Dustin Dollin interview

interview with Dustin Dollin

Last week I had the pleasure to sit down with a couple of Volcom’s numerous roster in order to discuss their new full length video ‘Holy Stokes!’, before its premiere at a cinema in Hackney and the requisite after party shenanigans fuelled by free booze and a horde of skateboarders ready to take full advantage of the hangover opportunities a bank holiday can offer. In the mix for the whole night was Dustin Dollin; with a drink eternally clutched in one hand, a ciggie hanging from the other and a grin pasted on his face, he was clearly in his element.

Before the drinking began in earnest, he was happy to sit down and chat with me about all manner of subjects – waving off any question of jetlag following on from his LA to London flight that morning with a, “Naa it’s fine, I got a couple of hours sleep on the plane”.

With his faculties still intact from the long haul flight, we turned on the tape recorder and here’s what went down – Volcom, Vans, injury, Skate Rock trips, interviewing Ghostface Killah after taking a tab, Cardiel, Baker and more…

We’re speaking in advance of the premiere of Volcom’s ‘Holy Stokes!’ video. Having been involved in all of Volcom’s previous video projects, how has this one differed during the filming process from your point of view?

The filming process? I don’t know, it was more controlled – everyone’s been on tour for two years straight pretty much. The last ones just pretty much came together, people just sent footage in from other trips, while this one has had a whole period of time dedicated to the video which is really good. Volcom videos are usually all over the place, while this is more of a proper skateboarding production where they put who knows how much money into it…that they’re not going to get back [laughs]. But yea, they had trips planned for us for the last two years. It’s been great, everyone’s fucking killed it…not me [laughs].


Having been through a couple of premieres now, whose footage surprised you the most?

Well I saw a lot of the stuff go down in person, so it didn’t surprise me so much, but everyone is absolutely incredible. I mean I always love seeing Pedro Barros, the ultimate ripper of bowls and shit – I always loved Danny Way and Colin McKay at a young age, so I love seeing that kind of shit. And always Grant [Taylor] and Collin [Provost]. Everyone in the video has got sick shit. It was good seeing Milton Martinez’ stuff because I’d never really seen him too much, I didn’t know much about him. There were a couple of people I didn’t even know were in the video [laughs], everyone surprises me I think. Daan’s stuff is sick, then there’s an Australia section, a South American section…it was good!

I guess when you’re travelling that much it can be a whirlwind, seeing loads of destinations but without getting to really explore them…

Yeah! Everyone’s been on tour for fucking ever. But what’s good about it is, what Volcom does is say, “When are you available? Do you want to come here?” and it’s good, you know? And I had to obviously do all the Propeller stuff for Vans last year, so there was a lot of stuff happening in between that, but it was good because the riders pretty much got to pick where they wanted to go. That’s how videos should work – around other people, and not what people tell you to do.

How has filming for Holy Stokes compared to filming for Propeller?

For me, I was pretty burnt out from Propeller – even though I didn’t even have a full part in that – so all my tricks in Holy Stokes are just bails. I don’t even have a part, just a slams section. I thought that would be funny…what else can I do? I tried a bunch of shit but I just kept getting hurt. I guess I just need to learn to skate again.

The recurring ACL?

Naa the knee is fine, I just keep getting smashed on other shit. But still, it’s been great. I just love Volcom trips regardless of whether I get tricks or not, they’re just so fun. Just drinking, partying, having fun.

So where were some of your favourite destinations visited for this video?

Everywhere was great. When all the boys visited Australia that was great, but I broke my ankle so, you know. Having all the boys staying at the house was sick, and seeing them smash up Australia was great.

Your last Seven Day Weekend clip coincided with Propeller – are there any plans for a Volcom-themed episode to go with this video?

