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Tony Hawk

To begin, I need to apologise for something that’s been bugging me since 1989. When I was 13, you toured with the Bones Brigade and I saw you in Canberra. Afterwards, you were signing autographs and as I reached out with my Claus Grabke deck, I let go and clocked you on the back of the melon. So, yeah, sorry about that.
Wow, you know what? I haven’t been the same since. Actually, I think it made me better. Thanks for the help. It really allowed me to overcome adversity.

And thanks for not punching my lights out. Are you excited about heading to Australia this month for the Big Day Out?
Definitely, I love coming to Oz. My last time at the Big Day Out was in 1996 and it’s like a big family. Porno for Pyros, Rage Against the Machine, and Rancid were playing in ’96 and I felt like a super fan boy hanging with all these stars whenever we went to eat. I was excited to meet Perry Farrell, as I was a huge fan of his music growing up and everything
he’s done since.

What bands are you looking forward to being a fan boy around this year?
I never saw Soundgarden live so I’m pretty stoked about that. I’m looking forward to Battles and Kasabian as well.

Do you ever have to pinch yourself and say, “I’m Tony f–king Hawk!”?
Every single day. I can’t believe the opportunities I get and the fact I still do this for a living. I never take it for granted. To be honest, being invited to skate the Big Day Out again as a headlining act is a huge honour because when I did it before, I was just one of the skaters in the side show on the ramp somewhere in the field. But to be invited as a name on the marquee is incredible.

If you weren’t skating, what do you reckon you would be doing?
I was always into computers as a kid and I loved it with video and editing. I got into that pretty early on, so I’d be doing something along those lines.

What is a surprising fact most people don’t know about you?
I gave up playing violin to start skating. I was pretty good, too. I was actually playing violin when I was skating a lot and my music teacher wanted me to do more extracurricular concerts and things like that. But it started cutting into my skate time and my opportunities to compete, so I had to make a clear decision. It was no more violin. I kind of wish I kept playing and not been so black and white with it.

It’s never too late for violin. Why don’t you take it up again?
I’ve tried and it’s so daunting. It was really difficult, and I realised how much training I’d need to do to get as good as I hope to be. Maybe when things slow down a little bit.

Is there anything you’re crap at?
I tried barefoot waterskiing and I sucked at it.

When you’re travelling the globe all the time, do you get sick of emptying your pockets at airport security?
It’s just a fact of life. I don’t take airports as good or bad. It’s just something I do as part of my career. Some airports are better than others. You learn where the emptier spaces are and where to poach wi-fi.

Do you have a big entourage?
No, just the immediate skaters I’ll be riding with, and a tour manager for all the crew.

Have you come across many crazed fans who have your named tattooed on their head, or request a crop of your hair?
No, but there was a guy I saw last time I was in Sydney who had my signature on his arm from Big Day Out ’96. He came to an in-store signing and showed it to me. I was honoured and got a picture of it.

Have any diehards ever crossed the line and gone too far?
Nothing too extreme. But there are a few times it has gotten a little stalker-ish.

Do you kick arse at any other sports? Curling, perhaps?
I surf and I snowboard, but they are standard things for skaters to do. I’m OK at those – better at snowboarding than surfing.

How do you like to relax?
I try to hang out with my kids and not be distracted with obligations because I’m travelling so much. I like basic family stuff: swimming, going to the movies, Disneyland.

Did your kids get to ride on the Tony Hawk Big Spin rollercoaster?
Yeah, but that’s not going anymore. The rollercoaster is there but my name is no longer on it. It was cool to have my name on an amusement ride… until the park went bankrupt.

The Tony Hawk series of video games have been a massive success – surely you blitz them?
I’m pretty good, but I don’t have the time to devote to it that a lot of kids do. I’m good enough to finish it without cheating, but I’m not going to beat the kids who play it for eight hours a day. I’d love to play the game all day, though.

With all your success, have you ever splashed out on anything ridiculous, like a solid gold toilet seat?
I’ve never gotten too crazy. I’m not a flashy diamond guy. I had a pretty severe high-end watch collection, but I recently sold them because I realised I didn’t appreciate them the way I should. I appreciated the watches, but never wore them. Plus, I already have a watch sponsor. That part of my life is over.

Do you have any regrets?
No, because I feel any mistakes I made were learning processes and things I realised I should never do again. I’m glad I did them to know they are mistakes. The biggest mistake I made early on in my career was I gave people creative licence to use my name however they wanted in lots of different areas, but I realised they had no real concerns for the integrity of the product.

Who are your favourite skaters from the new generation?
Jaws – Aaron Homoki – really pushes the limits of transition and street skating and blends them. Nyjah Huston is amazing and unstoppable right now, and Mitch Brusco, man, he is the new vert guy. Incredible.

You were the first skater to land a 900 – will the new breed continue to push the limits?
Mitch Brusco already knows what is possible, so he is running with it. He is already doing 900s on mega ramps and will probably pull a 1080. Anything is possible.

Is it humbling all these guys look up to you as the dude?
Absolutely, but it’s a lot of pressure as they still want to see you perform. I think that inspires them to do it when they get to my age.

How would you like to be remembered?
As an innovative skater and someone who broke new ground. That is all I’ve ever strived for.

What does the future hold for Tony Hawk?
Of course, I want to keep skating professionally for as long as I don’t suck at it.
Gavin Dennett

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