Lee Smith

Speak into the mic.

Testicles 1-2! (Laughter!)

Great! Ok Lee, it’s the 8th July and you’re in Lyon, France. How did you get here? When? Why?…

I’ve only been in Lyon about 2 or 3 days, but in total I’ve been in Europe about 5 months. I just got kinda sick of Los Angeles, sitting in traffic, trying to skate a shitty handrail that Johhny Wickerbean already did a nolllie boardslide down! So, I decided to just be a gypsy for a while and spend some time in Europe.

Where have your travels taken you through Europe?

No where exotic really. I’ve been spending most of my time in Barcelona on the beach… And at Macba! (Laughter!)

I guess you still get to see your friends because of the strong influx of US pros during these recent times.

Yeah. I’ve been hanging out a lot with Paul Shier, and a lot of guys I know that came out from San Francisco like Brad Johnson. The DVS guys came out… I’ve also been spending time with a lot of the local Spanish skaters, so it’s good. I’ve been brushing up on my old ‘Espagnol’.

You mentioned earlier that you were tired of skating in the States. Is this because of the constant competitiveness of it over there? Do you find Europe more laid back?

Yeah, I mean in America, skating wise, the mentality is that you’ve got to push! Push! Push! Do this trick! Do that trick! Get this out there! In one way it’s good, but on another level it’s just too extreme, you know? I think the European lifestyle, in general, is a lot more laid back. People are relaxed and like to chill. It’s more about enjoying each moment of every day, instead of trying to make a buck.

With the recent blow out of ‘Johnny Hammertime’ skaters and skating, do you feel a little left out because your image is at the other end of the spectrum? Or, is this a relief that takes you out of the spotlight and lets you enjoy your skating more?

Well, I definately think that people weren’t paying attention to the whole City Stars thing until we got the little kids on the team (Ed. Mike Taylor, Paul Rodriguez…). But, me personally, I didn’t do a lot for a long time. I was pretty lazy and I was kinda just into partying. I was kind of out of it, so I really don’t know… But I think the whole handrail craze is coming to an end! People are just starting to respect style and creativity, which are the most important things about skating.

Definately! You spoke about Paul Rodriguez being on the team back then. Did you get to witness this wonderkid firsthand and watch the progression?

Oh yeah! Paul was already really good when he got on City Stars, but he was still just a young kid and really humble. He’d pray before every trick… Now he’s just a bit caught up in all the money and hype of fame, glitz and glamour, and trying to be a gangster. He listens to too much Hip-Hop! ( Laughter!) It’s music, that’s it. It’s just like a movie: it’s there to entertain you and then the movies over.

Watching the recently released FTC Trilogy, there is quite a bit of footage of you back then. What was it like in San Francisco during that time?

The scene was a lot of fun. Some of my best times in my life, just coming up and skating Embarcadero. Watching the progression of certain skaters like Jovantae Turner, Mike Carroll, or Henry Sanchez. People like that really push me to progress with my skating. It was a great time! Obviously we were getting into a lot of mischief at the same time, but I don’t regret anything.

Looking at then and now, who inspires you today?

Back then, it was obviously my peers that I was around. Karl Watson, Marcus McBride, and then all the older guys I mentioned earlier like Mike Carroll, James Kelch, Jovantae… All those Embarcadero guys, those are the ones I looked up to. Nowadays I’d say whoever is just being creative and doing something else from the norm. It’s like every skater wants to learn every other trick that every other skater does. They only want to skate the spot that’s famous! ‘Let’s go to this rail that 30 other people have done tricks down!’…

Do think the whole one-upmanship is to blame for this phenomenon?

No. I think that a lot of skaters are kinda stupid to tell you the truth! They think that if Jaime Thomas grinded this rail, then if I lipslide it, I’ll be famous aswell! So, they’re going to go to the same spots, do the same tricks, and all of a sudden one person does a nollie flip noseslide and the next thing you know, every little kid in the world ca do a nollie flip noseslide! Someone does a switch bigspin heelflip, then all of a sudden every fuckin’… It’s crazy! Most skaters lack creativity and ideas. I don’t know, I find it strange, you know?

You’re recognized as a technical street skater, but do you ever skate other things, say pools or transition for example?

I like to skate whatever is put in front of me. I’m not saying that I’ll be a maniac on it! (Laughter!) But, I’ll definately skate a mini ramp. Bowls I’m not too good at, but I’ll push around, man… That’s what skating is about: trying to learn. Fuck! Take a slam if you have to!

