Andy Howell discusses growing up in Virginia Beach, writing Tony Hawk his first fan mail letter, turning himself pro at a contest, getting on Schmitt Stix, moving to Atlanta, Zero Sophisto Clothing, forming New Deal Skateboards, Underworld Element, Julian Stranger, retiring from pro skating, starting a design firm, his collab with Supreme, bringing New Deal back and much more!
Making of the 15 Minute Promo video, getting busted, and some little known ND facts.
— By Steve Douglas
As Paul said in the first email newsletter, it was a fun and exciting time hiding out at his house in Costa Mesa, California in early Spring 1990. Andy and Gorm were making the art, and I was working with the team, on the 15 minute promo video, and setting up the international distribution. We had to keep all this quiet from Vision as we needed to keep getting our board royalties from Schmitt Stix. Unfortunately our cover was almost instantly blown...
When we were ready to launch and wanted to let the distributors know, we still wanted to keep Paul's involvement quiet for as long as possible. What we didn't realize though, was that Paul's fax machine added his name and number to the top of every fax sent from it! Paul Schmitt and his fax number right there for everyone to see… BUSTED! The word was definitely out and it was another push for skater owed and run companies, ND was a big part of that change that we are really proud of to this day.
Videos were one of the main focuses for New Deal so back to the 15 minute video... After all these years it's still hard to believe that I made the first 3 videos (before I passed the torch to New Deal team rider Josh Friedberg). I had studied skate videos for years and I was eager to learn and be involved in what I felt was a key part of skating - video... Thank goodness for Paul being there to help me and show me what to do.
We had years of footage for Schmitt - 100s of Hi8 tapes and S-VHS tapes, and as this was way before we had started 411VM we were sitting on piles of footage with no plan of how to use it. What is funny Is that some of the footage I used in the promo video was almost 4 years old at the start of 1990!
Back in those days you had to lay each trick in order one after the other, there was no insert editing with the equipment we had. I had to make the whole video in order of what I thought would work, then study it and write each part out in order how I felt it could work better, and then that was it - 2nd time was final. Slo-mo had to be done at local studio and then we added them together, thankfully Paul took care of that. It was a painful experience which took so much time, but I did not care as it was so much fun.
A little known fact is that the music for the 15 minute promo video was going to be Agent Orange. As the video was wrapped up and I was getting ready to drive back up to Nor Cal where I lived, Paul called me saying the bad news that he had spoken to Agent orange agent and they had said if we used the music it would ruin their release. I was gutted as we were almost done. When I got back to San Jose I met with my good friend Ray Stevens II and I told him my predicament. He simply handed me a tape of a local band of the Odd Numbers, and the rest is history. They say things happen for a reason - The Odd numbers are huge part of New Deal and I am still great friends with them today, many people tell me that when they think of the New Deal they think of the Odd numbers as much as the riders and art. Looking back it was the perfect mix that quite easily could not have happened. As Kirk Dianda (411Vm/On Video) said to me after hearing that story: 'Wow I wonder if New Deal would be been so well received if you had used Agent Orange, basically an old band starting a company called the New Deal?" luckily we will never know…
Random fact, the white LS shirt I am wearing in my video part, is a New Deal Skates shirt, as is the black sweatshirt I wear at the start and end of my 15 Minute Promo part. (New Deal skates was a name from a shop close to the Harrow skatepark where I grew up outside of London, England) Most of the team rode for Schmitt Stix, Schmitt being with Vision we needed a New Deal, the name was perfect, for more check #mynewdealstory
This #MyNewDealStory comes from our first email newsletter courtesy of Professor Schmitt…
Spring 1990 was a really fun time with the team hiding at my house in Costa Mesa and having the freedom to create Art, Catalogs, Videos, and Skateboard Products the way we wanted to. Most of the Promo video was shot over the prior 3 years with my personal SVHS video camera. These first videos were edited deck to deck in order. Steve Douglas spent a lot of hours making it just right.
Andy and Gorm were drawing art and product creation was rolling forward. The excitement lead us to the first New Deal flyer that was a simple black & white DIY looking catalog. We did not want to waste our dollars or energy on the polished corporate full-color look. It was just 8 pages long like a zine, it started with the logo on the cover with a crayon drawn border to match the texture in the logo. A few interesting tidbits were listed about riders on their page. Ed Templeton, Steve Douglas, Danny Sargent, Andrew Morrison & Andy Howell. There was a page with board dimensions and a listing of Skateboard Products. On the bottom, it said; "KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR OUR PROMO VIDEO." On the back, it said “Once upon a time there was a group of skaters who weren’t happy with the way things were. Fed up with politics and fashion, they decided to get together and form a new company, along with the same friends. Upon trying to decide exactly what they wanted, the name became apparent.”
There was no return address and retailers were curious when received and they did not know where it was coming from. I had not told Vision that I was walking away from Schmitt Stix at this point so we were playing it quiet. Due to the riders being from my Schmitt Stix Team the curiosity and rumors were flying and riders were still being paid by the old boss. The Promo video shipped out to skate shops with the same secret approach with video of the actual products we had been working on filmed in my backyard. We were just doing what we wanted to do, not even clear if anyone wanted it.
P.S. THE OG CATALOG WAS RE-MAILED A FEW WEEKS BACK (MARCH 2019). PLEASE GO TO YOUR LOCAL STORE AND SEE IF THEY HAVE ONE….
Check out Steve Douglas’ interview with Europes “Boardsport Source” about getting the band back together for the 30th Anniversary of New Deal. They cover some of the re-launch details, a huge party slated for LA this September, and Co-Founder Andy Howell featuring in this Spring’s Supreme drop.
Chops and Ed sit down for smoothies and dive deep into some epic stories from the early 90’s and beyond! This is a great read…