I first met Dean in the early 90s. From day one I knew he was a lifer. You can tell when someone is 100% enveloped in skating. His skating reminds me a lot of his music. Brutal, strong, creative, and original are words that come to mind. It was also refreshing to see someone not chase the trends of the 90s that made us all look so damn ridiculous. We were both from small dirt towns and made our way to Reno’s city lights. Dean took sometime to talk about his skating and musical history. Being apart of the rich skate and musical scene in Reno, it is a special project in the making. Dean jokes around about being the old guy but, personally I think he is in his prime. Skating with him goes to show the passion that has never dulled in his eyes. Welcome to the Wheel Bite interview with the one and only Dean Reno. -ERL
1. How was the skate scene in Fernley? It seems small town skate scenes are pretty strong.
My first interactions with skateboarding was actually in Reno around 1983. My family moved here around 81 from the suburbs of Chicago, so thats pretty much when I got turned on to this culture.
Fernley? Man, things were strange, there were some ripping skaters, dudes that were older and in to punk and speed metal and shit, getting wasted being weirdos ya know just real rural type shit. We moved to Fernley in early summer so I hadn’t met any kids that skated or rode BMX or liked Judas Priest and shit, so I started by myself in the drive way and would aways listen for skateboards on the sidewalk.
Right before School started I met a kid from Wadsworth, Jack Yellowhair. He pretty much introduced me to the other side of the skate world I had no idea about, the lawless youth side ya know what I mean? Mostly because I was stuck in front of my house until that time.
2. Did you deal with the old skaters vs jocks/cowboy vibes there?
Oh for sure. It was harsh in Fernley but, I was taken in early by the older cats and their younger brothers who didn’t fuck around so we had protection. But Reno/Sparks, shit it was the worst. Fighting, getting jumped for no reason or for whatever you have. You had your cowboys and jocks but don’t forget this is 1985-89 so you had cops, nazi skinheads, crips, bloods, Montelos, and a bunch of other gangs, drunk crazy fuckin tweekers and on top of all that you had to worry about punks, other skateboarders like team Jacks or s.a.p.s taking your shit so…. we traveled in packs.
3. Skate Bettys were a staple in the 80’s skate scene, did Fernley have quality Bettys?
Girls that like skateboarding are great ya know, but I love ALL the women.
4. What made you realize there was no need for rails anymore.
Partly when I started to get better at the things I was learning and fascinating about other things I could do without them. I looked at my board and saw more could be done with even less restrictions. Plus I heard guys like Gonz and Tommy Guerrero ditched them so you knew something new was on the horizon.
5. Who was your crew and when did you first start venturing out to Reno for skateboarding?
Some of the first cats I knew were from Fernley and Wadsworth areas, guys like Jack Yellow Hair, Jim and Chris Short, Erik Prater, Mel Cornia, Chuck and Dustin Evens…Jack’s mother or my mother or father would drop us of at 395 ditch or U.N.R. and we would skate all day getting into shit and end up catching our rides back home at one of the malls on S. Virginia. Shit, the squad runs…so many heads. Forgive any miss-spelled names. Spencer Benivides, Beau Bevier, Scott Brown, Toby Riley, John Ludwick, Robbie Allen, Scott Waters, Scott Mcrae, Gershon Mosley, Greg Janess, Beau Shaver, Josh Stockwell, J.D. Pelto, Dirt Collins, Bobby Blake, Tim Loesch, Damon Watson, Mickey Featherstone, Mike Edwards, Danny G., Chris Erickson, Eric Sabastion, and I’m sure a few others I’m forgetting.
6. I wanted to ask you about the coralation between skateboarding and music, did you start skating or playing music first?
I started listening to my own music real young, it led me to playing. I was getting my first skateboards the same time I got a guitar around 85-86.
7. Where did you get your first real board and your first guitar?
My first real board I had for like two days.. it was stolen from under a bush. The owner was was an older cat that later on became like an big brother. Other than that, soon after me and a my friend Mel went in on a board at the original World of Toys at Punk Lane Mall. Santa Cruz Clause Grabke 1986. We shared one pro model for like almost a year, learning how to ollie and boneless one and jump off the roof and cars and shit.
First Guitar my grandmother and mother picked up for $99.00 at the J.C. Penny Outlet, it came with this little fuckin amp and my uncle would tune it for me. I wanted to make the sounds happen that I was hearing on my tapes and records. Like grimy fuckin crunchy riffs ya know, so I’d down tune all the strings low to make it all nasty..dark and shit with fuzz. Like Misfits Earth A.D. or something,.. took so long to just scratch the surface of some of the sounds I love to create. I owe a lot to my family, that worked hard for my Sister, Brother and I.
8. Damn, sharing a Pro board! That’s serious love right there. How much of Skate Rock had an influence on your playing or getting into music?
