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Shane O'Neill - The Route One Interview
Shane O'Neill - The Route One Interview
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Shane O'Neill - The Route One Interview

  • 10 min read
  • By Route One

Shane talks to us about life after Primitive, launching April Skateboards and living life in the new normal.

Hi Shane, great to see you again! When we last spoke you'd just left Primitive but the news wasn't yet in the public domain. It was then a full year before April was officially launched, was this a conscious decision to not rush and get everything right?

What's up mate! Damn May 2018 felt like a month ago. We wanted to take our time with it and let everyone on the team film for the promo! Kev was with me all the time filming for a Nike project, so wanted to make sure all the other guys had enough time too.

And since then the brand has gone from strength to strength! What has been the hardest lesson learned over the last year and what have been your highlights?

So far we have only put out two small ranges of boards, a couple videos and a bunch of insta clips but we have been planning (and finishing) so much more than that!

The hardest thing has been sticking to timelines we want to be on due to a) having a lot to learn about certain things and b) the world changing so much since we started! There have been multiple hiccups but overall nothing has been too difficult.

The highlight for me has been learning about how things run and what is/isn't important. It's a cool process to go through and to be doing it with good friends makes it even better!

 

And the team, what a team! How did you go about organizing the squad and what was that special something you were looking for?

They're all awesome! This all worked out pretty easy because everyone that's on wanted to be a part of it and I saw the potential in them all. I have the experience to help them further than just putting them on April. I do my best to help in other areas of their skate life however I can.

Congrats on April's new indoor park! How did that come about? Obviously you've had the private facility at your old home for a while now, what prompted the decision to create an indoor facility as well?

Thankyou! This is something I'd been wanting to do for some time. Where we live it's so hot for basically the whole year and with the outdoor park there are a few restrictions on when we can skate because of neighbours. 

 Now we have a place where we can all link up and enjoy some good times. Plus we have the A/C haha! Having the ability to skate any time of the day or night is something I couldn't be more appreciative of; time is flying by and I personally want to get the most time on board as possible. Also I'm with my daughter all of the time so its nice to have a space where she has games and a TV to enjoy and relax whilst we skate!

The year started on a high for you with the release of your signature Shoe, the 'Shane.' Having previously had the High tape Janoski, how big a deal was it for you to be able to design your own 'from the ground up' model? 

To be given this opportunity was, and is, such an insane feeling to me! The whole process was amazing and I feel that now that it's out it's time to really put in more work to make it even better with colors/materials etc.

I love skating in the shoe and have had amazing feedback from other skaters too which I appreciate. For years people have messaged me about shoes and colorways so now to have those same people reach out about this feels good!


Aesthetically it appears to draw a few similarities from the Janoski, famously your favourite shoe to skate in, but also is very much its own entity. What was the design process like? Did you tweak favoured aspects of previous Nike SB shoes or was it an entirely new design?

I needed it to be a vulc sole because I've really only skated in the Janoski's and a few other SB's for so many years. Vulc is the grippiest in my opinion and that's what I like to feel on the board. There were a few other needs for the upper, like the lacing system and tongue straps from a skateboarding perspective, then we worked on the overall look of the shoe which was something David at Nike really helped with! He was able to interpret what I was saying and create the exact design! 

And the shoe coincided with your 30th birthday, congrats on the life milestone! How has that affected you? It seems such a big deal as you approach the end of your 20's...

Thankyou! Nothing has necessarily changed besides being more aware of how time is flying by haha! For the last 5 years or so I've tried to be really good with time management; to be getting the most out of life, while maintaining relationships with friends etc. Skating has just been getting better and better for me personally, I'm enjoying it more than ever and I feel like things are all in a good spot!  

February saw the release of your part 'The Extra bit.' That first line has to be one of the most ridiculous things we've ever seen! Then there's the next level tech of things like the crooks nollie flip late shuv! From a personal perspective is this your magnum opus or is there more to come?

Haha! Thankyou, I appreciate it! That spot in China is unreal. During that period I broke my foot twice and had surgery on my ankle so I was only able to skate low impact small things the whole time! That is why there are so many ledge tricks in it because that's what I was physically working with at the time. I am stoked on the video but it wasn't even close to what I would have liked to do with such an opportunity (being given a shoe) if I hadn't been injured.

Now that my ankles are back to normal I am jumping and skating the way I'd like to for a part. I dont know about a magnum opus or something, I don't believe that's for me to decide but I am very stoked with the video we're working on at the moment! 

Two years ago you suggested you were still at "baby stages" of what is possible in terms of ledge tech but then there's all the progression in 'The Extra Bit' and  your insta flat bar/ledge stuff has been mindblowing of late! Can you honestly say you still feel we're only at the beginning of what is realistically possible?

Haha oh yeah! For sure there are so many things to be done, probably not at the beginning but I do know there is so much left !!!

Also last time we spoke you'd really been really getting into mini ramps but expressed an interest in learning to "skate tranny properly." How's that coming along, are you any closer to carving some 10ft concrete in 2020?

I have skated a couple bigger bowls and parks lately but now that my body is good to film etc I'm really just out doing that at the moment! I'll get there in my 40's haha!

Talking of this year, it's hard to avoid the elephant in the room. How've you found it personally? From a professional perspective there must've been frustrations whilst April was in its first full year and your shoe was fresh on the shelves. Then there's the fact we've all been pretty much grounded and unable to travel. As an Aussie ex-pat that must've been tough...

 Personally I haven't found it to be too difficult. In the early stages it was a little hard to understand what was going on and a bit of a mental block but for the most part it has been nice spending great time with my daughter and being home. I'm unable to go to Aus which sucks but we will all get our time.

I'm lucky to be able to have place to skate right by me. I know a lot of others don't so I do feel bad in that regard and hope all of you skaters have a place to go/escape. But that's why I invest so much of my time and money into these parks and stuff because I've always wanted to ensure I can skate anytime. With April there have been mass delays but luckily it's such a small company at this point so we haven't had to change much really. Being unable to travel does feel weird but we will all get back to that when the time comes!

Finally, if we're to assume the world is going to return to some semblance of normality relatively soon, how do you intend to make the most of it? Do you have trips home planned, tours with April, new product for the brand etc? Or are you a little more cautious right now?

The new normal haha! I really look forward to be able to travel and plan things with the dudes! We are working on a couple different videos so it'll be nice to get on the road for that.

Tours are in the works but all of those things are up in the air until they're are possible again! For sure being cautious and skating in smaller groups at the moment is the way to go. We'll have new product, videos and so much more as things start to open back up again ! Looking forward to making it back out to the UK.

Cheers for the time and take care. 

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