“All I know is that he’s gnarly. Grinds some hectic rails.” That’s all I’ve been told about Rob Pace. Just 11 words. I’ve never actually met him and this interview is to be our first encounter. A Facebook group chat with a bunch of Rob’s mates reveals that his name is actually pronounced Roberto Parchay, he owns the same model BMW as Ishod Wair, and he has an appetite for whole tomatoes. As the boys recount anecdotes about Rob’s Tinder adventures, his ability to skate triple-kink rails in the rain and his famous left, right goodnight, I can’t help wondering if they’re taking me for a ride. They send through a picture of Rob posing with a bottle of Maker’s Mark, a jar of buds and some gaudy gold chains. This is supposedly evidence of his trap-inspired thuggery. Or are they just catfishing me? Armed with a handful of questionably legitimate stories about his escapades, I decide to call Rob and ask him some questions. It’s 3.30 on a Wednesday afternoon and he’s just walking out of work, about to drive home to Tumbi Umbi. I pick up the phone and dial.
Interview by Nat Kassel. Portrait: Riely Walker.
Heelflip. Photo: Cameron Markin.
So, Rob, wanna start by telling me about how you earn a crust?
Yeah, so basically I’ve been building huge mechanical equipment at my old man’s work for a few years now.
So did your dad hook you up with that job?
Yeah, he started a few years ago and brought me on board with him. I started my trade and, four years later, I’ve finished that. Now I’m a fitter and turner.
And apparently, you’ve even been featured on the Weldporn Instagram.
[Laughs] On the what?
Oh yeah, I have had one of those once. I always stay back for the old man if he needs me to do overtime, so I did this weld and thought it would be funny to submit it. I edited it a little bit and then chucked it up with the hashtag on there and I got a little feature, which was pretty funny.
Cameron Markin told me that BMWs are your skateboarding away from skateboarding, so to speak.
Yeah, they are. That’s my little hobby that I do after work. I get the BMW E30s – that’s like an old style of BMW – and I buy all the motors and rebuild them and sell them to people that need them, to keep the cars on the road, basically. And do you make a bit of coin out of that? Yeah I do, it’s a bit of a side business. I import all the performance parts from Germany. I’m trying to reverse-engineer certain parts that aren’t being made anymore and test them out in the motors.
I heard you even drove from the Central Coast to Brisbane and back without sleeping just to pick up a motor.
I did do that. I was looking on Gumtree when I was building my own personal BMW and I found a motor that was going for dirt-cheap. It already had all the performance stuff in it. I called the guy and he said that someone was coming to look at it the next day, so I was like, “Nah, that’s it, I’m coming right now from the Central Coast.” And he was like, “All right, well if you get here before him you can buy it.” So I ended up driving straight to Brisbane as fast as I possibly could to get this motor. I was with my girlfriend at the time, and I made her come with me and then we turned around and drove all the way back. It was pretty much a 24-hour drive. I was so excited to get this thing out of the car and look at it when I got home that I didn’t even stop the whole way. I just drove for 24 hours straight.
Bluntside transfer while an angry resident pours water from above. Photo: Cameron Markin.
So there wasn’t a moment where you thought, I might pull over and have a nap now?
Nah, I was too excited, I just gunned it all the way.
You really like your car, eh?
Yeah, but I have a bit of a tragic story with this one. It took me a year to build it and learn all about the motor – it was all a learning curve. Anyway, I got to the last thing to do on the car, which was just tuning it with my computer, and it caught on fire and burnt to the ground under my mum’s carport.
Damn. How much money and time did you lose out on that?
It wasn’t insured at all, so I lost a fair few thousand dollars and hundreds of hours of my time. And I burnt my mum’s brand new carport down and the jetski that was next to the car. She got most of the money back on home and contents insurance but there was nothing for my car.
Brutal. That’s probably enough about cars, let’s talk about skateboarding. Is it hard to stay motivated to skate while living on the Central Coast?
I wake up at 6am every weekend morning and drive an hour-and-a-half all the way down [to Sydney] and then we finish up pretty late and I drive an hour-and-a-half back.
Frontside nosegrind. Photo: Cameron Markin.
Both Saturday and Sunday?