Man, Skate Rock and Thrasher had and still have a sub-concience effect on me. That time period for me was so colourful, new, and exciting. It was just all so new and raw. I was young and things were finding me verses me searching for them. Yes, a big impact on me. Listening to different styles of music while painting, skating, ect. can seemingly open unseen or forgotten doors in the mind. Creating things while using others creations can help the flow, sometimes as much as totally clearing your mind can.
9. What were some of the early musical influences that you were listening to when you started playing?
The song “The Monster Mash”, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” by The Rivingtons. Kiss, Black Sabbath, The Kinks, John Denver, The Beatles, Greek Music,…. then came Rich Kids on L.S.D., Exploited, D.K., Misfits, Death Angel, Sex Pistols,Thrasher Skate Rock comps., D.R.I., Slayer,ect.
10. You’ve been in some pretty heavy and legendary underground bands. Tell me about your first band and some of your favorite shows.
I started playing with Jack Yellowhair in my room, just thrashin out on a snare drum and a beat up out of tune guitar. Through various friends like my buddy James from Discipline/New blood I learned enough to explore my imagination leading up to my first real group playing shows under the name Bludgeon. We cut a 7″ and played a swarm of shows through 93-94. All those shows back then went done sick, all kinds of peeps would pull together, sxe, stoner, skateboarder, it didnt matter. You had guys who are true punk rockers that mix up in the rave scene that would bring lights, goth dudes that housed the club, skaters to build stages like ramps, sick crowds of all kinds of kids that would come from all over northern Nevada and California to hang out, talk, skate, mosh and stage dive with no to little rules. It was truly amazing times.
11. Breakdown the bands you were in from the start. You have a lot of musical history here in Reno and I’d like the readers to know more about your journey.
Man, lets see….
killer Squids (kids dont know what they are doing) 86
Dead Goldfish (see above) 90
Bastard (metal/h.c.) 90
Bludgeon (metal/h.c.) 91-94
Gacy/601 (metal/h.c.) 95
Panzer (crust/power violence/metal) 95
MotherFuckinTittieSuckers (punk) 95
Gurilla (political S. American power violence) 96-98-current
Fog Spector (acoustic graveyard folk) 98
Dealing With It (metal/Punk) 98
SangRaal (thrash metal) 99-current
Unified School District (hip hop) bass/guitar appeared for a few tracks on “hacienda de acapulco” 99?
Discreet Doll Band (r&r/punk)99-current
Witch-Lord/Beyond the Grave (sludge/metal) 99-current
Teenage Life (acoustic punk)2000
Lewd Lucy & The Dumpster Babies (punk)2005
Witch-Cat (electro noir) 2006-current
Penetration panthers (punk/goth/electo) 2008-current
Killed By Death (punk covers) 2011-current
who knows whats next mang…..
12. Gehenna was and is a beast. Care to talk about some of the more notorious shows?
Gehenna… we are playing shows, touring, we will be out in Baltimore this January playing with Eyehategod and our long time allies Integrity. Also, we are working on our new album entitled “RAWWAR”, we have had the title for years and the world is at a stage now fitting for this record. Shows have been great too man, the cult is strong.
13. Seeing you play music all these years, there’s a definite correlation to the style of music you play and your skating. Describe the outlet you get from making/playing music and when you skate.
I feel connected to the source of all things when I’m in those states of mind,…. playing music, skating, painting ect. its like i’m half here planted on earth and the other part is being guided by some cosmic forces letting the universe do it’s work with me so to speak. To give in a positive or truthful way will only in turn make you such things. I can really get off on music and skateboarding, it’s amazing. All though I do feel one should let go of things of youth gracefully, that does not mean you can’t find new and refreshing things to replace them, see what i’m saying?
14. Agreed, youth is a treasure that people seem to runaway from at a certain point in life. What is some music that lights you up lately?
Man, seems like stuff just finds me at the right times in my life. The last few years have been good in the search for different sound. I really like a lot of heavy low-fi electronic stuff like White Ring from NY. and Modern Witch from the Netherlands are fucking amazing. I like OooOoo, Mater Suspiria Vision, Holy Other, Grill Grill, Glass Candy, Gatekeeper, fuckin Juicu J., and a shit tone of others. As far as guitar driven stuff, it’s been a lot of the same shit I love… Bauhaus, SIXX, Cat Party, Sisters of Mercy, Bolt Thrower, Slint, Gehenna, Judge, M.O.D. for U.S.A., Black Flag, K.B.D. punk, Blonde Redhead, and a bunch of others stuff. I guess I’m more drawn towards music with attitudes that are aligned with mine.
15. Music is like a puzzle that finds you in life. I couldn’t live a blissful life without it. With all of the touring you have under your belt, what was some of your favorite cities/countries you’ve skated?
