Vincent Alvarez is one of those skaters that breaks the mold. The opposite of a cookie cutter. How do you categorize a guy that does switch front blunts on tranny the same day he pulls a fakie 540 big flip? Tech? Gnar? Technar? Fuck, does it even matter? No, it doesn't.
What does matter is that Alvarez skates fast as hell with an approach to spots that blends the basics with technical tricks in ways you've never even considered.
What matters even more is he's a down-to-earth dude that manages to avoid the ego trip despite being a seriously ill skater. Combine all that with his love for Wu Tang Clan and it becomes quite clear, "Vincent Alvarez ain't nuthin' to mess with."
Where are you from originally?
Boyle Heights, California
What was the skate scene like there? What skaters did you look up to?
There was hardly even a skate scene in Boyle Heights, which is one of the main reasons why I wanted to start skating. Very neighborly it seemed like though. There was a quarterlies in the middle of the courtyard in the projects where I grew up. Some boys had built it...who were white. There wasn't that many browns who skated around that area so sometimes they thought I was trying to be a white boy. Anybody who was going fast is what I looked up to. And of course the dudes I grew up skating with, like Urian, Toño, and my cousin David and uncle Danny. I remember skating to downtown LA from where we lived and since then I was hooked.
Do you remember who gave you your first board? What kind was it? What do you remember about it?
Yeah it was my old neighbor. He was about the same age.I remember it was a zero board. I got everything else randomly. For some reason I remember the name Zero before I knew anything about the brand. At the time it was perfect because I thought of myself and my tricks as a zero on a scale from 1 to 10 which probably motivated me to try new tricks. And once I learned them I got a different board.
What kind of impact does Southern California have on your skating?
The same impact as it does for any other skater. Where I grew up and what i put myself around as a skater when I was younger made me wanna be a skater so it could be the same as a person who grew up skating in Afghanistan. It got me away from whatever I didn't wanna be a part of.
Has being around high levels of skating on a daily basis made you a better skateboarder?
I think that it definitely helped me to appreciate more of what I see in person rather than the videos because sometimes those cameras can play tricks on us that even the naked eye can't see.
Did you move between LA and Georgia when growing up? What is the story there?
Yeah my family moved to Rome, GA when I was about finishing middle school and it was so cool there man. Then we all moved back when I was about finished with high school. Definitely a cool place to be and learn different things that kids in the city don normally get to see.
Click to watch Vincent Alvarez in "Hard Times But Good Times"
What’s your favorite LA spot that is now skate proofed?
The Macy's banks in downtown LA. It's not really skate proofed but the fake grass they put on the banks make it so much harder to skate.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Being a block handler for meat at a facility where they produced meat for Taco Bell, jack in the box, Carl's jr, green burrito..etc.
Do you still eat fast food after that job?
I didn't eat fast food for so long after that job. I almost didn't wanna tell anyone about that job just because all my friends couldn't really afford to be eating all healthy and stuff. With time though I kind of forgot about it but I try to not eat it if there's different options and affordability.
How did you originally come to ride for Chocolate?
Sam Smyth had noticed me at a contest DC shoes had thrown around the LA area.
Do you vibe with Chocolate’s Latino heritage or is that something you even think about?
I think about that every time i go out and skate. It's one of the things that always inspired me to even wanna keep trying and do new tricks.
You came out with some pretty heavy shit in your Pretty Sweet part… How do you think of tricks like the fakie 540 and fakiebig flip revert? What was the hardest trick for you to get?
I guess it comes from watching a lot of older parts but trying to add something more to it. Just because I can never be a part of that session doesn't meant that we can't do something that can still be affiliated with it but at a different progression. Because I'm sure people have thought of those tricks for a while. The blunt slide big flip is one that stands out to me that took awhile to think of and even to commit to it.
Click to watch Vincent Alvarez "Lost & Filmed" footage from Girl / Chocolate's "Pretty Sweet"
Did you ever get that Ollie at the beginning of Pretty Sweet?
YeAh that was crazy because I didn't even feel anything until after all that happened but that kinda happens after anything happens that is overwhelming.
Some people criticize Ty Evans’ skate videos as being too “cinematic.” What’s your take? Do you prefer old school VX videos or are you embracing the HD era?
I embrace both styles of filming skate videos. I guess it depends on the conditions of the skate spot and whether or not the skater is patient enough to film something over. But I always enjoyed the fisheye and rolling with the skater feeling.
What Girl/Chocolote riders do you skate with most often?
Stevie Perez, Elijah Berle, Raven Tershy, Cory Kennedy
Favorite Chocolate video?
Las Nueve Vidas de Paco
Favorite former Chocolate rider and why?
Keenan Milton because of all the flavor he had and skill that it was took so people remember. FOREVER!
Click to watch Vincent Alvarez's favorite Chocolate video "Las Nueve Vidas De Paco"
Favorite Chocolate deck graphic and / or deck series?
The Evan Hecox City series.
Where’s that waterslide you skated?
Oh yeah. That was at a Raging Waters Park in San Dimas, CA. They were filming a built to shred episode there. Probably one of the funniest sessions I've had. AVE was there along with Daewon Song and Jeremy Wray. The best!!
What qualities do you think a pro needs in this day and age to stay relevant?
I notice the pros that I always remember as a kid were the ones who were social and not acting like some sort of superstar. We're all just skaters having fun and learning tricks, and I feel like if a pro doesn't forget that he or she will stay relevant.
Regular or switch front shove?
Switch front shove feels way better than regular most times.
How loose do you ride your trucks?
I'm not sure pretty loose I guess. It helps a lot when I'm carving and stuff like that.
Why go with a Vulc for your first shoe?
It's a lot easier to break in but just about the same thickness as a cup sole.
Is the music we’ve heard in your skate parts reflective of your personal music taste?
Yeah It is actually. It's funny cause some of it is what my parents didnt really want me to listen to...which were probably the songs going through my head while I was trying those tricks.
Best WuTang Clan song?
It's hard to pick out one there's so many. I'm really feeling "Protect Ya Neck" ...the jump off one though! GZAs part is really good.
What are you currently working on?
Finding new spots...skating it up...Lakai video.
What else can we look forward to from Vincent Alvarez in 2014?
Skating some local spots that no one has skated before or filmed on.