What were you up to 17 years ago? I was spending inordinate amounts of time eating Bagel Bites and playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 on Nintendo 64. I’d jump from rail to rail, park bench to car to building, constantly on the grind… not literally of course. I was a lazy college student.
The real Tony Hawk was out there grinding for real. And crashing through coffee tables. (This iconic commercial just celebrated its 17th birthday!)
In addition to being the most influential skateboarder ever, Tony is a prolific media and entrepreneurial powerhouse: video game producer, actor (60 IMDB credits, including Sharknado 5!), skateboard emoji adviser, and philanthropist, making a big difference in low-income communities with The Tony Hawk Foundation.
That’s cool, but has he ever turned a Nosebluntslide grind into a McTwist grab while eating a Bagel Bite? Probably. But whatever.
My friends and I idolized Tony growing up. Still do. And he’s been a follower of The Dad for quite some time. As a dad of 6 himself, he’s very much “part of the club.” So it was super cool to catch up with him by phone for a quick chat.
JOEL WILLIS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE DAD: What are you like as a dad? What is your parenting style? Has it changed or evolved over the years?
TONY HAWK: It’s definitely changed. I think I’ve learned to be more effective as I’ve gotten older and through experience. But I think that [all of my kids] are all different obviously. They all have different needs and different kind of attention that they want or require. It’s been fun to see them all develop their own interests. They all are very unique, and my approach is to be supportive of whatever it is they’re getting into.
If they really find their passion, I want them to explore and to have the resources to take it further. I think that’s probably how I’m most effective not just financially but in terms of really giving them the tools and giving them the confidence to go forward in something that maybe is untested. Because that’s exactly what I did as a kid. I started skating and it was the furthest thing from cool you could do. I just kept at it because I loved it. I didn’t know I was going to have any sort of career out of it, and I feel very fortunate that that’s what happened. But at the same time, I want them to have that same desire and passion in their life.
Totally. That’s great. I think anybody in any career or any pursuit can relate to that. I know I do. I used to work in IT, and I was there in what many would call a soul-crushing corporate job. I just like making people laugh and making memes and stuff, and now I get to do cool stuff like talk to you on the phone.
That’s exactly it. You never know where it’s going to take you, and if you embrace the challenges of it, you’ll go further than you ever imagined.
And I think that that lesson is so important for kids, the lesson of doing what you love, but also learning every aspect of it and being up for the challenge if things don’t go the way you expect, because those are probably the moments that are more defining and probably more important.
Exactly. Like that video with your daughter where you were helping her overcome her fear and go down the ramp on the board. So cool.
Oh, thank you. Yeah, I just set my phone in a cup that was nearby. Mostly because I knew that she would want to see it. I knew that if she did it, she was going to be excited about it and maybe not do it again, so I just wanted her to have documentation for herself. And then I thought it was such an interesting experience to see her have that doubt, but then have the confidence to really try it, and I was encouraging but I wasn’t trying to be overbearing or intrusive on her thought process.
So I felt like that was a fun thing to watch unfold, and that’s why I shared it with people.
My daughter overcoming her fear in real time (wait for it). I might have been more nervous than she was.
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) February 23, 2019
I think the reason I loved it so much and related to it was your excitement. You were fired up. Amped up for her. Did she feel the same way?
She was very excited. She actually ran back up to do it again, because she didn’t want to lose that confidence that she had. I think that she thought she didn’t do it as well as she could have. So she ran back up and did it again. That particular ramp is actually at my office, so whenever she ends up at my office, her first go-to is to go up there to make sure that she can still do it.
With the Rad Dad Squad, I feel like a “rad dad” to me is when you’re able to get down on your kids’ level and play with them and do the things that they like to do, and love it just as much as they do because they do…
It gives them the self-confidence to keep doing it, and as long as you’re doing it and not being intrusive at the same time, that’s obviously a fine line. But the idea of this whole campaign with the rad dad squad is that we want to recognize those moments and those fathers that are really putting out that effort, and getting into what their kids are doing. Being silly, but also being engaged. I’m sure they do it to very little appreciation. So we want to recognize that.
I relate to that. That’s part of our goals at The Dad to recognize modern, involved dads who are going above and beyond and give them that recognition they may not get otherwise.
A little controversial here, but I want you to rate the Bagel Bites jingle in terms of musical artistry on a scale of 1 to 10.
You mean, “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime?”
You got it.
I’m going to give it an 8, just in terms of memorization. And concise, or you know, impact. Effective impact. Because it’s not like you have to sing it all the way through to get there. It’s very to the point. I like that. It’s a concise message.
I consider it a commercial masterpiece. I ask this because in your commercial in 2002, the jingle was different. It was sort of like a hard rock remix. So I want to ask you if you were involved in that decision.
I was not directly involved in that decision, no. But I’m honored that my inclusion changed the vibe enough that I got my own signature version. Signature cover, let’s put it that way.
Yeah. The Tony Hawk remix of the Bagel Bites theme.
Yeah, the punk cover of the Bagel Bites jingle, absolutely. I brought that to the world.
Thanks for the chat, Tony.
If you’re a rad dad, you can chat with him too. 3 winners will be inducted into the Rad Dad Squad later in June and will get to hang with Tony on his skate ramp. Just post a video of your own rad dad moments using #RadDadSquad and #sweepstakes.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get back to the grind.