It has been two decades since Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater first entered our PlayStations and our hearts back in 1999, but with the remaster just weeks away, the hype around the game is bigger than ever.
Ever since we first heard about the remaster back in May, I have spent more time than I care to admit reminiscing the tricks that made the OG game (and the sport itself) so iconic. And I guess I’ll just have to call it ~manifestation~ because after dreaming of kickflips and flatground ollies, PEDESTRIAN.TV had the chance to chat to the “Godfather of Street Skateboarding” himself Rodney Mullen.
When it comes to skateboarding (and THPS), there are very few names that stand out quite like Mullen. He’s credited for creating most of the tricks we all know and love, he had an integral role in the World Industries skate brand (the shoes I would’ve quite literally sold my soul for back in the early 00s), and is considered to be one of the most influential people the sport has ever seen.
With the remaster just weeks away, I simply had to ask if the OG Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater crew are still as tight as they were two decades ago when the game first came out. And to my surprise, Mullen actually credits the game as part of the reason they still get to catch up.
“Absolutely, especially Tony,” Mullen replied when asked if he and Tony Hawk still keep in touch. “Tony and I have always been close but I think because of the game, he brings us all together so often for stuff like this. I hadn’t seen Kareem [Campbell], for example, in years. But Tony and I are always pretty tight, texting back and fourth and we do something every few months.”
Despite being widely regarded as one of the best street skaters of all time, Mullen sees his immortalisation in THPS as one of the highlights of his career.
“To be included with people that I admire most is one of the things that means the most to me within the community. People talk about legacy, and what you leave behind, right? And a lot of people think it’s contest records, or ‘I did some big trick that no one did for a long time’, ultimately, I’ve experienced a little bit of all of it and I can tell you from my own experience to be a part of the present through what you do, that is what makes you feel alive and consistently part of it. Whereas the contest records and everything like that feels just dusty after a while,” he explained.
Mullen credits THPS with “capturing perhaps the most progressive time in street skating” in the early-mid 90s, so being immortalised in that is a pretty surreal feeling for the skateboarding legend.
“That was where it really got a lot of energy behind it, most of the progression was really happening [in that time]. I mean look at that Jonah Hill movie Mid90s, right? Theres a reason a lot of people go back to that time.”
“THPS not only preserves the best and most iconic people of that time, to help sculpt the future and preserves it with such a sense of authenticity and realness, I can’t think of anything else that acts more like a coherent or authentic time capsule for what that is to preserve the culture that everyone loves.”
According to Mullen, THPS has helped to preserve the grassroots of street skating culture in the early-mid 90s and put that on a world stage.
“The core culture is still the same, regardless of all these changes, that’s really cool and that’s something that THPS did, especially for the rest of the world. The rest of the world sees this better than anything else I can think of.”
But despite still loving to skate with the original THPS crew that we all embodied in our PlayStations in the early 00s, Rodney explained that the only time he feels he can be truly creative when skating is when he can be alone and really look “inward”.
“The substance of skating is always just going back to “yeah, but what are you doing?” To me that’s just feeling skateboarding, that time where you become one with your board and you’re just tinkering around and just trying to come up with stuff, thats when the ideas come. That’s what you nurture day in and day out, thats the substance, it’s what you eat and breathe, that’s what it is to me. Thats always what it is.”
“It’s actually the only thing that really allows me to be creative because I’m less looking out or trying one fixed goal of “I’ve gotta get the trick for the camera”, instead, you’re just you and your board and to me, that’s what skating is.”
It’s in that solitude that Mullen was able to come up with the tricks we all know and love, literally creating things that had never been seen before in the sport.
“Part of what makes me who I am is just this unshakeable feeling that doing what other people do just isn’t me. Skateboarding has been a kind of voice for me since I was a kid, it’s been what distinguishes me and my identity and no matter what I do, I want to make it mine. My own voice, my own way.”
But despite being known as the “Godfather of Street Skateboarding”, Mullen doesn’t actually consider himself *that* creative, rather, he struggled to put his energy towards things that didn’t feel authentic to himself and was innovative almost out of necessity.
“I still don’t think I’m necessarily *that* creative, it’s just that I have this disposition of “that’s not me, how am I supposed to put my energy towards that” and I’m always turning *in*.”
Obviously, now that he’s immortalised in the video game we all adore so much, he can be authentically himself in-game, which I guess is a perk of being a professional skater who’s buddies with Tony Hawk.
If you’re looking for some new inspiration when choosing your THPS character on September 4, Rodney said he’d be keen to tinker around as one of the following (if he couldn’t play himself, of course):
- Nyjah Huston, because he admires “that mindset that he has to do what he does at that level.”
- Australian icon Shane O’Neill because he doesn’t think “anyone [else] has that kind of control and versatility. No one has that touch.”
- Tyshawn Jones because “the way he falls, that in itself is like art.”
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remastered hits shelves on September 4, 2020 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Preorders are available now.