Dennis Busenitz – interview

I’ve heard you’re not the biggest fan of interviews…

(Laughs), that’s not true. I’m just not good at it.

You went straight from filming for adidas Diagonal [2009] to Real’s Since Day One [2011]. Away Days was already in the works whilst Through And Through [2015] was being made. Also, you ride for Volcom and their video, Holy Stokes, premieres soon. How difficult was it handling multiple videos this time around compared to the Since Day One/Diagonal days?

Since Day One and Diagonal didn’t really coincide. I think Diagonal was finished already and then we started working on Since Day One. Through And Through – I didn’t really have that much in there, just whatever I had, they used. For me, the Volcom video kind of took the back seat and they were understanding about it. I just told them that I had to focus on my main sponsor. I’ve filmed a few things for that, but nothing like a full part.

Your footage in Since Day One was mostly in America whereas the main focus, and theme, of Away Days has been filming trips to different countries. Which process do you prefer?

I guess I like being at home, that’s what I’m gonna say right now just because I’m so tired of travelling. But travelling is definitely rad too; new spots always help to get you sparked. It’s motivating to skate something cool that you don’t see everyday and also to have in mind that you might never come back. It helps you pull something out of your ass that you might not do if you looked at it everyday at home.

Dennis skates so fast and raw that this crooked grind brought the building down - photo courtesy of Real Skateboards

I imagine with Real it was just heading out with a small crew and Dan Wolfe. But Away Days has been really structured with those trips, spot guides and so on.

Yeah, they’re really organised. It’s basically the same though, I don’t really get involved with picking spots and it’s pretty much the same thing for me; we just end up at a spot and we try to skate and film.

Due to the size of the team, there have been three main filmers for Away Days – Chris Mulhern, Justin Albert and Torsten Frank who made Diagonal. Who have you spent the most time with?

Justin because he lives in SF where I live. Just out of convenience we skate together the most but Torsten edited my part.

How has that compared to working with Dan Wolfe for Real last time?

It’s a little bit more relaxed I’d say. Wolfe is awesome, obviously, but sometimes I felt kind of intimidated. I mean it’s Dan Wolfe; he’s had a lot under his belt.

The fact that he’s Dan Wolfe basically plays on your mind?

Yeah, exactly: kind of trips me out sometimes. But whatever, I put that out of my mind when I’m skating but I guess I never really thought about it until you asked this question, (laughs). Poobert – sorry, Justin just seems a little more casual. ‘Poobert’ is his nickname, (laughs).

You’ve also got the last part in both videos, were you aware of that with either video whilst filming for them and would that have put more pressure on you if you had known?

No. I don’t think they plan who has the last part before it’s done, they just see what they have at the end of filming and decide from there. I guess with pressure I just try and do what I can and that’s that.

Can you enjoy your part in a video straight away or does it take a while?

(Laughs), that’s funny. Enjoy your part like how?

Not exactly enjoy watching yourself skate, but to appreciate the effort you put into it. Or is it more that you just view them as a snapshot of your life at that time?

Yeah, I don’t know if I’m particularly proud of my parts or whatever, just looking back at them reminds me of a whole era of my life. Bad fashion choices, tricks and just different times, (laughs).

Always one to choose the hardest tricks in the book Dennis gets stuck into a camo flip frontside lipslide - sequence courtesy of Real Skateboards

You’re interested in woodwork and spend some time building things to skate. I was going to ask if it’s important for you to have an outlet outside of skateboarding such as that, but as you build skate-able objects; it seems you can’t escape it. Do you find it hard to switch off from skateboarding at times?

No I usually just obsess about it until I burn myself out. Then I hate it and do other stuff until I come back to it. Building stuff for me is very similar to skating. You just get an idea of something in your head, whether it’s good or bad, and you want to try to do it and sometimes it works and sometimes you just eat shit. It’s pretty much the same.

Is having a family a big part of dividing your skateboarding life from your personal life or have they crossed paths as your wife and son skate, right? Did you find yourself having to cut any of the Away Days trips short because of important things back home?

My wife doesn’t really skate, she has done a kickflip, but it’s been years, (laughs). For my kids it’s just another toy, they don’t interfere, they let me do my thing. I guess sometimes I had to cut them short but I always look at it like I don’t cut them as short as most nine-to-five dads have to, so I still feel fortunate.

Does having those family obligations make you value the time that you do have to skate more?

Yeah, it makes me actually skate whereas before, you just have all the time in the world and just fuck off and do whatever. Now it’s like I don’t have that time anymore, so the time you have you try to spend it a little better.

Wallie frontside tailslide shot by master bush lurker Sem Rubio.

Because of your mixed background, do you feel it’s almost quite grass roots to ride for adidas?

(Laughs), yeah, I guess so. It’s a German company, I grew up in Germany; it’s kind of cool coming back to that.

Do you think adidas’ approach to skateboarding is different than some of the other bigger brands because the brand itself comes from a different culture?

Yeah maybe, I don’t know where it comes from but they seem to want to embrace skateboarding culture more than the other brands. Whereas maybe some other ones want to make it more like a sport or just want to be number one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s definitely like that. I don’t know whether it has anything to do with it coming from Europe or not.

With everything that has become so popular over the last few years, I think there’s some expectation that Away Days could be a sort of antithesis to the ‘trendier’ aspects of skateboarding. All of the team have a style of skating they’re good at and don’t follow what’s ‘current’ to an exact degree. They seem very comfortable and settled into their own niches if you know what I mean?

I haven’t really thought about this stuff. I guess we’re all just doing what we’re doing. I don’t have a problem with no-complies and I love low impact skating. I think it’s cool that all that stuff is kind of a trend. It’s just another part of skating that got neglected and then got found again and it’ll get neglected again and some other thing that is being neglected right now will come back. It’s cool that skateboarding is a little more well rounded now, even though people are doing no-complies all over the place. Even if they do choose to do no complies and whatever it still seems like kids can do it all now.

With younger skaters hopping onto what is seen as ‘trendy’ or cool’ so much now, do you ever think that the overall culture is becoming more homogenised?

I don’t think so: I think it’s always been like that. There have always been fads and trends and it’s always going to be like that. Skateboarding doesn’t care – it’s still just a board with wheels.

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