Compared to Dennis Busenitz, I’m just a big pussy. He can build stuff like chairs and tables and weld metals together with that German precision. Manhandling sanders, nail guns, grinders and able to skate with endless stamina and raw power, he’s a very capable dude. If the world was ending, Dennis could probably throw his kids on his back, skate 50 miles outside of the city, build a cabin out of some old wood in the forest and protect his family. Meanwhile I’d be the asshole blogging about it because it would get, “Mad Facebook likes yo,” and die within 48 hours of losing electricity because I ran out of Ramen Noodles.
He doesn’t give in to new trends like Facebook or Twitter, or have gold Jewelry or flashy sports cars. He isn’t trying to start a rap career or become some misunderstood artist. Dennis just continues to do what he does best: focus on skating, raising a family, and having the best time he can on his skateboard. And that’s probably why he’s been one of the most respected pros of the last decade.
Is it true that your wife skates?
Yeah, she hasn’t skated in a while. I always give her boards and try to get her on skate dates and stuff but she never ends up going. [laughs] I’ve tried to encourage it as good family fun, like get the whole family out to the skatepark and just fall on our faces, but it doesn’t happen. She can ollie up curbs and stuff, that’s pretty rad. She’s never kickflipped, but she can pump around at the park.
You support your family on Skateboarding. Is there a line you draw when you take on new sponsors? Like would you take on an energy drink sponsor or a cell phone company?
Yeah, people have been telling me to get some type of energy drink sponsorship. But I guess that’s the line I don’t wanna cross. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it for people that want to do it, but I feel like I’m doing OK, if I don’t have to, I’d prefer not to. I don’t believe in that stuff. I don’t think glorified Kool-Aid is something worth drinking. I believe in water, and coffee. Orange juice and things like that. I think all those energy drinks are really bad for you, so I don’t really want to endorse them either.
That’s refreshing to hear.
I always think it’s common knowledge that that stuff is horrible for you but I think kids honestly don’t know. They think it’s just a good drink to drink when you’re out skating, or whatever. But It’s more or less poison.
Tell me about almost dying with Jake Phelps.
We were on a Volcom trip in Perth, Australia and supposed to fly to Melbourne. Jake Phelps was also on the trip and decided it would be more fun to rent a car and drive cross country. He invited me along as well as his friend Monk and it seemed like a great idea at the time.
A day into the trip, Jake [Phelps] was driving and Monk and I were both sleeping. Jake was flooring it the whole time, because that’s just how he drives. We’re like going 165 KM an hour, which is over a 100 MPH. As we are driving, Jake wants to take the photo or something, so he’s looking for his digital camera, by his feet. He’s looking around and we’re swerving a bit. Monk wakes up and thought Jake had fallen asleep at the wheel, so he reaches over and tries to grab it and gain control. As he touches it, we start fishtailing and that’s when I woke up and realized we were going off the road and we ended up flipping the car.
How many times did you flip?
It went on for a while, probably 4 or 5 flips. We’d hit the ground and it would be really quiet while we were flipping then we’d hit the ground again and it would go back to being really quiet. That was the closest to dying I’ve gotten for sure.
What happened afterwards?
The cops came out. There were all these trees everywhere but luckily we missed them. Although there was one little tree sticking through the steering wheel and a little bit more and it probably would have impaled Jake’s head perfectly. We were all really lucky, a couple of scratches but nothing serious.
Jake brought along like 30 boards to sell on the tour, because apparently, “You’re not a true skateboarder unless you’re slinging product.” That’s what he said. I don’t really know how that makes sense but… [laughs]. I don’t think he was hurting for money or anything he just wanted to sell boards. During the accident the trunk popped open so all these boards were scattered all over the place. The cop gave us a ride to the next town, where we went to the bar and got drunk right away to take the edge off.
Were you mad?
We were all mad at Jake, and he was like, “ You can punch me, I deserved it.” So I got a clean punch at Jake’s face, which I’m sure some people are jealous of and I knocked him off of his barstool. I don’t think he expected me to fully punch him but I was pissed. It got us kicked out of the bar, they didn’t know it was a friendly punch, they thought it was a full brawl.
You design your own skate ledges. But do you design other stuff too? Tables, chairs etc..
Yeah I’ve been building household stuff like that mostly. I only get to build skate boxes and stuff when I don’t have anything else to do, and I always have something else to do. [laughs] It’s a luxury when I get to build skate obstacles.
I’ve noticed you’ve built like… 5 ledges.. They all look the same too.
Yeah It’s like a OCD thing almost. [laughs] They all look the same but they’re all made differently. I have to make them mobile, so they can be taken apart and fit in the van. I try to make them as simple as possible and able to drag around. Each one has improvements and differences. I guess I just haven’t made the perfect box yet! [laughs]
Have you ever thought about making a different types of obstacles?
Yeah, the next thing I want to build a wallie spot. Like a box that is 2 feet high and each side would have a different angle for wallieing.
How much would you make if I went to the store right now and bought your shoe. A couple cents? A couple bucks?
A couple bucks.
That’s pretty good.
I think so… I really can’t complain. I’m so grateful. Thanks everyone out there for buying my shoes and boards. My babies can eat organic granola every morning [laughs].
“I don’t think glorified Kool-Aid is something worth drinking.”
Why should kids skate the streets rather than a skatepark?
Cause the streets are wild. Stuff happens that would never happen at a skatepark. I guess with a skatepark it’s a controlled environment, where you can practice but you lose the spontaneous part of skating with the world, traffic and people. You’re forced to skate things that aren’t meant to be skated, especially now with things being skatestopped, it might make you look at things that you wouldn’t have skated before. It forces you to be a little bit more creative.
Do you feel confined when you skate a park or small space or when it’s crowded?
Yeah. I guess so, if you’re in a skatepark or warehouse, it has a fence around it. It doesn’t really mix with like the freedom that skateboarding is supposed to give you. It still does – but it seems like more fun to not have that boundary.
Is there any good advice you’ve gotten about skating?
Well my friend Matt, I guess around the time of my Seeing Double part was like, “C’mon Dennis, good part but you know, smith grinds, tailslides… you can do more!” I’ll never forget that. A well needed constructive criticism. It was funny I think. He just told me to do more than the bare minimum to get by I guess.
Have ever thought about switching to Longboarding so you can go faster or gain more speed?
No I haven’t pursued longboarding. [laughs] You can’t ollie with longboards. If you can’t ollie you are so limited.
You could powerslide over and over and over and over again if you wanted though!
Yeah but how do you powerslide up a curb? [laughs] How do you navigate around the city if you can’t ollie?
Ok, on a more serious note – Was there ever a time when you were gonna give up or stop skateboarding?
Hm, Yeah, the professional part of it kind of a year or two after I moved out to California. I was kind of adjusting to things here, I wasn’t really that stoked on it. But I think being around good people helped get me through it. That was the time when Real and Anti Hero went on trips together and I got to skate with a lot of those dudes, they had a good influence on me. Cardiel, inspired and inspires me to this day to keep going. His whole approach to skateboarding is just awesome.
What was bumming you out about California when you moved there in the beginning?
I don’t know.. The whole thing is just so bizarre and how being a professional skateboarder works really tripped me out at the time. I wasn’t really sure what was expected from me, what I was supposed to do and if I even wanted to do that. I was putting pressure on myself to have to keep up or try to do “current tricks” or a certain level of skateboarding. It freaked me out. It’s a bunch of horseshit basically, and it took me a while for me to realize.
Any last words?
Kids should go street skate more. Go out and skate whatever you can find before its completely illegal.