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Franky Villani – Boy Doesn’t Cry

Franky Villani is just the nicest guy, you can’t put it any other way. If you’ve met him and you don’t like him, there might be something wrong with you cause it can’t be his fault. He’s an easy-going, mellow guy. He’s carrying a stuffed animal in his pocket, catches rare Pokémon, and pumps “Don’t worry, be happy” on his boombox. He mumbles a few funny phrases, lies down to chill in the middle of a station forecourt, and all of a sudden, takes his board and attacks the biggest spots. He’s that guy whose name gets called when there is a spot that nobody else in the team dares to skate. But Franky has no problem with it. Even if he most of the times has to take some hard slams before landing the trick, he won’t lose his good mood and he’ll be even happier afterwards. As soon as he can skate, everything is good.

So, you’re on a trip right now – where are you?

At Milwaukee, I think. We are passing by a bunch of places that sound the same like Minnesota and Minneapolis and stuff. I don’t know.

You’ve been on the road a lot lately, huh?

Yeah, I have. I am usually never really doing anything. But recently, I’ve been pretty busy. It’s cool though. I like having something to do!

You’re from Santa Ana. Are you still living with your parents?


Ever thought about moving out?

I would like to move out. I like having privacy.

So, you have a sister or brother as well living there?

My older sister just moved out, but my younger brother and sister still live there.

Villani Issue21

Frontside Feeble Grind

Your family is from Italy, right? Where is your origin?

My grandpa was Italian. That’s all I know. I didn’t look into it really.

You don’t really know where your family comes from?

I never really asked.

You’re not interested?

Not really. I don’t know. [laughs]

But do you know where from Italy he is?

I have no idea! He died before I was born.

Was the New Balance trip your first time in Italy?

Yeah, I really liked it a lot! I love it there. I’d love to go back!

Where did you go and what did you see?

I have a bad memory. Milan, I think we went to. I don’t remember where else we went.

I saw some pictures where you were swimming in some lake.

Yeah, that was super cool. I don’t remember what it was called though. [asking teammates about the name] Lake Como! So nice. It looks like Jurassic Park.

"Sometimes, I just get sad for no reason. But I kinda like it. You can’t be happy all the time."

It seems like you don’t remember much from trips. What memories do you take from those trips?

I can remember random things. I don’t know. I really remember the train station spot. That spot was cool. There was that museum you can go inside that was like a mall. That was really weird. I’ve never seen that before. Everything blends together. That’s the thing. I kinda remember a lot, when we go to a lot of places at all it seems like the same places.

What’s the most fun on trips?


You have so much energy, you never stop skating, right?

It’s not that I have a lot of energy. It’s just like I get bored and antsy if I’m sitting down too long. I can’t sit still.

So, you always have to skate?

If I am at a spot – yeah! I cannot go to a skatepark and sit down the whole day.

You always seem super happy. What’s the secret?

Ah, I am not that happy. It’s not like I am not happy, but I am not feeling like I am the happiest person.

You seem kinda happy all the time.

When I’m on trips, I am. We have a lot of fun the whole time.

What gets you in a bad mood? Or what makes you sad?

Not landing tricks.

That’s the only thing?

Sometimes, I just get sad for no reason. But I kinda like it. You can’t be happy all the time.

And then you play sad music and stuff like that?

I love sad music.

What’s your favorite type of music?

My favorite song is “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure. I like ‘80s music. I like a lot of music. I am not too picky with music.

Getting back to the Italian origin. Is there something from your character’s side that is typically Italian?

I like spaghetti. It’s my favorite food. [laughs]

Which kind? Spaghetti bolognese?

Every kind! Any pastas...

On the trip to Cologne, you played a lot of Pokémon Go. What’s the thing with Pokémon Go?

I don’t know. I kinda stopped playing after that.


It’s just cause there’s regional Pokémon that you can only get in certain countries. And I just wanted to get these ones from Europe. And I got them. So good. It takes too much time. And it just killed my battery!

What do you do now when there is downtime in the van?

