Top: Rob Brink with Stoya; Bottom: Josh Friedberg
For some of our print-media friends, the end times are near. And if the douchebags in marketing departments around the world are to be believed, y'all better get your websites tight (duh). For the skate kids, the new digital magazine Already Been Done has come out of nowhere to one-up everyone—not just from a design standpoint, but also with its videos, daily updates, and growing community. This looks like the site to become the next big thing in that world. Created by skate-industry mainstays Rob Brink and Josh Friedberg, ABD is a web and mobile mag with roots in the 411 video series and the legendary O.G. skate mag Big Brother. Their squad includes Dave Carnie, Eric Swisher from The Chrome Ball Incident, Kirk Dianda, RB Umali, Jim Geduldick, and porn star Stoya (because, why not?). We caught up with Brink and Friedberg to take us through their new venture. Check out the Q&A after the jump.
Interview by Noah Johnson
Complex: Your site says ABD is "DIY skateboarding media for the modern age." What's going on with skate media today?
ABD: We feel much of the skate media is suffering from an identity crisis. Being shackled to a print-based infrastructure makes it really hard to do the things you need to do to be relevant online. The atmospheric rise of The Berrics proves that you can have a successful skate-media website, you just can't do it by PDF-ing your print mag and expecting people to get excited about content they heard, saw, or knew about from three months ago, stuffed into all the familiar boxes. When online isn't your main focus, it's always going to come off as an afterthought.
Complex: What is ABD going to add to the landscape of skate media?
ABD: Fun, great skateboarding, great writing and production, and the unfiltered viewpoints of some amazingly talented humans who have lived through and contributed to making skateboarding what it is today. There aren't many skate media outlets—especially print ones—taking full advantage of what is possible in the digital realm, both mobile and web.
Complex: What was the main design concept for the site?
ABD: Clean, minimal, and easy to use, that's it. Functionality is important. Content is king and banner ads suck. Beyond just working well and being easy to navigate, website design is a waste of time if you're producing media. Our focus is producing good content and making it easy to digest and enjoy no matter where you are viewing it—phone, tablet, web, wherever.
Complex: What are some other skate media outlets, past and present, that you like or that you have used as inspiration?
ABD: 411 and On Video Skateboarding run in our blood. Big Brother pushed the envelope, made us laugh, and was the greatest skateboarding mag of all time—a skate magazine you actually wanted to read every month. Our friend and contributor Dave Carnie was a huge part of it, and we're stoked to have him on board.
Complex: What are your long-term and big-picture goals?
ABD: The big plan is to grow this project into a viable business without losing the spark that motivated it in the first place. There are plenty of companies in skateboarding, there's no reason that we can't create a fully skater-owned, -operated, and -supported media company. You will never see an MMA ad on ABD. If you don't support skateboarding, we don't support you.
ABD: We have a few good ideas for serial content, and when they're right, they'll go live. We're trying not to impose any limitations on our content. We want to make ABD a place where good content lives and you can only expect the unexpected. Just the fact that you can do that by posting things as diverse as the Dill interview or an interview with Scott Johnston that would never see the light of day in a print mag is funny.
Complex: What do you think about the way unknown skaters are becoming Internet skate-world celebrities through outlets like The Berrics and Slap?
ABD: It's awesome that kids are getting their shine. But it's nothing new—it's just the modern version of the video star. Skateboarding has been doing that since the H-Street videos dropped a virtually unknown Matt Hensley into the living room of every skateboarder on the planet in the late '80's. Quite frankly, every skateboarder in the world deserves a little more credit for their collective contributions to pop culture.
Complex: What's the deal with Stoya? Is that a backup plan in case skateboarding goes through another ice age?
ABD: Truthfully, we'd welcome another ice age. There was something special about the days when everyone hated skateboarders. We love that there are skateboarders making great money, but what we do has nothing to do with how much money anyone makes, it's about riding a skateboard. 411 started during one of the bleakest times in the skateboard industry. It just weeds out the people who don't actually love it. Stoya is our Rosa—thanks, Shorty's! Plus she actually has a skate connection and a pretty unique viewpoint on life. Oh, and through extensive market research, we've determined that our audience likes boobs.