Daewon and Torey’s New Company
Teamwork really does make the dreams work, but it definitely helps if your buddy can ollie six-feet high and you’re Daewon and have 180 fakie manuals on lock Photo: Burnett
Hey, guys, what’s new? Anything new happening?
Daewon: Yeah, I just quit Almost yesterday officially. So that’s new. Torey reached out and we’re starting something new.
What happened, Torey? You quit Plan B? Are you crazy? That’s Danny Way’s company!
Torey: I mean, we’re all crazy. That’s the whole point of following your dreams as a pro skater. You gotta follow your gut and when your gut’s telling you something you’ll never know if it’s real unless you try. So that’s how this came about.
D: Twenty-eight years I’ve been under that Dwindle umbrella. When I started riding for it, it was still SMA. Twenty-eight years of my time invested into one board brand and now that’s it. The 28-year track record’s gone. Starting fresh. Me and Torey are three days in.
So the name is Songwill Skates?
T: Pudwon. No, it’s called Thank You.
D: It’s called Thank You. And some people might hear that and think right off the bat, like, Thank You? C’mon. There was actually supposed to be a different name but Torey told me he wanted to change it to this. At first I was, like, Agh, but then I started thinking about it and now I think it’s a perfect name because there’s so many things that me and Torey want to do with it.
T: Yeah, it was really based from an angle that when you start a board brand and you’re bringing another one into the market that you don’t wanna be like everyone else and you’re gonna do something different and do it for a reason where it’s more for skateboarding. It’s for skateboarding. It’s not only for skateboarders and for us, it’s for everything that has gotten us to this level now that’s inspired me and inspires Daewon.
D: It’s hard to explain, but like Torey says, we’re gonna try to do a lot more to give back. You probably hear that from everyone, but there’s just a lot we want to do. There’s a lot of things I want to do to give back to some people who were heroes of mine growing up that nobody even knows about. I’d love to have their name on a board or dedicate something to someone that inspired me.
I might wake up one morning and say,
“Put on this guy!” and these kids are gonna be, like, “Who the fuck is that?” and I’ll be, like, “Well, for me he’s the one who inspired me to go outside and want to buy a single kneepad. One kneepad.” You probably know what I’m talking about, too.
They were gonna originally call the company Bad News. Trouble was, good things kept happening—like this switchflip crooks Photo: Trinh
Yep, Ron Allen.
D: That dude! I used to watch his parts every fuckin’ day and sing his songs and just go and skate. But kids don’t know who he is. I would love to get his permission and put him on a board and say, “Ron, dude, thank you for what you did.” He’d probably be, like, “Dude, what the fuck did I do?” But he got me to get up and go skate and do one foots and fucking sack on a few of them because of the way he did them. Then Natas introduced them and I learned that you don’t have to use that knee.
So is there a philanthropic arm to this? Are you literally giving back?
T: Well yeah, exactly. It’s an approach with a philanthropic angle, for sure. That’s just the kind of the people me and Daewon are. We want to show appreciation to all skateboard communities around the world and also all the pro skateboarders we both look up to—all the skate photographers, filmers, artists and all the other skateboard brands that get us psyched.
A meeting of the beanies. This project was two years in the works Photo: Trinh
So back to your 28 years at Dwindle, is there a story of why you had to leave, Daewon?
D: See, after 28 years I don’t want anybody to think that something went wrong. I want to say thank you for everything they’ve done. I’d been there for 28 years—I don’t want to put it as a weird analogy, but imagine sitting around in the same pool this whole time and I just wanted to take it out of there and go upstream and see what else is out there. I’ve been sitting around in this one pool and I thought it was fine but it’s just stagnant. I haven’t moved. I’ve just been doing the same thing. Even when I left DVS after 19 years and rode for adidas that did a lot for me. It re-sparked and re-motivated me and I think with this new brand, I think I deserve it. After 28 years, to be able to leave and be involved with something I feel strongly and positive about and especially to do it with Torey and have this opportunity. Because we had been talking about it for a while. It’s re-motivating me. Like, I want to film a full part. I feel like a kid again. This graphic I’m riding right now, I look at it and I’m, like, dude, this graphic makes me happy. I want to feel that again and you have to kind of do that for yourself. I think for anybody out there, you get stuck doing the same shit over and over after 28 years, believe me, you want a little change. Like I said, we’re gonna try to give back and do a lot internally with the brand. I can’t really explain all that now. But I think it’s gonna re-motivate me and put me back out there and put more years on me of skating.