That’s the only time you sleep on a trip. Or you talk.

What do you like to talk about?

It’s random. Whatever is going on. Whatever is happening with everyone. But when we are on long drives, I just get a laptop and watch movies.

"I don’t really go for big spots unless they catch my attention."

You already talked about your favorite movies in the Jenkem interview. So, we can skip that.

They only talked about horror movies.

What other movies do you like?

I like The Wedding Singer or Adam Sandler a lot.

You like Adam Sandler?

Yeah, he’s funny.

Which Adam Sandler movies?

Billy Madison. But The Wedding Singer, I think that’s my favorite movie. Happy Gilmore is very funny. All his movies are super funny.

I never saw The Wedding Singer.

Oh, watch it dude, I love this movie. A Night at the Roxbury also is really good. They have good music too. It’s like ‘80s music. You’ve seen A Night at the Roxbury?


Homie – you gotta watch it!

I like these kind of movies as well. If you’d be in a high-school movie, what character would you play?

I’d probably be in The Breakfast Club. That movie is cool. Ghost World is cool too. It’s like kinda high-school vibes.

If your life would be a movie, what actor would play you?

I don’t really know actors’ names. Hopefully someone cool!

Let’s get back to skateboarding. When you were in Cologne, every trick you tried, no matter how big the spot was, it was always do or die. Whether you made it or you took a gnarly slam. There was nothing in between. Do you have to go all in all the time? Is that the way you are working?

If I take my time, I’ll get inside my head too much and I’ll freak myself out! I’d rather just go for it and then maybe land it or get smoked.

So, you can’t look at the spot for too long?

The longer you stare at a spot, it just gets scarier, you know.

So, is it better to go to spots you’ve never seen before and just go for it?

I don’t really go for big spots unless they catch my attention. I think it looks really cool or it looks fun to me. I can’t just go skate random gnarly spots like that. 

Villani Einzelbild2


But in Cologne, it was like every spot we went to, you were on fire.

Oh yeah, those spots looked really cool to me – that’s why!

But when you slam, you slam really hard. You never jump out of a trick or something like that?

I mean, I take really hard slams every day. No matter what I am skating. Flatground – I am gonna go down. I’m like a magnet to the ground. I spend more time on the ground than on my board.

What was the worst slam you ever took?

I just took a pretty bad slam on this trip. I rolled my ankle down eleven stairs. But I’m alright, I can walk.

You don’t seem to get too many injuries out of all that, right?

If I fall on my body, I’ll be fine. I feel like I am pretty used to that. Actually, no. I don’t get hurt that much, I guess.

You skate gaps, rails, ledges, manny pads, hubbas – is there something you can’t skate?

Transitions I kinda suck at a lot. I like skating tranny, but I’m not really good at it.

What’s with the megaramp? I guess you could skate it too?

Noo, I’ll be in the hospital. And I’m scared of heights. I couldn’t do that!

But the gaps you do are pretty high as well.

Sometimes. But it’s different. Megaramps are several stories high. You’ll never gonna go anything higher than a story with skating.

That’s true! Out of all the spots you skate, what do you like the most?

Maybe a rail you could lock in and grind for a while. That’s always fun. Or a good ledge sometimes. It just depends on the mood.

Who are your favorite skaters?

I really liked the old enjoi team with Marc Johnson and Jerry Hsu, the whole team with Jose Rojo. All those dudes are so sick. But I like all kinds of skaters. I like Shane O’Neill, Wade DesArmo. I like a lot of skating.

You were on Zero and you were able to skate all that big stuff, the rails and all that. But for me, you were a bit too unique, too outstanding. I always thought it doesn’t really fit, because you have your own vibe. What do you think about it?

I felt a little… I mean, I really liked the dudes over there. They’re all cool. I feel like that’s why I tried it out. Everyone there is super cool to hang out with. 

"Dane Burman told me one day that Jamie Thomas is gonna call me and to not say no."

How did you get on Zero?