Ha! Well the funny thing about that was that it was called ‘Seven Day Weekend: Propeller’ but it was actually more a Volcom clip, more of a warm up for this video. I don’t know, it’s hard to lay some stuff down right now, I don’t think I even have Final Cut on my laptop at the moment. I’m kind of nomadic at the moment, which makes it hard to get stuff done. I could probably do it on my phone if I wasn’t so lazy…I’d rather sit down at my desktop but everything I own is in storage, I’m just a nomad.

So are you mostly based in The States right now?

I’m actually going to come and live in Europe for a few months. I don’t want to be in the States for a while, I have no reason to. I’d rather be here!

So going back to shows, how come Volcom’s ‘Getting Dusted’ series only lasted one episode?

What? What even was that?

There was one episode on Youtube – it looked pretty similar to Seven Day Weekend…

I can’t remember [laughs]. I’m pretty flaky on that shit – I’ll have ideas when I’m drunk, get one thing done and then my brain moves on to the next project pretty much straight away. I’m not too, umm, consistent in life…or in general. But when you’re a nomad you can’t really stick to a schedule, or keep hold of ideas that you’ve come up with when you’re drunk.

Was the Nieratko interview with you and Ghostface one of those drunken ideas, or more a spur of the moment thing?

Neither really, it was Nieratko going, “Do you want to interview the Wu Tang?” And I agreed, but then when I got to House of Vans some kid gave me some acid – so I was completely tripping balls, with all of Ghostface’s posse looking at me, and it was really awkward. And it looked awkward as fuck – I mean, why are you making Ghostface watch a skate video? He doesn’t give a fuck about skateboarding, you know? But it was a good bit of hi-jinks, it was fun. I like Nieratko getting me in those kind of situations, he’s the best.

It seems like he definitely enjoys that kind of thing…

Oh yeah, he definitely enjoys awkward situations and that was definitely one of them. But I mean I don’t care about Ghostface Killah in the way I care about other skateboarders, or skateboarding. To me it’s like, “Alright, some rapper”. I like the Wu Tang, but to me it’s just another person on the planet. And you know, I was out of my mind and giggling a lot, it probably made him feel awkward too [laughs].

Your original move to the States saw you stuck in on the early Deluxe trips – the Gnarcotica Great Lakes Tour, the trips that made up Deluxe ’99 – what was some of the wildest shit you saw go down on those trips?

Those were fun! Cardiel, Quim Cardona, Keegan Saunders…for me that was insane. I was 18, it was the first skateboard road trip I’d been on and it was with the gnarliest dudes ever, all my idols. Bless Mic-E for putting me on there. Yeah I saw some wild shit, a lot of wild shit. There’s a lot of stories from those times, but I don’t know if they want to be told by anybody you know? People getting in fights, pillowcases getting filled up with Spitfire wheels to bash people…guns, people jumping off roofs into swimming pools that had pool covers on, naked…blood, girls, fucking a lot of shit. Shit you should see when you’re at an age of influence, so you know what not to do! Things to make you smarter in your older age I guess. But the stories, I don’t know if I want them on record – let me save them for the book!

OK then, instead of that question, what was one of the best Cardiel skate moments you witnessed?

Oh the cover! That shitty ramp that was swamped, it had holes in it, it was the worst. The van got stuck in the mud and he just got out and fucking murdered that vert ramp. Then the launch ramp – the cover I think was a crossbone or something, over the bins, but he backside 360’d it too, it was fucking insane. Then again every moment skating with Cardiel was great – good memories…

So going back a bit to the knee injury – you’ve had to recover from ACL reconstruction a good few times now, and like you said there have been some other solid injuries recently. When you’re stuck in the recovery process, what do you do to kill time?

Usually I have projects, editing or something you know? Making little skate videos and stuff. A lot of editing, a lot of playing pool, and a lot of physio of course. If you think about it I’ve had seven ACL reconstructions now, so I’ve probably done more exercise than most other human beings. So I’ll do my exercise, go to the pub, drink beer, play pool…do the exercise again. I dunno, I feel like I’ve had my fingers in a lot of pies – sexually and creatively [laughs]. That’s one thing that’s always good to pass the time! And filming tons of shit too, a lot of editing. Spending time in the music studio and stuff. Going to see bands, I love seeing bands. It’s second to skateboarding, but going to gigs all the time is awesome!

