Rattle off a list of Tony Hawk’s achievements–the inventor of more than 50 skateboarding tricks, the only skateboarder to pull off a two-and-a-half-turn maneuver called the 900 in competition, and the standard by which people measure performance in his sport, even after his retirement from active competition. Talk about his business interests, which include clothing, skateboards, film, and video games. Then ask him if there’s anything you haven’t covered. “Just that I’m a true Mac devotee,” he says. When Hawk isn’t on his skateboard, chances are he’s in front of his Mac, doing everything from burning CDs to editing digital video.
Q: What hardware do you use?
A: I’ve got a G4 that I use at home. It’s a 450MHz with 256MB of RAM. I’ve got a 30GB FireWire external drive from VST. My internal drive is a 20GB drive. I use a Que FireWire CD-RW, 16x10x40, which doesn’t work with iTunes yet, which is really a drag. And that was one of the big reasons I bought it, too.
Q: You bought it specifically for iTunes?
A: Yeah. I wanted to make some CDs. And for backup too. Because I write a lot of big files like video and audio. But I really wanted it to work with iTunes. I can get it to work with Toast.
Q: What system software are you on?
A: I have OS 9.1 right now. But I plan on going to OS X when I finish this tour.
Q: Do you travel with anything else?
A: I’ve got a Titanium [PowerBook].
Q: Which one?
A: The big one. The 500MHz. I love it. It’s awesome.
Q: What do you bring on that?
A: Well, I use Netscape Communicator. If I–and this is rare–but sometimes if I have trouble loading a page, I use Internet Explorer. I just got used to Communicator. And then I’ve got Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Media Cleaner Pro.
Q: In other words, you really focus on video.
A: On the road, mostly. And I’ve got something like 10GB of music on iTunes.
Q: What was your first Mac?
A: Oh, man. I want to say a Quadra 6100. Was that a Quadra?
Q: Yeah, I think it was then changed to Centris.
A: Yes. That was it. But honestly, my first Mac was an Amiga. I had a Mac emulator for it. That was in ’92, I think.
Q: Were you using Video Toaster then?
A: I had an Amiga 4000 and I got a Mac emulator because I was doing all our company ads in QuarkXPress. Because most of the output agencies were working on the Mac, so I had to go that route at the time.
Q: So that was how you got involved with the Mac. How did you first get involved with computers in the first place?
A: Just doing it in high school. I really took to it, and I really enjoyed it. I bought my Amiga because you could play Marble Madness on it. That was a video game in the arcade, and I saw it somewhere being played on a computer. And I thought, “That is the computer I have to get.”
Q: Is this before or after the 1984 release of The Bones Brigade Video Show ?
A: Just after.
Q: So you used your Amiga first, then you ported over to the Mac. Even with the Quadra, were you trying to do video at that time?
A: I was mostly doing desktop publishing for our company, Birdhouse, because we didn’t have a designer to do the layout and the graphics, and I was doing everything.
Q: Where’d you get the name Birdhouse?
A: Well, Birdhouse is my skate company, but it’s really a derivative of my name without being pretentious. Like Hawk.
Q: I got it. Now, have you played with OS X yet?
A: No, I’m waiting until I get home again. I’m afraid of installing it on my laptop while I’m on the road.
Q: You can do it and it’s harmless, since you can boot from either system. But back everything up first. But I ask because you have a game out on OS X right now, don’t you?
A: That is Tony Hawk ProSkater 2.
Q: Did that version come out late for the Mac?
A: Yeah, the PC version came out first.
Q: When is version 3 expected to come out?
A: For the Mac? Well, right now version 3 is due out for the Playstation and Playstation 2 for the fall. Probably November-ish. I’ll be pushing for the Mac version then. It depends on how far they can push it, how close they can emulate a Playstation 2. Because the Playstation 2 version, I think, will be the most dynamic.
Q: You’re mainly doing video on your Macs. Is that for 900 Films, your video-production company?
A: Yeah, film for 900 Films, film for sending out to news agencies, film for using on the Web. I’ll tweak footage using Media Cleaner Pro.
Q: What kind of camera are you using?
A: I have a [Sony] PC5 for doing my own stuff on the road. It’s like a little DV. I also have a three-chip Canon–I think it’s the GL-1.
Q: How many Bones Brigade films were there?
A: There were like 6 when I was on the team.
Q: And that’s what got you started?
A: That’s what got me interested in video. Just watching the editing. It wasn’t quite the time of Media 100 yet, so [all the editing was done] on a Mac. But it wasn’t non-linear. It all went to tape. But it was done on a Mac.
Q: So it was hooked up to a three-quarter inch editing bay?
