Chris Nieratko interviewed Fucking Awesome’s Dylan Rieder at length for issue #122. They spoke for nearly an hour, but due to space constraints we couldn’t fit the entire interview in The Mag, so here’s the full transcript of their conversation for your reading pleasure.
In an age when corpo outsider infiltration in skateboarding is at an all-time high Dylan Rieder chooses to keep his integrity and represent smaller brands that are skater owned.
The question on everyone’s mind is why don’t you impossible noseblunt slide a picnic table already?
I was just going to save it until my career starts dwindling down … so maybe in the next few weeks.
You on your way out?
I think so, yeah. My Instagram follows aren’t high enough.
I think you broke the Internet with your one successful Street League showing. What’s it like to skate in for you? It seems like you’re the odd man out in those situations.
They’re all right. They’re a bit intense with the whole arena vibe, but they’re okay. I don’t mind them that much. It’s funny, I’ve only done well in one of them and people still talk about it. I got ninth place or something and people are still like, “Remember that time you got ninth place? Good job, buddy.” It’s kind of funny.
It says a lot because everyone universally wanted you to win.
Yeah, if you’ve ever watched one of those things it’s kind of the same outcome every time. I feel like people like Austyn [Gillette] and myself are the underdogs. Not to say all those guys in the contest aren’t street skaters; they’ve all left their mark. But they all train for that shit. They all take Street League season off from real skating to practice. I guess seeing us in there people want us to do good.
What’s a session like with those powerhouses of Street League?
They’re all cool. It’s funny seeing those dudes while the contest is going on. It’s real go-get-’em, calculating scores. All those dudes know what tricks get what scores. So if they do a nollie nosegrind or tailslide 270, they know that’s 2.5, points so if they’re down that many points they’ll just do that. It’s very calculated, which is really bizarre to watch. All those dudes when they land their tricks, the first thing they do is stare at the screen to see what their score is. Not knowing that life and that intensity in competitive skateboarding makes it very odd to watch.
How do you approach Street League then?
I just skate. I know I don’t have the skill level of those guys. I don’t have the consistency, so I just skate. I don’t have that many tricks so I’m like, “I have these three options, hopefully I land two out of three.” That’s kind of my mentality. If I land them, cool. If not, no sweat off my back.
That one where you were doing well, did any of the other guys try to mess with you and get in your head?
No, I wish these dudes would be more cruel about it. It would be much more entertaining on the course if there was shit talking. I don’t want to say it’s false camaraderie, but I feel like with those dudes there has to be an underlying feeling of, “No, I don’t want you to win. I want to win.” There has to be, there’s so much money on the line for those dudes. No, there’s no shit talking. Even at the one I did all right at, that kid Mikey Taylor pointed out, “No, you have to gap to the thing again. You’re getting scored higher on that.” I was like, “Oh, really? Well, fuck. I guess I’ll do that.” I had no idea. But those dudes totally pay attention to that stuff. I don’t have the mental capacity to do that. I have too much shit going on already.
Your former boss, Rob Dyrdek, owns Street League. Couldn’t he stack the cards in your favor and railroad you into the finals?
Can he rig it? He should, right? I think those dudes feel bad for me being out there already, and they score me a lot higher than I should get scored. They know I’m struggling so they probably do me more favors than the other dudes.
What’s the current situation with you and Alien?
I guess the newest news is Grant Taylor left, and right after his departure I called it quits as well. I felt as long as Grant was there it was fine, but there’s no replacing someone like Grant Taylor. Not to say the team isn’t still gnarly with Gilbert [Crockett], Jake [Johnson], Omar [Salazar], and Tyler [Bledsoe], but with Grant, Dill, and AVE leaving, it didn’t really feel like the Workshop I rode for. I talked to those dudes and said my farewells. Workshop has been so sick for so long, and I just think now is the dawn of a new age and it is what it is.
I feel like you came into your own on The Workshop. What was that like having to tell them you were quitting?
