Interview and portrait by Zac
All photos courtesy of our drinking pardner Rhino.
Pat Duffy exploded into the skate scene with his obnoxious video part in Plan B’s Questionable back in 1992 and played a major part in putting the company on the map with his unique style of skateboarding and the best back lipslide in the biz.
After Plan B closed its doors Pat delivered bangers for Think! and then World Industries until the latter became a joke brand, but fortunately Danny Way and Colin McKay reignited Plan B and have now built one of the most sought after teams in World Skateboarding taking Duffy with them on their quest for fun. We met Duffy on the latest Plan B UK Tour in newly built Saffron Walden skate park in Essex and this is what went down…
You got a little recorder there?
Yeah, and it’s happy to see Pat Duffy back in the UK!
Yes, I am! Back in the UK, I’m psyched!
It’s been a long time huh?
It has, since about 1997 or ’98. If it’s not a decade, it’s just under, maybe 8 or 9 years.
Who were you skating for then, can you remember?
The last time I was here? I was skating for Plan B on tour. I didn’t even come here when I rode for Think at all. Actually, did I come here when I rode with Think? You’d probably know better than me! I just remember the few times I came over with Think to Europe it was to places like Germany, Switzerland… that’s about it, the mainland.
So, tell me what’s been going on starting with this injury of yours because obviously that’s why you’re not skating. We all saw the pictures on the web and it looked nasty. Do you wanna take us through it?
I was over at……..Hey Sean! What’s up man?
Sean Goff in the mix.
Goff: How’s the leg now man?
It’s OK, hanging in there.
Goff: Yeah man I saw on MySpace! Just thought I’d come over and say hello.
It’s good to see you man, only been about 15 years! The first time I ever came to England it was myself and Sal Barbier and this guy.
Goff: Man, that means I must be kinda famous if he remembers me!
Sean Goff is the most famous skateboarder in England!
Goff: Leigh-On-Sea and Radlands as well I think.
Joe Burlow, Alvin Singveldt….
Goff: He’s still about. So when you getting back up skating again?
Well, my summer’s fucked, but soon after that I’ll be good to go.
Goff: Excellent. I did my arm in a couple of years back, same sort of deal.
It just takes a little bit. You gotta rest up.
Goff:Anyway, I’ll leave you with Zac and his pointy thing. That guy there wants you to sign his board, Craig.
Craig’s one of the best mini-ramp skaters you’ll ever see in your life.
That’s what I heard about Sean Goff right when I got off the plane!
Goff: He’s really good so just slag him off and say he skates shit or something.
Yeah, you suck balls dude.
Goff: Do you suck balls or arse Craig? I can’t remember. We need to get it right.
Goff: “To Craig, you suck balls, lots of love – Tony Alva”.
I can’t remember where we were!
OK, we’re gonna get back to the interview. So yeah, what happened?
Yeah, the slam! I was skating Bob Burnquist’s Megaramp and it took me a few tries to actually get myself to roll down that thing, but I finally rode away from making that 55 foot gap or whatever it is, I flew a little too far out on that giant quarter pipe and came down and got my knee real good. I broke my tibial plateau in four places….
“YEAAAAAAAAAH“. (Smedley lands a frontside flip distaster in the bowl and catches it 3ft out!)
Who’s that dude again?
Dude, he rips! And, yeah so for the last few month’s I’ve just been rehabbing.
No skateboarding at all?
I’ve been rolling around. I’ve been riding my Cruiser board around. I’ve been getting my range of motion back, which is almost all back now. What I do is, instead of going to a spot and skate it, I go cross-country skating from spot to spot.
Just to build it up…
Just to build my stuff back up man.
You must have found that after they’d stitched it up and you were in rehab that your muscles just deteriorated, so it’s all about building the muscle up?
It went to complete shite. It’s still pretty bad. I’ve been working really hard at it for the last complete of months but your bone has to heal in order to take the workout that your muscle needs to have. It’s coming, it just takes a while. I’m an old fuck, man. You know that, how long have I known you?!
Long enough! Last time I saw you, we were in Marseille together and you were sugar-caning it around that bowl like you owned the joint. What a trip!
