Danny Montoya and Rob Gonzalez are pro skaters from Long Beach, California who's friendship spans the last couple of decades. Through the years they've ridden for some of the same brands and their careers have taken similar trajectories from getting recognition to sponsorship to going pro. A few years back, Danny and Rob joined forces and created the iconic independent brand, Listen skateboards. Listen was a recognizable force in skating and produced a solid, memorable video in "Viajeros Locos." Unfortunately, when the economy hit the skids, smaller brands without the backing of major distributors took a serious hit and Listen went underground. Recently though, Rob and Danny were able to resurrect the brand's vibe and much of its team to reunite as a new brand called BLVD. The new brand is coming out strong with a solid team, distinct design and a very cool street vibe. We caught up with Danny and Rob to hear how BLVD is doing now that its out on the streets.
Burnside Retrospective Gallery
What made you guys change the brand from Listen to BLVD?
Danny: To make a long story short, we were going to continue with Listen and had some new plans for it, but at the end of the day our partner in the company who had the majority of the trademark wanted to go in a different direction with the company and we couldn't move forward the way we wanted. It was really a blessing in disguise though because we got a fresh start at a good distribution house and it turned out a better deal for both Rob and me.
So the deal with Syndrome Distribution was in the works before the name change?
Danny: Yeah, originally we were going to do Listen through Syndrome, but when difficulties came up it was just a cleaner and smarter deal to change to BLVD.
Rob: Now we got rid of a lot of office headaches and this frees us up more to skate and concentrate on the team.
Who came up with the name Blvd?
Rob: We were trying to come up with a name and we had a big board with a bunch of ideas on it. We were trying to keep it simple with the name and if you think of the basic elements in skateboarding it's just your skateboard, you and the streets. Blvd fit along those lines we were looking for and we decided to run with that.
How did Danny Supa get involved?
Rob: Supa has been a close friend and a fun dude to skate with for years. We have gone on a bunch of trips together and I have even gotten to go to Thailand and meet his family. We tried to get him on Listen a few years ago but it didn't work out for whatever reason. That's always kind of been out there though, that we would be down to work with him and we were all on the same page. He was bummed on his current situation and it just so happened we were starting Blvd and it worked out perfectly.
Tell us a bit about your ams that the world may not know yet?
Danny: First, we got Jose Pereyra. He is originally from New York. He has a real rad thought process that goes into his skating. He really stands out to me. Good style, good head on his shoulders. He is like a little brother to me as well. He has been staying out in Long Beach for a bit filming a bunch. I just kind of want to get him in touch with the right people and look out for him like people did for me when I was growing up skating. We also have Nate Fantasia from Denver and he is just killing it right now. He is a beast. So much pop and an ill style. People are going to see a lot more of them soon. Just really good people plus good style. I just like what they are doing out in the streets.
Rob: With the ams, as well as Blvd in general, it kind of goes beyond the skating. We like to have good relationships with everyone on the team. We had both Jose and Nate on flow from Listen, so we just pulled them over into Blvd and it's been a perfect fit.
What's the biggest thing you've ever seen Nate ollie?
Danny: Dude, He was cracking an ollie over this thing in Universal City. It was the highest bump to bar I have seen. Ever. You guys need to wait to see the Blvd promo.
Rob: Nate is a beast. He skates like a gorilla!
How long have the two of you known each other and what has kept you friends through all these years?
Danny: Man, it probably goes back to like 14 or 15 years. Growing up with and skating with Rob I've had someone who is a friend with similar interests that I can vibe out with. We kind of came up at the same time skating and got to go on trips together and just clicked. We also got to share a lot of sponsors and went pro around the same time.
Rob: I think its just growing up in Long Beach. It's kind of a small town and we had a tight crew growing up, so everyone we grew up with skating has a really good friendship.
Who is doing all the art and design work for Blvd, and is it different from the Listen vibe?
Danny: It's pretty similar to the Listen vibe because Blvd is a reflection of what Rob and I like as far as like ideas, skateboarding and our influences.
Rob: The art thing is kind of communal. There is an art director, Mark Wheel at Syndrome that we work with. We bounce ideas off each other. I design some of the boards myself too. We also have a lot of homies who are great artists in the graffiti and art worlds that will be helping out. The look is different from Listen but the same vibe, philosophy and vision behind it are direct links of what we were doing at Listen.
How many hours a week do you guys log at Cherry Park?
Danny: A couple times a week if I'm around. Jose and Nate are always up there. They are kinda the new locs, ha ha! When it kind of started back up again at the end of last year, we took it upon ourselves to build stuff up there and got involved with the community and got more things donated with a local friend who used to work for the City of Long Beach. It kind of created a new little scene in downtown and East side.
Rob: It's close to the house and there is fun, mellow stuff to skate, ledges and mannys. I'm up there at least three times a week if I'm in town. It's a fun place to skate, for sure.
Danny: You could get stuck there though, which could be a good or bad thing. You have to try to go there and warm up then get out. I guess it depends on what's goin on. Endless memories at Cherry.
Danny, what happened with Adio and do you have a new shoe deal going on?
Danny: With Adio, they licensed the brand to another company. This was right when the economy was getting bad and they couldn't afford as many people. They had to downsize heavy and a lot of people got let go. I'm currently working on some new shoe stuff for the future so be on the look out for that.
Danny, between you, Pete Eldridge and Gino Iannuci on the Mighty Healthy team is there a prerequisite to have a five o'clock shadow to get on?
Danny: Ha! I guess it just depends what's going on. I mean, I'm over 30. We got a tight little crew. We're going to have some stuff going on next year. Should be fun.
I don't think too many people know this but your brother is a ripping skater as well. Was he a key part of you getting into skateboarding?
Danny: Yeah, growing we would do everything together. He was older and had a car so we would go to all of the old skate parks like Pipeline in Upland. We still go skate to this day. To have a session with your big bro is nice sometimes.
Rob was it your idea to shave your beard for the intro of your LRG video part?
Rob: We were in Tampa for the Tampa Pro contest and my beard was bugging me. [LRG filmer] Anthony Clarvall was there when I was going to shave and asked if he could time lapse it. I had no clue it was going to be my intro.
What does Blvd bring to skating that skateboarding needs more of right now?
Danny: I think more of a close to home raw feel. Close to the community. It's not really a sugar-coated huge brand. We like to do what we like to do in skateboarding and we just want to portray that to kids. Just bring some fun and creativity to the new generation.
Rob: I think in 2010 skateboarding is huge and is kind of all over the place. We just want to portray what attracted us to skateboarding, which was just how raw it was and just pretty much the skateboarding of skateboarding. Sometimes when things get blown out they lose their roots. We just want to bring original skateboarding.