5.03.2013

chrome ball interview #57: colin mckay

chops and colin sit down for some pina coladas and conversation.


So Colin, it seems like the last few years have been really big for transition skating. With Grant Taylor and the Trunk Boyz, it’s gotta be exciting for you to see some new blood out there. Do you feel like vertical skating is primed and ready for a comeback?

No, not at all. (laughs)

I hear people say that all time but I just don’t see it. Simply because I don’t think the people who are skating transition these days are looking at it like they’re skating “vert”. Grant Taylor is one of my favorite people to watch skate… Raven, too. But there’s a difference between those guys and a Pedro Barros.

True… but with street spots getting cracked down on and transition-heavy skateparks popping up everywhere, do you feel these categorical lines like “vert” and “street” will ultimately disappear again?

That would be cool and I do think these lines are getting blurred a bit but I think the real difference between truly skating vert or not… and this might sound weird, but it’s putting on pads. There’s a difference between Hosoi doing an 11-ft McTwist in a Combi-Pool versus the way street skaters skate pools. It’s skating pools on the inside and running out versus skating on-top. Not to say that one is better than the other, dudes without pads are fuckin’ gnar. But there is a difference there.   

But why has vert suffered so much? God knows street skating has had more than its fair share of horrible trends and bounced back.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m knocking anybody but I feel that vert has gone this weird route because of the way contests are judged. Like I’ll watch Bob do a run that is just unbelievable. And in my mind, he’s totally won the thing. But then someone will do a more typical contest-style vert run: higher airs with hardly any lip or switch tricks, and they end up winning! Young kids see this type of run winning contests and this is what makes them start skating that way. And there’s so much good young talent coming up, but in my opinion, there needs to be more of a mix. There are too many people just blasting around and not enough trying to do switch flips into things.

But something I don’t like is these kids who see themselves as “vert skaters” but all they do is go out there and spin around. Spin and spin and spin. I’d love to see a kid just skate vert in a more regular way, not feeling like that they have to do a 900 with every move. But with the way the media makes such a big deal about another 180 being added on… I can’t blame them. Who cares.


All good points, for sure. But going back a bit, I remember when you and Casey were the tiny dudes out there. How did all that even go down for some little kids from Canada?

I got on Powell basically by hanging around the Richmond Skate Ranch as a kid. Kevin Harris, who was a freestyler on Powell, provided an indoor park for Vancouver and he was the one who originally started hooking us up.  Then one night while I was skating there by myself, Tommy Guerrero and Bryce Kanights walk through the door. I skated with those guys a bit and literally through that night, Powell started sending me boxes. I must’ve been 11 years old.

Your proper introduction to the skate world came through a mini-segment in Public Domain at the Harris Skate Ranch. Were you intimidated at all back then with the filming process? Those Powell videos were the biggest things in skateboarding at the time.

I was absolutely intimidated by the filming process. We grew up on Powell videos so it was a really big deal. And with Stacy, it wasn’t just like some kid with a camera, there was a full-on production going down.

But was that always the process when filming with Stacy? I always thought your Propaganda part was super good but it only looked like you maybe filmed two days… Powell Magic? I know that could’ve just been repeating outfits but videos were definitely getting a bit more elaborate in scope by that time.

There was a slight change in the process over the years but that was pretty much how we did it. I remember Ban This being very similar to Public Domain but without Stacy. They sent a couple guys up to film for a few days and I remember trying to get some shit when one of them, this weird older dude, tried to break it down to me. “No Colin, you must try what you will be doing 5 years from now… 10 years from now.” (laughs)

What does that even fucking mean? Why don’t you show me what that is! 

But yeah, there was a real disconnect for that one but by the time Propaganda hit, it was as much Powell filmers as it was homies with the camera. By that time, you’d film a month at max... though I usually only went 2 weeks just because I was up in Canada. 


Do you still get dudes asking about switchstance dogsleds and eskimo pies? And where did the idea to end that part with you in the aluminum foil craze come from?

I’ve gotten that switchstance dogsled revert thing for the last 20 fucking years. (laughs)

But with the foil, the Skate Ranch was located in this heavy industrial area. We were outside one night when we happened to find literally thousands of these little suits in a company’s dumpster right behind the park. So we ended up taking just hundreds of them… all so we could do shit in them to be funny. They were these full-on industrial haz-mat suits. So I decided to throw one on and skate around in it for the video because I thought it would be funny. That wasn’t Powell or anything, just us being young.

