So you've met Wisconsin's Max Murphy. Now meet Minnesota's Ben Narloch. His name actually sounds a bit to the Scottish side, but I never really asked about his heritage in this interview. In fact, I mostly asked a lot of nonsense, but in my book that's how you get to know someone best.
You’re not a twin by chance, are you? Do you actually know any twins in Minnesota?
Nah, I’m not a twin, but I do know these two cities that are twins... I don’t see a ton of human twins around the cities though.
How about a lake, do you live near a lake? I mean there’s like 10,000 of them there, right?
It’s kinda hard not to live by a lake here. I’m from White Bear Lake, which is a 'burb of St. Paul. I currently live in Minneapolis. There’s probably a lake pretty close to me.
When did you start skating? Do you remember your first board?
I started skating in 1999. My older brother got a blank complete from Champs Sporting Goods, so I wanted a board, too, and I got my my first complete from a shop called Fobia. It was an Alien Workshop that had a blue owl on it with Destructo trucks, Spitfire wheels, and Lucky bearings. I thought it was so sick. I definitely picked it for it’s graphic, and it’s probably still out in the woods by my house somewhere. Since I lived out in the sticks, me and my brother would build boxes and ramps all the time. My house looked like a skate park. But when we’d break a board, we’d just chuck it in the woods.
Who were the skaters in Minneapolis then that had an influence on you?
There are so many skaters that have influenced me from the Minnesota scene it’s hard to just name a few. I grew up skating with my brother and all his friends, and around the time I was getting more into skating they were filming for Boondoggle. It was the first video that really inspired me to want to film a video part and it was such a good example of how a local video should be and just how fun skateboarding is. So the Boondoggle dudes were definitely a big influence, but on a personal level I would say Dan Narloch, Neal Shipe, and Tim Fulton definitely helped shape me as a skater. They would always take me street skating, film me, suggest tricks, and teach me basic skate etiquette. I was pretty annoying back then, so I’m real thankful they put up with me.
I’m always curious how people come up with their Instagram handles. Where’d yours come from?
People always think [@skahppy] means “skate-happy,” but really it just means “skateboard.” My friends and I are always morphing words goofing around and one day we kept calling skateboards “skahppy,” so I just put that as my handle. But I’m down with it meaning "skate-happy." Haha…
Why doesn’t Rob Sissi have an Instagram account?
I don’t know… I wish he did. He’d be posting mad clips. He slays Familia HQ after hours. I definitely respect not having a social media, because it’s pretty hectic out there on the content sucker.
Do you have a spirit animal? It’s okay if you don’t… I’m just trying to think of a bunch of dumb questions since Sissi didn’t supply me with any.
It's gotta be a Narwhal.
Perfect answer. What’s the craziest situation you’ve encountered while skating in the Twin Cities?
I’ve definitely heard some pretty crazy stories, but nothing too crazy has ever happened to me. Skating the Twin Cities is pretty mellow compared to skating any of the other big cities. We all deal with a kick-out kook here and there, but otherwise there’s usually nothing too crazy.
Is there any beef between Minneapolis skaters and St. Paul skaters?
Nah, I wouldn’t say it’s divided like that. It’s more divided by shop or crew, but they keep it vegan—no beef.
Do you know the reasoning or inspiration behind the red Familia dot?
I don’t actually know, but if I had to guess it’s because you can’t have a more recognizable logo than a big red dot with script in it.
What’s your day job when you’re not out getting wild in the streets?
Pantones, baby! I do Print Quality Management for corporate brands like Target, Walgreens, Mars Candy, etc. It's my job to make sure that when a customer goes to buy Triscuits or something that the box is the right substrate material, the colors are correct, and they don’t use any poisons in the inks and stuff like that. I never truly appreciated the movie Office Space until working at a corporate office. Office stereotypes are too real. Haha…
Do you play any instruments? Just saying, with a name like Narloch you’re already one step in the right direction of fronting a metal band called Gnar Lock; or, I guess if you played the bagpipes in a more metal manner, you could be Gnar Loch.
Ha, that would be a heavy band. My parents wouldn’t let me take guitar lessons until I played piano for two years, but by the time I'd played piano for two years I didn’t really want to take guitar lessons anymore because I’d started skating. But over the past few years I’ve taught myself to play guitar a little bit.
You’re not necessarily a big Ben, but would you say you’re a gentle Ben?
I don’t really know what kinda Ben I am.
Do you find these questions annoying? If so, imagine being Tom Penny and having over 50 silly questions like this in his first major interview for an American skateboard magazine [Big Brother, Issue 14; circa 1995].
Ha! Nah, these questions are pretty entertaining. That does make me wanna go read that, though, because I feel like it’d be a really funny interview.
I think it was, but I'm not so sure Tom did. But here’s a gratuitous skateboard question for you: What’s your go to trick? You know, one you have on lock—no pun intended. Well, maybe only slightly intended.
I really like doing back smiths. It feels good to "loch" into them.
Was the StrangeLove trip to SF your first time there? Any particular highlights for you?
I’d actually been to SF quite a few times. My brother lived out there for a few years, so I would go there at least once a year to stay with him and skate with my homies. The whole StrangeLove trip was filled with highlights. The switch hardflip at Union Square was definitely a highlight for me, because we saw it early in the trip and I wanted to try it but it was raining and late at night. So on the last day when we stumbled upon it, I had to try it. I didn’t know Kevin Braun had already done it at the time, but I’m still stoked.
What did you think of that massage chair in our AirBnB?
That massage chair was a game changer. It felt incredible—except for the butt massage part of the cycle. That was a little “off aim” and got a little sus. Haha…
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the quality of a knock-off Hypervolt to the real deal?
I’d say it’s a solid three. I do not recommend getting one.
You didn’t recommend anyone else to buy one, did you?
Luckily, no. One of my roommates was interested, but we found out they were fake before he ordered it.
Thank Christ. I'm not sure I could handle anymore guilt than I already have for misleading y'all into that Chinese wallet trap…