Dakota Servold Interview
Dakota Lee Servold is a warrior of the road with a heart of gold. He is one of those people that when he sets his mind to something, he will do it—no matter the costs. From grinding the gnarliest rails or driving the van eight hours straight, Dakota gets the job done. We grew up skating in the same city and both got our first taste of sponsorship for the same skateshop. Through every twist and turn on our path of skateboarding, he's been right there with me, hucking his body and putting up with my techno. Dakota is a the real deal, and if you don't believe me, just look at this interview for proof!
How old were you when you started skating?
I was seven years old when I started skating. My brother came up to me and told me to stop being a loser, basically. He put a skateboard in my hand and that’s when I started skating. He showed me Misled Youth, that was in 1999. That’s when I was like, This is what I want to do. I want to skate.
Who inspired you at that age?
My first favorite pro skater was probably Jamie Thomas—from watching him in Misled Youth and skating big rails. I wanted to able to do that, to skate big rails. And It kind of bled into Muska as I got older.
I remember you had pretty cool style when you were a little kid. You had super-tight pants and I remember you had the chain necklace with the lock. You looked like TNT.
That was sick. I remember the chain was a little too long and when I ollied it almost chipped my fuckin’ tooth.
Do you remember your first sponsor?
My first sponsor was PV Grind—Paradise Valley Grind. We were both on PV Grind! That’s where it all started and that’s why skateshops are so important. If it wasn’t for them who knows where we would be. Support your local skateshops, everyone.
PV Grind was there for us and helped us out a lot.
That was the first place that gave us the idea to do something with this skateboarding thing. It gave us that push and got us thinking, Hey, we can really be skateboarders. It made us progress to that next level.
It definitely opened up the window and showed us what was out there. Who’s getting you hyped these days to go shred?
All my friends—you, Jon Dickson, Leo Romero, Julian Davidson, Jeremy Leabres, dudes like that.
What do you think you would be doing if you didn’t skate?
I would probably be face down in a fucking ditch.
You’d be six feet under?
I don’t know. I would probably be a desert lizard, living in AZ, just curdling around.
That’s kind of what I do.
Yeah, you pretty much do that as a pro skater. It’s pretty badass. That’s why you’re the destroyer.
Don’t look back. Front blunt crossover Photo: Karpinski
What do you think you will be doing after skating, if that’s even on your radar?
After skating, I would imagine I would maybe move back to AZ and work with Bryan Bourgeois for Sweetwater Steel Works, learn how to weld and stuff. Just do stuff like that and skate parks and stuff. Out there in the streets still. Without skateboarding, what is your purpose? I feel like I would lose my mind anyways. I’m pretty okay with the thought of being a welder or doing something like that, using my hands and learning how to do something that I’m interested in.
I’m going to go work for my dad and plant trees.
We’re going to be landscapers and welders just cruising the desert. We can still skate tranny and skate the parks, too. That sounds like bliss to me.
How long do you think you can legitimately last on the road?
I think until I grew old and didn’t want to skate anymore. That’s where you want to be. I always felt like I was traveling anyways. Moving from AZ to California made me feel like I didn’t really have a home. I already feel like I’m on a trip being in California. I would rather just be where there’s new spots.
Ramblin' through and nollie flipping the twigs as they come, life on the road suits Dakota well Photo: Karpinski
Have you ever thought about just decking out your truck and making it into a home and just going?
Without a filmer I wouldn’t last, or I would have done that years ago.
We can just film each other. I’ll come with you.
Me and Leo were talking about getting a VX but I don’t think we have the patience to film each other so it would all just be static. Send it in like, “Here’s our footy.”
Tripod angles only.
I don’t think Timmy would be so excited about that. That’s alright, he can come meet us somewhere.
I feel like that’s the way to go—two skaters, a camera and just go.
That’s what Rowley would do, Jamie Thomas and stuff. They would just film each other and that footage in that era was the most epic footage. That’s what’s even more crazy about it, not knowing as a kid that’s what was going on. I figured that out as I got older. This is Geoff Rowley filming Arto skating this rail, that’s insane.