We used always put those things on to mess with people. I remember our whole crew throwing them on before getting on the bus for the hour-long ride home from the park. Imagine getting on a bus and there’s all these little 13-year-old boys wearing spacesuits! People were wondering what the hell was going on!

How did Plan B enter the picture?

Plan B happened for a few reasons. Rick Howard was my skate buddy growing up in Vancouver and Danny was my hero. But the way that it all went down was straight out of a World Industries ad. I was at the Regionals of the NSA Am Series that year when the Plan B team showed up. Somehow, I ended up winning the contest and Mike and Danny grab me to go play miniature golf. Just like that. And I hate to say it but I bounced on the Powell guys. Just like Richard Mulder driving off in the Porsche!

Was there any fall-out from Powell afterwards? And I seem to remember a rumor of you switching over to the Firm before all that went down… was that ever an option?

The thing was, here I was only 14-years-old and Powell is already drawing me graphics and trying to turn me pro. It didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t want to be 14 and skating against John Gibson and Jeff Phillips. I wasn’t ready for all that.

I did fly down and stay with Lance for a bit though when I first started thinking about stuff. Jason Lee also hit me up around this time to ride for Blind… which was the probably the biggest thing that could ever happened to a kid like me. But at the end of the day, between Rick and Danny, there was no better fit for me than Plan B. I was always skating with Rick whenever he was in town and Danny, my absolute idol, was also on there. It only made sense to get on Plan B. 


Questionable remains one of those sacred-type of videos for an entire generation and your part was definitely among its highlights. I imagine filming for that was already in progress when you got on, right?

Yeah, filming was in progress. I filmed for about 3 months on that one. And it’s funny because when you’re a kid, 3 months is good. Like if someone came up to me right now and told me that I had 3 months to film, I might get 3 tricks. But when you’re a kid and you don’t ever film, you have so much shit that’s ready to go. You’re just dying to get out there…too bad I’ve been fucking filming for 20-years straight now.

But honestly, I wasn’t that psyched on my Questionable part. I was much more psyched on Virtual Reality, that part was more me. Out skating with the homies in the streets all day, filming. That was more true to what we were doing at the time. I was so little during Questionable that people would basically tell me things to do and I’d do them.

Speaking of being out in the streets with the homies, I always wondered what was going on in that Virtual Reality clip where the Red Dragons are going after that dude with the drill? So crazy…

Oh yeah, and they’re playing that quote from a Hell’s Angels movie. That was this Chinese dude who was trying to put up “No Skateboarding” signs at the New Spot and it turned into a melee. I’m sure we were at fault or caused it somehow. But yeah, the guy had a drill and was acting like he was going to try and drill one of the homies. We decided we didn’t like that. Just typical shit for a crew back then. When you’re 20-deep in the streets with a bunch of 17-year-olds, shit’s bound to happen.


You’d later ride for Girl but were you ever approached to be an original rider? Did you have any idea about their plan to leave?

No, I didn’t know anything about it. And it was a weird thing because as good of friends as I was with Rick, I was back in Vancouver when those guys were going through all of that. It wasn’t anything personal but I remember finding out about it from some kid at the Back to the City Contest. I was at Wallenberg skating when somebody came up and said, “Have you heard? Everyone quit Plan B!”

I’m just standing there like, “They did?”

But I didn’t really care. Not in a bad way, I just respected their decision. If you want to do something else, do something else. It's that simple. But who you ride for is such a big deal when you’re a kid, it’s all gets very emotional. I think those guys worked themselves up into thinking they were being ripped off and that they had to fire back. In hindsight, I don’t think any of it really went that way. I don’t think anybody was really trying to screw anyone else over. Whether it was Rocco or Ternasky or Rick Howard, I don’t think it was really like that. 


