Dustin Dollin Interview
“Look at all these fucking nerds! Hey! Look outside, it’s sunny! Oh shit you’re in here too. Hope you’re having fun with all your little buddies haha.” It’s about 3pm and a drunk Dustin Dollin just started shouting at me and a table full of people working on their laptops in the Ace Hotel. My initial impulse is to think “easy for him to say, he’s been paid to do kickflips and drink his whole life. What does he know about having to sit indoors doing emails when it’s banging outside?”
Probably nothing but the truth is: who cares. As corny as it sounds skateboarding needs people like him more than ever right now. Even if they are a bit of a liability. It’s one of the few ‘sports’ where our ‘athletes’ ‘ personalities are almost as important as their ‘performance’ and we need to make sure it stays that way. Why? That’s exactly what a rather inebriated Dustin Dollin did his best to explain.
Interview by Arthur Derrien. Photos by Sam Ashley.
How did having a full part with no landed tricks come about (in the new Volcom video)?
Dustin Dollin: I guess I tried a lot of shit but just kept getting hurt… They must have been like ‘alright lets just show how crazy he is instead of how good he used to be’.
How does that feel?
I like it, it breaks up the video nicely, I always liked slam sections in videos.
Are some of these slams as bad as they look? Like did you get any proper injuries from some of them?
Yeah I’d say I got badly hurt pretty much every time I tried a trick for this one. I only just finished working on Propeller and to be honest when I started working on Holy Stokes I was feeling like a pile of shit. Like so burnt out.
Are you going to get to chill for a bit now or have you got more stuff coming up?
No not really… I’m going to stay in Europe for a bit to work on some Baker/Deathwish stuff.
Where are you going to go?
I don’t know yet, I don’t live anywhere so I can just improvise. I know I’m going to go on an Vntiz trip since they are giving me a guest board but that’s about it.
Was filming for this one any different from other videos you’ve worked on in the past?
Not really… It was just a little tougher because my skating’s quite spontaneous so I tend to get a bit frustrated when people have to set up all of their lenses or put petrol in their helicopters but it was fine. Like the first trip I went on I was a bit like ‘what the fuck they have cameras that fly now?’
Are you still usually a few beers deep when you try stuff?
Yeah I mean I’m never not drinking really…
What’s the drunkest you’d say you’ve been whilst trying a trick?
Definitely the flip front blunt from the Transworld video (Sight Unseen). We were all fully blacked out drunk, even Ty and Atiba. We went and did it after all the clubs had closed. The next day when I woke up I had no idea I’d even tried the trick. I remember asking Ty if he’d be down to film it that evening and he was like ‘wait a second…’, he checked his camera and it turned out we’d already filmed it! We were so hyped aha! We used to do that more often, go straight from the party to the spot. It was sick.
Were you drunk when you skated under the ladder in the Baker/Deathwish video?
Nah I was just fucked off this codeine I’d bought in Thailand. Jake had had the same stuff and ended up staying in the van shitting himself haha. What was sick about that one is that I’d just been telling Reynolds how I don’t believe in bad luck. We joked about how I should kick a black cat, walk underneath a ladder and try a trick. No black cats but I was so hyped when I saw the ladder. That’s why I shouted “under the ladder”, it was for Reynolds.
Do you go through ups and down with the drinking and drugs or are you pretty stable with that stuff now?
I mean I don’t really do drugs anymore but it’s pretty hard when people are constantly offering them to you all the time: ‘take this shot, take this, take that’. Sometimes I’m a bit like ‘damn I wish people would take me out for a juice or something’, it would probably be more helpful. Although it is easier for me to say no these days as I don’t really drink hard liquor anymore. I mainly just stick to beer and wine. I’ll do a bit of coke every now and then if I’m really too drunk or whatever but that’s it. I never really bought drugs that often… And when I did I was in a super messy phase in my life. Plus it’s not like I really have anything to prove to people about partying anymore.
I guess people constantly offering you stuff comes with the ‘party guy’ image… It must be quite a hard one to get away from…
Yeah but really I’m fine with it. I still pretty much like to drink all day everyday. Just not get too crazy…
Drinking and taking drugs was almost glorified during the whole Piss Drunx era. Do you ever regret the influence it may have had on kids?
Nah fuck that kids will do whatever they want. It’s better if they get it out of their system when they are younger you know. I think the drinking age in America fucks up everything. When people start too late or don’t experiment with drinking and drugs when they are younger that’s when they are really fucking up but because that’s when you need it the most. I’m not saying I’ll buy kids shots or give people drugs but that’s just how I feel about it. If you start doing this stuff when you are young, part of it is because you aren’t really allowed, so when you get wasted most of the time you wake up the next day thinking ‘damn I fucked up’. When you start doing it a lot as an adult it’s easier to go to the bar the next day or get more drugs because you are a grown up, you can do whatever you want. It’s way better to be a drug addict/alcoholic when you are young.
To a certain extant skateboarding can be a bad influence on people but it’s something people grab onto for life, for an escape. Obviously skating is better than drugs and drinking but they tend to go hand in hand when you are young.