Oh man, I loved it. Yeah, that was such a good trip, Kyle Berard killing it, Chad Bartie, I was with my buddy Tom Curran, we saw you guys. As soon as I didn’t have to skate the next day, as soon as I sucked that bad that I didn’t make the cut, you know exactly where we were… the Red something?
The Red Lion! I was just in there a little too long for my own good!
So come on, tell us about Plan B. Obviously you’re back on the team and rocking it. It obviously wasn’t a difficult decision to say yes…
No, not at all. I had talked to Danny about it a long, long time ago before it came about and he really wanted me to be involved as far as picking the team and stuff. I mean, he and Colin had their reasons for not immediately putting me on the team and when they got back to me about it, it made perfect sense.
What were the reasons?
Well, they just wanted to make sure everything was solid before they started to bring everyone in.
From their point of view, did they think that publicity wise that if they’d had the original team members on board from the off would have been getting up and running too quickly?
Obviously you’re not going to have the best team ever without the best riders. And I’m not saying I’m involved in that but y’know P-Rod, PJ, Ryan Gallant and my involvement is I’m a street vet. Danny and Colin, we know what they concentrate on – Danny is a fucking megaramp skater and Colin really, really concentrates on his vert, so from that standpoint, they wanted me to come in and my role is hanging out with these dudes on a daily basis. And even if I don’t feel like doing shit or I’m hurt, I’ll wanna go and see what Paul’s doing for the day, see what PJ’s doing for the day or go down to San Diego and check out Ryan.
So everyone’s based in California now?
Almost, everyone except Wenning – he’s in Jersey.
As for the office, the hook ups, the whole running of the business – where is it based and how does it all happen on a daily basis?
On a daily basis, we have our brand manager Tom Jones who is the new school Mike Ternasky, he is a genius man. He comes up with graphics, he does most of our day to day things and as of right now I’m gonna be moving down there and helping him out because he’s complete overwhelmed. Only for the pure fact that Plan B is doing so well, we’re miles ahead of where we expected to be at this point.
I mean, me being hurt right now, there’s nothing for me to do in LA. I go out on night missions with these guys to be cheer leading. But I’ll be going down to help him and our team manager Sean Hayes out.
Fantastic. What about boards, do you have any pro models coming out?
I have three of them out right now.
Talk us through the graphics.
For the first little bit, we wanted to keep it real uniform.
Plan B branding only?
Plan B branding man. Because you know what, we work as a team, we travel as a team, we talk to each other all the time. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing and we wanted to reflect that in the look of the company so right now we do series boards. Eventually, if someone wants a certain board or graphic, if Captain America Danny Way wants an Indiana Jones graphic, of course he can have one, but as of right now it’s a full team vibe.
That’s amazing. You’ve been on tour for a little while outside of California so take us through where you’ve been and what’s been fun.
I went from my house in LA to Wilmington, North Carolina for Eastern Skate Supply, Reggie Barnes really pushes the project. Everyone was really busy and I obviously was NOT really busy, so I kinda bit the bullet and was like “you know what? I will go out there!” Obviously not to skate, although I did skate a little out there but Reggie Barnes wanted to do a 10 day, 6 demo tour with maybe 1 or 2 people from a couple of his brands. So it was me from Plan B, Chet Childress, Jason Adams, Kyle Berard, Adam Dyet, Mike Peterson, Willy Santos…
Oh my God, that’s a top team you had there!
Man, the tour was AMAZING!
Everyone was repping themselves and their teams?
Reggie Barnes is the biggest distributor on the East Coast and he’s been hook us up and selling our boards for years (est 1985) so we may as well go and give a little bit back. And it was such a good tour for 10 days, and then in Wilmington, which is where the distribution is, I met up with the whole team and with that crew plus the Plan B crew, we did a huge Reggie Barnes-Eastern Skate Supply demo. It was INSANITY.
So where from there? Europe?
Yeah from Wilmington to Madrid, where we hung out with our distributor there, Francisco and had the best time ever. Both the demos were amazing, a bunch of good street stuff.
Were there a lot of kids waiting for you when you got there?
Yeah, there were a lot of kids, but what sucked was that as soon as we got there, it started raining!
Oh no, in Madrid!
