Pol Catena Interview

POL CATENA portrait Ma CristoDude, this crazy digital era we are living in… Getting to see so much skateboarding amongst millions of other weird and nonsensical things – everyone connected, twenty-four seven, three hundred and sixty five days a year… Seems like only yesterday that YouTube came in and everyone could suddenly upload their videos… Videos that at least were filmed over an extended period of time… Crazy how now Instagram is so well… Instant! Anyway when YouTube began I started following a small local crew from around our newly born DIY spot called the STFS BOYZ. They were all about making short videos of their weekend trips to crazy or weird spots or just showing their weekend hype skating parks around or whatever they found on the way. I remember seeing this one kid I’d heard of in those ill vids. He was killing it and having fun, well, all of them killed it in their own way and had crazy fun, but this one kid had a different style and skills, so I started following him for a bit to see what he was up to. Thank god I don’t spend all my time glued to my screen and I prefer watching people skating live as it allowed me to witness Pol’s talent in person. The push says so much about the skater and the person. There’s nothing better than seeing someone pushing hard, with power, speed and commitment, not only when trying a trick but when flowing along the street with a smile on their face and the hype and joy in their eyes… This is what I saw in Pol Catena. See for yourself and I hope you feel the same hype and joy every time you ride your four-wheeled-toy. – Marcos Gomez

Interview by Miguel Cidraque & Marcos Gomez
Photography by Gerard Riera

Miguel: How old are you again!?
Pol Catena: I just turned 19 the other day.

Miguel: I always thought you were a little older. Introduce yourself for the people who don’t know you yet. Where are you originally from?
I’m from Mataró, a little town outside of Barcelona. A 45-minute drive kind of thing and a little less from Badalona and other good skate cities you might have heard of.

Miguel: How is it with the scene there compared to the MECCA?
Well, with my childhood friends it’s always been good times but as time goes by they’re changing their ‘goals’ and nowadays they’re sure more into partying, going out, girls/relationships, working a nine to five, paying a car loan, blah blah blah… You know in small towns people tend to grow up earlier because there’s really not much else to do. In a way, I think that’s a general thing for most small town people I’ve known so far.

Miguel: What, so you’re not into girls, partying and all that?

Don’t get me wrong! I sure do try my best with girls but it’s just that I’ve never stopped skating and well, I’ve always done it out of passion/obsession and to the point where I got a little known in my area. And the next thing you know it just so happens to be this close to Barcelona and everything/everyone seems to go there to skate. So I just skated a lot, started going to the city at some point and so on and so forth…

POL CATENA gap to bs tailslide Tanantori

Gap to backside tailslide, St. Celoni

Marcos: So do you still live in Mataró or have you moved to the city?
Yeah, still living in Mataró at the moment, but thinking about moving to the Badalona area to be closer to my homies and Barcelona.

Marcos: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much skateboarding there is in that city?
Not overwhelmed, but for sure impressed by the amount of people that Barcelona attracts for skateboarding. I think it’s good though; there are always people willing to get out there to rip the streets.

Marcos: I noticed that you don’t really skate MACBA that much, any specific reasons? What’s your go-to spot?
Don’t really know… I used to go there two or three times a week when I was younger; it was a fun spot where you could meet new people and learn a lot about life. Nowadays MACBA is kind of blown out and does not make me feel like other spots. Now I usually start my day around Badalona like the DIY spot or Skate Agora park. MACBA is still a good place to hang out, have a cold one and chill though.

POL CATENA huge flip from the stairs over the curb

Kickflip past the bench, Mataró

Marcos: How did you discover skateboarding?
It was totally casual. I used to play random games as any kid would at the plaza in front of my house after school. There were people there playing games of S.K.A.T.E. everyday so it just got me interested and I started from there.

Miguel: Who are you skating for these days?
My friends basically! But Enrique Lorenzo helps me out with boards through Louw and Marcos just got me on adidas here in Spain. Thanks a lot to both! They’ve done so much for skateboarding not only in Barcelona but also putting Spain on the map. When I think about all they’ve done in their ‘careers’ shits too legit. Enrique was in the Trilogy video, come on! And Gomez more or less the same… Since his Diagonal part (which was supposed to be his ‘retirement part’) he’s been putting out a full part almost every year / year and half… With two kids I can’t really understand how he does it.

POL CATENA fs lipslide Rail Church BO

Lipslide, Llinars del Valles

Miguel: What about your friends? Any of them remarkable at skating that we don’t know about yet?
Well this guy sitting in front of you, Adri with the pretty face, skates like heaven but his pretty face pays his rent thanks to modelling. Boom, how about that? I sure think he’s the cleverest out of all of us. Free travelling, women, five star hotels… He just went away for a couple of months to Asia and he basically doesn’t have to work again for the rest of the year if he doesn’t feel like it. He already achieved free clothes, free wifi, free food, free parties… Free life! He’s my current hero to be honest.

Miguel: Damn, quit skating already! Is that all for real Adri? Here is my business card boy.
Adrian Birta: Better call my agent (laughs)… Just joking. I don’t want to brag about it but that’s how I pay my rent now. I’m originally from Romania and that’s why I look like a total foreigner. I was raised not so far from here (Lloret de Mar), and yes I’ve been modelling for a few years now. Never thought about it as a serious career but it turns out people are actually interested in these things. Thank you fashion readers!

