Session’s roaming reporter Adrian Day was sent to London over the weekend to attend the launch of Tony T’s new Vans Pro Model at House of Vans London. Adrian sat down with TNT for a quick one-on-one, check out what Tony had to say below:
What’s up Tony, I’m Adrian.
From South Africa.
Really? Oh sick!
You’re probably gonna be answering a lot of the same questions today.
Ah dude, fuckin’ go for it.
I wanted to start with Santa Rosa, I was there in ’99 and I made these dudes drive up. I was like we’ve got to go there – is it still there, the park? I loved that old footage like Phil Shao’s backside ollie.
Oh man so much Classic shit. They had the contest there, the pro contest, there was like uh, Jason Adams, Phil Shao, Cardiel was there…
Was Wade [Speyer] there?
Wade yeah, but definitely the Phil back 180 was fucking gnarly.
It was gnarly because when I saw how fucking long that thing was…
And then he landed to flat too which was insane. But the park is still there, I take my kids there. ‘Cos we live close to there now, we’re just down the road. It’s sick ‘cos its just like an abandoned park, we have our dog running around off leash, nobody gives a shit. You know, drink beers, fucking do fireworks, whatever you want. It’s sick now because it’s just so old.
Is it still the same? Good condition?
It’s not that fucked! The only fucked thing is the layers of graffiti, slippery as shit.
Does the city take care of it?
The city doesn’t take care of it, and also then the city doesn’t care. So some people ripped out the back fence so you can just go out the back now. Also somebody built a new ledge and put in some flatbars..
[Some random guy comes out of nowhere and sits next to us. He then interrupts.]
Random: What does that mean?
TT: What does what mean?
Random: Like building a new ledge?
TT: What are you talking about?
Random: Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt a conversation.
This is an interview dude.
Random: I didn’t mean to jump in on a conversation.
TT: We’re having an interview right now!
Random: Really? Oh my God I’m so sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I just sat here [unitelligible].
Photo – Alex Irvine
Welcome to London. Anyway, so you kinda made your mark at Santa Rosa.
Yeah because I got to skate with dudes like Charlie Watts, Jon Minor, Mike Manzoori, Nanda Zipp, Brian Gaberman, so there was photographers, fuckin’ skaters from the generation above me that were skating there, so that’s who I was seeing and looking up to at the time. Still know all those dudes, they’re all fucking solid guys.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Nah, I had my knee surgery and I just started skating in January and fucked my ankle up at that Hawaii contest, that Thrasher thing, so I had an X-Ray the day I left for here. Seeing a sports medicine doctor so just working on that. Other than that when I’m fuckin’ fully healthy yeah, I’m just trying to get back on it and film and stuff. It’s nice that I’ve been up north in Santa Rosa because the whole skate scene is different and I’d been in SF so long it’s a nice change of pace. A little slower and there’s just different spots, different filmers and photographers.
Is there enough of those guys up there for you?
For fun yeah and then SF is just an hour away. And then what makes it the best is the kids are happy. My dad lives close so he can watch the kids and I can go skate.
Are your kids skating?
Waylon is. He’s the older one, he’s 9. Waylon skates a lot that why we go to the park, just to like relax almost. Let him skate, circle circle circle, and then we can just sit there and not entertain him at all.
What number pro shoe is this? You’ve had a lot now.
It’s number 7.
I assume you have a lot of input in design process, do you have any specific requirements when you design a shoe?
One of the requirements usually is the sidestripe. Because I’m known as rocking a sidestripe, so that’s one of the elements that I have to put on the shoe which limits a lot of side design or whatever. Then another one is just keeping it simple. But this time they like kinda coaxed me in to getting the new technology, so I was like fuck it, let’s try it. But you know I want it to look simple. I want venting, like plenty airflow through the shoes – the inside sidestripe is a vent, it’s mesh. Then it’s got the new duracap shit on top of it. ‘Cos you know I wanted mom and dad to see it on the shelf and like, cos they know their kids shoes and they know that there’s gonna be a hole there and a hole there, so at least if they see that on the shelf they know it’s gonna last longer. Also, board feel, for the sole, you have to be able to feel your board, you can’t have fucking too thick a sole in there. If you can’t feel your board you’re not skating.
Photo – Alex Irvine
I really like the Trujillo SG, did you carry over any of that shit into the new shoe?
No this is a whole new beast.
I’ve been to SF a few times and it’s changed so much, but it’s still got some of those classic spots like 3rd and Army etc. Are there still spots out there you can go to and hit? Do you go to Potrero?
Yeah ‘cos our house in the city is pretty close, I can just skate there in three minutes. Potrero park is a go. I do like going to 3rd and army, it’s still there…
That’s kinda why I like it.
Yeah it’s still there and the ledges – I remember when I first went there they seemed big to me – but now they’re just like a double curb height, they’re pretty low. And you can just cruise up and down, it’s sick. I like to go down to the ferry building, you know the middle little island with stairs and shit, that’s cool.
Fort Miley – you ever go there?
I haven’t been there in a while, but yeah it’s still going. It’s so gnarly, dude I don’t get how people skate that fuckin’ place. I still can’t like fucking boost off of it.
People fucking blast off that thing and it’s such a harsh bank. You slam into it and it’ll throw you and the board will stay behind.
The running jump.
Yeah! It’s crazy.
