Paul Machnau

Would you rather have money or fame?

Money, obviously. Fame just seems too much-fame ruins people. With the whole Hollywood/TV status thing, you can tell that when you get famous you can’t go anywhere or do anything without being noticed. Cameras are always on you-that sort of thing. I figure being rich is better-you can pretty much do what you want and get away with it in a way, because no one’s really keeping an eye on you.

How does skateboarding play into that as far as where you are with your pro status?

Yeah, I guess maybe in skateboarding it’s a little bit different. In skateboarding it’s probably better to have the fame, then you’re always gonna be wanted as far as your board, your shoe, your product-you’re always going to be selling more. But in the same way, a lot of the time when I go to a skatepark, I’d rather not be noticed and rather be able to do my own thing-skate around, enjoy it. Sometimes you’ll go to skateparks or contests and you’ll have people always talking to you-or trying to. It’s good at the same time, but I feel it’s better to be more low-key. I feel better doing it like that. I love kids and I love talking to kids, but at the same time, it feels like you’re always being looked at, always being judged. And the bigger and the better you get, the more hated on you get as well.

Does the fact that you always have eyes on you change what you do and how you do it?

I guess I wouldn’t really think about it, but it’s always in the back of your head, so yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of the time when I do that without even noticing-where I do things or I won’t want to try something ’cause there’s people watching me and I don’t feel right.

I’m one of those skaters who likes to go out with a smaller posse or even by myself where I can be more concentrated on what I’ve got to do. When I’m thinking about a trick or trying a trick, I want to be as concentrated on it as possible. That puts me in a place where I want to be by myself so I can think about it more, concentrate on it more and not have people watching and judging me at the same time.

How much does being a professional skateboarder depend on talent, and how much does it depend on marketing?

Or who you know, right (laughs)? I guess I would have to say more talent. I would rather see people like Koston and Appleyard, because their talent is so amazing. It’s such a treat to watch. When you watch them skate you can actually feel it. It’s so much better that way.

We’re getting back into the fame thing, where if you’re marketed right you blow up and you get all your sponsors and get your shoe and all that, where you don’t even have to be that good on a skateboard. It’s more for show. It’s more for getting the ads in the magazine. It’s wearing the clothes that the kids are gonna want to buy. That’s how skateboarding is going. That’s how almost everything in the world is-in every kind of industry. I’d rather see someone who has better style and trick selection than someone who’s wearing more fashionable clothes or is getting ahead in the pro ranks because of what they wear rather than what they do on a skateboard.

How do you think you fall into the mix?

For me, it’s just motivation. Skateboarding is something I need in my life. It’s like an addiction. It’s something I need every day. It’s something I’m really passionate about. It’s something I can do on my own. I’m not much of a marketable guy, either.

I’m not set with, say, the tight clothes or the preppy clothes or the baggy clothes. I’m just a skateboarder. I wear jeans and a T-shirt, and I go out and skate. That’s what I like to do-just enjoy it and have fun with it. I’m not too worried about what I look like on a skateboard, what I’m wearing at the time, if I have my flair hanging out, or whatever. I think that’s why it’s been a little bit harder for me to get up further in the pro ranks, because I don’t have something that kids always recognize. And that’s al why I like filming really hard for video parts and trying to do well in interviews, so I can prove to kids, “Look, I don’t need that sort of stuff.” I’m doing well enough on my skateboard, and that’s all I really need to do. Skate well and I’ll get noticed that way.

When you’re at a spot thinking about trying something scary, how much is it a matter of wanting to get a clip for the video or a photo versus wanting the experience of feeling what it’s like to grind through a double-kink?

It all comes down to what you have at the time-how long of a deadline you have for your video part. Back in the day when I was skateboarding, I never really got into amateur skateboarding until I was around nineteen or twenty. The first ten, twelve years, I was skateboarding just for fun-always on my board all day long, just cruising, not even filming.