So what is it about you two? Why would you partner up with Torey? Daewon, why would you partner up with Torey?
D: Well, I think for my part, it’s amazing to partner back up with Torey because first off we were on the same shoe team for a long time. So we knew each other from that, and it was always fun traveling together.
T: Ten years.
D: Yeah, and on top of that me and Torey skate completely different. So I love going skating with him because I get to see shit I wish I could do. It’s really fun for me. On top of that, just Torey in general, when Torey gets on a project and he goes for it and he films, his work ethic is amazing. He goes 100 percent. And I feel like I’ve tried, but you know, as of lately I’ve been, like, 40 percent when I’m out there, you know what I mean? You saw me today. It’s like there’s always some kind of problem. I seriously thought I was gonna faint. It was hot underneath all that shit. Like I said, I duct taped the inside of that hood in case his board hit me in the head!
Nosegrind from flat. T-Puds always gives it 100 percent Photo: Trinh
Torey, why did you want to do this project with Daewon? You have a whole empire—the teddy bear, the fuckin’ Grizzly, the whole deal. Why’d you want to bring along a 40-year-old street skater? Why didn’t you want to go and get the next hottest kid?
T: Daewon’s still in his 20s! I’ve done a lot of entrepreneurship-type journeys and to tell you the truth, the whole reason I wanted to start this new dream was because I’ve never created something as family oriented as a skateboard company. When I hit Daewon up, it’s because we have always been so close. And I feel like there’s that time where we had our separation with me leaving Almost and going to Plan B, but he’s always had my back. Even when I left Almost he made sure that I knew that he had my back.
D: When Torey signed for Almost I even told him, “Just do a year contract.” Because I knew. The industry back then was so poisoned and there was always somebody who didn’t want somebody on a team. Torey at the time was trying to get on different companies, and I always told Torey, “Hey, if none of those work out, dude, hit me up.” He had tried to get on a couple things, which I was, like, These people are fuckin’ idiots, they don’t want Torey? Then all of a sudden Torey reached out and I was so hyped. So we got him on Almost. And after that, boom, he blew up. Everything I knew about how good Torey was, it just blew up. It’s almost like me and him could just laugh at everybody. Everyone wanted to steal him after that.
T: And Almost back then was like a family that I had been looking for. And just becoming so solid at Almost, it was never something that I’d even want to consider ever leaving. And when it came down to it that was probably one of the hardest decisions and moves that I ever made in my life. I’m really happy I skated for Plan B. It was a great time in my life and career and growth. But then I just decided it was time for me to start something of my own and really put all my effort into creating something that I felt was a different way of doing things. I knew Daewon would be the right dude to do it with because he’s had the same run of seeing out his passions and creating new board brands and businesses. I knew he’d really understand what I was trying to do and having an angle of doing something new, but doing something different and something that skateboarding was also missing—to really show people that we’re doing a new company but also we’re doing something that doesn’t exist in skateboarding right now. It took time, took a lot of time. We were talking about it and it’s been two years now that we been talking.
Last question about the old shit—how hard was it to tell Rodney?
D: See, the thing about Rodney is Rodney has my back. He doesn’t care. Rodney’s out doing his own thing right now. I had spoke to Rodney and he was, like, “Whatever you want to do that’s gonna make you happy.” Rodney has my back. Whatever I do he has my back.
Let’s talk about Danny Way. How did he take it, Torey?
T: My side of the stick was a bit more difficult leaving Plan B. Them letting me go was really tough. I definitely went about everything as professional and straight up, straightforward, as a man as I could—to let those guys know that whatever I had to do to leave without harming the company and having their blessing to go my own way. I made sure that we would part ways properly. It took a long time and with timing and everything I paid my dues to Plan B a little longer than I had intended. But when we finally split we had to see eye to eye on an agreement of what was the right way to go about leaving. Being in a contract with those dudes, legally I couldn’t just bounce.
From judos to hardflips to boneless pipe blasts, Daewon Song really is street skating history embodied Photo: Trinh
So you’re saying you had to fight for it?