We gotta bring that back.
I get so impatient while filming, it’s fucking gnar. It’s fun at times.
This fronstside 50-50 drop down grind would make Rowley and Thomas prowd Photo: Karpinski
You and Leo always say, “Burned in fire and brim.” What is brim?
Brim’s stoned, dawg.
Brim’s got a bigger meaning than brimstone. It’s more than just sulfur rock.
We all got brim.
We all have the brim in our hearts.
You definitely have brim. You’re a brim rider.
Brim soldier. You’re like the brim general.
That’s badass. Thank you, bro, thank you for that honor.
What’s it like filming with Tucson Timmy?
Filming with Tim is gnar. Tim was filming me when I was filming for Souvenir. I kinda told him what I wanted to do—stop drinking and film this part. He was like, “You wanna do that? Okay.” And he was there every morning at 9:30 AM. He would pick me up and we would go skate. That’s a pretty gnarly friend to have—to go out of their way, not even making any money off of it, to benefit each other. That was a really special thing that Tim did. Tim is a pretty special thing to me.
How about filming with Cody Long? He’s living at your house right now.
We kinda have to drag Cody Long out of the house but I like having him in the van. It’s pretty fun. He’s Cody Long-Live, he’s good to have. He’s a bright spirit, that one.
When you're burned in fire and brim, risking a sack on a kinked and curved boardslide is no cause for concern Photo: Karpinski
How long have you known Tim?
I’ve known Tim since I was about 15 or 16 years old? I’ve known Tim for a long, long time. In my phone, it’s still Tucson Tim. Tucson isn’t spelled right but it makes Tim chuckle.
I’ve known him for a very long time as well and he’s still in my phone as Tucson Tim.
Tucson Timmy’s come a long way. I don’t actually know where he’s from. Every time we go on trips he says, “Actually, I was born here.” We’re like, “What?” and he’s all, “Well, I grew up here, but was born there. I lived over there.” This fuckin’ dude doesn’t know where he’s from. He’s Tucson Tim to me.
One of the first times I went out skating with him, he showed me his knife collection.
That’s about right. How he shows us his sickle collection. Do you know what a sickle is?
No, what is that?
A sickle is what the Grim Reaper has.
Hell yeah. Tim is super goth.
He’s going to use it to chop of the knobs at spots so we can skate ‘em. Pretty bad ass.
Grim Reaper Tim.
I was just with him today, going out with him tomorrow. Every day. Emerica video, here we come!
Be accountable by matching your pants with the spot when you wallie grind hubbas Photo: Karpinski
This might be the hardest question in the interview—what is your favorite Bob Dylan song?
Let’s just go with my favorite Dylan song right now and it is “Most of the Time.”
So I know that you’re very heavily into music.
So are you.
Yes, we are both into music. We trade music with each other quite often. You play music from the moment you wake up pretty much ’til the moment you go to sleep.
Yeah, and I like my music loud.
And I also know you’ve got a little rave heart inside of you. You like the techno.
That’s just from the desert, from when we were kids. Listening to “Let it Rain.”
Do you have any good memories of going raving with me back in the day?
That one rave that we went to the day that I grinded the Cheesecake Factory rail. ’Cause I grinded that rail and then right after that we were in my car blasting fuckin’ techno, that Bird Peterson song.
Yep, “Keep it Hood.”
I grinded that rail first try somehow and then after that we went to the other bump to rail over by your house and we cut that rail. Remember the cops came up all fucking crazy style?
Oh yeah, definitely.
And they’re like, “Who cut it? Who cut the rail? What’s going on?” We said Truman Hooker cut it.
They said, “Who cut the rail? We can smell it.”
They almost ran us over and they sat us all down. Then the priest came out and he asked for 100 bucks. He was like, “Just give me $100,” and then they let us go. They never fixed it and we didn’t get in trouble. We didn’t get our names taken down or anything and then we went to one of those warehouse raves. We went and raged that night. The rest can’t be talked about, but yeah, it was pretty sick.
