Danny Wainwright 'Cover Stories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

DannyWainwright200-00

Danny Wainwright
Sidewalk issue 45 : April 2000
Cover photo: Wig

 

 

The cover in question here is taken from Sidewalk 45, April 2000. What was going on in your life back then?
- Well I had just got back to Bristol from LA after that ollie contest at the tradeshow in Long Beach. Andy and Wig wanted to shoot an ollie photo for the cover so that’s what happened.

You might as well set the record straight once and for all – was there any favoritism/cheating going on when it came to the judging at that Reese Forbes High Ollie contest?
- I don’t think there was cheating or favoritism in the judging, but 44.5” is not the actual height I ollied. The actual height was more than that as the bars on the high jump were bent slightly from people hitting them and they were put back on with the bend bending upwards. When I was taking the run up I could see the bars bent up and light between the bars stacked on top of each other.
They only did the measurements from the side of the high jump and not the middle. After the contest someone from Powell measured the middle of the high jump and it was more then 44.5” but I can’t remember what it actually was.

Back in the day it seemed you had a tight relationship with Tom Penny, Alex Moul and the SS20 lot. Growing up in Stroud, where did your Oxford connection come from? And what are some of your favourite memories from spending time with that crew?
- Joe Habgood and I skated with Tom a lot and we were always in Oxford or Tom at our places in Stroud; I never knew Tom that well but he was my hero when I was growing up skating. I was sponsored by SS20 for a while; they were my first sponsors, so that was the Oxford connection. Raggy Clothing also sponsored me a little later and they were based just outside Oxford. There are too many memories to talk about here, just good times and not giving a f*ck. Me and Joe Habgood hitchhiked most of the UK getting to contests and skate jams, sleeping on the sidewalk or in the bushes; I remember we even slept in the little kiosk of a bank’s cash machine in Northampton once until the police kicked us out at 6am. We lived on jelly sweets, weed and chips and it was the best time. We were kids and nothing mattered, no responsibilities and no one to answer to.

So how did getting on Powell come about? As a lad from the West Country, getting to join the illustrious ranks of the Bones Brigade must have been something of a headf*ck…
- It was an amazing opportunity that I could never have dreamt up. Basically it was Chris Allen from Shiner who hooked me up with boards from their distribution in Bristol; they have always been supportive of UK skateboarding and still support me now with trucks and wheels. Chris is a super nice guy!
They came to me and had two things to offer me – Channel 1 and Powell. Channel 1 was a new company and looking pretty cool at the time but Powell was Powell. Powell had kind of lost its way and wasn’t the coolest company in the game but I loved what it stood for and I grew up on those early Bones Brigade videos so I went with Powell.
Time went by and I got a call from Todd Hastings, he was the Powell team manager out in California. He said they wanted to fly me over, hang out and skate so they could check me out. Honestly, it was a dream come true; I had not long left school and never even been on a plane. Joe Habgood sold most of the shit he had and begged and borrowed money so he could come with me. We hung with some of the team and had a room opposite the Powell office/warehouse in the old security building in the car park. The famous Powell skate park The Skate Zone was across the street and Jonny Oliver who ran the park lived in the same house so we chilled there every night. It was dope!
Powell asked me if I wanted to ride for the team and of course I said yes straight away. My life changed in a big way for the better – thanks to George Powell and Todd Hastings wanting to get me on.

Despite holding down a spot on the Powell pro roster for a healthy num- ber of years, it seemed that you were still firmly planted in Bristol. Why didn’t you ever move to America full time?
- I never had a visa so I could only stay for three months at a time, then I’d come back for two weeks and go back again. It was super easy in those days with immigration; they never really asked any questions as to why I was back so soon. I never wanted to move there full time. My friends and family were in the UK and I missed the humour and sarcasm and my crew. The only thing I look back at now and mildly regret is that I didn’t move there for a few years to see if I could do it.

You’ve had countless video parts over the years both in the UK and over in The States – which of your sections would you say you are the happiest with and why?
- None of them really! I never really filmed a video part: it was always done in a week or broken up over time with no real plan as to what I was filming. I guess the only thing I worked on was the 411 Video Magazine part I had; that came out ok at the time.

So when did you finally decide to leave Powell? What were your reasons for doing so?
- Uff…that’s a heavy one. I just had shit going on in my life at the time and there was no real support from them. I was grabbed by the tax man for non tax payment going back years to the sum of £42,000, my dad just had a second heart attack and was not well at all, me and the mother of my girls were in the middle of breaking up and my head was a f*cking mess because of it all. I lost all my motivation for everything, started drinking and gaining weight, I went in to hibernation and didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t skate at all and the thought of going skating and people watching me made me freak out. I just didn’t have the confidence or motivation to do anything.
Powell started to film that crazy Powell video, the latest one, and wanted me to come straight away to The States. In their words – “we need bangers, big rails, big stairs, gnarly shit”. I just didn’t have it in me at that time at all and I explained everything to them. For years I jumped when they said jump and did everything they asked me to do. I felt like they didn’t support me in my time of need, I felt like I was losing my mind! I was going to lose my father, my house, my shop, my daughters and skateboarding all in one hit!! They stopped contacting me and then cut my pay, only to cut it completely a couple of months later. I looked on the website one day and saw a post on their blog that had a photo of me skating saying – “check out our good friend Danny Wainwright” – with a photo they had ripped off another site. My name was no longer on their new team list so that was it for me. “Peace, I’m out”. I quit but I still have a lot of respect and thanks for everything they did for me. It really did change my life and I would not be where I am today if Powell didn’t back me and take me in!

