Interview with Joey McGarry of Mushroom Blading and How to be Unpopular Podcast

By December 21, 2017 March 24th, 2020 No Comments

Rollerblading was a big part of my childhood, and from time-to-time, I will seek out what rollerbladers are doing nowadays.  Back in the day, watching rollerblading videos (VHS!) was a way to get pumped-up before our crew would go outside and bust out moves on the practice rails (and ramps).  The dream was to get our own section/s in a rollerblading video, and maybe even become a pro skater someday!  Joey McGarry, who is about the same age as me, is a prime example of someone who kept the dream alive.

Even to this day, Joey continues to improve his skills and renew his passion for the sport by rollerblading regularly and being creative.The sport of aggressive inline skating has evolved over the years, and so has the style of rollerblading.  Style is important in rollerblading.  Everyone has their own style.  The style that people sometimes associate with Joey is that of “mushroom blading,” which he credits other people for influencing his style.  But for Joey, beyond style, is a nagging question when he’s rollerblading: what can you do on these things? 

Meet Joey McGarry

Questions and Answers

CJ: I became aware of you and your crew several years ago as I was looking up aggressive inline skating videos, and I was intrigued with your style of skating called “mushroom blading”. What is Mushroom Blading and why has it been catching on?

Joey McGarry: Mushroom Blading was a name we stole from Andy Kruse to make a video series of ten (hopefully) weird/experimental skating DVDs back in 2006. A couple years later DVDs died, Youtube and Vimeo rose to power and #socialmedia happened so the name stuck more than I would have liked. Todd and I rarely say the word “mushroom blading” out loud nor do we ever say “sick mushroom blading trick bro.” But it was a better video title than “weird skating volume 1” or “creative skating volume 1” so there’s that…

If you do something long enough people think they have to pay attention to it.

CJ: You’re one of the most creative skaters on the scene and you’ve been featured in a lot of skating videos over the years. From originating an idea (e.g a new trick) to remembering it and doing it for a section in front of a camera, along with post-production tasks, there must be a lot to think about behind-the-scenes. How do you stay productive and organized with your creative productions? How do you prioritize all your ideas?

Joey McGarry: I’m really not that creative. I’m actually very average but appear creative because not a lot of people rollerblade.

I just think about skating a lot, have been doing it a long time and come from Canada where we spend half of the year mindskating. I make a lot of trick lists, playlists and take inspiration from places other than skating. I have stacks of notebooks too. I obsess over skating a lot. More than a 35 year should.

CJ: You’ve mentioned in the past that you see a correlation between skiing and skating being the future of rollerblading. Do you still think this is true, and in general, what do you think rollerblading will look like a decade from now?

Joey McGarry: A few years ago watching The Bunch, Phil Casabon and Line Traveling Circus I was reminded of some favourite styles/eras in skating history but the sport didn’t seem weighed down by the identity crisis skating seemed to struggle with for so long. In short: skiing felt like what skating could become. A bunch of people saying “what can we do on these things?” It’s less about the equipment and more about the attitude, creativity and freedom behind the individual vision… You’re already starting to see that more in skating which is great… I’d say in the future maybe skating will look more like a freeskating/speed skating/downhill version of “aggressive inline skating.” Less adult soap shoes and more Chris Edwards and Mitchell Goosen.

CJ: In one of your How to be Unpopular podcasts, I remember you talking about how rollerblading backwards at fast speeds is one of the most awe-inspiring, unfair advantages that rollerbladers have over other extreme sports. What type of effect have you seen this has on people? Is it the state of flow that the rollerblader has when they’re skating backwards or were you talking more about when onlookers watch it in action?

Joey McGarry: It’s a very alien and a distinctly rollerblading-y looking thing. Like if you tried to run full speed going backwards it just wouldn’t look that great. I wouldn’t call it an advantage so much as it takes advantage of the unique stance that rollerblades, ice skates and skis allow.

CJ: How easily do you find it to be to enter into a state of flow with rollerblading nowadays– is it easier or more difficult than it was in the past? Do you have any tips for someone new to rollerblading to instantly get into a flow-state?

Joey McGarry: It’s easier. Just needs to be quiet with no distractions. At least 2-3 hours with no breaks or stopping.

CJ: In the past, you mention that you have an unique ritual which includes waking up early in the morning when the sun comes up, and rollerblading the first couple hours of the day before you go into work. How often do you do this and can you describe this process?

Joey McGarry: I try and skate once or twice a week almost always in the morning. I drive to a spot and rarely skate around my neighbourhood. Huge park rat. Caffeine is important. Earbuds only for skating longer distances. Skating regularly and for longer periods of time is way more important than stretching (I go back and forth about stretching being important.)

CJ: Over the years, have you developed new ways to recovering and overcome soreness after skating?

Joey McGarry: Just don’t get fat, get a lot of sleep and try to skate once a week.

CJ: For a lot of old school skaters (and newbies), there is hesitation when considering getting back into rollerblading because oftentimes we don’t know where to start. Can you break it down for us? 

Joey McGarry: Spend about 300-400 and start with a supportive boot like a Seba FR with a 4×80 frame (or any supportive 4×80 setup that’s in that price range.) Just get the feel for skating back and don’t worry about getting your park or street skills back… Because you’re gonna SUCK at skating. You might think you remember how aggressive skates feel… If you haven’t skated in a while, have possibly gained some weight and have lost muscle memory you’re not gonna want aggressive skates. Don’t even worry about tricks. Just get the feel for skating again.

CJ: Which rollerblading websites and/or rollerblading blogs do you follow?

Joey McGarry: Almost all of them and many of the other “action sports” websites too. Too much comedy and gold nuggets daily.  You begin to realize regardless of what toy people are using they are having exactly the same arguments about the same dumb stuff. It’s like humans are hardwired to debate over sports, art, music, moves etc… It makes life more interesting.

CJ: What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Joey McGarry: I’m extremely introverted and could’ve possibly had a junior hockey career.

CJ: If fans want to connect with you, how do you suggest they do so in order to keep up with what you’re doing?

Joey McGarry: Handwritten letters delivered by horseback.

(You can also follow  on Twitter and Instagram)

Key Takeaways

Here are some notes I got from this interview.

  • Once comfortable with rollerblading, develop a trick list and playlists (because you never know when you’ll want to produce your own section in a rollerblading video!)  Also, keep an open mind for other sources of inspiration.
  • Joey suggests, especially for newbies, rollerblading 2-3 hours (with no breaks) for entering into flow-state.
  • Overcome soreness by continuing to rollerblade regularly, get plenty of sleep and “don’t get fat.”
  • Budget $300-400 for new rollerblades — aim for a supportive boot to start.
  • Focus on the joy of skating and gaining muscle memory rather than picking up where you left off (with tricks and skills),

Hopefully you enjoyed this 30 minute interview with Joey McGarry!  What did you takeaway from the interview?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section of the star reviews below.  While you’re here, feel free to check out more interviews!

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