Herman Stene Interview
Hermann Stene is the toughest guy I’ve ever met. The first time I ever saw him he was probably eight years-old and I remember he tried to nose grab off a picnic table, got fully credit-carded, cried for a little bit, climbed back up the table that was probably taller than him (at the time) and kept trying. He’s a bit of a weirdo, but the good kind of weird. He’s 100% skateboarding and has always been; he’s dedicated like no one else and you can tell he is doing this because he truly loves it. He never breaks his board, never complains about his setup and always tells us he’s fine, no matter how gruesome of a slam he just took.
Interview by Pekka Løvås
Pekka Løvås: You just got flown out to Atlanta for that Bust or Bail contest. What was that like?
Hermann Stene: I was so surprised when I got the email from the guys at Thrasher. It made me so stoked knowing that they were willing to fly me down to the States just for that contest. I went there on a Thursday, skated on Friday, went back on Saturday and then pretty much went straight to Barcy for that Street League thing.
Do you like skating in that format?
Yeah it’s so dope! Everyone is just so fired up and there’s always some gnarly tricks going down.
What were the highlights for you at that contest?
I have to say Dashawn Jordan’s fakie 3flip. That and the guy who tried to grind the rail and slammed super hard.
Do you like going on trips to the States?
Yeah, I’ve been to SF a handful of times and it’s so sick… So many good spots! New York is dope as well. Those spots are more similar to the ones we skate here in Norway.
What is the biggest difference about skating in the US and skating in Norway?
The biggest difference is that the spots here are usually much rougher than the ones in the States. There’s so much concrete in the States and in Norway it’s mostly asphalt and cobble stones. I already feel like I’m blowing it in this interview! I always get so stressed when I’m trying to answer questions.
You’re killing it Herm! You have all the same sponsors as Dennis Busenitz. Is he your favourite or is this just a coincidence?
Yeah we pretty much share all the same sponsors. The only difference is that he’s on Thunder. Busenitz is fucking dope, but I wouldn’t call him my favourite skater. He’s sick though and I’m stoked to ride for pretty much all of the same brands as him.
Have you ever skated with him?
No, I’ve never skated with him. Hopefully I will some day!
Your oldest brother pretty much has all the same sponsors as you too, right? When a package gets sent, how do you decide who gets what?
Haha, yeah. Luckily we get separate packages since he lives in Oslo.
How was it growing up with two older brothers who also skated? Was/is there friendly competition? Do they do any tricks you wish you could do?
Yeah it was awesome. We’ve had some friendly and some not so friendly competitions over the years. We all still skate too, even though Jens (middle brother) moved to China about two years ago and hasn’t been back to visit since. He has the craziest trick selection, a lot of late flips and double laser flips and stuff! My oldest brother Dan probably has the best varial flips in the biz! I would love to have varial flips like him.
What are your thoughts on energy drink sponsors?
That’s a tough one! I don’t back energy drinks, but they pay well and make it easier to live off skating.
Would you consider riding for an energy drink if the price were right?
I’m not sure. I would have to think about it for a while, but I would probably do it if the pay was good enough.
You have never had a full beer. Are you straight edge?
Yeah, something like that I guess. I don’t know… I just hate the taste of alcohol! If I’m in Barcelona I’ll have a Damm Limòn if I’m being offered one. I also think some of the alcoholic ginger beers taste alright, but I’ve never been drunk or anything.
Do you think you ever will be drunk?
Yeah maybe. I feel like I have to try it once, just to see how it is.
You went to the Bryggeriet School in Malmö. How was it? Did it affect your skating in any way?
Going to Bryggeriet was amazing! I sucked at school, and had no motivation during class but I definitely became a better skater by going there. I didn’t really skate much transition before I moved to Malmö, but after skating all those perfect bowls there I would say it helped me become a more well rounded skater. I also did my first kinked handrail in Malmö!
Sick. Your mom recently started her own skate shop. How did that come about?
Yes, Mamma’s skate shop. It’s the sickest! I don’t really know what gave her the idea, she just told me one day that she wanted to open up a small shop inside the indoor park here in Larvik. We quickly agreed on the name Mamma’s Skate shop, because we always used to call her ‘Mamma-skate’ when we were younger. After the name was settled she asked my brother and I which brands she should carry and a few weeks later the store was born.
Which brands are being sold at Mamma’s?
All the Deluxe brands, she has some Polar, some Welcome, Independent trucks. She has all the dope shit. Both Jessup and MOB grip, too.
She recently got her own decks made by Real, are you bummed that your mom got a pro model before you?
Hahaha! No, not at all! It’s so sick; I’m actually riding a Mamma’s board right now.
How did that whole thing come about?
I was wearing a Mamma’s Skate shop hat at Tampa AM last year and showed it to Jim (Thiebaud). I told him the whole story and he thought it was so rad that he told me he wanted to make her some boards to help get the word out about the shop. It took a couple of months but she now has them in stock and they are flying off the shelves!
That is so cool. Has your mom always been down with skating?
