chrome ball interview #25: dennis busenitz

chrome ball sits down with boozentits for conversation.

Alright Dennis, we’re doing this fresh off your Tampa Pro win and I can’t remember the last time so many people were stoked on a contest run. What does all this kinda stuff mean to you… all the hoopla surrounding these contests and the high-profile games of SKATE? Are these just the necessary evils of being a pro skateboarder?

I don’t think they’re necessarily evil. I think contests are cool. I always enjoy them. It’s rad to see all the other pros skate in-person. I kind of think of every contest as a demo. We get to see Koston and people like that skate, which is always fun. I try not to think about the whole competition aspect of it, I just look at it as a session where everybody just gets together and skates.

The whole game of SKATE thing… they’re fun, too. It just kinda bums me out sometimes how those things are made to be so important. That they are such a big deal. But I’ve never felt like those things are really all that important to skating… if skating even is important (laughs).

Now Real’s Since Day One is about to premiere. Easily the year’s most anticipated video and your part is definitely one of the main draws. After all is said and done, are you happy with your new part? Did you get everything you wanted to get for it, more or less?

I’m happy with it. There’s always stuff that you wish you would’ve gotten or that you still want to get. But it’s not like there won’t be another video coming out that you can’t get that stuff for later on.

Was the pressure greater this time as expectations of you continue to grow to these ridiculous scales? Have you been able to keep the stress demons at bay? Do you even really worry about things like one-upping yourself part-wise or are you just trying to do your own thing?

I don’t really think about what’s expected of me. It doesn’t help me do anything other than just stressing me out. I just try to live and go skate. If something good happens, that’s good. If not, then it doesn’t. I don’t really think about people’s expectations. I just try to do this for the same reasons that I’ve always done it.

And what are those reasons for you?

Well… it’s fun. (laughs)

(laughs) Oh yeah!

Yeah, that’s the main reason. Some people seem to forget that after a while, you know?

Very true.

And I don’t like to think about it in this way but it is a career. I have a wife and two kids and everything. That kind of comes into play now as well. As lame as this sounds, sometimes I do have to be like, “Alright, I have to do this. This my job and I have to be an adult.” But I mostly just try to keep it fun.

Where did that Diagonal part fall during the filming for Day One? That thing was just incredible… but are we to assume that you kept your best clips for Real?

No, not really. That whole video part just kinda came together. That was when the Real video wasn’t really too much of a thing. They weren’t really doing any trips or any filming missions yet. The Adidas guys were working on Diagonal which was supposed to have a European feel. They ended up inviting my family and I to fly over to Europe to film for the video and I jumped on it. I like a free trip. So we just did that and ended up filming quite a bit. I was supposed to have just a couple of clips for a guest thing, or maybe for the U.S. team section of the video. But as things went on, it turned out to be a whole part so they just stuck it in there. The part just happened.

And it wasn’t really that I was keeping things for Real or dividing up my footage… that Diagonal part is the stuff that I filmed with Adidas and Since Day One is all the stuff I filmed with Real.

Pretty simple. So how do you go about filming for your parts anyway? Are there trick lists you make or do you just go skate while they happen to have a camera on you?

Nah, I don’t really make any trick lists. There are things I have in mind that I want to do but no lists. A lot of times it just happens when I’m out skating.

Is it difficult getting people to film you? I mean you flying down a hill is one thing but somebody else having to follow you with an expensive camera is a whole ‘nother matter. I’m sure Wolfe has it down by this point but there has to be a ton of disembodied filmers eating shit in your wake.

Nah, people don’t really eat shit. Sometimes filmers tell me that they’re stoked because they’re getting their exercise… whatever that means (laughs). But no, they really don’t have that hard of a time.

Who’s part are you most psyched to see in Day One anyway? The whole roster is just incredible.

James Hardy is pretty awesome but I think everybody is really trying to make it good. With Wolfe putting it together, I’m excited to see the whole thing.

You mentioned digging Hardy these days. Who would you say are some of your all-time favorite styles? What do you look for in a person’s skating that sets them apart stylistically?

Cardiel. He has that awesome style. It seems like people with really good style are just skating and not really concerned with their style or how they look. Like Gino and that awesome flow.

Something that I don’t like is when you can tell people are actually trying to look good. It always comes off looking really awkward. When people are just skating and it looks natural, that’s the key.

So how were you introduced to skating and what was your first board?