Nothing like getting a good trick and then going to a good rave afterwards.
Yeah, that was super fun. That was probably one of the best days of my life. We were so young, I had just got my car. I had probably just turned 17 and you were 19.
Do you remember the first time that you met my parents? Because I asked them the other day and they have a memory of you coming in with mud all in your eyes and you had to clean the mud off your face.
Oh, that’s right. We were having a mud fight and I think it was your dad who threw a fuckin’ pile of mud in my eye. He took me back to the house. That was when we first started hanging out. It was probably within the first week or something.
I forgot about that ’til my dad brought it up and I had a flashback of him spraying your eyeballs with the hose.
I remember looking in my eye and there was literally mud inside of it. Your dad was pulling at it. He was probably like, Oh my God, I just fucked this kid up. This kid’s probably gonna sue me, ’cause he didn’t really know me then.
Do you remember another time when my dad hurt you?
When he killed me at Chandler park playing crack the whip?
Here’s mud in yer eye! Kickflip up Photo: Ballard
Yep. For people who don’t know what crack the whip is, you have everybody on skateboards holding hands and then one person in the front swings everybody and the last person in the back gets flung from the velocity.
But everyone that we skated with it was regular except for me and Jordan. So Jordan was holding onto my hand and I was the last one and he didn’t let go and I fuckin’ soared over the whole entire skatepark to the top of my head. I remember just going to the fetal position and your dad was getting me up and carrying me out of the park and putting me in the shade ’cause it was probably like 120 degrees out.
I remember you did not leave the fetal position. You were just holding your head. You were not crying but you weren’t saying anything. You were just laying there while my dad carried you into the shade. We were all just laughing like, Look at Cody. He got his head hurt.
I remember literally landing on my head and I was like, Whoa, that was gnar. But I didn’t get knocked out ’cause I remember the whole thing. I remember Jordan holding onto me and being in the air like, This dude just killed me. That was sick. I think that was when you were going there practicing for that contest.
Yeah, we were.
We both got first place at that contest.
Do you remember our very first contest that we skated? We both won our division and that was a very good day.
Yeah, seriously. We also got those Speed Demon medal things, remember? We had them and we were throwing them like frisbees.
And it cut the shit out of my hand. I remember I went to the nurse’s office and she’s like “How’d you do this?” I was like, “I fell at the park,” ’cause I didn’t want to explain to her that we were throwing a metal frisbee disc at each other. And she’s like, “That’s a crazy cut for being at the skatepark.” I’m like, “I know, right?”
I still have mine because it reminds me of that. I remember we also got Black Label’s Blackout video and that was the first time I saw it. And I think we also got a Black Label board. It must have been sponsored by Black Label. I have photos of that contest. I think I had dyed black hair and a red bandana on. Skin-tight pants.
Yep. That’s the way I remember you—I remember you as Cody with dyed black hair and you were really, really small. You were, like, nine years old.
I still feel like I’m that old. But yeah, that was super sick.
So we grew up skating together—we skated our first handrail together, skated PV park all the time and it was fuckin’ sick. I forgot where I was gonna go with that.
We’re still growing up skating together, pretty much. Now we’re growing old.
Bar hop to 50-50, forever on the road Photo: Karpinski
That’s what I was gonna lead into—we started off at gold dust rail and PV park and we ended up getting to travel across the whole world together. We just went to Africa. I never thought that would ever be a thing in my whole entire life, to be able to travel to Africa with you on a skateboard. Life is trippy. Did you ever think that was a possibility?
Definitely not. I think we’re really fortunate in that sense but it’s funny to think about ’cause those memories we have as kids are still so fond. They’re still just right there and to think of going back in time and telling our kid selves like, “Hey, you guys are gonna end up traveling the world on these skateboards.” We’d be like, “There’s no way that’s ever going to happen.” Especially growing up in Arizona, both being from Sweetwater and just watching all the pros and stuff. I feel like we kind of just looked at it like our little group of friends was the world. We weren’t gonna be pro skaters, we just wanted to skate.