It was hard. It’s hard knowing that those dudes were already dealing with Dill and AVE leaving and starting their own company, then Grant leaving. I know by me leaving it was a bulldozer effect. Carter was like, “You’re not quitting. Think about it.” It was emotional. I was on Workshop since I was eighteen. Eight years. It was a tearjerker, but it probably wasn’t as hard as Dill and AVE leaving since they’ve been there forever and Carter was like their dad. But for Dill and AVE, leaving those are my brothers and the reason I was on The Workshop in the first place.
Does that mean that we’ve seen the last of you in Street League?
Last time I talked to Dyrdek he hadn’t kicked me out yet, so I don’t know to tell you the truth. It’s not something I’ll lose sleep over if I’m in Street League or not, and I think those dudes know that. Nobody expects me to be in Street League. The thing about Dyrdek is he knows who he is now and what he represents. He’ll be the first one to tell you. He knows he’s not skateboarding, and it’s cool that he understands that. And I’m sure he’s heard the interviews where I talk about Street League and all the shit that I talk about it, but it’s kind of a fucked way to represent skateboarding because it’s not so much skateboarding as Street League would like to be.
He definitely has read your interviews. Has he ever asked you to tone it down or reel it in?
No, not really. He’s all for seeing both sides of the story. I think he just doesn’t want me flipping off the camera anymore because people got in trouble for it. I guess ESPN said, “Tell your boy to cool off. You can’t be flipping off the cameras.” Not that I did it to flip off the cameraman or anything like that, but how can you not want to make some obnoxious noise or gesture on the megatron when the camera is pointing at you?
What’s next after Alien?
I’ll be going over to the FA [Fucking Awesome] camp. Dill and AVE are my brothers. I like what those dudes do, and they asked me to come over and ride for them, and it seems like the right move. I love their whole take on what they’re doing. It’s a company now that skateboarding needs. They make what they want, and they don’t give a fuck what anybody thinks, there’s no censorship, they don’t need an advisory sticker, and I think skateboarding needs that now. What they’re doing now is exactly what it was like back in the day: having fun with graphics you put out there and pissing people off, making people upset, and getting people talking. I think that vibe needs to come back, and I think it is. FA is the future.
Did you have to put together a sponsor-me tape to get on? Because Dill told me there weren’t going to be any more white boys on the team after Terps.
Ha. I think they’re going to make an exception, but I think we’re going to have an all-brother am team for a while. Dill loves that. I think that’s Dill’s dream to have an all-brother team.
How is it to have Dill as your boss?
As of right now he’s not my boss yet so we’ll see. My expectations of Dill as my boss are nothing less than all of Dill’s insanities, which I love.
Why not team up with the other beautiful male model, Alex Olson, instead of FA?
AO? Maybe we’ll ride for both of them, we’ll see.
You’re going bi?
I’m going bi-skateboarding team. I love what Alex is doing. I think it’s great. I think the hype he builds on himself and all the shit talking is amazing, and all the people who think he’s gay is awesome. His Fire Island T-shirts … half the people don’t even know what Fire Island is.
I saw a recent DKNY ad you had, you’ve done other big campaigns. What is that like for you? You come from skateboarding, which is a fuck-you mentality. What’s it like when they ask you to make Blue Steel? Are you laughing inside?
I think it’s more of a fuck you mentality to do those things. By doing those things it’s still saying I don’t give a shit. If a company like DKNY wants me to sit next to the biggest supermodel in the world and a big rapper like A$AP Rocky, I think it’s fucking hilarious. I don’t know why they want me to do something like that, but if they want to pay me the cash to sit on a taxicab and look like an idiot for a couple days, I’m comfortable with it. I know all the skate kids are like, “Fuck you. You’re a fucking model?” I don’t look at it like that. I’m just getting a nice little paycheck for doing two days of work and hanging out with good-looking girls. At the end of the day I’m still riding my skateboard. Kids will post that I don’t skate anymore on photos, and I’m like, “You guys are fucking idiots! Did you not just open up the latest issue of The Skateboard Mag?” I don’t give a shit. If it’s a well-respected company and they want to throw me in the group with these high-society people, I feel fortunate that people want me to do that. Why pass up that opportunity? It’s not jeopardizing my skateboarding. I’m still skateboarding as much. I mean, the reason why I’ve been doing that shit is because I don’t ride for a skateboarding clothing company, and the reason I don’t ride for a skateboarding clothing company is that they don’t make good product. They don’t make the shit that I like to wear.
