It’s been close to a decade now since Darrell Stanton first stepped onto the scene and blew up, virtually over night.
When you look back on Darrell’s career, you’ll notice that the dude’s laid down some serious skateboarding in a very short period of time. From his early days on Real, terrorizing the city streets of San Francisco, to his short stint on the budding Plan B reemergence, to his current days repping Element. It seems like Darrell could even be considered a veteran pro at this point. But that’s before you realize that Darrell is only 24 years old! Insane. The truth is, Darrell Stanton hasn’t even begun to unleash exactly what he has in store for skateboarding.
I recently caught up with Darrell as he was handling some casual shoe shopping around his Long Beach home. Read on and soak up some insight on one of the most humble and talented pro skaters today.
What’s up Darrell? What are you doing? Ah, just lookin’ at some shoes. I’m at this place called Shoe Palace.
Where are you living these days? Long Beach.
That’s where you’re from right? Partly, I was actually born in LA and I moved to Houston for a little bit and then found myself in Long Beach.
Did you grow up skating in Long Beach? Oh yeah, for sure. That’s where I really started skating.
How did you get started skating? Just through friends, I was playing basketball a lot and then I kind of hurt my knee playing basketball and to get back to playing basketball my friend gave me a skateboard so I could get my knee back into motion, you know. And then it just took off. I just enjoyed it a lot more and just started skating with my friend way more than I was playing basketball and ended up quitting the team. And just went with skating from there on.
Were you exposed to a lot of pros immediately? I just moved out to LA from New York and it’s hard to skate without running into a pro skater. Around Long Beach, the pros around us, we had Rob G, Danny Montoya, Stefan Attardo, Stacey Lowery, guys like around the neighborhood. So I’d always see them out skating. And that was always motivating to see those guys out everyday having a good time. And watching them, it just looked like the good life.
Didn’t you grow up with skating with Scott Kane? Yeah, I grew up skating with Scott Kane, Jeremiah Vance, Terry, Evan, those guys.
Where’s Scott Kane been? He’s been going to school, man. Going to school a lot. I skate with him every once in a while. But he’s into school, taking business classes. He’s gonna take over the world soon (laughs).
Scott Kane was such a ripper. I thought for sure he was going to blow up. He was in the spotlight for a while and then he just dipped out. Yeah, Scott’s one of those guys who’s going to do whatever he wants no matter what everybody wants him to do. So if he wants to not skate for a year and then come back ripping, then that’s exactly what he’s going to do.
From what I heard, you were only skating for a few years before you got hooked up. Like you got really good, really fast. How long were you skating before you got sponsored? Like 2 1/2 years.
What? That’s insane! Yeah, when I tell people that, they’re like, ‘Wow, man. That’s insane!’ They freak out on that a lot.
You were on a small company with Pete Ramondetta at first, right? Yeah, me and Pete Ramondetta and Ernie Torres. Actually a couple good guys were on the same company. Guru Khalsa, Cody McEntire. We were all on the same team coming up. It was called Instrumental Skateboards. It was out of Houston, Texas.
How did you get linked up with those guys? Just through skating the streets and I got linked up with all the dirts out there and stuff. All the guys from Houston kind of took me in. Like Nate Braussard, Brad Heisler, Wayne Patrick, Mike Halloway, Anthony Correa and all those guys. So I ended up coming up with all those guys and they introduced me to this guy Big O, who actually owns Southside Skatepark in Houston. And he ended up starting Instrumental. I knew Peter through just skating and going to little contests down there. So it was just a snowball effect from there, everybody started getting on it, from Guru to Cody McEntire. It was a good time.
I didn’t know you had roots in Houston like that. Yeah, for sure. Houston’s my second home.
How did Real come into the picture? A friend of mine from Southside Skatepark ended up asking me to give him a sponsor-me-tape because he used to see me skating all the time. He was a real cool guy and he ended up giving it to Mic-e. I made a sponsor-me-tape for him. It took maybe a month and a half to film. I did what I could and he gave it to Mic-e. Mic-e ended up checking it out and he gave me a call and basically just threw me on a trip with all the guys. And I guess all the guys were psyched. I had a real good time on the trip. Me and Peter pretty much got on around the same time, so it was a good thing.
