A friend of The Deaf Lens – Tony Moore, recently had a chat with Corey Duffel about being a skate nerd, repping Foundation for ten years, having motor-mania and that famous moustache.
Edited by Stephen Cox
Skate Nerd – totally killed it against J.T Aultz.
Skate Nerd was a lot of fun. I was a little bit nervous at first because J. T is a skate nerd as well. We have both been skateboarding for around two decades.
Have you always been so knowledgeable or did you do some last minute swatting before the match?
I would like to say he is more obsessed with skateboarding than I am. But like everyone I was once a kid and I studied the magazines and videos. I watched videos religiously and stared at skateboard magazines through out my English and science classes. Skateboarding in the nineties was such a rad time and the stuff coming out was amazing. It was a really neat time. I turned 16 in 2000 so I was just a young kid that ate, breathed and dreamt of skateboarding. Being a skateboarder in the Bay area in the mid-nineties was the coolest. I could take BART to EMB and skate the plaza, push a few times and end up at Pier 7, skate there for a few hours and watch my favorites killing it. Drake Jones, Karl Watson, Lavar, Mike Carroll etc. Then I could go push to Hubba and get some tricks down it. Being 12 and being able to skate Hubba Hideout with Karl Watson watching was insane. Being from the Bay area is a blessing. I was spoiled by having so much skateboarding in my backyard. I didn’t know about the industry or anything yet. I was just so focused on having fun and loving it. I just wanted to skate all day and learn new tricks, bomb hills, watch pros and learn the tricks they were doing. I didn’t really understand what being a pro was. I didn’t know they made money; I didn’t really understand the whole concept of stuff yet. I was just a kid that wanted to ride fast. And the funny thing is the pros were probably only 18-20 so they were just kids too. Excuse me – I start to ramble on about stuff completely off topic.
[Laughs] – its fine -
I just love skateboarding and I have since the day I started in 94’. If I didn’t love skateboarding with my entire heart and soul I would have quit years ago. I would have disappeared from skating when people told me I could never be pro, that I could never keep a career going after acting a fool and saying ignorant stuff. I would have quit by now after 7 surgeries and barely being able to walk down the street with my dogs. But nothing will ever stop me from love that riding my skate gives me. I will admit that I get jaded towards the industry at times but that will never stop me from caring about skating more than anything else. I’ve devoted a third of my life to it and sacrificed my life and limbs many times for it.
Fair enough –
Anyway, I was never expecting to beat J.T but I was on it that day. I sometimes forget that I haven’t missed a magazine in almost 20 years so I know what’s going on. But with the Internet now, I don’t pay as much attention to skateboarding. There is just too much going on and too many videos being put out. It’s a headache for me and I would rather play my 90’s VHS. That’s the skating that inspired me then and still gets me stoked.
So what drives you to skate big obstacles?
I started skating handrails when I was 11 and skateboarding is all abut pushing yourself to bigger and better so naturally I just wanted to go faster and bigger. Dudes like Heath and Jamie were crushing stuff in 96’ and it got me stoked to want to skate that way too. The only problem was and still is – I don’t have the skills, I just have willpower and a lot of soul. If I wanted to land a trick, I had so much determination to make myself get it. I didn’t care how many times I ate shit, I just kept going for more. Skating rails was harder back then, I didn’t have a park to learn the tricks at, I never skated a flat bar. I just would find a rail and go for it. Same thing when it came to big gaps. There’s two options, make or break. If I get scared I go faster and sing Motörhead.
Love the thrill then -
I love the rush and energy you get from scaring yourself, too me it is fun. Life is not worth living if you’re not adventurous. I have never been interested in learning manuals or tech tricks. I didn’t want to spend 4 hours learning one trick, when I could do a hundred back tails and bluntslides on the same ledge. I wanted to land more tricks and learn to do them going faster and faster and on taller ledges compared to trying one trick for a hundred tries until I make it once and I never do it again. That never seemed desirable to me. Skating is about a good time and that was not a good time to me. It was like figuring out a math equation compared to bombing a hill. I’ll take the fuel injected suicide ride over waxing a ledge and trying a move over and over.
