East Coast Original - Rob Fall
Article by Matthew Kaiser
Rob Fall stokes a session, plain and simple. He’s the illegal fireworks at a kegger, the thundering double bass drum at a metal show, the pimped-out low-rider stunting on three wheels. Rob is the guy at a skate park opening demo hucking himself down stairs, dressed as a big ‘ol pint of beer. Whether it’s a demo or just beers at a crusty spot with homies, Rob brings the hype and backs it up with makes. East Coast skaters know and love him. He’s a talented artist with a big heart, and he’s a warrior on four wheels.
Circle Towers Photo by Colby Milsap
I caught up with him just two days after he broke his kneecap trying to tailslide down a six-stair hubba. Rob is doped up on the couch, his leg stabilized and elevated. His cluttered apartment is the kind of place you crawl into and pass out after a long day of pushing around the streets. With his baggy sweats and crooked beanie, he practically melts into the pile of clothes and blankets.
Ollie - Photo by Damion Sanchez
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Rob skates with a soulful groove, with lines as satisfying as a blues tune plucked on an old electric guitar. He moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a Philadelphia suburb, when he was still a baby. It was here on the outskirts of the City of Brotherly Love that Rob developed his blue-collar style – buck, not flashy – filling his bag of tricks at cutty Philly spots. Back then skating Love Park meant risking a $300 fine and having one’s board confiscated, he says. The historic park was only skateable when there was safety in numbers. Rob is a veteran of FDR, Philly’s DIY mecca, where he blasts soaring ollies over the huge pyramid. “I love FDR,” he says.
Rob - Photo by Damion Sanchez
Rob says he started skating at a young age, following his older brother’s crew. “I remember Dave always had this wild style. He looked like he was going to eat shit but didn’t,” Rob says. Rob’s first boards were hand-me-downs. He was too young to know or care about brands, he was just pumped to cruise the neighborhood. But he does remember his first new complete: an Adrian Lopez-Zero deck, with Indy’s, Heath Kirchart-Birdhouse wheels, and Lucky bearings, hardware, and risers – a solid late ‘90s setup. He still has the glossy, timeworn, 4x6 photo of him holding his prize.
Ditch Ollie - Photo by Colby Milsap
Like most skaters, Rob had humble beginnings. Tricks didn’t come naturally, he worked for them. Before he could ollie, Rob did bomb drops down stairs and off electrical boxes. He recalls the day he and his buddy learned to ollie up a step. “We freaked out. Finally! We got it!” he says.
During his freshman year of high school Rob started getting hardcore. “I could 180 down a 10-stair before I could kickflip,” he says. With his ollie mastered he began jumping down bigger and bigger sets and learning technical tricks.
Footplant Rail - Photo by Colby Milsap
Living in the Philly area in the early 2000s, Rob’s crew was heavily influenced by Bam Margera, CKY, and Jackass. Rob’s crew was known as C70, or Crossing 70, because friends from two neighborhoods had to cross I-70 to skate together. They filmed stupid stunts, cracked each other up, and raised hell.
Rob met Nick Merlino at the Vans skate park in New Jersey’s Morristown Mall. They skated together whenever Merlino was in town from Atlantic City. “We’d always be mind-blown. He’d be killing it. That lit a fire. I wanted to do that shit, too. And seeing that he already had sponsors, that hyped me up,” Rob says.
Rob Fall at Finding A Line - Photo by Anthony Smallwood
Rob began competing in best trick contests at Vans and landed a photo on the webpage for the Mountain Dew Free Flow contest. He also skated in the Best Foot Forward competition and ES Game of Skate in Philly. It was during those years that Rob met some of his current skate homies, including the Grill Masters, twin whiteboys from Baltimore who wore their hair long and whose smiles glittered with hip-hop-style grills. Rob says the Ray twins could do any flat ground trick.
After high school Rob studied auto repair in a Toyota program at a community college, and took a job at Lexus. He crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, moving to a suburb of the nation’s capital where he won first place in a best trick contest. The winning 270 noseblunt down a hubba earned him a Fairfax Surf Shop sponsorship.
No-comply 180 nosegrab photo by Damion Sanchez
Rob has hard-hitting parts in several videos. While working on his gritty, hard-hitting part in Adam Turrisi’s Kids in a Candy City, Rob eluded police and private security, barging spots to get shots. “Filming with Rob is crazy,” Turrisi says. “It feels like a heist mission.” Turrisi describes Rob’s style as raw, saying, “He’s just down. We could pull up at a random spot and there’s nothing to skate – at least we think so – and he’d already be skating something. He helps rev up the session.” Turrisi filmed Rob for Frog and, more recently, Rob has parts in Wayne Morrison’s Wayne’s World I and II.
