Michael Jordan is the Tony Hawk of basketball—or so certain skaters will tell you. Maybe. But Tony Hawk, at 33 as active a skateboarder as ever (even though he might not wear pink as much as he used to), is definitely the Michael Jordan of skateboarding: the little kids love him ("Stop squirting me!" he yelps on the other end of the phone—which son was that, Tony?), the camera drools over him, and the product endorsements just keep on coming. And now he has his own personal Warped Tour: the Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huck Jam™, where the soundtrack to a bunch of famous twentysomethings tearing their anterior cruciate ligaments will be provided by America's favorite jocko homos, Devo. We were pretty excited about Devo—even though we never saw them back in 1978, and even though they won't do interviews for some goddamn reason—so we gave Tony a break from reporters asking, "Hey, on the school level of Tony Hawk 3, how do you get the 'E' in 'SKATE'?"
OC Weekly: When you were a kid, did guys ever drive by in Camaros and yell, "Hey, Devo!" at you? Tony Hawk: No—I mean, just growing up in the skateparks, that was what was playing. That's one of my earliest memories, skating the Oasis skatepark in San Diego and Devo blasting over the sound system. What kind of music did you used to skate to?
Along those lines—Devo, X, Dead Kennedys. It was sort of the punk era, which went hand-in-hand with skating. Pretty much KROQ was the only station at the time playing anything like that, and that's what skaters listened to. Just anything that's fast. And Devo? I've never seen them live, so I'm really excited. It's sort of a perfect combination. I think kids probably nowadays don't know who Devo is—if you're talking about 10-year-olds, they only know Devo because of Nickelodeon, because Mark Mothersbaugh does the soundtracks to all the shows. And I think parents will be appreciative—I never had so many requests for tickets. All these people grew up on skating—it was part of the culture.
It's the outcast element. Here are these guys that kinda came off as nerds, but they embraced it. And growing up in the early '80s as a skater, we were outcasts—nerds in our own right. But we knew there was something we identified with in their music. A lot of people didn't get it—they just thought it was guys with funny hats playing "Whip It."
Do you think skaters are really nerds at heart?
In some ways . . . but you think of nerds as sort of studious. And most skaters I know like the rush, like to take risks. It's more an individual pursuit than a brainy one. But at the same time, you gotta be calculated about what you're trying.
So kids should stay in school?
You can't just rely on your physical skills. So, yeah.
Did you really play violin as a kid?
Yeah, my dad used to be a wholesaler of musical instruments, and my sister used to sing for Michael Bolton and John Denver—we had a lot of musical background in my family. And I always wanted to play the violin—I thought it'd be cool and different. But when I started skating, I spent so much time doing that I gave up the violin.
Do you like classical music?
Yeah, but I couldn't start naming composers or anything.
It's nice background music. Maybe for editing a video or something.
Did you ever think about starting your own skate punk band, like Chuck Treece and McRad?
No, I don't want to try and cross over to something else because of my success as a skater, like where you see athletes or singers who want to become actors or sports figures who want to be rappers. I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing.
But what about your film career? LikePolice Academy 4 andGleaming the Cube?
Those are usually just cameos—those are fun. If I ever do something involved with acting, it'd have to be skate-based. I wouldn't do it just to be an action hero.
Not really—but it never seems like he does anything too in-depth, either.
So you know how people say things like "Michael Jordan is the Tony Hawk of basketball"? What's Devo the Tony Hawk of?
I don't know—I hate trying to classify music, but I'd say new wave and electronic.
Who's the Devo of skating?
I'm gonna say Eddie Elguera, who was around the same era. I thought he was one of the biggest innovators of the sport, but he never got huge recognition—kind of like Devo, who innovated a certain kind of music but kind of too early for their time. Now he's a pastor, and he has a traveling mini-ramp and does some shows. When I'd read Skateboarder magazine, I'd see pictures of Devo concerts and read that some of the pros were there, including Elguera—and he was in the video for "Freedom of Choice."
So this is the first time you meet the guys from Devo—is there anything you want to say?