The web is great. While in former times only elite editors in the name of established newspapers or magazines were allowed to write about what was going on in the world, now anybody who is able to use a keyboard can blare out what they think about Kim Kardashian. That’s just perfect for skateboarding, a scene full of outsiders and underdogs which since the rise of the internet are allowed to troll in all sorts of forums. Many years ago in the little Canadian city of Saskatoon a man named Dan Watson started the blog youwillsoon – which would throw skateboarding into turmoil because somehow people all around the globe started reading what he wrote. With a great sense of humor and and an even greater “I don’t give a fuck” attitude he commented on everything that was going on in skateboarding at the time. Punches below the belt were common courtesy. About four years ago the blog slowly died and we still feel phantom pains when new gossip is coming around and Watson doesn’t raise his judicial sword anymore. That’s why we called him to ask what’s up in Saskatoon nowadays. (Oh, you can also follow him on instagram, if you wanna have an even closer look).
[Skatephotos: Owen Woytowich | Interview: Stefan Schwinghammer]
Aren’t there plenty of times when you think: “Damn, I should do the blog again!”
Yeah, it’s crazy. Sometimes something happens and I’ll be like “damn” and I even think of how the structure of the post and the title and stuff would have been. There were a few times when I sat down at the computer, but then I was just like “ah no.” I don’t have the motivation anymore to spend the time doing it.
Was this the main reason why you stopped it?
Yeah, it was mainly just the motivation. I mean stuff changes and you get different priorities in life. I think it went for four or five years and towards the end I kinda felt I was being forced, you know? In the beginning it was just like I was hyped and everything flowed out so easily. It was like a band that makes three good albums and then they force those other albums and it gets shitty. So I just gave up.
“I have tons and tons of emails from Steve Berra. I have pages and pages.”
How did everything start?
It originally started with a bunch of us sitting around and shit talking all the time. I think people who were hanging out with us were like, “you guys could have a show or website”. Around that time Crailtap started with the different columns and we were like, “oh we could do something like this.” And then we never really got around to doing it. We had moved to different parts of Canada and one day Ian, who started the blog with me, just sent us an email that was like “email@example.com.” Honestly, I didn’t really know what a blog was. So he just sent this thing and we just started posting on it. We only shared it to people that we knew and then it just went from there and got like really popular.
How did it happen that people all over the world were reading your blog?
I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out sometimes. I’m guessing 2004 to 2008 was the time, but I don’t know. First, I remember hearing about people in Vancouver reading it who I didn’t really know. And then people would comment on it and I would hear that either someone within the industry liked it or someone hated me. And I was like: “man, how is this even possible?” During that time there wasn’t a lot of skate blogs. Maybe people were just stoked on the shit talking because it was kind of the shift from print media to online media. I mean obviously in the print media you can’t do stuff like that. Maybe we started at just the right time when nobody else was really doing that.
When the blog gained popularity, did it change the way you were running the blog because you realized people, especially from the industry, were reading it?
Yeah, I kind of always told people that to some degree the writing that I did on there was, I mean obviously it was me, but in some ways it was like Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, you know? So you got the Dan Watson and then you also got the Blog-Watson. It was all stuff I was thinking but obviously sometimes I was trying to kick it up a notch. I knew that people would like certain posts, so I played it up a bit. But I always tried to keep it where I didn’t care who was reading it. So that it wouldn’t affect who I was writing about or how I was writing about people. And then after a while you make some friends in the industry and you kind of get to the same problem that print magazines would have. You know, to stay neutral. Like you just got off the phone with this dude and he’s cool, so you don’t want to shit talk his company. That kind of stuff did happen. Right now I’m managing a skate shop and it became tricky doing that, too. I mean, I would make a post and companies would call me and be like, “dude, what the fuck? I sponsored your contest last week and you’re shit talking us?” I don’t want to step on toes and stuff like that at my job.
What was the post that got the strongest reactions?
Stuff about Steve Berra was always pretty crazy. I think we were one of the first websites to call out his Unified Shop thing that was obviously a bunch of bullshit. There was some good Berrics shit going on for a long time. I thought it was hilarious, it was pretty funny. I have tons and tons of emails from Steve Berra. I have pages and pages. What I was going to do on the way out when the blog was wrapping up was to make a final post on the blog with all the emails between me and Berra, which would have been amazing because there are some crazy ones in there. But I never got around to doing it. I think The Berrics stuff got lots of attention. Good and bad attention, depending on who we were hearing from.
What do you think of The Berrics owning a skateboard magazine?
That obviously would have been something that would have been ripped on the blog. I think it’s fucking stupid. You’ve looked at it, right?
