Hella Grip is a grip tape and apparel company based out of Oakland, California. The three main guys behind the company are Addison McNaughton, Johnny Verducci “2B” and Brendan Kelley. Lately they have been gaining tremendous support by riders. When you make a product as simple as grip tape it can be put on any scooter. It isnʼt tall bars that street riders ride, or short bars that park riders ride, it’s just a sheet of grip tape.
Riders of all different styles have a sheet of Hella Grip on their scooter. I remember when the company first started I was talking to Addison about how hard it would be to make profit because grip tape is so inexpensive. His response was he didnʼt care, he was doing it for scootering, and that is the most dedicated you can be. From his enthusiastic attitude he has gained great success. So what is behind the mysterious sloth company?
You have been riding since the absolute beginning. How does it feel to go from scooters being nothing to you being able to give back to the community by starting a company?
It feels right, which seems to be the greatest benefit for me if I think about it. I rarely ponder the “big picture” in regards to why Iʼve chosen to hang around the scooter/ action-sports community for this many years (scooter-years are still like dog-years). I suppose itʼs because Iʼve never had to debate hard decisions about what I want to do next. All those choices or decisions kind of happened subconsciously. So I wouldnʼt say I always had a dream of starting a scooter-related company, but itʼs been a dope experience since we went from just humoring the idea of Hella Grip to actually getting off our asses and launching the project. To see riders that Iʼve never met rep our brand and want to provide input on our product is a reward that I could have never prepared for. Itʼs been an honor to get such a warm welcome from a large chunk of the scooter community since we began handing out sheets of grip.
“We implement the nature theme because the sloth hails from the wild jungle, and the homies enjoy shredding the natural asphalt jungles. I guess itʼs supposed to be a little ironic.”
Being a scooter rider is ideal for running a scooter company because of the instant input you can get from the product. How is prototyping product?
I imagine prototyping other scooter products (decks, wheels, bars, etc.) can be hellish at times, especially for companies in start-up-mode. For Hella Grip at this point, prototyping grip tape is mostly about coming up with a new graphic to implement on our Classic Grip Sheet, and making sure that The Homies donʼt think itʼs lame. As a rider who co-owns a company with friends who have been surrounded by the scooter community just as long as I have, itʼs easier to tell if a new design will be enjoyed by the masses. Itʼs super dope that we can also get instant input on product through social media. As cliché as it may sound, I never thought that programs like Facebook and Instagram would actually come in handy for us as a company.
The Homies and myself are always discussing future graphic ideas, sheet dimensions and overall quality. Thatʼs the best part about prototyping product for me, just the whole brainstorming process. Grip tape doesnʼt necessarily require the kind of high-endurance testing that other products require, so the majority of prototyping is done in the mind during a solid brainstorming session. You can play guess-and-check as many times as you want when itʼs just your imagination doing the work. The same method isnʼt practical with a product like a scooter deck because it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to play around with production molds.
When I think of Hella Grip I think of the Bay area. How is the scooter scene there?
I think the scene is pretty small depending on how you look at it. There are always a couple kids on scooters at the skateparks around here, but youʼll ever show up at a street spot and run into another crew of riders, or even a solo-shredder. Itʼs still mostly skateboard crews popping up on the streets. Itʼs not bad though, because we always have homies and other crews visit the HGHQ to keep us company. I get to take them to some local spots, and then we share pizza and root beer after a good session.
What is the reason for the sloth and nature theme?
Homies always ask me whether Iʼm an ass-man or a breast-bro, and I just gotta let ʻem know that Iʼve been a sloth-sir since day #1. The laid back nature of our nature is what inspired our mascot (way back before all those ridiculous sloth memes started popping up). We implement the nature theme because the sloth hails from the wild jungle, and the homies enjoy shredding the natural asphalt jungles. I guess itʼs supposed to be a little ironic.
Hella Grip has a house that I always look forward going to when I am in the Bay area. What is the setup there?
The HGHQ layout is essentially a square-donut-shaped-domicile with a donut-hole for a storage room/guest room. Our building used to be a doctorʼs office, so I like to think about how our bedrooms once had a bunch of sick humans with dudes sticking things inside of them. Anyways, weʼre located in the downtown Oakland area, so we have plenty of dope spots and medical dispensaries right outside our front door…and crackheads, of course. I like to keep the interior of the HQ pretty clean and welcoming at all times because you never know when a homie is gonna cruise through on a trip and need a spot to crash.
