Shane O'Neill Interview
Hailing from the sweet streets of our very own Melbourne Town, Shane 'Nugget' O'Neill has risen up through the ranks to become one of the most seriously skilled skateboarders on the globe. As a team rider for Nike SB, Shane knows a thing or two about sneaks, he stopped by the office recently for a casual chat.
Hey Shane, thanks for dropping by. You've been on the Nike SB team now for 11 years now, how did it all start out for Shane O'Neill, now a household skateboarding name?
When I started skating with Nike, there wasn't exactly a 'Nike SB' rep in Melbourne, but there was one lady who was sending some sneakers out to local skaters.
Chris Middlebrook, another Melbourne native, how does he fit into the picture and your progression into Team Swoosh?
I started filming with Middsy cause he is basically the godfather of Australian skateboard filming. I started shooting with him when I was young, maybe 13 or 14 years old. He showed some of my footage to the Nike reps who started coming over from the States to film, and from those connections I got to go along with him which was pretty lucky at the time. I skated hard and made some very good friends along the way. That was my path. Then Middsy got a job at Nike. It was kinda of quiet at first, Nike SB was sort of happening here at the time, but not really. When Middsy arrived at Nike, Nike SB in Australia picked up quickly.
You have skated with the A list of skaters, P-Rod, Koston, Tony Hawk. As an aspiring youngster, who did you want to skate like most as a kid.
Koston and Paul. Koston, more in the recent years people have gotten to see his real funny personality through his videos, something I have always looked up to him for, especially earlier with his days on Girl (skateboards). But also Paul. When he (P-Rod) came over here when I was a kid, he was just the one dude that always wanted to skate, and at that point, obviously I was a little kid and was like 'that's sick', as you do when you're young. When I started actually going over to the States and staying with P-Rod, just meeting everyone through him was a huge help. The dude knows everyone! Just getting myself in there, and seeing everything was awesome.
How about Australian influences?
I was influenced by so many different people. Dudes like Spencer Eagles and all the dudes on Blank Clothing. Lewis (Marnell), Lewis was a huge one. He was with me the whole time through all this. When I was a little kid he was always helping me huge. We would go together to film with Middsy every single day. He was just a influence at all times, not just back then, and he still is. He left a huge impact, not just on me, but the entire community.
We watch the Battle at the Berrics very closely, you slayed nyjah!...
Nah... I cooked it!
Haha. To watch you slug it out with P-Rod though, that was entertainment, But you destroyed Koston!
I blew that, that game sucked! That whole year at the Battle at the Berrics I hadn't had a letter. I beat Nyjah (Houston), Jereme (Rogers) and (Eric) Koston, and it was going good. It was a super fun contest, real mellow, flat ground, but as soon as I played Paul (P-Rod), I got all nervous.
That switch double 360 flip was off the richter scale!
We were playing the night before and I was winning all the games, but I knew it in my head, I knew I was going to 'cook it'. I missed a switch heel or something and he just did what he does best. I got pissed off and ended up playing MikeMo (Capaldi) which I won, that was cool. But that was the first time we had never played in front of that many people, getting filmed as well, it was the worst time to blow it. Still fun though.
How did the transition feel from watching dudes like P-Rod as a impressionable kid, to skating with and against the man himself now?
It's been an ongoing thing. Where he was back then is nothing close to where he is at now, he has constantly be on the improve. But just skating with Paul and seeing the ways he does things, not tricks, but how he presents himself, it's always inspiring, he's such a successful dude. I lived with him, it's hard not to be impressioned.
Just casually living with P-Rod?
We've had houses together. (laughs)
Nike SB presents: Chronicles Volume 2, a sure-fire banger soon to release, How was making it? The places, faces, it must have been one hell of trip?
The locations where amazing. I only went on two trips for it, the rest was all L.A, but it was all good. They did a couple other trips but I was already taking part in Street League, so I didn't get to go. As soon as Street League was over, I was straight back into filming. Nike SB has a huge team, I think there's almost 25 other dudes! So that's why they are splitting the crews up with the videos. But everyone was great to skate with.