In Madrid man, it was raining all the time. So as good as the weather is here now, (75′) was as bad as it was when we were in Spain – the complete opposite.
And then from Madrid to where?
From Madrid we went to Germany, Hamburg where we hung out with Richie. He’s got a shop and distribution out there, they took good care of us, there was about a thousand kids at the demo waiting for us and everybody killed it, especially Danny Way.
Oh was there a vert ramp?
No, no! Danny killed the streets, especially. And then from there we went to Rotterdam for 3 days.
I bet that was a blast. Was it raining?
Yeah it was raining so we were indoors the whole time. The demo in Rotterdam was amazing, they have a really good indoor park there.
What’s the set up?
They have a gnarly clover bowl. It’s one of those parks that looks like it has no floor y’know, it’s all the same wood.
Everything is interlinked…
Yeah, everything, so you can just roll everywhere. It’s amazing. That demo was insane, all the kids were stoked. Then we went to Amsterdam to get fucked off for one night!
Come on, what happened in the ‘Dam? What goes on tour stays on tour right?…
What goes on tour DEFINITELY stays on tour, especially where Amsterdam is concerned!
And then Amsterdam to here…. What do you think of this park? Because obviously Dreamland have just finished it.
It looks really good to me. There’s a pretty good street area over here because PJ Ladd was killing it earlier. This park looks amazing to me because I love just cruising around, popping out of bowls and rolling into them. This is my shit right here, I love corners. I mean, I love ledges and rails and shit like that, but I REALLY love pumping around a corner with pool coping. I’m ashamed that I’m hurt right now!
You can’t be ashamed!
No but I am, I wanna be able to roll around. It’s frustrating y’know.
But at least you’re here with the team. They could have left you at home and said “fuck, we need to save some dough” and that shows the family value of what’s going on with the new Plan B team.
We’re a team man, that’s all there is to it. Everyone comes. Wenning was going to be here but he had a prior engagement that he could never have gotten out of.
Sheckler was here but he had to leave because he had school, he’s only 17, you can’t argue with that. So when we left Amsterdam, he had to fly home.
How was it for you, looking back in the day, how was school and pro skating for you because your skate career exploded over night?
I finish my high school career and went to half a year of college. My family being “whatever”, it was either me getting a job or keep skating around. So it was either I got a job to pay for college or I’m going to keep travelling. I couldn’t do them both, because skateboarding takes you out of town. But it’s important to lay your foundation before you make that kind of decision. It’s good to get a high school diploma and then see what you wanna do after that.
So tell us what the main difference between the old Plan B and the new Plan B. Obviously things change over time, people change, but how is it for you, because you play a massive part in this team.
It’s the same feeling, we wanna do the best for skateboarding. We want to make the image the best we can, as far as skateboarding itself and we don’t wanna be hip hop or punk, we just wanna be skateboarders. We want to show that skateboarding is a positive thing wherever you are. It doesn’t matter where you are, but if you’re riding your skateboard, it’s a whole lot better doing that than if you’re a hoodlum. That said, I was a bit of a hoodlum when I was little.
Weren’t we all though, you get your release out on urethane….
You know what, go get a skateboard, start riding it and feel the vibe!
So how many people are there behind the scenes at Plan B compared to the original set up?
It’s different because we license it out now. We’re a licensee of Syndrome, so they work for us but as far as Plan B itself goes, there’s about 10 people involved and maybe 35-40 people involved after that. But 10 for just the brand Plan B.
And people forget about this sort of thing, but it’s important that when you come out here, you have someone to meet you and make sure you’re taken care of.
Sean Hayes, our team manager, set this whole thing up. And on top of that he’s a ripping skateboarder, an amazing rager, just a good guy in general.
So how long do you reckon it’ll be before you’re back on a board again, what are the doctors saying?
My knee has finally gone down, so I can finally bend it again. I kind of took it a little too early on the last tour [in the East Coast]. I skated 3 out of 6 demos and started to feel really good and started doing shit I shouldn’t have been doing and towards the end of the tour my knee started swelling up and I realised I had to start taking it easy again. But as far as a time frame goes, I’ll say I’ll be jumping down the nearest 10-stair in around the middle of August!