How was it riding for Plan B, post-Girl? It seemed like the remaining members got much closer after Mike’s passing but I know you and Danny also took on a lot more as owners…

It was a great experience but at the same time, when those guys quit Plan B and with Mike’s passing, we probably should’ve closed the doors right there. That would’ve probably been the best thing. But we all felt we had to be loyal to this thing, especially after Mike passed. We just weren’t ready for that. Mike’s wife is a hairdresser. She had no idea how to run a skateboard company. When she asked Danny and I if we wanted it, we were barely in our twenties. Of course, we said yes but we didn’t have a clue on how to run it either. If I could go back, I’d just say fuck no and go ride for Girl.

So it wasn’t weird going over to Girl after being entrenched at Plan B for all those years, trying to weather the storm?

Not at all. Actually it was the exact opposite, it was more like a homecoming. Plus, I didn’t have to deal with graphics and distribution and trying to get everyone paid. It was all just such a relief.

When we finally made the decision that Plan B was no longer doing anybody any good, I honestly didn’t know where I was going to go. But when Rick asked me if I wanted to ride for Girl, it felt like the most natural thing to do. To get back on the team with my homies. It was all good.


But you didn’t really stay on there for all that long. I’ve always heard rumors as to why you left, everything from being the only vert guy to talk of discomfort with DC. Care to elaborate?

Honestly, there’s definitely been periods where I’ve regretted leaving Girl. It’s such a rad company and those guys really embraced me during my time there. I was proud to be on Girl and I think they felt proud to have me on there, too. It really worked out well for everybody.

The reason I left was because of DC. Obviously, Danny and I are super tight with DC after helping start the company with Ken. Rick and those guys were actually on DC for a bit back then but had decided that they were going to run their own shoe company and left. And that was cool. All good. If you want to leave a sponsor, leave. I don’t understand people getting all that upset when someone else doesn’t want to be on their company. If you don’t want to ride for whatever, don’t ride for them. There are so many bigger things going on in life than riding for a silly little company…

I’m not trying to talk shit or anything but they did approach me to ride for Lakai early on. But DC has always been good to me and I’m thankful and proud to be a part of that legacy… so leaving just wasn’t going to happen. And unfortunately, there was animosity there between those guys. So I essentially found myself being caught in-between two groups of friends. People were talking shit and I was basically in the middle, which is never good.

So when Dyrdek called to tell me about a new company he was starting, I was interested. It wasn’t like I was saying, “I’m quitting Girl. Fuck those guys.” It couldn’t have been more of the opposite. I felt terrible about leaving but I wanted to take myself out of an uncomfortable situation. Seek was gonna be me, Kalis, Dyrdek and Stevie Williams and that sounded fucking rad.


What happened with Seek? It should’ve gone over like gangbusters but never seemed to hit its stride. I know Stevie never even got on…

Well, I’ll tell you exactly what went wrong with it and it all started with Stevie and I orchestrating with Rob of how we were both going to leave, Stevie leaving Chocolate and I leaving Girl. We were gonna get together with Rob and Kalis and we were gonna do this Seek thing. The four of us together, at the time, that was enough to be a solid thing.

But how it all went down was a different story. I can actually remember the exact moment they told me that Stevie had decided to stay on Chocolate. I couldn’t believe it. And I had just talked to him. I had already quit Girl… there was no way he was staying on Chocolate. So I called him up to see what was going on, and he just goes, “Oh yeah… my bad, homie. I’m staying on Chocolate.”

My jaw was on the fucking floor. And I love Stevie… but at the time, I was so pissed. I had just quit the best company in all of skateboarding because you were supposed to be quitting as well to start this thing and now you’re telling me, “My bad, homie”?

If there was ever a point where the company went to shit, it was that moment there. With the four of us, it was perfect. But it had to be all four or it wasn’t going to work. And nobody could fill Stevie’s role back then.

Honestly, I never liked Seek. I never liked a single thing about it. I hated every graphic I ever had… it just sucked. And the entire time, I totally regretted quitting Girl for that bullshit.  


So who was the one to initially throw out the idea of bringing back Plan B? I know there were some initial difficulties getting it going…

Well, you can imagine how bad Dyrdek felt after all that. He’s one of my best friends and the guy had done this whole industry song-and dance to get me to quit Girl for his new company which ended up being a disaster. Seek barely lasted a year. We would even laugh about it sometimes… like, “Hey Rob, thanks for getting me to quit Girl. Good lookin’ out!” (laughs)

The plan after Seek was to absorb us all onto Alien Workshop. Even though I’ve never been one to get on just any company, at that point in my career, it wasn’t a given that I’d be able to hop on any team I wanted. I was on my third shoulder surgery and I honestly didn’t know how long I’d be able to skate.

