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Thursday, May 2, 2013
'Skate Cans'

By Andrew Cannon
XGames.com

Upon first look at this new Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) video "Skate Cans," you may think Ryan Sheckler's gnarly session at Southern California's Hollywood High is a bit out of place. I know I did.

But skateboarding and music go together like peas and carrots. I know my first exposure to some of the best bands of all time was, and still is, from skate videos. This is a story that many skaters can relate to, and after speaking with both MGK and Sheckler it became very apparent that they want to continue this matrimony of both sound and skating.

XGames.com: How exactly did you guys become friends?
Ryan Sheckler: We just became friends because we have a similar personality. He was playing at an X Games show a couple years back and it was the first time I heard his music. I just kind of felt the vibe and it was like hanging out with one of the homies. I've just been a fan since the start; it's sick.

Machine Gun Kelly: That's when we started hanging out with each other. I think we keep a pretty close-knit group of friends around us prior to becoming who we are, and there may be those certain situations where even they can't understand because they are not in that position -- in the spotlight, with all the pressure.

I know that it gave me a friend in an industry that you don't really make friends in. It gave me a friend to talk about my problems with where somebody in Cleveland [Ohio] might not be able to understand.

"It came about so organically. We met up, hung out and now I [talk] to Kells once every two weeks, sometimes twice a week. He'ís my boy," says Sheckler of MGK.

XGames.com: So what do friends as famous as you do to hang out? It seems like going bowling would be out of the question.

MGK: Nothing. We just talk; that's what's sick about it.

RS: It's like a reflecting session; you can kind of just get stuff off your chest. They always end up being four-hour sessions.

MGK: Sometimes I feel like a kid again because Sheckler and I will just sit around listening to music and playing air guitar. [Laughs.]

XGames.com: What kind of music are you guys both into? Obviously rap, but what else gets you guys psyched?

RS: Yeah, pretty much just heavy stuff and metal. Of Mice and Men, but that's what I listen to when I skate. Lately, though, it has been mostly Kells and the rap game.

XGames.com: How about you, Kelly?
MGK: It's so odd; it's pretty much the same thing. It's like we have the same brain, honestly. Same taste in music, same taste in girls -- there's not much of a difference, except he skates and I rap.

RS: It's crazy: I have a group of friends that I've had since kindergarten, and he has his group of friends, and when we all get together it just becomes one big group. Nobody butts heads. It's awesome.

XGames.com: I'm sure it's tough to find people who want to be your friend and want nothing more.

RS: Absolutely.

MGK: Definitely. With Sheckler's ankle being hurt this last couple weeks, this is when I've been texting him the most and calling him, like, "What up?" I know that feeling. It's just like the rap game: You're only as hot as your last song. So a lot of people hit me up when I have a project coming out or when I'm the hype at the moment, but that's why I hit him up -- because whether his ankle is good or not, I just want him to know I'm there for him.

XGames.com: How did you guys come up with the concept for this new video? It's pretty gnarly that you are skating Hollywood High in it.
MGK: Sheckler was like, "Let's go big, man!" And I told him, "Nah, it's cool, we can just have you skate in a parking lot." But we were driving around and he pointed, "There," and it ended up being Hollywood High.

I guess I didn't really understand how big of a deal that was in the skating world, but his friend that was with us was like, "Woah, how did you get him to skate Hollywood High?" The kids were spazzing. Even the little hipster kids who think they're cooler than everybody and wouldn't be stoked because we are on MTV had to give it up because it was so crazy.

RS: He hit me up the night before and told me he was in town and asked me if I wanted to skate in the video he was going to film. So I said yeah and the whole time driving up I had no idea what we were going to do. I was talking to Tony [Skeckler's lifelong best friend] and I had no idea what we were going to skate. It was so random that we ended up there. No warm-up or anything -- just right into skating it.

XGames.com: It's pretty unreal because you frontside half-Cab flipped them and nose grinded the rail and it didn't even look like you broke a sweat.
RS: It was fun, man; it was just a good session.

"I pretty much made 'Skate Cans' for Ryan to skate to," says MGK. Sheckler gets some practice in far from Hollywood High.

XGames.com: It's crazy that you would do that for a music video, though. Did you do anything there for the new Plan B skateboards video?
RS: Yeah& [Laughs.]

XGames.com: Alright! Now we're getting somewhere! A little foreshadowing.
RS: Yeah, but that's not what this interview is about. But yes, it's coming.

XGames.com: Come on, I'm a nerd for skating. I had to ask.
MGK: Yes, it is about the Plan B video, Andrew. I'm waiting for them to drop that too!

XGames.com: Are you a big fan of skating, then?
MGK: Oh hell yeah, dude. I've been active on that since fifth or sixth grade. In seventh grade, I remember popping my ulna out of my skin; I had to earn my stripes. But that was when I was better. I remember when all the songs I was into were from skate videos. Like this song was in Rodney Mullen's part. Every song I was into at the time was from skate videos.

XGames.com: Did you write this song for a new album or just to put something out?
MGK: This song was pretty much geared toward Ryan, but I was reading a lot of stuff from the fans. You know how they always say the old stuff is better, so I wanted to be nostalgic and prove to people that I haven't gone anywhere. I just want people to see that I am the lyricist as well. It's just a world that I'm very passionate about and I wanted to go back to my punk-rock roots.

XGames.com: Ryan, you grew up in San Clemente, Calif., which is a pretty ideal place to be as far as being a skateboarder. Kelly, you are from Houston, Texas, but moved to Cleveland, Ohio, right?
MGK: Yeah, I had traveled the world, though, before I moved to Cleveland. That's where I had my daughter and where I had my first job. It was where I had a lot of firsts. All the years where you become a man were spent in Cleveland.

XGames.com: So is there an ideal place to become a rapper? It seems like you kind of have to really live to be able to put it into the words.
MGK: All the people that come out of Cleveland and are famous come from the east side. The east side is the rough side and it's predominantly black. It just makes you that much more credible if you can make it out.

XGames.com: I don't mean this in a negative way, but was it tougher for you to get respect being a white guy in rap?
MGK: I just think I had to earn stripes in the neighborhood as a white guy. I was already popular in the streets on the east side with dancing before I was even known for rapping.

XGames.com: It's interesting because everyone comes up so differently. Do you guys plan on doing any more collaboration in the future or are you just going to be friends and do your own things?
RS: Oh, we are. We have a bunch of ideas that will come to fruition.

MGK: Maybe we'll do a tour and give the kids what they love. Kids love when they see us together. It's two different worlds com[ing] together. I'm trying to make that happen. I would say Ryan is upper echelon and I'm still working to get there, but I think after this project with "Skate Cans" on it, which is called "Black Flag," I really think it will take Machine Gun Kelly to a whole new level of success and [boost] how I'll be viewed.