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Marco Kada

Interview

Whether it’s to lift the spirits at a spot, to celebrate a trick, or to end a sweet session – for many, the link between beer and skating is as close as griptape is to a board. And despite the fact that embarrassing videos occasionally pop up in various WhatsApp group chats or that you have to miss out on a day of nice spring weather due to bad hangovers, it’s not a big problem for most. For others, alcohol sneaks its way into their life slowly till it finally dictates their daily routine completely and is about to pull the rug out from under their feet – and that’s what happened to Marco Kada. He went from the obligatory beer at the session to an obligatory beer after brushing his teeth. At an early age, he slipped into alcoholism and went through dire straits. The addiction stripped him of the energy to skate and provoked more and more blackouts until he almost lost all of his sponsors. But he got his act together, not least because of his mother. He has been sober now for two years, is overflowing with positive energy, skates a lot, and produces more footage than ever. Now, the only relation he bears to beer is his residence, which is located in 16th District of Vienna – Ottakring – that is renowned for its brewery and its “16er-Blech” [colloquial for canned beer, editor’s note].

Marco, you grew up in Gmunden and now live in Vienna. Why did you move?

Gmunden is nice but also a really tiny city. You have the lake, one skatepark, one skate spot, and that’s it. I had to get out of there, and moving to Vienna was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Dominik [Hell-Weltzl] and Valentin [Schenk] told me that they have an empty room – and I’ve lived here for one year now.

Does the Austrian skate scene differ from the one in Germany?

I believe Austrians don’t take contests as seriously. At the COS Cup, for instance, there’s unbounded ambition. There’s something I don’t like about that. Contests in Austria aren’t really about the contest. It’s always just fun and 99% of the people get shitfaced.

Which brings us right to it. For you, alcohol stopped being fun at one point. Can you talk a bit about that?

I was still living in Gmunden at that time. As I said, it’s nothing new that skateboarding is connected to a lot of drinking in Austria. I just really overdid it. We didn’t go out skating after some time but rather went to the lake with a big crate of beer. After a while, I barely skated and I even realized the physical impact it had on me. Although, when you drink as heavily as we did back then, you only realize how much energy you’re missing after you quit drinking. I stopped completely overnight. I just didn’t want to put up with it anymore. I had so many hangovers in my life, it’s enough till I’m 80.

Would you say you were an alcoholic?

The question is how you define being an alcoholic. I define it as needing alcohol every day or drinking it or, the other way around, thinking about it all day when you’re not drinking. When you have thoughts like that wandering around in your mind, you definitely have a problem. 

"My friends and I, we could never go out for just a beer or two, we’d always get completely fucked up."

Did you just start drinking straight away when you woke up?

On tour, I usually got up, had some breakfast, and then drank a beer. Eventually, this became normal. Drinking beer and skating just goes together, but it wasn’t good for me, I couldn’t handle it. My friends and I, we could never go out for a beer or two, we’d always get completely fucked up.

How did everything unfold?

At the very beginning, we just had some beers at the weekend sessions. It just started turning into having a beer at every session and even continue drinking afterwards. We went out on weeknights and that again turned into grabbing a beer the next morning to hit the lake or the bowl.

When was that and how much did you drink back then?

I guess everything was normal till I turned 18, but I had my peak at age 20 and that was pretty extreme. I drank, like, twelve beers a day, and then you start wondering about whether you still remember drinking water, grabbing something to eat, or doing anything else but drinking beer.

Did that have an impact on your personality?

Of course, every drug changes your whole self. I barely went out anymore, my mom always said that I’m not visiting as frequently anymore. Sure, I didn’t visit her, because I didn’t want her to see that I’m already fucked up at noon. 

Did you drink on your own, too?

I guess. Not daily, but, one way or the other, something’s wrong when you do drugs on your own.

Were you even able to skate as good when you were drinking that heavily? Especially on tour.

You just stick to your basics, so you film something and then you can go on partying and drinking more booze.

Is it a problem that skating and drinking are so closely intertwined that you kinda just get sucked into it?

For sure. When you grow up with it and have your first beers at age 15, 16… There’s always beer at the session, and that absolutely played a big part. But I’m pretty glad that I realized all of this when I was 21. Still better than realizing it in your 40s.

Was there a certain point that made you realize that something is going wrong?

I didn’t skate anymore and rather hung out at the lake and, after all, skating is just more important to me than getting fucked up.

"You have to be sober for half a year to see things clearly. "

How did the people close to you handle it, for example, your mother or your girlfriend?

