“Sometimes I feel like the actual physical aspect of what I’m doing, is really not the challenge. It’s just getting the next structures built,” Danny explains as I ask him about the next addition to his Hawaii mega ramp. At 38, most pro skaters would be slowing down, if not, stopping professional skateboarding all together. But for Danny Way, the only thing delaying progression isn’t his age, health or ability, but how quickly he can finance and erect more mega structures.
“Most of my business ventures are to hope I can get some new budgets to create some new things. It’s never been like, I want to get rich. It’s been about making more money so I can get more more structures. More skatelite, more wood. Whatever it is, I think in terms of that. That’s been my dream all along.”
With a 20+ year long skateboard career of straight progression, it begs the question, how much further can he take it, and how will it ever end? Because I imagine, Danny’s not going to just “chill out” or walk away. He’s going to go out like he’s done everything else in his career: bigger and better than everybody else.
I’ve heard people say, “Danny Way won’t stop until he physically self-destructs.” Will it really take a fatal injury to slow you down?
I don’t know. I don’t I have this big expectation of when it’s going to end or how long I’m going to go for. I kind of just take it day by day. But I do hope that I can continue for quite some time in the future. Because I’m not at all satisfied with the things I’ve done and I have a laundry list of things I’d like to do before that time comes. I mean – I am definitely content with some things I’ve done with my career and thankful, but I’m just trying to say there are many things I would like to try before it’s over.
With the upcoming Plan B video, do you think you can change or shift skateboarding as much as the original videos did?
I don’t think it’s gonna shift it, but it’s gonna resolidify the level our guys are at and how much more consistent they are. They are doing the best tricks consistently with every variation of it down the biggest stuff. And it doesn’t take them long, so they have a lot of it. For example when we went to China recently, Sheckler alone has more footage from his 1 trip than all of the Girl team from their China trips combined. I’m not trying to diss on Girl, just trying to put it in perspective, what I think his strengths are. Torey same thing. They could probably film a full part in 2 months that would be the gnarliest video part. So when a guy of that caliber takes 2 or 3 years to film, who knows what the potential is. There’s so much footage, you can just cherrypick all of the best stuff. They are doing tricks that would be the ender in your video part but these guys are banging out those tricks, all day long.
I’ve heard people call Plan B jockish or jock like. How do you feel about that?
Well, I don’t think any of the guys on our team have any animosity towards anyone thinking that they are completely committed to skateboarding. As far as jockish, what, like Torey and P-Rod and PJ [Ladd]? Those guys aren’t too jockish to me. Maybe Sheckler gets that kinda identity cause his shirt comes off occasionally but he’s the only dude on our team that I could potentially see anyone saying that about. But you hang out with the guy for an hour and go skate with him, that’s the furthest thing from who he is. I think we cover a lot of bases in skateboarding, each guy brings something unique to the table and I don’t think anyone on our team’s personality or image is beyond what I would call, 100% authentically committed to skateboarding.
So it doesn’t bother you.
Love the hate.. it’s just like whatever, who cares. If people wanna hate on our team and say were jocks, whatever. We’re that focused on skateboarding that if people are gonna bag on that, then sorry, watch the video and you can call what you want.
If you could suggest 1 skate video for kids starting out to watch, what would it be?
Not to be bias, but I would say the most relative or educational video for kids to watch today would be Plan B Questionable. That video took all of what was going on in skateboarding, all the different paths of trick progression, and took all the good stuff and put it into one package and sealed the box on what the fundamentals in skateboarding were. From that video on, it’s been an evolution of that progression phase. It’s evolved further down that path but hasn’t ventured off of it.
If a kid wants to find out why things are the way they are, why guys don’t do boneless’s that much anymore or handplants on the street, pressure flips or no complys… I think that was the most important skate video of this modern day era of skating, which hasn’t shifted since then.
I heard you’ve been making beats recently.
You wouldn’t believe it, but I have had more hip-hop stars in my house than anyone that has anything to do with heavy metal, that’s for sure.
That’s a funny image to me, Danny Way banging away on a drum machine or on the computer.
It’s funny. It’s obscure as all can be, believe me. Like randomly Mase came by my house one day, Del comes by every so often to work on music. I’m working on tracks with a guy name Mod Sun, he’s from the Midwest, a really good rapper, cool kid. Also working on some music with Shwayze and then Stevie J, the guy on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. He produced all of Biggie’s stuff. Anyways, it’s just funny how the world works and for some odd reason the music scene that I gravitate to somehow happens to be guys that produce hip-hop and electronic music. So it’s been a good influence on me in that way. I come from a background of playing mostly guitar and live, organic music, so its been awesome, it has taught me a lot.
Any street skaters that have gapped the megaramp we might not know about?
Pat Duffy. It cost him a pretty serious broken leg but I think said and done, I think he’s pretty content with his success on the jump, he just had a little bit of a mishap on the quarter pipe afterwards. He got ejected to the flat and broke his leg. Duffy charges harder than anybody I think, he’s committed to skateboarding. If you ever see Duffy walking these days, he has a pretty substantial limp. That’s from the mega ramp.
