Danny Way interview

Danny Way is probably the best skateboarder in the planet. There is not another human being that brings fresh, outrageous and creative ideas to test the boundaries of what could be done on a skateboard. Zac managed to get an hour or so with Danny exclusive to Crossfire whilst he was making plans for his Megaramp competition being held on August 8th 2004 in the USA. This interview is as big as the stars that surround the planet Danny Way has created by himself.

Enjoy..

OK, let’s test this Dictaphone out ‘ say something Mr Way.

Gooday mate! (bellowed in an Aussie accent!)

Hey I’m from the UK fella, you are in the wrong country!

(Laughs)

So, where you at right now?

I’m actually in my car driving away from the doctor’s office trying to get my ankle sorted out so that I don’t have to worry about limping around at the XGames here.

What’s with the ankle?

It’s not too bad. I rolled it and sprained it a couple of weeks ago, it’s not a major sprain, but swollen..i can still skateboard, but it’s definitely not 100%, so I gotta take of it, you know.

Are you missing out on a DC US tour at the moment?

Yeah, I skipped the whole tour this summer so I would not have been in a situation where I could get hurt. But it just so happens I have legitimately rolled it practicing for the XGames which is bad luck! I have to focus on this Megaramp Jam as opposed to being on a tour, I need to my concentration and being on tour would have taken my thoughts away from where they ought to be right now.

A lot of people over here in the UK would not have heard about what you are bringing to the XGames this year, so fill us in on what will be going down.

Well, we have taken the Megaramp to the XGames this year. We wanted to look beyond where have been at with competitions and look into the future to figure out what is the next step as far as the progression of skateboarding. It’s been progress over time, little by little putting the building blocks in place so now we are almost ready to go. Check out the photos, you can see where we are at as far as progressing the environment to be able to extend the boundaries of a trick to put skate boarding on a level where there is an unlimited amount of possibilities. It’s not just what can be done on the Megaramp but also to show that we have barely begun to experiment with what we have.

Obviously all of this has come from Point X Camp, how big is this ramp, is it bigger?

It’s about the same size part from it’s built on flat ground in a parking lot, so it’s freestanding from the flat ground to the top about 100ft (33m)!

Wow, that is fucking huge! What other skaters will be riding this ramp at the event?

Pierre Luc Gagnon, Jason Ellis, Bob Burnquist, Jake Brown, Brian Patch, myself, and Bucky Lasek.

No Mike Valelly?

Nope, I don’t know if Mike is ready to roll into this. He is amazing skateboarder and has a good shot of doing this but I dunno if he is ready to get into this right now?

Who invites the other riders to this particular event?

Not me, but I have provided the practice facilities for these guys and that allows me to kinda get my thoughts on where people stand on where their ability goes and you can tell who will be entering the contest. It’s pretty self explanatory who should be in the contest and who shouldn’t, so that is where we are at right now, there has been enough guys coming out there, so it’s been dictating itself.

You mentioned the word practice, it’s shit or bust really on something that big right?

Well yeah, you can practice as there are 2 different sizes of jumps. There will be a 50 ft jump and a 75ft jump. The smaller one, you can practice quite a few things on without being too beaten up, but the big one I would say is more the for when the time is right in contest time. I would not say that we have too much time to practice on the big one. It makes that better for the contest.

All the guys have been going down at the ramp a lot to practice and have had as much time as I have out there. It’s pretty fair, I don’t wanna make this a biased situation, and i wanted to make sure that we had an equal amount of time to be good at it.

Have those guys been hitting the box and the rainbow rail as well?

No, the box and the rail have been left out of the picture this year because there is simply not enough time to learn how to do every thing out there and we are out there to get jumps wired as that is enough time consumption as it is, and I feel as though the rail and box will add too much confusion this year. If it goes well this year, and I have a good feeling that it is going to, then it will be more exiting to add them into the contest next year.

What kind of prize money is up for this?

You know what, they have not even told people yet and that is not the issue, it’s all about doing it.

So, have you had a run on the new Megaramp yet now it is constructed?

Yeah, I was up there yesterday taking a peak at it and it’s pretty much done. Apart from they would not let anyone practice just yet because they have to have the safety engineering stuff done first and we have to all sign off on it all. The thing is nuts though, it’s no joke!

Do you compare it snowboarding?