Well, I grew up in Germany until I was 15 and started skating over there. I was around 5 or 6 when I got my first board which was just one of those plastic banana boards. It wasn’t anything serious, just another toy in the toy arsenal. We’d play around on it and that was it. But as time went on, we ended up seeing this neighborhood kid ollie up a curb. After that, we were definitely super-fired up and wanted to figure out how to do it, too. That kid introduced us to the Ban This video and we watched that a bunch, trying to figure out how to do stuff through that. That’s when we became more serious about it.

Who were some of your favorite pro skaters from back in the day? Did you guys get very many magazines over there?

We had a few Thrasher magazines somehow but we were mainly just into those Ban This guys… like Cab, Frankie Hill and that whole street montage with Guy and Paulo and everyone. I guess we were just into Stacey Peralta and anything “magic”… like making them look like they’re jamming around and always looking good with graffiti cut in-between the clips. That really influenced us.

We also really liked that mini-ramp section with… Saiz? What’s his name?

Steve Saiz?

Yeah, that part had a huge influence on us. Definitely. As I got older though and got more into skating, Questionable and the Mouse video influenced me a lot as well.

Now when the name Dennis Busenitz comes up, people automatically think of speed. That’s seen as your hallmark trait. I know this is kind of a ridiculous question… but is hauling ass just what feels natural to you? Have you always skated fast… or at least faster than everybody else?

(pause) Yeah, that’s kind of a ridiculous question. (laughs)

(laughs) I know! I put that little disclaimer on there!

(laughs) I don’t know how this whole “going fast” thing has become my “shtick” or whatever you call it. I don’t really think that I go that fast. It’s just turned into this weird thing that I’m known for so everyone just keeps going with it. I just think that going a little faster makes boring tricks more fun. You don’t have to learn something difficult to have fun, you can just go faster and spice it up a little bit.

That’s an amazing answer.

Yeah… I don’t know. People are always putting bullets and lightning bolts on my board or something else about me going fast. Whatever. I guess it’s a good selling point about me that people like… I like to think that I can do more than just go fast but that’s all people seem to want to talk about. That and my game of SKATE with Chris Cole! I hear about that more than anything (laughs).

I actually made it a point not to ask about that (laughs). Now you got hooked up with Real via a sponsor-me tape, right? Was Real your first sponsor?

No, it wasn’t my first sponsor. I was getting Emerica shoes flowed to me back in Kansas. It was kind of random how that worked out. Scott Bourne came through on a Consolidated tour and did a demo. He saw me skating and just straight-up asked what shoe company I wanted to skate for. I told him Emerica and he made it happen. I met with some people over there and gave them my tape and shortly after that, Deluxe started hooking me up. It was weird because my tape was almost all skatepark footage and they wanted me on based off of that.

It’s hard to believe when watching footage of you bombing hills in Frisco that you didn’t grow up there. Did you immediately take to the hills naturally upon your first trips out there or…

It definitely took some getting used to. More than just the hills, it took getting used to the street skating with tons of traffic. I remember freaking out about that. It’s not just skating you have to worry about, it’s the risk of getting run over as well. I had a hard time with that.

Who are some skaters that in your mind as untouchable when it comes to bombing Frisco? Julien and Tommy obviously...

Yeah, well Sean Young is probably the hill bombing champion, I guess. He did some nutty stuff. And Julien uses that parachute which I think is awesome.

I actually forgot about that parachute. What are some of your other favorite cities to skate?

New York is always fun. I like the European cities, too… like Barcelona and Berlin. I had a good time skating Philadelphia when I was there with Love Park and everything but I'm never able to get out there.

So I’ve always like your parts because not only do you skate both street and tranny well but you also use skate a wide variety of terrain within those two categories. Pools, ramps, hills, Burnside, 3rd and Army… hell, even the China Banks get wrecked. Is it important for a professional skateboarder to be able to skate everything?

I think it's just fun to skate everything. I try to do that because I enjoy it though I guess it is good for a pro skater to skate everything. I don’t see the point in limiting yourself to one particular thing in skating. I guess you really get good at it but you kinda miss out on all the other fun aspects of skating.

DLX tours are notorious endeavors. Give us your favorite/wildest story from the road. And don’t play that innocent role either, we’ve seen clips of you slashing tires and shit.

I don’t know about wild… they’re more dumb than anything (laughs). But I’d say Frank Gerwer giving me a haircut with a knife after us both getting totally hammered off drinking Jagermeister. That was pretty dumb. That night Gonz told me that I wasn’t good at drinking... that always stands out in my memory.