Foundation, the team has seen a lot of change ups in the last few years, especially in terms of videos –
Ya know, this is a crazy one. I can’t even explain it. This is a really hard one to answer because there is so much to discuss about it. Good times, bad times, loss of contact, loyalty, friendships, hardships. I’ve been pro for Foundation for 10 years now. That is fucking insane. I can’t believe I’m still riding a skateboard, and I can’t believe I’m so privileged to be pro still and to have so many people support me. I never planned for any of this, and you know what? I wouldn’t have changed anything. The future is unwritten. There are so many times that I’ve made bad decisions but I wouldn’t be who I am without my past. Life is about moving forward and that’s all I do. If I sit and dwell on the should-haves and could-haves I would be pissing in the wind going nowhere.
What’s it like to see people come and go?
When I got on the Mighty F I was so fucking stoked. I was on board with guys like Ethan Fowler, Jon West, Shimizu, Rusczyk, Strubing and Tony Silva. Tony and I were the youngest – not even 18, just kids. I was on a team of guys with the best style in skateboarding, I never knew how a rail-chomper got in a line-up like that, but I was so stoked! I was riding for my favorite brand and I got to tour with my favorite pros. This was in 2001 I believe. That’s Life came out in 04’ or something and there were a few changes around then. It was cool, but it was not the small team it was 2 years prior. I liked being on a small team with guys who all shared the same interests and got along good. It was brilliant. People tell me they love that’s life, it was cool, but it wasn’t the Foundation I fell in love with as a kid. Things were changing but it was all for the better, and I understood that so I moved forward with it. I went pro in 2003 and that was insane. I never thought I would have a board with my name on it, especially on a team with such a heavy line up: Shimizu, West, Fowler, Strubing and then Duffel. My name did not belong in that line up. I was blown away and so stoked. By 2006 there were some more huge changes in the team and now the brand direction. But once again all for the best, just took some getting used to. It sucks to see some of your best friends get kicked off or quit. Around that time I had a lot of offers and didn’t know what to do, my friends weren’t on the brand any more and I started tripping out. What has always kept me stoked on Tum Yeto is Tod Swank. Swank gave me an opportunity when no one else did. He has had my back fully since I was 16 and this is why I’ve never left Foundation. Tod Swank and the Tum Yeto crew have always been good to me.
How do you feel about the current team, do you feel it’s at its strongest?
Two years ago there was a lot of changes again. But ya know what, I’m stoked on everything. I love the younger crew. I wish I wasn’t hurt so often so I could go on the road with them. I never wanted to be the old dog that didn’t travel with the young bucks. I want to be on the road killing it with them. That is the lamest part to me, not knowing the team as well as I should, it really stinks. They probably think I’m a dick and don’t want to hit the roads with them, but I’ve had a rough 2 years due to some nerve and ligament damage in my left foot. But I am so stoked to see Ryan Spencer and Dakota out there killing it. I only wish Elijah was still on, that kid is my younger brother – My bro for life and I’m stoked for him but I miss skating with him.
Do you feel like a team leader?
I think the team has seen me as somewhat of a dictator for years [laughs]. They know I have an input with team stuff and all that jazz. The younger ones know I have been with foundation for a decade so they give me respect and that is cool. There’s one guy on the team who doesn’t and I’ll let ya know. It’s annoying and I wish he grew up skating in the nineties cause he’d get his ass beat for action to a veteran like that. Foundation is going to be releasing a ten year video part for me in February. Stoked to be a part of a one hundred per cent skateboard company. Foundation has been around 25 years! Fuck yeah!
