At 25, Rob Dyrdek’s track record for choosing sponsors wisely is uncanny. A native of Dayton, Ohio–which is also home to Rob’s career-long sponsor Alien Workshop–Rob moved out west to San Diego, California seven years ago to try his luck at the skateboard dream. But when you look at the strength of his sponsors and his influence in their direction, you have to wonder, “Is it luck?”
Regardless, Rob’s influence on modern street skating comes not only from his ability on a skateboard but also from his focus as a businessman.
What was your favorite year in skateboarding?
The more recent years, like three or four years ago, when skateboarding started to mellow out, and even though people were still doing hard stuff, it got a lot cleaner.
You mean after the late-flip era?
Yeah. Right at the end of that era, but when people were still doing just gnarly stuff, like in those early Plan B ads. Just before the X-Games, and before it became so crazy. The way I look at it, skateboarding defined itself then. It hasn’t really changed since then either–people just do stuff bigger and harder. If it’s not clean, it just sucks.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration in skateboarding?
It’s not really an individual, it’s everyone who skates, especially all the pros who came from my little zone. We turned pro in the chaos of skateboarding in the early 90s, and we saw it define itself. It’s almost like we walked skateboarding through the last six years. But I have to say, the 900 was awe-inspiring to me–one of the more inspiring things I’ve ever seen. It was just incredible.
Were you there for it?
I wasn’t there. I heard about it, then I saw it on TV. But for Tony, who put more time in on the 900 than anyone else, to get it in such a gnarly forum–and end up on Sports Center at this point of his life–is incredible. It was probably he most inspiring thing I’ve seen outside of the Gonz’s Blind video part.
What’s the stupidest trend you’ve seen skateboarding go through?
For sure the chaos of the kick-it-and-let-it-roll, anything-goes era. It was just a free-for-all, and I can’t deny that I was a part of it; I was.
You’re talking ’92? I’m talking kicking the board in front of you as hard as you can, and if you somehow land on it … “I just did a 360 shove-it 360 flip late 540!”
What do you consider your biggest contribution to skateboarding?
I think the companies I’ve been involved with are my contribution, and being part of a group that defined an era of skateboarding. I’ve done some tricks here and there, but I wouldn’t say, on the whole, I’ve taken skateboarding to another level by myself. It’s more of the group of people I did it with.
Did you consciously get involved with those companies, or was it luck?
I feel they were conscious efforts, but at the same time, there was luck to it, too. You’ve got to be focusing toward something for luck to pan out, and to get lucky with each thing I’ve hooked up with is pretty convenient. I’ve never really been involved with a company that hasn’t been a top company that makes a difference in skateboarding. I’ve never had a bad sponsor in skateboarding, that’s how I look at it.
Describe how you see the current state of skateboarding.
I feel there’s a lot less personality now than in the past years … outside of a few obvious people. But as a whole, skateboarding had always been more about the package of the pro, which is unlike any other sport. In the Alva days, the coolest dude, their boy, got a board not because he ripped but because he was the funniest, craziest guy.
But people want personality with skills, now, and they’d much rather have skills over personality, where personality is sometimes a lot more interesting.
What do you see coming up in the future?
I can see major companies having everything under one roof–trucks, boards, wheels–and they’ll sponsor people as package deals. It’s getting pretty crazy. For me, I hope they’ll make legitimate street contests of interest, rather than these extreme contests–they’re just not the same as raw street obstacles.
No matter what, skateboarding is getting more illegal everyday, and for some godforsaken reason, of the four-million skateparks they’re putting up, not one is legit. You might think, “This one is fun, there’re some all-right things about it,” but no one has outright built the street in a park form, which blows my mind. Each city should have their acre park with rails, and ledges down stairs, and you could just travel from town to town and skate their park, just like you travel now to skate their natural street stuff.
And it kills me that Southern California–the mecca of skateboarding–can’t pull together and build one amazing park. Whether it be TransWorld or the four-million other companies in California, we should be able to pull together and build a real street course, with all the elements that make real street skating sick.