We wanted to launch The Green by interviewing a man who has spent more time above the benches than sat down. He may not smoke weed anymore, but we quickly learned that he’s got no quarrels talking about his blazed daze. Although technical difficulties resulted in the loss of the first few minutes of the interview, we got more gold than we could even use. The result is a royal rumble of anecdotes with no shortage of Bristolian swagger. Danny should have a world record in storytelling, even if he no longer holds one for the highest ollie. Big thanks to the man himself for sitting down and chatting to us, we’ll see you on The Green soon.
Talk us through the high ollie contest. We heard it might have been a bit hazy…
Judging from the qualifying the day before I was like OK I think I stand a pretty good chance. Ten grand I really didn’t want to come second.
So I was super nervous and I had no weed. There was this fucking weirdo, Isaac, who used to work in the office at Powell for Bones, he was a rollerblader. Powell made rollerblade wheels back then. He said he had weed so I just went to the room and he had a bong in there. I blazed it and then was like “Pack it up again”, blazed another one and blazed another one. He was like “Hey slow down with my weed”, told him not to worry about it I’d get him some more. So I just smoked his bag.
Eric Olsen, the TM, found me and was like “Dude, you’re gunna fucking miss the riders meeting, you need to leave now, we need to go.” I rolled another joint then we left, had to go from being in a hotel room, which was part of the convention centre, basically walking down through reception into the madness of that contest and everyone already skating. I’d missed the riders meeting. I was like “Shit maybe I can’t enter any more. Ah fuck it, it will be alright, whatever.”
All day I was just looking at the floor not talking to anyone, just so in my own zone, you know.
It was a crazy day.
So it was one versus one at the end with Reese in his own contest?
Yeh. The Reese Forbes Ollie Challenge.
I think it changed things for Reese. I didn’t really see that much footage from him after that.
So it’s your fault.
Hey it’s not my fault man. If he wants to put his name to something and put himself on the line.
Took a dude from Stroud *haha*
I know right? Super high too.
You didn’t do the weights around the ankles for that one?
Didn’t do any of that nah. Reese did all that though. Weights round the ankles, he was training. 411 filmed this whole intro about the video, with him training and running and the weights. Element had their boards and it was like “power/pop/fly”. They had all this shit worked out for it, like he is going to win.
It’s like Danny Way going to a high air contest. You know he’s going to do it.
Did they ever put that footage out?
They used a little bit of that footage and they made it look like a joke but it was filmed as a serious thing.
What was it like hanging out and filming with P-Stone?
You know what, he is cool as fuck and it was super funny filming with him. He is more interested about having a beer in his hand and filming whatever all wobbly and shit. I wanted to film stuff and it to look super pro, you know? So you’d spend all day filming with P-stone, go home and watch the footage and you’d be like “What the fuck?!” *laughing*. When you go out filming with other people, you’d watch it back and be like this makes me look good, I’m stoked. But you’d go filming with P-stone and be like ah man I look like a fucking retard. All shaky and him talking in the background “I think you got it this time” with a beer opening. The best times right there!
His Thrasher series is amazing with all the beers opening. Beer Slave was one of my most watched videos when I was a little hesh kid.
Bru-ray! Now it’s cool like that’s Preston, that’s his thing. Back in the day it was like “FUCK”. I had parts on Thrasher videos and they were the worst thing ever.
What’s it like filming with Rich compared to back then?
I love filming with Rich but I can’t skate anymore so that makes it a lot harder. I used to love filming with Anthony Claravall more than anyone. The only thing I ever put effort into filming was a 411 video part, Issue 31 or something. Have you seen that one?
Yeah we watched it today actually. I was amazed at some of the spots I’d never been to in Bristol.
Bristol has the best spots.
Watching old Fifty videos it’s like right well every spot has been killed and even now when you find a weird spot, Chris Jones has probably already done it.
For sure and a lot of new kids don’t even know who Stalker is. They’ll do a switch back tail off Lloyds and be like “fuck yeah”, but Stalker did that 15-18 years ago when he was tiny. That time when we were all skating, that era of skating, when we were making those videos we never really realised what we were doing. We were just skating and feeding off each other, doing rad shit you know? But when you look back now you’re like “Fucking hell that’s really advanced.” That was better than what anyone in the country was doing, the London scene was dead. And then Mike Manzori and Alan Rushbrook and Vaughan and all those people moved to Bristol as a result of what we were doing.
I remember in the highlight of Blueprint, Dan Magee came to the Jus Foolin premiere.
I remember him being super stoked on what we were doing and the vibe, I was like “What? What are you talking about?” We were just hanging out man, doing our thing. We looked up to what he and Blueprint were doing, especially the filming and production, you know what I mean?