You ended up getting Pete [Ramondetta] on Real, right? Yeah, once I kind of started talking to the guys I was like, Hey I got this friend Peter who’s like killing it and used to ride with me on Instrumental. And I told Mic-e about him and Mic-e ended up hittin’ up like he said he would and was psyched on him. So our first (Real) trip, me and Peter went to Phoenix, Arizona together. And after that, we were on the team. It was good. We shot our first ads out there and everything. Then from there, Peter hooked Ernie Torres up, you know. Just kind of a snowball effect.
How did you end up switching over to Plan B? Plan B came along, from there I got a call from Danny and he asked me to help, you know, start it back up and get it poppin’. And I was more than excited to do it, to get it crackin’.
Was it tough parting ways with Real? Yeah, for sure man. Those guys, especially Jim and Mic-e. They understood. It was real hard though. Of course I had so many roots there and everything. But those guys wanted the best for me and thought it was a good opportunity and so did I. You know I went for it to, you know, test the waters. And it worked out for a little bit. It was good, it was fun. I love those dudes, it just didn’t work out toward the end. So we just parted ways and kept it moving.
So how did Element come along? I was actually without a board sponsor for a little bit and ended up talking to Ryan Kingman, who was pretty much running the show over there at the time. And I’ve known him for some years. And then I pretty much linked up through him and through knowing him for a while, ended up talking to Johnny and just being comfortable with those guys. I’m like that guy that’s like, if I’m comfortable at a spot, that means the world. It’s not about anything else, as long as I’m comfortable, skating everyday and I can go out and be happy skating, that’s important to me. And those guys definitely made that happen.
There’s been some team changes through the years at Element, are you still psyched to be part of the team? Hell Yeah! Even more so now. [The team] It’s kind of like revamped a bit. You know we got Appleyard on now; we got a couple of my friends I grew up with in Long Beach. Julian and Chad and Nick Garcia. So it’s cool. I’m real psyched on how Element’s going right now!
I know the Element Footwear program is no more. What happened with it? It seemed like it was growing strong? Everything was going good for a while, but it seemed like they couldn’t put too much focus on getting something done with the shoe program. We were gearing up for the shoe video but they pulled the plug on it because of the budget and they didn’t think it was worth doing.
What are you doing for shoes these days? Converse, right now. My friends at Converse have been lacing me up and I’ve been pretty psyched on them right now. Those guys are helping me out and keeping me out there skating every day. It’s looking promising. I’m psyched on everyone that rides for them and everything they’ve got going on there.
You’re TRIO part, I was extra psyched on, especially since you skated to The Commodores song, “EASY”. I’ve been waiting for someone to skate to that song forever. Thanks man! That was one of those one’s where I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t believe nobody skated to this’! (laughs)
Early on in your career, it was a lot of big stuff for you. Big rails, big steps…But I felt like your TRIO part was extra well rounded. Ledges, ditches and rails and bigger stuff. Did you intentionally try to make it super diverse? You know what, I made it a point to myself to start skating everything, to really get a jist of skateboarding in its entirety instead of just one section of it. I just think it keeps skateboarding that much more exciting. You can go out and skate a rail all day and the next day skate a ledge and a manual pad all day and the next day go out and skate a ditch all day. So just making that decision for myself like, ‘Man, I want to go out and skate a lot of stuff,’ That’s kind of how my part came across.
That’s sick. Do you have equal fun skating everything? Oh, hell yeah! Most definitely. It’s like a whole new world. And it’s cool because I skate with a lot of different people too. I’ll skate with the ledge cat one day and then the gnarly rail cat one day and it’s real cool to be able to get down with everybody and keep it fun.