To some degree, yeah, but on a snowboard you can slow down, but on a skateboard there are no brakes and you got straps and stuff! It’s a lot more technical, a lot like snowboarding but on a snowboard you have a lot of pluses on your side.

You snowboard though yeah, does it help for this?

Yeah, i snowboard; it has helped me, as much as motocross has helped me as in trying to gather enough confidence to be able to look at a jump that big a magnitude on my skateboard so that I can actually jump it. So those kind of jumps on my motorcycle and a snowboard have really helped.

How much time was spent deciding how the Megaramp would go from idea to built?

We tried to mimic or duplicate the plans of the DC ramp as much as possible without having the same landscape to build it on which creates a few variables here and there. It is similar, but there are definitely some design changes. Looking at the ramp you can tell that the roll ins into the ramp are all just really steep and gnarly looking, and at Point X, one of the roll in’s on the smaller jump is really mellow and slow. You go fast, and if you jumped off, you would be alright. But this one is very different, basically once you drop in, there is no turning back!

How fast is it?

Really fast! In fact we will make sure that we find out exactly how fast with this new ramp, as I wanna find out. It’s by far the fastest I have ever been on a skateboard….nothing compares.

Geometry and calculation wise it must have been difficult, how much of that were you involved in?

A lot of it has been a gathering of information over the years, I have skated a lot of ramps and you have a good idea of what the perfect ramp will be like. It didn’t really take a long time to figure out the dimensions.Once I started to get into it I just started to figure it out pretty quickly. Using the formula I have used for my ramp in the past, I multiplied the numbers and got to where we are now. The guy that actually built it is JT at VPI Ramps, he built my last ramp and just continued, it’s progression for them too.

What about the World records, the XGames is probably a great platform to break your existing record at, is that something you are thinking about?

It’s possible. I had to be fair and I didn’t want to make the ramp too different from Point X and I feel like I didn’t really maximise the potential of Point X for the World Record stuff, so it is gonna be a similar environment but not gonna be dramatically different. I may break the record by a foot or 2 here and there but whatever, so long as it gets done. Its not a big focus for me, but I will definitely be excited if it happens.

When you were filming the DC Video at Point X, was it on your mind?

Yeah, I like to do that to set a benchmark to know where the boundaries are at right now, you know. It’s like putting a stake in the ground and you can keep pushing your stake out further and that is where we are at ‘ just trying to extend the boundaries and keep pushing the stakes out and that is why doing the high air stuff and the records kind of just draws the line to say OK, anything’s possible inside here.

What about the other riders, have they got their eye on breaking that record, or is it more of a jam situation out there?

No, it’s more of a jam, those guys are as just as intimidated as I am when I look from the top of the roll in. You know these guys don’t have much experience, so it’s gonna be a long haul for them to attempt a world record you know, but, most of the competition is gonna be about the different tricks that are going down.

Who do you think has the edge on the tricks so far?

We will see.it could be anyone’s day. Everyone has been working the runs that they are gonna do depending on who makes what, it will be interesting.

What is the most impressive trick that has gone down so far?

Hmmn.it’s hard to say. (He’s being very coy here and will not give anything away!)

Has anyone ridden it switch?

I have ridden it switch, Burnquist has too.

You still say that you have unfinished business at that ramp, is there other stuff filmed that has gone down already?

Yeah, there is actually. The Megaramp Documentary video that OnVideo are making right now, but I have a bunch of footage that I have at the Megaramp on the rail that I have not used yet. There is some stuff in the new Transworld that just came out, the Awards issue and there are 2 pages on me in there, a frontside 270 to backside lipslide across the rail, and switch nosegrind across the rail.

How much do you kill yourself when you are skating this stuff?

It depends, every session is different, some days I walk away clean and some days I walk away beat up. There have been days when I haven’t really been trying to do much and just having fun, and I take a good slam, it’s so unpredictable!

Did you bust your balls yet on that rainbow rail?

Er..not yet.but it could happen anytime soon!

I must admit that there is just one part of the video in the extras section where you just get away with it and you are laughing at the camera and that just about sums it all up for me, it was a real moment of seeing someone having the best fun ever, and that is skateboarding all over!

Yeah, it’s one of the moments where you are walking on thin ice and don’t get beat up, you know, it’s almost fun to laugh at it, as you know that you just got away with it. It’s like a battle you know, just right on the edge and it didn’t get ya! It’s a large muthafucker!