Yeah, we just wanted to have fun with our friends and just keep having fun.
And the thing with us and the reason I think we thought better was that we basically wanted to be better just to be able to do the tricks that our friends were doing. It wasn’t like a competitive thing. Well, I guess it was competitive in a way, but it wasn’t gross. It was just like, I wanna go do that with him. I remember skating Peoria park and seeing people skat the big eight and the eight hubba and being like, I want to do this with them. I don’t want to not be able to do this. So that’s why I got better.
Yeah, skating together with you, like you grinding rails, I was like, Oh, I need to grind these rails. Then going to Vans park and all you guys would drop in on the vert ramp and it was like, Alright, I need to drop in now. Everybody in the group’s gotta do it.
And then your dad was always taking us to parks so that really helped us get better ’cause we were consistently going to skateparks and all skating together and pushing each other to be better ’cause we wanted to be able to do stuff. And that’s why it was so special to us. That’s why skateboarding was that much more to us and that’s why we kept doing it into our older years just ’cause we were so stoked on getting better with each other.
For sure. And still to this day I watch you do front blunts and I’m like, Goddamn, I need to get my front blunts a little better now.
I watch you skate PV park and I’m like, Fuck, I need to move back to AZ and get better at PV park. This is bullshit.
That’s awesome. I think that we definitely have that bond as brothers, just being able to feed off of each other really well like that. We just got done with a two-month long trip. I lasted 60 days. How long did you last?
We went to 74.
Think about HK. Boardslide across and around Photo: Karpinski
Seventy-four days. That’s the longest trip you’ve been on, right?
Yeah, that was the longest one.
Growing up with you and then you moving to California—I’m staying in Arizona and then you kinda built yourself up in your way. Then I got to go with you on that trip and got to watch you and Leo operate as very professional skateboarders and do everything awesome, it was really cool to see.
It’s cool to see how far it’s come, you know? And also how far we’re gonna continue to go doing stuff like that. ’Cause now I feel like we’re figuring it out to where we can stay on the road. It’s interesting. I think that’s where we both want to be is on the road traveling in this time of our lives. In our peak physical condition, it’s like, what else are you gonna do? Why stay at home when you can be out skating and doing the thing that you love the most, especially with such special people. That’s why those trips are so insane ’cause we’re all such good friends so you don’t feel uncomfortable or anything. You’re in your own environment but you’re checking out the world and meeting new people and making lifelong friendships along the way, which is insane.
And I see that you’ve also made new lifelong friendships with people like Leo. You live with him and he’s become one of your best brothers, one of my best brothers as well. How is that, living with Leo and being able to skate with him all the time?
It’s really fun. It’s funny ’cause it’s kind of like the same thing as when we were kids. Leo is so good so it’s like, Okay, I have to get better to play this dude at SKATE every day. That’s what made me get better at flatground, It was like, I can’t let this dude beat me at SKATE all the time. And growing up seeing him skating leading into now where we hang out all the time and it’s like, Alright, I have to get better at skating. So I feel like that pushed me to the next level.
So you just got on Emerica, which is fucking dope. I know that ever since you were a little kid, that’s a dream that you’ve had. You would buy Emerica shoes when we were little. Hell yeah.
Yeah, the Emerica thing is really sick and that all happened really organically which was really special, you know?
For sure. You haven’t had anything since Dekline went under, right?
Yeah. So Dekline went under, what, four years ago now and we were both on that team together being fuckin’ sick. So it took time. I feel like all special things in life take time so it was worth the wait.
Shit don’t happen over night.
It’s one of those things where Emerica was so special and now that I’m working on this Emerica part it’s like, Holy shit. It’s like you’re a dog chasing cars and once you grab onto one what are you gonna do? You don’t even know what you’re gonna do with it, you just want it. Now that I’m there I’m like, Oh shit, what am I gonna do? Hopefully this part is gonna be good enough.
Why waste your life hungover when you can risk it barging 30-stair Smith grinds? Photo: Karpinski
Is that what you’re doing right now, you’re filming an Emerica part?
