When the DVS Shoe Team hit Europe to premier the brand new Skate More DVD in Paris, we sent Ralph Lloyd Davis out into the middle of the action for a well earnt cultural piss up with the lads who were on the tour. The interview below includes words from Keith Hufnagel, Colin Kennedy, Torey Pudwill, Daewon Song, Steve Berra and Mike Taylor. Enjoy!
How long did ‘Skate More’ take to make?
Keith Hufnagel: The idea of doing the video came about 2 years ago.
This is the first ever DVS video, so was it hard to live up to any expectations people might have?
KH: Sure, yeah! (Laughter)
Colin Kennedy: DVS hired me about 3 years ago on the premise of doing a video. I approached them because I wanted to work with the team, and they were like, ‘Yeah, we really want to do this video!‘ So, the initial idea was about 3 years ago, and it was only in the last couple of years that we have got together and really worked on the project.
Often skaters will be working on several projects at the same time. Is it hard to sit on footage or even lose it to another ongoing project?
KH: Oh yeah! Obviously I have to share a lot of my footage with REAL, but some of the stuff I wanted to keep specifically for the DVS video. When I had to film a part for another companies’ video, I found myself picking bits out of my DVS footage which is tough. Then you have all the footage that doesn’t even get used.
Keith, you’re known for putting out clean, powerful video parts. Is this intentional, or are you secretly stock piling a load of manual madness and after black handrail hammers somewhere?
KH: (Laughter) No! Well. Yeah we’ll be dropping a special edition DVD with all that stuff in there! (Laughter)
Growing up in New York and living in San Francisco, would you say those environments have helped mould the way in which you skate i.e. cruising the urban landscapes of the Big Apple and learning to control the speed of San Francisco hill bombing?
KH: Definitely. I mean it makes you skate that way with the hills, and if you ride them then you’ll learn to go faster. If you don’t learn how to control it then you fall! You can’t look like a pussy on the hills! (Laughter)
Steve Berra: That’s why I live in LA! (Laughter)
Who came up with the Monty Python style skits?
CK: Actually it was the previous DVS art director guy, him and his right-hand assistant that still works with us. One guy came up with the name, ‘Skate More’, like Nike has the slogan ‘Just do it’, and you can translate it however you want. For instance you might just want to ‘skate more‘ often or you could just want to ‘skate more‘ ledges, rails whatever. The art director that came up with the Python idea wanted to make the video more light-hearted and not too seriously, and I mean what is more light-hearted and tongue in cheek than Monty Python?
What would you say is your favourite Monty Python movie?
CK: I’m a big fan of the ‘Search for the Holy Grail’.
Torey Pudwill: I’ve never even heard of them! (Laughter)
Mikey Taylor: Me too. I have no idea who they are.
KH: Yeah, I used to the watch the ‘Holy Grail’ one a lot.
SB: Which is the one where the fat guy blows up?
The ‘Meaning of life’.
SB: That one was kinda sick.
CK: That one has a great song that we used in a commercial.
Do you guys ever get worried about your footage of the video being leaked onto the internet? It happened to Chris Cole and his part from the new Zero video.
CK: We made sure that our video doesn’t get on the internet. It isn’t there yet, and even if it is it’ll just be a bad bootleg from somewhere? It doesn’t worry me that much because the kids who want to see it will buy it.
I recently watched some old videos that date from the early 90’s and you see these guys doing these really long lines, and the camera is all over the place. Do you think it would be possible to put a part like that out nowadays?
SB: I don’t think it is possible to do that anymore. I think it would be career suicide to try and do a video part in 3 days, filmed by your mate. Skating has changed so much since those days, which is sad because I wish we could do a video in a few days. That would be amazing! (sighs)
Looking at you own video parts, is there anyone in the team you would like to swap with, or perhaps swap with a person from an old video?
SB: Ah shit! I don’t know. Maybe someone’s part from the Blind Video, ‘Video Days’.
KH: The Gonz in ‘Video Days’.
SB: Hey Torey, have you ever seen the Blind video?
