Tony Alva: “These boards were hand-painted by Catherine Hardwicke”

tonyalva_portrait2“I tend to ramble,” TA will tell you. Who’s gonna complain? © Seb Carayol

Everybody loves Guy Mariano. The list includes 53-year old Tony Alva, who won’t hesitate to quote him as one of his favorite skateboarders, ever. A breath of surprising fresh air in the often nostalgic-to-a-fault  little world of  “the ’70s dudes”.
Instead of ranting about how he played the obstetrician-in-chief role in the birth of now, TA still experiments with shapes while enjoying his unique legacy—he won’t hesitate to bring to the interview a full bag of extra boards, “just to show you guys.”
Sharing enthusiastically what he’s been up to these days, the Lord of Dogtown warns laughingly as an intro : “I tend to ramble sometimes.” When it involves the Daggers, a wise Japanese lady, the birth of die-cut griptape and double Ds (as in “diamond”, you pervs) well, one can certainly accommodate a little rambling…

BDdagger1Alva Dagger (1985, 2010 reissue)
Art by Mondo / Catherine Hardwicke

In the movie Thrashin‘, The Daggers were a fictional gang like the Jets from West Side Story, they were the bad guys and their leader was Robert Rusler who was in Weird Science and stuff. It was kind of an extension of the Jak’s team meets the Hell’s Angels, but on skateboards. These boards were made for the bad guys and after having so much demand for them, we issued a batch of them last year.

I’m not sure if Dave Beck aka Mondo, who did a lot of graphics for us, actually did the graphics for these boards, but they were made on the set, where they were actually hand painted by Catherine Hardwicke. Way before she was a director (Lords of Dogtown, Twilight… ), she was a set decorator in Thrashin’, and she probably did like thirty to forty boards, all by hand. And then, what they do a lot of times with the props, they just store them somewhere. Finding some of the actual boards from Thrashin’, that would be cool.

BDoriginalAlva Original (1977, 2004 reissue)
Art by Eric Monson

This board is the exact opposite of the first one: thousands of it got made, back in 1977. It’s the very first one that came out on Alva.

People thought the logo was my signature but it wasn’t. I had a friend who was a designer, he did a lot of music album covers for The Weirdos, for Devo, his name is Eric Monson. He is an amazing artist, and he came up with this logo.

Besides it being my first board, the die-cut griptape was a significant part of why it sold so much, cause back then griptape didn’t really exist. Some guys who skated barefoot would glue weird stuff on their boards, sand paper, carpet, bathroom tiles, whatever they could get on their boards to try to grip. It was the first laminated board, it had the kicktail, it had the griptape : we sold probably millions of it.

BDthebombAlva Bomb Deck (2005)
Art by Richard Villa III

What’s cool about this one is that it has the tri-tail concave, but a tri-nose too. It’s kind of a hybrid of the 80s, of the 90s, and a board that skaters would ride now.

The graphic is almost heavy metal, World War 2 looking. It’s funny ’cause I thought it would offend Japanese people, but they like it, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

One time I was talking to a Japanese lady about what happened in Nagasaki and stuff, and she just looked at me, and she said, “That was only one day. We’re an old culture, the past is the past.” The Japanese don’t see it as an insult, they see it as art.

BDsalbaSalba Collab (2010)
Art by Eric Monson

Salba was on Alva back in the day and was gonna have the first pro-model besides mine. But it never came out, so 37 years later we decided to give him his model. The stickers are placed the exact same way they were on the board he rode. We did the square wheel wells, which is what I love about boards from that time -kinda Freddy Flintstone-looking. Only 50 were made and signed by both of us, my goal is to have Steve sign the last one I have, and I’ll keep it. I am not a board collector at all, but this one is just too special.

The idea wasn’t about making money or production really, it was more about having a guy make the boards by hand, his name is Chuck Hults and has all the molds and templates in his garage. It’s so cool. With this one we were like, “Let’s do something really weird, really out of the blue, functional, eccentric, original.

The cool thing is, at some point of our careers Salba and I were really competitive and didn’t get along. We have a lot of respect for each other, but we never knew how to express that feeling until we got older. It’s like that thing in the Bible, “when you’re a child you do childish things.” Some people take a lot longer to grow up, including me.

BDdoublediamondAlva Double Diamond board one-off (2011)
Art by Tony Alva

I was working on a double diamond board, diamond nose, diamond tail, and this is the one I really like to ride. This is my favorite board right now. I ride it on everything. I hand sprayed this, dented it a little bit one day and put a little Bondo in there and fixed it and just put marker over it. I really love riding it.

Something that has a bit of that hyper kick nose like on some of these old surf boards from the ’60s, and it got the full-on Double D, something that’s rare, with a pretty big wheelbase. I haven’t released it yet for production, but like I said, when I’m done with it and I feel that everything is just the way I like it, then I will release it. I really don’t need anything but that board to go skate, that’s pretty much it.

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Le boardnographe du phonographe

This is an archive for my eponymous monthly page in Skateboarder mag. Plus a few extras few and far between, whenever I get a chance...
Absolutely shameless, unrated boardnography, exposed! -minus the Ebay guilt. Enjoy the visite...

_Seb Carayol
Memory Screened Inc. and subsidiaries' CEO

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