This interview was originally scheduled for the print version of Influx Magazine; however, we stopped printing and this great interview was lost to the catacombs of time for a bit, but it’s back. Check it out, Tony Hawk:

Tony on MTV, Missile Command, The Strokes and – of course — all things skate.

By Kevin Brent

Icon. Purist. Innovator. Father and husband. However you want to categorize Tony Hawk, he’ll find a way to do something else and do it better than anybody. That’s why Tony is unlike any personality the action sports world has ever seen – because it’s his world, and we’re just lucky to be living in it.
In fact, Mr. Hawk’s achievements in competition are the least noteworthy of his resume. Sure, he’s conquered every half pipe and swimming pool this side of Playa Del Rey, but creating an image for skateboarding has been his greatest accomplishment, making the sport viable and noticed around the world.

In sitting down with Tony, it is clear his primary intention is to promote the purity of the sport, to rise above the recent competition between brands and sponsors which has created somewhat of a clique system among skaters. Tony embraces a time when kids shredded until their knees were about to give, when the skin on the elbows became tattered from the asphalt, when the only foe arrived in a black and white with a nightstick.

Sure, Tony has succumbed to many of the trappings of celebrity, but he is still the torchbearer for a subculture based largely on brotherhood and community. Though Tony has his millions, the wife and kids and a limitless future, it’s still pretty clear the “Skate or Die” mantra still drives his soul.

Tony Hawk has been immortalized on MTV’s “Cribs”. Quite an honor, I imagine.

It was fun, but nerve-wracking trying to get everything ready. My wife and I had a lot of things in our house that were not quite finished until a couple weeks before and we had to get them done for the show.

They want to see your family, daily life type thing?

They want it to be whatever you want it to be. The only thing that you have to do is show them your fridge.

Were you hesitant when they approached you about it?
No, I was stoked. They wanted to do it in their last season, but our house was totally under construction and it wouldn’t have worked.

Tell me a bit about your latest video game, Tony Hawk Pro Skater III. I’m guessing you had a pretty big hand in the whole concept.
I worked on it from the get-go. I made suggestions, provided reference materials, basically whatever I could do without actually writing the code.

What’s the biggest improvement in this edition?
The fact that the levels are just bigger all around. There are more tricks, the motions are better, there is online play, and there is bigger creative theater. I think they kind of tapped out what they could do with the PS I, as far as the technology goes.

You play video games yourself?
I’ve always been into games, especially the classics like Missile Command and 720 and Super Mario, stuff like that. I pretty much had every game system through the years. I even bought a Commodore 64 just because they had Skate or Die on it.

You’ve come so far in your career, and I’m wondering how you felt when you got that first endorsement deal.
It was cool, but skating was such a small industry then that it wasn’t like I got any lucrative contracts or a lot of opportunities that came along with it. But I was just happy that someone was recognizing my skills because I had a lot of people who didn’t like my style at the time.

So it didn’t register then that you could do this for a living?
No, that didn’t come until later, because back then a first place prize at a competition was like $150. So it really wasn’t a career choice at the time.

Do you ever have trouble keeping your focus with the schedule you keep now?
Only sometimes, but I make sure that I make time. I’ve got three kids – 9, 2 and four months old – and they are my priority.

Are they skating?
Yeah, my oldest is.

Let’s talk about Birdhouse for a second. What’s the idea behind it?
Our purpose is the production of skateboards and skate accessories and we’ve got a whole new amateur line now set up, which is really exciting for us.

Give us a rundown on some of the hot guys coming up.
There are so many I don’t even know where to start. Shaun Wideup has some serious potential in the skate world besides being one of the best snowboarders. Ryan Schekler, Tosh Townend, Vinny Vegas, Jesse Paez … that’s a good start.

Do you help develop these guys?
I just try to provide them with opportunities that I’ve had or that I can facilitate.

Do you think the OC/ LA/ San Diego scene has changed over the years?
I don’t think it’s changed, I think it’s just more widely recognized. It’s always been a hub of skate and surf culture.

What would you say is the best and worst parts of your industry?
The best part is the creative aspect that’s only now being recognized. The worst part is the “too cool” factor that a lot of skaters and skate companies have. Like too cool to dress this way, or too cool to be associated with this type of skating. Skating has always been so diverse as far as I’m concerned that everything is welcome.

So the money has taken over the industry to some degree?
No, it’s not really the money so much as it’s the click factor that plays a large part.

What do you see for yourself this year?
More tours, more exhibitions, more video games.

And TV?
I look at the opportunities as they arise. The next thing I’m working on closely would be doing a feature length movie that heavily involves skating. I want to make a film that really represents skating that I like. Don’t get me wrong, though – I don’t want to be an actor.

Do you like doing interviews?
I don’t mind. I don’t like it when whoever sets it up is really trying to direct it in some way that it feels contrived.

How much longer do you see it going on for you?
Well, I’ll be in the industry as long as I can, but physically I don’t think I’ll be skating on the professional level too much longer. If I don’t feel like I’m improving, I can’t justify being out there.

Would skating until you’re 40 be a reasonable goal?
Yeah, but leisurely, not trying to push the limits.

How much longer will you push the limits?
(laughs) I don’t make any ultimatums.

Is the accompanying CD for PS III a good representation of the kind of music you yourself are into?
It’s a representation, but I’m into so many things that you couldn’t define it all in one CD, that’s for sure.

So what else does Tony Hawk bump?
Right now, The Strokes and the Perry Farrell CD.

What would a perfect day be like for Tony Hawk?
I just try to make it relaxing, hang out with the family, skate with my older son. Of course I’ve always gotta find the time to skate.