Gonz told you that you weren’t good at drinking?

Yeah, this was a Real to Reel filming trip. Gonz was with us and we got all these bottles of Jager. Gonz wasn’t partying though, he was just sleeping. We ended up getting kicked out of the hotel at like 1:30 in the morning. Gonz was so bummed that he had to get out of bed and leave. He just started telling me that I shouldn’t drink because I’m not very good at it. (laughs)

Now you’ve been able to amass quite a collection of parts over the years… from the youthful vibes of Real to Reel and hotel havoc of Seeing Double to the full-on destroy mode of Roll Forever and your more recent clips. Which part stands out for you as a personal favorite and is there one of yours that you maybe aren’t that fond of?

I like them all. They’re just fun to look back on, I don’t look at them as “accomplishments” or anything. I see them more as just memories for the time. A record of long ago with where I went and what I did. Like, “Oh, that was that day.”

You’re over a decade deep on the Real squad now. I’m sure you must’ve had offers from other “superteams” trying to pick you off. What has kept you down with Real over the years? Even with all the changes in skateboarding, has Real changed at all since you got on or is it essentially the same company its always been?

Yeah, it’s still more or less the same. I mean some riders have changed as far as old riders leaving and new riders coming but other than that, Jim and Tommy are still in charge. They still make sure everything’s right and I’ve never had any reason to leave. I’ve never even considered it.

One thing that I’ve always found interesting about Real is that they’ve always sponsored such a wide variety of skaters… from Holy Roller Shawn Mandoli to Zombieland Peter Ramondetta and yet all their riders always seem to mix-in well to create this whole. There’s never been a Real rider that didn’t seemed like they belonged there. With such wide mix of skaters under one roof, symbolizing one company... what do you feel is the common thread that makes someone a Real rider?

I’d just say a love for skating. We all just like to skate. That’s what makes it work, we all have that common ground… And they just don’t seem to let assholes on either. There’s no assholes on the team so that helps, too. (laughs)

Yeah, that comes in handy.

(laughs) Yeah, those seem to be the two requirements for skating on Real: don’t be an asshole and like to be on your board.

(laughs) Alright, so with another Tampa win and this big part coming out, you’re already on top of many people’s SOTY candidate list. I’m sure you get this every year but do you think 2011 is gonna be your year?

I don’t know. I’m just gonna try not to get ahead of myself and keep skating. It is still kinda early but I can see just about all the candidates from last year being up for it again this year. And new guys, too. Austyn Gillete had that awesome video part and then there’s always Westgate. I think he should at least get something.

Best and worst things about skateboarding in 2011?

One of the best things is that it seems like you can still make it happen now even though you’re old. That’s cool. 10 years ago, it wasn’t so common that 30-year-olds were still pro.

I also like that people keep doing more and more ridiculous shit every year. I keep on thinking skating is gonna hit the roof but its still keeps going. There’s always a new batch of people that go for it. I don’t know whether to be like jealous or just be like “Fuck yeah!”

Yeah, I remember when Pat Duffy came out in Questionable, I thought that was the end.

Yeah, there’s always a new Pat Duffy.

Well, what would you say is the worst thing about skating right now?

I just get bummed that street skating is kind of dying. With all the security guards and the skatestoppers everywhere, spots are getting really hard to find. Seems like if you want to go skate, there’s all these extra obstacles now. It's just really hard. Skating keeps getting more and more confined to skateparks and training facilities.

So now that this huge blockbuster of a mega-part is done… what’s coming up next for you? What are you doing now?

No big plans really. Just the same things I always do. Just keep skating. I’ve got a wife and two kids that keep me busy.

And your dog.

Yeah, and my dog. Though that dog is extremely low-maintenance compared to children.

(laughs) Okay Dennis, that’s all I have. Anything you’d like to add? Any words of wisdom?

Nah, not really. If I think of something rad, I’ll send you an email.

special thanks to Dennis, Jeff Vallee, Damon Thorley and Deluxe.


chops said...

Special thanks to Deluxe for the opportunity to do this. This has easily been one of CBI's finest moments.

Big up to Damon, Darin, Jim, Davis, Huf, James, Dennis and the entire Deluxe massive.

And Jeff Vallee for letting me use the portraits he took.

The Chrome Ball Incident is going the fuck on vacation. Gonna have a steak and a beer and relax with the lady for a bit.