Yeah Louis gave me a copy of Jus Foolin on VHS the other day, they found a box in Fifty. So stoked, brand new…
I fucking hate the artwork and I hate the colour of the artwork and I hate the look of it, but the skating is sick.
You don’t like it (holding up a copy)?
*laughs* Nah it’s awful man.
What do you think of the Bristol scene now compared to what it was then?
It’s fucking rad dude and sometimes it’s a shame that I’m not there to see it, you know. I love it, you guys, what you’re doing, what it’s given you. You want to make this mag and you want to do this thing and be based there. What we have done with Fifty and what Rich has done with Caf. Everyone doing DIY stuff, like all these different little pockets of energy and everyone’s doing different shit.
Thankfully, skateboarding is fucking cool again. I think Pontus has got a lot to do with that but like skateboarding is fucking cool, you can do what you want and look how you want, you know what I mean?
The scene itself is fucking thriving, just the energy that Rich and all the Caf dudes have and what they did with that video and what they’re doing with their brand, which is becoming quite spot lit. It’s becoming a really good strong brand, an individual brand. They’re doing their own thing you know. Bristol has allowed this to happen, all the history.
Backside Feeble. Photo: Leo Sharp.
I live in Berlin and it’s very different compared to the skate scene that I’m used to and what I grew up with. Everyone was down for each other. Everyone was tight knit. Berlin’s scene is very split up. I mean Berlin’s got a skate scene but I don’t know where it is.
Even when I lived in Barcelona there were all these different pockets but they weren’t connected. Every different crew had a different shop they would go to. That’s one thing about Bristol, the shop brings people together with events, premieres, parties and launches and all this shit. Maybe because Bristol is small too. There’s something in the water man it’s the same with art, it’s the same with music, it’s the same with skateboarding. Whatever music you’re into whether it’s hip hop or drum and bass or dubstep or I don’t even know, Bristol is thriving with this stuff. If it’s art, fine art, graffiti, street art Bristol’s thriving with it. It’s just creative. It’s a creative city.
It’s stoned and friendly
Yeah, everyone’s fucking high *laughs*.
I think if it’s a bigger city it has that problem of people coming in and out so the tendency is to be a bit cliquey.
I think Bristol people are content to live there. They live there because they want to. They don’t want to work in a marketing agency but actually make tea all day, you know what I mean? As a result people are more genuine about what they do.
Yeah and there are loads of different crews as you so say who are all backing each other, there’s no beef.
Exactly and if there is beef people are like “What you on about man? Relax, chill out”.
There was one year that you were pretty much winning every contest. What do you think about contests these days?
There was a Nike SB contest just here in Berlin.
Yeah, the Nike SB Open?
Yeah, I didn’t go. Why would I go? Stuck in a fucking skatepark watching a load of hardflips *laughs*.
To be honest, I was busy all week at the trade show here in Berlin and there were three really good, fun contests every evening, so by the weekend I was burnt out and had other things I needed to do.
So not into Street League?
It’s not really my thing man, I’m not into skateparks really either. I don’t like to be caged. I want to be out. You know each to their own and that’s the way skateboarding is. Unfortunately with Nike being in the game that’s what they know isn’t it…It’s tennis courts, football pitches, and stadiums…lights, camera, action and all that. I’m not into that personally.
You think you would have considered it when you were in contest mode?
No, I did one contest in Birmingham when it was turning that way. It was me, Flynn (Trottman), I think (Paul) Carter and (Dan) Wileman were there. It was some contest and you’re on the platform waiting to drop in and there’s a camera‐man and he’s counting you in “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and then you can skate. I was like “I’ll fucking skate when I want man, when I’m ready to drop in I’ll go. No! I’ll go now.” Like “Fuck this”. And on the board it was like “Hey you scored a 97 you need a blah blah blah to…” fuck off man! That’s my generation though I don’t know if it’s the same. It’s ours, it’s our thing, we do it. We don’t need the big screen and the LEDs, the shot of the skater with all the sponsors in the background.
It’s like Nascar driving.
I watched a clip today of Luan (Oliveira) doing a switch heel big spin at that contest, just him doing that… and the graphics and the people talking and all that shit. I was just like “What am I watching? This is the fucking worst man it’s like watching a bag of dogs drown”, I was just like “nahhh”.
From the Slap interview (2000): Where do you see yourself in 5 years? You answered “Hell I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of cash”
I’m still saying the fucking same *laughs*.
Do you think if you hadn’t won G97 things would have been different? Maybe you wouldn’t have started Fifty?
