Backside smith pop over gap into the bank, photo by Jody Morris
Colin McKay’s life in skateboarding is an interesting case study for one major reason- he is an oak tree in the winds of change that have swirled around skateboarding, from his early days to the present. Think about it: he was the ridiculous child prodigy on Powell Peralta when they were the dopest team on earth- that era’s Nyjah Huston, if you will. He was as good on street as any of the Plan B team during those heady years, then he studied the art of vert and blew the doors of it wide open alongside Danny Way just when the street revolution threatened to snuff vert out as a dynamic force. As skateboarding slipped and slid around, from big companies to little companies, from brotherhood to Big Brotherhood, he never burned anybody, he never took the fast buck and he never put out anything lukewarm. How many other skateboarders of any generation can that honestly be said of?
The fact is that Colin McKay is a lovely dude: humble and entertaining, excited and serene. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him, which in the world of professional skateboarding is something indeed.
Here he is on dealing with five shoulder surgeries, eskimo pies to revert, and why a pro who isn’t helping youngsters come up is not a pro at all.
For One Night Only, this is Mr Colin McKay.
For someone in the absolute elite of vert skating, you never seem to enter contests any more—is there a reason for that?
I definitely entered a lot of contests through my career, for sure. There were seven years where it feels like I entered a contest every weekend. Then I kinda like hurt my shoulder. I grew up streetskating, mostly, skating vert from time to time, but generally skating with streetskaters more, the Plan B guys at the time, or whoever. That’s a little bit more where my mindset is. If I go on contests, I don’t really go there to compete and see who’s better, me or Bob, or me or Bucky—that’s not what it’s about. The only thing that gets me into a contest is some prize money, or trying to do a good job for my sponsors, but I’m not the kinda guy that loves to go compete. I’m more into the skating itself. So, after I got hurt, I had five shoulder surgeries—in a row. It made me re-evaluate what I was trying to do, and since then, since I’ve been healthy enough to skateboard basically, for the last two or three years, I’ve been trying to streetskate more, and in the last six months or so just film stuff, you know? I may go back to entering contests, but right now… Honestly? Right now, the only thing on my head is filming for the Plan B video. That’s it. And it’s kinda hard to do both at the same time, contests and filming.
Is it true that you’ve got 3 full parts already complete, with no repeat tricks?
(Laughs) Where did you hear that? If I had three complete parts with no repeat tricks, I don’t know what. I wouldn’t be here, I’d be on a tropical island somewhere. I wouldn’t be in Carlsbad, California. No offense.
Bigflip revert, photo by Jody Morris
Realistically, will there be a Plan B video in 2008?
Nah, not in 2008. I mean, put it this way: Fully Flared is…I guess there’s a couple of videos you can compare to the caliber of the video the people would expect from Plan B. And that video just came out, but how long did it take them to make it? That’s like, what, four years we’re talking about? When was the last Flip video, when’s the new one coming out? That’s also, what, three years, four years? I don’t know. September 2006 we did that Live After Death Promo, which was 15 minutes of footage, Paul just did the Nike video, PJ has stuff to do for the éS video, and so on. Basically, what people have to realize, is that we’ve been busy putting the company together. And we’re just at a point now, Plan B is three years old, but since we had our whole team together—including Jereme Rogers and Ryan [Sheckler]—we’re just now, we’ve literally just decided in the last three months, ‘Okay, this is want we’re gonna do.’ When we started the company, it was me, Danny [Way], [Ryan] Gallant, Paul [Rodriguez], and PJ [Ladd]—there was five of us. That’s solid, but there was no [Pat] Duffy, no Jereme, no Sheckler, the company has come a long way since then. It took us a while to get everything situated, so that it wasn’t like something that was forced, you know what I mean? I knew everyone one the team, of course me and Danny are good friends, but I compare it to a band or something: You can’t just make a band and expect everyone to just mesh and have a connection right away. So we spent the last year on the road, just coming together as a team, and making Plan B something that’s real, instead of just assembled. So, we’ve just decided in the last three months, what we want to do, the whole team went to the Dominican Republic last week, we talked about it, and we decided to produce a full range video. We’re starting right now, and we won’t put…Well, we won’t say: “The video is gonna be done exactly one year from now.” Because that’s a thing that we really can’t put a time frame on. The video’s gonna be done, when the video’s… You know, I think, we hope to have it done within a year, for the team that’s a reasonable amount of time, but the video’s gonna be done, when the video is done, basically.