It’s shit. At the end of articles, it says “Go to The Berrics and read more.” It’s basically just a print extension of a website which is bizarre, because websites started out as a web extension of a print magazine. It’s crazy, I used to really like The Skateboard Mag and now the content is just shit. I mean the Canteen page… “You can buy all this stuff on The Berrics”. I mean it’s so obvious and seems like something so shitty and corny that Steve Berra would do or The Berrics organisation, I suppose. Like six years ago or something, a friend of mine told me that Steve Berra was trying to start his own board company. Maybe this is right after he got kicked off of Alien Workshop. He was starting a board company and was approaching some pros and nobody really wanted to do it. But one of the pros he asked told my friend, that this was Steve’s plan. He wanted to own a magazine. He wanted to own his own board company. Basically, I think Steve Berra or The Berrics enterprise, they are trying to start their own industry. So they can be isolated from everyone else who doesn’t like them. What is that company? SOVRN? That’s owned by The Berrics now. He’s got his own website and if anyone is shit talking about it, he’s got his own magazine, so he can promote that stuff, too. And now he’s like “I’ve got my own Alien Workshop”, basically. It’s obviously such a shitty rip-off, you know? I think he’s just trying to create his own little industry where he doesn’t have to deal with other people who don’t like him. I think that’s always been his plan. But it bugs me also that the magazine would have been sold to him. I’d like to think that there would be more resistance.
What do you think of skateboard media in general?
I don’t really follow it. That was another reason why the blog sort of died out. I kind of quit following stuff. I lost interest in it. I mean I’m turning 39 in a couple weeks. In my late twenties and even in my thirties, when I was running the blog, I was still like a skate obsessed teenager and that just kind of wore off a bit. I used to buy every magazine. Now I only follow videos on Thrasher and stuff like that. I don’t really care about Jenkem. They are doing their thing and they are doing some cool stuff and they have some good articles on there, but I mean Jenkem kind of also got into this thing that we’ve been talking about. I know that they have some friends in the industry. And I’m pretty sure when they burn Street League, Street League is flying them out just to get their name out there. I’m still active on the Slap boards. That is for me the funniest source of information in skateboarding. If you know how to read through it and sort out the bullshit, that’s where all the real information about the industry is.
Are you on the Slap board on a daily basis?
Not every day, but it’s always hilarious and you learn so much stuff. Even when I was running the blog, that was where I got most of my information from. I just read between the lines and figured out what’s true and what wasn’t. I guess that my blog was the original RIDE Channel. Yeah, I was stealing all my shit from Slap posts [laughing]. Pretty bad.
“Yeah, I was stealing all my shit from Slap posts. Pretty bad.”
There’s so much stuff going on nowadays and I wonder what you think about it. One big thing was Mike Carroll against Marc Johnson or the corporate against core thing.
I though that Mike Carroll and Marc Johnson thing was awesome. I was eating it up. It was great. I’ve never liked Marc Johnson and I think I’ve talked about that on the blog before. He’s an amazing skateboarder. You can’t deny that but I never thought that he was cool or smart or funny. How many times can you make a stupid face with a cigarette hanging out your mouth? So when this thing started I thought: “Oh man this is hilarious!” There were two parts of it and one part was amazing, because Carroll was a G for doing that, but on the other hand it’s also funny watching these two grown people fight who probably have never learned how to deal with things in real life. I love Carroll though, I think he’s like a rad dude and one of the best skaters of all time. And the whole corporate thing didn’t really bother me. I don’t care about that. Marc Johnson said he’d never do it and then he did itl big deal. It was just funny how it played out. I still like that stuff, like the weird drama and the juicy gossip. It’s fun. I love Alex Olson. I love what he’s doing. I love him quitting Girl, and then going on 3D, and then quitting 3D before it really started, and then starting his own company. I’d say this was one of my favorite stories in skateboarding in a long time. And he’s killing it now. When he quit Girl everyone was like “Are you insane? You don’t quit Girl.” And now Girl is not in the best shape, right? I mean they’re having a bit of a struggle. And then they are like “Dude, why’d you quit Brian Anderson’s company? That’s going to be the best company ever!” It wasn’t a good company. I love Brian Anderson, but that company was terrible. I couldn’t believe how bad that company was. And then he’s got Bianca Chandon and now 917 is killing it. He makes people so mad. I mean people either love him or they hate him. People are like “Why are you make this stupid t-shirt and charging $150 for it?!” I love that.
Another big things was that skateboarding was announced for the Olympics. What do you think about that?
It’s stupid, obviously. It’s going to be stupid, but honestly I don’t really care about it that much. It might surprise some people that I have this opinion, because I was always like “this is bullshit and that’s bullshit.” I still think it’s important to call out bullshit. But I think what most people really ignored about the blog is that I think skateboarding is fucking awesome. I think skateboarding is so good. I feel like people think that skateboarding in the Olympics or Street League or something can somehow ruin skateboarding or that it’ll somehow dilute the coolness of skateboarding down to the point where it’s not going to be cool anymore. But that’s not going to happen. Right now in skateboarding we just have these two extreme sides. Skateboarding, on one side, is the worst it has ever been with Street League and all the other bullshit. But on the other side, it’s the best it has ever been, if you look at all these small companies and these amazing videos. So, is the Olympics going to negatively affect skateboarding? No. You just can’t ruin Skateboarding’s coolness.
