Danny Brady Interview
Interviewing someone you looked up to as a kid is always a bit scary. Especially if 15-year-old you watched Lost And Found so many times that you woke up one morning wearing cords, a pink shirt and one of those stupid caps. I even rocked the oversized black jumper for fuck’s sake… You know, with the long sleeves dangling over the wrists?
Hoping it might give me a little confidence boost, I asked a bunch of Brady’s mates if they had any question ideas for his interview. The only one that came through was Toddy: ‘Ask him if he remembers a skate comp in Bolton where he had such bad flatspots that we gave him gave him extra time on his run!’ He didn’t remember. I was well and truly on my own here. Brady wasn’t even in the country either so no chance of doing it over pints – just good old FaceTime and a nice 8-hour time difference.
Deep breath, try not to sound too neeky (probably a bit late for that), here we go…
– Arthur Derrien
What are you doing in LA then?
Danny Brady: Just on holiday, my friend’s got a house out here. I found a really cheap ticket, like £320 return and the forecast for London was stinking so I booked it. After being on back-to-back trips I wanted to go away somewhere relaxed, where I wouldn’t have any responsibilities.
London is indeed very stinking right now… I’d kill for some beach time.
Yeah I’ve been surfing a bit… I even went snowboarding!
Really? I didn’t realise you could snowboard around there.
Yeah two hours away in Big Bear. It was pissing it down in LA so we just went and came back the same day. It was snowing loads up there! My friends from Blackpool sometimes come here and do what they call the ‘triple shred’ ha ha. Sounds cheesy but it is quite surreal that you can do that. The only problem I have with it is that snowboarding is fucking terrifying. I love it though; like I can’t do a proper backside powerslide on a skateboard but on a snowboard it just goes!
What was the scene like up there?
I dunno but me and my mate were just laughing so much at the outfits. I know you have to wear all this kit and shit but I don’t understand why pink camo is such a massive thing in snowboarding? Why is snowboard steez so bad? So many dudes were wearing Lakers jerseys, ha ha. Like ‘dude you’re on top of a fucking mountain, why have you got a basketball jersey over your jacket?!’
Anyway let’s crack on.
Alright maybe start off by telling me a little bit about growing up skating in Blackpool.
Our version of South Bank, as in the main spot everyone would go to, was the Bandstand (aka ‘Banny’) and it was just on the seafront promenade, right in the middle of the town. Looking back on it I was super lucky to have a place like that where there would guaranteed be 5/6 people skating every day. This was before mobile phones and stuff so it was amazing to be able to just go there without calling anyone and know people would be skating. And it was also just a really, really good spot, with this like weird quirky step configuration. I spent every day there and it definitely had a huge impact on how I skate now. It was smooth, there was a ledge and a lot of space to work with but it was quite strange. Everything was imperfect. It’s hard to explain but one of my friends just uploaded all this old footage of me skating there when I was a kid, I’ll send you a link and you’ll see exactly what I mean (Search: Blackpool Roll Episode 2 and 3). It was also really beautiful, when the tide was high the water would go right up to where the spot was and there’d be still water with a sunset on it…
Also since it was Blackpool you’d see mad shit every day, like the craziest stag and hen parties… It was quite an exciting vibe. And it always felt safe because there was such a massive crew of us. I stopped going to school and just went there every day instead. I became friends with the older crowd and they really looked after me, showed me the ropes (in a good way). They’d make sure I wouldn’t be a dick or out of order or anything. Which I guess naturally happens quite a lot in skating… I don’t know if it was because it was a seaside town or what but it was such a big scene. Every spot had it’s own little nickname… There was this three set I loved that was just down from Bandstand that was called The Hot Potato…
Why The Hot Potato?
Just ‘cause there was a stall that sold baked potatoes there… I used to be down there every day.
How were skaters perceived by people that didn’t skate?
If you skated you were a mosher basically, that was it. I mostly got away with it though, I don’t know why. But people definitely got a lot of abuse for it… At the same time it was also still seen as such a kiddy thing (even though a lot of people I’d skate with were like 25) that it was sort of under the radar when it came to getting kicked out and stuff. It never felt serious. You would never get fined or anything like in America.
How did the move to London come about?
At first I didn’t really move there, I’d just visit then not leave. Like I’d go down there and stay with people to film for a week but end up staying for a month. And my parents, bless them, were really supportive. And I’d have a bit of money, as I’d be working in a pub on the seafront. God I’d see some funny stuff go down there…
Just the classic stag and hen party stuff… Once or twice a year a poor guy would get cellophaned naked to a post, you know, that sort of thing. They’d always get Bernard Manning (English comedian) to come out and he’d be so overweight and old, like on death’s doorstep. He’d do five minutes of horrible comedy to a room packed with dudes in their 40s, drinking vodka Red Bulls with everyone on the verge of having a heart attack, ha ha. Then he’d waddle off and five page 3 girls would do the carwash and soap themselves up ha ha. And the place would go mental! It was the most Blackpool thing ever. Very funny but it could get quite scary at times…
Ha ha sounds insane.
