The Follow Up: Ryan Townley
By Alex Papke
Hey, Townley, how’s it going? What are you up to?
I’m at my girlfriend Delaney’s place right now. I just got done skating and now I’m waiting for her to get off work.
Doesn’t sound too bad. I know it’s a couple months late, but congratulations on getting a pro board! That’s a big move up. Has it felt different these last few months since it happened?
I don’t know. It’s kind of all the same. I think I just gotta keep skating more and more. I’ve been going on a bunch of trips recently, staying busy. I have a couple more coming up soon, so staying busy with that as well as wrapping up this part we’re doing this interview for. That comes out Friday, so anything I get until then is going towards that. Welcome is also doing a full length sometime early next year, so after this most of my footage will be going towards that.
Classic Silverlake street gap, classic varial kickflip— no wonder Townley got the pro nod
You just got back into town the other day, right? What trip were you on?
Oh yeah, it was me, Leo, Dakota, Jaws and our friend Mike Cukr was filming. It was just kinda a homie trip where everyone is filming for separate projects and Leo hit me up seeing if I was around and wanted to hit the road with them. We were supposed to get all the way to Tennessee but because of the hurricanes a bunch of the states were rainy. So we got to hit Arkansas, Tulsa and Dallas. We’re doing an OJ trip the beginning of October and we’re kinda going all over the areas we weren’t able to cover on this last trip so I’m pretty stoked.
Speaking of OJ, don’t you have a wheel coming out soon?
Yeah, middle of October is when my wheel comes out. I was hyped, I got my good childhood friend Muzae Sesay drawing the art for it so I think it’s gonna come out pretty cool.
You didn’t do this one yourself? I know you did some griptape and people seemed to really like it.
Thanks. Yeah, I did griptape for Mob that came out this year and I worked on designing my board. Doing the board was really cool for me. I just mess around doing these collage pieces and Jason at Welcome hit me up and asked if I wanted to do a collage and he would draw the collage into the graphic. I thought it was cool to collaborate on something like that while being able to keep the aesthetic of the brand.
Up and over with room to spare, no bump is safe for Townley’s kickflips Photo: Karpinski
That’s awesome you get that much creative power over your stuff. Does it trip you out going to your local park and seeing kids skating your boards? Every time I’m at Brea park I see so many Townley boards.
Oh yeah, definitely. It trips me out every time. It’s cool, though, you know? I grew up going to that park. I always take my used stuff there and see kids skating around the Fullerton area in my old shoes and old boards. They’re always stoked to get free stuff, even if it’s been used. It’s cool getting to hook up the locals.
You’ve been going on a couple Converse trips the last few months as well. Who do you usually room with on those?
This last one I roomed with Dane Barker. He’s sick. And then the other one I was on I was with Kenny. It usually depends who’s on the trip but all of those dudes are awesome. It’s been fun traveling with them.
You’re into the vegan stuff, right? Kenny’s practically famous in the vegan world.
We definitely eat a lot of vegan food when we’re on trips together. Which is good. I like to do it. Gotta stay healthy somehow. My girlfriend is vegetarian so a lot of the times when we go out it will be to a vegan spot. I’m used to it at this point. I wouldn’t say I’m the healthiest, though. I need to quit smoking.
Occasional veganism will give you the snaps for half Cabs like this—take notes
I know you went on a trip with them that went through the South. That zone can sometimes be hectic with people. You see any crazies down there?
Well, every skater was pretty much from a different country and taking a group of people that haven’t spent much time down there, well, they might be surprised. This dude came up to us at a spot who was drinkin’ and shit, and he was tripping super hard on us for just skating across the street, giving us the speech that we’re gonna get hit by a car. He ends up leaving and coming back and he had a fucking handgun tucked in his waistline. All of the dudes that weren’t from the States were freaking out. For a lot of those dudes it was the first time they had ever even seen a gun, you know? And somewhere like Louisiana, where the gun laws are so loose, it was crazy for them to just see someone who’s been drinking roll up and have a gun while these dudes are skating, like it’s nothing. He just kept telling us fucked up shit, like he wanted to see us get hit by a car. The homie Felipe Bartolome, who was skating the spot, ended up getting the trick and we just took off as fast as possible.
That’s fucking crazy! I’ve seen crazy people down there but no one has whipped a gun out on us. On another note, you have a birthday coming up, right?
Yeah, we’re all gonna be going out to Joshua Tree. We rented an Airbnb out there. You’re coming; a bunch of homies are cruising out; it’s gonna be fun. Party for a weekend, then right back to skating. Having little vacations is necessary, I think. You gotta be able to do stuff that isn’t skating sometimes.