I have a few names of people that you liked talking about on your blog and I would like to know what your opinion of them is now. Did they do better or worse than expected? First one would be Ryan Sheckler.
He’s almost legit. He seems to be more concentrated on just the skating now. He’s not doing magazine shoots for teen girl magazines, and TV shows and stuff. I don’t know. He’s alright. [laughs] I didn’t think that I would ever say that. But I feel like he hasn’t really realized his potential. No backside flip down El Toro.
A guy we already talked about, Steve Berra.
I think Steve Berra is as lame as he always was. I don’t follow him as much as I used to. He blocked me on Instagram. I honestly think he’s one of the whackiest dudes in skateboarding ever. I think he’s still insecure from when Jovontae punched him out. I think he’s like a fat kid that has been made fun of in high school and he’s still holding on to that. So he has to prove something to the world. Did you know that he was my first favorite pro skater ever? I bought the Transworld June ’93 or something and it had a Steve Berra pro spotlight and I thought he was great. I liked him for a really long time. Pretty funny that he was my favorite skateboarder.
“Ty Evans, man. What was the video called? We Are Blood? Oh man, that was bad.”
What about Ty Evans?
[laughs] Ty Evans, man. What was the video called? We Are Blood? Oh man, that was bad. The whole “making a four-million-dollar movie,” or however much it was, to try and show how skateboarding really is and then they are skating on a helicopter landing pad in Dubai. Oh my god, it was amazing! But I’m actually really stoked because there is a lot of backlash against Ty Evans within the industry. There’s lots of interviews where a lot of the dudes from Pretty Sweet weren’t really happy with the video. If there’s anything good that came from Ty Evans it’s maybe that the next Girl video might come back to form. Just put Aaron Meza on it and it would be sick.
Alright, and the last one then. Eric Koston.
I think Eric Koston is a kook. I mean he proved himself as one of the biggest kooks of all time, which is crazy. He was also one of my favorite skateboarders with Steve Berra. I thought he was the sickest. But social media is crazy, man. Imagine it’s 1995 and you are watching Mouse and someone told you that one day you’re going to have a phone which is going to be the size of a calculator and it’s basically a computer and can do anything. And on this computer phone there’s a program where people put photos on and hope that people will like them and talk about them. And on this program on your computer phone Eric Koston proves to be the biggest kook of all time. And you’re watching Mouse and you’re like “This makes no sense”, right? But social media comes along and he just goes off on all these little kids, man. He’s the worst.
Who does the best shittalking nowadays?
I guess the closest would be Skateline because he actually says whatever wants. I don’t think he’s funny though. Sometimes I see the things that he’s going to talk about and I click on it and every time I watch it, it’s just not funny at all. So bad. I’m not a huge fan of Jenkem but I got to give it up to them they have some really good interviews. I like Jenkem for the fact that there’s an outlet now where pros do not hold stuff back.
To come to an end with this interview, you’re still living in Saskatoon and running a skate shop there?
Yeah, I work at Ninetimes Skateshop. My friend Jason owns it and I help him run it. I still live in Saskatoon. I got a dog, a cat, a house, and a beautiful fiancé. So I got a good life. I think that’s part of the deal, like priorities in life change. When I was doing the blog I was single and living in a place where I didn’t have any responsibilities at all. And… what was the question again? I can still kickflip. I still skate all the time and I’m turning 39 in three weeks, so that’s not bad. The one thing I always wondered about is that it seems like the blog has always had a really big following in Germany. Why do you think it resonated with Germany so well?
“And… what was the question again? I can still kickflip.”
I have no clue, but I know quite a lot people who read the blog. How much traffic did the blog have during its best times?
I think at it’s peak it had like 1,100 to 1,300 visitors a day. But I don’t know what to compare that to. Honestly, it still trips me out that people still care about the blog or that it’s still relevant to some people. I talk to people and they’re like, “This was my morning routine. I would wake up and check the blog.” I don’t know. It’s pretty cool. People cared about what I had to say and for a small time I had something to do with skateboarding’s culture. I’m pretty blown away by it. Saskatoon is a really small place and I heard from friends who went to New York that people were like “Oh you are from Saskatoon? Do you know the guy from youwillsoon?”
That’s the funny thing. That there is this one guy far away from the center of the skateboard industry mocking on stuff and things go crazy and the people in the industry are like “Damn, who is this guy?”
I think that’s the only way it could have happened, because I was in my own little world where I didn’t have to worry about anyone getting mad about what I said. I didn’t have any connections and I wasn’t friends with any of these people. I was just like, “This is what I see and this is what I think about it.”
Boardslide to hurricane