What ended up happening was that a couple of the Alien guys didn’t want me on the team. Not that I blame them, to be honest. They already had Danny Way for fuck’s sake, they really didn’t need another vert skater. So I was actually sponsorless for a little while there and that was when all these rumors started flying around that we were starting Plan B. Chet Thomas calls me up out of nowhere to see if it was true… and I knew what that meant because that’s how the World Industries guys operate. They send their hitmen to do their dirty work. So I remember telling him that we wanted a million dollars for Danny and I to do Plan B. Write us a check and we’ll start getting the team together… which is actually super-cocky and hilarious because not only did the company not even exist, I wasn’t even sure if I actually owned it to sell.

We started meeting with the dudes from Globe to try and make it happen. Things are looking promising so we begin talking to a few riders in order to see if we could actually get who we wanted on the team… and fuck, due to whatever reason, it seemed like it was going to be pretty easy. Incredibly good timing on all fronts.

But this is where the trouble starts. You know whenever people think of young athletes or hip-hop groups getting taken advantage of by gnarly big businessmen, where they essentially sign their lives away… well, this was it. I still have this contract that World Industries tried to give us for Plan B and honestly, it is straight-up fucking evil. Countless conditions that were just insane on top of the shadiest wording you’ve ever seen. There was actually a condition where if we hit so many sales, Danny and I would receive, in quotes, a “super bonus”. I shit you not, a “super bonus”! Granted, we didn’t know much about things when we took over Plan B back in the day, but we’d learned enough over the years. Danny and I were actually pissing ourselves reading this thing. It was so fucked. They wanted all of Plan B for only 50 grand up front. That was it. And with the wording specified, if I were to get hurt the next month, that was it. They could kick me off. Plan B wasn’t ours anymore. So essentially what it boiled down to was giving us 50 grand for the company and then kicking us so they could blow it out in Wal-Mart if need be… No fucking way.

The funny shit was, Dyrdek had a deal going with Syndrome because of Silver Trucks… I’m gonna air this whole shit out right now. I hope Dyrdek sees this and we have a good laugh about it. But yeah, he’s at Syndrome and starts telling them about Plan B and how he could maybe start a conversation going between us… nevermind that he still skates for Alien Workshop (laughs). And the best yet, all he wanted in exchange for doing this was a Chanel Watch! (laughs) Rob’s the best.

So Syndrome buys Rob this watch and starts calling, basically offering the whole moon and sky. An amazing offer we couldn’t really refuse so we agreed to give it a shot.

And I want to elaborate that this is not Steve Douglas or Bod Boyle. Those two are stand-up straightshooters and I have nothing but love for them. This isn't about them. But Globe, on the other hand… the second we told those guys about us going to Syndrome, within the hour, they went and tried to trademark “Plan B” in the U.S. and Australia just to cockblock us. I can’t even fathom grown men doing something like that, especially one skater to another. Unbelievable.

We were able to secure the trademark in the U.S. in time but they did get Plan B in Australia, which became this whole big thing. We ended up having to do interviews for that Rocco documentary in trade for the rights. It was insane.


So shady, man.  But moving on, you probably know what question is coming up next and of course I’m going to ask it: when is the Plan B full-length going to drop?

June 1st…. just kidding. (laughs)

It’ll drop whenever it drops… whenever it’s ready. It’s tough being on a company like Plan B with the heritage that it has. And the thing is, we’ve never even announced a name for the new video yet and there’s all these people coming up with names for it already. “No Future” and “Unquestionable”… I don’t even know what they’re talking about.

But yeah, we’re working on it. We’ve only been truly focused on it for maybe a year now. It’s been a little more difficult this time because everyone's schedules are so busy. We can’t simply all be together filming. Our team isn’t that way. We don’t all live very close to each other so we really have to plan to come together.

But yes, I hate talking dates but the video is absolutely going to happen this year. I’m pretty damn sure.

Is Danny Way once again planning something crazy for this thing?

Danny’s actually planning on switching it up for this one and is currently out training with Daniel Gezmer as we speak somewhere in Santa Barbara.

