Steve Douglas has an incredible skate history. He has been a major creative force with many different skate companies.
Currently he oversees some pretty big brands including Dusters and Kryptonics Wheels, Almost, Blind, Cliche, Darkstar , Dusters, Enjoi, Zero, Fallen Shoes, Tensor Trucks and Andale bearings. We had a chance to interview him from his home in Southern California.
For those younger skaters who might not know much about you, can you please give us some background?
I grew up in England skating pools and ramps. I moved to California at the age of 17 with one goal to turn pro. I turned pro for Schmitt Stix in 1987. In 1990, I co-founded New Deal with Andy Howell and Paul Schmitt and was a pro for them. I made the first 3 ND videos.
In 1992 I retired from being pro after a near fatal car crash where I went head on with a semi-truck and a Suburban. In that same year we started Underworld Element (later to become Element) then went on to start Mad Circle, Golden State Wheel Co, 411 video magazine, Destructo trucks and On video with many different partners. I left all that behind in 2002 and took a few years to be with my young family. I went back to Work at Dwindle in 2005 and been here ever since.
When the decision came to bring back to Kryptonics, who were some of the people you were aiming at?
It was really aimed all skateboarders but a focus on the older skaters that remembered what an impact they made to skateboarding. We also felt the current downhill, slalom and cruiser guys would be stoked when they tried a set out, and they were.
Yogi Berra famously said “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be” Do you feel that history and nostalgia is a key part in a skaters persona? Why is this?
Yes, I think so. It blows me away really. For example, I’ll put up a post of my daughter or my son I may get 5-10 likes or comments. When I put an old picture of me skating, I get a hundred or more. I think people like to connect back to a part of their lives that was carefree and some may say the most fun without the stresses of older more structured life.
What are some brands you’d like to revive from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s?
Good question. I grew up in England so I would have to say Benji boards from the 70’s For the 80’s, I would have to say Schmitt stix when Lucero took over the art direction and Grosso was on the team. For the 90’s, New Deal, as that was entrance to the business side and so much fun and I got to work with so many incredible skaters.
Dwindle has worldwide distribution. I am interested in some places where your skateboards wind up…any surprises or curious places?
Yes I love this too, nothing makes me happier than shipping to new countries some more stranger ones are Greenland, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania and UAE. We sell to over 60 countries worldwide.
The baby boomers grandchildren are still fairly young but they definitely will impact skateboarding…and yet there seems to a huge desire for scooters. What’s your take?
Regular Skateboarding is so hard; kids have a short attention span. I remember reading an old ad that P-Rod was talking about every day coming home from school and trying to learn a kick flip. Now you would think that he learnt it pretty quickly so I am so glad he did not stop. So many other kids I am sure have stopped and they take the easier road and that to me is a scooter. They can just get on and cruise without much effort. You could look it also as a training wheel that eventually leads to a skateboard and that’s what I like to think.
Of all the Kryptonics colors you came out with, which ones proved to be the most popular? I am guessing blue.
Reds are #1, they were back in the day and they are again now
You have some new wheels coming out…can you give us a little bit of info on them?
We are starting to introduce some limited edition colors/duros first up are the orange 84a and pinks in 80a, these will come out in March 2016 but again they will be limited edition and then later in the year some more…
You just celebrated a birthday – what ran through your mind as you realized you’ve probably spent more time riding skateboards, thinking about skateboards and working in the skate industry than pretty much anything else in your life?
I started skating when I was 9 years old I just turned 48 last weekend. It blows me away when I go to the trade shows and I say “wow I have been doing this since 1985!” I have some skate friends that I have known and are still skating that I met in 1977!
As part of the interview process, all subjects are allowed to ask me five questions. Below are Steve’s questions and my answers.
What was your first board? And where did you buy it from?
Believe it or not, my first board came from Woolco here in Canada. It must have been dead stock from the 1960’s. The reason being it had clay wheels.
When did you get your first set of Kryptonics? What size and color and what did you think of them?
My first set was 1979. It was set of Blue 65’s. I absolutely adored them – not too hard and not too soft.
What do you think of the trend in re-issuing iconic brands/products?
