Ah, nostalgia. Remember playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for hours on end after school soundtracked by the angsty punk-pop sounds of blink-182? A simpler time. A period in which checkered Vans were our go-to footwear choice, six-week summer holidays still existed and our mates were always about.
Tony Hawk was the poster boy for skaters, kids and teens of the early-00s. He was signed as a pro aged 14 and became the first skater ever to land ‘the 900’, a 900-degree aerial spin performed on a ramp (easy). He completed it on his twelfth attempt. He was – and still is – the epitome of cool. Let’s not forget Hawk’s appearance in The Simpsons, after all. Cartoon cameos aside, Hawk’s been on a mission to build safe and legal skateparks for kids in the US since 2002 when he set up the Tony Hawk Foundation. He’s quite the guy.
As of late, he’s turned his hand to fashion via a nine-piece collection of T‑shirts and hoodies (in collaboration with Brown’s) featuring black and white images of Hawk himself lensed by celebrated photographer Anton Corbijn. The pieces reference Hawke’s rich history as one of the greatest, most inventive skaters of all time.
So when we got offered the chance to catch up with the legend, we couldn’t turn it down. We had far too many burning questions that needed answering: “Were you dizzy when you landed the 900?”; “What trick would you do in Trump’s White House?”. We sent The Face’s in-house skater (and designer) Arun Gogna, and his mate Jake to get down to the nitty-gritty with the granddaddy of skateboarding and, as expected, he was a good sport.
If you don’t know your hand-plant from your eggplant, worry not. Hawk won’t mind you wearing it. “It’s not necessarily for the “hardcore skater” but just someone who’s life has been influenced by skating and feels like they have a connection to it,” he says. The pro talks skateboarding trends, tricks and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater below.
What trends do you think need to come back into skateboarding? Cargo shorts?
[Sarcastic] At my age, yes. Cargo shorts.
Do you think you wear more cargo shorts now you’re older, or less?
I don’t wear cargo shorts. Somewhere about five or six years ago I just grabbed some instinctively, put them on and my wife said are you going on safari? And that was the last time I wore them, for real.
Are there any recent skateboarding films you’ve seen that you really liked?
I like the vibe of the Supreme video. It was a bit long but I understood what they were going for and I appreciated it.
What’s the worst trend in skateboarding today?
Everyone says small wheels.
It was worse for ramp invert skaters. Suddenly you couldn’t get anything over 55mm and that was on the big end. We rely on our speed.
We’ll let you off. Now you’re a bit older what would your special move be on Pro Skater? Would it be making a coffee or…
Making an old fashioned. That’d be my special move.
On a scale of one to 900, how sick are you of talking about the 900?
I’ll give it a 720. How’s that?
Were you dizzy when you landed the 900?
No. You don’t really get dizzy because it’s just that one instant of spinning… then you’ve got to do the walk of shame up the ladder and shake it off.
Who would win in a fight between Andy MacDonald and Bob Burnquist?
I’ve never thought about that. I’d say Andy’s got the bulk behind him, but Bob probably has some crazy ninja moves.
When you used to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, did you play as yourself or Kareem Campbell?
I would mostly play as, not with, but as myself.
The End turns 21 this year. Where would you take it for its first legal drink, and for what sort of drink?
I would take it to a Korean barbecue to meet up with Jeremy Klein, mostly so that he could reminisce about all the things he hated about it but truly did love.
What trick would you do in Trump’s White House?
Finally, what gets your special bar up?
Time off. Time alone with my wife without our children. Although I do love our children and spending time with them, I also love locking them out sometimes. And a really nice glass of whisky on the rocks.
I hope these weren’t the worst questions you’ve ever been asked.
No, they were good. I hate questions like ‘pick your top skaters’ or ‘pick your top bands’. Like, someone’s getting left out, someone’s going to be mad.