During your travels over the last 5 months, have you got any good stories to tell, or crazy happenings that occurred?

I wish I could say ‘Yeah!’, but I can’t. No, not really. Nothing too abnormal. I’ve just been taking it easy and that’s about it… Oh! I did meet a girl. (Laughter!) … I met a girl at a club and she said, ‘Meet me at the beach’, so I went and when I got there she was topless with a thong on! So, for me to be an American in Europe and meet someone that you’ve just met on the beach in that form was very odd… (Laughter!)

But it’s a nice surprise!

Yeah! I was like, ‘This is great!’ That was awesome!

As you’re in France at the moment, what are your plans for the near future?

My plan is to stay here a bit longer. Maybe visit a couple of friends in Switzerland and go back to Barcelona in a week or two. Try to wrap up some more filming for the new FTC video which I’m going to have a full part in, the last part. So, I’m looking forward to that! I’m looking forward to… I don’t know actually, I’ll take it as it comes. (Laughter!)

Ok, have you got anyone one you want to give a shout out to?

I want to say ‘Thank you’ to Kelly Bird over at Lakai and Sam Smythe over at Chocolate and Girl. I’d like to thank Diamond supply and FTC Skateshop, and Autobahn Wheels.

One last thing, the last time we met you gave me some stickers with these little mushroom things on them. What was that?

Oh, that’s Angel Biotek! It’s still running, it’s my friend Shelby Woods who does it, but he’s got a lot on his plate at the moment, so… I mean, it’s still going, but you’ll have to wait a minute.

One very last thing that I ask every person I interview: If you were sent to a desert island and could take one book, one object and one CD with you, what would they be?

Ummm… I don’t know. (Laughter!) I’d take my I-pod! (Laughter!) Isn’t that what JB said?! My I-pod and a bottle of Jack Daniels, because you wouldn’t last long on the island, so you might as well make it a party!

That’s it! Thanks Lee!

Thank you man, and thanks to Crossfire!

Andrew Brophy

Ralph met Andrew Brophy during a session in Lyon , France and got some words whilst they were both bombed by little gypo kids armed with firecrackers! This is what went down whilst they were Caught In The Crossfire…

Here we are in sunny Lyon, but what I want to know is how you got here?

I was in London before, and Jeremie (Daclin) brought me here I think. (Laughter) Oh, and Ben from Circa in London paid for it.

You’re not from London though, you’re from Australia. Whereabouts?

I’m from the West coast, a little country town called Margret River. Basically it’s a little surfing town with not much to skate.

If there wasn’t much to skate, how comes you didn’t just pursue a career in surfing?

They had a skatepark opened and I didn’t like the water because the waves were scary as fuck! Skating was the easier option, and I ain’t gonna drown, I’m just gonna fall on concrete.

While you were skating back in Australia, did you know you now team mate, Cale Nuske?

No, he’s from the East Coast. I met him when I first came to Lyon a year ago.

Who were your first sponsors?

The first was Momentum skateshop from Perth, then Modus Bearings from Brett Margaritis’ company and TSA Clothing.

Seeing as you have travelled all over the world, how would you compare the different skate scenes?

It’s all quite similar. Everyone still takes their sport quite seriously in Australia, but maybe there isn’ as much to skate in Australia either. Well, there is but it’s not as accessible.

But I heard that places like Melbourne or Sydney were full of spots?

Yeah, Melbourne is full of spots! But for me, coming from the West Coast, it’s just as easy to fly to Europe as it is to fly to the East Coast. It’s all the same.

[A little gypsy kid lets off a massive firecracker nearby] That was fucking loud! (Laughter) Oh shit! Maybe we should move because he just put one in a metal can..?

Excuse us for this brief interruption. Some kid is giving us a fireworks demonstration!

Vietnam. Vietnam. Ha! Ha! Look at him, he’s going off!

You’re on Cliche now, so tell me how that’s working out for you? How did the deal come around?

It all started from when I was on Link Footwear and came over here for some touring. I got hooked up then, and got flow from the distributor back in London, Slam City Skates. [Gypsy kid’s firecracker doesn’t bang as loud as hoped for] Oh. Ha! Ha! He wanted that shit to blow up. (Laughter)

So, wait. How come you even left Australia? Wasn’t the jump to London a big step in the dark?

