THE DENNIS DURRANT INTERVIEW

Dennis Durrant is truly an impeccable skateboarder. Anyone who has seen him first hand (or on film) will know that he not only has the knack for tech feats, but he skates with a power and speed that only a few greats can maintain. And yes, there has been a recurring debate around why he is or isn’t pro. And this isn’t going to be another interview regarding that. But to set the record straight: it clearly isn’t because of his ability or attitude. There is no doubt that many top pros would yearn for the technique that Dennis possesses. It seems that Dennis could have been pro for pretty much anyone if he could have been arsed with the networking and being surrounded by the people who he would never naturally be friends with. After all, sadly this is sometimes what it takes to excel in the professional realm of any given field. Instead of spending time making the “right” career moves and coming up with a dank, yet catchy nickname, Dennis has been out there shredding and documenting with his mates, who are all equally progressive. Recently due to sponsorship changes and expiration of his visa he has relocated from Southern California to Brisbane. He has recently been picked up by the Adidas International program and has been filming a welcome clip for the formal announcement. We were lucky enough to get this glimpse of what is to come and catch up with Dennis to see how it is all traveling. - Morgan Campbell

Photos (except where noted): Daniel Wagner (click photos to view larger).

Have you been enjoying yourself since returning to Oz?
Yeah man it’s been good: things are good! Skating heaps and kicking with all the homies and seeing family. A bit of fishing too. Not complaining being back.

What are the main differences between living here and living in America?
Main thing is just the change of pace, especially coming back to Brisbane from LA… shit’s mellow here! But it’s not really a bad thing.

Were the reasons for your return to Oz visa-based? Or did you just get an itching to return to our highly skateable isle?
Yeah man the main reason I had to come back was because my Visa was coming to an end. It was kind of hard to leave, Cali kind of became my home over those last few years, to the point where I had a lot more going on there. It was like coming home and starting all over again. But yeah I was pretty hyped to come back here to skate actually.

You have recently landed a spot on the US Adidas team alongside pioneers such as Dennis Busenitz, Lucas Puig and of course Mark Gonzales: all in all a pretty elite roster. How does it feel?
Well not exactly on the main Global team. I’m getting on the Adidas International team; it’s like a level below I guess you could say. But it’s still legit; they are always doing trips with Global dudes… I dunno it’s all a lil’ confusing if you ask me, it’s tight though either way… I’m hyped!

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Meaty backside fifty locks outside a Flower Box.

So the welcome video for your Adidas induction is coming out later in the year. Where did you go to film it?
There’s some stuff from a China trip I went on with Tommy and Jake Darwen last year. That was a fun trip: straight homie vibes! Also I did a short trip over to Europe last year: Copenhagen and a few places in Germany. That was pretty sick. It was with Busenitz, Klaus Bohms, the filmer Torstan Frank and myself. Also went to Cyprus a few months ago with a few of the International crew, that place is super good for skating! And it’s not too blown out at all. So yeah those three trips were where most of the stuff was filmed so far. So hyped to be able to go skate those places with all those guys, it’s good to see the clips down the track and your remember all the good times you had in that place, the memories.

Ah the memories… Were any trick battles particularly gnarly?
When isn’t it a battle? Ha-ha. I usually end up having to battle, some more than others. But at the end of the day, I’m so hyped when I get the trick. One that comes to mind is the nollie heel crook down that German Hubba (as seen in his interview in Skateboarder’s Journal #26). That spot is kind of crusty; I tried it for what seemed like ages this one day, getting robbed and not being able to roll away for some reason, the usual story. So I ended up leaving sore with a fucked board and no trick. Ended up in that area a few days later so I decided I might as well try it again. Got there and I did it in a couple tries. Not a crazy weird story, it’s just crazy how that happens, it all has to do with your mind state. Wish I could just have that mind state every time I skated.

Did you feel there are any differences dealing with a company that is essentially European to say and American one?
Well I’ve mostly dealt with the Adidas Australia’s Chris Mclean who has been taking good care of me man. So yeah I dunno, doesn’t really matter who ya deal with as long as they have your back it’s going to be sweet.

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Great shapes in the form of a bench diminishing switch backside flip. (Photo: Hoodo)

It seems to me that you place the quality of people you are surrounded with higher than what the people you are surrounded by can get for you. What I am trying to say is that you seem more of a friend than a networking type. Would you say this is true? Friendship over function?
Yeah man for sure. I’m definitely not trying to hang around someone just cause they can do something for me. I like just kicking it with my homies and if you’re cool I’ll kick it with you, I don’t really care what you do or who you are to be honest.

How did you feel by all the “why isn’t he pro talk” that surrounded you over the last few years?
Man, the amount of times I have heard that. If I had the answer I’d tell ya. Thing is man I’ve just always been pretty mellow about the whole thing. I just skate man. I mean sure that would be awesome to be pro, but at the end of the day not a whole lot changes. When or if it happens it happens, I feel like it will happen when I feel like I deserved it… and a board sponsor might help too I guess ha-ha.

Wait, so what is happening on the board sponsor front these days? LE? Can you talk about it yet? If so how did it come about?
Not much happening with boards at the moment. I was getting LE boards for a while, then shit went down with them changing distribution over here and all and I couldn’t get any boards, so it kind fizzled out. They couldn’t really do a whole lot for me anyways, which is all good, new company small budget: can’t expect much. So since then I’ve been board sponsorless once again.

