Riley Hawk Interview

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Alright, what’s going down? What have you been up to?
I’m finally finishing this Lakai video after a couple years of injuries and torture. Yeah, it’s finally almost done. Then just some Shep Dawgs stuff.


Talking about the Lakai video, where have you guys traveled for it?
Fuck, everywhere. We went down to Mexico a lot, which was cool. Somehow growing up in SD, I only went down there once or twice in my whole life until we started wrapping this video up and we went down a lot. Found a lot of cool spots that were kind of untapped and then went to Europe for a little bit. That’s where I got hurt, actually. That kind of put a hold on everything, which sucked. But it was pretty rad before I got hurt, skating in Italy, Milan and stuff. Then a lot of it is just LA/San Diego area.


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Over the rail into some heavy crust Rhoto: Rhoades


So when you were in Milan and got hurt, what happened?
I just tweaked my ankle super good, tore all the ligaments and had to get full ligament surgery on it. But luckily I had a really good doctor who did my other ankle. I did the same thing to that one a year and a half before. So he hooked me up and I was skating within six months or so, like, fully skating. So I was pretty lucky. But yeah, it was a fuckin’ bummer for sure. I had to fly home the next day. I was kind of drinking a lot of alcohol ‘cause I was just pissed and didn’t want to deal with the pain. Luckily I didn’t get a blood clot or anything. I had a minor blood build up in there but nothing too serious. ‘Cause you can get a blood clot from flying too soon after an injury. But I didn’t even think about it. I just wanted to get home, you know?


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So you flew home straight after your injury?
Yeah. We went to the hospital and I just knew something was not right in there. I hit up my dad and just told him, “Hey, Dad, I think I really did something serious to my ankle,” and he was able to get me a flight through his miles because he flies all the time. It was pretty crazy going through the airport hurt like that because I didn’t have to do anything. They just wheelchair’d me everywhere. I barely went through security and then they just pushed me to this little lounge and it was just, like, “Someone will come get you five minutes before your flight.” And then the guy came and got me and it was the easiest airport experience ever.
I was, like, “Shit, I’m gonna get hurt before every flight.” But yeah, luckily nothing too serious, no blood clots or anything. I mean, I didn’t even really think about it. No one really warned me either.
I was just on a mission, like, “I’m getting the fuck home. I do not want to be out here just tortured.” My ankle was so swollen; it was insane.


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Bluntslide transfer on a rare trip down South Photo: Rhoades


Did little Flaco get hurt out there too? Didn’t he have to stay behind?
Yeah, he fell a few days after me. He hurt his hip really bad. And I think they forewarned him much better than they did me. Like, “Hey, you can’t fly because of your injury.” He got stuck out there for a month and a half, just sleeping on the homie’s couch, couldn’t walk. That was my worst nightmare so when I saw him I was, like, “I’m so sorry you had to do that.” It sucks. That’s what I was dreading having to do so I was just hardheaded and was, like, “No, I’m going home,” and just went. Luckily I got back and everything was alright.


That’s insane. So you have two bionic ankles? What did they do?
They put some synthetic ligaments in there. What they do is they put plastic screws in your ankle and in the bones and then some kind of crazy synthetic fiber ligament that’s stronger than your original ligaments. And it’s crazy ‘cause it almost heals faster because your body doesn’t need time to heal the actual ligament that’s getting reattached. It’s just the time to deal with the trauma of your ankle. Once it was done, it was so tight afterwards I could barely move it. But once I started loosening it it’s been stronger than it ever was. It’s kinda crazy.


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Grabbin’ tail through the kinkage Photo: Rhoades


Bionic bird baby. So the Lakai video’s about to drop. Whose part are you most excited to see?
I’ve been watching a lot of it and everyone’s on fire. I like skating a lot with Simon. He gets me stoked to skate ‘cause he’s just down to go for it and always down to skate whatever: big rails, a ledge, stairs—whatever. But it’s gonna be a rad video. Everyone together flows really good: Sebo, Jon, Stevie, Yonnie, all those dudes. Everyone kills it. So hopefully it will resonate and won’t just be one of those Internet videos that goes by in a day and then you forget it happened.


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You mentioned you’ve been doing stuff for the Shep Dawg video. Is Shep Dawgs 5 coming out soon?
Yeah, we’re hoping to put it out at the end of this year. I didn’t really start filming for it ‘til the end of this Lakai video because I just wanted to focus on that, but now that it’s wrapping up we’ve been skating a bunch.
We just went to Vegas, which is just sick getting together with all your homies again. It’s been a little while since we all skated as a crew together just because everyone’s doing their own stuff. And there’s still some people that are working on other shit. It’s cool to just be able to skate with your friends again, but it actually is like a job at the same time. It’s pretty cool.