Well Fifty wouldn’t have happened. Fifty happened because of G97. I won, well it wasn’t even fucking crazy money, I think I won about three and a half thousand or something and then there was another contest before that when I won a thousand or whatever.
Me and Syd we put five grand in, we started Fifty on ten grand. That’s nothing when you think of getting a shop, putting a deposit down, building everything, buying stock, opening a store…we did it on ten grand.
So when it started it was just you and Syd?
Yeah just me and Syd. Joe Habgood came up with the name. We just went for it.
Apparently you were on the Paul O’Grady show?
Fucking hell, I was once yeah. I got a call and they offered me some cash so I was like “Alright, yeah fuck it I’ll do it”.
Didn’t you do quite a lot of stuff like that?
Yeah, I was on Casualty a few times skating in the background. They did a big one at the Deaner when there was like 20 people skating and then some kid slams and breaks his head open or something.
I heard you choreographed that entire BBC advert?
Yeah I can’t remember how I got that job. Maybe someone from Vans UK. I went there like a month before to Harland and Wolff in Northern Ireland, that’s where the Titanic was built apparently. It was built or it sailed from there. I think it was built there. We looked around and I was like “We could do this we could do that”, with some crazy TV guy. We sort of designed something out and then who did I pick to do it with?
Ollie Todd… Frank Stephens is a good dude but was kind of hard to deal with. Complaining about everything. “I’m not wearing a helmet”. Man its the fucking BBC, if you don’t want to wear a helmet then go home, I’ll get someone else, its simple. Then they bought these helmets that kind of looked like caps. They were super cool man they hooked it up. I was like “Man we are getting paid like three grand for this shit and showing people skateboarding so just shut up. Just do it, who cares?”
Ollie was rad though, just chilled about the whole thing…
I think we did it 35 times. We were in Northern Ireland for three days and we bashed it out on the first day really quick. I was just like fuck it I’ll jump off this, I’ll jump down there. They were like “What? but health and safety” it’s like man what you on about.
Yeah I think we did it 30 odd times and the one they used was one of the first takes we took, which is pretty cool.
Cool but annoying.
Yeah but it was good training. Good tre-flip training.
How many times you reckon you landed the tre out of the 30 odd?
Oh the majority man I’d say. They’re not hard. Not back then.
So what’s this about Sammy Partaix lighting Harry’s hair on fire when Skateboard Cafe were out in Barca?
We were just boozing at Betty Forbes in Barca. Sam’s a good mate, like a real good mate of mine, he’s one of the only funny French men there is, and even sometimes that’s a push *laughs*! But he’s a good lad you know… he’s dying to come to Bristol to skate all the DIYs, he’s fucking dying. *French accent* “Mate when are we going? We skate the DIY!” he loves it.
So we’re out there filming for the Caf video and Sam’s there filming his Colourway video (Colourway for the Vans slip on). So we’re hanging out in the pub and we’ve had a few beers…and there’s a bit of banter, you know what Harry’s like. Sam’s like “Fuck you with your Caf con leche, your Skateboard Cafe con leche” and Harry was like “Yeah fuck you man!”. Then Sam started trying to light his hair on fire, and then he said one more time “Yeah fucking skateboard cafe con leche”. Harry just fucking palmed him off his barstool and he slid across the whole bar on his back with the barstool flying. I know the dude who owns the bar and he just looked and he was like “Fucking skaters man”, it was so bad. Yeah but Sam got served man, quite rightfully.
We skated the Green with Harry the other day and he fast planted the bench…
I love skating with Harry because we skate the same, we both cruise around and fucking ollie. He’s such a funny dude, he’s so cool to hang out with, he’s so positive. You’re in the street having fun, it makes you feel fucking young again, or well at least me, I’m 40. It’s just fun dude, it’s how it should be. There’s no pressure and you’re skating and both hyping each other up to do pretty basic shit that most people can do but it’s fun you know.
Rich said when the cops go past in Barca you end up doing some weird shit… some Rodney Mullen type tricks?
Yeah, you just got to look goofy. If you look like a proper skater then the cops are on to you. But if you just start doing 360s, dorking around, like pushing all mongo and going real slow, they just roll past man, it’s like camouflage.
That’s perfect. What’s the funniest name you’ve ever given to the police? Like someone else’s name, I’ve been Mark Gonzalez, what’s your alias?
I said Tony Hawk loads back in the day. I don’t reckon that will go anymore though.