D-Way signature tu-tus… sick. How’s your part coming along?

Honestly, if I have a part in this video, it will have been the hardest part I’ve ever filmed just because my life is so different now. I have to deal with so much company-type shit these days. But basically what I’m doing in order to get my part done is a trip to Hawaii next Tuesday to stay with Danny for a month. We’re gonna lockdown and skate that ramp of his. With all these distractions, it’ll be good just to focus on skating.

But I’ve honestly been flip-flopping back and forth on this part though. Part of me feels that it’s time to let the stars on the team do their thing. Maybe I don’t need a part… but at the same time, the other side of me really wants to go at it again. I’ve been filming the whole time but I’m just not sure if I’m good enough to do the tricks that I want to do. Unless I can skate as good as I want to, that’ll be the only way I’ll do it. We’ll see.

I’m trying. It’s just hard as shit.


From weathering Sheckler’s critics to the rise of J Casanova, what’s been the most challenging aspect of the Plan B resurrection for you? 

That’s a good question.

As far as Sheckler goes, I’ve known him since he was 5-years-old. No joke. And he is one of the nicest, realest kids I know. Just a genuine dude. And I think his skateboarding abilities speak for themselves. I think we actually put him on at the absolute height of people hating on him and watching him deal firsthand with some of the gnarliest things that people throw at him… I would’ve reacted a whole lot worse. But he just laughs it off. Such a solid dude.

And Jereme… fuck, man. All I can really say is that I could never have the balls to do what he has done. I can only respect how much courage it would take to do everything that he has done over the years.

I will never forget the day he came to my house. I actually wanted to talk to him about some things anyway, like why he hadn’t skated in 6 months. But I’ll never forget this, we sit down at this table and he says, “Look, I know what you want to talk to me about. But as of June 1st, I am retiring from professional skateboarding.”

I knew why. All I could do is hold out my hand and tell him that I respected him for being upfront and honest. I wished him nothing but the best of luck. To this day, he’s still a good friend and someone I have a lot of respect for. And I think that it’s unanimous with everyone on the team that they really miss having him on the road because he’s just so fucking funny.

But yeah, as far as the hardest part of the entire Plan B process… the stuff that people see regarding the team and everything, that's all easy. It’s the behind-the-scenes business side that’s hard. I hate being the business dude and making those tough decisions. Its not fun and you hate having to mix that stuff in with something you love and cherish. Luckily, the Plan B team is so tight. It really is like family.


One last thing before we go: Nollie nose manual 180 on a picnic table through the grass. How did this magical ’94 sequence come about? Is that thing even real?

Well, I will confirm that it's fake. It’s totally fake. That’s a full-size picnic table… not a schoolyard picnic one but full-size and I’m nollieing off of grass. Are you kidding me?

The funniest thing about that was when we sent it to Transworld, nobody could say for sure if it was real or not. That’s largely because of that old dude walking in the background, which is probably the best thing about it. This “sequence” probably took about 15 minutes to shoot… posing each one of the sequence shots… but it really did take that guy 15 minutes to walk 50 feet. So luckily, he’s perfectly in-step with the timing had it been a sequence. But yeah, that was just Jody Morris and I absolutely bullshitting.

We can finally put that to rest. Alright Colin, that’s all I have. Anything you’d like to add?

Not really, just watch out for all those super bonuses out there everybody.

special thanks to robert brink and colin for taking the time. 

r.i.p. jeff hanneman 

I Heart Slayer

the chrome ball incident will return May 13th.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

what the fuck happened with darrel stanton

Anonymous said...

Yeah whatever happened to Darrell Stanton? and to Brian Wenning?
I'd love to have Colin's opinion on those two dudes.
But it was a good straight-up truth interview right there. We basically took a glimpse at the 'dark side' business of the industry.
Thanks.
Kayoto

Royce said...

One my favorite interviews to date.

Joon said...

I loved this.

Dave said...

The interviews just keep getting better.

Colin kept it real. I appreciate the truthfulness. Definitely a dark side to the industry.

All his nollie and switch flip tricks without grabs used to get me so hyped up. I just couldn't fathom how he pulled some of those tricks.

