INTERVIEW WITH SCIENCE
INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY
PHOTOS BY JERRY HAHN, SCOTT PERRYMAN, BENJAMIN HILKE, AND BRIAN TUCKER.
Dave Maxwell is pure skateboarding. Science Fair will skate a banana board, naked, in a 13-foot bowl, get a beer hand-off midway through a Smith grind at speed and chug it down the transition. Why? Because skateboarding is about having fun and that is what Dave is all about. A graduate of the old school vert scene of the ’80s, Dave has earned a doctorate in the art of the boneless one, and continues to flow overhead frontside bone airs and crazy back-to-back combos that would make Jeff Phillips proud. His East Coast roots can be found from the Badlands in Florida, up through the Hanger bowl in Charleston, to Tom Risser’s indoor bowl complex outside of Charlotte, with occasional scientific expeditions to Skatopia. Now after hitting all the Oregon parks, winning the Concrete Challenge in Aspen, CO and taking third in Denver, Dave is ready to go West, ride fullpipes, round wall, and grind coping with no sauce.
State your name.
I’m Dave, Dave Maxwell, but they call me ‘Science.’ When I was small, everyone used to call me ‘Vulture.’ They said when I skated I looked like a vulture because I would put my arms up in the air like I was going in for the kill. I was sketchy because I was just learning.
What year did you start skating?
The first time I saw skateboarding, I was five. That was around ’78. My cousin skated and he had a ramp. It was some kind of halfpipe thing. It was all rigged up. I was just a little kid playing Hot Wheels on it. Then the first time I went to a skatepark in Myrtle Beach [SC], it was just a bunch of concrete pits. That was the first concrete I rode other than street and I loved it. Later on, in ’85, my parents had a beach house down there, so they’d just drop me off there and I’d skate all day.
Who were the skaters that you idolized back then?
I was stoked on the Bones Brigade, and then there was Jeff Phillips. He ripped for sure.
What else were you skating then?
We had a bunch of ramps in every size you could think of. We skated everything. It didn’t matter if it was small or big. We were just stoked to skate tranny.
What happened next?
We had a contest at Eastern Vert and started a fund for ramps. We raised enough money to build our own vert ramp. We had our thing going, and we were going to Eastern Vert, too. I saw Brian Howard, Neil Hendrix, and Frazier there. It was ridiculous. When Frazier was skating for Zorlac, he killed it. I saw him learn all the tech vert stuff, like the rewind grind to shuvit out. He’d learn the tricks, and the next run he’d do a backside disaster revert and then do the rewind grind shuvit, right after he had learned it.
The combinations were crazy.
Neil Hendrix, backside air to disaster, head high. They’d do shit you’ve never seen.
Were you doing the boneless one yet?
Yeah, I used to do them really big on mini, too.
Eastern Vert closed in ’92, right?
Yeah, and that year I lived in a beach house that was only an hour-and-a-half from Carolina Beach. That’s right when the Hanger closed, so that whole summer, I just skated The Ramp House in Carolina Beach. At the end of the summer, I was gonna move to Wilmington but then The Ramp House closed, so I moved back to Charlotte and skated Tom Risser’s. Then they built the Farm Ramp in Raleigh. That was pretty cool. Chuck Powell was living up there so I could go and skate. There was a half bowl mini ramp at Ray’s that we used to ride, too.
Vert skating was dying in ’93.
Yeah, and I was just trying to hoard as many wheels as I could. At that time, if you had some 55s, you were stoked. I liked 62s or 63s and they were hard to find. I always liked bigger trucks and bigger wheels.
Were you there during the evolution of Tom Risser’s ramp?
