Tony Hawk joins Pharrell Williams and the OTHERtone Radio crew to discuss the history of skate culture, the importance of loving the sport through injury, and how skateboarding can teach about life and overcoming difficult circumstances.
Tony Hawk explains the origin behind the team name, ‘Bones Brigade’ that rode under the Skateboarding team, ‘Powell Peralta’:
It started off with one of the original riders for the team, Powell Peralta his name was Ray Rodriguez and his nickname was ‘Bones,’ and then they started making wheels based on his name called Bones, and then Bones became the standard, the highest standard of wheel in the early 80s. Then when they decided they were going to make a whole team devoted to this brand, they wanted to make it in the military vibe, so they said ‘Bones Brigade’.
Tony Hawk on how skating is no longer exclusive to one area like back when he started skating
There is incredible talent in the most unlikely places now, and it’s really cool to see because the playing field is leveled and it’s way more inclusive. You don’t have to live in… For sure back then, you had to live in California, if not Southern California to make a name for yourself because that’s where the magazines and the companies were, and they weren’t sending their photographers out to Kansas or wherever else to cover people. A lot of people did do that. They actually moved out here. But nowadays, not at all. I mean, you can just be in a random place and as long as you’re producing sick skate footage and content, you can make it.
Tony Hawk explains the origins of skateboarding in empty swimming pools
That was the whole Dogtown Z boys crew because they were surfers and they all discovered skateboarding. Then in the 70s there was a big drought in LA, so a bunch of swimming pools are empty. And so they discovered that swimming pools feel like waves. So they started sneaking into all these houses, skating in empty swimming pools that were empty from the drought, and that’s how it all started.
Tony Hawk explains the different styles of skateboarding
When I started skating, there were two disciplines of skating for the most part. One was pool skating and the other one was freestyle, and freestyle was dancing, like ice skating. It was doing twirls and one footers and handstands and stuff like that, and I thought the pool skating was the cool stuff. I wanted to be cool like those guys, so that’s why I chose to skate pools and eventually that’s what led to street skating and true modern skateboarding. But in those days, freestyle was not considered cool. It was the nerds that are just spinning around on the flat. I respected it, and Rodney Mullen changed the game through that discipline. But for me, I was watching the Dogtown Crew doing aerials and I was like, “That. I want to do that.”
Tony Hawk explains his first injury
My first injury when I was young, really young, when I first started skating, I fell from the top of the pool. I got a concussion, knocked out my front teeth, woke up in another part of the skate park because they had carried me there. Right when I woke up, it wasn’t like, “Oh my God, what happened? I’ll never skate again.” It was like, “Oh man, I got to learn how to do rock and rolls better.”
Pharrell gives Tony Hawk his flowers for his contributions to skate culture
You’re one of the deities in that space bro. It’s just been such an honor to meet you over the years, because we looked up to you then I still look up to you now. What you’ve done, I don’t teach my kids but I mean my kids, they’re being trained as skaters because that’s a way of life. Skating teaches you what’s like, it gives you the lens of looking at things if it is either cool or it’s not. There’s no gray area, and it’s a sport that where you become cool based off of your effort and willingness to continue to try and nail the trick… That’s what makes you cool. What makes you cool is the fact that you put… When you land a trick, someone knows man, you done that 10,000 thousand times to get to that place, and now you do it with confidence and you’re in the middle of a conversation. You just do a kick flip. Got to respect you. It’s just different.
Tony Hawk explains how his video game took skateboarding to the next level
I think definitely that was a catalyst. There was a perfect storm of a lot of TV coverage right around that time, and with our video game, I feel like that helped to introduce people to skateboarding that maybe didn’t really understand the culture or the intricacy of it. Then they started playing the game. A lot of them got inspired to try to learn how to skate.