Well, it was either go to London or move to the East Coast, and I didn’t know anyone over there at that stage. Well, I did. There was Brett, Chip Waltman, Ben McClaughlan and Kyle Stanley etc had all moved back from the East Coast, so there was no-one for me to go over there and stay with.

My brother was living in London at the time, so I thought, ‘Fuck it!

My grandparents are going to pay for the airfare over there, so I might as well go and live with them rent free!’ It’s easier, and since I’ve been there everything has worked out great! I’ve met loads of new people and made new friends.

What do you think of the London scene? Who do you hang out with?

Nick Jensen, Charlie Young, Robbleyard a.k.a. Rob Mathyssen, Levant Tanju and the Slam City crew. London’s good in Summer, terrible in Winter!

Why is it so terrible?

Oh, you know! It’s so wet and freezing! You know.

Well, I know, but the people reading this don’t! Often you hear London is so shit for skating because the grounds so crap and there are no spots.

No! There are loads of spots everywhere. You’ve just got to know the people who know. (Laughter)

So how long do you think you’re going to spend on this side of the globe, in Europe and stuff?

I don’t know! I’ll see how it all works out I suppose. Hopefully for as long as possible.

What’s it like having Jeremie Daclin as a team manager?

It’s funny! I wish I could speak French, so that I could communicate with him a bit better, but it’s all good.

Do you hook up with the Cliche team very often, or is it on one of these rare occasions that you visit Lyon and see them all?

This is the second time that I have been here and hung out with the team. It’s fun, the weather’s nice here as well. [Gypsy kid suddenly blows a firework up in his hand regardless]

Wah! That kid’s gnarly. Did you see what he just did??? Anyway, is your brother a skater? What do your parents think of your career move?

Well, my brother was a surfer before I skated and he was busy doing the Pro/Am shit, travelling.

Whoa. Wait a minute. Watch out!… Oh, it’s alright. It’s not going to blow!

Yeah. So, my brother did a lot of travelling and my parents didn’t really mind. They’re pretty happy for me to do what I want and enjoy my time. Just doing whatever interests me.

Have you quit your studies now?

Yeah, I’m finished with all that. I’m 18 now! I might go back to Uni afterwards.

What are your plans for the future? Cliche is about to head off on a couple of tours including the Roast Beef Tour aren’t they? Do you know anything about that?

No. I don’t think anyone really knows where we’re going! (Laughter) Just get in the van with sleeping bags and as much clean clothing as you can possibly fit in a backpack, and go and stink! (Laughter) Just smell and sleep on the floor, it’ll be funny!

Any other plans for the future, non skatewise?

Just travel, skate and meet new people. Be poor for a very long time! (Laughter)

Have you done any filming yet with Fred (Mortagne)?

No! None so far.

You’re known for your huge pop, so if they were ever to organise an ollie contest again, would you give Danny Wainwright a good run for his money?

Yeah. I’d check it out, take a few people out. Whaaaa! [Gypsy kid blows off a huge firecracker right behind us!] I think that shit popped my ear drum!

I’ll push that little fucker in the water! Damn!

That was so loud dude!

[We take a little break to soothe our ears, laugh and threaten the Gypsy kid and Lee Smith for making him do it]

Do you ever get sick of people asking you to ollie up the 6 stairs at Shell (Skatespot in London)?

Yeah! No requests!

What would be your dream session?

Back home ??? skatepaaaark! [Gypsy kid tries his luck one more time but Jeremie tells him to fuck off or else!] With Brett, having a barbecue, drinking beers and skating the miniramp. That’s the best!

One last question that I ask all my interviewees: If you were sent to a desert island and were allowed to take one object, one book and one CD with you, what would they be?

Ummm. The book would be porn! (Laughter) The CD would be the ‘Postal Service’, that shit’s good. An object? I don’t know.Maybe a blow up doll?

Tissues perhaps?

Yeah! That or a tent!

Ok, thanks for the answers despite our little gypsy friend.

Brandon Biebel

Ok, it isn’t very professional, but it happens at least once to every journalist:
I erased my interview with Girl Skateboards pro Brandon Biebel! Maybe the recorder was stuck on pause? Maybe I didn’t realise because I was star-struck? In any case, this is as close as the interview went, or at least as good as my memory gets. Sorry, it won’t happen again, I promise!

Hi Brandon! Welcome to London and the new X-box Bay Sixty6 park. What do you think?