Thanks, Chops and Colin.

the artist formally known as agoraphobicnoseblunt said...

radness once again...another reason why this is my first internet stop of the day...that kickflip into that roll in tripped me out back when i first saw it and stands the test of skateboarding time...on a sad note we lost a member of slayer and their music fully influenced my youth and charged many good sessions for me and many others i imagine...maybe you could do a slayer tribute with the people who have skated to slayer, wearing shirts etc...that would be pretty sick to have slayer on your sidebar with so many other legends...just a thought...hell "no longer" awaitsxxo

HBGabe said...

That fight in Virtual Reality is gnarly as hell! I always wondered what the story was behind that. Seriously, a DRILL, can u imagine the consequences? gruesome. I just recently looked through that magazine with the grass nollie nose manual and it still tripped me out after all these years. Damn trickery... Good interview and good site. Keep doin what you're doin, thanks.

Possible for a Skip Pronier post in the future?

ODG said...

Great interview Chops. Colin, we need to see a part! (I know, easier said than done). .

THE CHALKER CHRONICLES said...

damn! it's forty ounce friday and i couldn't think of anything better than this. people seem to forget that he was one of the original all terrain rippers. taking ledge tricks to vert always blew me away...i am also stoked on how he called out how dark and evil the "industry" can be. these interviews are the best. can you get one with gershon mosley? cuz i have heard conflicting stories of how he got the boot outta the game by beating up some industry dude.

Anonymous said...

Geat interview. Always thought Colin was a bit of a skate jock, no doubt super talented but sways seemed a bit of a brat. But as he says that's being an 18 year old. But he seems like a humble guy who has seen it all. New appreciation for him.

Anonymous said...

Like his honesty about the industry without being a bitch about things; considered and thoughtful responses. Great interview.

As ever, another great post and the reason why this site is top of my useless wooden toys bookmarks.

Cheers, Dean

dominic romani said...

straight up best Chrome Ball interview yet.

It would be impossible to count the number of times I watched Virtual Reality back in the day. I used to be so bummed I didn't live it Vancouver.

Thats what this site is all about. Well done. Somebody should through Chops a fuckin blow-out

Anonymous said...

colin had DWAY for hero, me and my best friend had COLIN and DWAY for heros. those parts in questionnable and virtual where they bang street and vert were insane.
one of the best interview i ever read.
TX CHROME BALL!!!

SameOne said...

I love Colin McKay, he is my favorite and the most stylish vert skater ever, but why did he hated Seek graphics? they were really amazing imo.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with everyone else so far, this was a great fucking read. Wasn't ever a big Colin McKay fan...he always seemed like an unfunny meathead to me. But he gave some pretty honest and thoughtful responses to some great questions. Killer job on this interview.

Keith said...

Lots of great behind the scene stories about Plan B, Girl, DC and Seek.

It's nice to have cbi as an outlet where interviews can be presented more freely and less censored than the mags.

Thanks!

FH said...

Colin McKay is one of the all time greats and this interview is bolts!

RDS FSU 2002 is probably my favorite part by him.

Uhu work said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chops said...

Thanks guys. Glad you enjoyed this one. Easily one of the most enjoyable interviews I've conducted so far.

Anonymous said...

Colin...I grew up on you in the Powell and Plan B videos....Im almost 40, that interview was the realest shit! Dyrdek is a maniac lol...I hope the Plan B video drops soon man.

Anonymous said...

Met Colin in Mpls and he is the truth! Great read and agree about the no-censorship appreciation:)

Anonymous said...

I've waited to respond to this interview. It was eye opening.

I remember how people really hated on planB and Girl. Especially how people had specific camps and sides they chose all because someone said this is how it went.

I stopped buying planB boards and haven't since. And I only bought Girl's Carroll board for the last 10 years. It's the only shape for me. But i stopped buying another brand because of rumors.

Notice who is in the background of these skater born companies. Big business. They are sucking skateboarding dry.

Perfect example is Anthony Pappalardo (http://site.48blocks.com/anthony-pappalardo)
and his experience with CONS. He stated what happened. After reading Colin's interview I believe this is true how big companies are sucking skateboarding dry.

Colin Thanks for saying something! I know we aren't supposed to talk about what happens behind business doors, but Thanks for enlightening all of us. I got no issues with planb and love the new team.

Keep up the great work.