A: Yeah. I watched, and I was into Amiga, and I heard about the Video Toaster coming out, and I ended up getting one of those. I learned the basics of non-linear editing and then I eventually bought a Media 100.
Q: And in the mid-to-late ’80s, a Media 100 system was very expensive.
A: Yeah. It took a lot out. And in those days, I wasn’t making any money, so I took a big risk.
Q: Did you actually own your own house while you were still in High School?
A: While I was a senior, yes.
Q: Urban legend has it that you bought it for the pool.
A: No, it didn’t even have a pool.
Q: So we can put that rumor to rest. But all that was many years ago, anyway. Do you still compete?
A: No, I don’t actually compete. I do a lot exhibitions and tours and things like that.
Q: When was the last 900 you did?
A: In France [in May].
Q: Has anyone else successfully done a 900?
A: Not yet, no.
Q: Do you see a 1080 in the future?
A: [laughs] No, I don’t think so.
Q: I saw that your name was listed in a small skateboarding film called Destroying America . Did you have anything to do with the production on that?
A: [laughs] No, it’s just a couple of guys that skate for our team. It was their project. I just let them go crazy. And I did a cameo. I was the pizza guy.
Q: As far as filmmaking is concerned, are you moving in that direction?
A: A little bit. I have a couple of friends, and that’s their expertise, and I let them do what they do best, but I like to dabble in it.
Q: And you have 900 Films specifically set up for that?
Q: You do films or video?
A: Both. Right now we’re just shooting action stuff–16mm, 35mm of skateboarding, snowboarding, and action sports like that.
Q: You now have two children. Has becoming a parent affected your skateboarding at all?
A: Only in the sense that I’ve got to prioritize my time for going away, staying home, and I can’t just go skate whenever I feel like it. I’ve got to make plans. I have to plan my schedule around my kids.
Q: How many companies are you CEO of?
A: Three. Birdhouse, Hawk Shoes and Hawk Clothing. Hawk Clothing was started by my sisters and my brother and I. We started kids’ line of clothes because we all have kids, and it was really hard for us to find cool clothes that were skate-oriented.
Q: So parenting has had an effect on your skating.
A: Well, more of how it has affected my business. So we started that company and recently it was bought by Quicksilver. The shoe line was spawned by my shoe sponsor, wanting to branch out and give something that was more out there. I was riding for a company called Adio shoes. And then we branched out and started Hawk shoes through that.
Q: As far as your skating is concerned, do you have any ambitions you haven’t fulfilled yet?
A: Not really. I’m enjoying my time now. I’m focusing on the projects I’m doing and trying to be better, like with the video game and with clothing and shoes. And as soon as I heard that Activision was doing the PC version [of Tony Hawk Pro Skater], I began pushing for Mac. I met with Apple when I went to the keynote speech [in January 2001]. They talked about the AppleMasters program, and I was really excited about that. And they helped push my Titanium PowerBook order through, because I literally ordered my Titanium the night of Macworld Expo. I use it on a daily basis. If you ask my wife, she’ll say I use it too much. As far as skating goes, I still want to keep improving and promoting the sport, but it’s not like I have some Holy Grail that I’m after.
Q: Was the 900 a Holy Grail?
A: No, not really. It just kind of helped me to ease out of competition without any regrets. But there are so many different styles of skating, and tricks in skating, that you can’t say that one trick means everything. But I was just happy to have cleared that on what I thought was going to be my last year of competition [in 1999].
Q: Where do you see your business ambitions going?
A: Really, I see my involvement later on going behind the scenes. You’ve seen those companies that have their own skate team, a lot of skaters that I helped pick out myself. And I want to see them get the same opportunities that I’ve had. And help to guide them through a professional career, if they want help.
Q: I didn’t ask you one thing. When did you first get on a skate board?
A: When I was ten years old. And I felt that it was the one activity that I kept improving at. I was playing baseball, and I was playing basketball and never felt like I was improving. And I never really felt comfortable with the practice regimen.
Q: If someone said, “You’re no longer allowed to skateboard,” what do you think you’d do?
A: I’d spend more time at home on my Mac. I’d probably be more heavily involved with my companies–with developing Web sites, that sort of thing.
Q: Have you ever been approached for acting as a career move?
A: I’d never want to do it if it didn’t involve skating. I wouldn’t want to just use my skating status to suddenly become an actor. I wouldn’t feel right about it. I would only want to do an acting project that represents skating better than, say, the previous attempts. There are always those trend movies, like that one, Airborne , where they use the sport. I would rather have it represent the sport, not have some cheesy love story just to mix in there.