Thanks! It’s pretty cool, but it’s real busy, huh?

So, is this the first time you came to the UK?

Oh no. I’ve been once before, but I don’t remember much so this feels like the first time again.

I see you’ve just been signing autographs and taking photos for the last hour or so; do you still enjoy doing demos and autograph sessions, or would you rather travel abroad to skate new spots and film stuff?

I don’t mind doing the demos, you know it’s for the kids and all. It’s good. I like to see new spots, and I guess we’ll try and film some stuff if we can.

Is this the beginning of your European visit through the Summer?

Nah! I’m just here for a week and then I get back home to Sacramento.

Do you know where you’re going after London? I heard you were heading to Milton Keynes.

Yeah. We’ll be in England, maybe Scotland. I don’t know.

Before you rode for Girl, you were on ATM. That’s quite a difference. How did the change come about and how does it feel?

Well, in my eyes, Girl is the best company there is! No doubt! I wouldn’t ride for anyone else, but I guess it all came about through Lakai and hookin’ up with Rick (Howard) and the boys.

Judging by your part in ‘Yeah Right!’, it’s quite obvious that you know how to manual. How long does it take to get to a level where you can bust out tech tricks like that?

Oh man! I’ve been doing manuals since I was a little kid. It’s something I’ve always been doing. That and curbs, you know?

You like Hip-Hop and travel a lot, so what have you got playing on your I-pod during the trips?

I listen to some rap and R&B. I like to chill with some R&B.

Have you listened to the latest Ghostface album, ‘The Pretty Tony Album’?

Nah! I ain’t heard it yet. I don’t listen to him so much. It’s funny, I didn’t choose that track for my part in ‘Yeah Right!’ I guess it just worked.

So, what are you plans for the future?

I just got finished with my part for the new Transworld video, so that’ll be cool. Right now, I think we’re starting to film for a Lakai thing.

Will it be like ‘Beware of the Flair’, another tour video?

Nah! This’ll be a real skate video!

Ok, well that’s all I’ve got for you, so thanks!

Thanks to you and Crossfire man!

Brian Anderson

RLD – You just arrived here in London, what do you think of the Bay Sixty6 park?

BA – It looks good! I’ve never skated here before, but I hears that they re-did the floor or something? I looks pretty fun. I’ve got to set up a new board and skate it. I’m curious.

You must be used to the whole demo/autograph situations, but nowadays it seems pros prefer to travel abroad, see new spots and film- Sort of like a holiday. What do you think?

I like to do demos and film. Both those things are fine. As long as the demo is organised properly, I totally love it!

After spending a long time over at Toy Machine, how does it feel to be on another tight team like Girl?

It’s definitely a tight unit. I get along great with everybody. I already knew the guys from hanging out with them at Fourstar. We’d ride together at contests and stuff. They’re also just a really good group of people that work at Girl as well, not just the team. It’s an incredible company.

Do you think it’s important that your boss, Rick Howard, should also be a current pro skater?

Sure! Even when he’s done and doesn’t want to skate anymore, you know it’s cool because he used to skate, you know? It’s great, it’s better than having someone who doesn’t know much about pro life.

You’ve lived in San Francisco for a while now, is the scene still as strong as it used to be?

It’s not as strong as it used to be, but I love it because I grew up in New England, and in Los Angeles you have to drive your car everywhere! In San Francisco, you can take the bus, ride the train, take your skateboard with you and you can ride everywhere, poppin’ little ollies and shit.

Do you still hang out with Brad Staba as much?

Yeah, I live with him and two other people; him, Tony Cox and one other guy. I skate with him all the time, plus he comes on tour sometimes because he rides for Ruby.

I know that you are really into art and music. What bands are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to a lot of Joni Mitchell, and a band called Burning Bride.

You like Sonic Youth, right?

I love Sonic Youth!

Me too! I heard they just released a new album called ‘Sonic Nurse’. Have you heard it?

No, I haven’t heard it yet. I want to hear that new Morrissey album that’s out as well. I heard that’s really good. I hear the new DVD will be reviewed on this site soon though.

Back to the demos, do you have any good or bad demo stories?

Yeah definately! There have been times where we have skated a parking lot in Middle America with really really rocky ground, ramps falling apart, a garbage can, a tyre. But, it was awesome because I was with Ed Templeton and he’s a really fun guy for that type of situation. He’s been through it all, so he’s like ‘Let’s move these ramps all around and skate them till they break!’

