Rad conversation with an Ozzy turned Viking. Dani tells us about how he gave up his life to gain his skating soul, riding in Finland and putting pepper spray in his sandwiches.
Hello Mr Daniel Hawes. How are you?
Very well thanks, freezing my ass off in Tasmania.
What are you doing there?
My old man lives down here and is about to get married. I came over for Newtons and Kiera and I’m hanging around for the wedding before heading back to Europe in July.
How did you do in the races?
Not really sure how I did result wise but I wasn’t happy with my personal performance. I have been in Finland since the beginning of Winter last year which meant a long time off the board. Kiera was my first time on a hill for several months so I spent the whole time just working shit out.
What have you been doing in Finland?
Living life and loving it. Experiencing new things, new temperatures, new people and new lifestyles. Learning to ride bowls during the winter to which has been awesome.
Where were you before you went viking?
I was getting rad in Radelaide, South Australia.
Is that where you started skating?
Yea, more or less. I started skating park in Melbourne when I was maybe 8? Just messing around with friends on the street, not much has changed really haha! Radelaide was where I rode my first longboard though and got my first taste for speed down hills.
So you’re Ozzie.
Yeah but I’m still a nice guy!
When did you get your first longboard?
I used to skate with these two rad housemates I had. We would spend all our money on booze, weed, boards and skate all night and day. They ended up moving away and I lost my crew so my board was just transport. I then started working with a fella named Elliot who sadly left us last November. He rode a Sector 9 pintail, after riding his in a carpark one night I knew I needed one and so I got one. That was 2007 I reckon.
Do you still skate park?
Yea I do now. I kind of went from street to longboarding for years but I really wish I hadn’t. I bumbed into Jonno Shakesby at a random park in Helsinki last year. He makes Decent Hardware bags and assorted goods (GET SOME). He is an old school fella and has been ‘’coaching’’ me in bowl riding. I’m hooked again which is awesome!
How did life change when you got that first sector9?
Haha, in so many ways I wouldn’t know where to begin. I have made my best mates through it, met my girlfriend, travelled the world, given up friends and work opportunities, sold everything I own and turned my life upside down a million times over. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Who are these mates?
I started skating with my man Elliot. I then found 3 awesome guys online named Leigh Griffiths, Michael Bowditch and Matty (leadfoot) Trembath. They introduced me to hills and that was really the beginning. Leigh and Bow weren’t really my type of crowd, they are fancy shirt wearing, clubby kind of folk where as I am more dreadlocked tree hugger. Matt was getting on 40 then I reckon (sorry Matt, I could be wrong). Either way, I know I would never have met or had good friendships with any of them if it weren’t for skating. Julia who is my girlfriend came over to Aus for an internship in 2009 from Finland, she was looking for people to roll with on ASRA while she was here. I saw her and as they say, it was love at first sight.
How do you fit your dreads in your helmet?
I have since cut them off, I sent them to all the groms in Radelaide. They got a big mouldy parcel a couple of months later, aha! My full-face still fits but I needed a new skid lid!
You’re a bit strange.
You’re not the first one to tell me that, haha. I hope it’s an endearing quality though.
What is ASRA?
ASRA is the Australian Skatebaord Racing Association. They are a hardcore bunch of dudes who also give up normal life to organize such things as Newtons Nation and the new but equally as awesome Mt. Kiera challenge. They are legends and without them the Aussie scene would not be what it is today, which is rad.
Were you involved with ASRA?
I wish, I don’t really stay in the one place long enough to be involved with anything. I pay my membership fee’s when I can afford to and that’s it.
You gave up your life to skate?
I didn’t give it up, my life began. I used to work for the Government with National parks, I was studying and making good money while being a stiff in a uniform. I had a career plan and all, that all went out the window for the love of skating, traveling and of course Julia!
How much stuff do you own?
A 25kilo bag of skate stuff (boards, wheels leathers, skins and a set of Aeras) along with a carry on bag of clothes. That’s about it.
Why did you auction your body and belongings?
I auctioned my body for fun and my belongings initially went to fund a trip to the US and Canada in 2009.
Yea, Jacko had come down to Radelaide in early 2009 to show Leigh, Bow and I how it should all be done. We all got hooked during that week long trip and then trekked up to Sydney for our first race later that year. After that we shipped off to the Snowy mountains for our first real skate adventure. After that I was craving more and Maryhill was coming up so I thought, screw it, lets do this thing.
