After watching his recent Da Playground part, skate nerds (including ourselves) gasped when we saw Ryan Gallant skating in some New Balance Numerics. As trivial as it may seem, it meant that he was going to be the newest Pro announced to the team, right? No. As we came to find out, Ryan’s been skating whatever kinds of shoes he wants after leaving his longtime spot at Circa. Initially, we just wanted to ask him whether he had plans to be on NB# but it turned into a bigger interview than we had intended. Enjoy.
Everyone’s been asking us, how did those NB#’s end up on your feet in your Honor Roll Part?
Well, basically, I’ve been off of Circa for a few months. I’ve been just buying Vans for a while after I was off Circa. After a while, I wanted to start figuring things out because I never really had to ask people for shoes but at the same time, no one knew that I was off Circa. I got John Rattray’s number through our mutual friends and I just hit him up because I knew he was doing NB#. I asked him for some shoes and he was like “Absolutely”. I was going to Da Playground that weekend to film my part and just brought those shoes with me.
I heard that you filmed your Honor Roll part at Da Playground within 2 days. Is that true?
No, it wasn’t 2 days. I think I did that in maybe 4 or 5 days, tops. They had my ticket out there for like 9 or 10 days but I can’t do that many days inside a skatepark because I get over it pretty quick. I’d wake up around 11am, go skate throughout the day and figure out what I wanted to do.
What was the hardest trick for you to film for that part?
I don’t know. Sometimes it’s the easier tricks that are the harder ones. Maybe, the front blunt on that flat bar was the hardest. I would just fly right into the wall when I was trying to come off of it. Originally, I wanted to revert out of it or try to shuv it out but I was over it after getting the make. I didn’t even want to use that clip but it ended up in there anyways. That was probably harder than everything else in my Honor Roll part.
Let’s go back to NB# for a sec. It’s a new skate shoe brand and it plays so well with your heritage seeing as how both you and the brand are from Boston. Is it kinda like a dream come true?
I mean, it’s cool. So far I just got one box from them. We haven’t talked about being on the team or anything, but like you said about them being from Boston; it’s just like something I would want to skate in. Plus, PJ’s backing them too. I remember living out in the suburbs and my dad worked in Boston and we would drive to the city everyday and he would drop me off to go skate and New Balance was right off the side of the Mass Pike right there. It’s funny because he’d always joke about it when I was younger and say “Why don’t you go in there and try to get something going with New Balance?” and this was around the time that Nike was just coming into the game. [laughs] It was always funny and now they’re actually doing their skateboarding program with PJ and all those other dudes. So far, it’s just a box though.
How do you feel about those NB#’s?
I do like NB# but at the same time I gotta thank HUF because they just sent me boxes too. So y’know, this could just as well be an interview about why I was skating in HUF’s I guess. Like I said, I’m not on either team but of course it would be cool. Right now, I’m just skating different shoes. But I do like Vans, HUF and NB#.
How did this HUF box come about?
I was just buying Vans and getting tired of that. I just started talking to the Kayo dudes about what shoe brands they think would be good for me. Matt [Daughters] ended up getting in touch with someone over at HUF and now I’m talking to Tyler at HUF, who’s down to send me shoes whenever. Like I said, we never discussed me getting on the team, they’re just down to hook me up whenever I need some gear.
You were at Circa for pretty long time, around 4 years. In that time, you get so used to having your “go-to” shoe that when your back on the market, you can finally start trying out all of these other brands that you might’ve been curious about before. Is that happening for you now?
It’s definitely like being a single dude or whatever [laughs]. You get to just sample all the flavors. Like, I would always wear Vans when I was chilling. Slip-ons, eras, authentics, etc… and I would just ride my cruiser board around my neighborhood and be like “Damn, these are so good”.
When I saw you with the NB#’s on your feet, immediately, I remembered a rumor about how you were all anti-corporate or something like that. Any truth to that?
I’ve heard that a bunch somehow. That’s pretty much misunderstood considering I rode for DC for so long. I mean, they’re just as corporate as any other corporate brand. There was a point where it didn’t feel like it was about skateboarding, to me, when I was on DC and I was like “This is fucking weird”. This rumor started when we were at a Journeys demo and I had “Fuck the mall shops” written on my griptape and it just got blown out of the water. And now, I hear all sorts of things like how I beat up a dude from Zumiez to how I hate Nike, all of which are not true. I just had a bad time at the Journeys Demo. At that point, I just took a step back and asked myself “What am I in this for?” because I always told myself that I’d never do it for this or that reason. I mean, if it’s not fun, why fucking do it?