You have been on the top of your game for a while now, have you ever been approached to do this as stunt style, like jumping the Great Wall of China or something?

Yeah, we are planning to do that kind of stuff, it’s on the horizon, but only as a publicity stunt. It’s not as important to me to represent skateboarding in that fashion. I think it’s cool to be able to say you have done this and that and that other, it’s cool to define the boundaries of the sport but you know, for the first part, I don’t want to be known as the Evil Knievel on a skateboard!

I’m so chuffed you just said that!

Yeah, there are a lot more things are I am more proud of than just jumping on my skateboard from point A to point B you know. But like I said, defining the boundaries, gives the sport room to grow. If I can clear a 100ft gap on my skateboard and get it wired, then who is to say that you can’t do 720’s over 100ft and get them wired and that’s my motivation to build new boundaries. Why are we saying we have to play in this little yard over here, when we can play in this big playground over here you know?

How do you look after yourself before you do this big stuff?

I stretch a lot, it’s like a ritual man! So much stretching and I work out all the time, just keeping all my joints strong that are weak from all of the injuries over the years. If I don’t work out I just start to go to shit, I cannot do the stuff that I wanna do, so that has become part of my skating, feeling like I am strong enough to be able to handle the stress I put my body through.

What about nutrition, is food part of your resume?

Yeah, I’m not a saint or angel about it, I don’t try to take it beyond living on crazy diets and stuff like that. I naturally eat healthy and have done for a long time. I don’t have a formula that I stick to, but I do eat healthy and I do take care of my body as far as rehabilitation goes, like training and stuff like that, because if you are pulling your body in another direction all the time, you need to. But I’m aware that you can be too anal about keeping healthy in regards to diet, you can start to have a military approach to skating, and that is not healthy either. I’m not looking at how many carbs or how much protein is going in my body, but in regards to what food I eat, I make sure I eat healthy with organic foods. I do not eat meat and have not done in 20 years now. I eat a lot of fish and I love fishing. I eat fish all the time, only if it is freshly caught though.

What about sponsors, as various pro’s like Tony Hawk for example have signed themselves up for the big food companies, has this been offered to you, would you take the money and endorse stuff like that?

I really would not want to endorse anything that I would not personally consume or embrace myself. Like the McDonald’s thing, I don’t personally eat McDonald’s, my kids don’t eat McDonalds, and I think McDonald’s is crap so I would never skate for McDonalds you know. It’s not about money at a certain point. I have had a great career in skateboarding and made enough money and I am happy with what I have, and I have always felt good about what I am representing and promoting. That is the most important thing to me as a person, about who I am and what I am about.

How old are your kids, are they skating?

I have two boys; one is 2 and the other 6 and yeah, they are both skating a bit!

How much stuff do you do for kids?

We do as much as we can, not much on the way of skate schools, but tours, loads of tours. There was a video tour for the DC video around the World with signings and stuff, but we try to interact with the kids as much as possible whenever we get a clear chance to do it.

You mentioned before about your tough upbringing, how did that have an affect on your skateboarding?

Having a rough background made me value the things that are important to me in life from a young age and the most thing I probably value as being most important in my life aside from my kids, my wife, family and friends is skateboarding, for being able to give me a life when I was a kid you know. I respect skateboarding for giving me the things I have, and that is why I want to help skateboarding and not harm it.

Skateboarding has always been there for individuals that have gone through a lot of shit; it is probably one of the best things ever for people wanting to find a creative route in life.

Yeah, it’s the kid of thing that does not take a hell of a lot of money to get into it. You may not have the best brands that you can find on the street but it doesn’t take much to get rolling on a skateboard and for a kid that don’t have much that can get their hands on a skateboard, it’s a great channel. I’m a good example of that when i was a kid and I needed anything to get away from what I was going through at home with my family life, and skateboarding was the nearest thing I picked up on to get me out of hard times you know.

Who had the board, how did you get into it?

I grew up in Southern California and skateboarding was a big part of the culture here alongside surfing and my uncles and my dad had a skateboard, so I started to ride them and then started to ride Del Mar skate ranch and that was the place where Tony (Hawk) grew up skating and other pro’s and it was right by my house, just off the freeway there so my brother and I would flip out and start going there. We were about 6 years old.

You were the talented kid that was fired into the skateboarding spotlight from an early age; did you feel pressure back then as the light was on you?

