It’s a happy accident that Daewon Song called Riley Stevens, looking to skate some pools, while Riley was doing this interview. While that call isn’t surefire proof that one has “made it” in skateboarding, it’s a safe assumption that Riley has a damn good time doing it.
Born in California, by way of Arizona, Riley is all positive manic energy, a Channel Street loc and pool-coping-crusher, who knew for life that he wouldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps, because horse racing is crazy.
When you moved back to California, was it chasing the skateboard dream, or just getting back to your homeland?
When I moved to Arizona, I had just started skating. I got a little good at it and started to love it, and figured out, I’m going to keep doing this. I kind of knew the scene is out here in California. If you want to be in it, you’ve got to be out here and around the companies.
Can you hang on for a sec? Daewon Song is on the other line.
No problem. (Short pause)
Hello? Sorry, I had to tell him to hold on for a bit.
No problem, it’s kind of amazing that you can even get Daewon on the phone…
I know! I’ve never talked to him on the phone, only text messages!
Anyways, you recently got a Staph infection; did you get that from hanging out under bridges?
That actually didn’t happen at a bridge. That happened at a battle of the shops, somewhere in the South Bay. Some skateshop had a really dirty parking lot, and there was this pyramid thing with a rail on top of it. I was trying to do a nosegrind off a launch ramp, and I was just stacking from very high in the air, right onto my elbow. On my swellbow too.
Was that a fun hospital stay for a couple of days?
That sucked! I went to the hospital and they gave me antibiotics. Then my elbow kept getting bigger and gnarlier, and was swollen all the way down to my wrist, so I went back.
They were like, “Oh yeah, we want to put you in a hospital bed now, and you’ve gotta stay here for a couple of days on an IV.”
But it sucked, they had to put a hook inside of my elbow and scrape out all kinds of stuff. I just sat in the hospital for three days watching TV.
That’s gnarly, okay. How’d you get in deep with the San Pedro DIY crew?
My friend Aaron Court took me down there. He was like, “Channel Street, we’ve gotta go down there, it’s sick, it’s just like Washington Street but smaller, and funner.” So we went over there and I was super stoked.
I started going down there a lot and making friends with a bunch of dudes and every time there was stuff going on, like building something, I’d just help. Then you’re learning about concrete and finishing and stuff; I’ve learned a lot of stuff besides skating down there.
Then when I learned all my tricks on pool coping and stuff, I never even wanted to go skate anywhere else. It’s the best park ever.
Was there ever a chance that you were going to become a jockey, like your dad?
Hell no! People always asked me if I was going to be a jockey and I always told them no, just because I’ve known my whole life that that’s like riding a motorcycle with a brain, and I’m not down for that. Jockeys are crazy.