T: I had to fight for what I wanted to do and I never gave up. At the same time I knew Daewon had my back and me stepping up to the plate professionally and structuring something that would be not only my future but his future as well. I wanted to come through and not let Daewon down. So I had been juggling wanting to start a new dream and also trying to try end with Plan B in a respectful manner. So by the end of it, it was all high fives and hugs, but it was definitely a tough time for me really trying to move forward and also keeping it a secret. It was a promise I made where I would stick with them until it was time for me to move on to my next journey in life. Danny is very intense and he’s very scary and I’ve always kind of been a little bit shy to converse with him the whole time I skated for Plan B. Colin McKay has been my mentor and has given me great advice.
D: I’ve known Danny Way for a long time so I was a little upset when he stole Torey from Almost but I was never bitter about it.
T: Colin did steal me from Almost but he completely understood.
D: That’s why I was a little let down. But that’s the industry; it’s the way it works. I think it’s a mutual thing, like you felt strongly about it so I had to back it because you wanted to do it. I was, like, If Torey backs it then I can’t hate on these dudes because it has to be a two-way thing. So that was fine. A funny thing, too, with this whole Thank You thing—all these shops got sent out the catalog before I told Almost I was officially leaving. So that caught them under the bus and I got a call from Gary. So me and Gary squashed it. I finally talked to him. ‘Cause that was unprofessional on my part.
Skateboarding may not be a wise career choice, but this switch crooks is gonna keep Torey on the board for a long, long time Photo: Trinh
So they found out when they saw the Thank You?
D: Yeah, and we didn’t know that it was gonna go out that fast. Things got sent out faster than we thought, which was fine, but I felt bad on that part. So I had to have this conversation and I finally squashed everything and talked to Gary. Like I said, I have the utmost respect for all of them over there and I wanted them to know that we’re leaving on good terms and I still want to continue my relationship of skating with somebody on the existing brands I do skate with like Tensor.
’Cause they turn the best.
D: Cause Rodney started that company and I have Rodney’s back.
After mastering all the normal terrain, Daewon has increasingly gone rogue. Tré flip transfer to light post reentry Photo: Trinh
Until Grind King pays you that money they owe you.
D: Grind Kings turn great. Dude, my favorite truck to this day. Donald, if you’re out there, bro. I heard it’s actually coming back.
We made a joke about it in the magazine. We said “Grind King’s back, and that’s good because they owe Daewon money.”
D: Dude, they do! Those trucks made me have to skate my trucks the way they are now. Because they loosen by themselves when you skate and you don’t know when the fatality blow of your truck flying off on the downhill is gonna happen. ‘Cause the hardware is on the bottom so they would start getting loose by themselves!
Like a G.D. video game! T-Puds with the nollieflip back tail drop down backside flip out Sequence: Trinh
So do I understand correctly that you guys are the whole team? This is it? You guys aren’t gonna try to go steal all the best ams? You’re not gonna go to the training camp and swoop Flip and Blind on the next amazing foreigner?
T: I mean, me and Daewon are a team.
D: Yeah we’re teaming it up. I mean, we’re scouting it out. Let me tell you today at the skatepark I seen some potential.
T: Starting the company, we want to show the brand’s authenticity of what we’re doing so people can understand what this company is. And I think me and Daewon are the lead on really giving the whole story and vibe of the whole thing.
D: I mean, we hopefully can build a team but not sit there and try to grab the hottest dudes for that. There are so many kids out there and so much talent, there’s even kids that aren’t even that gifted that you can try to give that opportunity to.
T: And believe it or not skateboarding has changed so much for all the skateboarders who have dedicated their lives to it and have made it their line of work—which I don’t recommend for anyone in high school. It’s not a line of work that I would recommend choosing, but when you’re gifted and you have the opportunity, dude, it’s really hard right now for a lot of skateboarders that have been working their ass off to be treated respectfully in a way that they feel is worth their while. A whole other reason for doing a company with Daewon is that we want to be able to actually make skateboarders feel comfortable.