We look forward to your next visit, Dylan. Just give me heads up so I can wash the sheets. Gotta have clean sheets…always…and forever.
I always envisioned Hella Grip doing collaborations with companies to stock your grip on their decks out of the store. Is something like this planned in the future, or can you reveal any future plans?
Weʼre all about collabos, but only if the vibe is right in terms of the company that weʼre working with, and the style of grip they want to help produce. Weʼve had one collabo that ended up not working out after a couple rounds of brainstorming fell through, but weʼre currently in the works of finalizing our very first collabo sheet. Collabos are a big interest for me because you get a chance to work directly with other companies in a manner that benefits both parties. I kind of look at it as a nice sign of respect as well. Itʼs not all about competition between brands.
Where did the nickname 2B come from?
Goddamn it… Okay. It was 2002. Every Friday after school The Over Show homies & myself would go out and filming. At the time we loved to skating, scootering & BMXing, but we also loved emulating our favorite movies/shows like CKY and the Tom Green show. So after skating a spot for a few hours, I had found a prefect location for filming what we called a “bush jump”. I climbed up a nearby tree next to the bush and asked my friends if the bush was suitable for jumping into, of course they replied with “yes, we already fucking tested it! Anyways I jumped off the tree into the bush and a stick punctured me to right next to my butthole. Therefore making a second butthole and the name 2B (Two buttholes). Yes there was blood. No there isnʼt a scar. Yes there is footage..
You are the most energetic, enthusiastic, dedicated filmer I have ever met. Where does this intense passion for what you do come from?
Mountain Dew and ADD… When youʼre filming with your homie whoʼs been struggling with a trick for hours, days, weeks..etc there is no better feeling for everyone involved (filmer, photographer, rider and homies) when that person finally does land the trick. I love that feeling, there is nothing like it! Getting to be apart of that super gnarly clip that makes other people from all of the world want go out and ride is awesome. And fuck I guess I just really love extreme sports.
You have been filming skateboarding along with scootering for a decade. Your main focus right now is filming scooters. Is this a change from filming skateboarding?
No, not really. For me its not about what youʼre filming its about who and where. Back in the day with the Over Show guys they would go out and kill themselves trying the craziest tricks. It didnʼt matter what it was skate/snow/wake/scoot or BMX, It was about the clip you walked away with. And now itʼs the same thing with the Hella Grip Homies. I go out every weekend filming with Jake Sorensen, the Haag, Austin Almonte, Zach Fuller, Eric Ostrom & one of my best friends(Addy) and we do the same thing. Itʼs also fucking awesome making new friends like the Los Angeles HG Homies. Wheeland and Ralph come up a lot and are amazing homies. Iʼm super juiced to have guys like them be apart of HG. They have the true eye for going gnarly. And that my friend is what its all about.
You have intense hometown pride. What is all the crazy stuff you do for your basketball/ baseball teams?
Ha! Nothing super crazy. BK (1/3 of HG) & myself have season tickets to the Golden State Warriors and thatʼs a blast! I go to a lot of Aʼs games, sometimes with Big Ron which is always hella fun. Ron is a huge Aʼs fan and will come down to Oakland for whole weekends just to go to games. I think all of the Bay Area Hella Grip Homies are Oakland Aʼs Fans, which is fucking awesome! Oakland is the best and worst at the same time. But you should always have hometown pride!
Can we expect another Hella Grip full length? Hella Stoked and Hella Broke was radical and I want more.
I would love to make a full-length video but at this point in time I donʼt think that will be happening any time in the near future. If HG is making real full length we are going to go all out balls to the wall! But I do think that there will be a web video like Hella Stoked and Hella Broke coming out hella soon aka when I get my shit together. Zach Fuller has started working at HG, helping out with filming and editing which we are super juiced to have the extra help. I think I really want to do a tour/demo vid like the old ʼ90 skate- vhsʼs.
I always think of Hella Grip as the Shake Junt of scootering. What are your influences when it comes to filming and editing?
HA! Fuck yeah! Thatʼs super cool. Iʼve always been a big “Baker Boys” fan. I have Baker 2G playing right now on the TV behind me! Yeah Beagle is the dude! But really Iʼm all over the place with who my “influences” are…. Star Wars, 2pac, Hunter S., Mickey Mouse, the tv show “How I Met Your Mother”, Bobby D., Andrew Reynolds, the recording artist named Prince, Marlboro redʼs, Iron Man, Gremlins1&2, Mex doof, Drive- in movies & the Dark Lord Satan just to name some off the top of my head.