Yeah I guess so. I think she was a little sceptical at first because she didn’t really understand it. But after seeing that both my two older brothers and me really loved it she became really supportive. She would drive us (and everyone else who could fit in her car) around to contests and she even took some trips to Oslo just so we could skate all the spots we had seen on video. I am forever grateful for everything she has done for us and for the whole skate scene in Larvik.
You recently had a part for Real Skateboards. Does this mean that you’re fully on?
No, that part was for those Mamma’s boards. I’m not officially on or anything. Stoked that they wanted me to film a part for them though!
Have you ever had a ‘normal job’?
Yeah, kinda. I worked out this thing where I would work at the kindergarten across the street instead of going to school, and I did that for about two months. It was Ok, but not really for me.
So how do you get by? Do the paychecks you get from your sponsors cover your expenses?
I’m still living at home with my parents, so I don’t have to worry about rent or anything. I used to pretty much live off of contest prize money, so I had to go to all these contests around Europe. Luckily adidas hooked me up with a contract a few years ago so I can be a little pickier with which contests I attend now.
Yeah, about that… When will you move to Oslo? Don’t all your friends live there?
Yeah I want to move there, at least for a year to see what it’s like. But I couldn’t afford it unless I get a job, and I don’t really feel like getting a job anytime soon. Hehe.
You have a really good work ethic when it comes to skating though, with at least one and often two full parts every year for close to ten years now. Do you ever feel like taking a break?
To me it doesn’t feel like I’m really working for anything and therefore I don’t feel like I need to take any breaks. We’re just out skating all the time, and when I’m in Oslo you (Pekka) always have your camera with you so it just happens naturally.
I think a lot of people got introduced to you through the Delta Charlie videos. Could you talk a little bit about those two DC parts?
Yeah, when I first got asked to ride for DC and to have a part in Delta Charlie 2 I couldn’t believe it! DC was so big at the time, and it just felt unreal that they wanted me to be a part of that video. I got to travel a lot and skate so many dope spots that I had just seen in videos. I never liked the song they gave me, and looking back on it now I did a lot of wack shit in that part, but I am still very grateful that I got that opportunity.
How did the switch from DC to adidas go down?
My friend kinda hooked it all up! I was riding for DC and nothing was happening, no more videos, no trips and I always got my shoes in the worst colour ways! I was talking to my friend who was working at the skate shop and he told me he knew the guy that was working with adidas Skateboarding in Norway and he said he’d put in a good word for me. I was offered a contract pretty soon after that, and it has been great. I’ve been on a couple of trips with adidas in the past few years and it’s been really good.
You always seem to one-up yourself. If you do a big trick in one part, you’ll often go back and do something even gnarlier at the same spot for your next part. Is that a conscious move?
Yeah, in a way… If I do something down a big stair or a big rail I’ll get super stoked right then and there, but then over time I start to think of other tricks I that could probably do on the same spot and I often end up going back.
People may not know, but you can skate ledges and mannys just as good as you can skate stairs and rails. Yet you still gravitate towards the gnarly stuff. Why is that?
I try to get a little bit of both for every part, but it’s just something about the feeling you get from riding away from something big and scary. I feel good after I’ve filmed a line that I’m stoked on, but grinding a big rail or doing something down a big stair set is just a whole different feeling. It’s the best feeling in the world!
Arthur (Derrien) told me that he thinks your skating has changed a lot since you started filming with me more. He told me that we remind him of the power-duo Tom Knox and Jake Harris. Do you agree?
This may sound cheesy, but filming with you has probably been the best thing that has happened to me. You have so many ideas for me and you know me better than any other filmer, so it really feels like we’re working together. You have gotten me to do so many tricks that I would have never thought about even trying. You also tell me straight up if I have a plan that you don’t like, and I always trust your judgement. I think these last two parts (Firetre and Tigerstaden) have been my best parts by far. When I’m filming with someone else I don’t have the same motivation and it’s much harder for me to get clips that I’m stoked on. Like that thing I tried to film for Thrasher in San Francisco…
Yeah what is up with that? You went to SF for close to six months to film a Thrasher part and it never ended up coming out.
I don’t know. I just wasn’t stoked on any of the footage. I also never got my ender, and after a while I was just over it. The filmer (Redder) ended up just using most of the footage for a little Instagram thing and I think that was the right call. I didn’t have any plans to go back and finish it anyways.
What is the longest you have been out of skating?
About four months. That was the worst four months of my life and I hope I never have to go through that again. That was while I was filming for that Thrasher part. I tried to bigflip Wallenberg and tweaked my ankle really bad.
You always huck yourself down the biggest stuff… Do you do anything to stay in shape?
Not really, I just skate a lot. If I’m sore I’ll just skate through it. As long as I’m being active I feel like my body is good. If I get injured I just go to a doctor that works with skate related injuries and do all the exercises he tells me to do. I also try to take an ice bath every now and then when I feel like I’m going to be really sore the next day.
What do you do when you don’t skate?
Not much, hehe. I’m pretty lazy when I don’t skate. The only time I’m not lazy is when I’m on my board. I just do the regular stuff: play Nintendo, watch movies, go bowling and sleep.
You are currently filming for a part to drop together with this interview. What is your plan after that?
I don’t know. Just keep on skating a lot, hopefully get some footage for your new project and try to travel as much as possible!