chrome ball sits in with d gar for a little conversation.
Alright Danny, word is that you’ve been out on the road playing guitar with Matt Costa as of late. That’s a bit of a different-type scenario for you. How’d that end up going down?
Matt’s just a good friend of mine. We hang out all the time so it was only natural that we’d start playing music together. A couple of years ago, I actually started recording a record with him, playing all kinds of different instruments.
In his business, you record an album and then go out on the road to promote it, so when it came time to do all that stuff, I jumped at the opportunity to experience that side of things. I mean yeah, I’ve experienced that sort of thing through skateboarding but this is just different.
So what do you think of this rockstar gig? On the plus side of things, I’m guessing that at least the ladies have to be an upgrade from the normal demo jailbait…
Yeah, there’s definitely more grown-up women at these shows.
But yeah, it’s cool. It can wear on you a little bit though because it’s kinda like “going out” every night. You’re basically thrown into a bar and it’s up to you as far as how you want to handle it. We did almost 2 months of shows and at a certain point, I had to reel it in and starting choosing my nights to really go for it. Some nights you just have to keep it mellow. But it’s definitely been a good experience.
What are the pros and cons of being a professional musician versus professional skateboarder?
They’re really similar, to be honest. When I really look at it, it’s hard for me to see them as all that different of professions. They’re both about these skills that you have which you’re basically building your own business around. Musicians are hired to play music, skateboarders are paid to ride skateboards.
But there are little differences, of course. Like I don’t get shinners playing music.
True. And you don’t have 15-year-olds trying to one-up you at every show.
Maybe if you go into a Guitar Center…
So you’re largely seen as the “guitar guy” of Habitat with your guitar graphics and all of your cut-away shots of you strumming away. You even have signature guitar picks that come with your latest shoe. Overall, what’s the most popular tour bus song request you get?
On the tour bus, they want to hear “Stairway to Heaven.”
No, I just made that up. I don’t really know...
Actually, I think usually people just want me to be quiet.
It’s tough out there on the road. Well, if you had to choose another pro skater to sing for some hypothetical band project you were starting, who would you elect to be your frontman with mystique?
Good answer. Now have you ever had any negative experiences involving your guitar while on tour? Like I can definitely see hockey temper Kerry Getz smashing that damn thing in a fit of rage. Or maybe even Fred Gall sitting on it.
It wasn’t mine but I heard Silas smashed someone’s guitar. It was a cheap guitar and I think Silas knew that so he smashed it and then went out and bought the guy a replacement.
But no, nobody’s ever really messed with my guitar… except for airports. They don’t really treat them with kindness.
Now were you already playing guitar when you got on All City? I have a hard time imagining those O.G.’s getting down on the acoustic campfire tip.
I started playing music when I was a little kid. My Dad was a musician and I learned to play a bunch of different instruments growing up through him, guitar included. But I abandoned it for a few years when I started skating as that really took over for a while. I wasn’t really messing with my guitar when I was on All City.
Was that your first sponsor?
There was actually going to be a company through World Industries named “Shaolin” that I was supposed to ride for. That might’ve been for a week or two. I don’t remember much about it though. Rodney Mullen was my contact through all of that. I was just excited to be a part of something at that point.
But after that didn’t work out, Rodney talked Kareem into putting me on All City.
Who else was gonna be on that Shaolin team? I’ve never heard of that before.
It’s been a long time… I definitely remember Ryan Kenrich’s name coming up.
Now weren't you somehow involved with those A-Team trick challenges? I remember reading that you actually did one of the tricks but they weren't gonna pay because you were already sponsored? What went on with all of that?
Yeah, I did Rodney’s trick. It was a nose wheelie-to-nollie 360 flip out on a mini-lunch table.
The thing is that I honestly don’t know why I did it. I was already on flow through those guys at World at the time. It was more like an idea or a challenge. I kinda figured that I could do it so I went out and tried it. I don’t even know if I wanted money for it. I guess I just wanted to show Rodney and maybe get hooked-up.
Those trick contests were kinda funny back then. It’s kind of a strange idea but cool.
Isn’t that how Chris Cole got on?
Yeah, I actually remember sitting there and watching all the footage of the different people that sent in their stuff and he was one of them.
Pretty crazy. So what was it like hanging out with the Menace crew back then? I imagine being with Joey Suriel and the future Frank Hurts at such a young age had to be a trip.
