Benji Galloway interview. WORDS BY GARRIC RAY
It’s a strange thing when a person is singled out and ostracized for no apparent reason. Something seemingly minor can spiral out of control; negativity attaches itself to this person and hating spreads like wild fire. Pretty soon popular opinion has been created and the individual is shunned.When the name Benji Galloway comes up in a conversation it is always followed by how he’s a kook or a dork or just a contest skater.
I was later to learn that the hating on Benji Galloway goes much deeper than just the shit talking, Benji Galloway has, in fact, been added to Jake Phelps’s top five “Banned” skater list from Thrasher. For someone that always skates so well, if you pick up a skateboard magazine it’s almost as if he doesn’t exist. I never understood this. I had skated with him and thought that he was a pretty nice dude. I just couldn’t understand why he was so hated on. The last time I saw Benji, someone had just spray painted two giant strips of bacon onto his truck. Benji Galloway just laughed about it and didn’t let it faze him. This goes to show how ridiculously nice he really is. Presumably the vandalism was a direct reference to his board sponsor Bacon Skateboards. What would cause someone to go to the extent of fucking up the dude’s truck? Is he really that hated on? These questions tormented me for weeks. I had to get to the bottom of this Benji Galloway hating thing. As much as he gets hated on, the simple fact remains that Benji Galloway is one of the best skaterboarders in the world. I had a chat with Benji with the intention of finding out what all the hate is about.
At what point do you think all the “Anti-Benji Galloway” sentiment first got started?
I think it may have started at the first northwest contest that I went to. It was in Donald, Oregon and I was the only guy there with kneepads on. I was really shy and I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t really know any of the locals. After the contest I bought a ton of beer and we went down to the river and drank and there was like twenty of us and I thought everything was cool, I had a good time. Apparently some of the “boys” got left out. I’m not the most talkative guy when I don’t know people. After that I got a bum write-up in Thrasher and they made fun of me for wearing pads. I didn’t know the ‘code’. I grew up skating the Charleston Hanger Bowl. It was all wood and Metal ramps with flesh eating screws sticking out. I wore pads because I wanted to progress and wanted to learn new stuff. That’s what we all did. To me it was all about progression and getting better, I didn’t want to do bro shit all day long I didn’t want to be a backside grind, backside grind, rock ‘n’ roll guy. I wanted to learn new shit that’s what it’s all about. I guess first impressions didn’t favor me this time.
What was it like growing up skating in South Carolina? Did you get along with everyone?
Benji Galloway: South Carolina was slow paced and behind the times but somehow for me skateboarding was the light at the end of the tunnel. Skateboarding gave me a sense of self-worth. It’s not that I didn’t get a long with everyone, it’s that I’ve always had the ability to rub people the wrong way. Although I was friends with everybody, some dudes just didn’t take a liking to me. I just was quiet and didn’t talk a whole lot, which may have come off cocky. In retrospect it might have seemed to others that I was too good to talk to them or something but the fact was, I was shy.
When was the first time you heard of the term, “Session Killer”? What do you think that’s all about?
Benji Galloway: I think it was sometime in 2006 before the Pro-Tec Pool party. My roommate Brian Fick told me that Patch called him with my new nickname, “Session Killer”. Patch talked to Fick about how Omar didn’t like skating with me and every time I would show up at Vans Omar would pack up and leave and wait for me to get done skating.
Where did all that start with Omar?
Benji Galloway: The first Trifecta finals at Aumsville, OR I ran into Omar and he got the short end of the stick. Needless to say he wasn’t too stoked. I talked to him about it later at Bam’s house and he told me he felt like I was just gunning for him and trying to take him out. That is absolutely not the case. I live and skate with respect for people, including Omar.
I believe there is some sort of beef with you and Frank Gerwer what happened there?
Benji Galloway: I’ve ran into him a couple of times both times that I’ve seen him, he’s says, “Oh there’s Benji Galloway the contest point guy!” Then he’ll say something about how I am only there to earn points. One time I was at the Hotel Bar in Austria and Frank was with Peter Hewitt. I tried to buy Peter a beer and Frank keep saying that I wasn’t worthy enough to buy Peter a beer. Peter was cool enough at the time to take my drink. The last time I remember seeing Frank he was at GvR and he keep screaming “Go Away” at me and shit. He seems to be infatuated with me or something. Oh yeah, I heard he won the lottery.
So if you go to crailtap.com and read the Jake Phelps Top Five, you’re on the top five banned people from Thrasher. What happened? Have you even met Jake?
