On Fire – Robbie Mckinley

Vouching For Robbie

Robbie McKinley on his recent video parts, his lack of image, and the possibility of going pro.

If Robbie McKinley had a skateboard action figure in the mold of himself, it wouldn’t come with a whole lot. You’d probably just get Robbie in some plain clothes and his skateboard–no hats, bracelets, sunglasses, bandannas, turntables, guitars, or atrociously too big or too tight garb. If you were buying based on most material possession and accompanying accessories for your money, you’d definitely stray to one of the other action figures on the shelf. And if that’s your mentality, then you’re definitely going to miss out, because that patented Robbie McKinley ability and personality can’t shine until you get him out of the plastic.

Right now Robbie’s only problem is that he has yet to attain the championship ring: the pro model adorned with his name. That’s probably the only thing he’d really want to come with his action figure. And it’s possibly right around the corner, even Robbie’s not quite sure. But no matter what happens, the image consultation classes are on the back burner–for the time being anyway.

Which Seinfeld character do you relate to the most?

Probably George ’cause I tend to snap over nothing on certain occasions. Sometimes I just start thinking wild thoughts and snap. I tend to dwell on the wrong things too much–things I shouldn’t be. I think about where I’m gonna skate during the week. I find myself waking up early and laying in bed thinking, “Where am I gonna go Saturday? Do I have another spot to go to? Because if I waste Saturday, then I only have Sunday and that’s one less day. Who’s filming? Who’s in town? Yadda yadda.”

What do you do when you get angry? Do you take your aggression out on anything?

(Laughs) No, I’ll snap. Maybe I’ll yell. I never break anything. I’ll throw my board occasionally. Just the average snap. Just go home, relax, have a drink with the fellas, play some pool.

When’s the last time you said, “Arghhhh“?

No comment. Let’s just scratch that question right off the roster.

Are you saying you regret your performance in the Land Pirates video?

Yeah. I’ve learned from that experience. And when I’m with that person and I’m intoxicated and they shove a camera in my face I just block it out. Or I’m, “No comment.” He caught me in a bad moment. I wasn’t in my best state. We’ll put it that way. No more drunken encounters in front of the camera. It sounds like a good idea at the time, but it turns out to be shit.

Have you ever talked to Jason Dill about that?
No, I haven’t, but he had a pretty fantastic one. I’m pretty sure his is the longest documented (rant) in a skate film. Just going off with those glasses with the diamond heart. You gotta give it up to the guy–tractor trailer whatever he was talking about. It was pretty amazing.

Looking back at your DC Video and Yeah Right! parts, is there anything you would have changed?

I was pretty psyched on my Yeah Right! part. From what I hear from people, they were psyched on it, too. When I started filming for Yeah Right! that was the only thing I was filming for. Then The DC Video came up, but my first priority was Girl ’cause they were my sponsor before DC and the fact that I’ve been wanting to get a board, so I wanted to film a full part for that. But the only thing I would have changed was the time frame. The cutoff of Yeah Right! to the cutoff for The DC Video was only a month and a half. It was stressful in that aspect, not having enough time to put out two parts you’re totally psyched on. But I had no control or that.

When was the last time you heard Pegboy before finding out that was what you were going to be skating to for your DC part?

I’ve never heard Pegboy ever in my life. I don’t think it fits exactly with my skating. It was all on (Greg) Hunt. He was doing his thing. It went with the part. The song works with the skating, I just don’t necessarily think with my particular style of skating. There’s the songs that you like to hear, then there’s the songs that are good for skating. And there’s those that are both.

Do you regret engaging in some of that male nudity?

Male nudity? Nah. You gotta do what you gotta do when it’s f–king hot. Which both those days, it was blazing. When your shirt’s fully soaked with sweat, and it’s sticking like flypaper, you gotta eject that shit. And if you don’t got another shirt, f–k it. Get a tan–it’s all good.

Do you live by that same motto in a club?

No. There’s no need for that. Not in the club. I’m fully clothed in the club. There’re certain people who can probably run it, but I’ve seen (Anthony) Van Engelen running some male nudity–it’s pretty wild. But he’s a psychopath, so what can you do? He can pull it off.

Why do you like to punch the camera so much?

I’ve only punched the camera a few times and for some reason they’ve edited those two parts in. I don’t even do it. I think it was only on those two tricks. Now kids are coming up to me asking, “Why do you punch the camera so much?” I’ve learned not to do it anymore.

What does it take to be a pro in skateboarding today?

