We’ve been getting dealt bad hands for so long. When I was a little kid, I saw them put up the fence at City Hall. Yeah. I didn’t care cause I was a little ass kid at the time. I didn’t know what that meant.. And then when they put up the fences at Love Park, that was sad, and now Muni…
We worked our ass off to put this place on the map and there’s no way we’re going out without a fight. We wanna keep this place as relevant as possible for as long as possible.
What’s the status now with Muni? What’s the battle plan? Is it being torn down?
They were gonna remodel it but we thought we had like five, six more years of this place. And then, one day Brian Panebianco put in the group chat some small article that no one really took seriously and it said something about Phase One. And then as a joke, he’s like sending me videos of him taking a shower with sunglasses on with Phase One written on his arm.
Brian’s like a really funny person, and if he thinks something is funny, he’ll drag it on for a little bit. So he kept saying Phase One and then the next day they actually had fences up and we were like, “What the fuck?!” They’ve been saying they’re gonna put fences up for years.
Now for the past month or whatever, while it’s been under construction, we kind of have been building shit. When people are done doing construction that day, we’ll build something new, and then by the end of the weekend, we knew whatever we built was gonna be taken out.
But apparently, the construction people got a new job somewhere else, so they wrapped up all this shit and pretty much they just left Muni the way it is. So it’s all like construction and we’ve just been building stuff. We built the new ledges. It’s like a DIY for now.
So it’s in a weird gray area, but something’s gonna happen again, right?
Yeah. I mean they’re gonna make it all skate-proof and shit, but dude, right now the footage that we’re filming… it’s in the middle of rubble.
We made a mega bump. We’re making ledges out of these granite tiles. The last days at Muni have been some of the most fun I’ve ever had at that place because it’s very rare for a group of people to come together to do something sick and exciting and we all want to put this place on the map.
And there’s more than just Muni out here. We just got so wrapped up in it cause the scene became so strong. Philly has way more to offer and it still does. This is our generation of what we can do. Let’s keep going until we can’t anymore.
Do you think you will go to California if Philly continues to be hard to skate?
No one’s going anywhere.
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