Yeah, working on this Emerica part. And I’m working on that with Jon Dickson, so I’m watching him skate and I’m like, Oh my God, this dude’s so fucking good at skateboarding so you can’t do anything bad.
He is so gnarly. He’s so good.
He’s like the best skater ever. So it’s just weird. You could ask him, “Can you do nollie full Cab flips?” And he’s like, “Oh, I’ve never really done one. I can try one,” and he does it and it’s just so much flick, power and pop. You’re just like, How is he doing this like this?
God, his nollie flips are a thing of beauty.
It’s truly a thing of fuckin’ beauty. Jon hits me up every morning like, “Where are we skating?” It’s like, “Fuck, I don’t know, Jon. Let’s just get out there and skate.” He’s really driven to skate and that’s really fuckin’ special, just having people there like, “Hey, let’s skate.” It’s a good environment.
Have a nice day? It’ll be better than your whole life Photo: Karpinski
And then you, Jon and Leo are off the alcohol. You’re not drinking, right?
Cool. How is that? How is that affecting your skating?
It’s doing good. It’s one of those things where you look at it and you’re like, Why am I wasting my time being hungover in this time in my life? You kinda just go fuckin’ skate instead. You just take all that energy you’ve wasted and you put it towards skating.
That’s beautiful. I love it. How long has it been since you’ve had a drink?
I haven’t had a drink for 17 months, I think.
What is gonna be your first drink when you have a drink again?
Probably an old fashioned.
That’s the whole thing with it—you wanna be able to control yourself and being a skateboarder it’s so easy to lose control or lose sight of what you’re really doing. And you need to be able to balance that. Because I don’t think drinking is the worst thing in the world, I just think that me wasting my time drinking was really bad. I was just like, Damn, I’m wasting my youth. So I don’t plan on going forever but whenever the time’s right and to not just be some crazy drinker again and just be able to have a drink and be like, Okay, just one and done.
Yeah, it’s all moderation.
Yeah it’s just like a social thing, you know? And that’s what all this stuff is—it’s just a test and then I don’t know when I’ll be ready to drink again. It’s easier to look at it as it’s not forever because forever is such a long time.
And you don’t want to think of it like that.
Yeah. Just a day-by-day thing and then just having a drive to accomplish something. So that’s what I’m doing right now, working on this Emerica part. It’s like my sober part and this is who I am right now and this is what I’m doing.
I think that definitely has a major impact if you have a goal or a drive and you think, Hey, I don’t need this other stuff that’s setting me back from my goal. I think as skateboarders, we have very good self discipline and we can just turn it off when we need to. You just say, “No, I’m done.” You let it go and then focus on what really needs to get done.
But that’s the thing with being a skateboarder, too—your time is your own. You can do whatever and that’s how it’s so easy to fall into such bad stuff. ’Cause every day is like your own time and you’re filling your time with whatever you wanna do. So it’s easy to fall into drinking and not caring about what you’re really doing. But you have to realize, like, wait—I’m here because I’m a skateboarder. I’m not here to just fuckin’ party. I’m here to do something and inspire kids to be the best skateboarders they can be and be something other than what they think they can be, something more than what they are.
That is beautiful. Here to inspire and grow.
Yeah, that’s what the skaters before us did for us. That’s what pushed us to do this and now we’re traveling the world together and that’s from the skateboarders before us. Shoulders of giants, you know?
I got one more question. One way to change the world, how would you do it?
Everyone listens to techno. Everyone listens to Chemical Brothers and everyone loves one another.
Every person gives one random person a hug a day?
That would be badass. And everyone listens to “Dream On” by Chemical Brothers. That would probably help them all out. That would probably do something.
Hugs? Techno? Skateboarding will save the world. Dakota knows Photo: Karpinski
Well, that’s all the questions I wanted to ask.
I actually brought you here to interview you. How are you the gnarliest skater of all time? How are you fucking that gnarly? They better put that in print. Jaws is the gnarliest skater ever.
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