Jimmy McDonald is definitely going places. He won DC’s King Of New York contest and had the ender in Few & Far Between, which is a serious video part. Keir Johnson caught up with Jimmy recently for an interview that gives some background info on Jimmy for those of us that aren’t in the know.
Interview by Keir Johnson
Keir: What’s up Jimmy, let me hit you with a standard starter question – what’s your age, home, and sponsors?
Jimmy: I’m 21 years old, from Bethesda, MD originally but I live in Philadelphia. I’ve been skating 13 years, and my sponsors are 5boro Skateboards, eS (flow), Volcom (flow), Spectrum skate shop, and Boner Bolts.
Keir: Recently you got some serious coverage through winning the DC Shoes King Of New York contest. What was that all about?
Jimmy: Yeah the King of New York contest happened this past September. I’d heard about it a couple of weeks before it happened. Steve Rodriguez told me about it. I’m not incredibly into contests, but I figured I would give it a shot. The contest happened over the course of three weekends. There was one contest at a spot in each Borough. Each contest was like a jam format, where everyone would skate for like a half hour and they’d pick a winner. I really didn’t expect to win. Before last summer I hadn’t skated in a contest since I was like 15. It was a good experience, each contest was pretty mellow, there wasn’t much pressure, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
Keir: Did you know you had won, who else killed it?
Jimmy: After the contest was over, I went out to dinner with the whole 5boro crew in Manhattan, and there was a little after party for the contest, it was an awesome night. Ed Driscoll killed it, he is one of the best skateboarders I have met. He won the mini ramp contest at KCDC in Brooklyn too. He skates with so much style, and everything he does seems spontaneous and unplanned.
Keir: Yeah I remember seeing him with you at Tampa Am this year. How did you wind up on 5boro?
Jimmy: My friend Kevin O’Dell suggested that I send them a tape a while back, and it seemed like a good idea because I thought 5boro was pretty sick; so I sent them some footage. A few months later Tombo, the TM, emailed me and sent me some stuff. Then a little later I did a demo with them and met the whole crew. Everyone was super cool. I went on some trips with and got to know everyone – it’s a really tight crew, everyone is bros. I’m happy to be a part of it.
Keir: You, more than most people, are someone I remember seeing as a tiny kid long ago. It’s pretty amazing you’ve come so far. Who were some of the other kids that you started skating with in your early days?
Jimmy: Yeah when I started skating I was super young, like third grade. All the dudes I skated with back then quit after a couple years. Then when I got to be about twelve years old I started skating with Nick Rudd and Eric Hynek. They both lived in Bethesda too. We grew up skating together. Nick lives in France now and skates occasionally, and Eric lives in Colorado and he still skates everyday.
Keir: Where would you guys skate back then?
Jimmy: The first place I ever skated was probably the driveway at my house, but around that same time when I was about eight years old, my dad took me to Pulaski one day and I just rode around. It was kind of a rainy day so no one was really around, but I remember being so psyched to be there, even though I was too young too really understand what the spot was.
Keir: How did you begin learning more about skating?
Jimmy: Another time I saw skaters at Pulaski when I was super young this one night when I was going out to dinner with my family. That was one of my first memories of seeing skateboarding. Then when I was about twelve, there was a shop in Bethesda called East of Maui. My friend Nick worked there, and we used to meet up there every day and skate around Bethesda.
Keir: Yeah EOM was pretty cool for what it was worth, that was my first sponsor back in the day too. I remember seeing you guys at Pulaski pretty often too though, when was that?
Jimmy: The first time I actually skated around the city, I was probably thirteen. I went with Nick and my other friend Louis, who was a little older than me. I remember being really nervous because I had heard so much about kids getting tickets and getting their boards taken by cops. The first time going to MLK was amazing. I couldn’t believe how perfect everything was. Going to Pulaski and Welfare was really exciting because all the spots were so new to me, and there seemed to be so much going on. There was such a big skate scene downtown, it was completely different than skating in my hometown of Bethesda.
Keir: What was the first video that you ever saw?
Jimmy: The first videos I saw were Transworld’s Greatest Hits and Welcome To Hell. I was really psyched on Jamie Thomas’ part in Welcome to Hell, it was just really exciting to watch when I was that age – it still gets me psyched today. I also really liked the New York City section in Greatest Hits, it really made me want to go out and skate the streets.
Keir: You can see that influence in your skating today, did it take you long to get hooked up?