Yeah, well sometimes Cam [Markin] has room at his house for me to stay, but he’s away a lot, so I’m always driving back and forth. I’ve also got a whole bunch of boys from the [Central] Coast who love coming down, so I give them all a lift as well.
Do you ever see yourself leaving the Central Coast and moving to a bigger city in order to skate and film more?
Moving into Sydney CBD has been at the back of my mind for a while now. Driving an hour-and-a-half there and back can be pretty heavy at times, especially having to deal with Nog [Noah Smith] and Ske [Sam Fairweather] [laughs].
Who inspires you to skate?
Oh man, I guess I’ve always loved watching Leo Romero and Brendon Westgate. I’m super into rail-chomping parts, and I must admit, Cole Wilson’s latest part was a huge eye-opener. Some of those 50s that guy does are insane. The level of skating these days is ridiculous.
Funny that you say Romero and Westgate because I’ve heard that Stay Gold is the only full-length skate video you’ve watched in your entire life. Is that true?
It’s a bit of an exaggeration but I’m definitely not the type of guy to sit behind the computer screen every day and watch every video. But yeah, it’s a bit of an inside joke that I’ve only ever seen Stay Gold.
Some of your mates said that back in the day you didn’t even know the names of the tricks you were doing. Like they’d take you to a rail and say, “I reckon you could feeble this,” and you’d be like, “Which one’s feeble again?”
[Laughs] Nah, I’m definitely not that uneducated, Jesus. So that’s not true? Nah, I always knew the tricks I was doing.
Having last part in Nike’s Cumberland County video is pretty rad, how did that feel?
Oh man, having last part was an absolute shock. I didn’t expect it at all, so I was pretty damn stoked with it! I must admit, watching it with a few hundred people at the premiere was a little nerve-racking. I couldn’t thank everyone enough, especially Chris Middlebrook and Geoff Campbell.
Kickflip. Photo: Riely Walker.
Gabbas [Gabriel Summers] focused your board later on in the night. What happened there?
After the premiere, I went to the after party and ended up running into Gabbas. We pretty much talked shit for the entire night, but for some reason, people seem to think we have a rivalry. We decided to go along with it. Anyway, when the pub finished up, I grabbed my board and went outside. Next minute, I look over and Gabbas has focused my board with his arse. I thought it was hilarious, until later on in the night. I realised that I had to get from Surry Hills to Central within 15 minutes to catch the last train back to the [Central] Coast. Sam Sutton and I sprinted for our lives until Sam got a stitch. Then I ended up finding a shopping trolley and pushing him there, which basically saved the night. We made it, though; I think I got home at 5.30am.
Tell me about the triple-kink 50-50 that you did in the rain.
Well, we got there and it was overcast, but I was super keen to try this thing, so I just started jumping on it. Then it started sprinkling and I was trying a bit more, and then it started pissing down rain. I was too focused and I definitely didn’t want to leave without it. I kept trying and eventually ended up landing it when the rain had just stopped, but everything was soaking wet. I ended up rolling away from it, which I was super stoked about.
How many shots did it take?
Oh, it took me a fair few; I’d say it took me 50 goes, at least. My board was absolutely caked with mud. I was throwing it at the ground trying to get the mud off. It was pretty heavy.
Frontside 360 ollie. Photo: Cameron Markin.
Gnarly, and you took a pretty heavy slam recently, trying to feeble a rail.
Yeah, where I broke my wrist. That one was a bit heavy. It’s a fairly long rail and I was comfortably feebling to the end, but there’s grass on one side and concrete on the other, so if you do a backside feeble you’ve got to jump off to the left, onto the concrete. I was thinking, Just gotta go for it and get my body on one side. Then I went for it just completely stuck. I jumped and fell onto my sack and then my face went directly to the ground. It was a super heavy slam. I smacked my head on the ground, broke my wrist and got proper sacked. I got up feeling heaps dazed, and didn’t really know what was going on. I had a bit of a headache afterward. It was a heavy one.
So did you go straight to hospital?
Yeah, I did. I got my wrist checked out and it turned out to be three fractures in my hand. It still hurts a bit now.
Is it still in a cast?
Nah, it was in a cast for like a week, and then I just took the cast off and went skating. I just put a wrist guard on.
How long were you supposed to have it in a cast?