What kind of role do people from other continents play in the future of the Plan B team? Alex Mizurov, for example?
That’s always a tough thing, and Alex Mizurov specifically is really important to Plan B. If you go on our website, right now, there’s not even an amateur on our team. But we have kids that we flow. I’m from Canada, so there’s a couple of kids from Canada, like Scott DeCenzo. He’s sort of in the same position as Alex right now, who is on Plan B as you can be in another country, you know what I mean? It’s the top thing. But it’s difficult for brands to have kids in all different countries, especially the way it goes with the European market. It makes a lot of sense for kids over there to buy into companies that are over there for various reasons, supporting riders from there, supporting companies from there, and then also the cost of what they’re buying. We want to do what we can to support kids like Alex, and beyond Alex as well, in all sorts of countries where Plan B gets support. So there’s absolutely a possibility that any kid from anywhere in the world could end up being on the full team, and having a pro board with Plan B. Absolutely.
Backside 360 kickflip, photo by Jody Morris
Do you want to comment on Alex at the Game Of Skate?
Oh, yeah. The fact that they didn’t let Alex in the GOS, I don’t know, I think that was just a load of shit. I could understand it if they made that rule that only pros could enter, but as far as someone qualifying goes…if I’m not mistaken, Alex won the European GOS, right?
That, and everything else he entered in the 13 months after the GOS 2006.
I was standing right there when he beat Chris Cole. They were both going at it, and Alex won, he proved to be the best. Well, flat skater, but as far as the contest is concerned, the best one in the world, so by telling him he couldn’t enter, what were they trying to do? Rig the contest? How about we don’t let anyone enter that’s not on Sole Tech? Maybe then, one of their guys will win the contest. I think it’s great that they’re doing that contest, but if there’s anyone that was qualified, and we’re talking about the guy that was the world champion of the GOS from the year before, so Chris Cole, right now, is the world champion of the GOS, other than the world champion who beat him the year before.
So, now he has a wildcard for the 2008 pro GOS, issued to him so he can “defend his title”, as éS put it very nicely.
That’s kinda cool, but I didn’t find out about that, honestly, until I asked for the facts, and I just wish I could have helped Alex to get in there, because I just felt like that was an absolute load of shit. That’s all I have to say about that.
You and Tony Ferguson opened the world’s eyes to Vancouver, the skating and the city. How do you feel about the city today?
Tony wasn’t even from Vancouver, Tony moved there after a while. We’d already done the Plan B video, and Moses and Sluggo were there. How do I feel about it now? Vancouver is it’s whole own…it’s hard to say. They have their whole own everything. They do everything their own way, their perception of skateboarding, they definitely breed talented skaters, and, you know, I’m so proud to be from Vancouver. Im back there all the time, I’m friends with everyone up there, and we have businesses up there, but Vancouver is like… It’s like they don’t care what everybody else in the world is doing. What they do is what Vancouver wants to do, and that works for Vancouver. And that’s what’s so tight about it: I don’t see too many cities that are less influenced by what other people, like people in California, or Europe, or wherever, are doing. They just do what works for them, and they don’t really give a shit what everyone else is doing. Which is cool.
Backside Heelflip, photo by Jody Morris
How heavily skate stopped is the downtown now?
It’s ridiculous how skatestopped it is. Everything we skated in the old Plan B videos is unskateable now. But when I say “unskateable”, it means the way we used to skate the spots back then. You can skate the stuff, maybe you can’t skate the ledges, but the kids these days are so good, they can cope with that. The best thing about Vancouver, the thing that I think kept Vancouver’s vibe, is the plaza in town. That’s the heart of the skatescene, you need a spot like that. The city-centre type spot where everyone can go and skate, and hang out, meet, and kick it with the homies. Without that, when everyone is dispersed over the scene, and the spots are scattered, you’re not going to have that same vibe. And that’s what Vancouver has with the plaza. And obviously, they have pros from all over the world to come skate that place. Rightfully so, the place is amazing. There’s a reason why every single one on the Plan B team loves going there.
So, you obviously do find the time to go streetskate?