That leads to my next question. I imagine a modeling gig pays well. I’m a fan of the fact that you don’t bow down to outsider skate money. I’m sure you were approached after Gravis by the enormous athletic shoe companies and you chose to go with a small skater-owned company like Huf.
At the end of the day it’s not about the cash. I don’t have a problem with the fashion world. I don’t have a problem standing in front of the camera and looking like an asshole for a couple days if it’s the right brand. But skating for a skateboarding clothing company is a big part of my living. That’s how I get by. But I’d rather do something that’s out of the norm for a fashion brand than try to step into a clothing deal with a skateboarding company that’s going to tell me they’ll make whatever I want to make and then after while being told they can’t make any of it because it’s too expensive, and they just want to sell my style by making shittier clothes and putting my name on them.
I think there’s an integrity about you that’s a bit rare nowadays.
Man, my integrity is out the window now that I’ve been modeling.
I don’t believe that. You chose Huf over some big company. You seem to take pride in the brands you represent. In this economy it takes some guts to make those decisions.
It’s the same as going to something like FA. Now is a time when skateboarding needs a transition. I appreciate everything Adidas and Nike do for skateboarding, and they pay some of these dudes really good money where they’ll be retiring off it, but how long is that going to last? They’re going to be in skateboarding until skateboarding is not cool anymore and then what is it? Now is the time to be supporting skateboarding companies again. Coming from Gravis, I also like building something from nothing. We built that. It was shit, no one knew what Gravis was, and we developed that into a pretty well-respected skateboarding company. I enjoy being a part of the process.
Are you surprised your shoe designs have caught on the way they have? Because when I first saw your Gravis shoes, I was like, “Get the fuck out of here with this!” Then it caught on like wildfire.
Ha! Totally! But it must not have been wildfire because they went out of business, but we did make a bit of noise. I feel like as long as you’re making something that no one is doing, people are either going to hate on it or like it, but you’re still doing something original.
Do you trip over the doppelgangers that emulate you and your style to a T?
Yeah, it’s kind of weird, but it’s flattering. It’s strange. But if I’m inspiring some kid to dip their finger in something different in terms of how they dress, then right on. I’m not saying my way is the right way, but it’s cool if someone looks up to me in that sense.
You have a full part coming out in the new Supreme video. What was that like to make?
It was great. I love Bill [Strobeck]. I’ve known Bill forever, and it’s always fun being in New York or LA skating with him. It’s been a pretty relaxed experience. We just skate schoolyards or Tompkins or whatever for a few hours to see what happens. We’ve pretty much been doing that for the past year. And he’s such a pro, he knows what he’s doing, and I like the vibe of everything he does.
Supreme is one of the most regarded and renowned shops, but it is still a skateshop. Being a shop owner, I think it’s rad that you put so much effort into a shop video.
Honestly this past year I’ve been real motivated to skate, and it just so happened that they started working on the Supreme thing. I won’t say I’ve been a part of the Supreme mafia for very long, but those dudes are good friends of mine and I feel like this video is going to be pretty impactful, and I think it’s going to be a pretty important video for skateboarding right now. And it’s been a real fun experience. It’s not like we have a fucking deadline and we need to get shit done! It feels like we’ve been filming for a friend’s video, and I feel pretty good about what I got. And I don’t know much about street wear, but all the dudes that work at Supreme are skaters and down for the cause. It’s a tight-knit family in there.
You knocked out this interview, you got the Supreme part, new Huf pro model in June, what’s the rest of 2014 look like?
I’m going to Australia to surf. I’m going on vacation for a little bit then trying to put out some more new footage with this new shoe coming out.