We’re proud to present you Dan Peindl, Jay Pitser, Forest Goebel and Zach Funk’s parts from ‘SLAG’, a new video release by Pittsburgh’s Radio Skateshop and Environs. To coincide with this part drop Mike Koroczynsky interviewed filmers Eric Calfo and Justin Funk on their new video offering featuring one helluva line up. Have a read and enjoy the parts below! Check back here for more parts from this belter video dropping on the site over the next couple of weeks.
Get the DVD here!
Interview by: Mike Koroczynsky
Photography by: Mike Koroczynsky & Zach Funk
Videography by: Eric Calfo & Justin Funk
I was recently on the Environs YouTube page and discovered that the first video you released was 10 years ago entitled Enter The Environs. The next video in the queue was posted in 2020. What happened in that near ten-year time span with Environs? Was it something that was brought back to help push the filming of Slag? Explain what Environs is for those who don’t know.
Justin Funk: Environs was an idea I had for a video series back in 2011 that never took flight. The focus shifted to other full-length videos from our scene like The World is Our Garbage Can by Rob Starr and Eric Calfo. Admittedly, the VX even collected some dust for a few years after that. That hiatus proved to be the catalyst for Environs part two. I was out filming all the time and wanted to make a video again. At the same time, with the same crew mind you, Eric was filming with them too. Eventually it became obvious we should just work together on something. Eric and Dan pitched the idea to create a company to give our crew and video the cohesion it needed. Both were hyped on the name Environs and we launched that in 2019.
It’s been about two years since you guys dropped your last video, Seldom Seen. Was that project more or less a footage dump for stuff that wasn’t slated to be used in Slag? There was some really good stuff in there; do you feel like putting out that edit maybe introduced some added pressure on you guys when wrapping up Slag?
Eric Calfo: Most of the footage in that is pretty dated and, yeah, more “throwaway”. We hoped to make Slag at the time when Seldom Seen came out, but when we grouped everyone’s footage together we realised the video could be a lot better if we pushed the deadline back. I’m glad we did. Seldom Seen sort of stood as a promotion for Slag, which kind of built the hype for this video. Prior to that we hadn’t put out anything longer than five minutes in about five years, so it was a way to remind everyone we’re still motivated to keep it going.
Slag is such a great title choice considering Pittsburgh’s obvious industrial landscape. Was that a term you guys would start to throw around to describe certain spots during the last few years? What are some of the most slag-esque spots that stand out in the video?
Justin: The name came late in the process. We wanted the video title to have some nod to our city without sounding too forced. Dan threw that name out after a couple beers one night and it stuck with me instantly. The curiosity we collectively have for the history of our region really influences some of the spots we end up skating too. We spend a lot of time snooping around towns that are now mostly remnants of our industrial past. Take the Atom Smasher spot where Dan switch pole jams, for example. Geeking out about its bizarre shape and nuclear past inspired us to go explore it, only to find a skateable foundation still left behind. Those are the spots that stand out to me – where a spot coincides with the discovery of a new zone or relic.
Speaking of Dan, I thought he was the perfect fit to open the video, especially with all he’s been through in the last few years. And of course, his eye for spots and trick selection are always so on point. Care to elaborate on Dan’s involvement in the video?
Eric: I always envisioned Dan starting off the video. He represents Pittsburgh perfectly. Not to speak too much for him, but at the beginning of 2019 he was diagnosed with cancer, which definitely brought our crew together in a very real way. Because he wasn’t able to be out there filming during that time, when he won his battle I believe he felt he had some catching up to do. I think there was one trick (the nollie halfcab crook on the red philly set) that we filmed during his time having chemo. All things considered he came out of all that bullshit with a fucking killer part and we’re really proud of him. He’s the glue that holds all of this together. He’s constantly lurking around every area in Pittsburgh seeking out most of the spots that we skate. Really, it’s always been that way. He’s shown us how far you can really push what a “skate spot” actually is. I mean, the first trick in his part is on a rusty train car. Who does that?
In the middle of the pandemic, you guys worked with Nick from Scumco to open Radio Skateshop in Pittsburgh. What inspired you guys to open a shop in these crazy times and how do you think it has since helped push the skate scene and the finishing of Slag?
Eric: Owning a skateshop is something I’ve wanted to do since I first stepped foot in one back in 2002. I’ve had a lot of great experiences and formed a lot of friendships through them, so I know how important they are and why they need to exist. I basically just wanted to give back to skateboarding in Pittsburgh the same way I saw other shops do it. It means everything to me to have one. With motivation from filming over the years and just maturing in general, it only made sense to do it now. I’m really glad we did, it just felt right.
I love the soundtrack. It’s light and fun and everything just fits so well, an obvious standout to me being Zach skating to the Highwaymen. Is it safe to say that was Ross Norman inspired?
Justin: That song became somewhat nostalgic for Eric and me. I used it in an iPhone edit right after we officially started Environs and it made sense to us to bookend this era by using it for Zach’s last section in the video. It’s also undeniable the influence that Ross’ part has had on me personally.