Why does something like a Journeys Demo even exist?
Dude, it was bad. The demo was in Nashville and the whole time, this local skate shop from Nashville was taking us around to skate their spots and they aren’t even allowed to carry DC because of the zoning restrictions between other accounts and locations. It was just such a bizarre event. Like, we were skating a mini-ramp with BMX dudes doing tailwhips next to us. At the time, I was just over it.
Did all of these events lead up to you leaving DC for Circa?
The whole thing was weird. I didn’t even necessarily leave DC. I mean, they were pretty bummed at me over that situation because they were so corporate. They didn’t really have my back during that whole situation. They were just telling me how I could’ve fucked up sales for them because Journeys is a huge account. It just wasn’t acceptable to them. What’s funny is that Circa hit me up afterwards about getting on their team and they were worried about that whole Journeys situation too. They wanted me to smooth it over with Journeys and had me email the president. It’s funny because after sending him the email, he was on my side. He even emailed me quotes about doing what I believed in and shit. He didn’t give a fuck whatsoever. The pressure from the whole situation was more on DC’s side. Circa, at the time, was more skate. I mean, they didn’t have a motocross or BMX team and shit.
How well was Circa doing while you were there?
It’s definitely not easy for them. It’s not easy for any brand trying to battle larger companies. It’s just not possible for them, they just don’t have the budget. They can’t sponsor contests, do ads or whatever. It’s just super tough.
I’m not trying to put them down but how much longer can they do it? I mean, I don’t see them anywhere. I’m just trying to be realistic.
That’s my whole thing too. Towards the end, things just weren’t running so smooth. I mean, I wanted to get out of there because I didn’t want to go down with the ship, y’know what I’m saying? I think Canada really supports Circa but otherwise, I don’t see it around here either.
I don’t see them on the East Coast either. The only way I could see them is if I walk into a Mall Shop.
That’s what I started noticing. Once I got on the team, I traveled the country all the time and noticed they weren’t anywhere. I’d go into every single shop and never see Circa. Never. Then when I’d go into any Mall, I’d see the AL50. It’s just not a good feeling for a skater, walking in to all of these cool ass skate shops and knowing that they’re not into it.
I’m sure you would’ve been more hyped to see your shoe on the walls of a skate shop, instead of a mall shop.
It’d be cool either way. I just remember that feeling of being a kid in a skate shop and just wanting a certain shoe so bad. There was a point where I was on Circa and told them in our meetings that if I was a kid in a skate shop looking to buy shoes, I’d buy HUF’s, no question about it. I’d tell them that I wouldn’t buy Circa’s if I was that kid, but I’d also ask them “how do we change this?” but it just wasn’t happening.
As of right now, they seem to be going for the pretty guy demographic. It’s weird. It’s like they’re trying to keep up with trends and then as soon as they’re caught up, the rest of the industry has already evolved into the next trend while they’re still doing the old one.
Dude, you nailed it. I had 2 or 3 shoes that were suppose to be made with Circa and like you said, they’re just trying to catch up to the trends. Like, I had a slip-on boat shoe pro model sample that was sick but, it would’ve been sicker if it came out 2 years ago. With stuff like that, it didn’t make me feel good being a part of their program. They just seem to lose their vision along the way. I wish they would’ve just stuck with their old tech shit. They were just too busy chasing the Janoski flow.
At the time, when we were skating/reviewing your shoe, the skate shoe world was stuck in a one-piece toe cap world but yours had a paneled toe. Was that something you did intentionally with hopes of bringing back an old trend/style?
That one came about because I was so used to skating the DC Manteca. All they had at Circa was bulky, vulc, werid shoes that were dated. My Circa pro model was my attempt at creating something new. But even by that time, for my shoe, I think it was too late. I’m not bad mouthing Circa or anything because I actually think that they skated great.
Ultimately, do you feel like you outgrew Circa? or was it just not working out?
There were a lot of things. From the beginning, I felt like they promised more which made their deal sound a lot better than what I had going at the time. It just seemed like things started going downhill. I mean, it’s not their fault because if their accounts aren’t paying them, then they can’t pay the riders and employees, so it got to the point where being on Circa didn’t feel like a positive thing in my life. As corny as it sounds, I just love skateboarding and I’ve always said I’d always do it for fun and never the money. Of course I’m a pro and profit from it but I always ask myself: would I be doing it if they didn’t give me a paycheck? Everything over there just didn’t feel right. I know that they were going through hard times but they kept saying things and were never fulfilling them. Just poor communication between everyone. I don’t know, after a point, it was just too complicated for me to deal with.