It was supposed to be six weeks, like usual, but it was just a half cast because of the swelling. They couldn’t put a full cast on because it was still super swollen. The half cast was holding my wrist in the exact same position as a normal wrist guard, so I figured I’d just take it off and wear the wrist guard the whole time.
Kickflip backside lipslide. Photo: Cameron Markin.
And the broken wrist didn’t stop you giving your mate Nog [Noah Smith] a bit of a left, right goodnight?
Oh yeah, I do that every time I see him.
So what happened, he bet you $20 that you wouldn’t knock him out and then you did it?
[Laughs] Nah, that never happened, I just say that to him when he pisses me off, which is all the time.
Did the broken wrist hold back your skating at all? Like, does taking a slam like that leave you with a bit of fear?
I’ve had so many injuries now I feel like I’m getting used to it. I just try my hardest to block it out. I hurt myself on a feeble, so I stayed away from them for a bit, but like I said, I took the cast off and started skating after a week.
I’ve heard that you don’t mind a bit of a Lemon Ruski or a UDL here and there.
Oh yeah, that’s the hard stuff.
You prefer it to beer?
Yeah, 100 per cent.
Where have you travelled to?
I went to San Fran and New York last year. That was awesome.
Feeble grind. Photo: Cameron Markin.
Yeah, that double-kinked rail in New York at the end of Double Egg and Cheese looked pretty gnarly, tell me about that.
Well, it wasn’t really planned, but then Brendan [Gardoll], the filmer, smacked his face on the ground and had to get 10 stitches in his eyebrow. So while he was off in hospital we thought it would be funny to take his camera and get Karl [Dorman] to film me doing the 50. We kept it on the down low so when he went through his tapes, he just kind of found it. The idea was that we’d tell him he filmed it but couldn’t remember because he had a concussion. I don’t think it worked, though.
You had a Tinder date in New York that led you into the depths of the projects, right?
Oh yeah, I was pretty pissed one night and I matched with some random girl from New York. I started talking to her and she was like, “Come hang out.” The boys weren’t really doing much, so I bailed from them and jumped in an Uber. When I finally got to the destination I started sketching out. There were four burnt-out cars right next to where the car stopped and the buildings all had broken windows. I was like, Holy shit this is heavy. I got out and talked to her for a little bit, but I pretty much tried to bail as quick as I could. It was super sketchy.
So wait, she was just waiting for you out on the street? She didn’t invite you in anywhere?
Yeah, yeah, just waiting for me on the street. I was just thinking, This is fucked.
Do you think she was a professional?
I don’t know, maybe.
You didn’t hang around long enough to find out.
Nah, not really.
Frontside 50-50 to frontside boardslide. Sequence: Cameron Markin.
But normally you’re a bit of a Tinder lord.
Yeah, I’m a full premium guy on Tinder. It’s like fishing with dynamite.
Oh, so you pay for it?
Yeah, 100 per cent.
What kind of benefits does Tinder Premium come with?
Extra Superlikes. I don’t really know, I just pay for it [laughs]. Oh yeah, and you get unlimited likes, so if you’re heaps bored you can just keep swiping right for as long as you want – heaps of potential wives.
Is it boring living in Tumbi Umbi?
It’s a little bit like living in Dubbo, really. You’ve just got to drive for hours to skate anywhere. I mean, we’ve got a new skatepark, but for street skating it’s definitely not the place you want to live.
How far is Bateau Bay from your place?
Oh, it’s only, like, five minutes. I’m there every night usually, then in Sydney on the weekends.
So you spend a lot of time cruising around the Central Coast in your BMW, eating whole tomatoes and listening to trap music?
Yeah, I pretty much live for trap. I started making these stupid trap edits on Instagram, kind of as a joke, but I’ve stuck by it. It’s all I live to do; listen to trap 24-7 and make trap edits in my spare time.
What is it about trap music that you like? Do you have a bit of thug envy?
Man, I don’t really know [laughs], I guess it’s all I’ve ever really listened to. My sister introduced me to it when I was a young’un, so I’ve pretty much been hooked on it since then. And yeah, I might be a little bit envious of them trap thugs.
Where to from here? What are your plans for the future?
Just keep doing my thing building cars, eating tomatoes and skating. I’m just going to try to stay on the mission filming with all the boys and see where that takes me.
Rob Pace, 50-50 in the wet, cover of Slam Issue 215. Photo: Cameron Markin.