In the Limelight: The Frank April interview
The snowboard industry has come to an interesting point in the last few years. Between Olympic coverage and gum endorsements, the game has changed. How many times have snowboarders that blew up onto the scene, later fallen into obscurity because they couldn’t stay relevant. While the industry isn’t quite like Hollywood, it isn’t all that far off as of late. As some riders scramble to get approval from the media to secure their spot in history, many of them come and go before the limelight has even heated up. Then there are riders that for years keep their head down, keep working and keep the stoke alive — Frank April is the latter. He has earned the limelight.
While his daily grind consists of destroying the streets, the Quebec native has everyone remembering that snowboarding is about having fun and pushing the boundaries. And while he is stoked when people are into what he is putting down, Frank is going to have a good time riding his way, whether the kids are into him or not.
However, after being named Rookie of the Year by Transworld and taking the popular vote in X-Games Real-Snow, the industry clearly can’t get enough of the French-Canadian urban assailant. With the season winding down, we caught up with Frank to chat about his explosive season and his rise to the top.
Watch Frank April’s viewer’s choice Real Snow part above
So what are you up to right now?
We are in Boston right now but it looks like it might rain soon, so I think we will probably be headed to Quebec and then Helsinki.
Congrats on the blow out season. How has it all been going with so many things happening at once?
It has been pretty good, man. With Real-Snow and getting Rookie of the Year with my footage from last year, and having people into it has been good. I just want to continue this way.
What are some key factors that played into the success of this season?
Well I have been filming for several years, and I think part of it is being able to know how to ride in the streets. You know, building, scouting and dealing with security — all of that you just learn as you go.
When you first go out, you want to hit everything and don’t really have a plan. But the more you film, the more strategic and intelligent you are about it. You start looking for specific features for tricks you want to land. Along with that you are safer, and when you are good for four months of the winter, it is a lot easier to get a good part.
In snowboarding, are you just out there having fun, or do you ride with specific goals and purpose in mind?
Yeah, I mean at first I started because it was really fun. After that you just want to push yourself. In other sports, like tennis, you are against someone else. In snowboarding it is you against you, and I am pretty down with that. I am always pushing myself to have a better part than last year. I was really excited about X-Games because it was a one month push yourself and make it happen filming trip.
You dropped some serious hammers for Real Snow, what tricks are you most proud of?
I think the 50-50 to backflip to board slide, or the switch 50-50 to half-cab on the wall. Also, I was stoked on the switch back-tail on the gap to down rail. I had never really tried that trick before and I was happy with how it turned out.
Frank April dropping one of his many hammers in his Real Snow part
With winning Real Snow and getting Rookie of the Year, you have caught the attention of the industry. What are your plans to stay relevant?
I am not sure [laughs]. I’m not going to put that kind of stress on myself. I will just try to do the best I can, and whatever happens I will just keep snowboarding. With the project that we have with Déjà vu it’s different this year. It is more of a group project than, “his part and my part”. It’s pretty sick, just having fun with friends again and trying to film the best video part. It’s been cool to have everyone working together on it.
Déjà vu is taking more of an artistic approach to videos, want to explain a bit about it?
Yeah, we have some really good people working on the project. There’s a really good focus for the video as well. It is going to be a little like Chicagof, in that it will be something different from what everyone else is doing.
You were recently picked up by NOW bindings. Did that happen because of riding for YES.?
Actually, no it’s not because of that. J.F. Pelchatt is a Quebec guy and I have known him for a long time. I was on a Wildcat movie about five or six years ago and he just asked me if I want to get with NOW. I was all about it because I am super stoked on the product, so it was an easy decision.
So to finish off the season, what tricks or features are you after that you haven’t put down yet?
There are few different tricks I would like to get. I just have to find a good set up. But mostly I go with the vibe of what’s happening and try to do my best. I hope we will have enough snow throughout the whole season.
Who in the industry is pushing it and keeping you stoked?
I would say Louif-Felix Paradis. He is a good friend first, but I like how he thinks and how he works, too. I am really down with some backcountry riders like Gigi (Rüf) and Nicholas (Müller) as well as Xavier de Le Rue. I am stoked on the stuff he is trying. To be honest, I have been watching more skate stuff than snow lately. I feel like skating has more of an evolution of tricks.
Are there specific tricks that you are trying to translate from skateboarding to snowboarding?
I think, for me, I like how they can do lines of tricks instead of just one or two. I think we also have to bring in real nose blunts and things like that. Right now there is no difference in peoples mind about a back-lip and a back nose-blunt. It worked with back-tails, so I am super down for getting into that.
If there was a hungry rider looking to get into the industry as a pro, what would you tell them?
I think a lot of it is about fun. At first, everyone just shreds at the resort and does contests. Then you can decide if you are down with that, and if not, you can do your own thing. I think that is a good point about snowboarding. You can do whatever you want, and if people are down with what you are doing, you can make it a job — and if not, you can just go have fun with it.