8 Tracks And The One Man Band GSD (a.k.a. Garry Scott Davis) Tracker, Thrasher, TransWorld SKATEboarding, and then some.
“Lunar Power. Moon Tan. Moon Burn. Helen Keller.” Speed Freaks (1989)-GSD
I set out to write some long-winded intro on GSD, inventor of the Boneless One, first pro street board, and first skate ‘zine. Instead, just read the poem above that Garry wrote on the brown paper bag he crushed on his face in Speed Freaks, and let the man speak for himself. Jack-of-all-trades? An understatement. In fact, jack-of-all-trades wouldn’t even cover the half of Garry Scott Davis. Now go out and try a no-comply on a bank with 66mm Bullets and a board that weighs more than the loaded-down cooler your mom brought to the tailgate party. Good luck. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to go get your shine box while you’re thinking about how the wallride backside grind ender was even possible.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
Is it safe to say you’ve received paychecks for all of the following: professional skateboarding, inventing the Boneless One, skateboard artwork, skateboard shaping, skateboard journalism, magazine art direction, music production, and poetry?
Yes, except inventing the Boneless One and poetry.
What was the thought process behind the first Boneless One?
In December 1979, influenced by a trick I saw in Skateboarder Magazine called the footplant (done backside, planting the rear foot), I thought up a frontside version, planting the front foot. It all happened when Robert Hamrick, Mark Mounts, and I were messing around with our boards while sitting on the floor in Robert’s house. We considered this trick impossible and promptly forgot about it for the next few months.
Mark called me up in the spring of that year, breathless, announcing he’d just pulled “that trick” I had thought up. I rushed down to the D.O. banks in Cincinnati, only to find him popping Boneless Ones three feet off the Main Bank. Within a few minutes, I was doing that “impossible” trick, too. We were blown away at how much higher, and easier, we could boost than with a backside footplant. At first, the trick was given the literal-and not exactly catchy-“front-footed frontside footplant” moniker, which stuck for over a year until Robert renamed it “The Boneless One” after a puppet of his-Harry The Boneless One. Why the puppet? Do you still have the thing?
He’s a puppet dog called Harry The Boneless One because he’s soft and has no bones. He needs your hand, and bones, to come to life. I haven’t talked to Robert since 1982, so I don’t know if he still has Harry. I think he probably does, though. I hung out with Mark in April 2004. We skated the D.O. banks that day and called Robert, but we got no answer.
Could you ollie before the Boneless One?
What was the best Boneless One you ever saw?
Steve Caballero did ’em good. I was stoked when he took them to vert in 1982 and then threw ’em backside in ’83.
Are you really credited with producing the world’s first skate ‘zine?
Yes, Skate Fate was the first homemade, photocopied skate ‘zine put out by a skater.
What was the general idea behind Steep Slopes?
Steep Slopes was a one-page column I wrote for Thrasher for about nine months in 1983. It was just a general-interest skate column that concentrated on the “hardcore” aspects of skateboarding.
What was your largest board paycheck ever?
A typical month yielded anywhere from 150 to 350 dollars. Occasionally, I would make more, between 350 and 800 dollars. I only broke 1,000 dollars once or twice. I made approximately 1,200 dollars one month. That was my biggest board royalty check ever.
How did Tracker work out paying you? Did they split up the artwork side, board shaping, skating, and TransWorld (TWS was then owned by Tracker Trucks), or was it all one deal?
I made a regular minimum-wage biweekly check for working in the Tracker factory and in the TWS office. I received a separate monthly check for deck royalties.
Did anyone at the time understand that your Tracker “Banks/Curbs” model would be the first solely-built-for-street board?
It wasn’t really the first street-only skateboard, but it was the first pro street model. At the time, we didn’t think, “Hey, let’s put out the first-ever pro street model!” We only realized it in hindsight.
By 1985, with your first pro model out, were you still living at Tracker?No, Larry Balma (owner of TWS and Tracker at the time) had booted Bryan Ridgeway, Marty “Jinx” Jimenez, and me out by then. I was living in cars, bushes, people’s couches, Del Mar’s pools, and Hi-Balls (enclosed trampolines), et cetera.
Are you seeing some royalties from the reissue of the eye deck?
They’ve pressed up around 85 of them so far, and I got a check for 200 dollars.
What was your mind-set in 1989 when you retired as a pro? Was it kind of your idea, or did Tracker just come to you with it?
It all just fizzled away gradually. There was no conscious decision from Tracker or myself that I should retire. No one said anything.
What did you do for TransWorld?
From 1983 to ’88, I was at various times an editor, writer, and graphic designer, assisting the art director David Carson (later the art director of Raygun Magazine). From1988 to 93, I was mainly the art director after Carson left, but I also still wrote and edited, just not quite as much. Dave Swift and Kevin Wilkins took over the wordsmith duties.
Best Gonz story?
I remember this rambunctious young kid who took the bus down from L.A. a couple of times to skate the spots around North County (San Diego) with me. I met him at the first Huntington Beach street contest, where he got on the cover of TransWorld doing a Boneless One off the picnic-table launch ramp. His hair was done up in a million little braids, he did these amazing street ollies up onto anything-no one else beside Natas did that then-and he had just gotten sponsored by Alva. His name was Mark Gonzales.
Around 1985 in front of the Ralph’s grocery store in Oceanside, Gonz moved two bus benches together at a slight angle, forming a corner. He hauled ass, ollied, and boardslid all the way across one, bashed through the corner and slid all the way across the other popped out and landed clean-all at warp speed.
Are you still playing music?
I have two bands. Custom Floor is a song-based rock band, and Carpet Floor plays in a more improvisational vein. In fact, I just finished mastering Custom Floor’s third album, A Distant Dull, which is due out this summer. Check out our MySpace page.
Did you ever pursue an art career outside skating, like gallery-style stuff?My art was shown in a couple of skate-art shows back in the early 90s, one curated by Dan Field and the other by Aaron Rose. From the late 90s to now, I’ve been included in a bunch of Move art shows, which is a series curated by my friend Rich Jacobs. I also had some art and Skate Fates in a big skate-art show called Skate Culture in Virginia Beach in 2004, and recently a couple of GSD decks and Skate Fates showed up in Beautiful Losers. I’ve never pursued an art career on my own. I just do it for fun.
What is your current role at Sole Technology?
I’m the editor-slash-writer-slash-web content manager for à‡S and Emerica. I edit and write all of those brands’ Web sites, catalogs, press releases, et cetera, not to mention Sole Power, our company newsletter. I also do a lot of Photoshop work and a little design.
How are the paychecks looking now?