Yeah, pretty much. The first phase was just an eight-foot halfpipe. It was there for ten years but it’s gone now. He’s got that killer bowl now. In the second phase, he added two four-foot tall ramps that went all the way across like an ‘H’ on the flat bottom of the eight-foot. Then he added that next ramp with a spine. It rolled over into that four-foot. Then he added an outer belt that went back behind the whole thing. It was like three moguls in a row. Eventually, he added a vert section. I was way stoked then. Then he added another belt so you could do a loop all the way around the whole ramp. The thing is, when all the parks were gone, you had to build backyard ramps, mogul runs, and everything out of wood. All of these new parks are rad but I don’t want to see the backyard scene die. You need your public parks, but you’ve got to have your own scene where you can just go chill and hang.
Where did you go after leaving Charlotte?
I went to Orlando, FL because one of my friends was living there. I knew Badlands (skatepark) was there, I had been there a few times. When I moved there, I got hooked on that pool. That was my favorite thing to skate. Badlands had a mini ramp, a 40-foot wide vert ramp, and a street course but the pool was the main deal. That’s where I met Sloppy Sam.
Who was with Sloppy Sam?
Merk, Bato and Big Tim. They just showed up and needed a place to stay. So, Sloppy and those guys came over to our place and stayed. It was hilarious because we went out on the town with all our helmets on and raged. It was the first time we ever met them. It was cool. Then we were driving back home and we were by a patch of woods and Merk just jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran off into the woods. They said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, he’ll find his way back.’ I said, ‘But he’s never been to our place before.’ And they said, ‘Don’t worry. He’ll find it.’ We were miles away from where I lived but he showed up a few hours later. He’s like ‘Rambo’. It was insane. That’s where I met Collette, too.
Where do you go from there?
I moved back to Charlotte for a little bit. Then we went to one of Brewce Martin’s jams at his place in West Virginia. This was pre-Skatopia. My buddy, Barry, said, ‘We’ve got to go, because I’ve never gotten to go to the Farm Ramp jams.’ Jimmy Leaphart and Randy Lowe showed up. It was like a skateboard summit. It was out of hand. At that time, skating wasn’t like it is now, as far as having a lot of people skating.
Yeah, only the hardcores showed up.
It was the best, just raging. Then after that they had the Halloween party at the Hanger and I started going to the Hanger again. I moved to Charleston for six months and skated the Hanger as much as I could. I sold pictures on the side of the road for money. Then Tim Payne called and asked if I wanted to go to work on the Woodward Park. So I was working there and that’s where I met 37.He was working on the park. The whole thing started going crazy after that.
Why did Tim Payne call you?
He’s just cool. He’s a nice guy. I met him when I lived in Orlando.
He called you for the first construction of Woodward?
No, it wasn’t the first construction. This was when they added the new stuff in ’96. They built a whole new building on top of the hill for the vert ramp. They added a six-foot tall ramp with a hip in it. It’s probably all changed around but we built the big foam pit and stuff. I worked there for about a month, and then I left with 37 to Pittsburgh. We were gonna go out to California, and ended up going to Dodge Skatepark in Ohio. I’m like, we’re either going to Brewce’s or out West but we just had to get to Skatopia because we’d been hearing about it. I didn’t even know Brewce’s number at the time. Then we ran into Joe Driver at Dodge Skatepark and he said he knew where Skatopia was. We all drove to get something to eat then he said we’re going his buddy’s house. All of a sudden, we’re at Nick Tag and Big Country’s. They were going to Skatopia, too, but no one had directions. Then they took us to a Burger King parking lot. Some guy was there drinking whiskey and he had a girl with him and she handed over directions. It was hilarious. I said, ‘Dude, this is crazy.’ Then we drove for a while and we ended up in Athens, Ohio. We went to someone’s house and ended up getting directions to Brewce’s.
It must have taken you two weeks to get there.
No, this was all in one night. 37 started freaking out because we were out in the middle of nowhere. I thought he was gonna go crazy.
Why was he freaking out?