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Backside noseblunt shove it in sunny Lake Elsinore, California Sequence: Rhoades


From the amount of time I’ve been hanging out with you guys—since probably Shep Dawgs 2 or 3—it’s like you guys all went from being unknown dudes to household names and pro skateboarders. How did it feel watching that grow?
Yeah, it’s crazy because I felt like I kind of got lucky and was the first one to get put in the spotlight in that sense for being on teams and stuff. I mean, I was skating and I was seeing how hard my friends were ripping and we were just making the videos. We weren’t really thinking about it. And then we had a premier for the third video and it was pretty awesome. There was a good amount of people there. Then when we started making the fourth one we wanted to do it through Thrasher because obviously that’s our favorite mag and we wanted it to be blasted by them. And they were super down and helped out a lot. So then we did that premier and we were, like, “Holy shit,” that was the craziest premier I think I’ve ever been to for any video. There’s something about videos that are just homies and not an actualwv company video, you know? Kids like seeing other kids doing their thing. I mean, obviously everyone likes watching their favorite pros, but there’s something about seeing kids your age where it’s, like, “Oh shit, these kids are just a crew,” you know? I think it gets people stoked. So yeah, when we had that premier we were, like, “Holy shit, this has kind of turned into something that’s way beyond what we thought it was.” So it was pretty cool. I think that helped everyone for sure. Like Rowan, Kirby, AJ, T-Spliff and everyone.


Yeah, there’s a good amount of dudes that are fuckin’ hitting hard right now from the Shep Dawgs. That’s fuckin’ sick. Can you talk to me about this Baker and Trailer Park Boys collab?
They hit me up, like, “Hey, we’re gonna do this collab,” and they wanted me, Dee and Nuge. I’d watched the show but I wasn’t a diehard fan. I hadn’t seen every episode. But I was, like, “Holy shit, that’s awesome.” So this one day we were all in LA at this park doing a couple Baker things and they were filming an episode. Me and my dad were a part of the episode and the planets aligned and it all worked out all on this one day where we did a bunch of shit with them. It was pretty funny. I mean, obviously I knew who they were and I had watched the show, but it was a trip to just see them in person doing their thing. And then we did this little skit. I think it comes out really soon, actually, and somehow I got rubbed into kind of being an actor in it. So yeah, that was the whole little thing. I haven’t seen the skit yet, so I’m pretty curious to see how it came out.


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Blood clots, boardslide drops—give ‘em danger! Photo: Rhoades


Speaking of acting, what was up with that Dollar Shave Club commercial?
I met up with those dudes randomly just through friends and stuff. And they were really cool dudes and they were, like, “Hey, as a favor would you do this commercial we’re doing?” They had a bunch of other athletes or whatever and they were just homies so I was, like, “Yeah, I’m down.” I mean, I don’t really have a big beard but I was, like, “I’m down. Fuck it. Let’s do it.” Then we just met up one day at the courthouse ledges and just filmed this little thing. It was pretty cool. It came out pretty rad.


Do they send you razors on the monthly?
No, but they did send me a couple boxes of beard products and stuff. I guess they’re killing it. It seems like they’re always doing crazy shit so good for them.


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Nip-high kicklfips are easy with bionic ankles     Photo: Rhoades


Your band has been coming up pretty hard. What’s up with them?
Just a bunch of idiots trying to play music and get together to do shows and not blow it. But I think all the stuff we recorded will come out soon through a buddy who helped us put it out. His name’s Dave. He’s in the band Witch, a band that we really like, so we’re pretty stoked that he’s even down to put our music out through his label. I think one of the songs is gonna get used in the Lakai video. It’s pretty trippy. I never really thought I would have a band that actually had music you could listen to and play shows. It’s a trip for sure but it’s awesome. I’m stoked that we get to do it.


With your down time you’ve been doing a little bit of art. Can you say anything about that?
Yeah, I try to do stuff like that whenever I can just to pass the time and keep busy. I think me and my friend Dana and her friend BeBe are gonna do an art show. It’s just us making stuff that we like, just like wood burning and watercolor paint and stuff. I’m not taking myself seriously as an artist; I just like doing it because it’s fun and if people dig it that’s cool. If not, I’m not trying to come into the art world or anything and be, like, “I’m an artist.” Same sense as in the music world, I just like doing it because I like doing it. I’m not trying to outshine anyone. I pretty much just like to make stuff just to do it.


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Triple set Smith. Earthless rips Photo: Cribbs


I think skateboarding is an art form in itself. If you can find other ways to branch out and do stuff, it’s just another way to waste time.
Yeah, it all starts from not being able to skate. You get hurt or something and you just want to keep busy. It’s nice to be able to have that stuff ‘cause skateboarding doesn’t last forever. Your body can only take so much damage to it before it’s had enough. As of right now I think I feel the best I’ve ever felt, but there were definitely points filming for the Lakai video where I was, like, “Dude, I think I’m done.” Like, my ankles are just roasted. It’s always weird, but I’ve learned that time will definitely heal most of your skate injuries. You’ve just got to be fuckin’ patient. That’s where the music and the art stuff came into play, just helping me not lose my mind and freak out, you know?