It was definitely interesting. At the time, I don’t think I realized just how different I was from those dudes but looking back on it now, we were worlds apart. I was just so young and ignorant to their world. I mean they came from some pretty crazy backgrounds and I grew up Anaheim.
We’d be hanging out, driving around in a van and skating demos and stuff, but once we got back to the hotel, they’d go out and I’d do my own thing. I was such a kid. Not that I was so young at the time because I was 19, but I just had no clue. I’d be thinking to myself, “Oh, they’re going out.” But I didn’t know what that meant. I can only imagine what they were doing!
I didn’t really see their world, though I definitely enjoyed hanging out with them. They’re such funny, charismatic dudes. I just didn’t really relate so much to them.
So were you consciously looking for something when Habitat came along? I know it was right around when you left that City Stars started getting all those young dudes on the squad.
Yeah, I left right before all those guys got on. But no, I respected those City dudes. I thought they were sweet…
Like they’ll bake you cookies?
Nah, not like “sweethearts”, I meant like “rad.”
But like I told you, I didn’t totally relate to them. They were so much older, I just wanted to skate. Skating to skate.
At a certain point, I got to know some of the Habitat guys and a few of the Alien guys, like Dill and Pappalardo, and I knew that was where I wanted to be. We got along right away. They were young and doing what I was doing, just on a different coast.
You got on Habitat pretty early on.
It was mainly through Dill. He’d always tell me how much he liked my skating back then, like, “Fucking, I like your shit, man. You’re awesome.”
He said that if I ever wanted to ride for Alien to just call him and that’s how it went. I’d met him a few times because we both rode for Vita back then and I seriously just called him and brought it up. He ended up calling me back and asking how I felt about riding for Habitat. I was psyched.
Now your style has definitely evolved from a baggier, hip-hop kind of steez to a cleaner, more flowing style in recent years. There’s quite a difference between Photosynthesis and Mosaic for you. Was this just a natural progression as you got older or perhaps different influences on you over the years? Like I can’t imagine maroon Fedoras going over too well on City Stars.
You’re just witnessing an adolescent kid growing up. Each one of those parts is a different point in my life. I’m still in it. Still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with me.
Just trying to look cool. That’s all it is. And so many things at the time I thought looked so cool, only to realize a couple of weeks later that they really didn’t.
But that’s all pretty natural stuff. That’s how it goes. Everyone goes through the same thing, they just don’t necessarily have it all documented and laid out right in front of you.
Do you mind watching your old parts?
Nah, it’s cool to look back. Plus, when it’s been long enough, it kinda feels like you’re watching someone else. It doesn’t even seem like you anymore. It’s funny to watch. Your memory gets all morphed overtime that you have all these different ideas of who you were at the time.
Is there a particular favorite part of yours?
I like the Inhabitants part a lot. I’m sure most see Mosaic as my “best” part, technically-speaking or whatever you want to call it, but I really dig my Inhabitants part. It just looks better and I really like the song. I feel everything really came together on that one.
Talk a little about that nollieflip noseslide down Hubba in Photosynthesis. So sick. We were always used to seeing you at spot like Chaffey, did you go to Hubba specifically for that trick? Did you get it quick or were you forced to go back?
I remember skating these ledges by my house that are really high and I got in a nollieflip noseslide on those one day. Somebody saw that and brought up that I could probably do it down Hubba. We ended up going up there like a month or so later. I knew on my way there that I wanted to do it.
It took me two days. We went there and I tried it for a while then went back the next day and got it. It just worked out. That was my trick at that time. You know how people have certain tricks that are just easy for them? Nollieflip noseslides was that trick for me back then.
You brought up your Mosaic part earlier. I always felt that you’re style had matured so nicely on that one. More refined and grown. How long did you film for that one and were you pleased with that part? It did get the curtains.
I think we filmed for probably around two years on that one with some older footage mixed in there as well. It’s a cool part. I’m not even sure how I reacted to getting last part at the time but it was definitely cool.
Who came up with that weird track-and-field intro?
Yeah, that was Greg Hunt and myself. We had gone to that school to film a line which I don’t think we got. Greg wanted to send some stuff to Joe (Castrucci) so he started to film 16mm stuff for cutaways. He started having me do the usual 16mm thing: trying to look cool while sitting here or standing there.
Strumming a guitar.
So as a joke, I thought we could throw in some random shit in there. A few non-sequiturs just to make Joe laugh. I thought it would be funny. I had no idea it was going to make it into the video. Now it’s in there forever.
