Birdhouse celebrates it’s 30th anniversary this year and is Slick’s Brand of the Month which means you can get a 10% discount on all Birdhouse products throughout February.
Birdhouse Skateboards, originally Birdhouse Projects, was formed by ex-Powell Peralta pros Tony Hawk and Per Welinder in 1992, with Birdhouse being a reference to Tony’s nickname, the “Birdman”. The company was built on the premise that, if you love something, support it, nurture it and put the best, most dedicated, team of skateboarders together so you can do what you love… skateboarding.
At the time, Tony and Per thought their pro careers were coming to an end, vert was loosing popularity to street skateboarding and skateboarding was in general decline, miles away from the popularity of its 80s boom. Birdhouse was their way of staying involved in skateboarding and a way to keep them on the board doing what they loved.
However, 1992 was a bleak time for Tony, Per and Birdhouse and, in a Rolling Stone article by Eric Hendrikx (06.12.17), Tony described the early years…
“We didn’t know what we were doing. We were literally three dudes in this warehouse and office space in Huntington Beach, calling shops and saying, “Hey, we started a new company called Birdhouse. You wanna buy a board or two? Please?” [laughs]. I was making phone calls, doing the team managing, creating the ads, and doing the videos.
I was in over my head in terms of mortgage payments and things like that through the late 80’s ’cause, you know, we didn’t see an end in sight. And then, all of a sudden, I was stuck with this huge mortgage and took out a second mortgage to start Birdhouse – so I found myself in a really tight financial position. My son Riley’s mom was a manicurist so we survived on her cash tips for food. We cut back on all our costs – our food budget was very slim, so there was a lot of Taco Bell, a lot of Top Ramen and a lot of peanut butter-and-honey sandwiches. And I still got to skate and that’s what made me happy in terms of my job, so I don’t look back at it like it was the most difficult time. It wasn’t like we were destitute. We got to skate, we still got to travel, we still got to do demos like we were living the dream, you know. It’s just the dream wasn’t penthouses – the dream was simply skating for a living.”
But Birdhouse wasn’t giving up and things were about to change for both Birdhouse and Tony at the 1995 X Games:
“I think it was X Games. You know, as much as people don’t want to admit that – or don’t want to give them credit – when the X Games came around in 1995, I mean, it was all an experiment. They hosted stuff like bungee jumping, sky surfing, rock climbing and skateboarding. Dudes were literally bungee jumping off on a kayak and I was like, “What is going on? This isn’t a sport and this isn’t pushing the envelope. This is just – a circus.”
But I realised that they were putting on a televised skate contest and that was a big deal – that wasn’t lost on me, you know. It was our chance to shine through all this chaos—through all these strange fringe activities, because we had been doing this for a long time, and I felt like skateboarding was more refined than any of the other activities they were showing. So for us, well for me personally, I felt the opportunity to show that we were serious and passionate and I definitely felt like, especially in those early X Games, that skateboarding rose above the rest.”
Birdhouse became one of skateboarding’s most respected brands and skateboard teams of all time. Birdhouse riders from the past include heavy hitters such as Jeremy Klein, Willy Santos, Andrew Reynolds, Heath Kirchart and Rick McCrank and it’s current team is just as formidable with Tony Hawk, Aaron Homoki, Ben Raybourn, Clint Walker, David Loy, Lizzie Armanto, Clive Dixon, Shawn Hale and Elliot Sloan.
Over the years, the team has delivered some of the most iconic and memorable video parts in skate history, such as The End, Feasters and more recently, Saturdays. You can check the videos out on YouTube, we promise, you won’t be disappointed.
The Birdhouse team is a four-time winner of Thrasher's King of the Road competition: once as a mystery guest for Alien Workshop in 2012, and three times for Birdhouse in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
The team is also prominently featured in the Tony Hawk's video game series, and is one of five skate teams which the player can join in Tony Hawk's Underground. We will probably write another article about the all games themselves soon as thats an interesting story too!
30 years later, Tony Hawk is arguably the most iconic, most recognisable name in skateboarding and Birdhouse is thriving, all built on respect, camaraderie, authenticity and a love for what they do. We recommend them 100% so check out our Birdhouse completes, decks and bearings here.