Riley Hawk is a man on the grind. The son of the legendary Tony Hawk, he’s not only a pro street skateboarder in his own right, but a seriously talented musician, surfer, motocross rider, dabbler in the art of tattooing—hell, he’s even “opening a coffee shop with some good friends in a few months” in his native San Diego. When asked about the secret to that enviable, candid momentum, his response is so simple it’s almost frustrating: “Never get bored,” he says. “When I stagnate, I know it’s time to move on to something else. Like, when I’ve beat my body up from a lot of skating, maybe I’ll spend more time [playing] with [my band Petyr]. I don’t always have a plan, but I only do what I think is fun.” He smiles, adding: “The idea is to stay as naïve as possible. Never grow up.”
It’s a fitting philosophy for Hawk, who at 25 years old has woven family legacy into his own career as the ultimate SoCal renaissance man. On set in Manhattan, he’s swathed in a loose, all-white suit mid–photo shoot—placed quite literally on a pedestal—and every bit the vision of skateboarding’s prodigal child. This is, after all, the guy who’s been skating for as long he’s been walking, went pro on his 21st birthday, and actually rejected a slot on one of his dad’s board brands to earn his own sponsorship in 2013 with Baker Skateboards.
On the weight of his accomplishments, Hawk speaks with the kind of relaxed modesty non-Californians often confuse with Big Lebowski Dude-ness. “It’s a bummer when something starts feeling like a job,” he says while hanging out on a couch after the shoot. He’s now in his own worn T-shirt and jeans with the kind of long, sun-kissed hair that looks fresh from a 1978 orange juice commercial. Then again, what sets Hawk apart from his peers at a time when social media platforms are oversaturated with influencers and partnerships is precisely what he’s not doing, which is anything that doesn’t feel authentic or speak to his sense of community.
While at the end of the day, Hawk says he’s just looking to goof around with his friends, he’s happy to see that skateboarding is being taken more seriously. “Cities actually want parks for the kids they used to write off as ‘punks,’ [skateboarding] will be in the 2020 Olympics, and yet it’s still this super [community-centric] activity with all these subcultures.”
The same goes for his band Petyr, which has been gaining more traction over the past three years, but began as a joke among friends. “We already skated together, so music was a natural progression,” he says. The name was inspired by a mockumentary comedy about vampires, and the sound is somewhere between “classic Black Sabbath” and, well, whatever the boys are into at the moment. “I love the late 1960s and ‘70s. Zeppelin. Psychedelic rock,” he says of Petyr’s musical influences. “I don’t want to say what the sound will or won’t become, ‘cause who knows? We’re just lazy skate dudes in a garage band.”
It’s a humble perspective for a guy who’s already taken that band on numerous skate-and-music tours. It also hints at something else Hawk has in common with his dad: career savvy. “What I’ve learned over the years, and especially from my dad,” he says, “is that it’s not just about riding your skateboard but navigating the industry. Build something that’ll last. Be different, and be smart about the relationships you build with people as you find yourself.” Choice wisdom from a lazy dude.