By Donald Campbell
Exclusive Interview with Jim "Red Dog" Muir, owner and Head of Dogtown Skates.
(from the O.M.S.A. Zine out of Germany)
To start it of. This Interview was made in 2000, prior to the release of the Dogtown Documentary and the media hype all the skaters and companys are experiencing now. I had a warm welcome at Jimís place down in Venice, talked with him for a while and learned alot about the person I know by name for at least 25 years. Way more than I ever got from the Magís. Talk about dedication, this man is the impersonification of the word.
What was your very first time you had contact with a skateboard, Jim?
I was born in í58 and started skateboarding in í63 with some metal wheels. The first clay wheel board I ever had was either a Black Knight or a Sears board, canít remember that exactly. For me and the rest of us, skateboarding was something like a placebo for surfing. The surf was down and we hit Kenter or any other schoolyard with banks. Most of our boards were from the Salvation Army, thatís where we usually bought our stuff from, since we were not born as rich Kids. We took off the trucks and wheels and put them together on whatever we had on wood. We did the decks on our own.
Can you remember when this whole thing took off? When did skateboarding became popular?
Well, it started with all the Surf Shops selling skateboard stuff. The skates used in roller rinks actually came out with the first urethane wheels. I bought my first set of urethane wheels from a shop in San Diego. After that first day on those wheels it was like "Oh my God" to me. I was really stoked. After I had my first set on, my friends had a go on my board and they also got somebody to buy íem those wheels. We told Jeff Ho of Zephyr to get hold of those wheels and from there on it exploded. They started buying them and the craze started buildig up. That was the time the first contest at the Del Mar fairgrounds happened. We showed up there with our Vans shoes, Jeans and navy blue Zephyr competition Shirts. All the rest of those guys competing there were still doing these 1960 freestyle thing. We did fast surf moves, slides and other different kind of moves none of the contestans or the judges had ever seen before done on a skateboard. They didnít know what hit them!! There was a contest scene starting and we had a rivalry with Henry Hester, Chris Yandall, all the slalom guys from San Diego. Me Stacy and Tony went against those guys at each contest. It was sorta Zephyr versus the rest of the world for us at that time. Shortly after that the first Magazines popped up and things got more serious with more and more companies on the market. At that time we started riding Pools. We walked into something blindly, none of us realizing what we were actually doing there.
What was the next big revolution in skateboard design?
The next thing that happened is that we were unhappy with the boards we had at that time. Big pieces of Oak, too clumsy and too heavy. I worked at Jeff Hoís place at that time and with all knowledge on surfboards and their lightweight construction, something had to happen. At that time there was a fight with Jay Adams Stepdad and the Zephyr guys. They split up and that left me and Bob Biniak without a boardsponsor. We went to Sims, and Tom Sims was the first one to ever do a laminated board. He got them from a Waterski Company and he only had three blanks, which he gave to us. We rode them and on the first day we told Tom to produce those boards, since they were the best we had ever ridden. But Tom just went and said that it was to expensive. So I went to a local Hardwood Store and started experimenting with different hardwoods and laminating - with succsess. Stecyk was writing those articles in Skateboarder Magazine about Dogtown. Wesley Humpston and me started to draw Dogtown under the bottom of our boards and everyone was riding them at that time.
Where did the Name Dogtown came from?
Thereís a lot of different storys about the name. It came from the P.O.P. Surf Culture. Basically it was our Surf and Skate community, the Santa Monica-Venice area. Our fist boards said D.T.S. on the bottom and later on we called the whole thing Dogtown Skates.
Tell me something about the evolution of Dogtown Skates.
We did the first boards for quite some time by hand. When skateboarding became big again a lot of guys showed up, throwing money around, we were 18 at the time, know what I mean? It was the typical hard luck story, same as the naive Kid who signs his first record deal. It was some rich guys from NY, they opened up a Skateboard Store on Santa Monica Blvd, called Skate City. They pretty much ripped us off the best they could. They ran two sets of books and so on. They bought in Shogo Kubo and Duane Peters. At one time, at the very end they had Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi riding for us as Amateurs! At the end of 81 when skateboarding ate itís first slump, all the parks closed and business went down, they sold everything off, ripped everyone off and disappeared. I was 21 or 22 at that time with almost nothing left and I had to make a living somehow. When the trademark was up for renewal I applied for it and got it. I started doing boards again in í83, that was the time when the Industry had its lowest point.
What kind of boards did you do at that time?
At that time we were doing the Stonefish, the Webb and the Born Again Models. Skateboarding became big in í85 again. It went along with the economical rise and the riot of Punk Rock. I had Scott Oster, Aaron Murray and Eric Dressen on the team, all guys from the neighborhood. We went to all the amateur contests and Iíd sell T-shirts and Decks out of the trunk of my car. My guys started doing well in contests and turned Pro one after another. The next thing we knew was the new era of Dogtown. There were a lot of guys riding for Dogtown at that time. Jason Adams, John Cardiel or Karma Tsocheff for example. For the next five years it got bigger and bigger. When skateboarding hit itís next slump I started doing business with some Nor-Cal guys. We build a new company named THINK. Think with the lightbulb was basically my Idea. I started that thing with Keith Cochrane, but after a while I was unhappy the way things were done there. The economy was bad and I really got homesick. So I split with Keith, got my share of Dogtown back and he got my share of Think. I was left with a burden at that time.
You mean you had your Pants down?
Basically yes, that was December 1990.
So you had to start it all again from scratch?
Exactly, I started again with my ex Ė best friend, which was my biggest mistake at that time. That was in Spring í92. I cleaned up my act, stopped drinking and so on. My ex Ė partner was such an Asshole he didnít have his act together at all. I literally walked away from that deal, ícause I was mature enough to realize what would happen if I would explode. I was already a Father at that time and I realized that I couldnít handle things the way I did in the past. So once again I had to pull the Trademark move and I put it into my brothers name. That was my next starting point from scratch again. I lost everything I had, my board collection, my artwork, everything. That was kinda funny somehow ícause I found out that I went back full circle way back to í83. It took 2 years to get my act together again. Eric Dressen came back to the team, Wee Man and some other guys. Itís starting to get better and better right now. We are a very small group of people doing the Dogtown thing. We have a small but very good team and we really watch what we are doing ícause right now you have to know what you are doing in the Industry, or you are out of it..