Do you think professional skating is becoming more respected in the States nowadays, and perhaps understood a little better as an actual career move?

Yes and no. Some people are more aware of it because it’s on television, but there is still the same amount of people who, when you tell them you skate for a living, they are really surprised! They say that they never thought that was possible, which is understandable because the average citizen reads a news paper and they’re not reading about skateboarding. They’re more interested in current affairs, so why would they even know about it?

Talking about current affairs, what’s you take on this whole Bush and Iraq situation?

I really hope that he serves time in prison eventually for all the crimes that he has committed. I also hope that John Kerry (Democrat- Bush’s opposition) finds a good vice president to stand by him. I’d love to see Ralph Nader with him, they’ve been talking I think. I just really hope that the people who have done horrible things and try and cover them up pay the consequences for that. People like Donald Rumsfeld! John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, also needs to really grow up a little bit and stop living in the past. He’s a complete idiot, along with a whole load of other people in the Bush administration.

Well, we’ll leave world politics alone, and head back to skate related politics. Philadelphia shut down Love Park, yet today skateparks are taking the Plaza as a blueprint. Do you think this is the face of the future parks? Are kids tired of transitions?

I’d like to see more ‘Park’ style skateparks with natural marble and all that stuff. And then, it should be like back in the day, where a kid would just have his ramp in his backyard. That would be the best way, I think, for kids to learn how to skate everything. That would be better for natural progression, to have more natural style parks, that would be incredible!

So what are your plans for after this?

After London, Milton Keynes. We’ll be in the UK for another ten days.

Any plans for the future?

I think we’re going to make a video at Girl, but it’s not going to be a Girl video as such. Just everyone at Girl HQ or something. I don’t know. Then, Nike’s making a promo video for pretty soon!

How’s that riding for Nike?

It’s excellent! All the people that work there are really in touch with skateboarding, not just a bunch of corporate morons. They’re actually really interested in it. Also, a lot of my friends doing team manager stuff used to work with me over at Savier. They’re really cool people and they care about keeping it hardcore.

It’s pretty amazing the comeback Nike have had, seeing as loads of skaters are more than willing to have them as a sponsor and try out their new models!

Yeah! Paul Rodriguez is gong to have a signature shoe soon, too, so I’m sure that’s going to be pretty amazing.

How comes he didn’t make it over for this tour?

I think he’s moving house or something? We’re kind of mad at him right now, for not coming.

Aha…ok get in there and sign some more autographs! haha!

Cool, thanks for the interview, thanks to Crossfire for hooking this up!

Chet Thomas

On a windy wet morning in London 10/04/04, the Globe Team turned up to PSSP for a demo on thier way to Barcelona for the week….Zac hooked up with Chet for 30 minutes after the demo for a chat and this is what came out of it….

When was the last time you came to England?

Uhh. 1997 at Wembley. That contest where Mark Gonzales and Pat Duffy collided in the air.

That was a long time ago…and a good comp. My first introduction to you was from the Powell Peralta video ‘Public Domain’ in 1988, as it premiered in London at a rock club called the Marquee Club in Charing Cross Rd. Did you realise when you filmed that part just how influential it was on street skating?

Not at all. At the time, we had a little Long Beach crew, me, Steve Saiz, Eric Sanderson, Ray Barbee, and we’d always skate around Lakewood. Back then when you’d film, seriously you would go out for three days and that was it! Stacy (Peralta) would take us to downtown LA, he’d be like, ‘Look! A nice wide open sidewalk. Go for it!’ So then basically, you’d have three whole days of filming and that would be your video part finished. You don’t think about it like you do now, where you say, ‘I want to do this trick, this trick, this trick.’ Planning your video part 6 months in advance. Back then, whatever you came across, that was what you’d skate. I think it came out good!

Who played the music for your part? Was it McRad?

No, it was Stacy Peralta and Dennis the Dragon, from the Old Surf Punks? I don’t know. But it was Dennis Dragon who did that loop, and it was a classic song right there.

Skaters like Danny Way, Ray Barbee, Mike Vallely, they all got their first slice of fame through that video as well didn’t they?

For sure. Danny was on for a short period of time. It’s funny because him and Bucky Lasek got on at the same time, and they would always be riding these vert boards around. They were always really competitive with one another, and I hate to say it but I placed my bets on Danny.