 

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After your time on Powell came to an end, you rode for Propaganda Rolling Co and more recently CLAN010 – how did those two opportunities come to you, and what was it about each that swayed you to ride for them?
- I left Powell and I felt that I didn’t even deserve to ride for anyone let alone be pro and have my name on a board. My good friend Harris from Greece has the brand Propaganda and he said, «it might sound crazy, but do you want to ride for us?” It was cool that he wanted me to ride for them, and riding for and helping a friend’s brand felt like the best thing to do. Then I was called about CLAN. On paper it all sounded great; to be on a team with my friends, be part of this cool new company etc, but the truth was that it was all bullshit and that company was built on lies and empty promises. The boards were great and the graphics were clean at the start but that soon changed and I saw my pro boards with the worst graphics you could possibly have on a skateboard. I had to chase getting paid every month and sometimes I didn’t get paid for four months.
There was no real plan to do anything – no tours, no advertising, no direction or goal, so of course it just slipped away and they pulled the plug. I am not talking shit I’m just telling it how it is and anyone on that team would say the same thing!

What does skateboarding mean to you at this point in your life?
- Well, I have realised that skateboarding is my life! I am 38 and have been skating since I was 11 years old so it’s been the majority of my life. In the last five or six years it’s been a bit of a love/hate relationship but just lately I am in love again. I was over it and never skating for a while, I found it boring and kind of like déjà vu every time I went out skating. When I did skate I was so out of connection with my board that even pusing felt wrong, but in the last month I have found my feet again. I guess it has a lot to do with having no sponsors and no one to answer to. I feel like I can do what I want how I want and I have nothing to prove and there’s no expectations of me. It’s not like I was anything special on a board back then but I felt the expectations and had to skate a certain way and do certain things; I also put pressure on myself years ago to do shit. Recently I watched the Guy Mariano and Ricky Oyola Epicly Later’ds and it just got me pumped to go and roll. I was buzzing after watching it and I thought “f*ck it, I wanna skate!” I said to myself that I wanted to get out skating and film a video part for myself: my last video part and something I could get into and be stoked on. It’s not what it used to be but f*ck…I’m loving it, going out skating, filming and honestly enjoying the whole feeling of coming home after skating and my body hurting; it’s a great feeling! I want to skate all summer and put out an independent part, skating the shit I want to skate, have the music I want and edited the way I want. It might be three minutes, it might be ten minutes, I don’t know but I just want to do it!

What’s the story behind the photo of you and John Cardiel in hysterics as you were entering the Playstation Vans demo back in the early 2000’s?
- Yeah that is a funny photo; I have a big print of that photo here at my house, I’m stoked to have it and the story is funny too. Basically we were on a big Vans tour all over Europe with some of the European and the US teams. That photo was taken outside Playstation when we were walking back to the tour bus after the demo we did there. Jim Greco was walking in front of us and wearing some pretty crazy and strange clothes so I said to Cards, “hey, tell Greco your grandma wants her clothes and glasses back!” We both just started cracking up super loud; it was funny at the time anyway (laughs)!

Can you remember what your first photo ever in a skate mag was? Also, what has been your favourite photo of yourself that’s been run over the years and why?
- I do yes. It was in Oxford at the Botley Bowl contest many years ago. It was a one-foot ollie off a fly off ramp with the caption “cold kicking in effect” (laughs). As for a favourite photo: That’s hard, I have had too many photos to even remember them all. If I had to say one it would be a photo Grant Brittain shot of me on a trip to The States. It was in October 1993 and was run in Transworld Magazine. Grant is like the godfather of skateboard photography and to have shot a photo with him and it go in Transworld is cool. Yeah, I guess that’s my fave!

Out of everything you’ve achieved over the years, what would you say has been the highlight of your skate career so far and why?
- Well I haven’t achieved much at all in skateboarding itself; it’s more personal stuff. I’ve just been skating and doing my thing, I’m very lucky to have stayed involved in skateboarding for so long.
I guess in skateboarding itself I got in the Guinness ‘Book of Records’ for the highest ollie in the world, won the European Championships, placed well in many contests…but as I said, it’s the more personal things that I feel achievement from. I grew up on a council estate in Coventry so to look back at how life started and the things I have done, places I have been, opportunities that have come my way since then, that’s what stokes me out personally. I have been very fortunate to have done all of this, but I did work for it, it wasn’t handed on a plate.

And lastly, can you imagine a life without skateboarding?
- That’s simple – no!

 

DannyWainwright200-02Layback ollie. Photo – Leo

 

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