Dane [Burman] got me on. He told me one day that Jamie Thomas is gonna call me and to not say no. That’s kind of how I got on.

So, they picked you!?

Dane picked me, I guess.

How was your relationship to Jamie Thomas?

It was mellow.

But he’s a special guy, right?

I mean, he’s different. But he’s cool.

Did you learn something from Jamie?

Not really. He’s busy. I usually skated with the other guys a lot.

I thought he’d be kind of a mentor guy or something.

For some people, for sure. If you are looking for it, he’s there for you. But I wasn’t really looking for any kind of mentorship. I like to learn things on my own.

Why did you leave Zero in the end?

I just didn’t feel like it was good for me at the time or anymore. I just was unhappy. It seems like it was just the same thing a lot. I like different things. I like to be able to switch it up some time, like not just the same graphic all the time. They kinda stick to their roots. But that’s cool too, you know?

Is there any new sponsor coming up you can talk about already?

Naah, not really. I’m enjoying my break from board sponsorship.

You said that the boards look kind of the same and stuff like that. You like doing some colorful stuff. What’s up with the griptape art. Do you do it all by yourself?

The spray-painted ones? I don’t do those. But the clear griptape stuff, I do that when I’m home bored.

Do you always like to have customized griptape?

I don’t like this plain black. I don’t like looking on my board and feeling like it’s boring. When I like how my boards look, I am more hyped to skate!

Frankie 5 0


That’s true! And what’s the thing with the pink- or neon-colored wheels?

I can’t skate white wheels. I hate it! It’s so boring to me.

Crazy. Because for me, if I see a skater skating colored wheels, it’s like, “Naaaah, I don’t know.”

I think it’s just because when I grew up, I saw a clip with Chris Cole and he always had cool wheels. There was this one clip where he skated these bright pink wheels and I thought it was the coolest thing. Ever since then when I skate white wheels, I’d be kinda bummed.

Your November part had artworks from Leon Karssen. How come?

That’s my friend.

He’s from the Netherlands. How do you know him?

Well, I think I stumbled upon his art or whatever early on and bought a shirt. At Tampa, some kid took a picture of me and sent it to him. He messaged me and we started talking and when I had that part, I asked him if he would be down to do some drawings for it. He did that and then, eventually, he came over here and we met up and hung out. He’s a cool guy!

Your style of fashion is very unique. Where do you buy your clothes?

It’s always random. If I’m on a trip, I’ll just go to a lot of random places. Maybe I’ll go to a shop and see something that I like and I’ll buy it. It’s always on trips where I find cool stuff.

How did you get on New Balance?

Randomly, I went on a camping trip and Levi [Brown] was there and we became kind of homies after that. And then, randomly, he messaged me later on asking me if I got shoes from anyone. And I didn’t. He would just ask me if I would like some New Balance shoes and I said, “Yeah, thank you.” But I never thought I would get on the team, you know? I thought it was just like, “Oh cool, I get hooked up with some shoes.” I don’t even know how that happened, like being fully on. 

"It seems so random that I have a shoe sponsor, but there’s so many people that are ripping and don’t have someone to hook ‘em up."

And at one point, you got a phone call that said, “You’re on!” Or how was it?

I think they were going to Spain and I was going to a lot of the events they had and they’re bringing me to some stuff. And I think they talked to me about Spain and then pretty much told me that I was on the team. It was cool.

You can make a living now out of skateboarding, right?

I mean, it’s crazy. It seems so random that I have a shoe sponsor, but there’s so many people that are ripping and don’t have someone to hook ‘em up. It seems very crazy to me.

You are ripping super hard. You nearly shot a full interview in two days in Cologne. Where other people work, like, weeks or months for.

Thank you. It’s just like I’ll go up there and probably never go back there. I can’t not skate all the spots I see.

So, let’s wrap this up: what should be written in your biography?

I don’t know. I wouldn’t be in control of that.

You control it by living your life.


What you wanna achieve with your life? Or in skateboarding?

As long as I keep having fun with my friends on trips, I’ll be cool!