What’s it like skating and filming with Ross? I know he’s real big on plazas and I got so hyped when I heard that he’s been regularly driving out to Akron just to skate the Federal Building.
Justin: Ross is the fucking best. He’s a plaza enthusiast and couldn’t believe one was sitting right under his nose this whole time, especially since Pittsburgh lacks his type of spots. Despite that, he is still cranking out footage that is downright inspiring. The time he has to skate is limited so there’s definitely been times we’ve felt bad taking him on some of the more wild goose chases of spots. It’s become a running joke when we find something super crusty to imagine what Ross would say about it.
Eric: Ross is super dedicated and particular with filming, which I love. It’s awesome seeing someone with so many adult responsibilities care about skateboarding and filming in that way. Ross is a G.
One thing I noticed was a noticeable influx of transplants that have moved to and stayed in Pittsburgh within the last few years, many of whom have a part in the video. Tammy, Jay, Monty, and many more have mostly stuck around and become fixtures in the scene. Is it still surprising or do you think it’s about time that people are finally discovering how sick Pittsburgh is for skating? It seems like five or ten years ago this was hardly the case in a place like Pittsburgh.
Eric: It’s a little surprising because it takes a certain kind of person to really want to stay here. Jay, Monty and Forest all moved here for reasons outside of skateboarding so I think that’s why they organically fit in so well here. It was never anything forced. They all came for school but decided to stay past their education because we formed a really unique bond through skateboarding. They all put in the time making friends naturally and became really amazing skaters in the process. I wouldn’t even call them transplants though, they’re more adopted yinzers. Love those dudes.
With the amount of rad, mostly never before seen gems of spots featured in the video, it’s safe to say you guys could be busy as Pittsburgh tour guides/pin providers on folks’ increasingly popular summer Rust Belt trips. Are you prepared for the onslaught on DMs and texts to follow the release of the video?
Eric: By all means, but I think if we brought people to most of these spots they’d be severely disappointed haha. They’re not great, they just look unique. We’ve come to terms with not being like other cities with “go-to” skate spots, or plazas or anything like that. We have to make do with what we have, and we honestly prefer it that way. It feels like we have something no one else can have, even if that something is covered in rocks, trash and three layers of dirt.
Justin: We are not super protective of our spots. If you approach it the right way, we like playing tour guide. We enjoy sharing the experience of some of our more unique spots and the reactions they produce – positive or negative.
The use of segues/montages were all used and placed so well throughout the video to keep it flowing in a fun way, the bump into the brick bank and the makeshift bank into the river being the main standouts. Want to elaborate on those a bit and maybe share some good memories from those sessions?
Justin: Those sections came about very organically. It was a chance to highlight some of the more memorable sessions we’ve had together. The cobblestone bank section was an idea for a spot that only Tommy could have suggested, I’m unsure how he duped us into making that one a reality but I’m thankful he did. We cemented a short runup to an upheaval of cobblestone that throws you down a mountain of uneven terrain. Somehow enough people decided to skate it. The river spot section was just us looking for a great place to drink some beers at the end of the day. It only took one person to start skating into the bank. The river swallowed a few boards quickly and we came up with the idea to tape trash to the bottom of the remaining boards to prolong the session. Drew didn’t and should have lost his board countless times, but it kept magically staying dry. That’s why the last clip in that section is so fucking hilarious to me – after all that, he just chucks it in.
Are there any other “Yinzer concoctions” such as the water bottle flotation device that stand out? The rig for the Braddock bank (held by a wire and hoisted under a stack of cinder blocks) is one that comes to mind. Feel free to talk about the Braddock bank and any other spots that you put in some work for.
Justin: It’s very rare that a spot comes onto our radar that doesn’t need some amount of work – it’s almost a point of pride for it to. Dan is the ringleader on a lot of these expeditions and that Braddock bank is no exception. Just setting the spot up is so fun. You couldn’t get away with that in most parts of the city, but Braddock’s desolation is perfect for it. After each session, we would re-crank it back up. One time we came back to a lock on it. Apparently, the night after we were there, somebody got murdered on that property. A lot of the spots in the video come and go, it’s fun to immortalise them and move on.
Eric: Really they all require some form of work haha. Only a few spots here in Pittsburgh are good to go from inception, a lot are so old that they need some help to bring them to life. The Braddock bank was one of those spots that was basically rusted in place from being as old as it is. It usually stands straight up and down so we had to lower it to the right spot ourselves each time we wanted to skate it. Fun fact: if you’ve ever seen the show Mindhunter, in the first scene of the first episode this guy blows his head off on that same spot.
Haha, holy shit, I need to see that. Well thanks for your time guys! The video is amazing and I can’t wait for everyone else to see it.
Dan Peindl – ‘SLAG’ Video Part – Radio x Environs
Jay Pitser – ‘SLAG’ Video Part – Radio x Environs
Forest Goebel – ‘SLAG’ Video Part – Radio x Environs
Zach Funk – ‘SLAG’ Video Part – Radio x Environs