GABRIEL SUMMERS: MOST SKATERS LIKE A GOOD SLAM.
It's an island at the bottom of Australia. It's kinda like Australia's Hawaii except the water is too cold to swim in all year 'round. I grew up in a little beach town called Penguin. It's really beautiful but there's not a lot to do. We had a tiny skatepark and all of the street spots were insanely rough, but it actually had some really good handrails.
Thrasher readers probably know you from your Shake Junt / Thrasher part that came out last year. How did that come about?
I was visiting the States and Dustin invited me on a trip to SF for the Clipper contest.
I just had a really fun time skating with Beagle and being in the Skate Tank. The whole vibe with that crew was just amazing--constant energy--and I kept filming with them every day when we were back in LA. I filmed almost the whole part on that six-month trip. The way Beagle, Doughnut and Shane motivate you, it's just amazing. I owe so much to those guys.
When that part came out you were riding for Deathwish but not long after you switched to Birdhouse and now you're back on Deathwish. Was it a Terry Kennnedy "Everybody makes mistakes" type of deal?
Well, I wasn't really on Deathwish to begin with. It was just flow through Dustin in Australia. I got invited on some Birdhouse trips and the opportunity was there for me to get on the team so I went for it. But there were a couple of people on the team I didn't gel with, I guess, and by the time I had to come back to Australia I kinda knew it wasn't going to work out. No hard feelings, though. Once I was back in Australia, Dustin said to me, "Hey, you should just ride for Deathwish again." It's like the six months I was on Birdhouse never happened.
That's awesome that Dustin had your back.
It really is a family with the Baker/Deathwish/Shake Junt guys.
Right now you're working on an adidas Australia video, right?
Yeah, just a short video. We hadn't done much with the team here in recent years and when you came back and got the TM job we started traveling all through Australia filming. It's been a lot of fun. Dennis Durrant and Tom Snape both have good shit along with a crew of young guys that all rip it up.
What's your favorite city we've traveled to in Australia?
It's a toss up between Sydney and Melbourne. I've lived in both so they each have a lot of appeal to me and are amazing cities beyond just skateboarding. I've lived in Australia my whole life, though, so I like to travel overseas as much as I can.
You're definitely down to jump on any trip, huh?
Yeah, I've got the bug. I went all through Russia earlier this year. It was the most eye-opening thing I've ever done.
And you just spent a whole month in Shanghai, solo. How was that?
It was great. Shanghai is the New York of the East. I've been there a bunch of times and have a few good friends there. My friend Charlie was going away for a month and asked me to house sit his apartment so I couldn't pass it up. The spots are amazing, it's dirt cheap and Tommy Zhao, who is an amazing filmer, lives there
The first four times I went to China I got ridiculously ill.
I was in bed with the flu for a week while I was there on this last trip.
The kinked 50-50 photo in this interview took you 14 separate trips over six months to get. What keeps you going back for something like that?
Well, the first time I tried that trick was the day I met you and I wanted to get something good. I remember the first attempt I went heels over the rail and ate shit, but by the end I was getting to the bottom but it was getting dark. After that, though, it became a saga. It took me a long time to figure out I had to go really fast so I could gap out to the first flat but then turn off the last down part early because if I went off the end of the rail I would land on the curb and just explode. I just started obsessing over it the more times I tried, which I actually don't mind. Most people hate going back for tricks but it doesn't bother me. When you do finally complete something like that it's so much more worth it. Don't get me wrong, though, I hated it at the time. I even broke my ribs on one of the attempts.
And you broke the side-view mirror off a car and fully dented the side panel on the one you landed!
Yeah, there are always cars parked on that street so when I did land it there was nowhere to go but straight into a parked car.
You nosegrinded the Walnut rail in California first try. How does it feel to be the nosegrind guy?
I hated it at first, and I'm actually only good at nosegrinding 'cause I practiced so hard to do that one. Jake Hayes told me I might as well milk it for all it's worth 'cause I'll probably never do a better one and he's right. At the end of the day it was a great feeling to get that and it's the thing people ask me about the most.
I've seen you take some whopper slams and still be able to skate the next day. When I met your dad he told me you have a high pain threshold. Where does that come from?
I honestly think all skateboarders do. We go through so much more than any other sports people. A shinner is probably more than a lot of these other motherfuckers deal with and we deal with that on the daily. I guess the stakes are a little higher with a lot of the stuff I skate, but maybe I'm a closet masochist. I think most skaters like a good slam, though. Maybe not one that takes you out but one that makes you feel alive at least.
Name your top-five Australian skaters of all time.
Dustin Dollin, Willy Ackerman, Josh Pall, Dennis Durrant and Shane Cross, RIP.
What's next for you?
Finish off this adidas Australia clip and then head to the States in January. I'm filming a part for RVCA and I want to get it done by the middle of next year.
INTERVIEW BY DAVE CHAMI
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|Date:||Dec 16, 2017|
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