Rob has a diverse arsenal of tricks. He’s been doing a Street League-level trick for a dozen years, a 270 boardslide down a handrail, but his signature trick is a front 5-0 axel stall with a nose grab and a kick. “I kind of fell into that trick, accidentally,” he says. “I was never good at doing front 5-0 slashes. I would always ollie into my 5-0’s,” he says. His foot would fall off and he’d grab his nose. And his “super stoker” was also an accident. His foot fell off while trying to tuck his knee on a 50-50, and he just kept grinding. Boom! New trick born!
Photo by Jeff Swayne
Rob is stoked on the diversity of the Washington, D.C. area skate scene. “My crews aren’t just a bunch of white kids. It’s just cool,” he says. His homies include Isiah Rodriguez, Evan Javid, Subway Andreas Alvarez, Nick Randmer, Ben Hatchell, and Wayne Morrison. “Damn, man, there are so many people I love skating with around here,” he says.
Without hesitation he notes his favorite place to skate is Circle Towers, an apartment complex about 20 miles west of D.C., which features a rail and ledges. “Rough ground, but I like the look of that spot,” he says. Rob crushes the public parks scattered around the DMV suburbs, and he rips the slick, green surface of the Green Skate Lab bowl in the city.
50-50 Photo by Damion Sanchez
“I love skating pools with Anthony [Smallwood] and the DCDC crew,” Rob says. “Anthony puts in the best work.” Rob famously did a front boardslide down the slide into the California Bowl in Waldorf, Maryland, and he ollied into the deep end of the Iris pool. His Half-Cab attempt didn’t end as well. “Gave it one try and ate shit,” he recalls. At a shuttered indoor high-school pool popular with skaters and graffiti artists, Rob reached the metal coping with a backside slash. “That was terrifying!” he says. “Two feet of vert and not much tranny.”
A cracked kneecap isn’t Rob’s first major injury. A broken hand and ankle are among his skate casualties. Broken hand, ankle. He had internal bleeding on his shin with a gnarly blood blister from on slam. “Two different times on a hubba I’ve broke something. Hubbas have fucked me up, now that I mention it.”
Tailslide Photo by Damion Sanchez
As I ask Rob to share his heaviest slam, his roommate, Rob Rasmussen, walks in and says laughing, “All of them.” He recalls a front board on an 11-stair, flat bar handrail in the rain. Rob’s foot slipped off and he did the splits, hyperextended his knee, and tore his MCL. “No surgery, just a minor tear. That was rough,” Rob says.
Fresh Fridays – Rob Fall Handrail Warmups in D.C.
As a team member of The DC Wheels, Jimmy Pelletier’s crew of charitable skateboarders, Rob is an ambassador for skateboarding. The team puts on demos, rides in parades, and raises money for worthy causes. Team captain Pelletier describes Rob as a wild animal let loose in a carnival. “I put him on the team because of his enthusiasm to roll with my team for our crusades. His talent and willingness to help others was perfect for The DC Wheels,” Jimmy says.
Rob’s first event with the team was in front of the White House. “I remember they had just cleaned the floors and they were super slick,” he says. “I think they did it on purpose because they knew we were going to be there. I guess they wanted to fuck with us. But we still put on the demo anyways. We were slipping around and falling and doing power slides.”
Rob’s line at Trump International Hotel
Rob is finding outlets for his creativity beyond skateboarding. He draws chalkboard art whenever a new beer is on tap at the restaurant where he works. In addition to his sudsy sketches, he designed a board to support the release of Kids in the Candy City, and t-shirts and comic books for The DC Wheels. His artwork is inspired by tattoo style, skate culture, and the Simpsons. Rob is currently working on graphics for his longtime homie Nick Merlino, who asked him to design his next Foundation deck. Rob wants to pursue tattooing, and plenty of friends have offered up their skin as a canvas.
Rob Fall can land more tricks in full costume than an average skater can do in board shorts. Once his knee heals up, look out for the sword-wielding pirate sailing over an A-frame, or the ax-waving Viking conquering a rail with his horned helmet and dented shield. Like Jimmy says, “He can take a tumble just like his name.”
Rob Fall - East Coast Original
Article by Matthew Kaiser
Check out more videos with Rob below.
Frog (Rob’s part starts at 5:15)
Paine’s Park – One Minute with Rob Fall and Nick Merlino
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