Definitely. Breaks are key. It seem like everyone is turning pro super young now. You turned pro at 26. do you think kids should be pro that soon or should they have to wait it out like a lot of people have in the past?
It all depends on other people, I guess. If you’re classified as a pro then you deserve it. I also think if other people that have been in it for awhile are giving these guys the nod, then by all means they deserve it. There are some dudes that are younger that totally deserve to be pro. Kader should be pro. All the kids from Florida are younger than me but I think they should all be pro, like Tyson and all of those dudes. They rip.
Do you think you should have been pro that young?
Hell no. I don’t think I should have been pro when I was 21 years old. Looking back on it, that would have been weird. Sometimes I don’t even know if I deserve being pro now, especially nowadays when you’re going on the Internet and everybody can do every trick imaginable. Turning pro is kinda a crazy thing that seems unobtainable when you are younger. So it definitely is something that is hard to judge when somebody should get the nod or not at any certain age.
Pro or not, there are always tricks in a part that may seem impossible, especially when you might have to go back several times for them. Were there any tricks in particular in this part that you struggled with?
I struggled with a bunch of things, for sure. I wanted to try and make this part a little bit different than my other ones. I always want to try and find some different spots in LA, but that’s a struggle within itself. I just wanted to try and think of a few tricks that I hadn’t done and I haven’t seen before, so going with that mindset isn’t exactly easy. I’ve been trying to find certain spots for a few tricks that I’ve wanted to do for awhile now so I’m glad I was able to get that out of the way. I’ve been skating a lot with Trevor Owens. He filmed the majority of my part and usually it’s just me and him driving around to stuff. He finds cool spots and it makes it easier for me. Other people will jump on the session, but for me it’s easier with less people.
Did you have a favorite boardslide? That’s your go-to trick.
I tried to not put that many in there. I think I do ’em a little too much. I try and find different ways to do them. But yeah, gotta minimize my boardslides. I don’t think this one’s the no-boardslide part, but maybe one day.
You’ve never sliced your fingers yankin’ or finger flipping out of these boardslides?
I’ve definitely bruised them.
We gotta get you some gloves, dude.
Hot spot with a new twist. One slip up and you might not be walking away with a full set of fingers. Frontside boardslide finger flip fakie over
How hands on were you putting this part together? Did you get to pick the song or was it someone at Welcome?
Yeah, I actually did. And I was stoked because Cole Mathews reached out to the band and got rights for it. Picking a song is always kinda a pain in the ass and it was sick we were able to make it work for this one. For the most part, Trevor and everybody else that helped film my part gave the footage to Richie Valdez. He edited it and then sent it over to me to see what I thought.
Seeing how fast things come out on the web, are you ever freaked out that by just putting out a part by itself it might get looked over or forgotten kind of fast?
Definitely. I think that’s what everyone is kind of worried about. You spend so much time filming for something and you don’t know if it’s good enough or if you like it or not. There’s so much effort put into it and then it’s on the internet, pretty much for like a day, then it feels like it kind of just disappears. So much stuff is coming out that people are bound to forget about it. There’s just so much content coming out every day, with Instagram and everything.
Do you feel like it's necessary to have an Instagram account? So many dudes take it really seriously and others delete the app from their phone and never post.
I think it’s more important to be involved with the companies that you’re riding for. Obviously the most important thing is that you skate as much as possible and not be an asshole. You constantly have to be going on trips, trying to film, trying to shoot photos. But with a lot of the companies, it’s crazy because they want footage for their Instagrams, too. It’s hard to film for a full part when a clip on Instagram might get just as many, if not more views. Like, if you go on a trip you’re gonna be filming for your part, but then sponsors will hit you up and want little Instagram one-minute edits for them. It’s a lot. It’s as hard as you make it, though. If you have an Instagram you have a platform to portray who you are or who you want to be, and for some people that’s helpful. For others, maybe not. There’s a tasteful way of doing it. There are some people posting clips every single day which can seem like a lot. Skateboarding is a really hypersensitive thing and the internet is crazy, so it’s hard to judge what’s right and what’s wrong.
The Uber arrived just in time to witness Townley’s nosegrind tailgrab Photo: Karpinski
Well, whatever it is, you’re doing it right. You’re on top of the world now, dude. You’re doing everything you wanted to do for the longest time now and it seems to be working out. Is being a pro skateboarder all it was cracked up to be?
Oh, I don’t know. That one’s kind of crazy. Of course, though, man. It’s really fun getting to travel with your friends and skate. I never really thought I would be able to do it like this. It’s awesome. I wouldn’t change a thing.
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