INTERVIEW WITH A WILDMAN
by Bright Krinsky
You’re from the wild woods of Vermont. Now that you’re living in the concrete wilderness of Los Angeles, how do you feel that your rural upbringing affects your approach to urban skating?
DM: As a kid I was the most excited about skating when built some elaborate feature; one in particular: a sheet of plywood stacked on bricks with a one-foot gap to another sheet of plywood stacked identically, leading to a rail (more of a shaky wooden balance beam) made from three two-by-sixes nailed together. The “rail” was also stacked on bricks. Does it sound a little precarious? It was- it fell apart every-other time I tried skating it. I think I liked the idea of our homemade skate spots being “alive,” having some sort of animate unpredictability in them, just like the woods I played in and the trees I climbed in my family’s yard. I like finding spots in Los Angeles where I get to experience similar wildness in the feature, as if the feature was skating my board, just as I am skating it.
What are some differences that you’ve noticed between the skate scene in New England and Southern California?
DM: In New England, or at least in the far north, each skateboarder you encounter is very different from the last in character and in style, so it almost entirely eliminates any real idea of competition between any of them. It’s about coexistence there. Here in Southern California, it sort of feels like a race for the temporary rewards that skating has to offer. I’m guilty of falling victim to this; whether it be sponsorship, the relief and pride of doing a trick, outdoing another skater or being somehow successful in the industry, this place can fuck with what I love most about skating.
Where do you like skating more: East Coast or West Coast?
DM: Despite my answer to the previous question, this is a tough one! The heat of the southwest keeps you consistently warmed-up and ready for any given day. But I’m going to have to go with the East Coast, particularly for the autumn season- it’s hard to beat skating in cool air while intermittently sipping on hot coffee amidst trees in their fall foliage.
We are about to go on an epic camping/skating trip through the Northwest. Do you have any goals or ideas for this trip?
DM: I want to see myself as part of a wolf pack during this trip, and to experience every position of whatever hierarchy forms. I want to skate wild and be supportive in all situations whether I’m the alpha, a subordinate, etc. The wanderlust of the wolf is shared by most skateboarders, I think, no matter what the risk or reward.
Where are you most excited to travel and explore/skate in the future?
DM: I share the dream with a Mountain Roadshow advocate, Nate Benner, of building a network of cabins in the woods that are connected by skateable bridges and music playing through speakers hanging from trees. Wait for it.
I noticed you have a lot of deep ecology books scattered about. What are some books that you’ve read recently and do you think they’ve affected your approach to skating or life in general?
DM: I just read “God’s Dog,” a book about coyotes by Hope Ryden. Coyotes thrive in the wild as well as in and on the borders of cities, and are some of the most playful, loving and spontaneous predators; sometimes I imagine I’m a coyote, haha.
The Worble incorporates some imagery of Henry David Thoreau, an unlikely candidate for skateboarding. Can you tell me about that?
DM: Thoreau, like the wolf and the skateboarder, had wanderlust.
What is the connection between skateboarding and nature?
DM: Most skateboards are made from maple trees. How neat is that?
As an upside downer (a derogatory term for New Hampshirites by Vermonters) I dig the “Rewild or Die” thing. Tell me about Rewild or Die.
DM: Damn, I think everything in the United States, maybe the world, needs to be told to “rewild or die.” Basically, if you’re not embracing your wildness and physical and spiritual connection to the world, what do you live for? That phrase “Rewild or Die” is The Worble’s way of communicating to the world, mostly through skateboarding, how important it is for a humans to be spontaneous and ever-changing, like the world we are forcing so brutally to change.
You’re rocking Window Grip with cool artwork on all your decks. Tell me about Window Grip and how you choose the artwork for your deck.
DM: Unless it be a means of thanking people who have supported me, I like Window Grip to draw attention to wild animals and themes. It has been a good part of my late interest in ornithology (check #windowgrip on Instagram).
That sequence you got in Thrasher was some insane big boy shit! Tell me about that day and getting that trick.
DM: My brother Steve and I were wondering how either of us would approach the spot, and we began evaluating it in ways we would have when we were kids. Once you involve plywood in a skate spot you can get really creative, for better or worse. I noticed that you could take the starting point of the spot to a new height (literally) by dropping from a gate onto the plywood, which would give you twice the speed, in effect adding to the intensity of the trick… then, opening my eyes a bit more to further possibility, I saw that very gate was a way to skate the entire fifty-foot-long or so ledge. Eureka!
