Zero Club | Feb 2022 | Hella Dillinger

1. Name?
Erik Kessinger. Most people know me as helladillinger. It’s my Instagram. Follow me @helladillinger

2. Age?

3. Where are you from?
Portland, Oregon

4. What’s it’s like living there?
It’s like a dream, really. I’m literally in the birthplace of concrete DIY. There is this energy that pulses through the Pacific Northwest that can’t be explained. You just have to feel it. It stokes me out every day that I live here. I know other places rule just as hard, but something about Portland charges my batteries. I feel really lucky to be in Portland. Being in such a gnarly and thriving skate scene has done so much for me. I’m one of those people that’s really out going and falls ass-backwards into everything. So, I’ve met some amazing people who are like family to me; providing me with amazing opportunities.

5. How long have you been skating?
35 years. My first board was this white Variflex with yellow Hosoi Rockets wheels, just like Corey Webster (I know he really didn’t ride rockets). I ended up painting it with the spider graphics, as well as a McGill, and a Steadham. I couldn’t afford to get new boards, so I re-painted my gear. My board was SO heavy for the layers upon layers of paint. Not that you asked what my first set up was.

6. What’s your current set-up?
I’m an ATV guy. One set up for everything. Heroin symmetrical “pegg-sicle” 8.625x30.5” w/ 13.5 WB and 6.125” nose/ tail. 144 Indy titanium - (loose stock bushings, one top washer to prevent blowout and two speed rings on the inside. My axle nuts have to be flush), 58mm 99a OJ Elite hardline shape, Bones Swiss with shields popped, Plague Hardware (I only use 6 bolts to drive people insane and not ruin my frontside board slide bolts), and random grip; mainly Jessup because I get it for free and who doesn’t love free? I always have to do some grip art. Gonz and Natas were huge influences on me growing up. Now Craig Scott and Nora Vasconcellos gets me all tripped out on grip tape.

7. You ride a Tech Deck. Why?
Because it works for me is the best and short answer. The long answer is I began experimenting with shape and wheelbase because I’m so short. I began to notice the shorter my wheelbase, the more responsive my board became. I also noticed that huge tails and noses didn’t work for me. And lastly, I’m the worst about throwing down my board backwards. Symmetrical shapes have totally eliminated this issue and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been riding the same shape for about 4 years now.

8. So why do you ride Heroin, a major board company, if you re-shape all your decks? Just use a custom deck shape?
I’m insanely loyal to FOS. My relationship with Heroin is a fine example of me falling ass-backwards into something great. There was a head on collision at Burnside and a lot of blood was shed. I ended up cutting up my Heroin 20 year Anniversary shirt to make a bandage for the skater while they rode to the hospital and get stitched up. FOS heard the story and reached out to me. Our relationship has only grown from there. You don’t often meet people like FOS in the skate industry. So yeah, I’ll ride Heroin till I die.

9. What terrain do you like to skate?
Everything, but big concrete transition has got to be my favorite. The act of carving and slashing as fast as you can is beyond exhilarating. At Lincoln City, Oregon you literally can feel your board going so fast it starts to leave your feet. Burnside is super fun because you have to go fast to get around the whole park, and everything is so loud as you cruise around the park. It’s just one big sensory thrill ride and I can’t get enough. My favorite has to be Washington Jefferson in Eugene, OR. It’s so magical at night. Eugene was the reason I moved to Oregon and I’ve always felt at peace there. The CYC crew took me and my daughter in and immediately treated us like family. The Oregon skate scene is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

10. Your daughter skates? What’s it like being a skate dad?
At first it was hard because she took to it so young. She was begging to go skate at 4, but couldn’t stand on her own. So there was lots of hand holding. Talk about cardio, running next to your kid skating transition is brutal. Once she found her balance and confidence she became my skate buddy. She even started competing for a bit and we did all the local comps. Independent’s Rip Ride Rally at Lincoln City, OR has to be our best memory. We got to see all our family and friends, memorialized those we lost (I buried my mom a week before) and my daughter dropped in on her own for the first time in the shallow end.