This might be off the record, but do you want to say anything about the AYC thing. Are you off AYC?

It’s pretty much just a classic case of you had a good run. I got to do some really cool stuff with them and stuff didn’t work out contract-wise or whatever. And yeah, I’m just stoked. I’m just kind of cruising, I guess. There’s some companies that would be cool to skate for but I’m not trying to put myself out there super hard. I’m just gonna keep skating and whatever happens, happens.


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Hella close shave on a drop-down Riffty-50 Sequence: Rhoades


Alright, let’s switch it up a little bit. What’s your favorite musical group right now?
I’d probably say Earthless just because we went and saw them last night. They’re just always one of the most epic live shows and I hadn’t seen them play in a while. It was cool. It was, like, “Oh shit, Earthless is playing,” and we just got stoked listening to them on the way out to get psyched on the music. But when you see them live it’s fucking epic. Pretty much just three master musicians all making the sound that me and my friends really like, which is pretty cool. I feel like it’s hard to find something that’s pinpointed exactly to what you’re into and the sound that they’ve come up with is exactly what we like. Before I heard Earthless I didn’t really know what my favorite style of music was, and then once I heard them I was, like, “This is it.” You know? Like, long-jam spacey stuff. 


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If you could see any band play from any time in history what band would it be?
Damn, that’s a hard question. Let’s see, can I say three? Obviously I’d want to see Hendrix in his prime, ‘cause he’s my all-time favorite guitar player and I feel like he had a pretty short window when he was really doing it in his prime. And there’s obviously the big bands like the Zeppelins and the Sabbaths and stuff that would have been awesome to see, but there’s a few small bands like Steel Mill. I always thought that would be one of the most awesome bands to see live. Iron Claw would have been a pretty heavy one to see live in their prime too.


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Hawk in his prime—back tail way up there Photo: Rhoades


I know you’ve traveled a lot, but if you could go somewhere today with a group of homies to skate and chill, where would you go?
I’d probably have to say Barcelona just because I’ve only been there once a long time ago for a couple days and anything I see on the web, like on Thrasher, it just looks like a giant skatepark. It’s such a rad, beautiful city, it would be so cool to go out there with all the homies and kick it for a week or two and skate. Just ‘cause it’s so mellow there and there’s so much stuff to skate, it’s like you can’t not get footage.


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What are your thoughts on skateboarding and the Olympics?
I don’t really have an opinion on it, honestly. I don’t really care if it is or isn’t. I feel like it doesn’t really affect my life and I’ve never really been one to have strong opinions towards stuff like that ‘cause I just like skating. And whatever—it’s gonna happen. I’m not gonna be the person to start a petition against skateboarding in the Olympics and get it banned. It is pretty funny because the other day we were skating this spot and this old lady was kind of vibing us out, like, “You can’t do that here.” Slash was with us and he was, like, “What do you mean? Skateboarding is in the Olympics. I don’t know who they’re gonna pick. I’ve got to train.” We were all laughing so hard, I was, like, “Holy shit, that is crazy.” You don’t see old people kicking out pole vaulters or whatever, like, basketball players or hockey or whatever. I don’t even know what’s in the Olympics; I don’t even pay attention. But it is a trip. It’s still like an outlawed sport but now people are going to be representing their countries in the Olympics with it. I feel like it’s a weird
time for skating, for sure.


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It is a weird time for skating with all this mainstream media supporting skateboarding and people trying to get into skateboarding. Where do you see it all going?
We were talking about that in Vegas, but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before it’s not cool again, right? I mean, ‘cause that’s just how stuff works. I feel like skating was also peaking in the ‘90s then it died again and now it’s, like, maximum peak-age right now with celebrity-ism and that lifestyle, but when I was doing it growing up it wasn’t at this level. So either way, if it does die out and becomes not cool I’d still like to hope that I can do it as a job and just have fun with it. But for the time being it is pretty trippy. It’s like rappers and musicians and actors and all that stuff—I feel like it has a lot to do with the new generation of celebrities and actors and actresses growing up, because they grew up in a time where skateboarding was a little more common so they grew up skateboarding and they can do a kickflip. So now when they are where they are—established—they look up to skateboarders because that’s what they were into as a kid. So it’s trippy but it’s pretty cool. I’ve met a lot of cool people where I was shocked they were actually fans of skateboarding. It’s pretty sweet.


Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I would like to be doing exactly what I’m doing right now. Yeah, if I can do that then I’m stoked. I don’t really have too many more goals or aspirations I’d like to achieve besides just getting to do this as long as I can.


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It’s a weird time, but Riley Hawk and back tail blizzard flips will always be cool Sequence: Colen

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