What are some countries you love to skate when you are overseas?
Spain is a good one, ridiculous architecture, and you don't really get kicked out of spots, it's a kinda more relaxed lifestyle there, i love just going their for everything, hanging out, but its no Melbourne. China is dope too, it's like a marble city, they don't even know whats going on when you skate there. But Europe man… Spain is still the one.
Travelling with a crew of dudes in a bus across the cities of the world must involve some serious shenanigans. Who on the Nike SB team is your favourite person to crew with?
Ishod (Wair)! He's just the funniest dude ever, if he's skating and he's likes going crazy, he'll skate all day sweating, takes his shirt off, doing the most ridiculous shit you shouldn't be doing in public. Skating with him is always just a ball! Probably Koston as well. Battle at the Berrics aside, he's a cool one.
Let's talk sneaks. You've burned through Blazers, Janoski's, basically everything Nike SB can throw at you. Nuts and bolts, what actually makes a good skate shoe?
So much goes into it. First of all but not the most important, the look. When you're looking down at your board, how it looks gives you an idea of where you're feet are at. I like a shoe you can feel everything in, thin and super grippy. There are a lot of cupsole models out there that get slippery. I hate not being able to feel my feet.
Yeah for sure, you don't want to get caught slipping. How important is the grip factor of your sneaks to you when you skate?
If the shoe is made of bad materials, like for instance hard leathers, when you go to do a flip trick there's just no traction. Everything is just too slippery. If your skating big stairs, it's not really ideal. In the first box I ever got from Nike there were four pairs of Dunks. I skated those probably for my first year or two with Nike, then after I first wore Blazers I wore nothing else for a while. I had P-Rods 1 and 2s for a bit, then Blazer lows. But as soon as the Janoski came out, that was it. Couldn't even tell you how long its been since i didn't skate in Janoskis.
How would you explain your obsession for Nike SB Janoksis?
The Janoski is real flat, and I have had flat foot for probably a bunch of years from just jumping down stairs and all the impact. But yeah I got a few pairs.
We noticed in the Chronicles Volume 2 teaser clips that you've been wearing the all new Lunar One Shot – a futuristic move away from the traditional bulky skate silhouette – what are they like to skate in?
It's super good, it's real easy to wear-in. The material choice is on point, as soon as I first slipped them on I already felt right at home. They have these little cut-outs which help them flex, it just makes the sole feel so stable without needing to wait till the shoe blows out for it to feel like a slipper. Most other stuff I have skated has over stretched from skating, this material wears to your foot so well.
How does the Lunarlon midsole stand up when it comes to the serious business?
I hadn't skated in any Lunarlon shoes until I wore this model, I hadn't tried the Kostons, so it was a first for me. It's great with the weight. I don't think its good for them to be too light, you still want to be able to feel something between your feet and the board, but this is just right, really light. I'm super stoked on how comfy they are.
We're sensing a new sneaker obsession for Shane O'Neill is imminent.
I'm going to be skating these in the contests and Street League. Nike has us skating always in a bucketload of new colourways, and with the shape and materials it doesn't matter if they give me new shoes on the day, I can just slide them on and start skating.,
What are you kicking around in when you not skating?
Pretty much Janoski's. But I don't know if you've seen them, they got me super excited, there's this new Janoski with a Free sole on it, you seen it?
There may be a sample floating around the office, we may have snuck a foot into it for a few quick laps!
I haven't got my hands on a pair just yet, but I'm hoping! You a size 9?
Nah a 10.5, but when it looks that good, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Dude, I was at Nike Portland last week. They were like x-raying my feet, doing measurements, sizes, width and all this weird stuff. But apparently I'm a size 10 and I been wearing a nine forever! I'm not changing though, I got too many Janoski's in a US 9…
Haha. Hey Shane, thanks so much for chatting with us. Please continue to make Aussies proud!