Obviously you gotta have the skills. And a lot of people are definitely marketable. Certain people take the hesh route and they tighten up their kit. Then there’re people that go to the other extreme like (Brandon) Biebel, but he can run it. That’s his thing. But I’m not really either extreme. I’m kind of in the middle. I just do my thing. As far as using any of that stuff to market myself, that’s just not my cup of tea. I just try and skate. But as far as being a pro skater–determination, just to progress and bring something new to the table.

Now it’s switching up a bit, but the handrail thing was pretty wild. Even now the majority of a mag is all handrails. And that’s rad if they’re new tricks–and I give those guys respect because it’s just gnarly–but when you’re creative and doing something new, that’s good and that gets people psyched.

Do you think your middle-ground image has kept you from having your name on a board?

It’s a possibility. That’s just not me. I don’t think you need an image to be a successful skateboarder. Even if I did try, it wouldn’t work. Something would get f–ked up. I’m just gonna be myself and skate. There’re enough skaters out there that already have the extreme image.

Are you going pro soon?

I wish I could answer that question. We’ve had talks. Hopefully this interview will seal the deal.

Do you feel you deserve it?

I think I’ve put in my time. There was a point where I got caught up in my little partying thing. Everyone’s gonna party, but I’ve put everything in perspective. Skating is the main focus of my life right now. I’m at the point in time in life where it’s going to happen now or it’s not going to happen. I’m trying to skate as much as possible, get coverage and do it.

Is that your main motivation for skateboarding now?
No, no, no. Even if I wasn’t sponsored, I’d be skating. It’s fun, it’s exercise. I like skating with my boys. What else are you going to do? Sit on your ass and on the Internet all day? You can’t do that. Skating is fun no matter how you look at it.

What does “slimming down” for the night mean to you?

Well, you know. Nothing too drastic, but when I skate I’ve tried to tighten it up a bit. When you’re watching footage where you’re skating in clothes that fit you normally, it looks like you’re wearing tight-ass shit. I don’t know what it is with the camera. I’ve talked to people about that. I just like baggier clothes for skating. You gotta be flexible and move. I’ve tried to wear tight pants but I don’t even know how some dudes do that. It doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried it. To each his own.

How was it skating with Jim Greco for the day?
Dude is the coolest dude ever. First of all, me and Seu Trinh meet up with the dude and he’s trying to switch ollie into this pool. It’s a public pool with this little pool of water at the bottom so you have to watch your board. I felt like one of those tennis boys running across the court trying to get the tennis ball, ’cause every time his board would shoot out I’m running trying to stop it from going in the water. So his board’s going in the water, he’s not letting it dry off, the downhill landing’s getting wet, but he still pulls it. So I hopped the fence, ready to take off, and Jim’s on the other side of the pool with a shorter runway trying to ollie it, while his girl’s in the car ready to go to the airport. He’s still skating breaking himself for himself. That’s sick. At the end of the day he was like, “Yeah man, we should skate more.” Every time I’ve seen him he’s been super cool. Definitely a good guy.

Girl is such a tight-knit team, did you feel at home and part of the family when you were first new to the team?

Obviously not at first, because I’d never really skated with any of those dudes beforehand. They’re all the guys I’d looked up to my whole life. I’d skate with (Daniel) Castillo at the beach. I would see certain dudes at Lockwood. I had met (Mike) Carroll a couple times, and Keenan (Milton) was always cool, Chico (Brenes) was always cool. It was a break-in period. You get to know everyone, go on a couple trips, everything is cool. But at first I was like, “Holy shit, I’m on this team!” It’s definitely an honor to skate for them.

When you sit and watch Danny Way skating the mega ramp, what goes through your mind, knowing the two of you share a major sponsor?

It’s just gnarly. He’s like Captain America. I can’t even comprehend that stuff. I mean, I’ve dropped in on a vert ramp but I’ve never skated vert. It’s insane. Every trick that he does is over a 30- to 60-foot gap. On every one of those you could get so broke ’cause you never know if you can do it. Nobody’s ever done that before. This isn’t just a ten-stair where you can fall. It’s like snowboarding with no powder to save you. His determination is just crazy. And now he’s got a new part coming out that’s supposed to be better than his old one that he filmed in less time. Sometimes I’ll be sitting down eating and thinking, “Wow, I skate on the same team as Koston and Rick, and Danny and Colin.” These are the guys I’ve watched my whole life, but it’s gnarly being on the same team as Danny Way.

Who is a pro of the past that you were into that you wonder, “Where are they now?”