CBI will return to Tuesday April 19th to celebrate 3 years of nerding the fuck out.

Thanks for all the support out there.

Anonymous said...

This is the best interview I have ever read. You two sound like old friends.

Congratulations Chromeball.

Jeff Thorburn said...

what is this julien parachute talk?

Skately said...

"It’s not just skating you have to worry about, it’s the risk of getting run over as well. I had a hard time with that."

Amazing! Great interview, couldn't think of a better way to end an awesome week.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephen said...

great interview obviously... dennis is a f'n beast. seems like a really down to earth guy. i actually can't believe he's a father... i'm a husband and father of a 2yr old and i can barely find the time to do anything! even if he gets paid to skate... fuck... its a lot of work. and hes a good 10+yrs younger than me! much respect. i really hope young skaters, and not just crusty 36yr olds like me, appreciate your site too. the chromeballincident really has a cutting edge in skateboard media in my opinion.

platinumseagulls said...

The first thing I remember seeing of Busenitz was his "Heads" interview in Thrasher a decade or so ago. He claimed to have tried to kickflip the Leap of Faith in it. Back then I wrote it off as a joke...now, it's strangely plausible.

Keep up the good work, Chops.

Anonymous said...

Damn thats was too good thanks chops and the real team for all the goodies

Keith said...

Great interview to end the week!

Busenitz is such a great skater to watch.

Have a good break.

t.a. said...

Dude kills. Came up as a classic street skater when it wasn't really cool anymore. Push, push, push, push trick, push push... and on ya go.

I always saw Real skaters as blue collar dudes - most of 'em looked like they just came from a warehouse or a construction site or whatevs.

Way to go, Chops. Be proud.

Anonymous said...

busenitz is someone a lot of people in skateboarding could learn from. hes the best out right now, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

clug said...

Mate. That interview was perfect. I hope your planning on puttin this all in some kind of book someday. Thanks.

dj twit said...

YES YES YES. Busenitz interview, some hot flicks, sunny days and a cup of tea. cheers man!

ATM said...

"Something that I don’t like is when you can tell people are actually trying to look good. It always comes off looking really awkward. When people are just skating and it looks natural, that’s the key."

Goddammit, Dennis rules so hard. I can't fucking wait until Monday. Thanks, chops.

peel said...

Really proud of you this week, Chops. I know how long this shit's been in the works, and I am so glad that this Busenitz interview was this good.

Beerkiller said...

Congratulations chops for doing what you do so good.
And congratulations to Dennis for being one of the most amazing skaters that ever existed.

Thank you both

dedleg said...

Psyched on this! Busenitz has been one of my favorites for years - I can barely contain my excitement for his Real part. The only problem is that whenever I watch his video parts before going skating I end up pushing it too far and hurting myself.

Sean said...

It's sad to think how many shitty players in baseball and basketball make way more money than this guy. Though I'm sure he's doing fine from his adidas shoe.

Forgot about that burnside bs noseblunt.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, thank you.

Little clip of the parachute here:

justin said...

You put together a great week and more than earned your vacation.

dan77 said...

I second that, you earned yourself several beers and a nice fuckin' steak after this week. Stephen, I'm 21 and I love this site, I can't get enough of all the skate history. Loved that interview. So many skaters get interviewed and they just speak really poorly and throw in "like" for every second word. Dennis articulated everything perfectly, was modest, and just pure class overall. Never seen that tailslide over that drop before, holy shit! This interview made me even more stoked on Busentitz, seems like a solid fella. Congrats again on an amazing week!

Anonymous said...

Amazing person to match the amazing skating. Great perspective on life and his "job". Great interview. Skating needs more of this.

ciaran said...

An interesting and engaging series of interviews this week Chops, thanks for taking the time to get all together to keep all us nerds enthralled for a short while!

Busenitz has easily made a strong case for himself to stand alongside skateboarding's greats - Cardiel, Gonz, Carroll, JT, Way and one or two more. He's one of those skaters who if you don't like him, you're blatantly a cunt.

Regarding the recent Tampa Pro win - that's his second one, right? IIRC, Busenitz was on flow for DVS when he won it first time round and was quickly shoe-horned into Skate More, made full team member and all that, as if DVS realised they'd been caught napping on him, or so it seemed at the time at least. And to think Emerica and Vans let him leave too - bet they're regretting that one now.

rob e beats said...

Big up to a great week homie.