I saw an amazing picture of you actually, doing a backside ollie off of a set of stairs into a really tight bank shot by Bradford. We were stoked to see that shit going down. You’ve still got your pop!
I try to maintain my pop. It’s tough, I’ve been around along time but truthfully I couldn’t live without it and I will skateboard until I am completely dead and that’s the cold hard facts.
Knowing that Sheckler was the last person to join the team, are there any other skaters that Plan B have got their eyes on next?
I was out on this tour and I was looking for it, really keeping my eye out because Danny and Colin and I talked about it. We have no Ams, we are a team with no Ams which is weird these days. But we haven’t actually seen one that catches the eye and we’re not down to steal people because that’s not how we are.
You’ve gotta find fresh blood.
Right and I came across a couple of them, who shall remain nameless right now. But in the next little while you might just see the most ripping little Plan B Am you’ve ever seen.
Oh really, there’s something special coming up!
There might be!
Is this person American or European…?
We’ll see, we’ll see. We’re keeping it under wraps for now.
There you go, he’s giving nothing away to Crossfire.
Nothing at all.
So what about when you get up and running, what’s the plan?
Just film. I’m going to help out with some day to day operations with Plan B, mainly making sure the team is good with the product. If there’s something about our concave or wheels or graphic, I’m the one that’s going to know.
What about a new video?
We just put out a promo Live After Death.
Everyone’s waiting for the end product.
It’s a difficult thing with videos these days. I mean, years can go into a video but if the payout isn’t there, we’re left wondering if there’s a reason to do it or to just do promos because the internet and magazines.
Who killed skate videos? Was it the internet or magazines putting them out for free on the front cover?
I think the internet killed skate videos. There’s nowhere for it to be fresh anymore. As soon as you get a trick done, there’s Joe Schmo filming you in the bushes and goes on YouTube anyway. So there’s this debate – on one end we think we should just do promos but then Danny Way is saying “forget it, we’re going to keep our stuff under lock and key and we’ll do a full video“.
The whole skateboard industry should set that as an example again because its gone out of the window.
Exactly, and it’s no-one’s fault, it’s just a sign of the times.
It’s going the same way the music industry did. As soon as music was made available to download as mp3s, they are copied and sent to people, all of a sudden, the industry started to die. The skateboard video went through exactly the same thing and here we are where people are putting skate videos out for download only or a subscription thing.
Or like we did, we gave them out for free with our boards. Which is good, but if you’re going to do a full length video which is going to cost so much money, it’s hard on a business standpoint for it to be worth it.
How much time and money goes into making one video for a skate company?
It’s tough to say. Obviously the amount of money that Plan B would put out would be a lot because we want to make the best product, go to the best spots and make sure it’s the best possible thing we could put out. I mean, you could do it cheap for sure, but you’re gonna look cheap.
What’s on your stereo at the moment?
I pretty much still just listen to The Grateful Dead!
Yeah! The old shit’s still rocking it.
Isn’t it the weirdest thing ever, I became a DeadHead a couple of years ago and can’t get it out of my system. Jerry Garcia is just magical!
Any new bands in America we should check out for the site?
But that’s some gypsy punk – I love that stuff man, I love it. Do you know Spoon? I love those guys.
Yeah, Telephono is one of the best records I’ve ever heard.
Man, I love those dudes. And I’m going to plug my buddy’s band the Mother Truckers, the sickest rock-slash-country band ever. Mothertruckers.com! Download some of that shit.
What’s your favourite skate video of all time?
It’s a toss up – it’s either Sick Boys or Hocus Pocus.
And who are your homies that you’re still riding with?
I live in Hollywood, right in the mix. So, PJ Ladd for one because he lives right by me. I see Brayden Szafranski all the time, I call Mike Carroll, I call Scott Johnston, couple other of the Girl dudes – Alex Olsen. I love skating with the Nuge, Justin Roy, Richie Belton, Roden the photographer. Me and the PJ usually go out and skate flat ground.
You got any last words?
All I can say is there are a lot of things you could be doing but go buy yourself a skateboard man and give it a shot. Don’t end up in the gutter, ride a skateboard – FUCK rollerblades!
Visit www.planbskateboarding.com for more Pat Duffy and treat yourself to some new and old Plan B footage here…