D: We come from two way different eras of skateboarding. I guess I’m the History Channel and Torey’s more of the relevant stuff, so it kind of pans out great. I’ve had to watch skateboarding change and try to evolve and go Oh, that’s the new thing? I’m gonna skate and do this. Judos and wallrides are my thing. I started skating when I had to push a launch ramp to a park and fly against the wall and hope that I could just bounce off it like anyone else. I went from that to trying to skate technical. It’s just weird, when you’ve been there for that long you can understand skateboarding in a different way. You don’t sit there and try to copy anybody. Every day I skate I’m just trying to be who I am. Nah, I’m the same as anybody else. If I see something I Iike, I’m gonna try to copy it. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s skateboarding: you get inspired by certain people and inspiration is the biggest thing in skateboarding to keep everybody motivated. So I’m all for it and I think Torey, too—I’ve seen some of the stuff that he’s filmed lately and I’m just, like, Jesus! I can’t even believe it. That shit inspires me. I’ll never be able to do even half of it but it inspires me because at least I can just dream about it.
T: I mean, I skate and I never thought I would inspire anyone and to hear that my skating inspires Daewon, that’s why I’m so motivated to keep skating and progressing. I mean, dude, it’s endless. You get older and eventually you’re gonna run out but that’s why it’s like, dude, you make it your life. You make it your focus and if you love skateboarding enough you’ll be doing it hard as a rock.
What’s your favorite Daewon era and hairstyle? I like the high-top fade. I like that one a lot.
D: You liked the pompadour? That’s when it was hard to wash my hair.
T: Didn’t you have it bleached for one second?
D: It was bleached, but people always thought I permed my hair. For the record I never permed my hair. I would never go into a salon and perm it! And I don’t even think the self perm existed back then, so that’s out.
T: Dude, it was bleached and it would just stick straight up.
D: It faded and it had so much hairspray in it if I would have gone next to any bonfires it would have been dangerous. Dude, I had so much hairspray that in Trilogy when I flew backwards and hit my head people were, like, “Are you alright?” And the funny thing is I acted like maybe I wasn’t so good but, dude, I had so much hairspray on my hair that I was wearing a helmet. The crust on the back end bounced me right back on my feet! Seriously, Mike. I didn’t even get faded at all. But back then you had to be dramatic and act it out.
T: But it’s so funny because I never even knew that you had that hair. ‘Cause you never see it.
Three-sixty into the spillway. Pudwill on those Andy Schrock levels Sequence: Trinh
Yeah what’s up with it right now?
D: I just had it shaved.
Yeah, lately you’ve kind of been in this, like, secret-identity mode with the hood up, zipped up tight. What’s with the secret-identity mode?
D: Well it’s funny because secret-identity mode, Paul Shier would call it Jason Bourne ’cause I wear this hat and stuff. But honestly I’ve just been trying to sweat out a lot of the bullshit I’ve taken in the night before. I’m not joking. It’s funny, I’ve been trying to eat super healthy but on a side note, certain nights I’ve been watching weird series and they make me feel emotional. So I’ve been eating sweets. Before I go home I make sure I have at least a tray of cinnamon rolls or something sweet. I just got these pomegranate cherry Pop Tarts, dude, disgusting. When I eat those and have a beer the next day I know I’m gonna wake up feeling shitty. So I go to the local skatepark, I put all that shit on, and honestly I sweat out about three pounds of water and then a pomegranate cherry Pop Tart.
So you guys are going through some wild changes in your life. Torey gave up the grass and he got married. You have a new secret-identity look and you got a new baby. Is this just a crazy, wild time of change so you just had to throw a new board company on the top of all of it?
D: Yeah, we were just like everything is going nuts right now, let’s fuckin’ do this.
T: Yeah, I mean, you just gotta step your game up.
D: It’s like Jenga. We’re just stacking it up and hoping not to fall over.
Did you ever get to ride in Daewon’s Hummer?
T: Yeah, I rode in the Hummer.
D: Woo, I miss that thing. Anybody who bought it out there at the auction or sold it let me know. I’ll buy it back for two grand.
How many nights did you spend in the Hummer?
D: Total? All together, not counting the two weeks straight, I’d say a total of two months I slept in that thing. Dude, it was super roomy.
T: Daewon made me want to get a Hummer but by the time I got my license they didn’t even have them anymore.