I don’t want to sound corny, but… For the longest time, people have been like “when are we gonna see some street footage?” That’s not why I’m streetskating so much, it just so happened that I’m in a position right now, where I’m surrounded by the guys on our team. When I rode for, like, say, Seek, it wasn’t like that. People didn’t even live near me, I was on my own. Most of the time I lived in Carlsbad, which is San Diego, and there’s vertramps here, most of the people are vertskaters, but right now, with Plan B…it sounds cheesy, but you need to be inspired on some level to do something. It couldn’t have been a more natural thing for me. I just like streetskating, bottom line. I haven’t even touched a vertramp all summer, and I’m just lovin’ it, absolutely lovin’ it. I’ve been to Barcelona, skated there for two weeks, for a long time I’ve gone, and just sat, and skated all day with some of the best skaters—I went with DC—I was able to film a few things, and I’m just inspired to streetskate right now, I’m enjoying it. Being in the streets definitely makes me realize that I should get my ass back on a vertramp, and actually do something worthwhile though. But all the same, I love it, it’s been really fun for me to get that part of my skating back on. It’s been the same process for Danny, by the way. When the video comes out, ideally we both are going to have street parts.
Gap To Nosegrind, photo by Jody Morris
Can’t wait. Where does vert have left to go?
It’s so weird to me man, because vert is fuckin’ wide open, as far as I’m concerned. I have a trick list in my phone, and it’s just endless what could be done on vert. I could, off the top of my head, fire off ten tricks that have never been done. I can’t believe that people aren’t doing them already. I can understand how hard it is for kids to get to a vertramp, and to get to a level where you can actually try some stuff, but among the pros, I’m just like “What are you guys doing? There’s a million things to be done, and you’re flying around doing 720°s.” Which I have nothing but respect for, that aspect of vertskating has to be there, that’s a beautiful part of it, but there’s also a whole other side of it. Like, how about a fuckin’ no-handed 720°? I can’t even believe no one has done that yet. No-handed 720°, whatever you wanna to call that? Nollie 720°. I think a big reason for that is, that most of the guys that make a living skating vert, they make their living in contests, and it’s kinda like I said: To film, and to practise for contests is so different. And they all focus on their contest runs, that doesn’t leave too much room for spending a week just trying a brand new trick. I have the utmost respect for every vert pro out there doing it, no doubt about that, but I really wanna see someone… You know, probably my favourite vertskater out there today would be Jake Brown, for sure. The tricks that he does, his part in the Blind video—that’s two years ago, and no one has even touched that. Tricks like the frontside tailslide to frontside bigspin out, that shit’s ridiculous! That, to me, is something I want to see more of. But right now, no one is really doing that kinda stuff. I know Jake is, PLG definitely messes with that stuff, and obviously you have Rune and Bob- but… there will be someone, hopefully, I pray he comes along one day. I mean, it’s just like doing the street stuff on vert. The coping is just a big ledge, so everything that can be done on the streets, like a switch frontside pop shove to fakie pivot fakie kickflip out—it’s wide open! Fuckin’ get to work, boys!
What do you have to say about vert and the Olympics?
I think that’s just a load of shit. Like, we’re finally, like, what, cool enough? Or big enough, or what it is, to go on your stupid Olympics? No disrespect to those athletes, whatever sport you’re doing, you’re at the top of your field, and that takes some talent, skill, and dedication which I’m sure all skateboarders can relate to, but in my opinion, they can just… (laughs) …fuck off, as far as I’m concerned!
What exactly is an eskimo pie to revert?
Haha! That’s just a little 12-year-old with a microphone. Had too much shit in my head, I guess. Maybe I should go and do a switch frontside pop shove fakie pivot fakie flip out, and thats what the eskimo pie to revert will be.
What are your memories of the Kevin Harris park where that early Powell footage was filmed?
Without that park I would’ve never had the career I have. Kevin has been such a big influence to me. When you become a pro skateboarder, there’s no question about it, it’s part of your job helping to give opportunities to kids that are coming up. How else are they supposed to get their shot at things? If you’re a pro skateboarder out there, and you know someone who’s good enough, and you’re not helping him by hooking him up with companies or this and that, then you’re not doing your job. You’re actually working against skateboarding. You’re holding someone back if you’re not doing that, and Kevin Harris… People just don’t get it. Being a skatepark owner is the hardest thing. I don’t think anyone that runs a skatepark is doing it for the money, because skateparks don’t make money—we all know that at this point. Anyone that has a local skatepark…god, man…thank the owner, they’re doing it for skateboarding, and it’s lonely.
Colin rides for Plan B, DC, Nixon, Independent, and Red Dragon Skate Supply
Colin McKay, photo by Jody Morris