Stacy Peralta Talks 'The Bones Brigade: An Autobiography,' The Industry Today & Which Skater He's Watching
In the early 1980s, 20-year-old professional surfer and skater Stacy Peralta put together a group of misfits who ended up forming the infamous Bones Brigade, a skateboarding team that made a monumental impact on the industry and which has yet to be rivaled even today.
After years of goading by his former team, which included Tony Hawk, Tommy Guerrero, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain and Mike McGill, Peralta finally gave in and decided to make a film about the experience. Peralta, who has directed documentaries such as "Dogtown and Z Boys" and "Riding Giants," resisted making another skateboard film, particularly one in which he was involved behind and in front of the camera. But how could he say no to the guys he sponsored, mentored, and, at times, fathered all those years ago?
"The guys in the film kept bothering me for years to make it. I didn't want to make it, and finally they called me two years ago and said, 'Look, we really want you to reconsider this,'" Peralta told Starpulse. "And it wasn't until they finally said, 'We are no older than you were when you made Dogtown.' And when they said that I realized it was time to make the film. So I threw my reservations away and said, okay I'll do it. That was it. It was as simple as that."
The Bones Brigade was a very special team for its time, and its legacy set a high standard for future skateboarders. Is there an equivalent team today?
Peralta explained, "I can only tell you what other famous skateboarders have told me, and they've said there's never been a team like the Bones Brigade since and there isn't one now. There hasn't been a team that has stayed together that long, nor has there been a team of guys that have been that innovative or that successful in competition. Could it happen again? I'm sure it probably could...it would take somebody with vision to put it together because it's not an easy thing to do, especially in today's world. It was far easier for me to do it back then than it would be today."
Peralta probably had no idea that the team he built and the videos he produced would become as influential as they did. But he's grateful for the experience.
"I feel good about it because I had a vision as a kid of something I wanted to see. Creating that team was a dream of mine, and it worked," he said. "The thing that I'm most proud of is that those six skaters that are featured in the film, none of them ended up in rehab. All of them made it through that intense experience with their heads screwed on, and they're still involved in skateboarding. They've become businessmen and athletes. I couldn't be more proud of them. They all really made something of their lives, and they're all continuing to chase this dream to this day."
What does Peralta think about skateboarding today? He says over the past 10 years the sport has "become too difficult and too technical and too extreme." The proliferation of plastic boards has also played a part.
Peralta explained, "Plastic board are not performance boards. Those are just goof-around boards, and what's happening is kids are returning to those boards and they're doing it because the skateboarding industry itself has made skateboarding itself no fun anymore...they've only promoted the Evel Knievel style of skateboarding. They've only promoted one thing and they've promoted it into the ground. And I think it has alienated kids. They're rebelling. They're saying, 'You know what, we don't want it.' They just want to roll around and have fun."
And Peralta agrees that the aristry has been lost while the sport focuses on stunts and big airs. "[The industry] zapped the beauty out of the sport in favor of everything big and everything extreme. I think they've hit a tipping point where there's not much further they can go in that direction. What's happening is there's this backlash and kids are saying, 'We want to do it another way,' and I think now what's going to happen is you're going to see a hybrid development. Something of the past will be combined with something of the future and new styles will emerge. It happens about every 10 years in this sport...a new style and way emerges."
In "Dogtown," kids picked up on the old style and added new maneuvers. It was "beautiful and stylish," according to Peralta. "When Dogtown came out, kids started picking up on the way we used to skate by watching that film and they picked up on the style and they picked up on the techniques and the way we used to skate and they took that tecnique and style and combined it with new manuevers. So it was kind of a hybrid approach. They started skateboarding in a way that was beautiful. It was stylish, yet at the same time they were doing modern moves.
"And I think that's what we're going to see again. They're going to take something from the past, perhaps the 80s this time, and combine it with something contemporary. Exactly how it's going to manifest itself I couldn't tell you. I can only tell you what's probably going to happen."
Part of the reason the Bones Brigade grew so massive in popularity was because of the videos Peralta and his team produced. But he isn't interested in today's videos. "I don't like any of them, and I've never seen one I've liked. I find them all unimaginative, boring and completely uninteresting...I find that terribly sad. It's not something I like saying - at all. I would love to see something that inspires me," he admitted.
Like a lot of sports, skateboarding has evolved, and it metamorphasizes every decade or so. And there are those out there who have the soul and artistry to meld the old and the new. One of those guys is Spanish skateboarder Killian Martin.
"That kid is putting the past and the future together right now. He's doing things on a skateboard that could only be compared to Rodney Mullen. He's approaching skateboarding in a completely different way, and if you look on YouTube I believe he has more hits on his videos than any other skateboarder in the world. He's unbelievable. And I think that he's the future. If you look at what he's doing, he's someone to look at. He's going to make a difference. He's going to make a dent in this world," Peralta said.
Will Martin make a dent as big as Peralta and the Bones Brigade? We'll have to wait and see.
"Bones Brigade: An Autobiography" is exclusively available to rent on iTunes today in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland at iTunes.com/bonesbrigade. The film will also be available to purchase on iTunes and www.bonesbrigade.com.