TP: Yeah! I have seen the Blind video thanks! (Laughter)
Daewon Song: I don’t think kids get the same feelings we had when we used to watch those old videos.
TP: I understand it Daewon!
DS: Yeah, I know you do, but I’m just saying that when we saw the Blind video it had a massive impact on us.
KH: ‘Video Days’ came out before you were even around!
Daewon, you just got voted Skater of the Year by Transworld, how does that feel?
DS: Oh, someone really fucked up with the voting! (Laughter)
Well who do you think should have been Skater of the Year then?
KH: Daewon! (Laughter)
SB: I think I’d have been pissed if he didn’t get it!
DS: Tyrone Olson.
T-Bone? For real? Are you kidding me?!?
DS: I don’t know. (Laughter) Nobody! I don’t even know who decides these things. I mean, I’ll take it- I took the trophy and it’s at home. It was awesome and I feel privileged. Don’t get me wrong I’m stoked. I’m not like, ‘What? Transworld? Piece of shit.’
You have some European riders on the team, notably Paul Shier. Can we expect to see a part from him or any of the other foreign riders in ‘Skate More’?
SB: I think there’ll be some footage in the DVD extras.
CK: We’re going to release a limited, extended edition DVD later on around Christmas, and they will have their own section in that, like all the international riders. We have a lot of Australian riders, and guys from New Zealand, Europe and maybe even South America, but I’m not sure anyone rides for DVS over there. In any case, all those guys will get a segment in the extended DVD.
How do Americans perceive Europe ever since the Barcelona Blowout phenomena and all the companies and riders over here that are unknown abroad but killing it at home? Did that come as a shock, and how are you dealing with it?
SB: Well look at these spots they get to skate! Such places will obviously churn out sick skaters. It was just a matter of time for Europe to catch up with the level of skating and stuff. Europe and its skaters have always been good, but it was just a question of time. Now you have guys like JB Gillet and he’s unreal!
Speaking of JB, and many others, he had to do the annual pilgrimage over to the States in order to build up his career. However, now the tables have turned and lots of American pros are spending a good 6 months each year flying over to Barcelona and Europe to get things done. Did you ever think such excessive travel was going to happen?
SB: I think that from the very first time I came to visit Europe, I could see that it was going to be inevitable because the spots and architecture were just mind blowing. Plus, the fact that so many pros live in California meant the place got bled dry pretty fast, so it was pretty natural that we should start coming out here. But, the pros still keep California as their home and base because like that you can maintain a profile as a pro by actually being there. It’s hard to be an American pro and just go and live in Barcelona forever. I mean, you can come over and film but you still have to be around at home.
KH: Some people are doing it, but others have family at home and other priorities. If you don’t have any of that then you can just go live in Barcelona for however long you like.
Do you think there is a stronger medium that touches the public and the kids more than videos? On a personal basis, how important are demos and getting out there to meet people?
SB: I think magazines and tours are just as important because you can have guys that film video parts, but no kids have ever seen them! If you take someone like Jamie Thomas for example, a guy that all he did was tour for years and years, and create a demand for his brand, his name, to a point where every kid across America had some idea of who Jaime was and how good he was on a board. So I think it is equally important to film a good video part but then follow it up with tours and demos where the kids can actually see you live.
CK: I think that from watching these guys on tour and seeing how stoked a kid is as they turn up at a spot, like ‘Is that really Berra?!?’, and then actually shaking hands with the kid.
SB: Do kids actually call out for me? (Laughter)
CK: Yeah they do! The moment where they actually cross that line between fantasy and reality is great. I see it from an outside perspective and it’s cool to witness such scenes, It’s very important. The kid will ask some random question and when the pro answers, they’ll just be blown away! I think its times like that that have more of an effect than a video part because you get a taste of the skater’s personality.
Some of you are veterans of the touring circuit. When a new young amateur like Torey here is doing the first rounds, are there any good words of advice you can give the kid before his travels?
CK: Don’t drink the water in Spain.
TP: Yeah! I learnt that the hard way! (Laughter)
CK: He’s a good kid actually. Torey has got a good head on his shoulders.
SB: Don’t forget your wallet either!