Are there any dudes that have said they were definitely gonna try it, then ended up going there and just pussying out?
There has been so many guys that have claimed they would come skate it, but only a few that actually have. And please come! I have no discrimination. Rob [Drydek] has gone out there with me. He might hate me saying this, but there were 3 different times where I challenged him to jump the megaramp but he never did it. I even trained him a little bit on the vert ramp. Then we went there, he’d skate halfway down and then jump off and knee slide right up to the jump ramp. He tried like a hundred times but he just couldn’t attempt it.
He wants it man. He wants it so badly it’s just eating him alive inside that he has not at least jumped it.
When you are looking down at whatever you are about to do, let’s say jumping the Great Wall, do you a have a mental prep or routine?
There were a lot of things that made it a lot more eerie to do something in China verses somewhere else. There was some uncertainty, being in a foreign place with not a lot of resources that I would say I would be comfortable with on a medical level. Aside from that, the structure was not very sound. It was literally moving side to side at least six inches from one side to the other from the wind. So I was definitely humbled by a lot more than what I was going to do on a skateboard that day. I don’t think it’s a ritual for me, but I tried to have a moment to think about all the good things in my life. That definitely made me check in with myself for a second. I usually reflect on my mentors as well. I try to envision my mentors giving me positive feedback.
You’ve gotten hurt and recovered from several life threatening injuries. Do lean more towards alternative medicine and eastern philosophy or westernized stuff?
It just depends what it is, if you tear the ACL ligament in your knee, meditation and yoga is not going to fix that, you know, but surgery will. It just depends what it is and what the protocol is for that need, but for the most part, yes, the Eastern approach to healing, with how many injuries I go through has become the choice path for me. If you followed the Western protocols all the time I think you might trash yourself by abusing prescription drugs and all those things.
Anything you do on a regular basis?
Well I always believed it depends on what respect you have for your body and how you use yourself. In general, health is one of those things you really can’t put a price tag on, physically active or not. People will put all this money into their cars, buy rims, put stereo equipment in or whatever, but then it is a big deal to go buy organic food because it costs too much. And you’re like, wait a second… You just bought designer jeans for $300 and you’re complaining that organic apples cost a dollar more per pound than regular ones? It’s just funny, I just think people should be more conscience of that and not put themselves secondary.
I’ve heard you injected bone marrow into your joints to try and rejuvenate them.
Yeah. I’m all about trying to find the fountain of youth so whatever it takes to get my knees and ankles back to where they were 15, 20 years ago would be awesome.
Did it help?
Absolutely, but I’m constantly abusing my body so its hard to tell what’s working and what’s not working other than I’m still going which is great. When you’re constantly physically pushing the limit you don’t really ever know what’s what, because your always feeling a little bit rattled. I pretty much live in a life of constant physical turmoil.
I just read about this technology where they can actually reverse the aging process and maybe even injuries.
I haven’t heard about that in particular but would like to research it if its out there cause if that’s the case well shit man, I gotta get some therapy.
Being a pro skater for 20+ years, what do you notice between the attitudes of skaters today as oppose to when you started?
I think there’s different level of appreciation now. Back then there was a lot less to go around in the world of skateboarding. Less pros, fewer places to skate… Every little thing that we accomplished, if it was finding a new skate spot, or getting to the skate park, or getting a new board, was such a big deal. Let alone getting sponsored and maybe one day getting paid for skateboarding. Back then a top pro, potentially made $100,000 a year and that was like the one top dude. Maybe Tony was making a hundred grand a year in his hey-day in the mid to late eighties. And that was like, I thought he was like a rock star, you know? Skateboarding seemed so much more special in some ways back then. How the community was so passionate about skateboarding because if you weren’t, there really wasn’t much within it for you.
I guess you had to be or it was a waste of your time.
Yeah, back then there wasn’t much more you were going to get out of skateboarding than having a good time because there wasn’t much else. You really had to work hard to make a career out of it then and there was no certainty because it was such an unorganized industry. It was not just a sport but a subculture, and a subculture that didn’t want much to do with the mainstream community.
Now it has kind of become a standard sport in mainstream society and I think it attracts different kids. So I do feel grateful that I was a part of it when it was so small. But It is awesome all the resources and things that are happening within skateboarding today and the opportunity that is there for everybody. I am so grateful for that. It’s pretty awesome that we have been able to pave that path and I feel honored to be one of the guys putting the pavement down.
It gets me psyched to hear you are even more motivated after all you’ve already done.
It’s like once you have done something for so long it just becomes kind of standard. It’s like if I am not in this rhythm or routine I feel like I’m not really me. So I don’t know what I’ll do when that time comes where I don’t have the responsibility to be a pro skateboarder and have to maintain a level of consistency or progression. Hopefully I can accomplish a few things before it’s too late. So I can lay in bed and sleep well because I don’t want to be dwelling on things I could potentially have done.
Words: Ian Michna
Special Thanks: Danny Way, DC.
Photograph courtesy of: Mike Blabac & DC.
For more Danny Way, check out the new documentary Waiting For Lightning
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