Moving on, you seem to take the more traditional route when dropping a part. In this age of overwhelming skate video content, you tend to hold back your footy and drop a part every couple of years. Even with regular clips too. Do you do this intentionally or is it just because you have other responsibilities outside of skating that keep you from filming everyday?
A little bit of both. When I was younger, when I was first on Expedition-One, the Alone video came out and I felt like dropping a couple of video parts a year at that point. I was just a hungry kid and didn’t care where I was at. I guess naturally, as you get older, you just become more picky about what you want to do. I could easily go and do my go to tricks at harder spots but I have standards for my skating. I don’t wanna have a kickflip front crook come out every single week on a webclip, you know what I mean?
So you much rather put out your best instead of something that you can put together without breaking a sweat?
Exactly. That’s what the old formula means to me. Like a Gino clip. You can’t wait for another Gino clip to come out. Plus, you can’t burn yourself out too. Especially as you get older in this internet age. Why would anyone try to keep up with it if it’s only going to be forgotten about in a couple of minutes/days? If I don’t have a clear goal or a hard trick that I’m working on, I’m not going to put out shitty clips in order to stay relevant. It has to be natural and not forced for me.
That sounds like the perfect explanation to me. Plus, I wouldn’t want to see a webisode of you eating a burrito and then hitting the skatepark with your friends. It’s been done to death.
It’s wild times. Sometimes I worry though, like am I in the wrong for thinking that way? I mean, companies now are even telling you that Instagram is important. I mean, a couple of dudes don’t have to do it but otherwise, it’s something on a brand’s checklist to make sure that you stay relevant. I’m just trying to find a balance within it all because the old part of skateboarding that I enjoyed is dying. Only time will tell I guess.
I read an interview recently that the Gonz doesn’t even have a cell phone, let alone an Instagram.
That’s amazing. I wish I could pull that one off. [laughs] That’s awesome.
Maybe it’s something about living on the East Coast. Speaking of which, do you have any plans of moving back eventually?
I wanna move back really bad. I talk about it all the time. I would love to, for a million reasons, but it’s just hard these days to do that with a family in mind. My wife is from out here [California], the neighborhood I live in is great for the kids and the weather is perfect all year round. It’s got its benefits but I’d feel a lot better back on the east coast. Skate-wise too, the west coast is ideal but it’s been a goal of mine since moving out here to go back and film a solid east coast part. Just a part filmed all around New England only, but it’s hard. Who knows, maybe something will happen soon…
My biggest beef with California is the fact that there’s no Dunkin Donuts. Do you miss it at all?
My favorite thing at Dunkin Donuts are the coolatta’s, like the coffee coolatta’s. That and the bagels. They’re so good. I’ve gotten a bit more used to the Starbucks out here but yeah, I miss it. Even my wife too. I brought her back there to the east about a year ago and she had a bagel from Dunkin Donuts and she still talks about it all the time. She’s down with the coolatta’s, bagels and the munchkins too. [laughs]
[Laughs] Okay, while we’re on the topic of east coast subjects, tell me more about how you’re going to pull off this exclusive New England video part?
I don’t even know how to do that. Like, over here, we have filmers on staff and at the drop of a dime, we can go out and film. I’m just worried that I’ll be all sparked up to go film something and not have anyone to come out right away. It’d be too hard to map everything out and wait for a filmer to fly in from out west, y’know? I’m just not too into mapping it out with a list of spots. I like it to come out more natural, more spontaneous. I don’t know how it’ll work but I’m sure it’ll work. I mean, it seems like even little kids these days have HD cameras [laughs]. Like, if I really wanted to, I know I could make it work but it’s just so convenient to do a video part out here. I guess, I’d just like to live on the east and do it, if possible. That way, I could just wake up, get some coffee and drive around looking for spots.
Speaking of parts, when’s your Remix part dropping?
It’s coming out pretty soon. We’re still trying to find the right song but yeah, it should be out soon. You know, it’s like I was saying earlier, I’m just trying to keep up with this internet age of putting out video parts. I might just remix my parts for the next couple of years [laughs].
You should just go as far back to your Transworld First Love part and remix some of that in with some of your new footy. No one would be able to tell between your style today and the baggy pants/New Era you of back then…
Oh man. [laughs]