Benji Galloway: I have no idea. Yeah I seen him a few times but we don’t really talk. The only time we talked was about three years ago. He came up to me in Marseille. He was like, “What is it about you? Why does everybody hate you?” I was like, “I don’t know what you are talking about but to answer your question, I don’t know.” He was like, “You need to figure it out because you could really do something with skateboarding. But you’ve got to figure that shit out first. You better tighten that shit up.” I was like, “All right, whatever.” So I guess now I am on the banned list. If he doesn’t like me, whatever, I don’t really give a fuck to be honest.
What happened with your truck getting Bacon sprayed painted on all over it?
Benji Galloway: I woke up one morning and my truck had pictures of bacon spray painted on it and “Benji go away”. I get this thing a lot where people think that I’m a contest points chaser and that I really care about the World Cup point system or what ever. I’m just partying, skating, and having a good damn time. Other people turn it into something that it’s not. I just do my own thing. I am competitive about it for sure. I don’t want to go to a contest and get last.
FRONT CRAIL. PHOTO: FICK.
Is contest winning the only way you are making money right now?
Benji Galloway: Yeah pretty much. I have a few sponsorship dollars coming in. I do some work on the side, I’m a carpenter I do some house renovations and build some skateboard ramps.
It seems kind of lame to hate on someone because they earn a living skating contests. What most people don’t know is that your not just a contest skater, you seem to like to skate everything, you’re just as likely to skate a rail as you are a cradle or full pipe.
Benji Galloway: Skateboarding is about skateboarding. Skate the world.
Sounds like a string of misunderstanding and straight up bad luck. It doesn’t sound like people don’t like you, it seems like there’s a reputation created from people that don’t even know you.
Benji Galloway: Yup. It’s all bandwagon shit. One person gets a opinion and everyone else wants to be cool and tag on their opinion, so I think this whole shit is funny, I’m sure there are a few people who I’ve rubbed the wrong way and everyone else is too afraid to stand up for themselves and meet me. Drink a beer with me, figure out who I am for yourself. If you don’t want to then go kick rocks.
Any Closing Comments?
Benji Galloway: Thanks to Bacon, Kronik Energy, Ninja, Sergie for hooking up Type-S, Dekline and Split for flowing me some product. Dept. of Skateboarding, Mike Rogers at Grind for Life, Nash Motorcycles and everyone else who has supported me.
INVERT OVER DOORWAY. PHOTO: FICK.
We decided that we should call a few heads and find out why they think people hate on Benji:
Dave Swift (Editor: The Skateboard Mag)
I’ve only met Benji a few times. I’m trying to think of a theory of why tranny skaters don’t like guys like Benji Galloway. I don’t want it to look like I am putting him down. In general, if you are just skating, it’s not like everyday you are in competition. You’re at the park and you’re with your homies and this dude shows up and, maybe he’s not doing it intentionally, maybe he just skates like that, but it seems like this guys trying to do every trick in the book right next to you and it kind of sucks the fun out of the session. I don’t know that he does it on purpose. But he can go to a place and not adjust to it at all and do every trick he can do. You’re like, “I feel even more lame now.” He might do that to a lot of those guys. I’ve only seen it once. It was at the Mammoth contest; he showed up the day of the contest and just completely destroyed it. I pretty sure he won. But nobody was excited; it was like everyone was kind of bummed. I know there were other skaters over the years that were session killers, T Mag. He always a rad skater but not a lot of skaters liked skating with the guy in the 80s. He’d show up and do every trick you were trying, he had that same reputation.
Brian Fick (Photographer)
People probably wouldn’t hate Benji if he wasn’t so good. A lot it stems from the fact that he is amazing on a skateboard. It might be a bit of jealously. People feel that he is competitive 100% of the time. He doesn’t mean to be. He’s just super competitive. A lot of people hate that. The dude is one of the nicest guys in the world. I watch him donate half his contest earning to cancer research. The dude is all right in my book.
Peter Hewitt (Skater)
I don’t know why. I’ve never really had a problem with the guy. He’s never really rubbed me the wrong way. He sure does have an effect on some people though. It’s tough to explain. The whole Anti Hero team can’t stand him but I don’t know, I don’t think that it is that big of a deal. It’s kind of like when Andy MacDonald came out here. Matt Moffett and I took him to skate Plan B and we went back and Danny Way painted, “Andy Mac will never walk here again” on the stairs.
Rodger Harrell (Editor: Skateboarder Magazine)
I have no idea why people have a problem with him… I like the guy.
FRONT TAIL. PHOTO: GARRIC RAY.