POL CATENA bs flip over the fence

Backside 180 kickflip, Calella

Marcos: So Pol, besides Adri, who do you usually skate with now?
I usually skate with a crew from Badalona, the Alway Skateshop crew (the local skate shop I skate for)… Frankie (the owner), Nico, Butcher, Wigga, sometimes Ibu too and a lot other homies from Mataró I’ve skated with since the very start.

Marcos: I think a lot of people would associate Spanish skateboarding with serious tech ledge tricks with smooth style, keeping it low-impact. But you aren’t afraid to huck yourself down some big gaps and rails. Who do you skate this stuff with and who inspires you?
I’m hyped to have been able to share sessions with other guys who inspired me when I was younger; guys like Alex Amor and Diego Cano. Other than that I can go for broke with whoever joins the mission or on my own if I feel like. I’ve always picked up inspiration from locals to pros… I could say guys like Andrew Verde and Andrew Reynolds you know? Also people like José Manuel Roura (Barcy Legend) are a true inspiration and motivation for me to get into beast mode.

POL CATENA flip to fakie bridge BO

Kickflip to fakie, Malgrat

Marcos: Any views on the skateboarding scene here in Spain? Who’s doing cool stuff?
The scene is growing and there are new guys coming up all the time. Personally I really like the way crews like the Suichi 4 Fun guys do. That feeling of friendship and getting together to shred and film and have fun working on independent projects is the best. Also I really look up to the Madrid scene; it’s the best right now. Just go to Spain’s capital and join the session at Congresos or Príncipe Pío plazas and you will know what I mean… Check Mario Fortea’s SUCUBO video and you’ll see what I mean.

Miguel: What about your family, have they always been supportive of this skateboard thing? I heard your brother is a pretty heavy political counsellor of some sort.
Sure. It was a little harder for me as my older brother has two degrees in Political Science and Law and I guess somehow they wanted me to follow that path. My brother is a working beast. He’s pretty much working 24/7 on this and I sometimes can feel how stressed he actually is and to be honest, I didn’t want that for myself so I kept doing my thing. And here we are right now drinking a pint of Murphy’s, which I had never tried before. How was your day?

Miguel: Definitely had better ones. Had to wear a tie in the morning to sign some shitty contract but here I am talking to you with a pint of Murphy’s that I must say tastes pretty good!

POL CATENA fakie flip huge 5 blocks BO

Fakie kickflip, St. Celoni

Marcos: So Pol at the Nike SB Barcelona Am contest last year you skated really well and qualified to go to the finals. But then the finals came and you were a no show. What gives?
Mmm… I think that scenario kind of overwhelmed me. Too many people ripping – I could not even think about the tricks to do; I tried to flow but it did not work, I got too nervous. It was the kind of park I could rip and enjoy if I were just sessioning with friends, but I could not understand what happened and I just got mad… Just until Herminio’s run though… He killed it!

Marcos: What do you think of contests in general?
I like them, but I enjoy them if I just try to skate as much as possible without thinking about the real competition. That feeling when you get back home and your body is totally destroyed from so much skating is the best thing you can take away from a contest.

Miguel: Let’s get serious now. A few days ago this video of you kicking a fence in order to skate a gap went viral. I heard some random cop who used to skate sued you because of the video your friends uploaded and now you’re going to court in a few days? Surreal…
Well, this is nothing I’m really proud of now but here’s a brief summary of the ordeal: I wanted to skate this gap so bad; I had been seeing it for a while and thought it would make a great beginning for the video to actually kick off the fence and do my thing. So that’s what I did and put the whole thing on Instagram. (Editor’s note: Pol had to take the video down due to legal reasons.) So a few days later a ticket arrived at my parents place with this crazy fine because of kicking down this fence, which is part of someone’s private property. We skated the gap and some other spots in that town. Later I found out that the cop who sued me is a former skater (which makes everything extra whack) but yeah, I am waiting for the ‘trial’ to see how much I have to pay in the end or if can trade it for some social services.

POL CATENA fs noseblunt doble kink BDN

Nosebluntslide, Badalona

Marcos: Good luck with that. Besides kicking down a fence, have you ever tried to fix a spot to skate, like DIY style?
Ha-ha! For sure! I tried to build a ledge with a friend at a DIY spot we have but it turned out a bit weird. I still have so much to learn about it.

Marcos: How was it in London when you came with Louw? Did you like the London spots?
It was dope. We were so lucky with the weather; it was really hot, not much rain. There were really rough but good spots everywhere that got me hyped to skate like that typical metal kicker we set up to hit a high box. It was a great experience being abroad.

Marcos: What were the main differences you felt in Britain from your life in Spain?
I noticed it was quite different than Spain. It was my first time there and I kind of freaked out with all the surveillance cameras everywhere and the rivers crossing the city. London felt like a huge city full of crazy spots and really well connected by public transportation. I’m looking forward to coming back really soon.


360 flip, Badalona

Marcos: What do you have planned for the near future?
I’ve got a couple trips in mind. I’d like to go to the US and see what it is like there. Also visit China, but the closest thing to now is going to Madrid for a while and also finish a couple projects we’ve got around here. I’ll leave most of the travelling for the summer and onwards.

Miguel: Anything else you’d like to add Pol? We’ve already drunk two of these and to be honest I can barely pronounce my last name anymore. Last words? …
I just want to say thank you to my family, Enrique, Gerard for the photos (he knows how to focus), the mag for this opportunity, and you (Miguel) of course for paying the first round and the cigarette we’re about to smoke.

Miguel: Fair enough. What smoke? OK, I got you.