How did you get on Powell Peralta? Was it Steve Saiz that put you on there?

Yeah! I was skating in a really small competition in Lakewood, and he was one of the judges, and I won my division. Three months later, I walked into this skateshop called ‘Eldorado’, that Steve was working at, and he was like, ‘Hey, you’re that kid at the contest!’ He started flowing me boards through Powell, like he’d get a few decks and pass them on to me. I guess I got on Powell flow after that. There was a Valsurf demo where the whole team were there, Stacy, Todd Hastings the team manager at that time.

Basically, at that demo, they set a jump ramp up in a parking lot, sat there and put me on the spot! It was pretty crazy that the whole team that I had always looked up to as a super small kid- I mean, I was small when I got on, but I was even smaller than that!- Just the whole team staring at me and the jump ramp. That was mainly what people skated back then, jump ramps. Tricks back then were like Ho-ho plants, stalefish backside 360s, judos, judo methods – All that stuff. So, that’s how I got on the team, doing that stuff.

Do you still see Ray Barbee?

Once in a while, I’ll see Ray. He lives in Corona.

Does he still play his music?

Yeah, he’s in a band. I’ve forgotten their name, but he’s really good. Super talented.

If you were to pick a session from back then, which one would it be?

I think the most memorable for me was the first Powell Christmas party because they actually set up a load of shit in a warehouse to skate. This was before there were any indoor skateparks. They invited the whole team up and had a street park set up in a warehouse, so we could just skate it al weekend. Seeing Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk, Lance Montain, Jim Thiebaud, Jesse Martinez, that whole crew, was pretty sick!

I remember seeing you at Jim Thiebauds Ramp Jam, how was that?

That was good, but Oakland’s sketchy! I remember after that day, three cars got broken into right outside the event. We were trying to find the freeway, and it was starting to get dark, so everyone just started freaking out because nobody wanted to be in Oakland after dark.

You also used to skate for Santa Cruz. How long were you there for?

I was only on Santa Cruz for about a year and a half, maybe even shorter. What happened was I was skating for Powell for so long, like 5 years or something, and I was supposed to go pro at the San Francisco contest that was 6 months away. They were like, ‘Yeak, yeah! You’re going, you’re going!’ Three months pass, same thing. One month left same thing. So, now I’m like, ‘Look, where are my tickets, I thought I was meant to be going?’ And they were just like, ‘Ah well. You have to talk to Stacy.’ So, I went in to talk to Stacy and he just figured it would be better if I got myself a new sponsor when I turned pro because I had been riding for Powell for so long. As if this was a mutual understanding and wouldn’t be shocking! I was totally caught off guard. It wasn’t like he was kicking me off, but it came apparent to me that they weren’t hyped on me so much anymore. After that, I got on New School, Public Skateboards, but that was just wack! At that moment Tom Knox and a couple of other riders quit Santa Cruz, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try and work something out.

I got on the team, but then a year later they bunked on the contract. I was supposed to get “X” amount of $ over a two year period, but 18 months in they cut my pay. I’m like, ‘Hey! You can cut my pay at the end of my contract. See this piece of paper here? X amount for X amount of time. Once this is over, I’ll take the cut no problem.’ But they were like, ‘No.’

The way I found out was when I got my cheque in the mail, it was half as much as usual. It’s not like they called me and let me know, it was more like through opening my mail. That was fucking sketchy!

I went from there to Channel One and skated for them for a couple of years. I was stoked, but it was unfortunate that Channel One was done through Acme and Jim Gray.

Wasn’t Channel One run from that warehouse where the Soul Bowl was stored in Huntington Beach?

That was after I had quit riding for them. You see, I got on the team with Chris Senn so I was amped, but the month I got on, Chris quit! That was a shock because then I was the only pro on the team. It got to the point where Jim Gray just wasn’t starting anything because he wasn’t into supporting pros as much as he says he does by putting out generic boards and not pro models. It got to the point where I was hanging out with Danny, and we started the A-Team with Ben and Tas Pappas and Henry Sanchez. It was good for a little while, but before long nobody was pulling the reins anymore at the company, there was no direction. The first year was alright but then it started to get messy.

By then, I had already started Darkstar Wheels and we had made a couple of Darkstar team decks which sold really well. We were doing our own graphics, catalogues etc. So, I figured that if I was doing my own thing and it worked, me and my brother wouldn’t have to worry about 6 other guys and who’s doing what. We’re just trying to do what we want to do, and we have a definate strategy, direction and thought process so.