I think nowadays it’s changed a lot, where when I go out to do something big I’m always thinking, “Okay, I gotta have this filmer in the right position to make this look as gnarly as it can.” Or “I gotta have this photographer who can put this on the cover.” I’m thinking of that, but at the same time, it always does come down to whether or not I really want to go ahead and do it. ‘Cause there’re times when I’m going out to film for a video and I’ll just get nothing. And then there’ll be times when I’m just going out to skate with friends and we get to a spot and I’m, “Oh my god, I can do this on there. And this is going to help me out in the long run.” And I’ll go ahead and throw it down because I want to do it. After I’ve done it, I go, “Wow, I’ve just done it. That’s sick. Now I have an ender for my video part.” So sometimes you think about it, but sometimes you’re just out skating and it happens. Obviously I feel better when it just kind of happens.

The stress side of skateboarding does suck sometimes. It kind of bums you out. It can put you in a state where you’re almost bummed on skateboarding. The reality of it is skateboarding is something you do for fun. It’s not something you do to go farther in life. At least that’s the way I look at it. I’m pretty lucky to be where I’m at in skateboarding-to get what I’m getting with skateboarding.

How is filming different now than it was with your buddies back in Cranbrook, British Columbia?

Well, there wasn’t much filming going on in Cranbrook-we didn’t have many spots. When I got into filming, I’d go into the bigger surrounding towns like Calgary and Edmonton. I had a friend, Glen Suggitt, out of Edmonton-one of the best guys I’ve ever skated with. I’d go up there and we’d film each other. He’d take the camera and film me, and I’d take the camera and film him. We used to make these little videos. That’s kind of how I got started in filming. Back then it was just for fun. We went out and filmed and fooled around and messed with security guards-the good times of skateboarding.

These days it’s almost like you have to call a day, maybe two days, in advance to line up a filmer-slash-photographer. And filmers these days don’t really want to go out with you unless you tell ’em, “Look, I’m gonna get you this trick at this spot.” Whereas before it was, you just go. You’d roll around, find the spot, and film it.

These days you have to know where the spot is, you have to know how long it’s going to take to get there, you have to assure the filmer you’re going to actually try the trick before you go. Skating’s so hard these days-you have to travel so far to get to a spot, and the filmers and photographers don’t want to go anywhere unless you’re going to do something.

Everyone’s on a schedule.

Everyone’s on a schedule. There are so many people involved in skateboarding now that it’s hard to get people to trust you, to take you out and that sort of thing. It’s a lot harder these days. That’s why you have to keep your friends close and try to go out with them. That’s what I try to do. And film with people I know and I trust.

How is it different now than it was when you filmed with Ty Evans for The Reason?

That was actually right when I was starting to get into the whole filming thing. That was really cool because I looked up to Ty and all those guys I went on those trips with. For me, at that time, I was the little kid going, “Wow. I can’t believe this is happening.”

And it was a lot different for me because they were so on point with everything they did-as far as setting up the lights or taking me to the spots. They would know whether they were going to get kicked out or not and that sort of thing. I was just a little kid and would’ve just run up the stairs and jumped down the stuff. Ty, for sure, helped me out with the learning of how to go into different cities and bombard the place and film. He’s a pretty smart guy. I was psyched to go out and film with him. It was a good time.

Do you feel like you were welcomed into the skateboarding world or that you kind of had to bang your head against the door?

I guess maybe when I was younger I felt it was hard for me-coming from the small town. There’re always so many more skateboarders in the bigger towns. Where I came from there were only a few of us. I would go to bigger towns and kids were just killing it, so I never thought I’d get far in skateboarding. I was always thinking it was something just for fun until Moses (Itkonen] asked me to come down and start skating for RDS. That’s when I kind of felt like I was invited into the industry. He, all of a sudden, started giving me stuff for free, which was the first time anything like that had happened to me. I was like, “Wow, maybe I can actually do something with this.” He introduced me to the Platinum team, got me on Platinum. He took me on trips when Arto (Saari] first came over. That’s when I started feeling like I was introduced and started getting into the industry a little bit more.

So yeah, I feel like I was introduced more than trying to get in there. But once I did get in there, that’s when I decided, “Hey, I actually have to start trying on my own.” To get my name out there, call photographers and filmers, get my name and skating out there.