D: It was embarrassing to pull up to spots with it. I initially got it because I was on this whole camping thing where I wanted to roll up to a campsite like in the commercials, like flying through the dirt right to the lake and getting my pole out and casting it right there with the fishing lures I bought online that claim that you’ll catch a fish right when you throw it in. Do you remember the helicopter lures?
Dude, it’s fuckin’ bullshit. I never caught a
fish on that.
Classic Daewon Song magic! Grind up, blunt fakie, grind down Photo: Trinh
Daewon, are you riding Grizzly grip now?
Is that weird for you, Torey?
T: Nah, I mean it’s a whole separate program. Separate journey, you know?
D: What wheels do you skate for?
T: Ghetto Child.
D: See? I ride for Spit.
You guys are juggernauts of the social-media world. What do you think about skaters doing it all through Instagram. They’re not traveling, they’re not skating street. When we were at the park just now, I heard a kid say, “That’s Daewon. He’s like Chris Chan levels.”
D: Is that what he said!?
T: I just feel like a lot of skateboarders, they still care about being sponsored and they want to get good and actually try to have a career and make it in the video. Their dream is be in the video or to be on a team. But a lot of kids, they just wanna get views. I don’t think that people are developing their talents to actually become a professional in skateboarding as much anymore.
So what does it take to go beyond being a YouTube or Instagram star?
D: Honestly, with the whole Instagram and YouTube and all that stuff, I’m not gonna hate on any of it because a lot of these kids, they’re born into it. That’s just their world and if that’s their outlet to shine and it motivates them, I feel like, you know what? Do it. You can’t hate on it. You’ve got a lot of girls skating and they’re insane. Half of these girls I’m watching on Instagram, there’s things they’re doing that I wish I could do! I’m all jealous so I unfollow them, you know what I mean? I’m just joking. But they’re so good. It’s so insane and there are so many kids coming up through Instagram—they’re doing all these quirky things that people are catching on to. A lot of people who are more mainstream can relate to it. That’s fine, but in order to get into the real market of skateboarding there’s a fine line between Instagram and filming a legit part. A lot of these kids, they’re huge on Instagram then you see a pro skater with no followers. One dude is the best skater in the world and the other can flare out his tricks weird or tell jokes and he’s got more attention. That’s just where it’s at now. No matter what, though, they’re both just doing their own thing. I just don’t want to hate on that because I got caught up in the same way. For years I was, like, I’ve got to do a switch heel backside nosegrind today. I had to do a new trick every time I filmed. I’m dragging tables onto the roof. Then you see me years later on Instagram and I’m rolling around at a skatepark on a fuckin’ office chair. If you went back in a time machine and told me back then that in the future I’d be in an office chair at the skatepark spinning around for my own entertainment I’d be, like, bullshit. But I find myself doing it because that chair was there and that shit was fun as hell. I spun my ass around and all of a sudden people were laughing and they liked it. It was more spontaneous but Instagram is that outlet for me to go and enjoy myself and not get so serious. I think that’s what kids are doing, too, and they’re using it as a tool to put themselves out there just like artists and musicians.
Traveling, getting paid and back lipping the shit outta this crusty pyramid out ledge. Torey’s living it Photo: Trinh
Daewon, I would think you’d really like social media just because you don’t like traveling, you don’t like demos, you don’t like crowds, you don’t like people looking at you.
D: Oh yeah. That too. I’m supposed to fly to China in two weeks and I’m, like, Can’t you just build a set for me to make it look like I’m in China? I used to have so many excuses, but after this many years you run out of them.
T: Daewon needs to have an Excuse Book for Dummies. ‘Cause he is the king and Daewon never seems to fail.
D: But half of them are real! Like my dog got hit by a car, barely survived, we went to the vet and he’s a fuckin’ hundred percent now. Then he got attacked by a pack of wolves and I found him later that week in the wolf’s mouth.
Before you got on adidas, how long had you been dodging tours?
D: Maybe eight years.
What was your most ridiculous excuse to get out of going on tour?
D: Maybe when I told them I got hit by a car on a bike that I didn’t own.
Meanwhile, Torey, you’re the kid who’s been pulled in every single direction like Daewon the first 20 years of his career. Do you ever want to go rogue sometimes and just goof around with your friends and not go to the shop signing?