11. What stokes you out in skating?
The whole culture of skateboarding has stoked me out. Even since I was little, something just drew me into skateboarding. If I had to pick something, I’d say going fast and the sound. There is something about the adrenaline rush that comes with going fast that can’t compare; once I learned the secret.

12. What’s the secret?
Frank Gerwer said to bear down or get “heavy” like you don’t want anyone to pick you up. It totally works and takes a lot of core strength. Kind of like being constipated on your board [laughing out loud]

13. Are you superstitious? Do you have any set up quirks?
I’m pretty superstitious as far as things go. When I broke my toes I got a Christmas complete once I was cleared. Dumb I know, but I associated that set up with my injury and I technically needed a new one. But…yeah. I get that way. As far as set up quirks, I have OCD. It’s a real problem and I can get real caught up in gear. I’ve worked real hard to get past my gear OCD and just be out of the box. Everything is stock, but I re-shape my board and take the bottom washer off my trucks. So, I feel I’ve come a long way. My goal is to someday ride a deck out of the box. I could at any moment now, but I’d like my muscle memory so good that I could not be so picky about the responsiveness of my board.

14. You’re known to skate in the rain, on purpose. Why?
The ice beard surfers of the upper peninsula really inspired me to not let the elements take away from my drive and passion. It rains like 6-7 months here, so it can be depressing to some. I really do enjoy rain skating but, there are some obvious adversities. Your board gets water logged and bearings get roasted/rust out. I found ways around this which actually make my equipment last longer than you would think. I dry my deck out every single night in front of the space heater for 24 hours. I also pull my bearings after every session, soak them in lacquer thinner, spinning out all the water. Then in the morning I clean them up with a little bit of barkeeper’s friend cream and put them back in for that night next session. The biggest thing I’ve noticed from rain skating, is your balance gets much better; like you’re glued to your board.

15. What could be better in skateboarding?
I’ve been through enough decades to not really worry too much. I’ve never been one to complain and I’m not about to start. I’ve always believed that if you don’t like something, do something about it. BUT… All the small brands are driving contracts down. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the more companies out there, mean less money for the skater. In the end it’s a paycheck, it’s a business, it’s a job. That’s why a lot of people don’t make it; it’s not all fun and games.
Skateboarding is always moving forward and that’s the best one can hope for.

16. What bands/music do you like?
I like it all for sure. Lately I’ve been into: Lettuce, Chelsea Grin, Run the Jewels, Migrator (LKF), Wu Tang, Tortoise, Snarky Puppy, Ghost Note. Our family is big into music. I was a professional drummer for years, it’s how I met my wife and it’s something my family truly enjoys.

17. What makes you laugh?
I laugh and smile a lot. Lately Taylor Clark has been cracking me up. You should check him out. I think he’s been in Thrasher too. Gravette turned me onto him.

18. Favorite books/movies?
I’m a book and movie junkie. It’s really sad. At one point I was hoarding books. I would go to library and estate sales and get everything I could fit in my car. If I had to pick one movie it would be the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As far as a book, I would say Clive Barker’s complete Books of Blood. I’m a horror junkie at heart and always will be.

19. Skating as a kid vs. skating as adult over 40…talk about the differences and similarities.
That’s such a huge K Hole. I feel like many of us dwell too hard on what was and not what’s right in front of us. I’ve got some serious PTSD, so I’m all about the now and cherishing that gift. They call it the present for a reason. But, if I were to compare, time is the biggest difference for me. I just don’t have time to be a skate rat any more. If that does happen, it’s because I planned ahead. I don’t Have time to spend hours learning a new trick or watch every new video.

20. Favorite skate videos?
There’s so many… my first love as a kid was “Rollin’ with the Z Boys”. The last full length that got me really hyped was Element’s “Peace”. Rubbish Heap will always have a soft spot in my heart. I really got into filming for a while, watching each filmer’s style and seeing what made them stand out. There’s a rhythm and those that can tune in and capture it are golden. Makes you feel like you’re there.

21. Favorite skaters?
Dave Hackett, John Cardiel, Peter Hewitt, Greyson Fletcher, Andy Ashburn, Ben Raybourn, Scizo, Choppy Omega, John Gardner, and on and on…