It bridges a few concepts. For older skaters, it’s a nice way of reliving the past. For younger skaters, it is a way to understand the history of skateboarding in very cool way.
Finally, for the brands that are forgotten, it is a way to reclaim their rightful place. I see it as a triple win.
What are your favorite 3 deck brands ever and why?
G&S FibreFlex. This was a very big deal in the 1970’s and the gold standard for many of those who rode in that era.
Dogtown. The graphics were insanely cool and the boards shapes were revolutionary.
I’ll pause here for a minute and sadly disclose the fact that I actually misplaced BOTH of these decks that I owned!
Finally, I am going to go with the Powell Peralta Kevin Harris model. I spent hours practicing on this board and thanks to Kevin, was able to do the research on my book Concrete Wave.
What has been your favorite skate trip and why?
I have had a number of great skate trips. The best ones have been with my two sons – among my favorite was visiting the coast of California and hitting Colorado and New Mexico. They were just a fantastic mix of bonding and spectacular skateparks.
Of the posts you put out on instagram in the past several months, which one got the biggest response?
The Guajataca Downhill in Puerto Rico has a rich history and is about to hits its tenth anniversary this January.
Concrete Wave is proud to be a media sponsor of this event and encourage you to head out to the sun of PR.
We will be featuring a story about the event in our November issue, but for a little more background, we reached out to Joel Cardona, one of the key organizers of the event.
What is the first thing people should know about this event?
Joel: First I would say is that this is one of the most attended Downhill events in the world. It is important to know that the GDH has grown and evolve into a skateboarding cultural celebration. Finally, we have great weather. No snow… just warm beaches nearby and beautiful nature.
How would you describe the culture of Puerto Rico…what if I don’t speak Spanish?
Puerto Ricans lovevisitors. They love to show off their culture along with their food and all the beautiful sites. If you don’t speak Spanish it’s ok because almost everyone knows English up… to a certain degree. Is not a big deal you will survive!
Is it expensive to attend the event?
This will depend on where are you coming from. But the area has inexpensive hotels that range from $50 to a $100 a night. Food is quite affordable in this area. There are lots oflittle paradores (luxury hotel) and guest houses that can make your stay really affordable and pleasant.
What is one highlight from the past decade – a great story you can share with our readers?
Well the event production is a BIG endeavor. It takes a full year of work to make ithappen, So each year brings different challenges. People don’t know but what happens backstage is good enough to have our own reality show. I mean just dealing with sponsors is quite dramatic, but I guess this is part of running a successful event. I believe that the greatest story is how this event grew into an international event and put a small town like Quebradillas on the world map of extreme sports. It is story of unexpected success and organic growth.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about Puerto Rico?
I would have to say that many people don’t even know where the island is located. Some people have asked me “in what part of Mexico is Puerto Rico found?”
A lot of people get surprised when they realize that PR is a Caribbean island and a United States territory. This means that if you are American, you don’t need a passport to travel. Some [people think that is not a safe place but I have to tell you is just like any city. I would say that is a pretty safe country and even more on the west area far away from the metropolitan area.
Thank you Joel. We wish you great success for the 2016 event!
Sector 9 put together some great highlights of the 2015 event. Have a peek here.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico is about 90 minutes away from Quebradillas.
- Flights from NYC are on sale right now for $304.
- Flights from LA to Puerto Rico are coming at $424.
- TripAdvisor – rental info
It looks very much like surfing will be admitted to the 2020 Tokyo Games. And, as night follows day, it would seem skateboarding is also moving in that direction as well. There are some who welcome this move. Others, not so much.
A petition to NOT have skateboarding in the Games has garnered over 6,000 signatures.
Whatever your take on the Olympics, one thing is for certain, the political games rival the actual games themselves.
Over at www.insidethegames.biz, you’ll find an article that quotes Ricci Bitti who seems to pretty miffed. Mr Bitti, speaking at an event called out the ISF and the WSF (both skate organizations are lobbying to represent skateboarding at the Olympics).
I am still trying to get my head around this particular statement: “Some organisation has good skaters, some organisation has good organisation.”
Let the games begin!