interview with Chuck Treece
words and photos Shamus
South Philly O.G. skate-rocker Chuck Treece is a raw talent both in skating and in music. On top of his game and still throwin down layback tailslides and shredding out riffs with his band Mcrad, he’s droppin a new album this fall and is also launching a new skateboard company, WreckRoom skateboards. Chuck invited me up to the city of brotherly love to catch up, talk about his early days in the scene and discuss his new upcoming projects.
Chuck, can you give us a brief history of your childhood and how you found skateboarding and music?
Chuck– Where I grew up was Wilmington Delaware. Born 1964, May 30th. When the first wave of skateboarding happened with the small wood boards and the metal wheels, I think I was around nine or so, I tried it. I was living in the hood in Wilmington DE in this little port town called Dunleaf. Later on when I was 13 my father moved me out to the suburbs in Newark. A couple years had passed and the boards were cooler. I got on a Skateboard and fifteen minutes into it I busted my knee. I haven’t jumped off since. Then I moved to Philly. When we started, all we were connected to was the skate mail order shop where we would get our boards from, that was are haven. We looked at that for our vessel to the world of skating. Once we had Cherry Hill skateboard park to skate and get a lot better and become more serious, then I knew we actually had a part in it. When all the other parts died, myself, Tom Groholski and a core of us kept skating. We didn’t give up, a lot of people fell off and we were just hardcore about it.
What about music? How did you get into playing music?
Chuck– My father is a sax player, was a sax player. He had a top 40 band and they would always rehearse in the house. I was told at age two I would get out all the pots and pans, sit em all around me, and just beat on em. My father decided to get me a drum kit at age 6. By age 8, I performed with his band at a club out on 95 called Boots and Bonnets. They gave me a drum solo, and I played in the songs. So basically from 8 years of age I’ve kinda been groomed to be in music and be on stage and take it serious. It was all self taught… no schooling. So my father’s input, my uncle’s input, and my mom from taking me to see the Jackson 5 and all the big bands back then……
The Jackson 5?
Chuck– Yea, yea, A couple of times. I’m a product of that whole generation.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Chuck– Definitely Michael Jackson for one, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bad Brains, The Who, U2, definitely the Police. A ton of reggae a ton of dancehall even jazz. Ya know everybody’s an influence, but music as a whole is an influence. Jimi Hendrix is my ultimate
Mcrad@The Fire in Philly
Tell us about reaching pro status in the eighties.
Chuck– 85-86 I was hangin with Tom Groholski and we were skating this ramp up in North Jersey. We were going around to a bunch of contest and I would do okay and he would totally rip almost all of them. Street skating was starting to kinda of happen a little bit on the underground and I was getting really serious and wanted to turn pro on a vert contest. So I did.
Chuck-Thunder trucks, OJ wheels, I had a model on Suregrip and Stacy flowed me boards for a while but Santa Cruz was my main….. like that’s when I felt like I was doing the best as far as being sponsored by a company cause I loved there wheels, I loved there boards and everything about that northern California way of life.
How did you hook up with Stacy Peralta and your songs get into the classic Public Domain video?
Chuck– Well I wrote Stacy when I was 14 and we kept in touch throughout high school. I had a chance to record a record for this label Beware records which started from Brian Ware who also owned Thunder trucks. Since I rode for Brian, he was like I’m gonna put together this label and put out your band, Stevie Caballero’s band, Drunk Engines and another band he had. It was called Beware records. At that point, he had four releases and Stacy was doin the Savhanna Slamma video and Stacy put our entire record to that video. He used all the Beware artist and then immediately right after that Stacy goes right into doing Public Domain. He was like, “hey Chuck, I like these songs”, and this and that. He didn’t even tell me about putting Mcshred and Weakness in there. He just said “can you do a song”, and I did a song for Tommy Guerrero. I went to go see the premiere of the movie and then all of a sudden Mcshred and Weakness come on and I was like WHAAAAATT!
Public Domain Weakness part by Stacy Peralta 86?
Who were you skating with in those days?
Chuck– East Coast wise it was Jim Murphy, Steve Herring, Tom Groholski, Rodney from Shut, and Papo from New York. West Coast, I would skate with Christian at times, I would skate with Gator if I’d go to DelMar. Just skate with all the cats that were really cool like (Redbone, Rodriguez), all the rocker cats, the Alva cats, the Zorlac cats. I always got along amazingly well with them cause they were all about partying and music. It was easy to have a session and have like 10 or 15 pros there but we were all like friends.
No way, you skated with Gator? What was it like when he got locked up for murder?
Chuck-When the Gator thing happened that killed everybody. That sucked for us cause we all hung out with Gator. The first time I went to Del Mar skate ranch it was myself, Keith Stevenson, Tom Groholski and Mark Rogowski(Gator). Everyday we were there. We always skated together. It was unbelievable to be around a talent like Mark, he could rip anything. He was a top, top, top pro and it sucks that he had to wild out and lose himself cause he’s a real talented guy. I hear he doesn’t want to have anything to do with skateboarding and it suck’s because he’s such an important guy for all of us.