So many of your crew have been blowing up over the last few years. How is it that one group of friends possesses so much talent? What is in the bay water?
Yeah man dudes up here have been killing it. Alex Lawton has been killing it, J-Mac killing it too! Then there’s Tommy, we all know he’s been killing it: he doesn’t stop! I’m stoked to see good things happening for the boys, they all deserve it!

I hear you have a little TF in the backyard now. Would you describe yourself as a modern Sanchez (Henry Sanchez used to learn a trick in the morning on an EMB curb and by the end of the day he could do it on the large ledge on the side of the big seven)?
Ha-ha… na I can’t compare myself to Henry Sanchez. But yeah man it’s pretty sick, definitely good to have a little warm up spot in ya backyard. Good for learning new stuff for sure, but half the time it’s just skating out there having fun.

Skateboarding has been proven to be one of the hardest activities to master on the planet. Any one who ever sees you skate acknowledges that you have a unique talent. Is there anyone in former Durrant generations that has mastered anything remotely similar to skateboarding? E.g. martial arts, gymnastics or surfing?
Na man not that I can think of. All of my Dads side were from the country, farmers and stuff and mum is from The Philippines, safe to say not much was going on over there. Pretty sure my bro Daz and I are the only ones from our family that got ever really got into something like skateboarding.

To me you are more inclined to be an “in the streets” type, rather than a comp skater, but last year in you skated a few of the SbA comps and placed really well in the ones you entered. Did you ever skate those kind of events in the States? If not, what was it that you liked about the idea of going in a comp back home?  
Definitely a more “in the streets” type, comps aren’t really my thing… I get way too nervous! Went in a few here and there, never really do that good though. I’m just not really into that kind of vibe, the feeling of nervousness and pressure, not fun for me at all! Sometimes they’re mellow though, those SbA ones were pretty mellow with a good vibe and stuff, and it makes it a lot better when you’re skating a comp with your mates, makes it way more fun.

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A lengthy switch crooks locked and loaded. Gap in and out: got it like that.

I read that you had recently fallen in love with fishing, but from all the trips out you had only caught two fish. Has your luck gotten any better?
Yeah man, I love it. Just the adventure of it, if ya catch a fish that is sick but I know better now than to expect it. Luck really hasn’t changed much, like we always catch shit. It’s just things like sharks and other weird fish most of the time or if it’s something good it’ s a tad small. But yeah we’ve caught a few good ones recently though. I don’t let the lack of fish deter me; I’m still so down for it. Just waiting for that epic day

What would be your ultimate catch?
Not really sure man. Like when I think of me catching something good I think of a nice big snapper, give me that and I’ll be happy! That’s not too much to ask for is it? Ha-ha… but I’ll take anything at this point.

Your brother is into fishing too right? Have you been out with him much?
Yeah he’s down for it. He and I went halves in our boat when we got it, he comes out every now and then but usually he’s just so busy he never gets much time to come out.

I remember him ripping in the Oz mags in the late 90’s and early 00’s, but then he disappeared due to a back injury. How is his back now? Is he back on board?
Yeah he was killer on the board, wish he never had back problems. He was a huge influence to me having him there to skate with all the time, so yeah that sucked when he couldn’t really skate much anymore. His back has been a lot better I think… Like I said though he’s just always busy working and family life, he rarely get’s a chance. When he does skate he still has it though, he’s one of those dude that always has it.

Who would be your top five skateboarding fishermen?
Man I honestly don’t even know which skaters fish really. Definitely none of the Bay Boys have proven to be faves, they’re as bad as me ha-ha.

You are off to China with Jake Darwen again soon right? How long are you going for?
Yeah heading off in about a week, for three weeks. Hyped! Yeah it’s Darwen, Snape and Crooky and myself. We’re meeting the filmer Anthony Claraval over there. Good crew and good spots… should be rad!

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What? A fakie flip to switch overcrook sets the bar even higher. [ click for sequence ]

I spent a bit of time there last year and loved it. Not even just for skating, Shanghai was one of the best cities I have ever visited. What is it you personally love about China?
For me, it’s the amazing spots and the fact you don’t get kicked out. It’s so easy!  Also just how cheap it is: you can live each day for ten bucks pretty easily.

How old are you now Dennis?
Twenty-eight, getting old! Creeping towards the thirty-mark way too quick!

What? Wait how is it that someone of your age can ollie so high? In my experience I have been losing about five cm of pop every year since the age of twenty-three. But the rule seams to have been reversed for you.
I don’t know man, I got some pretty muscular legs, so that helps a lot I think ha-ha. I feel like for me it isn’t something I loose though, I mean I definitely don’t think I’m able to ollie higher as time goes but I definitely don’t feel like I can’t pop as high anymore or anything. But yeah I’ve always liked popping over stuff and skating high ledges or whatever, doesn’t hurt as much as jumping down big shit. Ha-ha. The day I can’t get up on a ledge and my tricks are sweeping the ground is the day I call it quits.

Dennis rides for: Adidas, LRG, Picture, Thunder and Modus

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