Danny Way interview – original version
DANNY WAY INTERVIEW – ORIGINAL VERSION
SD: You’ve spent a few weeks promoting the documentary, and more are waiting for you. Given we’re 50% a musical magazine, I’d try to start with something a little different by dropping one simple name: Unwritten Law. I’ve a spot for them since the 90s, and I reallyhad to check when I saw your name on their last cd. So why and when did you get a studio at your own place? Which bands have passed by till now? I read you also are collaborating with Scott Russo, can I have some detailsfrom your part?
DW: Scott Russo and I have been friends since we were young teens, Skating together being reckless etc. as we’ve grown up we have evolved both of our careers to a level where we can choose to collaborate on projects. I built a studio in my house years ago and have always had a deep passion for music. My plan with my studio is to only take on projects that make sense so I don’t kill my love for making music by turning it into a business. Scott lives in the same place that I built my first studio, which is where the latest UL album was recorded. Scott and I should have some of our own music to release sometime in the near future.
SD: Staying in the musical field, your story is full of musical connections. You started with Matt Hensley, who’s currently in Flogging Mollies, and also with Mario Rubalcaba, who used to be in Rocket From the Crypt (possibly in my all time top 5 bands) and now plays in OFF. Can I ask which are you punk rock memories while growing up in San Diego, which always gave birth to a bunch of incredible bands? Is there a band from town that you always felt underestimated?
DW: In reference to my friends that I grew up with, Mario is one of my best friends growing up and is one of the most naturally gifted drummer I’ve ever seen. Mario had a band in highschool with a few of our other buddies that skated.. mark hostetter.was the lead singer and the band was named committed. They were an awesome punk band growing up and I always loved to watch them. In the early years, I was listening to punk rock as it was such a big part of the skate culture. Bands like agent orange, peter and the test tube babies, dead kennedys, black flag, minor threat, etc. As I got older and could start attending shows, bands like bad religion, slayer, and green day all played locally often. Me and my all skate buddies would make trips down to Tijuana mexico or go to USCD (the local college) to watch it. Punk and skateboarding were intertwined immensely in those days. If you listen to the soundtrack of the first Plan B videos, you’ll hear all those punk bands prior to the main stream success. Part of our accessibility to these bands were because a large part of the skate and punk scene started in southern California. In the early nineties one the punk rock started going mainstream, I think skateboarding and punk rock grew apart. skateboarding migrated more towards the underground world of hip hop because it was more street credible. I was lucky enough to live in a unique time for skateboarding and punk that will never be the same.
SD: Browsing your video parts, you had a bunch of classic 70 rock or punk rock as soundtracks. What do you love to listen these days? And on the same subject, is there a song that pops in mind while approaching some of the big events you’ve done through the years. When you’re “up there”, is that the moment of complete silence or does the focusing admit some rhythm?
DW: Of course I love all of the classic rock and metal bands I grew up listening to, but its like anything, you get sick of hearing the same record everyday. Now and then I’ll put on slayer when I’m feeling a little too mellow on my way to the ramp. As you know, I have a studio in my house and I am constantly in there making music. I have played guitar for 25 years now, so a lot of my music is based around that. In the last few years I’ve also learned my way around the electronic elements in the studio, so I listen to music that inspires me creatively as opposed to emotionally these days. As a result, I listen to many different genres and sounds, and am open minded to anything. I appreciate a huge variety and I appreciate each genre for something different. When I’m up “there”, everything goes silent as my concentration sharpens.
SD: Just by accident, one more musical reference. Jim Lindberg, ex Pennywise, recently completed a documentary on a book he previously wrote (Punk Rock Dad), where he basically talked about the dualism of being a punk rock singer with the fuck-you attitude, and a dad who somehow has to educate 3 children and keep up with a family. As a skateboarder, you’re probably not seen the same way, but you fall somewhere near. Do you feel a similar dichotomy? Also, how long did it take to be accepted in the public eye as a professional skateboarder?
DW: Of course there’s a fine line I’m walking trying to be a dad and also maintain my credibility of a hardcore skateboarder driven by the core skate values which are somewhat similar to those of old school punk. It definitely puts me in predicaments where I feel a little hypocritical sometimes when parenting. I never understood why my mom was so freaked out by me and my brothers behavior, and now being a dad I know exactly what she was talking about, which I never thought in a million years I could related to. Although it’s a challenge to juggle my career and being a dad, I love my kids more then anything, and my family gives me a purpose.