He was yelling, ‘They’re gonna kill us!’ He was paranoid. I said, ‘It’s all cool. We’re almost there.’ The roads aren’t as good as they are now and the stairs up to the bowl were so sketchy. They were two feet wide with no railing, and slippery. You had to crawl or you’d slip off the sides. It was out of hand.
So, this was Skatopia now?
Yeah, it was just sheer mania so I stayed there for awhile. Then the Warped Tour came up, so we went on the Warped Tour and I won the first one in Camden, NJ.
What did you get for winning?
I won a trip to California and I hadn’t been out West, so I was stoked. Then we hit the Warped Tour in upper NJ and I saw the best trick I’ve ever seen anyone ever do. During his contest run, Sloppy Sam looked at Bato who was standing on the deck and said, ‘I need a beer.’ Then he went up the other wall and came back and did a Smith grind and Bato handed him a beer. He slammed it and didn’t even look at the coping. He went down the transition while still slamming the beer, not even looking at anything, on vert. That’s the sickest thing. They should have party trick contests.
We’ve seen some of your party tricks, skating naked in a 13-foot bowl with three-foot of vert, drinking whiskey, doing a frontside air on a banana board. What would you do for your party trick?
Well, I’ve been trying to keep my clothes on lately. That’s not really a party trick. I just did that for the ladies.
Did it work?
No, I don’t think it really worked, but now that I’ve been keeping my clothes on, I’m getting a lot of requests to take them off.
What started all of the naked skating?
It all started out because I used to skate in my underwear sometimes. Then I thought maybe I should skate naked and start raising hell. It started out as a joke and just kept going. It seemed funny. I don’t know. It’s stupid.
Where did you go from there?
I think I got naked at the Warped Tour in New Jersey, and they kind of flipped out. I was scared to come down from the deck. My clothes were down below but the cops were down there, too. I figured that as long as I kept skating they couldn’t stop me.
I thought that was in New York City.
No, that was a different time. I had to go to court for that one but I turned it into a skate trip, so that was cool.
I think I’m the one to blame for that. We harassed you and you went all out. I’m sorry about that.
That’s all right. The funny thing was the cop said to me, ‘You’re an idiot. What do you think you’re doing?’ And I said, ‘Dude, you’re a cop in New York and you’re telling me you’ve never seen anyone streak?’ And he said, ‘No, I haven’t.’ Then Andy Kessler smoothed it all out. I went to court and they threw it out. After all that, we went back to Skatopia.
What goes down at Skatopia?
Skatopia is about being able to skate at 4AM and play music as loud as you want and get pissed if you want. You can blow up your car if you need to; some people need to do that, you know. I do want more skaters to come down. It’s fun when you get a good skate session going. It’s a good meeting place between the north and south. You get to see a lot of people that you wouldn’t normally see on a regular basis. That’s what I like about it. There’s a lot of property there. The gun thing was fun for a while, but so many people didn’t understand that you don’t just shoot your gun in the air where people are camping so, guns aren’t allowed now. At first, it was only ten of us, so it wasn’t a big deal, then people started showing up with automatic weapons and shooting ’em up in the air. That’s not cool. People think the government is gonna come and raid, and maybe they will. They’re crazy, too. It’s just about having a good time. It’s just skateboarding. If you don’t skate, I guess you could go there. I wouldn’t say it’s the Woodstock of skateboarding because it’s not hippies that go there, but it has similarities. You’re camping out in tents. It’s muddy. You’re with the elements. You’re more in the elements at Skatopia than Woodstock. Woodstock had porta potties, which is pretty cool.
So you started to win some contests. What’s your state of mind?
I went back to Charlotte for a little bit. I knocked myself out pretty good in Charleston. Then we went to California for a bit in ’96 and skated the Warped Tour.
Did you ride the finals?
I didn’t ride in the finals because things got weird.
Why? What happened?