I have always been self driven throughout my career and never really had a lot of pressure from others around me, but now, going into the XGames I feel pressure because people are expecting you to compete at a certain level, but for the best part, I feel as I have had a little battle with my inner self, the pressure comes from myself.

Who was skating there back then, did you skate with Gator?

Oh yeah, we skated together.

Have you seen the Stoked.Rise and Fall of Gator movie?

Yeah, he was one of my favourite skateboarders you know, in skateboarding terms he was beyond most and I always thought that he was the most complete skateboarding vehicle that was on the scene. You saw pretty much the best of all the top pro’s at that time in one guy and that was Gator, and then he lost his mind. I don’t know what happened from there.

Are you in touch with him at all?

No. I can’t relate to him at all you know? I don’t really know where to start. I was friends with the guy then, and I just don’t relate to how to somebody can go to that level mentally, but I respect him for his skateboarding, but not his decisions in his ability to handle the roller coaster ride of life you know.

What about Christian Hosoi, have you seen him since he has been back on the scene?

Yeah, I was just hanging out with him the other day. He came down to the Megaramp with Omar to check out what we have going on, but he didn’t skate it as he had tweaked his knee, it was a little irritated.

Do you think he is going to come back into skateboarding in a big way?

Yeah for sure, he has preserved his body for about 5 years and he is in good shape. He looks rock solid, ribbed, and he looks as though he has been working out a lot. He is getting a lot of publicity right now because people have been waiting for so long and people have been saying stuff like, will we ever get to see him skate on that level again and now he is back and people are blown away!

I think a lot of kids should know the history of a rider of his caliber, do you think it is important that kids do know about people like Hosoi to help them skate bigger stuff?

What he brings back to the table is style, power and finesse and people forget about that. You look at a lot of vert contests these days and how robotic every one is and how much they’re just trying to bang out trick after trick instead of trying to actually show how much ability they have with power and style and all that as it’s a big part of it you know ‘ it’s how you get the job done!

What about other skaters, who are you rating out there?

There are a lot of young kids that are amazing, but I grew up and the guys I was looking up to were different. Times have changed and these guys have idols now that are street guys. But it’s hard to see the same kind of roots for building blocks these days. For example we have a local park here with a brand new sick vert ramp and all the kids are riding the street course!

What will it take for people to start realising that street skating is not everything?

Well it’s to do with facilities. If there is not a vert ramp around, well, street is what you do, so it’s all about providing the ramps in areas to make people aware that you can ride everything.

Have you skated the Oregon Parks?

Yeah, the kids are skating those parks because there is nothing else for them to skate that is smaller, so it works well. I have had some great fun up there in the Northwest, I liked a lot of them, but there weren’t really any big vert sections where there were real vert transitions and there wasn’t really any street skating stuff either, mostly bowl and mini ramp kinda stuff, which is fun as shit, don’t get me wrong as I had a blast when I went up there. But a kid that skates those parks every day is not gonna come out of those parks as a vert skater unless they practice vert somewhere, but they are gonna come out looking for the lines and wanna fucking shred around somewhere.

Tony Trujillo style?

Yeah! Which is great, I love that style of skating! I feel that the ultimate park should have all places to skate, so that there is everything there for different levels.

What about Girls, are there more girls skating in the USA these days?

Yeah, there are more girls skating, not a lot but a couple of girls that shred locally. For example there is one girl from round here in Encinitas called Lyndsey who is sponsored and she rips!

That park has had an upgrade huh?

Yeah, they just built a couple of shallow bowls, a new vert, a street course, but I don’t get down there much as they just finished it a couple of months back The bowls are mellow, no one around here wants to push the trannies over 11ft, and I feel as though some of these bowls should be equipt with 11ft but also with a couple of feet of vert, like vert ramp trannies. I prefer to skate my warehouse.

Who do you skate with down there?

Jake Brown, Colin McKay, Jason Ellis, and a few others.

What is Colin up to? Is he skating the Megaramp?

He has just come out of shoulder surgery, so he has not been riding it, but he will be up for best trick on the Vert at the XGames.

A possible chance he will be your vert doubles partner there then? Haha!

Vert doubles is like the synchronized swimming of skateboarding!

Do you work on tricks down there a lot?

Sometimes I will think about it during the night and go down there the next day and see if I can nail it, push it around and see if it works. Sometimes I try new stuff, other times I just jam down there. I have not been working on too many tricks lately, I have spent more time recently getting more repetition, get them wired for this XGames contest and not much video part stuff to do.

