Musician and pro skateboarder Chuck Treece inspires me a whole lot! He’s spent his life dedicated to both the craft and performance of music, and the art of skateboarding. Chuck started skate punk band McRad in the 1980’s, has toured with the Bad Brains for a time and worked with HR on his solo record + played in Santigold’s punk band Stiffed and hip hop band The Roots, as well as playing the bass line on Billy Joel’s classic song ‘River of Dreams’ and so much more. He was the first African-American skater to appear on the cover of Thrasher Magazine and has his own McRad dunks… most of all though, Chuck’s a really nice, hardworking dude! People that put in work and are good people are my favourites and what I’m all about celebrating here on conversationswithbianca.com. The following is an extract from my in-depth conversation I recently had with Chuck for my punk and spirituality project, Conversations with Punx (more info here).
I’ve heard you comment before that: music is positive power! When did you first realise this?
CHUCK TREECE: As far as music being a positive power, it started when I was young; I was six—I’ve always wanted to do something. When you’re a kid and you have friends and every person has their own individual way of living, for some reason with music, regardless of what style of music I was listening to, if the musicians were white, black, Asian, whatever—I was more interested in why they were playing music and how could I make myself sound like them. When you’re at a young age, your mind is very impressionable, so when you hear music it sounds so big, and when you figure out they’re regular people, you try to work out how they got to that level.
I knew music was a positive for me because I didn’t have that feeling towards anything else like baseball or football. I developed a love for skateboarding, which made me even more positive because skateboarders had something big in the ‘70s, then it all fell apart and we had to rebuild it. That’s how I knew that music, and the extension of music, would be a more positive lifestyle for me. I wanted to base my entire life like that—I was very aware of myself at age 14.
You talk very fondly of your parents as inspirations and of learning a lot from them; what is something significant they’ve taught you?
CT: What I’ve learned from my parents is how to be a team, even when something happens, like they’re together and it’s important but then they separate… each person has to make a decision and I felt that my parents made the decision to split themselves up and be strong on their own and to still raise the kids they have, myself and my brother. Through that, what I learnt with my family, I could pretty much apply it getting into music; having to put the hours into music, and having to put the hours into skateboarding. As you’re living that lifestyle, you go through different situations and you really can’t stick to one way of thinking when you’re learning. You have memories, whether they’re good or bad, but we can’t stop what happens to us. For example, if you’re training for a skateboarding contest and you push yourself too hard and you hurt yourself before the contest; many skaters, because of their pride, have to deal with the hurt of their body and still enter the contest not at one hundred percent, which could create more problems. That’s why we have to learn with both skating and music, and what I’ve learnt from my parents, is to be aware of your surroundings. Instead of making excuses, put your surroundings to use as best as possible. It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get kicked on your ass though! [laughs]. Those things have always made the best sense to me.
Everyone I know that knows you or has worked with you, has only ever had such wonderful things to say about you—that’s a real testament to the type of person that you are. People always comment that you’re the most positive, adaptable, hard working person they’ve met.
CT: Crazy! [laughs]. Thank you. When you find something you really want to do, you live for it. The bumps in life are one thing that has kept me positive. I’ve seen a lot people take those bumps and then apply more anger; it doesn’t mean anger is a bad thing, I just don’t think that the kind of energy that is around anger, is the best kind of thing for every human being. Some people can do that and cleanse themselves but most people can’t so they’re stuck with it, that’s why I want to stay positive.
I grew up in a predominantly black neighbourhood, then moved to a predominantly white neighbourhood. I had to learn to deal with both worlds and see the weirdness in both – what people say versus what they know, what people are doing versus what we all should be doing. I kind of lessened my whole perception on people, I didn’t even feel like it was worth it to judge people unless I had something that was already told by my train of thought of like, oh this person is like that; that’s the only way I would think about someone in the realm of judgement. I would rather spend my timeline figuring out what I’m here to do, regardless if I have fear or not… like dropping into a big pool and trying a trick I’ve never tried, or to learn something new. I want to focus on my energy because I know how much of a big risk it is to take to even ride a skateboard or even be a full-time musician and try to have a family, and exercise yourself out in the world, where it’s not always too kind all the time. I want to take all the positive energy and be like, how can I keep creating this for the next 20-30 years? I don’t get any enjoyment out of looking at someone else’s life to better my own self, it’s all up to the individual. What we entertain, informs the results we get—that’s why I get better results!
You can read the full chat in my forthcoming book… below are links to other rad folks that feature in Conversations with Punx (click thru):
Create forever & have a (Mc)RAD day!