So you 3 were a team?
Yea, kind of by default I suppose. We were the Radelaide 3. I think we are good friends now though, at least I count Leigh and Bow as my good buddies. We have had some epic trips together and some epic times since 2009 and I feel pretty close to them although I spend most of my time on the opposite side of the globe now days.
What was your first race?
Master of the hill was my first race. It was double elimination race in the Blue mountains of Sydney. I drew Jacko the first heat and he killed me, aha. I made it through my second heat though by drafting for the first time ever. I was so pumped, I love that feeling so much!
How were those early adventures!
The trip to the snowies kind of shattered me to be honest. I naturally push mongo though I push both ways now. For that reason I had a hell of a time learning to footbrake. Back then there was no sliding, I could do a pendy if I wanted but it wasn’t really seen as a useful skill, it was more a trick thing. I was riding with the best in Australia but I was essentially out of control since I couldn’t foot brake. It was made pretty clear to me that if I was gonna ride like that then I should ride alone at the back of the pack. I foot brake regular now, haha. It was fun though. First trip ever to the snowies, skated faster than I ever had before and it really opened my eyes to what was possible (then) with downhill.
What are the snowies?
The snowy Mountains which are just out of Canberra in NSW. They hold Australia’s highest peak as well as loads of other super epic, butter smooth roads. Gold mine!
STOP THE PRESS! I have just realised your initials are DH.
Haha, yea. I have this strange thing about names meaning things. It seemed puzzling that my initials would be DH and I should love down hill. Julia’s last name is also Jansson. My mums name is Jan so her name makes out Jans Son (which is me). Cool stuff hey?
You mentioned ”riding with the best in Oz”, do you mean you were riding on your own?
haha, no. I would love to blow my own ‘’horn’’ but certainly not. Corey Leeson and Steven Daddow really stuck out to me that trip along with Benbro Hay and of course Jacko. I am still far from the best in Aus, there are so many awesome skaters in Australia,, longboarding and street. I am not even close!
How did you make it there from the other side of the world?
I flew with QANTAS! Haha, George Mckenzie saved me from being left in that shit hole of a town, Goldendale where maryhill is held! I owe him big time! I had no idea who he was, he is such a big name now and such an epic skater. I remember he ran Brycin ‘Striker’ Lyons over with a car and Striker was trying to kill him. not just hurt him, I’m pretty sure he would of actually killed him HAHA!
Hectic times man! Like I said, hardcore. Scoot Smith was running tents over all night with his car, even with people in them sleeping. I spent the whole night peeping through the window of my tent watching the headlights buzz around hoping he wouldn’t kill me! We were shooting the local bands with air soft guns, awesome!
How did G-Mack save you?
I had organised a lift to Vancouver the morning after the last night with the Switch back bus. We were meant to leave at 8am or something but they decided for whatever reason to leave at 6 or something gnarly like that. I woke up to G-mack running around the camp ground yelling ‘’Dani, Dani from Australia! Get up, where are you, we are leaving!’’. He helped me pack my tent and all my shit in like 5 minutes and on we got and off we went. If it weren’t for him i would of woken to an empty camp ground in America’s biggest shit hole.
Why did you decide to go to North America?
Maryhill! I didn’t really know about any other races and that hill looked so epic in photos that it just seemed the place. I decided to go to Canada afterwards because everyone said it was an awesome spot and other people I knew were heading there too. Vancouver didn’t disappoint.
What was the experience like?
Scary man. I was so home sick. It was the first trip overseas on my own and I missed home so much. I went to the first Cathlamet and placed 8th though so that kept me going for a bit too! I also wasn’t expecting it to be so hardcore. I saw things at Mary Hill I really didn’t expect to see. I saw my skating idols with really bad staph infections, vomiting, partying, driving over tents and more. It was hardcore punk rock man. Scared the crap out of me haha! Now I find myself wishing the scene was more like that again. I see things getting really stagnant, really quickly. Something needs to be shaken up!
It was the roots of skating man. Skate and destroy. Fuck the race, win the party. It was dirty, really dirty and so were we. It was awesome now that I think back to it!
Is that some sort of Northern European Mantra?