What would you say is the scariest thing you’ve ever done on a skateboard?

That’s a hard one. Actually it might even be in this interview. That kickflip into the bank-that was pretty damn scary for me. Other than that, maybe vert. I’ve been skating vert a little bit lately. Vert is honestly scary for me. I don’t know why. I think it’s because it’s such a different style of skating. Pool skating, vert skating, any of that style of skating is scary for me, whereas rails, stairs, street skating is more natural to me. I don’t really get too scared when I skate that kind of stuff.

What’s the last trick you learned on vert?

I’m thinking probably frontside airs. It’s hard to learn vert when you’re old, I’m telling you. I wish I would’ve started when I was young, that’s for sure.

Does skating a twenty-stair rail even scare you? You said street skating comes naturally to you.

I mean, yeah, it scares me. When I’m done skating a big rail, my whole body’s shaking. But I think it’s a different sort of scare. It’s more of I know I can do it and just want to do it. When I go to a big rail I pretty much have to jump on it right away. If I do stand around and think about things, think about what could happen if I don’t lock in, that’s when it starts to scare me. So I’ll try to jump on it as fast as I can, get to the rail and just caveman it so I can get the feel of it-try to do it quick. But it doesn’t really scare me too much to jump on bigger rails. It would probably scare me more to flip into a rail than to jump down a twenty. And I’m a taller guy, too, so I like to feel the grind, feel the slide. So if you took me to a ten-stair, and then took me to an eighteen-stair, I would much rather skate the eighteen because I’d be on it longer, be grinding it longer, have ust.

How is it different now than it was when you filmed with Ty Evans for The Reason?

That was actually right when I was starting to get into the whole filming thing. That was really cool because I looked up to Ty and all those guys I went on those trips with. For me, at that time, I was the little kid going, “Wow. I can’t believe this is happening.”

And it was a lot different for me because they were so on point with everything they did-as far as setting up the lights or taking me to the spots. They would know whether they were going to get kicked out or not and that sort of thing. I was just a little kid and would’ve just run up the stairs and jumped down the stuff. Ty, for sure, helped me out with the learning of how to go into different cities and bombard the place and film. He’s a pretty smart guy. I was psyched to go out and film with him. It was a good time.

Do you feel like you were welcomed into the skateboarding world or that you kind of had to bang your head against the door?

I guess maybe when I was younger I felt it was hard for me-coming from the small town. There’re always so many more skateboarders in the bigger towns. Where I came from there were only a few of us. I would go to bigger towns and kids were just killing it, so I never thought I’d get far in skateboarding. I was always thinking it was something just for fun until Moses (Itkonen] asked me to come down and start skating for RDS. That’s when I kind of felt like I was invited into the industry. He, all of a sudden, started giving me stuff for free, which was the first time anything like that had happened to me. I was like, “Wow, maybe I can actually do something with this.” He introduced me to the Platinum team, got me on Platinum. He took me on trips when Arto (Saari] first came over. That’s when I started feeling like I was introduced and started getting into the industry a little bit more.

So yeah, I feel like I was introduced more than trying to get in there. But once I did get in there, that’s when I decided, “Hey, I actually have to start trying on my own.” To get my name out there, call photographers and filmers, get my name and skating out there.

What would you say is the scariest thing you’ve ever done on a skateboard?

That’s a hard one. Actually it might even be in this interview. That kickflip into the bank-that was pretty damn scary for me. Other than that, maybe vert. I’ve been skating vert a little bit lately. Vert is honestly scary for me. I don’t know why. I think it’s because it’s such a different style of skating. Pool skating, vert skating, any of that style of skating is scary for me, whereas rails, stairs, street skating is more natural to me. I don’t really get too scared when I skate that kind of stuff.

What’s the last trick you learned on vert?

I’m thinking probably frontside airs. It’s hard to learn vert when you’re old, I’m telling you. I wish I would’ve started when I was young, that’s for sure.

Does skating a twenty-stair rail even scare you? You said street skating comes naturally to you.

