Donny Barley Interview

“I like his style because it’s aggressive, but it’s not like rabid-dog aggressive. He’s not really like a slash-dog, either. It’s hard to explain. I just really like the tricks he chooses to do and the way he does them.”¿Geoff Rowely

Have you ever tried to look up “good style” in the skateboarding rulebook? Is it a mix of tricks, board control, haircuts, boomboxes, and punk-rock belts? Or is it a constant expression of one’s spiritual journey on a rolling wood plank? Who cares! Donny Barley won, he’s dope, and we couldn’t really pinpoint this whole style thing either.¿Shad

Do you think good style is something you can purposely try for, or does it just happen?

Ummm, I just like to see board control a lot, you know? So I think if I see someone skating and their board control is amazing, that’s like big points on style. But then certain people just have the look, like Jason Lee was tall and lanky, but he had good board control¿it was just like a gift that he had.

So do you think Jason was one of the people who influenced your style?

Obviously, I think everybody is like, “I was definitely influenced by Jason Lee,” but it wasn’t like he was a key for my style. I think for my style of skating I was definitely influenced by Eric Dressen, and I like seeing people who can use power and stuff.

Kind of aggressive style?

Yeah, kind of.

But with some finesse?

Yeah, exactly. There’re some people who can skate and do all the raddest tricks and stuff, but skating for me was always like my outlet¿something I did to take out my aggression, or just a way to get out whatever was inside. I keep wanting to say “expression,” but I kind of think expression sounds a little, uh …

Cheesy?

Sort of. So what I’m trying to say is to see someone throw their whole life into one trick is so incredible compared to when someone just puts their hands in their pockets and kickflips backside lipslides the biggest handrail. Like some of the tricks you see in a video of Jamie Thomas, you can tell his whole life is involved. Whether his tongue is sticking out or his cheeks are blowing out like a blowfish, you know what I’m saying? There’re certain people you can just tell are really, really feeling it.

A lot of people would rather have it be just super-clean robot style, though.

Well, a lot of things you can just land clean. But then there’re certain skaters who have the ability to chuck themselves in between a handrail and stop sign where their arms could easily get smacked, but they can squeeze through and pull something, then powerslide without hitting a wall. You know? Shit like that, that’s board control.

Who are some people you think have good style?

Anderson has great style. I love watching people with bigger frames¿he’s got more grace than who knows. But Justin Strubing is one of my top favorite skaters. If I had one vote I have to say Strubing. I was just talking about that¿Strubing is the man.

So Anderson and Strubing?

Yeah. Oh! There’s something about where I’m from, everybody I grew up with in Connecticut¿my friend Jason Casey has the raddest style. And my friend Jesse has the best style, and none of those guys have ever been sponsored or whatever. Something about all my friends, we all had our own style. We really put time into what we were doing and we loved it. Honestly, we were skating in a parking lot with one curb for five years straight, same cop busting us every night. But, we’d go skate and just learn our version of the trick, because everyone has their own version. I’m going on and on laughs.