Do you enjoy doing videos?

I love doing video parts and progressing my skating. I get excited to get some motivation to push those boundaries. It puts more pressure on me and I like that.

Let’s talk music; I hear you are in a band?

Yeah, I play guitar, we are kind of hardcore at times and melodic at times. I write the guitar riffs, and then hook up with the vocalist Renee Renee who has a bit of a following as he was a well respected rapper before and started singing and has a crazy rock voice, so we hooked up and started a rock band. We jam a lot and have been putting the album down in the last couple of weeks on pro tools. We put the drums down in the studio and then we use pro tools to get it all together, but we will have someone in to mix it for us. Pro tools are the best way to do it for us as we can use it anytime.

Sounds fun, so is it song based or are you making a racket?!

Song based for sure, we are not trying to fire up like a Death metal band!. I have had fun jamming that shit over the years but it’s mellower with melodic verses and heavy choruses. In fact we are playing at the XGames!

How many shows have you played so far?

About 3 so far. We played first with Pennywise and Unwritten Law and then MXPX and Guttermouth and other bands.and the XGames has a huge set up, it sounds like fun but my focus has to be on the contest as a priority but I love doing the band. You are in a band as well yeah?

Yeah, it’s called K-Line and we have an album come out right now.

What do you do, sing?

Yeah, I sing. We have a Dischord Records influence and some old school hardcore stuff, in fact we just played with 7 Seconds here recently.

Cool, they are great band! I will check that out.

So what is on your stereo in you car right now?

Ozzy man!

You love your Metal huh?

Yeah, I listen to everything from Circle Jerks and old punk rock stuff all the way through every kind of metal; I have about 5000 tracks on mp3 stored away. Sometimes, it’s metal, sometimes it’s hardcore. When I’m going down to the Point X ramp in the desert I will be listening to Slayer the whole way out there just to get fired up!

Reign in Blood the whole way?

Yeah, it’s definitely a big part of it! I just saw them recently and they played Reign in Blood, the whole album all the way through without stopping! It was sick, it was in San Diego..

So, which 5 bands would you choose out of all of them?

Er.Masters of Reality, Black Sabbath, Slayer of course, Led Zeppelin would be in there for sure and Metallica, Kill Em All!

What about Alien Workshop, you have been quoted to say after you got on Alien Workshop, that there was a possibility of Plan B making a comeback, how do you feel about that now?

I don’t know if we are willing to take the time to wanna make it happen, and I don’t know if Colin and I have the motivation to start another skateboard company right now, you know. We have done it before and we know what we are dealing with but it doesn’t make sense right now as we are both doing a lot things, and running a skateboard company is a full time job, it might be cool to do, but at the same time, is it really worth it…?

So what kind of mark do you want to leave on skateboarding?

I just feel as though skateboarding has the potential to be there and if we are all supposed to do it, I have been skateboarding my whole life and I feel the same as a lot of other guys that have spent their whole life getting trained to a level where you can actually think on that level, and now is the time. I’m not getting any younger and I gotta make this happen.

What is next for Danny Way? I hear that you are planning to build a skatepark on the side of a hillside, is this true?

Yeah, this is true, a few people know but I have not really spoke to much about it, only to friends. I just bought a bunch of property in Hawaii, where I don’t have to worry about neighbours, noise, etc and it’s full of hills and jungle and it’s big enough to do what I wanna do. I chose Hawaii because I like to surf and I can’t afford to buy property and do that here in California, plus Hawaii is a lot nicer than California, and the property price is a lot more realistic!

Wow, so what would the hillside park be like, what are you thinking?

I have not even really got that far just yet, as I have only just got the property locked down, but there is a lot of possibilities so I will go out there and start designing it, but the possibilities are unlimited! It’s gonna be pretty amazing!

So Rob Dyrdek gets a DC plaza and you get a hillside!

Yeah, Rob’s project is moving forward nicely. There is plenty more to come!

So let’s cap this interview then with one more question ‘ if you had Tony Hawks’ leer jet to whisk you away to skate anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I don’t need to go anywhere as I have my warehouse and the Megaramp at Point X Camp and that is all I need! So, you know what? You could have that flight and get your ass out here for a session!

Cool, I will pack my bags right now! Cheers for your time and good luck with everything.

Thanks man, you are welcome.