I mean, yeah, it scares me. When I’m done skating a big rail, my whole body’s shaking. But I think it’s a different sort of scare. It’s more of I know I can do it and just want to do it. When I go to a big rail I pretty much have to jump on it right away. If I do stand around and think about things, think about what could happen if I don’t lock in, that’s when it starts to scare me. So I’ll try to jump on it as fast as I can, get to the rail and just caveman it so I can get the feel of it-try to do it quick. But it doesn’t really scare me too much to jump on bigger rails. It would probably scare me more to flip into a rail than to jump down a twenty. And I’m a taller guy, too, so I like to feel the grind, feel the slide. So if you took me to a ten-stair, and then took me to an eighteen-stair, I would much rather skate the eighteen because I’d be on it longer, be grinding it longer, have time to pop out. Obviously if I’m trying a trick I haven’t tried on a rail that big, I’m gonna be a little bit scared, but I’d say I’m more scared of vert.

With some of these tech tricks you’re starting to do on rails like nollie flip gap to lipslides and kickflip out to frontside 50-50s, you don’t see people doing this kind of stuff prior to you actually doing it. Where does your motivation lie before you make a run at doing a gnarly tech trick on a rail?

Always in skateboarding you have to be the guy to come out with the new tricks. There’re so many people involved now that it’s gonna happen eventually and you want to be one of those guys. So I think the motivation for that comes from Gailea Momolu. I skate a lot with him, and he’s one of the most innovative guys when it comes to flipping into rails. He’s done some of the gnarliest stuff-stuff that people don’t even know he’s done yet. It’s so amazing to me, that he can do that kind of stuff, and then with such ease. When I skate with him, I start thinking along the lines of his skating as well, not just jumping down the rail and doing a rail trick, but throwing a combo in there, trying to flip in or flip out of it. When I did that nollie flip lipslide, he was there talking me through it. I knew I could do it, but I was a little bit scared to commit on it. He told me how to do it, and I did it within a couple tries after that. He’s my motivation in that style of skating, for sure.

Will not having a photographer or filmer around deter you from trying something gnarly?

It depends what I’m working on at the time. If I’m working on a video part and there’s no video guy, it’s gonna deter me from trying it. I’m getting old and there’s only so much you can do (laughs). Usually I like to have a photographer and a filmer there just because I’m not as young as the other kids out there. When I do do something, I want to have it documented if it’s a gnarly trick. If I’m going out with my friends it doesn’t matter too much. I’ll film without a photographer, or shoot without a filmer. And these days it’s kind of hard to get ’em both at the same time, too. It really depends on the time.

Do you go out and skate twelve-stair handrails for fun?

I have. These days it’s hard because you can’t really do that. There aren’t too many ten- or twelve-stair handrails that you can just go session anymore. Either you get kicked out, they’re capped, or they’re gone when you get there. But yeah, me, Gailea, Hastie, and the boys always go to the RDS park, and we’ll skate the ten-stair handrail for hours. There are a couple spots where we can go and session rails and we will go learn stuff. So we will do it. Obviously if we’re trying teched-out shit we’re gonna want to film it. I actually just purchased a VX-1000, so it’s almost like we’re going back in the day to filming each other again. And honestly that’s better. Just being out with your friends and having a camera so you can grab it and film each other. You skate better with your friends than you do when you’re on a mission. You drive two hours to a spot and have to jump out and throw down a trick within enough time before you get kicked out. I’d rather just skate with friends than go on missions.

What trick were you most excited about after landing?

Probably that nollie flip lip. I get a really good feeling when I jump down a twenty or a twenty-one, but at the same time, when I do something I don’t think I was able to do, that feeling is incredible. Maybe even that kickflip into the bank because it was such an odd thing to do and it was such a feeling when I rolled away from it, especially when (Rick] McCrank yelled out that he couldn’t believe I did it, too.

What makes you lose it?

Security. Innocent bystanders who just want to yell at you. That probably pisses me off more than not landing the trick I’m trying. That gets me. It’s usually the people who just can’t mind their own business-the ones who call the c