TP: Yeah, I tried that one too, surprisingly! (Laughter)
I heard you had some awful experience during a DVS tour in Phoenix, Arizona. Care to divulge?
TP: Oh the Phoenix trip!
MT: It sucked! We had our gas tank siphoned so we were nearly stuck in the middle of nowhere with no gas.
TP: So many things went wrong over those couple of days, like every time we got the cameras out and were about to film it would just pour down with rain!
CK: Yeah, the weather wasn’t great! Every time we tried filming it would rain, so when it stopped and dried we’d get psyched to film again and it would rain. Again! (Laughter)
TP: Oh! We also went to that bird poo spot.
CK: That spot was like an old abandoned car racing track with a roofed seating area that you could skate, except all the pigeons had their stoops up there so the floor was about 4 inches thick of bird shit in places! And Torey slipped out and fell in it!
(Laughter) So what Torey? Have you got a third arm growing out of you hip or something?
TP: (Laughter) That sucked so bad. Our lungs were hurting after that experience.
On a random note, I remember seeing a fuck-off massive DVS sticker on Joey and Chandler’s fridge in ‘Friends’. How did that get there? And which of the two skates?
KH: I think its connections, like one of those guys knows Kevin, Brian or Tim (Gavin), and someone in the show throws it on. (Laughter)
CK: It changed over the years as well! (Laughter) I think it started of as one DVS sticker, then two, probably some Matix in there also for good measure. (Laughter) I think was through connections with somebody. Just a little product placement for free.
For you Steve, can you think of any actors or actresses you would like to see skate?
TP: He knows a lot!
SB: (Laughter) No. But some people skate, like some actors for instance the kid in ‘Almost Famous‘ can skate and he does kickflips down some big sets of stairs.
KH: Dave Chappelle skates.
SB: Oh yeah Chappelle!
With your career in acting, have you ever found any parallels with skateboarding, in other words does one help the other say with concentration, or emotion..?
SB: Basically my skating would help me with anything else because I learn things through it. I found myself doing jobs that I didn’t really like, and it didn’t parallel with what I was trying to build in skating, so that is one of the main reasons why I kind of stopped acting, unless it was something that I had a lot to do with in so much as developing it. Gosh! I haven’t acted for something like 5 years now because I’m just more focused on my skating.
I’ve seen footage at the DVS website that was filmed at Steve’s skatepark and it is clearly replicated from various original street spots, for instance the blue wave in Paris or the USC ledges. Was that done on purpose, and are they exact replicas?
SB: I’ve never been to any of those spots! (Laughter) They’re not exact replicas. That whoop-dee-whoo thing, the blue wave, I had seen in the new Stereo video so we tried to build it a few times and replicate that, but it actually turned out like shit! (Laughter)
TP: That thing was horrible!
SB: Then those pillars that Jason Dill does a backside 180 fakie manual on are 15 minutes from my house and I’ve never even been there! (Laughter) We just guessed at maybe what size they might be. Then the big barn door place, like barn yard roof type thing, we just came up with that.
Seeing as it’s pretty hard to street skate in America nowadays, did you find yourself suddenly making ‘new friends’ after you had built the park?
SB: When I first opened that park I got a bunch of ‘new friends’ so to speak, but not really, I mean I’m kind of friends with everyone anyway. But it’s true that there were a few pretty crazy people just showing up that I didn’t imagine I’d ever see.For sure! (Laughter). Anytime a new spot appears, especially in Los Angeles where it’s getting so hard to really street skate, people always want to try it out. There were some visitors at the park who I actually ended up becoming good friends with like Brian Lotti, who lives nearby and comes to the park all the time. I’ve been friends with Brian since, and I only knew him a little bit before. It’s weird because 12 years after meeting him for the first time, he comes down to the park and we hang out together.
With street-plazas popping up everywhere, do you think they will become the norm? Do kids not want to skate tranny anymore?
KH: Well, I think we already have a lot of skateparks built in the States.
Yeah, but don’t you think it’s strange how they are always replicas of spots long gone, for example the DC Plaza recreating Love Park, or the Vans Combi pool..?