I know (Ronnie) Bertino is still skating, but back in the day he was the gnarliest dude. I would be seriously psyched to see another Bertino part. I wonder what Jovantae’s (Turner) up to. I don’t think I’ve ever even met him before, but I saw him one time. We were on a road trip getting on the freeway in Frisco and we passenternet all day? You can’t do that. Skating is fun no matter how you look at it.

What does “slimming down” for the night mean to you?

Well, you know. Nothing too drastic, but when I skate I’ve tried to tighten it up a bit. When you’re watching footage where you’re skating in clothes that fit you normally, it looks like you’re wearing tight-ass shit. I don’t know what it is with the camera. I’ve talked to people about that. I just like baggier clothes for skating. You gotta be flexible and move. I’ve tried to wear tight pants but I don’t even know how some dudes do that. It doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried it. To each his own.

How was it skating with Jim Greco for the day?
Dude is the coolest dude ever. First of all, me and Seu Trinh meet up with the dude and he’s trying to switch ollie into this pool. It’s a public pool with this little pool of water at the bottom so you have to watch your board. I felt like one of those tennis boys running across the court trying to get the tennis ball, ’cause every time his board would shoot out I’m running trying to stop it from going in the water. So his board’s going in the water, he’s not letting it dry off, the downhill landing’s getting wet, but he still pulls it. So I hopped the fence, ready to take off, and Jim’s on the other side of the pool with a shorter runway trying to ollie it, while his girl’s in the car ready to go to the airport. He’s still skating breaking himself for himself. That’s sick. At the end of the day he was like, “Yeah man, we should skate more.” Every time I’ve seen him he’s been super cool. Definitely a good guy.

Girl is such a tight-knit team, did you feel at home and part of the family when you were first new to the team?

Obviously not at first, because I’d never really skated with any of those dudes beforehand. They’re all the guys I’d looked up to my whole life. I’d skate with (Daniel) Castillo at the beach. I would see certain dudes at Lockwood. I had met (Mike) Carroll a couple times, and Keenan (Milton) was always cool, Chico (Brenes) was always cool. It was a break-in period. You get to know everyone, go on a couple trips, everything is cool. But at first I was like, “Holy shit, I’m on this team!” It’s definitely an honor to skate for them.

When you sit and watch Danny Way skating the mega ramp, what goes through your mind, knowing the two of you share a major sponsor?

It’s just gnarly. He’s like Captain America. I can’t even comprehend that stuff. I mean, I’ve dropped in on a vert ramp but I’ve never skated vert. It’s insane. Every trick that he does is over a 30- to 60-foot gap. On every one of those you could get so broke ’cause you never know if you can do it. Nobody’s ever done that before. This isn’t just a ten-stair where you can fall. It’s like snowboarding with no powder to save you. His determination is just crazy. And now he’s got a new part coming out that’s supposed to be better than his old one that he filmed in less time. Sometimes I’ll be sitting down eating and thinking, “Wow, I skate on the same team as Koston and Rick, and Danny and Colin.” These are the guys I’ve watched my whole life, but it’s gnarly being on the same team as Danny Way.

Who is a pro of the past that you were into that you wonder, “Where are they now?”

I know (Ronnie) Bertino is still skating, but back in the day he was the gnarliest dude. I would be seriously psyched to see another Bertino part. I wonder what Jovantae’s (Turner) up to. I don’t think I’ve ever even met him before, but I saw him one time. We were on a road trip getting on the freeway in Frisco and we passed this biker bar, not a Harley biker bar, it was Kawasaki dudes with full leather jumpsuits. So everyone’s screaming “Tae Tae!” and I look over and it’s Jovantae in a full leather jumpsuit. I was like, “What the f–k is going on here?!”

Is there room for the average nice guy in skateboarding? How are you gonna market that?
Through my skating. Look at (Mike) Carroll. What is Carroll’s image? Is he super hesh dude? No. Is he super rap whatever dude? No. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll have to sit down with Rick and Mike and they’ll consult with me on the path I need to take.

assed this biker bar, not a Harley biker bar, it was Kawasaki dudes with full leather jumpsuits. So everyone’s screaming “Tae Tae!” and I look over and it’s Jovantae in a full leather jumpsuit. I was like, “What the f–k is going on here?!”

Is there room for the average nice guy in skateboarding? How are you gonna market that?
Through my skating. Look at (Mike) Carroll. What is Carroll’s image? Is he super hesh dude? No. Is he super rap whatever dude? No. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll have to sit down with Rick and Mike and they’ll consult with me on the path I need to take.