Jimmy: My first sponsor was Evolve Boardshop in Bethesda, MD. I got on through my friend Dave Lawrence, who was the manager at the time. It was cool because a lot of my friends worked there and Dave who is still one of my good friends helped me out so much. The only thing that was kinda lame was that they sold wake boards, surfing stuff, and some other random crap. It wasn’t just 100% percent skating.
Keir: Yeah there has never been a shop in the DC area that would pull the 100% skating thing off. What was that video I saw with Evolve?
Jimmy: Ah my first video part was this video my friends and I made called The Rev. That was supposed to be the Evolve Boardshop video, but there was only one copy made, we were all pretty young and it was really just a bro video, and it was filmed really shitty. It was Eric Hynek, Nick Rudd, Dave Lawrence, and Bobby Worrest had a part too.
Keir: Going back to East Of Maui, did you enjoy skating the EOM park back in the day?
Jimmy: Man, I used to skate there all the time when I was younger. I met Paul McElroy there way back then. I was really psyched on him and all the other older dudes that were killing that place. It was a super fun park, kinda shitty at times, like holes in the ramps and stuff; but it was cool. It doesn’t seem like there are too many parks like that anymore, or in the DC area at least.
Keir: True, and Fight Club just got shut down the other day too. I know in your new Skateboarder checkout you mention Oyola’s EE 3 part as your favorite video part, what stands out to you in terms of DC skate history?
Jimmy: I was always psyched on Pepe Martinez, Chris Hall, Brian Tucci, and then the dudes that were a little younger than them, like Paul McElroy, John Igei, Adam Graham, and Andy Honen. I really liked Pepe Martinez’s parts in 1-800 Sky Pager and especially Fine Artists. I also really liked Reese Forbes part in Eastern Exposure 3.
Keir: Classics, speaking of videos you’ve dropped a good amount of parts yourself in the last few years. Most people have heard of Few & Far Between more recently, but what was the last video before Few & Far that you were in?
Jimmy: Autonomous, that video was filmed by Mike Zorger and John Edwards. My part was filmed by John, Zorger, and Kevin O’dell. Tyler Tufty, Zach Lyons, Danny Gotimer, Shaun Gregiore, Bobby Worrest, and Billy Roper all had parts in it. My part was from the summer after I graduated high school and part of the first year I moved to Philly, but most of my part was in DC, along with some footage from Tennessee, Ohio, and Pittsburgh that we got on a road trip filming for that video.
Keir: That’s a lot of traveling, do you remember your first time skating outside of the DC area?
Jimmy: The first time I left the DC area to skate was when I was about sixteen or so. I went on a little weekend trip to Philly. I had been other places before, like I had been to California and stuff, but those were on family trips. When I went to Philly it was the first time I went somewhere specifically for skating. It was a good time, I went with my friend Tim McDermott, Hippy, and some others. We stayed at Tim’s sisters house. We just explored the city all weekend and skated a bunch of stuff. It was really exciting to be in a new city. We skated FDR, City Hall, and Love Park. It was unreal to actually skate those places for the first time.
Keir: Definitely, what about going overseas for the first time?
I went overseas for skating the summer after I graduated high school, me and some bros went to Paris and Barcelona. We were in Paris for a week and Barcelona for a week. That was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. Every spot was amazing, we barely got kicked out of anywhere, it was better than I had imagined. I remember hearing how good Europe was before I went, and I thought it was too good to be true, but when I got there I was amazed with how good it was. I met my friend Matt Neves from Sacramento there that summer. He is one of the most talented skateboarders and the best dudes I’ve ever met. Not too many people may know about him, but he is definitely amazing.
Keir: So why did you choose to move to Philly after high school?
Jimmy: Well I moved to Philly to go to school at Temple University. I wanted to try living in a new city, and Philly seemed like a place with a good skate scene. I’ve been here for almost three years now and I have one more year left in school.
Keir: What’s the scene in Philly like right now?
Jimmy: Since I moved to Philly after City Hall and Love were basically shut down the scene is a lot different than it was when those spots were still going. But I really like it here, I have a good crew that I skate with everyday. We we all usually meet up and skate this spot Cecil everyday, which is a flat ground and ledge spot at Temple, then we go out and skate around the city at other spots. It’s different everyday, but we’re always looking for new spots. I skate with everyone thats skates Cecil and tons of other people that skate around the city.
Keir: Alright then Jimmy, what can the public look out for from you?
Jimmy: Right now we’re working on a 5boro promo video that should be out sometime this spring. I just got back from a 5boro trip to Lima, Peru and there should be a SLAP article about it sometime in the near future. I’m also working on a full interview for Focus Magazine. Other than that, I’m trying to go on some trips this summer, and keep skating as much as possible.