Who are your favorite all time skaters?
Chuck– Marty Grimes, Greg Rissotto, Sugarbear from Cherry Hill, Victor Perez, Mike Jezabowski, Jamie Godfrey…that’s the old east coast crew. The west coast crew Jay Smith, Stacy Peralta, Tom Groholski, Christian Hosoi, the whole Variflex team, the whole Powell team. There are so many great skaters I got to meet. Let me just set it straight, the core of where skateboarding is today is all because of Duane Peters. Duane Peters is the original bad boy on a skateboard and held it down and is still holdin it down, still skating his ass off. He’s just a punk rock dude! The whole angst of skateboarding has been modeled after Duane Peters. What Henry Rollins is to punk rock, Duane Peters is to skateboarding.
As a drummer, guitarist and even bass player, who have you worked with in the past?
Chuck-I’ve played with Bad Brains, Underdog, The Goats, Urge Overkill, jammed with Living Colour, jammed with Pearl Jam, G-Love, Slightly Stoopid, Jimmy Booth, Teddy Pendergrass, D’Angelo, The Roots, Jazzy Fat Nasties, played behind Jaguar Wright, I’ve played behind Jill Scott, Kindred.
What about the Billy Joel experience? How’d that go down?
Chuck– I was doin a session for Ruffhouse records which is a Philadelphia record label. I was doing work down there and one day they said “hey there’s this Billy Joel remix do you want to play bass on it”. It took me 25 minutes and I cut a bass track and a month later it’s a huge hit. Billy was in on the studios recording cause his manager embezzled all this money and skipped town so he was recording a record out west and a record back east. The studio ended up getting a chance to do a remix of the song called River of Dreams. The remix turned into the single.
How does that song go?
Chuck– In.. the middle of the night. I go walkin in the… (laughter)
What are your thoughts with hip hop in skateboarding?
Chuck-Like the whole Lupe Fiasco thing, some people were happy about it but it didn’t seem like it really meant what it should have. Most of the people that are hardcore into skating and hip-hop were like whaaaat? They both survive on their own, why try to suck it up into it. It seems like it got thrown together cause it’s thugged out and I’ve been hearing a lot of people just don’t like it.
Now people can take skating as a serious career and a business. What do you do after skating? You got to put a lot of hours into skating. If you don’t have any business savvy….. it’s hard. Christian just made a comeback but he’s really bustin his ass, compared to where he could be. Oh my god, Christian was like….. still the best skateboarder in the world.
Tell me about your new company WreckRoom skateboards.
Chuck– Yea yea, Wreckroom is a company I started with Russ Phillips and Tony Squindo. We were involved with this other company called Poolside skateboards out in the Portland/Seattle area. I did one board with Poolside and Russ was like, why don’t we start another company. Since we used artist Tony Squindo for my first board with Poolside, we decided to make it a three headed company. We have the artist, the skater/musician and the business guy. Now were thinking of adding on people, putting boards out and selling them grassroots. I’ve always wanted to own a skate company.
Where’s your favorite place to skate?
Chuck- Bam’s ramp! Oh yea, I got some songs on Bam’s new video coming out called Minghag. It’s really, really funny. Bam’s been a huge help. Thank’s Bam, so so much.
Chuck @Bam’s ramp
Where did the name Mcrad come from?
Chuck– The name was actually made up by the bass player from Husker Du. It was their first time in Philly and I was hangin with them a bunch. Just taggin along, a little guy learning from big punk rock guys. It was weird, they were playing at this guy Jacob’s house by Drexel University. After the show we were talkin to the bass player and we were like “Oh we got this band, skateboarding and music, and he was like “Mctear, Mcshred”. I was like cool, and then he said” Mcrad” and we were like whoa! So it’s weird he actually came up with the name. We owe Greg a hell of a favor.
What’s up with the new album? What can we expect?
Chuck-The album FDR is titled after the skateboard park here in Philly. It’s all of the songs that I thought the skaters related to and that we played live. I wanted to have a real focused record on everything that was Mcrad from 1982 to 2007, so that’s what this record is about. It’s from 1982 till now but it’s delivered in a different package. I want to be more intense on this next record, kind of like Fugazi records or anything that Ian touches. He gives it that classic edge and that’s what I want to do. I really look up to Ian.(Ian Mackaye)
Mcrad at FDR skatepark in Philly
Chuck– Skating and music share the same energy they take a lot of focus. I love focusing and concentrating on music and creating music and I also love that with skating. I’ve been skating even harder now and it feels great. I get a chance to still be on my board and have fun. I want to keep music and skating at the same threshold cause it feels good! I started skating when I was 13, I’m 43 now.
Treece-Thanks to Uprising records, Russ Phillips, Andrew at Black and White PR, Chuck in San Diego, Jim and Tammy, JFA, Frontside Five, Smiles Project, Schmitty, Mom and Dad and my kids; Isaac, Dovi, Kieran and Jurni.