I read that you gave Bob Burnquist your ‘sponsor me’ tape? Kinda cool because he was such an Antihero figurehead at the time. Are you still friends with him? Talk to him?
Things changed a lot I guess?
Yeah I know, I haven’t seen or talked to Bob in a long long long time. I mean almost as soon as I was on the team he was off. So I never went on a trip with Bob.
It was a life changing moment though I guess, when he took the tape?
Yeah man it was sick man, that’s how it was done back in the day, and luckily I was riding for this skateshop that had us going to this skatepark called The Grind in Sacramento and I had my tape with me, just some bullshit tape that me and my buddy put together. I fucking went back to the van, came back into the skatepark and gave it to him. And he wasn’t a dick, and he fuckin’ took it.
How do you feel about skateboardings direction with social media and shit. Video parts, mags all suffering. And there’s the onslaught where every kid puts his shit out. What’s your take on it. Are we dying?
Hahaha I guess you know I, as far as skateboarding and social media goes, you know I’m not a corporate guy or anything, but like how if all this shit’s being put out for free on social media, who’s gonna make the money? And how are they gonna make money? And there’s people backstage who are trying to figure it out, not figure it out but where is the money gonna come from? I know it’s advertising and everything but at the same time it’s like somebody puts out a fucking insane part for free and… how’s instagram making money – they have to sell ad space. It’s a weird transitional turning point in skateboarding. It doesn’t feel like skateboarding is dying because of it, it’s only becoming more popular and mainstream, that’s good and bad.
It’s like an existential question.
Yeah, but then you see like fuckin’ Cardi B or some bitch wearing a fucking Thrasher shirt and then all of a sudden all those people are wearing Thrasher shirts that don’t even skate or know what Thrasher is. So I guess selling it to the mainstream is a way to make it back.
What happened to Tim Upson?
Me and Tim Upson and Brian Seber had the best fucking times ever. We took the Greyhound bus across America, we did a train, Amtrak trip across America. He only made it halfway and went home and that was the last time I ever saw him. He’s a family man now, he’s still skating. I still see little clips of him that Brian Seber puts up. Brian Seber has a skateshop called Ignition. I think Ignition is his shop. Seber gave me his expired ID, Pennsylvania, with a shaved head, and I had a fucking mohawk at the time – he gave me his ID and it was my fake ID, and it fucking worked dude! [Laughter]
How’s the band going? You played in SA right?
Yeah we did South Africa. We all almost died.
Oh yeah the car crash, with Nuge?
Yeah he saved our lives. The brakes went out on a dirt road in the middle of the hills, and on either side is fuckin’ valley and we were just on the peak of it. And then you know what, it was like a year later or something and Ashley was reading some kind of news article and fuckin’ the same Valley Of A Thousand Hills, there was a Church group who lost the brakes and they all died.
Its gnarly out there – it’s rugged!
And dude a lot of us, at least half a dozen of us had fuckin’ nightmares about that for weeks. Like we all had PTSD for weeks, waking up like ‘Holy fuck!’. We had dreams where we crashed, like Braydon, Nuge, me, Ash…
You crashed into a little house?
Yeah smashed right into it, and Nuge took the brunt of it.
Have you been to House of Vans London before?
Yeah I’ve been here before.
Photo – Alex Irvine
Photo – Alex Irvine
Photo – Alex Irvine
Photo – Alex Irvine
How do you like the bowl?
The bowl’s good! It is a little difficult but once you see the local kids skate it – they have the lines – you just follow that and you’ll get to anywhere you need to be. It does look awkward as fuck I know that.
Yeah it looks hard, super long.
Yeah it doesn’t look right but I’ve seen kids fucking rule this thing.
Are you skating it later?
Nah my ankle’s fucked!
That brings me to another question, I dunno how old you are?
Photo – Alex Irvine
Have you got anything you’re doing to stay on it? Like taking care of yourself and preserve yourself?
The one thing you know – we drink beer a lot and whatever, fuck off, especially since I’ve been injured for fuckin’ ever – but I did like put some money into a decent road bicycle so I’ll put down like 30 miles a day. Just for endurance and breathing. It’s like doing a marathon. Cos like skating contests and shit and doing a demo these days is a lot different that it was back when I just didn’t give a fuck or my body could handle it you know. But now I ride the bike like seven miles there, seven miles back, or do a quick six miles in the morning. Just to get the breathing going, get the blood going, and just endurance. And now that we live up north out of the city its all fucking open road.
So you’ve stayed with the same dudes forever, like Antihero and Vans, like 20 years. What’s the key to that? I’m sure you’ve had offers from people but you’ve always remained loyal.
Basically, I’ve been with Antihero since a couple years after it started and who knew it was gonna last this long. Skateboarding is so young nobody knows how this industry is gonna go. Luckily it was San Francisco, I grew up just down the road and it’s a San Francisco company.
And that was your stomping ground.
Yeah, and then as far as Vans goes, you know shoe companies come and people want more and more. I’ve seen people just drop off the face of skateboarding because they wanted more, and maybe they did deserve more money, but who gives a fuck? If you’re skating and traveling for free and you’re getting paid too, at some point you just shut your mouth. The people who fuck up are the people who burn bridges, jumping from company to company and then nobody wants you, there’s nobody else to go to. It’s a small fucking community. Yeah so it just made sense forever, and somebody put their trust in me, then I’ll fuckin’ run with it until their shit falls off.
Alright I think that’s about it.
Hell yeah! Appreciate it.