Ahh..everywhere! I’ve been blessed enough to play and skate in some beautiful and eclectic places. The streets and hills of Greece, Bridges and skateparks of Prague Chez., back alleys and ramps in Amsterdam, Metal vert ramps in Virginia, pushin with Beau Shaver and my crew through Paris with Tom Penny, the rest stops of Utah, the red clay transitions at Arches National park, San Jose parking lot with Spencer and Gershon, The walk ways of the Roman Coliseum, Ditches of New Mexico at sun set, epic pools, streets and parks of Phoenix, Las Vegas Strip wasted as sin, 293, Derby ditch slid and rolls in Santa Cruz, sun rise at Idlewild, The flat rails and smooth streets of Geneva Switzerland, Back yard ramps and amazing streets of Austin Tx., San Francisco Ca. with the hills, and streets, Original EMB in 93 with small ass wheels, Love Park at 3:30 a.m. cold as fuck, Schools of Costa Mesa with Muska and Smolik, trollin with Toby and Shaver at the most classic of killer spots in San Diego, riding high in Portland, Chicago winds, all up and down the best coast to Greek islands….under the Reno Arch with some of my favorite peeps just to name a few.
16. You’ve been blessed to see the world in such a creative manner. Who were you inspired by in Reno through skating?
It was mostly the dudes I skated with or saw around me. Like Jack Yellowhair, Scott Brown, Scott Mcrae, I was pretty blown away the first time I went to “The Hood Ramp”. It was sick man, later on I started to hear some of the names of some of these older cats who were a few years up in the game killin it back then, very cool to see. Dudes like Danny G., Mike Huntsman, Brian Fralick, Steve O, Rob Hostetter, Ron Rash, Beau Bevier, Randy Barr, Shit….. Colin Grover, Toby Riley, Chris Pool, Scott Brown. Sick man!
17. What is your favorite Reno band?
I don’t really have one I guess, Cathedral Ghost, Spiting Image, and The Indoors are some groups that are making things happen right now. Some pretty tight DJ’s around town right now, I mean shit Reno could be the next Berkeley if the community could come together tighter. There is so much happening with music, art, dance, alternative, vegetarin foods, graf, yoga, ect, ect. We have a very, very, strong creative scene in Reno, for some reason we always have. I feel some day people will flock here from all over, even more so than now to be a part of the freedom of expression and creative force these regions have always churned out. We live in a truly gorgeous place.
18. Reno has always had such a beautiful possibility to explode, it’s happening slowly. What’s up lately with your music and skating? It seems like you always have a lot going down.
I’ve got to stay busy creating and giving, do the best work inside and out that I can. Been out taking flicks with Jake Griffin and Kyle Volland. Filming with Juan Fool, Representing for Classic Skate Shop, Vegan/Vegetarian/Raw foods at Pneumatic (skater owned).
The Penetration Panthers are playing shows and our 7″ is available now on A389 records out of Baltimore. We are currently putting the finishing slaps on our first full length album so we are stoked about that. Gehenna are playing shows and doing small tours with a new record in the works. Witch-Lord debut 12″ record is out now on A389 as well, if you like heavy ultra-slow-low-sabbath-sludge style check it out. Mike Apocalypse and myself have been fuckin with some dark, tripped, psychedelic, electronic beats, and styles that will drop soon tentatively called “Witch-Apocalypse”….. so yea, we got some new shit comin at yall.
19. Thanks for your time Dean, I appreciate what you do. How can you not? One of Reno’s true OGs and still handling business. It’s inspiring and just plain fucking cool to see you pushing the boundaries of life and happiness. Anyone out there you want to drop a shout out to?
In no order, my Mother and Father, my Family, Toby Riley, Jack Yellowhair, Jim & Chris Short, Erik Prater, Mel Cornia, Chuck Evens, Rob Hostetter, Eric Svare, Danny G, Denny Franchini, Rob Roy, Kevin Cox, Spencer B, Tony Hospital, Gershon Mosely, John Ludwick, Brandon G, Darnelle, Jevelle, D Starkey, Coia, Beau Shaver, Jimmy, Beau Halverson, Shawn Dickerman, Beau Bevier, Scott Brown, Scott Waters, Mike Hubert, Lee, Joey P, Flip Nasty, Ben Bledsoe, Kevin and Nick, Mark Melin, Ouchoe, Oink, Jamie Hustle, Rob, Jake Mutha Fuckin’ Griffin, Joe Rock, Neil B, Worms, Boyd and Josh Turner, Big Gary R., Hotel Idlewild, lil Piss, Gingerbear, M.K., Josh and Claude, Greg Janess, Kearney, Max Alonzo, Mike Edwards, Christian Erickson, Mickey, Lonny Impossible, Randy Barr, Ralph, Brian S, Damon and Levi Watson, Sean Stringfellow, Eric Lantto, John Gertz, Dave Maine, Doug H. Nut, Mob Action, Kathy Griffin, Kyle Volland, Mike Huntsman, Rick Fisher, Brian Medley, Dirt, CHZ, Chunky Salsa, Randy, 2tight, Scott Saturday, Shane, Scotty C., Pringle, and the rest of PHX., Dom A389, S.O.D.C., all my band mates, and anyone I forgot, you know im down wit cha. There’s just soooo many rad people and all those that believe in love, fun, and creating the posititve change they want the world to become. Thanks for taking the time.