I have no idea what I would’ve done without them. My mom really had my back and helped me with everything. Sure, she was worried a lot, but she has been the happiest person for two years now. And my girlfriend did a lot of talking, too, and she was also very important because she never had a drink in her life. That made it a lot easier to quit. It was really hard for her and, basically, that was the point that made me stop. 

I just heard about it back then because Henne [Hendrik Herzmann], your team manager at Vans, didn’t really know how to deal with this situation. In the end, your sponsors sat down together and decided to furlough you. Meaning that you still got stuff, but they didn’t expect any output from you, didn’t pressure you, and didn’t take you to trips, so you can sober up. How did that go down?

They all backed me 100% and gave me a lot of support. I can’t thank them enough for doing this.

How did you decide to quit in the end?

I went through phases where I tried to quit before, but then it only took, like, one or two months till I relapsed. My mother and my friends asked me why I keep on relapsing and I knew that it didn’t make any sense, but I just missed drinking. The last time, it just clicked, I don’t even really know why I felt so confident and came through from one day to the next.

Did you go through that on your own or did you go to rehab?

When you stop drinking, you need medical supervision for sure. I was at a hospital in Gmunden for one week. I went up to them and said: “Hey, I have a problem,” and they just helped me. In order to let them help you, you have to be 100% positive about wanting to quit and leave all the problems behind. When it’s not in your own interest, there’s no point. 

Marco Kada Kickflip

Kickflip

That takes an admirable strength of character to admit that you have a problem and get help, too.

If you keep on telling yourself that it’s not so bad, you won’t stop drinking.

All of the Piss Drunx Boys seem to be extremely addicted to coffee after they sobered up. Did you get a surrogate as well?

I drink, like, three cups in the morning but besides that only a shitload of water. And I only eat fruits till supper. You can really feel how your body changes positively. You have a different kind of power and also the way you think changes. It takes, like, six months till your brain works on a normal level again. You have to be sober for half a year to see things clearly. At first, it was really hard, I barely went out. And when I go out nowadays, I don’t stay till six in the morning but check out all the drunk people till two, go home, and I’m fit to skate the next day.

How do you handle regular sessions or going on tour nowadays? Because the general conditions didn’t really change, everybody’s still drinking.

When I see people getting fucked up, I think twelve hours ahead and imagine where I’d be in twelve hours. Probably still drinking. And then I’m done with it in a second. Recently, the question of drinking beer has become pretty much obsolete.

You never had a single sip again after you stopped?

Nothing, not even a rum truffle or anything. I can tell you exactly that today is the 631st day of being sober.

"Alcohol is a fucking poison that can destroy everything, it’s a fact."

That shows how tremendously important it is to you when you even count the days.

I just mark them in my calendar and think about the fact that I have already made 631 days and how much it would suck ass to start from zero again.

You don’t want to reach the point where you can have one beer after a nice meal?

Nah, I don’t want it at all. There’s no desire left. Why should I drink, when I don’t want to? I mean you don’t drop into a halfpipe switch when you don’t want to as well. [laughs]

Was there never a moment where you were tempted?

Yeah sure, whenever you quit something, you always want it back. It’s tough in the beginning but, for me, it got easier day by day till the question whether I should drink or not became obsolete.

What are the first signs that should make you worry about your alcohol consumption?

Everyone has to decide that for him or herself. But when you can’t handle it anymore and still drink, even though you are disgusted by alcohol, then you have reached the point. Or when you get up every day and drink or when you can’t go without. When you can’t go on with your everyday life without alcohol, then you should start to worry. 

What’s your advice to people to prevent them from experiencing that?

That’s tough, because someone who doesn’t have the problem can’t understand. You have to realize for yourself what’s good and what’s bad, and that’s different from person to person. Everybody needs to know his limits and has to be able to handle his own consumption.

Alcohol is fun at first, you celebrate and feel good, but, towards the end, it probably wasn’t even fun anymore.

For sure, no matter how funny the night was, the morning after was 100 times worse. And till you reach the level of drunkenness again in order to feel fine… You always need more over time. Alcohol is a fucking poison that can destroy everything, it’s a fact.

Even better that you already did 631 days without it. What does the future hold for you?

The VX part will be online soon. Then I’m going to Barcelona and New York. Someday, I’ll probably go to university, but that doesn’t make any sense now. I know myself good enough to be able to tell that I probably won’t go to class when the weather is good. But you can still go to university when you’re 30. Right now, everything’s cool though and I have only been in Vienna for one year.

Then all the best for the future and thanks a lot for your honest words.

Marco Kada Wallie Alternativ

Wallie

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