Meeting… Romain Covolan!

Interview and photos: Benjamin Deberdt

Covoland is a skate spot… In the garden of a little suburban house, a bit outside Paris. Now that would already be a good story in itself, but it is above all a family one.
A dad, two sons, a grand-father, a mom, and finally, one Romain that some would have heard of, by now. Here he is, in flesh, standing in the middle of the really, really steep concrete transitions that circle his home. It is time for a session with friends visiting from down South, a calorific kebab lunch, a beer under the barrel vault in the first colds of winter and some chitchat about his beloved spot.

How did you discover skateboarding?
So, skating, it came when I was lil’: my dad put me on one, and I always kept at it. It stuck right away!

What were your first influences?
I don’t really remember… It was my dad, his buddies and some friends from the neighborhood that kept me excited. It’s only later that I found out about videos and all that…

How did you start skating trannies?
I always dug it, but it is quite recent that I really got into it. Before, I would try to skate everything, but I got fed up with it. Now, I’m too fat, forget about street skating! [Laughter] My dad kind of put me on those tracks, though, as he was only skating transitions. Then again, it doesn’t mean a thing: my brother was only skating street!

What about that thirst for concrete, how did it happen?
Well, when I was in high school, my dad had built a wooden tiny mini-ramp, a super steep one, in the garden. So, that was the first DIY! [Laughter] And I always heard him say: “Yeah, we’re gonna build a bowl, blahblahblah…”. But it never happened. So, when the ramp got really rotten, I decided to just destroy it, and make a concrete spot! It was the desire to skate something else, something different; plus building it yourself, it’s so much more fun!

So, it started all in the garden? With which part?
Yeah, I started home. The first part was the one by the garage door, the wall and the half-bowl, so rad!

Tell us a bit of the history of the construction…
As for building, it is my maternal grandfather that taught us all, as he had been a bricklayer all his life. So, with my brother and buddies, we just hyped ourselves up, learned and with his help, we made the first bowl. He then helped us with the second part, and since then, with a few friends, we kept at it until nowadays results! But the construction is never steady, let me tell you! [Laughter] Some times, we’ll work hard, and others we won’t do a thing for six months…

Romain, "at home" on this frontside hurricane…

Your spot has been getting publicity; you don’t get too many surprise visits?
No, people don’t really show up unannounced… I would like it, if many people showed up for the sesh! It’s always cool to have plenty of people at the house having a session!

Your mom never gets over it?
No, my mom is so cool. She digs it, she knows almost everybody that comes to skate on the regular. She’ll have a drink with us, and she’s been part of some of the big barbecues with everybody!

And yourself, what would be someone’s backyard you’d love to barge, given the chance?
I have no idea… My dream would be to skate some empty swimming pools in the States, go on a road trip and skate all those Oregon parks, all the big DIY spots like Burnside, San Pedro, Washington Street, FDR, Marginal Way… Now, that would be cool, not a spot in particular, or at someone’s house, just good spots, friends and beers!

I’ve seen pictures on the net of a new spot, haven’t I?
Yep, with some friends, not too far way from where I live. But this is classified information! [Laughter] But it isn’t the only one; soon, there will be everywhere. [Laughter]

More plans for the garden? Do you even have room left?
Yep, I got big plans for the garden, and quite enough room! If one day, I get the house, my projects are a good mini-ramp in the garage for the winters, and a bowl on the other side of the house, maybe modify the actual spot, with time! Here you go, big projects! That would be ideal: I would never even have to leave the house! [Laughter]

The million-dollar question: the neighbors?
No real stories with the neighbors… When we had the tiny wooden mini ramp, the old couple would freak out. My mom would just tell them off every time! As for the bowl, nothing really. The house from the other side of the street is junkie land, they’re always fucked up… It’s pretty funny, it is movie material over there! One time, another neighbor we are friends with, had just lost his wife, and he came by, freaking out, which I totally understand, off course. But he was madder about the barbecues and all night partying that had been going on for days! So, no, no real trouble makers, for now, in the neighborhood!

In conclusion?
I would like to thank the ones that have been helping me out: Converse, Cream skateshop and Witchcraft hardware! Plus all my family, my buddies, all the ones that help building, and everybody else!

And here is what a grey afternoon session at Covoland can look like:

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