Haha, no way man, that’s a skaters mantra. Look at where it all began, ghetto kids, skating and destroying. Breaking into people’s houses, draining their pools and breaking their shit. It was raw and rad. It’s all bloody sunshine and rainbows now. I remember Scoot said it a lot at Mary Hill. Win the party, not the race!
How are things stagnant?
It all started with this attitude of skating is for everybody, which it is of course don’t get me wrong. It’s hard to put it into words but I see companies like Roxy coming on board with things and I can imagine it all turning into a fashion show really quickly. A part of me pines for the days there were only 5 of us in each state/city doing it and we did what we wanted when we wanted. There are so many kids doing it now that I feel like we have to tip toe so much around things. At the same time though I have met hundreds more awesome people and especially kids. I guess everything has it’s negatives and it’s positives.
Tip-toe around what things?
Like I said, I find it really hard to put it into words and I hesitate to say things because I don’t wanna piss friends or potential friends off. I would just encourage everyone to look at the history of skateboarding and what it became and why and do your part to avoid it happening.
Isn’t it a good thing to have everyone (especially lots of kids) having fun on a longboard?
Yea, no doubt and I don’t want to come across as someone who isn’t going to welcome you into the scene because I will. If you wanna skate I am happy to skate with you. Just have some respect for it’s roots and older crew. I’m not talking about me, I’m only 25. I’m talking about the real roots of skating the real old guys who built it all from scratch. These guys have been skating for my lifetime and more! The problem with longboarding being so accessible and friendly is that it brings people into the skate scene who have no idea, respect or regard for what skating is. But that’s cool, we all have to start somewhere and some people will do their research and see it for what it is. Others will just push around like goobers though, knowing full well they used to beat skateboarders up when they were the popular high school student. They have no respect, no interest and no place in the scene. That’s my humble opinion anyway.
What don’t you like about companies like Roxy coming into our playground?
I’m gonna be honest here. I think they are sell outs. It is what ruined street skating. Companies with nothing but money to offer the scene. No experience, no love, no passion just thirsty wallets and bank accounts. Eventually they will push our much loved smaller companies out who have been around since the beginning and take a hold. It’s up to us to only support our roots. I’m not saying don’t buy stuff from new companies, just be wary of who you are buying from. If you know nothing about the shop or company, find out more before you give them your hard earned cash. Longboarding will evolve, no doubt. Let’s just help it evolve in a positive way!
What do you think we can do to help positive evolution?
Don’t support generic surf shops. Support small skate shops, even if they are more expensive, wait another week for your wheels and then get them. If the shop seems to have everything from surf boards, scooters, longboards, street gear and a whole lot of brand name clothing fuck em. They are only in it for the dollar, go to a shop where you can talk to the owner about skating for hours and have a laugh. If there is a blonde bimbo waiting for you at the door wth a cheesy grin, resist temptation and turn around.
It is getting harder to pick brands the more new ones pop up. Of course I have attachment to Rayne, and Orangatang so I’m going to tell you to buy their stuff but then of course there is Sector 9, Abec 11, Landy, Kebbek and those lot. Divine, Randall, Independent too! Don’t forget your local board companies, Australia has some awesome board builders (Skatement, Glyde, Phat Pidgeon, Daddow boards) who deserve support, look them up! New products are coming up as well but from old companies. Bones are making wheels for longbaords now, they are a rad company and know their shit so if that’s your thing get on board with them. RAD wheels are being made by real, true blue skaters. These are the products you wanna be looking at. Look at the roots of companies and the riders/designers behind them.
Who are/were your idols?
I have a thing for riders who aren’t known so much. Of course James Kelly, K-Rimes, Pilloni and the rest but that’s a given, yea? Leigh Griffiths and Michael Bowditch are awesome skaters and awesome people. I am really proud of local grom Jayden Mitchell who did so well at the past two Aussie races and look out Canada because he is on his way to you! A fella named Janne Lehtinen from Helsinki who skates EVERYTHING and is awesome at it all. Slalom, downhill, free riding, bowl or other tranny or park. He rips anywhere on any board. Axel Serrat from Barcelona is another one, by far one of the most accomplished skateboarders I have ever seen ride a board. And Johnno Shakesby who is an older fella (not too old though) and rips the parks and tranny up. These are the people I want to skate like one day.