Yeah definitely! Following on from that nicely, what have some of your favourite Thrasher Skate Rock tour destinations been?

Australia! I organised and paid for the whole of Skate Rock Australia pretty much. Some sponsors chucked in some money, but it was pretty much out of my pocket. Phelps was pretty much like “Join a band”, and Nuge, Figgy, Richie and Tommy already had a band – called the LSDemons, which was instrumental – then Phelps was like “Yeah, just sing on it”. So we rehearsed for one week and I wrote all the lyrics to the songs, then I pretty much didn’t see them for a month so I just practiced over the live recordings. Then our first show, we hadn’t even been together for long and it was on. It was cool because they had a load of liquid acid.

I skate with this guy who builds skateparks in Australia called *name obscured by passing motorbike* and we’d had an argument a couple of months before. Then I saw him and he was like “Here’s a present” and gave me an envelope full of sugar cube acid, which we took for the whole trip. It was weird being in the suburbs of Australia where I grew up, on a weekday, with everyone tripping on acid [laughs], it was pretty sick man. I was meant to drive the van all the way, but the Nuge, somehow always takes that over. Somehow we got it done, and I think that was the best Skate Rock video that they’ve done; it really set the pace for the following Skate Rocks. I haven’t been on one since, not with that band, but new stuff’s on the horizon…

Good shit! So you’ve been with Baker since the beginning – how does it feel seeing it rise to the place of prominence within skateboarding that it has right now?

Oh man! Baker has just stayed the same pretty much. It was an idea from a bunch of pals who wanted to get away from the industry pretty much, and we took skateboarding into our own hands. I mean Andrew Reynolds left Birdhouse at the peak of it, to stop and give us all a chance – the boss is the boss for a reason – and to see Baker get to where it is? It deserves it. It’s stayed exactly the same, you know? We loved Anti Hero, stuff like that, it’s just a different way of, I guess I’d say modernising a part of Anti Hero in a way and just making sure that we keep the ghetto kids in the loop. It’s a multi-cultured team, made up of all the people that we think are real, so it hasn’t really changed at all. I mean people have left, people have faded away, but they’re still in the crew. It’s cool that Deathwish started, and it’s still all family – the Baker/Deathwish tours are the funnest tours I’ve ever been on. Everyone looks out for each other, everyone’s fucked up and everyone rips. It’s all laughs – Baker’s like a joke, we just think everything’s fucking funny. Andrew’s sense of humour, even now he’s sober, it’s all funny; he loves to hear the stories, he lives through us and we live from him.

So now the Volcom video is done, what’s next? Can we expect another Baker video in the wings?

Yeah – I mean we’ve just released the promo which looked amazing, it was like old Baker, and now we’re doing a Baker/Deathwish one. I think the deadline is in two weeks and it’ll be the same sort of thing. I think for now, it’s all about constant 15 minute content instead of full videos because a lot of people are working on the Emerica video. So we have to wait for that to come out, then after that yeah, people will start working on it. But for now, it’s just keeping up with the constant flow that people want these days. They want media every fucking month, otherwise you disappear you know? I mean Zorilla and T-Funk, they never stop putting out footage. But it will basically be like the last Baker edit that came out on Thrasher. For this one I think it’s more to put out Jake Hayes, the new rider for Deathwish – another fellow Aussie, who I helped get to where he is. I mean I learnt from Reynolds how to take care of my riders, I do it with Volcom too – you know, help Daan, help the young kids come up, because I love skateboarding. I know it seems like I’m just out there partying, but I work pretty hard to party.

Thanks Dustin, that seems like a good point to finish up on!

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