Can’t wait to see that 10 year part. Congrats on a decade with Foundation and here’s to the next 10! If you could assemble a dream team from past and present Foundation riders who would be in who would you be giving a board? One rule- you can’t pick all the dudes
I’m really stoked to be a part of a great brand, thanks. Holy shit. This a good one. Heath, Ethan Fowler, Shimizu, Jon West, Strubing, Drehobl, Rusczyk, Nuge, and Nick Merlino. There are more from the past and present I like. I really want to ride a Ryan Spencer deck and a Dakota one. Can’t wait to see these guys go pro for Foundation.
What have you been filming for recently then?
Osiris just release a brand new video titled Never Gets Old. I do have a part of some sort in it. I was utterly disappointed in my part. It is barely over a minute long. I have never wanted to be a pro that can’t put out a decent part. Others tell me they love it, but I was not stoked. The Foundation video WTF! came out 9 months prior and I gave up all my footage for that video so I had to start fresh, which is awesome cause I hate being lazy and not skating, but while filming for WTF! I managed to have two foot surgeries and that slowed me down a lot and I had a weak part. But I liked the song and feel like it was a part that fun to watch. It was worlds apart from my Cataclysmic Abyss part, but I will never have a part like that again. I was 22, sparked and without foot problems. I got hurt after 3 months of filming for the Osiris video and couldn’t skate for the last 6 months of the video. I honestly filmed my part in about 6 weeks or so. It has been a rough year of injuries for me. I am going under the knife for surgery on my foot very soon actually. I’ve had a torn ligament in my left foot for nearly a year and the pain is too horrid to skate.
How is your skating changing?
Injuries have shaped my skating a lot. I’m unable to jump down gaps all day so I’ve been getting more back into my roots, skating the urban streets and finding spots that others wouldn’t think much of. My last parts are completely different. I have a beard and my pants have loosened up a bit. Some fans trip out on this, but my love for punk rock and DIY has never changed. It’s getting to the stage where I’m old, not wise, just worried [laughs].
Your image and look, has created a lot of buzz over the years – is that something you care to comment on? Or do you feel he can relax with it as you know its part of yourself?
This has always been my honest opinion on this topic. Skaters give me grief and I never get it. Don’t worry about me and what I’m doing, worry about your fucking self mate. Skateboarding is not a book report on fashion to be graded. As human beings we have the choice to do as we please, so why would I want to be the same white lamb following the herd when I could be the one going against the grain? Skaters that judge are weak and insecure. If you don’t like me that’s just dandy, cause I don’t know who you are or what you do but obviously you care enough about me to hate me. I know I’ve looked very different from the time I first started getting photos in magazine and ya know what? It has 15 years, should I really look the same? That is utterly boring and I have never wanted to be a boring cat that is trying to follow. My roots and ideas have not much changed over the years, I still have all the same passions, loves and beliefs.
Is punk music and that lifestyle as big a part of your life now, as you grow older?
Punk rock is always going to be a part of my life. There will never be a time that I don’t have a leather jacket, denim vest and tight black jeans. People think I don’t like punk rock anymore cause I have a mustache at times, but yet they forget punk rock isn’t about how you look, its an attitude. It’s being different from the ninety-nine per cent of normies. It’s about not caring what others think, about going as fast as you can and the best part is, I guarantee I have a way better record collection. In 08’ or something I was going though a goth phase, and I stand behind it. I love Gothic rock and the looks and the people. But truthfully, I got too lazy to dye my hair, do it up and all that jazz and when I rode my motorcycle in the winter that style was not very functional. I wanted to look like a mod when I chopped my hair off, but Fred Perry costs a pocket and is too hard for me too keep clean. I like BBQ too much and that wasn’t happening [laughs]. But my heart will always love the mods. I’m all about moving forward and that’s what being a mod is. Basically I’m not an average human being, I love all sorts of stuff and I get influenced by it all but don’t only want to look one way. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve worn, I can look back and have a laugh about it and I dig that. If you can’t laugh at yourself you take yourself way too seriously and that to me is utterly absurd.
