"Rising like a sandstorm from the burning deserts of Arizona, AZPX is a skateboard company that celebrates the pride, heritage and punk rock spirit of skaters from the Grand Canyon state. In the six years since founder Rob Locker established the company, AZPX has gathered steam, building a team of local rippers and hosting a stable of punk bands. Today, the AZPX name is a force to be reckoned with throughout the state and beyond. Here, Antics sits down with Locker to find out what exactly is goin’ down in “The AZ”.
AZPX stands for Arizona Punx, right? What kind of name is that for a skateboard company?
Arizona Punx represents a certain ethic that was instilled early in my skateboard journey called Blatant Localism, which is a record by local skate punks JFA. AZPX means just being stoked on your own scene and running with it. No matter where you live, make the best of it and get everything you can out of it. The AZ is known as a cultural wasteland. This is not true to those who did not look at this as a burden but an opportunity to create an identity that is uniquely Arizona. AZPX is here to carry the torch. Besides, PUNX is a play on PUNKS and ends with an ‘X’! So totally ‘eXtreme’ and marketable!! You’ll see my billion dollar ad campaign at this year’s ‘X-Games’ and I’ll be selling millions of units at my local WAL*MART this ‘X-MAS’!
When did you start up and why?
AZPX Industries became official July 31, 2002. At the time, public skateparks started popping up and I was having a hard time finding a board at the shops that I wanted to ride on the new terrain. Everything was really small and the same shape. I wanted to ride something a little bigger with more character. Before that I had zero skate industry experience except a job at Cheap Skate for a while in ’87.
Who were some of your first team riders and what are they all about?
The original AZPX is Jason McLane and Brian Pino. Today, Jay is a foreman and Brian is project manager of California Skateparks, building some of the raddest concrete all around the country. Jay and Brian understood and were down with the AZPX vision from day one. The team is more of a family. When Chris ‘Gobberilla’ Gobber came along, it just made things tighter because his stoke value and motivation are inspiring.
How can you have a company that’s named after a state? Are there that many good skaters in Arizona?
I knew you were gonna bust my chops on this one. Dude, what about ZOO YORK or even Santa Cruz? Yeah, they’re not whole states but the AZ is sparsely populated so I look at it as one big little community. Who needs a zillion dollar marketing budget when the whole state has your back? To the second part of your question, YES, there are that many good skaters in AZ. The level of talent of the younger gen of AZ skaters is off the Richter scale. Log onto http://www.skateaz.com sometime and take your pick of the next up and comer. The level of photography by these kids is off the hook, too. Plus, the scene here is always blowing up. Lots of positive peeps are involved in the community.
What about the music side? What are some of the bands you put out?
Well, with the word PUNX in your name you’ve gotta be involved with the local music. I grew up thinking that my local punk bands were the best out there. AZ’s punk scene was so freaking diverse. The D.Boon statement “Punk is whatever we made it be” stands strong in the desert. Unfortunately, a lot of the music from that time is either out of print or was never available. My vision with AZPX Records was to re-release some of our lost gems. So far, we have only released the classic Junior Achievement “Fade to Black” album, re-mastered with added live material.
The whole idea of a regional skate company seems to go against the whole megalithic super-corporate behemoth skateboard companies these days, how do you compete?
Six years ago we started when there was a glut of other start-up DIY companies coming out. I don’t know how many are still in business but we are not closing the doors any time soon. I have no marketing or advertising budget. I have no professional riders that get a salary. What has kept us in business is our product, our community service, and just being out there in the scene everyday skateboarding. Kids can relate to it because they see me, the 41 year old owner, out there riding with them on their level (their level is usually way higher than mine, but that’s not the point).
Getting back to the most important element on that short list is the product itself. I can honestly say our wood is some of, if not the best wood on the deck wall at the skate shop. I fully guarantee our decks against warpage and delaminations. Wood, glue and pressure are the only ingredients in the recipe; hand-craftsmanship is all that follows. What is the point of making something if you can’t be proud of it?
What’s in the future for AZPX?
The future is looking cool. There is a whole new website on the horizon, the Gobberilla is engineering a new shape, an insane graphic series is in the works, and we have some totally new products we are introducing this fall. Besides that, a whole lot of skateboarding.
Anybody you want to thank?
AZPX would like to thank skateboarders everywhere keeping it real.
A big shout-out goes out to the following for all the support over the years: AZPX spiritual leader Douglas Miles of Apache Skateboards, Sidewalk Surfer, Cowtown, Pulse Boardshop, Starr Skates, The Core, Underground Board Factory, Utility, Grant at The Skateboard Mag, Concrete Disciples, JFA, Sun City Girls and last but not least… some first generation AZ rippers, Hoss ‘Dawg’ Rogers, Donnie ‘Ho’ Christ, Ping!, TJ and the Big B hisself, Brian Brannon." - Rob Locker