What was the highlight of your time abroad that year?
I met some awesome people who I haven’t seen since but I speak to a lot and dream of hanging out with again. I learn’t the beauty of a top mount board and the real meaning of the skate family. I also got to play with pepper spray and try some on a sandwich (not reccomended!) which was a laugh!
How was life different when you returned home?
I had new priorities. Julia had gone back to Finland before I left for the states so I was eager to see her again as she had come back to Australia a couple of days before I landed. I knew I wanted to travel more and I knew that skating wasn’t going to be just another passing thing I would enjoy for a little while, but something I really wanted to experience in it’s full. I can say without a doubt now that I will be skating until I can’t walk anymore. I might not be racing forever, I might not even longboard forever but I will be skating something, somewhere.
You sound pretty loved up. Do you skate together?
Yea, she is pretty awesome haha! Yea, we skate together. My dream was always to ride downhill with her but that dream made me a bit pushy sometimes. Now I am content if she is smiling and having fun. She has just bought leathers though and she will be going to the girls KNK camp this year which is pretty awesome and I am really excited for her. She has been to almost every race I have been to and I consider her a part of the skating family. The thing I like most about her skating is that she is not out there to represent girls longboarding, Finnish Longboarding or anything else. She skates when she wants to and because she wants to.
Are you opposite stances?
Haha yea, how did you know?
This website isn’t called ”ALL AROUND” for nothing! Nice socks by the way.
haha, that’s creepy but thanks!
Doesn’t being a girl and skating default to representing other girls longboarding?
No and it never will. People are so caught up in ‘’girls longboarding’’. It’s not girls longboarding, it’s longboarding. There was never any doubt that girls could skate, ever! I think it comes from a long history of girls being treated differently. I don’t represent ‘’mens longboarding’’ I represent me and it should be the same for girls. Just skate because you wanna. Skate with who you want, if you only wanna skate with girls then that’s cool and vice versa. Don’t get sucked into a ‘’scene’’ though. Let’s all represent skating together!
Whats wrong with being sucked into a scene?
Well let’s look at this old beef. You longboard? That gay, ride a real skateboard. Being gay is cool, no doubt and that’s an even broader picture. Let’s all represent humans together, no matter your scene. Gay, straight, black or white. Don’t get sucked into a scene.
That debate will never end though, there’s always some snotty kid who thinks you’re a douche bag because your board is bigger than his.
Of course and I’m not asking for an end to it, it’s useful in the sense that I know where peoples priorities lie. If you tell me that longboarding isn’t skating well you have just found one more person who will never skate with you. A Finnish guy once said to me at a pub after a bowl session that he used to think longboarding was shit but after meeting me he came to the conclusion that ”so long as you eat shit it doesn’t matter how you do it. If you have scabby knees, bad shoulders and a history of concussion then you’re doing something awesome”. I thought that was a pretty good way to look at it.
What’s the most impressive shit you’ve eaten?
I have eaten some great turds in my time for sure! The most recent one I can think of was at last years Insul though. Coming into the first lefty (really tight hairpin) I was behind a footbraker whereas I prefer to get slideways. Fella threw down his foot and I was planning to get on his inside and throw my slide. As I approached him I saw his board wobble out from under him, it shot off to the right and he shot off in front of me to the left. I managed to miss him and was stoked, I knew I could now make it through the corner ahead of him. His board had different ideas. It hit the curb and bounced back in front of me. I slammed into it at 70ishKM/h while standing up and landed right on the chin of my helmet. Scraped that thing to shit. I got up right away to get going and he ran over to hug me. By the time the hug was over I knew it was too late to catch the others so we sat for 5 minutes. I got a big dizzy spell and had to lie down for a bit. I was fine and after a bit we rode to the finish together, if he hadn’t hugged me though I would have had that big dizzy spell at speed on the board and maybe hurt myself quite badly. I choose to believe he saved me, haha.
Always! And he crashed on the last right to so that made me smile a little. He got his, haha!
How soon after you went back to Oz did you leave again?
I was back for 3 months I think and then Julia had to go back to Finland. The Euro tour was coming up and I really didn’t see anything keeping me in Australia so I packed up at the beginning of 2010 and shipped myself over there. It feels good to pack up your entire life and ship away to some far away unknown place. I strongly recommend it to everyone!