A lot of skaters when they fall get really mad, throw their board on the ground, yell, curse, act like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum. When you fall you almost always come up smiling or laughing. I’ve always really appreciated that. I see younger kids really pick up on that kind of stuff and it’s awesome to see a positive role model.
DM: There have been times when I’ve thrown my board and been at my wits’ end, but it’s always led to more frustration. Somehow over time I’ve come to more fully embrace the fact that one day I will die, and the most depressing thing would be to leave this world in a tantrum. I’ll go out fighting, and would want to give hope to other people, skaters or not, no matter how much pain I’m in at any given moment. Letting myself laugh at my mortality helps keep my head clear, and adds some levity to rough situations. BK: So Zen dude, Love it!
What music do you listen to before and during the filming of a video part? Do you listen to different music for casual skating?
DM: One time while skating an eighteen-stair handrail I was listening to a slow folk song by the Great Lake Swimmers, and last month while filming at a twenty-stair handrail, no headphones on, I was inspired simply by the howls and “yips!” of my friends and brother cheering me on. Another time we were filming at Gould Academy in Maine for my “From the Borders” part, and we could hear a student playing classical piano inside the cafeteria; that was the most peaceful film session I can remember.
You have definitely been stepping up your game recently and getting pretty dangerous. What does your mom think about this?
DM: She gets worried, obviously, but I think she understands how I enjoy a simultaneously exciting and peaceful lifestyle that comes from my approach to skating. I Love you, Mom.
I heard you have a new video part coming out. When do we get to see it and can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?
DM: Heck yeah! The part, along with my little brother’s, is going to be on the Thrasher website at the end of September 2015. If you want to see a butt-shot of me climbing a tree, check it out! Also, with the help of my friend Alex Farrara and his Leatherman tool, I bend and peel back three schoolyard fences to make some otherwise unskatable spots skatable.
I think The North American wildlife Art of the Mountain goes really well with your woodsy and wild Vibe. What’s your favorite Mountain shirt?
DM: I’m a fan of almost every wolf, bear, fox and eagle graphic, but the now discontinued loon will always be my favorite.
What is your spirit animal?
DM: Coyote for sure. I once played my banjo while a coyote stared right into my eyes, listening to me. But I don’t think anyone has to only pick one spirit animal. I have a connection with hummingbirds which another wild person from New Hampshire shares with me.
What’s up with you and Loons?
DM: Common Loons sing the most eerily majestic songs I’ve ever heard. If there’s one animal that could suggest the deepest, most powerful loneliness and need to connect with its own kind, it’s the Loon. Before skating the scarier features of my career so far, I think I’ve felt a similar loneliness- a feeling that usually inspires me to howl. My brothers and anyone in “From the Borders” know this very well.
There have been claims made of people experiencing supernatural powers from their mountain T-shirts. Have you experienced any powers or inspiration from wearing mountain T-shirts?
DM: For a long time bears were my biggest fear. One cold November night in Nashville I wore a bear graphic over my hoodie while skating the scariest handrail of my life. The bears protected me.
I noticed a hand drawn map of LA on your kitchen wall with pins marking spots. It looks like you guys are getting strategic, what’s up with this?
DM: Sometimes I get lost in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, so I wanted the map to be a daily reminder for myself and the boys of our purpose in the city. It’s a fun way for us to communicate with one another, and a nice wall decoration at least ;)
You are part of a crew of really talented individuals. What are some ways that you guys feed off of each other’s skating and creative energy?
DM: I feed off of my brother Tom’s hard work and dedication, my brother Steve’s pure & nerdy love of skating, Alex’s strength, loyalty & love of David Bowie, Nate Benner’s push to stay wild by hiking & traveling while keeping me aware of the scientific facts & equally alive to the poetry of what I value in life. Lastly, to keep the list somewhat short, my older brother Charley fueled the first flames- he’s not only built me ramps and ledges, but helped me build a moral foundation.
What are you into besides skating?
DM: Music, reading, hiking, snowboarding, wild animals.
It looks like you’ve been feeling the mountain makers vibe and making some cool custom stuff with Mountain shirts. Tell me about some of the stuff you’ve been making and rocking.
DM: I sewed a bear T-shirt onto my snowboard jacket. When I wear it during me and my brothers’ April visits to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, I’m extra warm and less fearful of bears coming out of hibernation. At this very moment I’m wearing a homemade tank-top cut and sewn from two different North American wildlife collage shirts.
What’s next for Dave Mull?
DM: If I find a vacant coyote den in my neighborhood, I might bring some David Abram books and read them in there by candle light. I’ll use a Yankee Candle if my Mom sends me one for my birthday.