Now I don’t give them nothing. The last time the cops asked me for my name and ID was in Japan. We got kicked out of a spot but I wasn’t even with the dudes, I was across the street and I didn’t have a board. They all ran off and got in the van. I was walking towards the van, I wasn’t even at the van and this fucking Japanese policeman, or security or something rolled up on his bike and he was just fucking yelling at me. I was just a white dude, so clearly I was with them… He was like “ID! Give me passport! Passport give it!” and I was like “Why?” “You do skateboard!” and I said to him, “I do skateboard? Me? Nah man, look at me! I ain’t no skateboarder, what’s skateboard?” and he’s fucking going off and I just said “Mate, you’re tripping” and walked away. He just stood and watched me walk away. He didn’t chase me, nothing. I was like “Mate you’re fucking tripping out fuck off”… I just left and he was like “urh!?” all confused at the side of the road, I got around the corner and just fucking ran, I ran into a cafe or something, sat at the back and waited. Don’t give the cops nothing man.
Layback ollie in Tokyo. Photo: Iseki.
What about the time when you got hit in the side of the head at a contest
According to our sources, you’re super squeamish?
Yeah I’m not into that shit man, I’m not into seeing myself with an ankle tweaked or it’s big and black or it just fucking spins me out. I don’t know yeah blood and that shit, I am not into it.
So what happened when the board hit you in the head then?
We arrived at Urban Games, it was on Clapham Common. Basically me and Syd arrived and went to check out the course, we’re looking like “Yeah, cool”. BANG. Board hits me in the temple, comes off a ramp and hits me.
I just hear like ringing, I think it was that Mark Nicol… Mark what’s his name, rode for Death?
I think it was his huge ass Death board that hit me in the head *laughs*. Dude it fucked me up. I said to Syd “Yo man, I need to sit down, there’s a Vans tent over there, let’s go over there”. I’m walking towards the Vans tent and I just blackout, fall on the floor. I’m out, cold. Like delayed out.
That’s crazy, delayed concussion.
I came to and it was raining, so I must’ve been out for a while for the clouds to come in and it to start raining, I came to and I was on all fours being sick, I was fucking throwing up on the grass, all wet and shit. My head was just throbbing. I was tripping man. Syd picked me up and we walked over to the ambulance dude, and the ambulance dude walked straight up and was like “What’s happened to you?”. I just went “burrrgh” all over this dude, projectile vomited all over him. I was like “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. He was just like “Hey hey, don’t worry about it, come in and sit down.” I went in and sat in the Ambulance, he asked me what happened and I was like “Fuck, I don’t know, I got hit in the head, I don’t know.”
I couldn’t remember my name, I couldn’t remember how we’d got there, I knew I was with Syd and I knew I got hit in the head, but I couldn’t remember anything. It went on for what felt like 15 minutes of me not being able to think. I remember it started freaking me out.
All of a sudden, you know when you watch a movie on streaming, when it freezes, and then it’s all super quick and you watch it all load. It was like that in my head. All this information just started belting out. It was gnarly, fucking gnarly.
They told me I couldn’t go to sleep for hours, Everyone had to wake me up every two hours. Syd, Flynn or Carter would make sure I was still alive.
Backside Smith. Photo: Davy Van Laere
On the topic of slams. Recently Aaron Herrington Boardslid the curved rail at Christ Church Clifton, what happened to you on that rail?
Trying to Fifty it, in the Raggy video. I got worked on that man. Grinding it and the rail curves, the front truck went down to smith and I fucking sacked, right on my nuts. Of course then my chest and my head are going to hit the rail too cause it’s long. I moved my head out of the way and it scratched my collarbone, took all the skin off my collar bone, looked like I had a rasher of bacon on my shoulder.
I was on the grass and I put my hands down my shorts, pull them back out and they were covered in blood. I thought my dick was hanging off, so I just took it out, took it all out on the church. My nuts were bleeding, the shock of it made me throw up on the grass.
I eventually went to Hospital, had to get stitches in my ball. Had to make a cradle so my balls wouldn’t rock around. Went on a Raggy trip two days later with my balls in this little package.
What did you think when Aaron did it?
I was stoked dude. When he posted the cover on Instagram I sent him a message telling him it took me out and big props.
Did you have any funny sponsor offers, pagers or anything?
I rode for PlayStation. I turned Red Bull down; they were like “Yeah we’re going to give you this drink”. Why do I need a drink? I just need trucks, wheels, bearings, a board, some shoes, clothes and that’s it. This is before anyone was sponsored by Red Bull. I thought that shit was corny, so told them to forget about it.
Would you take it now?
Yeah, I probably would.
Start Base Jumping.
I’ll fucking do it naked on fire.
Wallie in Barcelona. Photo: Anthony Claravall