We used to see your your face pop up at some of the big contests back in the day, not so much anymore. How would you say they have changed over the last few years?
Ah man contests used to be a party! I don’t really know any regular skateboarders that ever go to contests anymore… Skateboarding was a smaller community so when there was one it would actually be a big event and everyone would go. Now there’s some X-Games or Street league thing going on every two months. What’s funny is that now that these things are officially just about money they are no longer a thing for most pro skaters. I’m not trying to say anything about the people that do go to them but you know what I mean. We used to go to them just to get hammered and see everyone because the money was so small… It’s different now.
Same thing with the trade shows actually. They used to be like “party time, lets go and hang out with a bunch of skaters!”. Now there are so many skaters that I’m just like ‘uuugh’, I don’t even want to see that many skaters. It’s changed… But wow there is a lot of money in it now.
Do you prefer how things used to be?
I don’t care, it’s exactly the same for me because I don’t have to deal with that shit. As long as I can get in the van and drink with my fellow team members I’m fine. When team managers start telling me I can’t drink in the van or on the street that’s when I’ll start having a problem because that’s what skateboarding’s about. Not the actual drinking but being whoever the fuck you are.
Do you feel like the skateboard industry is more focused on pro’s ‘performance’ than their personality/image these days?
Of course. You can’t just get paid to be an image anymore you need to put out the hammers.
Is that good thing or a bad thing?
Who cares. It’s a little harder to sell yourself individually but if you have the crew then it’s fine. It seems to be more about the teams now, like ‘this team doesn’t give a fuck about contest or any of that shit, this team is a proper crazy team’. When skateboarding starts to struggle with the fact that you aren’t a robot that’s when being part of a team becomes even more valuable. Like David Gonzales winning skater of the year… I honestly think he deserved it but it would have been even better if he’d released that part as something with his team, like say Figgy did with Baker. And I don’t even like sports! It’s just that skateboarding is family so I find it a bit tough when people go out and do their own thing rather than doing stuff that helps everybody else as a group. And contest winnings are just about yourself. Unless it’s the King Of The Road or something which is probably the only ‘good’ contest. Although it’s fucking horrible to deal with, way too hardcore… Anyway I don’t know how much further we need to go with this bullshit contest question.
Can you tell us a little bit about the distribution company you run in Australia?
Ah man I put so much money into PD Distribution… But it was always mainly just to make sure that guys like Tom Snape, Gabriel Summers and Jake Hayes (who’s now on Deathwish) would get boards when they need them. I just wanted to own the rights to the companies out there and make sure these skaters don’t get ripped off. When I used to get boards from distributors out there it used to be two boards a months and people would thieve out of the boxes and sell your shit. Plus I get to put out videos like 5 Years At The Bottom and be like yeah, my team in Australia is sick as fuck.
You edited that video yourself right?
Yeah! Have you seen it?!
Of course, that Tom Snape part was on repeat for a bit.
No way! Man Tom Snape represent! You know what he does as a day job? He washes windows on skyscrapers. He’s pretty much like Gino and Keenan mixed into one fucking guy. He’s probably got one of the best styles in Australia, at least in terms of that old school nineties way of skateboarding. He’s just G as fuck. And it comes across in his attitude as well, he just doesn’t really want to take skating any further than where it is now.
I remember the first day that I met Snape. I’d received a sponsor me tape from him and I knew I was going to put him on the team but I still wanted to test him. I was like you go and talk to this chick right now at the bar and you’re on. So he went over, layed it out and he’s been on ever since. As lame as it sounds you’re either going to be the cunt of skating like ‘fuck that bitch’ and be all cocky and stupid or you can be smooth and have full of charm and charisma like Snape. I’m convinced that the way skateboarders interact with women shows through in their personalities on the board you know? The finesse of it really shows through Snape’s skating.
Not sure about the chatting to women bit but yeah, I definitely agree that skateboarding often reflects people’s personalities.
Yeah I mean look at Daan (Van Der Linden). He doesn’t give a fuck on and off the board. Although with him it’s more that he hates himself, he hates life and he hates everybody, which is another way to go about it… That’s how I felt when I was younger.
Skateboarding is about having a good time and not giving a fuck is part of that. Constantly being on the road is tough which is why it’s important to be with a crew that wants to enjoy the vibe. That’s why I’ll always be the guy asking ‘where are we going out tonight?’ I’ve been travelling for 18 years… I’ll show you where to go out, I’ll show you where to meet a nice steady girl for the night… It’s the telling of these stories the next morning in the van that brings up the morale of the crew. You want to hear someone say ‘yeah I’ve fucked all night, now I’m gonna fuck up these streets and then I’m gonna get fucked up tonight and do the whole thing all over again!’
How much do you remember from these 18 years?
I don’t know man, I have nightmares about my life. I have so much information stored in my brain that every time I blink it’s a movie. I’ve had the best time ever. I left Australia when I was 17 for the second flight of my life with 200 dollars and I’ve been on the road ever since.