Is it still like the old days where you just call up friends to go out and skate, or do you try and dedicate certain days to working on getting coverage? Well, in Long Beach it’s really cool because we have such an awesome skate community. Someone’s always skating. So in Long Beach it’s not hard to go skate whether it’s just going to Cherry Park, meeting up with people. It’s not a mission to go skate really. So it makes it easier to go out and skate on a daily basis. It’s really not a headache in Long Beach the way it can be in other places.
Who are some of the dudes you’ve been skating with lately? Lately I’ve been skating with the Australian Volcom guys, cause they’ve been in town a lot. The seasons are pretty much switched from here and Australia. So they’ve been out here for their Winter. I’ve been skating with Luis Marnell, Chima Ferguson, skating with Appleyard a lot. And a couple of the Toy Machine guys that moved into town like Collin Provost and Dan Lutheran, so I’ve been skating with them. Long Beach has been getting a lot of skaters moving in on a pretty consistent basis lately. So I’ve been going out a lot lately skating with a bunch of different people.
For a while you were getting a ton of coverage. But I feel like in the past year or so, you’ve been under the radar a bit. Has that been a conscious decision, to keep it low? Yeah, to a certain extent I’ve been sort of low key because I’ve been filming for a video part and I haven’t been wanting the photos to come out. I want people to be psyched. I feel like I want to keep it like, ‘Damn, we haven’t seen that guy in a while, that guy fell off!’ And then I come out with a part and people are like, ‘Oh sh#@ I shouldn’t have said that!’! (laughs).
Yeah, man it’s a tricky thing. You want to get coverage, but you don’t want to blow the cover on the part you’re working on so hard on. Exactly! I’m just hyped on the response I got from my part and I got a lot of good feedback and I’m just psyched people are stoked on it.
All right, those crazy nose/tail bunny hops you do, what do you call those? Cannonballs! Yeah, Early Grab Cannonballs.
When did you start doing those? When I first got a skateboard, that was my sh#^.
You were doing those before you could ollie? Yeah, before I could ollie I would try to Cannonball over a curb (laughs).
When do you decide to start doing’em down big sh#%? To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember really. I think just me and my friends were just messing around and just starting trying them for antics. Then we just realized that you can actually do variations.
You’ll still put one down every now and again? Oh, hell yeah! I love’em! It’s like a warm-up trick. Just Cannonball a big set of stairs before you ollie them.
How does your family feel about your being a professional skateboarder? Oh man, they’re very proud of me. They’re very supportive. They always look for the things I’m in and support me.
Is it weird when you’re applying for a credit card or buying a car and having to put down “Professional Skateboarder” in the job title category? Oh yeah, it’s definitely strange. It’s a lot more accepted nowadays more I’ve noticed. I guess people are starting to get used to skaters.
You’ve done so much in career, accomplished so much. Is there anything that you want to accomplish in your career? Sh#@, man. I feel like I haven’t done enough. I’m still beginning I feel like. I haven’t done the video parts I wanted to do. There’s still a lot of bases I want to cover as far as tricks I want to do and want to learn, places I want to go and skate. So there’s still a hell of a lot to cover.
And future plans for you, Darrell? I’m actually filming a video part with the boys in Long Beach, called Life Extension Video and that should be coming out fairly soon. It’ll have Nick Trapasso, Julian Davidson, Neen Williams, Pat Pasquale are all gonna have parts. It should be a good, good video.
Any tours on the way? Not at the moment. I just got back from a filming trip in Denver that was just full-on, with the Element Am squad. Just going out with those guys jumping off the craziest sh#@ day in and day out (laughs). It was fun, so I’m just taking it easy for a little bit.
Do you feel pressure on trips where it’s like, ‘OK, I need to produce and get tricks’? Oh no. It’s become pretty normal, you know. Because I’m not one to stay off the road for too long. I kind of like it. I find if I stay at home for too long I get just bored and I go crazy, so I got to get and get around.
All right Darrell, who are your sponsors right now? Volcom, Element, Theeve Trucks, Diamond Hardward, Furnace Skateshop.
All Photos By Brian Gaberman, Courtesy of Element.
For Darrell’s newest Element signature product, visit the CCS Shop now!