It was my first time in California and we were raising hell. Brewce drove, and Sloppy Sam, Collette, Brandon, Fernando and ‘Nurseman’ were with us. We skated some pool and Tony Alva was there. It was a killer session. We skated Chicken’s, Kelly’s, and a bunch of pools. Salba and Dave Reul hooked us up with Baldy. We had to make the jump both ways. I don’t like that jump.
You have to get some speed going to make it.
I always throw my board over. This one guy wouldn’t jump so he didn’t get to skate. He had to watch.
Make the jump!
If you want to skate, you’ll make it. It was funny watching Sloppy make the jump, Sloppy-style. He acted like he was gonna trip. That whole trip was loaded with stories. In fact, I was the only person that had a chaperone at the contest.
You had a chaperone?
Yeah, they chaperoned me because they thought I might get naked or something. I ended up staying up until like 4AM in the morning and I had the contest at 9AM in the morning.
Are you telling me some dude was watching over you at the contest?
Yeah, and I’m not that bad of a guy. I just like to have a good time. I think they realize that now that I’ve been keeping my clothes on. I did it originally for the girls, but they don’t like that shit. Then when you quit doing it, you get all these requests. That’s the funny part about it. I’m like, ‘Nope, I quit.’ I think I’ll start putting more clothes on.
That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of someone getting chaperoned at a contest?
It didn’t work, though. That night, Sloppy Sam and I were sitting around drinking beer on Hollywood Boulevard. We went to check out The Whiskey and somehow we ended up getting a ticket. We had a choice of an ‘open container’ or a ‘littering’ ticket.
There’s a lot of drinking and skating going on hand in hand?
Yeah, I’ve been trying not to drink while I’m skating. I’m trying not to torture myself.
Do you think you ride better when you’re drunk?
That’s what I was thinking today when I was skating.
I’ve seen Skatopia footage where you were going higher, drunk and naked, than when you’re sober with pads on. You know you can’t fall. What’s going through your head?
It’s just the party atmosphere. You wouldn’t do it if you were skating by yourself. I like the ‘beer hand off.’ I was watching an old skate movie with Tony Alva and they had the baton relay on the snakerun. I think there should be a beer relay. How hot would that be?
I want the 5.9 Crew on my relay team.
Sloppy would go for the gold. You know he would.
You’d have to have Sloppy Sam, Merk, Tommy, and Davey Rogers. Big Tim would be in there. He’d have a big hockey stick taking other teams out.
Or you can get someone like Collette and Otis. That would be a good match because Otis likes torture. If they came up and hit him with the stick he would say, ‘I like that.’
What’s going on with that skatepark in Charlotte right now?
We’re trying to get one going. They only want to allow 8000 square feet but we’re screaming at least for twelve. If we can make it work, we already got the design. It’ll work at 10000 square feet. We did a clay scale model, We want concrete bowls, moguls, hips, dips, fun things, vert would be nice but I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.
Why do you like pool coping?
Because you can lock into a grind a lot better. It feels more comfortable on a smith, just locked in. I just like the way it feels. And I like what it does to your trucks. I like getting a ‘u’ in my truck when I grind. Brick is good too, brick extensions. I like all different types of pool coping. I don’t like it too smooth. I like it when you can definitely grind it. I also like it when it’s really rough and gnarly too. I was thinking about getting a bunch of beer bottles and breaking them, and making like glass and concrete coping.
What do you think about people who sauce the coping?
When you got it in a public park, you’re trying to preserve it, cause you don’t want to have to replace it all the time. It’s gonna get so blown out that it’s just unusable. That makes sense, but there’s over saucing too. If you’re gonna do it just use a thin coat. But if it’s something like Merk’s ramp you don’t want any sauce. I’m telling you I wouldn’t mind having glass and concrete like sticking out.
You’d just have to be careful on the handplants.
You’d need gloves for sure.
I was thinking about a snake run sort of like Swinson but every wall would have a different type of coping. You’ve got brick, you’ve got pool coping, than you’ve got like rock, and you’ve got some really rusty metal with barnacles on it.