T: You know what, I’m married now and I roll my ankle just from landing on a four stair and rolling away. My ankles roll when I land tricks now, so it’s really nice to kind of kick back and be able to focus on being a boss and being in the office. So all my passions I can make sure are growing and continuing to succeed but I will never take a break or say no to any type of trip or tour. As much as I’ve seen what it’s like to get older from all the stories I was told when I was young, I understand it, but I wanna continue to inspire all these younger kids on Instagram that have the talent to skate. Because they’re missing out, man. I would only hope that this is the future of skateboarding and skateboarding continues to see the new faces because it seems that a lot of these kids, they don’t care. They wanna post on Instagram, they wanna get followers but they should want to travel and get paid. When you’re young skateboarding is so much fun, dude. It’s lawless, and now it seems that everything changed. There’s all these weird laws on skateboarding and all the youngsters don’t have the opportunity to fuck around.
Have you ever tried to reach out to any of these Instagram stars?
T: Yeah, I hit up that kid Versace Plug. He told me, “I don’t do sponsors.” That threw me off so I told him, “That ain’t what this is!” He never hit me back. I guess he’s on some new shit.
￼An 84-foot-long back tail?! No thank YOU Torey Pudwill. You too, Daewon Photo: Trinh
Daewon, who would you put on the team today no questions asked?
D: I don’t want to put it out ’cause these kids are so cocky out there, man.
T: We’re talking pros?
D: You know somebody who’s really a great skateboarder in person, too? When I was in New York we were just skating down the street and he was just skating around the street, jumped around on everything spontaneous, is Mark Suciu. God, that guy’s good. His pretzel spins and spontaneous jumping, I was, like, “Wow, man, you just did a whole part on the way to the spot.” And I barely just met him. I dunno if he was showing off? Maybe, huh? He might have been showing off. But he doesn’t need to show off to anybody because he’s so good. So I was pretty pumped on him and he has an amazing mind. He’s a super smart dude.
T: He’s got a rad outlook on his career in skateboarding and it’s really cool to see the way that he still kills it.
D: I like Dennis, too, man, because he so doesn’t give a shit. We were in Japan and I was, like, “How do you shut all these people out?” and he’s like, “Fuck ‘em!” I’m, like, Oh, there it is.
Okay, Torey, who would you put on no questions asked?
T: Well we’re definitely gonna have a female on the team. They’re killing it and like 100 percent she’s gonna be a badass that shreds and her board sits on the shelf right next to mine and Daewon’s. I’ve built a whole fantasy team in my head. I tried my hardest to put this thing together, but once again, you can’t just steal people away from another company and you can’t disrespect what they got going on.
So no names?
T: Okay, I really want Luan on the team.
D: Yeah! There’s his name, Luan!
T: I love Luan, I think he’s a great dude.
What’s something about Torey that no one really knows?
D: People don’t know how passionate he is when he wants to do something. From this whole experience of the last year and a half of him trying to get out of that contract and talking to me and us going back and forth I realized how much he wanted to do this. He even made me realize how much I wanted to finally leave somewhere for that long and be involved with him. ‘Cause I’ve wanted to do something like this for awhile. It’s just hard to find the right person. He made me realize that he’s the right person to connect with. He made me believe that this could work. People think they know Torey. They see him killing it, he’s out there and he’s always happy and stuff like that but I get to see the dark side of Torey—the dude who will do whatever it takes to get things done and make his vision happen. So it’s gonna be good.
What’s something about Daewon?
T: My mom is in love with him. I met Daewon when I was nine and my mom was already in love. Every single time that I’ve gone on a trip with Daewon she’s, like, “Can you get me Daewon’s autograph?” I’m, like, “Mom, I’ve gotten you Daewon’s autograph five times!”
T: Dude, skating for DVS, skating for Almost and now starting a company together, it only feels right.
D: Torey has had my back. I think this whole thing right now was meant to be and I can sound cheesy but I think it was meant to be for me and him to have something together. To start a company together and use both of our experiences in skateboarding and try to make something out of it. I think it’s gonna be fun.
T: Skater owned, skater ran, skater operated.
D: Try to find some talent out there and do stuff for people that really appreciate skateboarding. Skateboarding’s not about being the best, sometimes these kids, the determination they put in order to just get something, I love it, man.
T: Eat, breath, shit, skateboarding. Thank You, skateboarding.
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