Justin Kelley • FS ollie • Warwick, RI   © Karim Ghonem

‘I never got jaded by an industry or politics within this thing we all love.’

Justin Kelley

June 2024

Can you tell us something about Rhode Island no one knows?
The fact that is not an actual Island does not count. RI was the first state in America to abolish slavery.

How would you describe the Rhode Island skateboard scene and its community?
From an outsider’s perspective, it looks alive and well.

How was it like when you were an insider?
It was awesome. It still is. The 80’s we had so many different groups of kids from different towns and you knew everyone’s name. You might have not known the person or even seen them before, but you knew who they were. Maybe 100 people in the whole state back then who skated. When you met a new kid or posse you’d lose your mind. It wasn’t popular really. You had to look at sneakers, haircuts, pins on jackets etc. It was just small and really quant. Beautiful time to be a grom and to be alive. The early 90’s was kinda the same thing, but less people if you can imagine that.

Justin Kelley • Invert • RI • 1987   © Tony Capasso

Any local heroes you looked up at the time?
Tons of them. Still look up to them actually. They were all guys from my hometown. Tom Bennett, Jay and Josh Nesmith, Tony Capasso, Ryan Sisson, Jon Kelley, Brian Murphy, Jason Sadlier, Peter Cowman, Seth Harris, Ron Pezzullo, Mike Watkins. Those were the 80’s guys that were really cool and ripped. Some of them still skate actually.

Proudest moment in your skateboard career?
Never had a career but If I had to think one thing….. probably filming and doing those dirty thirty videos with my friends. I remember thinking turning 30 was old back then.

Most embarrassing?
So many! Any contest I ever entered.

What are the skaters in Rhode Island most proud of?
All the Providence 80’s to 90’s heads. Guido Silvestri , Jason Maxwell, Sid Abruzzi, Tom Bennett, Mike Lussier.

Who are some of the talented skaters in RI that are making a name for themselves?
Jay Poirier. Beast mode with a great attitude and skills. Would love to see him do something with it.

‘Jay Poirier. Beast mode with a great attitude and skills.’

Justin Kelley • Front nose • Manhatten, NY   © Brian Higbee

 I just noticed you are connected with Chany Jeanguenin. How do you guys know each other?
He lived up stairs from me when I lived in San Diego. We had a skate condo of sorts. It was him, Felix, Jason King, and Richard Angelides. Down the hall was Mike Crum (who I don’t really know at all). We were below them . Me, Jason Maxwell, Chris Lambert, Tony Capasso and Dennis Vieira. We all skated together 24-7 back then.

What did you think of Chany at that time?
He was insanely ahead of the time for back then. This was 95’. Most people back East were into Wallies and smith grinds. He was doing crazy shit like nollie Nose grinds and long switch crooks on tables. It was a great time to be around and witness those guys come up and kill shit. Seriously one of the nicest and most talented dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of skating with.

Did you try to become pro at that point?
No. I got flowed and all that, but never wanted to be pro. Having that as a job would make me hate it. That’s honestly why I’m still around at my age. I love it just like I did when I was a little kid. I never got jaded by an industry or politics within this thing we all love.

Last question. If you could interview a person, who would it be and why?
Ian Mackaye from Minor Threat. He’s had a lot of interviews, but everyone asks the same questions. He seems like an interesting human.

What question would you ask him?
When Rollins broke into movies and bigger bands, why didn’t you?

‘So many! Any contest I ever entered.’

Justin Kelley • FS crook • Providence, RI   © Karim Ghonem