I’m down for the goth movement, without that subculture, we would never had The Cure, Nick Cave, Siouxsie & The Banshees and a tonne of other shit.
I’m glad you’re feeling the same away about the music. Some people just don’t get it or they only like what they see in skateboard videos or hear on the radio. A lot of people are too frightened to think for themselves so they need to listen to the same top-twenty rubbish off their mates. Some good advice – try some stations left of the dial. I’m off to go see Dave Wakeling and the English Beat this coming up weekend. Great band. Dave is a fan of skateboarding as well.
Wanted to ask about the facial hair. It’s a serious ‘tache you were rockin. I’m sure food gets stuck in there save it for later right? It definitely suits ‘The Duffman’ nickname. Was there a dude that inspired you to grow that beast, or were you just going for that American Badass look?
Save it for later. Nice. The beard. Oh shit, man, I never knew facial hair could be such a topic. People love it or they hate it. Story of my life. Anyway, in 2010, the SF Giants were playing great. When they were playing the padres, I said if they win and make it to the playoffs I’ll grow out my beard until they are finished with post season. They made it to the World Series so I couldn’t shave just yet. But this time it was about three weeks so it was getting there. The giants closing pitcher Brian Wilson had a mean beard, so he was the main inspiration for it. I’m a huge Giants fan and I too wanted to be a part of the team spirit. They ended up winning the World Series. It was then Halloween, so thought I’d dress as a beard woman. Halloween came and left, but I still had the beard, I then said I’d keep it till the end of the year. I ended up growing the beard until my girlfriend’s birthday in late march. I shaved for a gift to her. It was outta’ control but I loved it, people leave you alone and don’t approach you [laughs]. Best part was it makes my small dome look bigger [laughs]. After I saved the beard, I just got use to having facial hair so I grew a stache out for fucks sake. I got use to it and liked it cause it was so absurd. Once again, it’s such a conversation topic so I got sick of it and shaved. I’m shaved right now, but I’m sure ill be lazy and in 3 weeks I’ll have a winter beard again. So the main story behind it all is The Giants! World champions! – and being a bit lazy.
While we’re talking about food getting stuck there, saw you talking about steaks in an interview once. I love meat and steaks and shit.
Not a day goes by where I don’t eat beef. I like steaks, I was raised on eating meat and will die from it but that’s all good cause I’m enjoying every bite. I just like to eat. Favorite foods – huge fan of Asian eateries. Japanese style is my favorite. After that steak and potatoes with a can of Coke. One cannot resist chocolate chip cookies either.
And where did the nickname “Duffman” come from and does it hold meaning for you? I kind of see it like the Duffman being some superhero that will just throw himself down some serious shit.
The nickname Duffman was given to me on my first Foundation trip in 2001. the crew just started saying it and it kept with me through out the years. I’m happy I don’t have some nickname like ‘Lunch Meat’ or something outrageous like some of these cats out there.
Does being a pro skater ever come in handy for getting into shows?
Frankly, being a pro skateboarder has helped me out a few times. I had an MC5 graphic come out, a Roky Erickson graphic. I became Friends with both groups because of this. Fucking awesome. I got to interview Cock Sparrer for Thrasher. Almost all the songs I’ve skated to have been seen by the artists and they have all contacted me and thought it was awesome. Skateboarding has been so great to me. It’s bizarre to think skating has given me all of this.
What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
Laugh all you want but one of the best shows I have ever seen was The Cranberries. Fucking brilliant. Grinderman was a theatrical masterpiece. Nick Cave is a genius, and the Lyre Of Orpheus is playing right now.
Fuck yeah Nick Cave! Grinderman are amazing. Word. Stagger Lee.