Will you ever leave Europe?
I don’t know for sure. I love it so much and have so much taking me back there at the moment. I would love to spend some time in Canada again and work with Rayne learning more about what they do and how they do it. There are endless places in the world to be and so far all I know is I fly back to Prague in July. I have no plans after getting on that flight.
How was your first Euro experience in comparism to everything you’d done?
I was blown away man. I am totally in love with Europe and in a way wish that I was born there. The tour was hard work and long but I really enjoyed the races and got some free riding in too. Thinking back on it, it was all planned too well. If you ever go anywhere for skating or anything else don’t plan too much. Plan your car or train tickets for sure but after that don’t. Just drift and and you will have a far better time! I missed out on the Graveyard call (French Race) though which I was really gutted about.
Don’t put beer bottles in your pockets kids!
Who was your tour gang?
That year there wasn’t so much we as me. I happened to get sponsorship from the Finnish Association for Nature Nonservation and they hooked me up with a Euro rail ticket. It saved me a lot of money but meant that I spent a LOT of time on my own. Towards the end of it I travelled with some German dudes and my man Benny from South Africa and we got some super fast riding and good times in. 2010 was a fairly lonely tour for me though but I made up for it at races! It was still great and in a way it was good because I got to do a lot of touristy stuff which meant in 2011 I could just skate and do nothing else, which i did.
What’s the scene like in Finland?
Really different from anywhere else I have been but really good at the same time. It has got to be the second flattest country in the world next to Holland which sounds really upsetting and sometimes it is but it forces the riders to use their imagination’s which is awesome. There are some really talented skaters over there and really passionate. The street skating side of things is huge. There is nowhere you can go where you won’t see kids and adults on boards, it is huge! The longboarding side of things is getting bigger really fast, some of the riders seem to be stepping into the serious side of things though which I would hope they avoid. Such happy, smiley people (for Finns anyway) I would hate to see them start to lose that.
What is the serious side?
It’s really hard for me to put things like this into words. I know a lot of people see me as a ‘’professional’’ but I’m not. I am broke as a joke, I don’t make a penny from skating and if I was in it because of anything other than love I would be shattered. Don’t chase sponsorship, don’t organise sessions too often. Skating isn’t a chore you do every weekend. This is how it should work (in my opinion anyway). 11pm Friday night call your mate, say sorry for calling so late and then decide what time you will meet in the morning. Invite a couple more people and they will do the same. When you meet, decide in the car where you are going. Don’t start a special club, with special times, hours, members and agendas – just go skating. If you don’t want to go skating, for whatever reason then don’t! It is awesome, it is fun, and to an extent it is life, but sometimes getting together for just a beer or a playstation game, slackline, climbing or whatever is good too. Don’t feel like you have to organise skating too much, it will organise itself!
Who are the other Finnish people to watch out for at races and parties?
Parties… All of them. NO country drink and parties like Finns, none. Not possible. It’s scary and bad for their health. I had never seen a woman urinate before moving to Finland but I can now say proudly that I am well accustomed to it! There are loads of talented skaters over there. Janne Salminen and Janne Lehtinen are real rippers. They will pull shit on longboards you never knew was possible. Juho Josepe is another. He is a partier and a shredder and an all round nice guy. He knows his tech stuff too but won’t bore you to death with it all. Hannah Jaakola is a ripping chick to representing herself in all the right ways. Ripping longboards and Slalom all over Europe. There are so many I couldn’t name them all but they know who they are.
What do you ride?
Usually I ride an Avenger but at the moment I am adjusting myself to the Rayne Vandal. Not sure if I will stick with it yet but we will see in the next month or so how I’m feeling about it. I’m on Aera trucks which are some width and some angle with red and green Venoms which are red and green duro. Brotangs. I ride a Renegade in the bowls with indies and spitfires.
Which avenger – Thor? Iron Man?
The highest bidder.
Are those your sponsors?
I ride for Rayne, have done for the last 2 years now. I am not an official Orangatang rider but they have been good enough to help me out recently with some wheels. I wish I rode for Aera, I need some new pivot cups! Kevin, if you’re are reading this…
I’ve got 1 spare pivot cup… maybe you can ride for us.
When/How did you hook up with your sponsors?