Anyway yeah so I’d save up money to go to London but when I’d run out I’d call my parents and they’d help me out to stay that extra week or whatever. It’s not even like they had loads of money or anything they were just really supportive.
Did they know that at the time you were trying to do something with skating?
I mean they knew but it was unheard of you know? My dad’s so proud now. And he’s proud of himself for letting me do what I really wanted. Imagine if you were a parent back then: ‘So what’s the deal you’re getting sent some free stuff? And you make money like that? Is that how it works?’
And it kind of was… Luckily I came in at a time when people were just starting to get paid a little bit, but I definitely lived on virtually no money for ages before that. I think with Blueprint I’d get like a hundred quid a week, which obviously at the time was so banging but you’d still really have to make that last… That’s around when I started staying on the floor at The Palace (Editor’s note: The Palace refers to a London skate house near Waterloo where Lev Tanju and many other skaters lived). Or maybe when Joey (Pressey), Stu (Hammond) and me all shared one room? I don’t remember.
Wasn’t the rent stupidly low at that place?
Yeah shortly after that when we all had our own rooms it was £150 each a month and it stayed like that for something like 12 years. And that still felt like a lot at the time! Without that I definitely would not have been able to survive. But anyway that was later on though, at first I’d just be staying on people’s couches, floors and stuff… I used to think I was such a good guest but in retrospect I should probably apologise to every single person that let me stay. I mean I was clean enough and reasonably tidy but I’d just be sat on the couch ‘til midday you know? Smoking zoots inside the house…
I mean I’m sure they knew what they were getting themselves into.
Oh of course. And I think I made up for it by constantly making tea. ‘That guy’s actually alright you know? He always makes the teas’ ha ha. I’ve been doing the same thing at the Palace office recently.
The Palace office… Fast forward a few years and you’re the responsible Team Manager of the crew ha ha. Let’s talk about that for a bit. Do have more sympathy for your old TMs now that you’ve taken on the new role?
I actually saw Chez (Neil Chester) recently, who was my TM at Blueprint for ages and said to him, ‘Was I ever a dick? If so I’m sorry man…’ ha ha. He said that only once was I really out of order. But it did get me thinking about how I used to be, even with little things like smoking in that van or whatever, I’d just tell him to fuck off or something ha ha. But yeah me and Chez were laughing about it basically… It really teaches you not to take anything too personally.
What’s maybe different with me though is that I fell into this role almost accidentally. Obviously my old TMs were mates with everyone but I’m just so close to all of the guys on the team… Which in a way is easier because you’ll straight up say what you want to say, there’s no holding back. But it also means that you have little spats and argue… It always gets resolved in the end though because nobody is intimidated, so nobody is afraid to apologise. You don’t even care if you or someone else has been out of order; they’re your mates so when the trip’s over you just leave it behind you.
The hardest part for me is stuff like getting everyone in the van: sometimes you just have to be a little bit of a dick. At the same time with a group of 12 people, every day someone is going to be lagging a little bit, it’s normal, you have to give a little bit of leeway. You can’t let yourself get angry, especially because one day you’re the one that’s going to be late.
I feel like you explained that pretty well.
Yeah, doesn’t mean I put it in to practice very well though, ha ha.
This is going to come out and they’re going to be like ‘yeah right!’ ha ha.
Exactly ha ha. But as I said it’s still very new to me and I’m still figuring it out. Instead of reacting instantly you have to learn to slow things down.
Like when we got trapped in that car park Normandy and everyone in the van was getting aggy because we were all a bit pissed, tired and over it because it was at the end of the trip. I remember thinking: ‘Fucking hell, Brady’s got nerves of steel!’
Thank God that dude in the car in front of us snapped that barrier off…
Yep what a legend, ha ha. We’d still be down there.
That’s the thing as well, as soon as we’re out of a situation like that it becomes hilarious, but five minutes earlier everyone was loosing their shit.
What do you actually get out of it then? How is it rewarding?
At the end of the day, the main part of my job is organising holidays for my mates. I know it is ‘work’ but come on, everyone loves skating and we know we’re going to have a really good time. We all went to Hawaii you know what I mean?
Or go to Japan and walk around Mount Fuji…
Exactly and since a lot of us are a bit older we’re always keen to do shit like that on days we aren’t skating. It’s basically 90% fun and 10% a nause up.