My favorite bands have remained the same for many of years. That’s why I will call them my favorites. Nick Cave, Billy Bragg, the Jam, the Cure, Replacements, The Who, Thin Lizzy, The Beatles and The Stones. Those are all bands that never grow old to me. I can listen to a record on repeat everyday.
Can you tell us about your passion for motorbikes?
Much like Mr Toad I’ve got motor-mania. I do have an obsession for them. Since I was a kid I always wanted to have one. I never knew much about them beside the fact they were rebellious and bad ass. It took me far too long to get into them. Probably for the best though. If you like going fast on a skateboard you will love motorcycles and scooters. They are dangerous and exciting. Two of the best feelings in life.
Do you go ride with other skaters?
Bobby Worrest is staying with me for a few weeks. He rode from DC to Oakland to meet up. We are actually taking off this weekend to ride down for the David Mann chopper fest with a few other skaters.
Do you build or fix them up?
I try to work on them the best I can, but I have friends with shops so I rather let them help out compared to me doing something I’m foreign with. I got the basics covered but I still prefer the help from friends.
Back to skating – having had that part in Feed the Need, which was huge back in day, how do you feel about the shift in getting videos to the masses, can you tell us about your recent video Never Gets Old being released gradually through Transworld? Would you rather have a part on a physical DVD and sold through shops? You mentioned before you don’t pay as much attention to skating because of the internet -
I am not a fan of online videos. I don’t watch them. If I’m on my computer trying to watch a video I’m busy looking at Craiglist also. So I give online videos half my attention and only watch them one time, because I forget about it and don’t have a physical copy I can put in my DVD player. Everything about the Internet has fucked up skateboarding. It makes it so much tougher; people want parts to come out every couple of months now. You used to have years to film for a video part. I feel bad for the filmers too. They devote so much time and effort into filming and they aren’t getting paid great and their footage gets butchered by poor quality on YouTube etc. There are a few positive aspects too but it is always easier to ramble on about the negative sides of online videos.
Definitely agree with you on filmers, they’re the guys opening our eyes to the gnarl and crazy shit that goes down, it’s as much them that progress what we do as the skaters. Who are you filming with at the moment or what is your setup there? Have you had one dude that you have filmed with through your career or is it just whoever is down to film?
There are a few filmers who have helped me out so much over the years. The early years it was always my older brother Stephen Duffel. He has been filming me since we started. We grew up skating and filming together. He filmed a lot of my stuff in That’s Life, 88 Video, 411 parts and other videos. Kyle Camarillo I owe a lot to. He’s been a real close bro to me for years. My Cataclysmic Abyss part wouldn’t be around with out his help. He filmed a lot of it and put it together for me. Jeff Morris filmed almost my entire That’s Life part and a lot of all my other parts. Anytime I was in SD I was filming with Jeff. Art Bars wouldn’t have happened with out him. I’d say he filmed eighty-five per cent of it. Jimmy Kappel and Shockas helped out a lot in early days. I gotta give a huge thanks to Russell Houghten too, he fucking rules and is the only dude who has never had a problem keeping up with me. Chris Ray filmed my Transworld part and it was thanks to him that I even got in the video. Thanks Ray Ray. Filming these days is a lot harder cause I don’t have a filmer around, but when I go out it’s these three dudes who help out. Tim Cisilino. That’s my boy. Solid dude and always puts his heart into it. Alex Kissinger is a local skate rat I go out with these days. He rules, films great and skates good too. My WTF! part wouldn’t have happened with out his help. And finally my homie Massimo Legitimo. He’s always down for some fun. Filmers are gnarly and they deserve a lot more than they get. I love the stuff Russell, Jon Holland and Jason Hernandez put out – and Ty. Filming with Ty is a cool experience.