Most of my sponsors were originally mates or acquaintances of some kind. Meeting and greeting people has proven to be an important thing. It was a bit harder to do that with Rayne since they are over there in the land of the beavers, eh. I got in contact with them and we spent some time talking about what we all wanted and it all worked out. At the end of the day though I want to represent companies I respect and I want to help those companies grow the scene in a positive way. If someone can help make my travels cheaper then that’s awesome. I would do it without that help though and have been an un sponsored rider much longer than I have been a sponsored one.
What sort of contributions do you make to the team/world?
I think I am a pretty big part of the Radelaide scene even if I am away from home a lot these days. I will always go out of my way to welcome new comers and help those who need it. I think being a positive and honest person is a big part of representing any company. If you ask me a question I will answer it with no bias. I also put on events in a lot of places and get my sponsors involved. I race the world spreading their name and their stoke. I would hope that I am someone a lot of skaters can look up to in some way or another and know that I am here to help. Being able to skate well is important when looking for sponsorship of course but if you aren’t involved and a part of it all it doesn’t do much for the company. On the same note to all those kids out there looking to ride for their favourite company, pay your dues first. You have a lot of concussions to get through, a lot of bones to break, a lot of money to lose and a lot of frequent flyer miles to gain. You need to show that your heart is in it. I’m only 25 and there are 50 year olds out there who shred harder, have been involved longer and in all honesty probably deserve free shit more than I do. Take it easy, skate for more than 5 years and pay your dues.
Haha! I just got an email from kid on Youtube asking me to speak to Rayne for them about being sponsored. He says he is really good! Speak of the devil!
Did you watch his video?
Yea man, of course! He’s OK, he has gotten better since then he says.
You also make skate videos?
Yea, when I can. Look for me on Youtube (MrDanielHawes) and check Raynes channel too!
Do you make any other kind of films?
I did a mixed thing on Vimeo in 2010. It was kind of a documentary on my moving overseas as well as my race season. Not sure what my name is on Vimeo but I’m sure you could find it if you try.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Think about all the things I should probably be doing. Studying, working, looking for work, reading books, hanging out with friends or family. I am a pretty solitary person and skating is the only thing I am really motivated to do. I am trying to change that though. I enjoy writing, I wrote a blog in 2010 (www.yearineurope.weebly.com) and I would like to write a travel book one day.
You like to write? We should totally be friends.
Haha, I thought we were already? I like to write about things I am passionate about or into. I’m not good at writing about things I’m not interested in though, school wasn’t my thing really. I just wrote an article for a new online magazine.
What are your plans for the rest of the season?
I have no clue at the moment. I am here in Tassie for another week or so then I head back to Radelaide for a bit. I land in Prague just before Kozakov but I’m not sure if i will go yet or not, I might just head for the party. There are some dope bowls in Prague and some rad hills so I’m trying to get some mates down there for a week or so to skate. I would like to head to South Africa in December so I might just save up for that one. I have always wanted to go to Cape Town so Hot Heels would be a pretty good excuse to live that dream. We shall see.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-31
6, 16 and 26
6 – What is the strangest food you’ve eaten?
I don’t know, dog biscuits I suppose?
16 – Do you have a blog/twitter?
No current blog and no Twitter but if you like travel writing and are interested in skate races and what not check out www.yearineurope.weebly.com It covers my travels from 2010.
26- What kind of films do you like?
All sorts but sad or emotional ones I enjoy the most. Donny Darko, Requiem for a Dream. I also like musical films, Tim Burton is always a winner.
Interesting stuff. It has been really fun getting to know you tonight Danny ‘’DH’’ Whores. See you somewhere, sometime. Stockholm in August perhaps?
Yea man, thank you. I hope I haven’t upset anybody, it wasn’t my intention! Stockholm in August seems a real possibility! Keep up the good work friend, don’t take life too seriously and look after your teeth!
Erm what do you want with my teeth?
From my experience, people in England seem to have some trouble with their teeth. Just a general concern…
Any thank yous?
Yea lot’s! A big thank you to Rayne Longboards for their continued support, Daily Grind Skate, Boardsport Finland, Decent Hardware and Fire up Industries leathers! Thanks to Orangatang for helping me where and when they can and the biggest shout outs go to my mum Jan and my girlfriend Julia. Thanks for your patiance and all your help over the years!