Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk unveils music that has personal meaning to him – from his days at the skate park and as a high school outcast to grueling exhibitions tours and the soundtrack for his first video game. He tells KCRW DJ Jason Bentley about artists he keeps on heavy rotation AND the perfect song for a skateboard video. Tony’s 5th Annual Stand Up For Skate Parks charity event is November 9, 2008. The Tony Hawk Foundation raises money to build skate parks in low income areas.
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1.) Devo- Gut Feeling
2.) Dead Kennedys - Police Truck
3.) Frank Black - If it Takes All Night
4.) The Clash - Safe European Home
5.) Nine Inch Nails - 1,000,000
Jason Bentley: I’m Jason Bentley for KCRW and I we are here with Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and cultural icon. Tony, thanks for taking the time to stop by KCRW for our Guest DJ Project.
Tony Hawk: Yeah, thanks for inviting me.
Jason Bentley: We’re going to talk about music that has special meaning to you personally and also touch on the importance of music in the history and the culture of skateboarding. So, why don’t we start with DEVO. I love this song, it’s called “Gut Feeling.”
Tony Hawk: You know, I feel like DEVO has been such a cultural influence from the beginning. A lot of people only associate DEVO with “Whip It” in the 80’s, and what have you, but I feel like there is so much more to DEVO. If you look at what Mark Mothersbaugh is doing now, he’s really the music behind Nickelodeon and so many soundtracks and things like that.
I just remember going to the skatepark as a youngster, probably 10 or 11 years old and hearing “Freedom of Choice” coming through the speakers. I loved it. And then that prompted me to dig deeper into the DEVO catalog and I realized just how much more there is. I feel like “Gut Feeling” is such a moody track, you know it goes through different phases, and I always thought it was a perfect song for a skateboard video.
Song: DEVO’s “Gut Feeling”
Tony Hawk: Growing up at the skate park, to me that was a playground. Skating then was considered so outcast and almost unlawful. The culture and the lifestyle and the fashion and the music that was coming from that scene was very edgy. You would hear Dead Kennedys and TSOL coming out of the same loud speakers, where there are kids, young kids, hearing the stuff that at the time they thought was shocking.
Jason Bentley: Your next pick is a Dead Kennedys’ song. This one’s called “Police Truck.” What did Dead Kennedys represent to you?
Tony Hawk: When I was at school, I was considered an outcast. I wasn’t even really acknowledged because I was a skater and I looked different and I listened to this type of music. I listened to Dead Kennedys and so that just seemed absurd. You know, that was for guys with Mohawks that lived in England as far as they knew. And I just liked it because it was different and Jello Biafra has such a biting humor in his music. If you actually listen to his lyrics, they’re pretty amazing and almost political.
Song: Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck”
I remember so many kids wearing the DK shirts and had the stickers. That wasn’t necessarily representative of the music you listened to, it was representative of the lifestyle that you had. We put this song on the soundtrack to our very first video game. And that game was so successful that I was proud that it really exposed people to this type of music that maybe they never heard, or cared about, and that it came from my era and came from punk. I was just really proud that our video game series was so successful, but that this one song was the one people remembered from the first soundtrack.
Jason Bentley: This is Jason Bentley. I’m here with Tony Hawk and we just heard Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck.” And I see you selected Frank Black and “If It Takes All Night.” Frank Black, Black Frances of the Pixies. Tell us why you chose this one.
Tony Hawk: I became a Pixies fan sort of late. When you’re on tour and you’re driving all the time, you have a select group of CDs or cassettes, and those are the ones that are always on rotation. And “Doolittle” was definitely one of them. So I got to know that album from top to bottom and then they broke up. And so I followed the Breeders a bit, but I always thought Frank Black was amazing or Black Frances, and I liked his solo albums. You know they didn’t get really well received.
Jason Bentley: Yeah, not really.
Tony Hawk: But there were a couple of amazing tracks on every single one. You know, he was putting out like one or two a year with 30 tracks on them, it was just like he was a machine that made music. And this song, to me, is a tour anthem.
Song: Frank Black’s “If It Takes All Night”
This song reminds me of our early tours as Bird House, which is my skateboard company. We were literally living exhibition to exhibition. We would have six guys in a van, we would drive to a skate shop and skate whatever they put up in front of us. It could have been a little tiny kicker jump ramp and that’s what we had – you know what I mean? And there was a crowd that would show up and we would try to get a few hundred dollars from them in order to get a hotel room, get gas, get food and get to the next place. And there were times where there was no hotel room and we just had to drive through the night. And that’s what this song means to me – if it takes all night.
Jason Bentley: Tony Hawk is our Guest DJ on KCRW. Next up, The Clash and “Safe European Home.” One of the greatest bands of all time -- The Clash.
Tony Hawk: I love The Clash and I can say I was there from the beginning on The Clash, thankfully. I remember hearing “White Riot” in the skate park days. I would get a ride with the older skaters in their car they were blasting The Clash. I always thought London Calling was one of the best albums of all time, really. When they released “The Clash on Broadway,” I bought it and I had never heard “Safe European Home.” It became one of my favorite songs.
Song: The Clash’s “Safe European Home”
It’s another song kind of about being away and wanting to get home. You know, it’s mostly about them, I think, visiting Jamaica and being intimidated and not wanting to get mugged. But to me it meant being on the road and just wanting to get back to normalcy again, back to your comfort zone. Not European home, but safe American home.
Jason Bentley: That was The Clash with “Safe European Home.” Our guest DJ is Tony Hawk on KCRW. Last pick is by Nine Inch Nails, the song is called “One Million.”
Tony Hawk: I have loved Nine Inch Nails since the very first album. I remember getting it, Pretty Hate Machine. “Head like a Hole” was on all the time. I mean I just play that track over and over and over and subsequently every album after that became an event to me that ‘oh there’s a new one coming out – that’s what I’m going to be listening to for weeks to come.’
Song: Nine Inch Nails’ “One Million”
I actually got to know Trent over the last few years. He came to my 40th birthday which was an amazing sight for me to watch him bowling. We had a Big Lebowski bowling party for my 40th and Trent and his girlfriend had this one lane and just bowled for two hours straight.
Jason Bentley: Tony Hawk has been our guest on KCRW. I want to thank you for taking the time and all the best to you.
Tony Hawk: Yeah, thanks for letting come in here and share the music. I’m excited to actually see KCRW.
Jason Bentley: Yeah, this is it!
Tony Hawk: I asked the parking attendant where it was and he said it’s that one building over there -- in the basement.
Jason Bently: (laughs) Well, thank you for coming by.
Tony Hawk: All right thanks.
[PLAYLIST GOES HERE]