-You’ve been leading Darkstar for about four years now?

Yeah, and it’s working really well. We’ve just been trying to stay consistent on what we do. Having the same feel to all the graphics, not switching it up and followings trends like going from punk to hip-hop. Anything that’s dark, powerful an tough is how I’d sum up Darkstar.

So, tell me all about these sugar coated things you were all hyped about back in the day.

Oh, Cheerios! Nah, they’re done. I haven’t done a commercial for them in a while

That was basically why I didn’t have to work when I was a teenager -Commercials.

The first one I did was for McDonalds when I was 13 years old, then the Cheerios commercial after that. I did around 15 to 20 commercials between the ages of 13 to 18. I didn’t have to work, that was my gas money, my car payment, my beer money! (Laughter)

Would you recommend this to new skaters if the opportunity arose?

Any kid who has the chance to get into that industry, I would try to do it! A lot of the times they don’t even go on how good you can skate or not. You just do whatever they are looking for, which is usually pretty basic stuff, and then you have to correspond to the look they want for that specific part, then you’re in there! It’s the easiest money you could ever make. Just sitting around all day in a trailer, eating food, hanging out… They call you up, you skate for half an hour, and they pay you a grand. Then, you get royalties on the commercial and you don’t have to work for 6 months. So, I was super fortunate to be able to do that!

Are you a big music fan?

Yeah, but not so much that I’m into a lot of underground stuff. I’m into a whole different array of stuff, like I might listen to house music as long as it isn’t some hard techno stuff. Some hip-hop, a little bit of gangster rap, a little bit of East coast stuff, a little bit of West coast stuff. No country! A little bit of old school punk, just a mix. I can’t listen to the same thing for too long.

Seeing as you are travelling through Europe at the moment, what have you got playing on your I-pod right now?

Israel Vibrations- I.V. Dub, Andre Nicotina, he’s banging right now. We used one of his tracks, ‘Yae-yo’ on the credits of the Darkstar video. Murder City Devils, Led Zeppelin, some Metallica, some Slayer of course! Classic Bob Marley.

That all sounds like a nice little package right there! So, what are you doing here? Nobody knew you were coming until about a week ago.

We’re here to do a demo! Then we’re going to Barcelona for the next 5 days to just try and film for the next Globe video. The Darkstar video is done, so that’s next in the list.

How involved do you get with Globe?

I’ve been with them almost eight years now. I’m involved as much as I can, but not to sound selfish, in so much as what I have to do for them and vice-versa. If I get too involved with stuff that really doesn’t pertain to me, then I won’t be doing what I need to do which is skate. I need to keep in shape for skating now. I’m 30 years old and can’t skate all day anymore, five days in a row, and not have to do yoga, stretching or all sorts of shit like that.

So, I do as much as I can, be it ad layouts or photos. The main thing is I try and design my shoes and put it in their hands. I don’t just say, ‘Make whatever you want and put my name on it!’ It’s going on my feet, with my name on it!

Some designer that doesn’t really know what they’re doing will just design something and put your name on it. I want to make a shoe that’s good for kids to skate in, and they can spend a decent amount of money on it, without worrying that it will blow up or fall apart on them. For $80 or £60, I will try and get triple layers on there so the toe pieces don’t get destroyed.

Over a couple of weeks, I’ll try and draw 5 or 6 different sketches, give it to the artist who’ll put it in the computer and clean up the lines. I don’t really deal with computers; I just do a lot of spread sheets and business stuff, not like graphic art stuff. I get it back from them, and then I’ll take what I like from there so everything flows right. Specify the materials, thickness of the sole, how soft it should be, the tread pattern.

I’ve always got the tongues that attach to the heel so you barely have to lace your shoes. This all goes to the factory, who then send us some samples. After about five rounds of this you eventually get the shoe that works! It takes a long time because they are working on 20 different models at the same time.

Plus, they are changing the line they sell every three months or so.

Between testing, sampling and getting your shoe in the mix, it takes a little while.

Ok, it looks like you guys are splitting – Any shout outs?

Thanks to Crossfire – What’s up to the whole Darkstar crew! Everyone on Globe,

Matt Hill for sending me out here. My wife Laurie. Annex Trucks crew, Gailea Momolu, Pierre-Luc Gagnon.