That’s a list [laughs] –
I used to be down to film with anyone with a camera. But now there’s such a standard. Buddy cam/Baker cam is not happening. Looks like shit these days. I like footage to look proper. So buddy cam is out. It’s 2012, technology is better so why film shitty videos in VX. Skateboarding is about progression, so why not have the videos look good too. No one wants to see out of focus, bad colors, shaky V footage any more. There was a time and a place but it looks horrid in my eyes. The Baker video compared to the Girl video. That’s all I gotta say about that. I’m not talking shit, just saying my honest opinion. Guys like Mike Gilbert and Russell make shit look awesome! – and I mean I love VX footage, but its not 2002 any more. People are making skateboard films now, not ghetto buddy cam homies videos. Don’t get butt hurt cause this is all my personal opinion. Don’t forget that.
Where do you see your career heading – would you like to ever do other things in the industry, like start another company or be a team manager?
This is a constant thought of mine right now. I really got to get a plan put together. Time seems to go by faster and faster these days for me. I need to get something sorted out before I am yesterday’s papers. I just watched the Girl video last night – awesome to see one of my favorites still out there doing it. I truly hope I can skate in 10 more years. It all depends on my health. I never thought the day would come, but my last injury has been going on for three years and has kept me back. I injured my foot in 09’ filming for Right Foot Forward and it has been a troublesome bother since. Slowed me down gravely. You’ll see something from new from me soon.
If skateboarding had never came to yourself, what could you see yourself as having pursued instead?
I’d be utterly boring like most human beings. I’d be collecting dust and being a waste of space. That or I would have pursued baseball or soccer. I think I would have gone far with whatever I wanted to do. I give my entire heart and willpower into my passions. That’s my personality; I’m not a weak person just getting by with what I can. I go all out with everything I like or do.
So who was your pick for skater of the year?
I think David Gonzales put out the gnarliest skate part in history and I think he deserved it. I would have love to seen Guy Mariano win it though. Guy has done so much for skating. One of the most innovative people ever to step foot on a board. He has been inspiring us for over 20 years.
- and what do you think of skater of the year?
Skater of the year is not a race. I liked it when it wasn’t a title that pros tried to win and it was just given. Now people try all year for it, which is cool but I liked it when it was natural and the ripping-est dude of the year won it. Not a contest – who’s the best. Like Silas. Silas rules. He killed it and won. Daewon too. I back that.
Can you name any notable mentors or role models over the years that have helped you become who you are?
My dad has always been a hero of mine. I learn from his mistakes and he has always been there to help and support me. Same goes for my mom. I’ve been very inspired by man musicians, Tim Burton, Oscar Wilde and other authors, a few skaters when I was younger. Cheesy as it sounds, there is inspiration everywhere you look. Right now being the fall, I love looking out and seeing the weeping trees with the leaves spread across the dark and damp roads. I get stoked on stuff like that.
What about the dogs?
They are at my feet as we talk. Crash and wrecks rule. They are my good bros.
Stoked off the dog chat. I saw an interview back where you were talking about training facilities and how Foundation hadn’t sorted out anything similar – Do you have a training facility like many other pros do at the minute? What’s your view on these?
I feel like if I had a local park or a TF I would be a much better contest skater and have a lot more skills. I wouldn’t be driving around all day looking for a parking lot to skate with out getting the boot. I still spot search all the time. The world’s a playground for us and there are so many hidden gems waiting for us. I love it!
I do what every other smart skater does. I go skating because almost everywhere is shut down and you’re not so vulnerable to getting shut out. I will also watch the Christmas story on TCM and eat cookies.
Hope you have a special one. Thanks for all of this Corey, it’s been great chatting to you. Quote to finish up on or a song recommendation?
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Wilde
The Railway Children – ‘Every Beat of the Heart’
Next up on TheDeafWord: Eric Swisher (Chops) of The Chrome Ball Incident after Christmas. Hope the holidays treat you well and stay safe folks.
Special thanks – Tim Cisilino
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Interview, Instagram and Twitter photos by Ben Grillo (Portrait), Tim Cisilino, Dan Zaslavsky and Kyle Camarillo
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