CK: It would be cool if there were replicas of places like Love Park everywhere, but truthfully there aren’t that many huge skate plazas in America. We have hundreds of transition parks in California, so if you want to ride quarter pipes or a bowl there’s no problem. It’s the open space reconstruction that is the hard part.
This was more a question for Jason Dill, but seeing as he’s MIA, perhaps you guys could answer for him; Skateboarding comes across as being very image orientated with ads coming out showing the newest rider rocking a gold chain and striking a pose. Some might even go so far as to say that the companies will favour sponsoring somebody because of their marketability. Do you agree? Are you influenced by such phenomena, a victim of it or playing along?
KH: Yeah, people definitely go through with such plans if they know they can make money off it, but you also have to know how to skate- it’s the skating that should get you noticed.
SB: I’m sure some people have thrown in the extra bit of flair to get noticed, but other times that is just their shit. I mean I’ve seen a couple of guys do that, like throw a little something extra on and flair it all up a bit.
But when you have companies with team line-ups that read like an 80’s glam rock band, surely they can’t be relying solely on the skater’s talent..?
SB: That’s definitely. (Laughter) But seriously that’s what’s great about skating-
it’s known for that kind of stuff.
CK: I think it’s all about substance. If the person has a stupid name or a stupid gimmick, but they can back it up with substance then its fine. It all boils down to the skating. In a way it is the end all and be of the situation, like ‘Ok, you can have this stupid name blah blah blah.’ But then if you see the whole team doingthat then you know it must be a gimmick and the company probably sucks.
KH: It happens in other sports too; Tennis, for example with Anna Kornikova.
Yeah, but she just changed career altogether and grabbed the modelling money.
CK: Yeah. She never even won a tournament!
SB: What? She doesn’t play tennis anymore?
KH: Nah, she’s just hot!
SB: She probably makes more money than Venus and Serena Williams just through the fact that she looks hot and sells the image. But now there is this new female tennis player who is super good and super hot, so watch out Anna! (Laughter) I think she’s Russian.
Alright, now we are going to do a bit of word association. Just tell me the
first thing that comes into your head. Brussels?
CK: I think political institutions.
CK: Chino. Meth labs? (Laughter) No, Busenitz!
The Osiris D3?
CK: Retirement money! (Laughter)
KH: Yeah, the money.
SB: Ravers. A gimmick.
CK: The bomb!
KH: Keenan just makes me laugh when I think about him.
SB: Not the last time I was in Europe, but the time before, Keenan and I were sharing a room in Prague. We had a really important flight to catch the next morning and he just wouldn’t go to sleep. I’m there trying to convince him to get some rest and he’s just playing his music super loud. I’m so tired and all I want to do is sleep so I can wake up and catch my flight home, but Keenan just won’t stop! He’s like, ‘It’s alright. I’ve only got 2 more hours to stay up, it’ll be fine!’ So, I’m up the whole night listening to his crazy music, and then 15 minutes before the alarm goes off, he falls asleep! (Laughter) Now I’m the one that has to wake him up so he won’t miss the flight! (Laughter) No sleep because he’s been blaring music in my ears all night with his little DVD player or something.
Finally, what does DVS stand for?
KH: It just means ‘devious’ I think.
Is that it? Have you heard any bizarre acronyms of it over the years like ‘Dodgy Varials Suck’ or something..?
SB: Dae Von Song! (Laughter) Hey, DVS- Dae Von Song? (towards Daewon)
DS: People really believed that for a long time! (Laughter) I swear, I’ve seriously had over a 1000 people come up to me and ask me that! Is it Dae Von Song, or something with my middle name in there..? I’m like, ‘Dude!’ I told them, ‘Yeah. sure.’ (Laughter)
TP: DVS doesn’t stand for anything?
CK: It stands for ‘Devious’, that’s it!
DS: I wish it had been my name. (Laughter)
Alright guys, that’s it for me so thank you very much for answering my questions.
All: Thank you! And thanks to Crossfire.
SB: (Looking at a magazine) Holy Shit! New Plan B boards!