You’re definitely seen as someone that plays more of the elder statesman role on the Habitat squad. What does it take to get the official D Gar stamp of approval to join the team?
You know, I don’t know if they ask me or tell me who’s getting on these days. But as long they’re pretty decent at skateboarding and as a human being, they’ll be alright. I can get a long with mostly anybody.
I don’t feel the need to be involved with every single thing. I don’t have this weird obligation where I have to get a call to approve people because that’s not my role. They have whatever reason to put a person on. I stay out of it.
Now the crew has definitely had it’s share of heavies over the years, some of whom went on to ride for other teams. Who’s one former Habitat rider you wish would return to the fold?
Pluhowski was rad. He was always a good dude.
And of course, good ol' Brian Wenning. I’d like to bring him back.
That’s a whole ‘nother story. Now this next guy is the stuff of legend both on and off his board: give us your best Fred Gall story. I’ve been collecting these.
Oh man… let me see here. I usually try to stay clear of the hi-jinx.
This is probably the only time I’ve ever been really pissed at him. This was years ago when we were all on tour and somehow we ended up at this weird club in Mexico somewhere.
You’re off to a good start.
Have you ever seen the movie Arthur? Well, we all went into this club down there and I think Fred had been watching that movie a bunch because he was acting completely like Arthur, like he was just made of money. All the drinks were on him. Whatever we wanted, Fred had it taken care of. He was being so extravagant that he had every girl surrounding us. At one point, I put a cigarette in my mouth and before I could even find my lighter, some dude lighting it for me. Drinks were being brought over the second you finished the last. Fred just came in there firing.
So at one point, the service started slowing down. All of a sudden they weren’t bringing over our drinks anymore and things started getting a little weird. We asked about it and they told us that since our outstanding tab was so much that we might want to take care of it before continuing on. We check it out and it’s a pretty good amount of money. So we hit up Freddie to take care of it when he just looks at us and says, “I don’t have any money.”
Oh man. We're in trouble because we’d been ordering all this stuff, not expecting to pay for it. We all start scrambling because we had run up this extravagant bill and all Fred had was a couple bucks in a sock back at the hotel room. We made though. But yeah, that was the only time I've ever been really pissed at him.
Classic Gall. So we hit upon your video parts earlier on, could you have seen yourself having a part in Fully Flared? Is there part of you that wishes you were involved in that project or are you relieved that you didn’t have to deal with the insanity that was involved in the making of that thing?
Yeah, that thing got a little crazy but I think it might’ve gotten blown a little out of proportion. It really wasn’t all that crazy when I was filming for it. But at the time, I really wasn’t working super hard on it either.
I could see myself being in that video. It would’ve been cool. That video is a classic. That’s a pretty rad crew and it would’ve been nice to be in a video with those dudes. Though, there are a lot of people in that video. At the rate that I get footage, I maybe would’ve had two tricks in there.
You would’ve been a “shared part” guy.
Yeah, I’d be shared part guy #4.
Now you’re known for having one of the cleanest styles in the game. Who’s styles do you look upon as some of your favorites? And what are some characteristics you look for in a person’s style?
I like a lot of different stuff. Everybody always talks about how they like really clean, smooth styles, like Gino and Kenny Anderson. Obviously, I like those guys. But I also like dudes like Lenny Kirk and Shorty’s Steve Olson. Dudes that are kinda wild. They have those styles where they make you believe it, ya know?
Authenticity is what I guess I’m looking for. Sometimes I just don’t believe the person. For me, in my head, I have to believe that what they’re doing is real. If I see somebody who looks crazy but I believe in what they’re doing and I can tell that it’s legitimate, then I’ll dig it. But sometimes I don’t totally buy into a person’s skating because I can tell that they don’t even believe in it themselves. I think that makes the difference.
Alright Danny, just a couple quick ones right here at the end real quick:
Switch backtail or nollie krooks?
eS or Vita?
And for 2012: a platinum record or SOTY?
Neither. I don’t want to deal with the pressure of either one of those. Give me second place on both. I’ll take a gold record and an honorable mention.
So I know you put out your Habitat pro model shoe a few months ago... what’s coming up next for you, Danny? It's always so hard to tell what you're up to.
Well, I gotta find a movie to see tonight because it’s raining.
After that, I guess I’ll probably keep on with what I’ve been doing. Probably gonna film a couple tricks here and there and then maybe take a photo in the next few weeks. We’ll see how it goes.
special thanks to rob brink, josh friedberg and danny for everything.