I had a pretty funny one in Japan recently where to everyone I was like: ‘We’re not getting a van; let’s not fuck around with taxis. Let’s just get the metro. We do it in London, we can do it here, it’ll be fun!’ So I map it all out and we go to the station. I’m super-confident, thinking I know exactly what I’m doing… And I get to the machines and they literally look like arcade machines. Like crazy, loads of different ones, obviously all in Japanese… So I just go over and start looking at them and I can just hear everyone behind me start cracking up and then burst out laughing ha ha. ‘Go on then Brady, get the tickets in!’ And I’m just freaking out like ‘fuck you guys’ but they’re all in stitches. But I was only pissed off for like one second and then found it hilarious. I just had no idea what I was doing! And we managed to get tickets eventually; it was just a good reminder that it’s okay for me to let my guard down sometimes.
One thing that surprised me about seeing you in TM mode was actually how much you skated. It’s like you were skating every single spot just to get people hyped to skate them or something.
It’s not even that it’s that, I just get bored now if I don’t do that. I do it to entertain myself. I don’t like just being sat around. I’m on literally every trip now so I don’t skate as much at home, not because I’m physically tired or anything just because mentally you need those breaks to really want to do it you know? That’s why when I’m on a trip I’m rearing to go!
Well it still seemed like you cared as much about them getting clips as you cared about getting some yourself.
Yeah… It’s not because it makes me look like I’m doing a good job if they do though. I think that’s just a bit of (Dan) Magee that’s left in me, ha ha.
Living at The Palace you’ve basically seen the brand go from being tiny to what it is today. A lot of the main board companies that were around when it started are either gone now or struggling. What do you think Palace did right that other brands might not have?
I don’t know man… All I know is that you have to give props where props are due and it all comes down to Lev. He’s really hard to predict, which I think is one of the main things… He’ll always take an idea, turn it into something super weird and somehow it’ll just work really well. He’s also not scared do say or do what he thinks, as I’m sure you know. To be honest I can’t really explain what he does or how he does it, but what I can say though is that on the skate side, anything we want to do, we can do it. They don’t hold back on spending money on the team and they listen to what we want to do: that does a lot. And everyone’s mates in the office you know? Communication is really open, like everyone feels free to say what they want about anything.
So a wack idea doesn’t stand a chance because it has to go through five different people that although they don’t do the same job, all know what’s up…
Exactly. And you’ve got all these different eras of skating, loads of dudes from the nineties, younger dudes… Fuck it the 80s even? (Greg) Finch is in there right?
Probably yeah! You guys went ages without putting any younger dudes on, how did adding Heitor (Da Silva) and Kyle (Wilson) come about?
I don’t know man… I mean you’ve met them; they’re pretty much the nicest kids. It all happened very naturally. For Heitor what’s funny is that we saw that he’d bought shit on the website so I hit him up and told him I could send him some clothes. Not like trying to push him or anything, but just ‘cause we liked the way he skated. And then yeah some conversations came from that… Torey (Goodall) even went back and found his order and reimbursed him for the clothes he’d bought.
That’s so sick.
And then yeah they came on some trips, were really safe and that’s it!
What’s the deal with those trips? Like why Rome? Why Detroit? How do the destinations get picked and can you maybe tell me a bit about them?
Basically we pick places where Lev wants to go and eat. Ha ha not really but we just want places that have a look; we don’t want to just go anywhere. Detroit was basically Rory saying ‘let’s go to Detroit’ so we did and it turns out it’s banging so we’ve been twice now. If you’re going to do an edit based around just one place, it’s got to make sense right? Like ‘Palace Hawaii’, that’s got a good ring to it right? Ha ha, that one was my idea. All I did to sell it to Lev was tell him that there was a world famous golf course there. Him and Atiba would go out at seven in the morning to play a round of golf before we’d go skating ha ha.
Okay that actually wasn’t scary at all. I really need to stop being such a wimp…
I tried to get a few more stories out of him including what happened in Japan with someone (that didn’t have a licence) crashing the van at six in the morning but all I got was: ‘You’re not going to get anything controversial out of me mate! You’ve got Lev for that!’ so I decided to end it there.
If you came here for juicy gossip sorry to let you down but that’s just not very Brady. What is ‘very Brady’ (and quite amusing) is him almost defensively explaining that if he skates every spot on trips, it’s just because otherwise he gets bored. The guy is responsible for 12 people’s food/drinks/weed, has to drive a van six hours a day in a country he doesn’t know, liaise with locals to find spots, check that the camera batteries get put on charge and countless other unpredictable little tasks; yet he still feels the need to skate the dodgiest of spots, on his own, to avoid getting ‘bored’?! No wonder he’s constantly putting the kettle on, it has nothing to do with making a good impression: the man’s so driven he can’t sit still.