SD: I actually have a skateshop near Milan and before trying to meet you, I talked with one of the oldest guys we have there, and about you, he just had to say: “he’s an animal! Just ask him if he still street skates”. So here’s the next question: do you still street skates? Where and when?
DW: I’ll put my energy into any genre of skateboarding when the right opportunity presents itself. Street skating is engrained in my skate heritage.
SD: A more articulated quote about you comes from the Agents of Change book, where your brother told “…his ability to disregard fear and consequence as though it were nothing more than the subtle distraction of sweat running down his face…”. Which is amazing, and also pretty scary… Do you feel you had to acquire that ability, or are you lucky enough to have it within you?
DW: An outside perception is always different from the inside, and fear is definitely always in the equation. I wish it was as simple as a couple of beads of sweat dripping down my face, but sometimes I have to dig deep for courage. I’m a human being just like the rest.
SD: Besides yourself, is there any other person that you need as a motivation in what you do?
DW: The daily motivation is my family, and taking care of the people I love in my life. Over the years though, I’ve had different mentors at different times of my life, and I have been able to hold on to the insight that was given to me by these people while I continue down my path. My biggest mentor throughout my career was Mike T, RIP. Physically here or not he will always be with me. A big motivation for making waiting lightening was driven by the relationship I had with Mike.
SD: While working on the documentary, I guess you finally had the chance to put every event in perspective. Looking at everything all at once, did any feeling different than before strike you? I (still) guess satisfaction/pride/relief came every time you accomplished something, but having every little thing in order in front of you, did it move anything new?
DW: Unfortunately, to tell 35 years of history in an hour and 30 minutes is impossible, so we barely scratched the surface, but sometimes it’s hard for me to look at accomplishments and be satisfied by them. I always feel like I could have done or could do more. However, I do not take any of it for granted, I’m so grateful for all I’ve been given and all I’ve experienced and for being able to turn what I loved as a kid into a career. It’s an awesome feeling to see my life constructed in such a poetic way.
SD: Megaramp, Great Wall, Hard Rock Hotel… Can you reveal if there has been a project which could not get done? Where and why, as long as it’s not in your secret thoughts!
DW: There is nothing that I’ve set out to accomplish to date that has not been some form of success. With most of the projects I’ve set out to accomplish, I first make sure that it is achievable using my history of experience.
SD: You basically know every aspect of the skateboard world: you’ve been a kid and then you knew the business and the entertainment. Someone might be more or less happy about it, but as long as there’s a balance among these aspects, everything will work. Can you see that balance these days? Can you say if the kids are still approaching skateboarding at the grassroots level, or do they start to get a little too flashed by big brands and sponsors?
DW: I wouldn’t say there is a “balance” between grassroots and the flashiness now, but instead that they are completely two different worlds at this point. Maybe in the same solar system but not the same planet. Hopefully the part of skateboarding that attracted me when I was a kid isn’t lost as skateboarding continues down the path of popularity.
SD: A little of healthy competition probably help skateboarding to progress, 2 kids skating together are possibly better than one skating alone. Now that you’re almost out of the league, who (or what) is the one that helps you to set the next level? Higher and higher, will you stay there a little to see who’s coming after you?
DW: I’ve never been inspired by competitive skateboarding, if anything, it’s been one of the things to cause me to question my love for skateboarding at times. I’ve never been one to gauge my ability by somebody else’s. I am only driven by what I feel is important for me to challenge myself with. I definitely appreciate other minds in skateboarding whom share the same perspective and want to explore the boundaries of the sport.
SD: From Osiris D3 to Z Roller Trucks, skateboarding is full of items more or less popular that have been neglected. Is there a product with your name on it or something you helped developing, that you’re ironically ashamed of?
DW: I’ve never aligned myself with any brands or done any endorsement deals in my career that I am ashamed of, or regret. I’ve been very meticulous throughout my career on who I’ve associated myself with and/or done business with.
(Txt by Marco Capelli; Pics by Rigablood x Salad Days Mag – All Rights Reserved)