Co-founder of the Iconic NYC brand 5Boro, Mr. Mark Nardelli has been killing the mean streets of the Big Apple since the early 90s. Back in around ‘94 Nardelli linked up with Steve Rodriguez and they started out on what has become an epic journey. The two joined creative forces and launched a brand that has and continues to leave an indelible mark on the NY skate scene. Recently we got a chance to sit down with “Nar” and talk to him about the origins of 5boro, team antics, the Wu-Tang Clan and more. Read on.
What series of events led you to start a skateboard lifestyle brand?
The biggest event or motive was the early 90’s time period. During this time the East Coast scene became a movement in skateboarding. Street skating then was fairly new to cities and security guards, no skateparks and no skate stoppers anywhere. It was around 1994 that we were just a tight crew of friends skating all over the city looking for new spots and pushing each other to progress. We were seriously always skating, everywhere, in New York and road tripping up and down the East Coast between Boston and Tampa. Then in 1996 Steve Rodriguez came up our name based on the five boroughs of New York City and we as a company have done whatever it takes to keep it going ever since.
At what moment did you realize the brand was a success?
We have a lot of pride in how long we’ve been in existence supporting and being supported by skateboarding, which is what we had set out to do, so in that sense we are successful. But “success” is a moving target, like the drive to progress at skating, you learn kickflips, but then you want to learn backside flips, front flips, kickflip back t’s, it never ends. Personally I feel like as a collective of people working to evolve 5boro, we all have moments of success everyday, someone getting an ill trick filmed, a photographer getting a rad sequence shot, releasing another board series with an artist, seeing people back us and rock our goods…all of these are moments of success that we work hard towards and keep us hustling ahead to bigger goals.
What’s the most epic team story from 2013 – 2014?
Tough Question…What goes down on tour stays on tour...but I’ll let this one out there because it shows how tight our crew really is. To start, there are 5B trips where we handle biz - visit local shops, film, shoot photos, and then there are 5B trips where the crew takes it upon themselves to organize a trip for the sake of just being bros on a skate trip. Sometime last year they all rolled out on a trip update and throughout the North East to skate and take it slow. At some point they were all crashing in a hotel room together after a long night out. Rob Gonyon had a few to many, totally wasted…He woke up to take a leak, thought he was in the bathroom but quickly realized he was leaning against a wall next to the bathroom door pissing on Joe Tookmanian’s leg by accident. If there is one thing you don’t want to do, its wake up Took, and you definitely don’t want to wake him up by pissing on him. Long story short, our friend Luke on this trip was a tattoo artist and had his tattoo gun with him. To make good of this accidental, uneasy situation, Rob Gonyon got “Took” tatted across his kneecap to apologize. This then led Joe Tookmanian to get Robs’ initials “R.G” tatted on his ankle in respect of Rob’s apology tat. I wasn’t there on this trip, but that’s the most memorable story I have and some realness of how tight our crew is, so when we say “5B Familia”, you know now that’s the truth.
What’s the inspiration for the Spring/Summer ’14 line? How do you plan to evolve or change the pin up success of last season?
Were different than most brands as we don’t have one designer or one art direction, we’re more of an evolving network of creative friends who all contribute to the design process. Sometimes I have a concept and work with a designer that makes sense for the idea, other times we work with artists we are inspired by and reach out to collaborate. The Pin Up series by Smith St. Tattoo was epic, the 5Bit series by Brenan Lee is just as sick, but totally different. Next series is coming to life now to be released early June. It references something very relevant to skateboarding of the 90s in a very graphic design way, another new style for us and yet still feels very 5B.
Nar manning the 5BORONYC helm with a sweet Noseblunt.
What’s your favorite item from this line? Why?
Definitely the Jimmy Mcdonald Philadelphia City hall deck as it is his first pro model and it came out at the same time we released 5B Philiadelphia on Thrasher, a video we all worked really hard on. Also really proud of all our hats, I’ve been rocking the six panel floppy joints every day.
What piece of advice sticks with you through challenging times?
Well challenging times aren’t always easy, and for smaller companies like us there are a lot of hoops to jump through to keep everything going smooth, stuff I honestly just learned these past few years. The best advice I can give is that you have to think long-term, build on the good things happening and use that positivity to crush the challenges at hand. Its like getting hurt skating, the frustration can suck, but if you keep cool and rebuild you can come back stronger.
How do you envision skateboarding 10 years from now?
Who knows how skating will change by then, hopefully skating in the streets is still legal enough to let people truly street skate. As for skating itself, I feel like its getting rounded out right now, all styles, all terrain and generations of tricks being mixed together, kind of the melting pot era of skating right now. I guess the future will be a new generation that takes this mixture and refines it as one, smoothes it out and applies it to new buildings, new streets, which will be the New New New York!
Can you sum up NYC skateboarding in one word?
New York City Street Skating = Freedom
What’s the most epic Wu song of all time?
I don’t think I can single out one favorite song. I feel like every time I listen to the Wu I start with the first song on the album and let it rip all the way through to the last, there’s no stopping the Wu. Maybe the question should be “which song do you bump the volume on the hardest?” and in that case I if I had to choose one right now, Id say “Protect Ya Neck” of Enter The Wu-Tang 36 Chambers album as it makes me think of the montage section in our Join Or Die video. This section had all the new talent annihilating New York spots, I love the energy of that part, makes me want to drop what I’m doing and go haul ass down the street.
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