Everyone who supported me, I wouldn’t be here without the support of the kids. They buy Darkstar and Globe goods so our companies can grow and we can travel around the world. If it wasn’t for their support, we might still be skating, but we wouldn’t be able to travel and visit the kids. It’s thanks to them that we are here today.

Andrew Reynolds interview

By Ralph Lloyd-Davis

When Crossfire was asked to premiere the Emerica video “This Is Skateboarding” Ralph LD managed to get some time with Andrew Reynolds in between band soundchecks whilst the rest of the Emerica Team all fell asleep exhausted by their World Tour.

What were the first and last tricks filmed for this video?

The last? See, I wouldn’t know the first because I had some stuff laying around and though I could use it for my Emerica part. The last was a line filmed at a school, probably a couple of months ago. I knew that that was the last because I have new clothes. (laughs)

Do you know how many countries were visited whilst filming for the video because it seems like travelling is pretty important in the making of videos nowadays?

We went to Barcelona, Australia, France. I don’t know, I don’t really keep track of where we go. We’ve probably been to five or six places, maybe a lot. Sometimes nobody got anything done at one place.

Is that a disappointment, to go somewhere and not manage to get any footage?

No. I just try and let it happen. I don’t get disappointed if I don’t get things.

Did you have a favourite spot you visited?

Umm. I don’t know. I just like everywhere. I like places that I’ve never been before. Those are my favourite places and they’re all over the place. It’s hard to say because I like everywhere.

Isn’t it more of a hassle, trying to skate in the States nowadays?

No, we skate lots of places. We just set up lights, skate schools on the weekend. With some spots you only get the chance to skate at night, so it’s like ‘Fuck it!’, let’s get it done, put the lights up and it’s the same as during the day.

Did you find it hard to distinguish between footage for ‘This is Skateboarding’, and ‘Baker 3G’?

There’s no Baker video right now, so everything I had went towards ‘This is Skateboarding’. I’ll start right now the clean slate for’Baker 3G’. You see, I thought about holding back on footage but then I guessed I didn’t want to look like a chump. (laughs)

Do you have a trick in your part that you are most proud of, or was the most difficult to do?

Maybe it’s not the most difficult, but to me what looks the best is this one line where I do a switch backside shifty down a set of stairs, and it’s my favourite. To other people it may look like nothing, but to me, I like it. It wasn’t much effort, it was easy, but it looks like something I’d like to see. Then there’s other stuff I hear people cheer about and I’m like ‘why don’t people like this?’, I don’t know.

With the title being ‘This is Skateboarding’, what would you say ‘is Skateboarding’ for you?

Just going out in the streets and finding spots, being with your friends, filming and making video parts. Doing all that stuff.

Do you have a dream session?

I don’t really have a dream session. I skated a mini ramp the other day with some kids from my team, Spanky, Bryan Herman and Brayden, the team manager of Emerica, Justin Reagan. That was like the funnest session I can think of.

If you were sent to a desert island and you were only allowed to take one book, one CD and one object, what would you take?

Well, it’s got to be a double CD! (laughs) I’d bring the ‘Big’ book, Hanoi Rocks ‘Decadent and Dangerous’ double CD, and an object? I’d bring my board!

In ‘On video’ there was an article on the Emerica mansion. Was that whole idea beneficial towards the making of this video?

Yeah because we got to be in a house with Jon Miner and work on our parts together, just the whole team could get together and talk about how we wanted it to look- Just being around one another when it was all coming together. Some people were settled down elsewhere in the State (of California), but the majority of us got together. You could wake up, knock on Miner’s door and then go film. It was pretty easy.

What’s your favourite of all the videos you’ve seen?

Baker 2G.

And which video are you anticipating?

Baker 3. I just think everyone on the Baker team, besides myself because I don’t really care what I do, but everybody else on the team are my favourite skaters, so that’s the one I really want to see.

Do you know why all the Emerica adverts are green? Is there a subversive message in the choice of colour?

Maybe. I think it’s because when you see an old New Deal ad, it’s all yellow, so you associate that colour with that company. I don’t know.

When the Emerica DVD comes out, is it likely to have a lot of bonus footage?

Oh yeah! A whole bunch of stuff! I’m sure the DVD will have footage people didn’t want to use, and there will probably be a little section about this whole tour, the premieres. Hopefully, a bunch of cool stuff.