Greg Lutzka

Greg has worked his way up into the ranks of being one of the Almost Skateboard Teams top riders with his unique flair and big balls. Zac went to meet the Almost team during November 04 whilst they were in London for the premiere of Round 3 and armed with questions from Ralph LD and a few others on the web, this is what went down….

Full name please sir…Gregory Robert Lutzka haha!

Age: 19 years old

OK Gregory, let’s start at the beginning. What was it like growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Haha, no one calls me Gregory, that’s funny man!

Anyway, growing up there was really unique and as a kid and we played hockey, we started playing that at an early age on skates and that led to skateboarding, just because the fact I wanted to do my own thing, you know, if you lost a game you could always blame the goalie or something and I always wanted to be a part of something where if it didn’t happen it weren’t my fault, and skateboarding brought that to me, it’s different and you can’t blame your shoes, your board or whatever, it comes down to you and that’s what made me want to skateboard.

It was not big back there as it’s cold and people snowboarded and in the summer you would go to the quarry, and jump of cliffs and stuff. One day me and 3 friends were driving down the freeway and saw the Turf Skatepark and we went there and got into skateboarding. It took me a good 3 months to learn how to ollie at first, but you could only really skate seriously about 6 months of the year because it is an outdoor park and then the park got shut down as it was not as popular as when the bowls were there back in the day. So there was no skatepark in Milwaukee for about 4 years and you would skate in the summer and snowboard in the winter only and then we had a new park and learned how to skate tranny. I like skating all year round now in California.

Parks are important to learn at the beginning huh?

Yeah, everything I learned was at the skatepark, they are very important.

Did you ever get to skate with Paul Zitzer?

I met him and his brother owns a skate shop in Milwaukee that I used to ride for called Faze 2 Skate Shop and he moved out years before I started really skating and we hook up now and then and share stories of skateboarding. He used to skate a barn to develop his skills, a great vert skater and there were no vert ramps in that area..

Is Beer City an appropriate nickname for the city?

I used to ride for Beer City Skateboards, Mike Beer hooked me up and that was my first sponsor. Back then everybody wanted to represent their home town. I sent him a video, they hooked me up, I went to Tampa Am, I ruined myself there on a flat bar, went to hospital. Then the next year, I got back home and there was a pile of boards on my door step and I quit, and they were like “what is going on here, why are you quitting?” and that is when I met Al Partenen and got hooked up on Illenium, then met the Globe guys and it all fell together after that.

Do you still hook up with the Beer City and Illenium crews?

Illenium is kid of retired now, but Al Partnen is still my team manager on Globe. But the Beer City guys are a good crew man.

Steve Firstner used to ride for Illenium, have you heard from him, he rides for Antiz and lives in Lyon now?

Oh wow, that is a good name to bring up! Is he still skateboarding yeah?

Yeah, The Antiz Team are rocking France right now you should see the DVD.

That is ace, he is awesome, I think he is Austrian, he stayed at my house for 2 weeks with s broken ankle or whatever and we hung out a lot.

Why did you quit Krooked?

Ah, man that was a weird deal, you know sometimes things don’t work out how they are planned out to be but I think it’s better off to be this way, so I’m really stoked to be part of Almost and these guys treat me amazingly compared, what else is there to say?

How many times have you been to Barcelona? You state it as your favourite city…

Only actually the once but it was amazing. The scenery is amazing; you can cruise around there with all the spots. There are signs that say “no soccer” but you can skateboard, it’s great! One of my favourite spots out there was the Library, the ledges were cool, manual pads and they even had a graffiti area where you can share your artwork, it was pretty unique. Europe is amazing.

What do you do when you can’t skate?

Oh tough question..when I get hurt I play pool, go to the beach, hang with friends, hit the quarry back at home, snowboard and stuff like that.

You like to snowboard?

Yeah, I like to cruise, not really tricks as such, I can do them but cruising around is so much fun.

Do you ever get tired of being referred to as The Lutzka?

Oh man! At the beginning it was weird but I don’t mind it I guess.who gave me that name? I think it was Burnett in an interview.

So would you go down on Paris Hilton?

haha! Oh jesus! I think I might have to, don’t tell Chad!!

What’s your approach to contests? You’ve won loads, and skated in loads too…

When I ride contests I just try not to think about it too much and mentally return to the skatepark at Milwaukee, blank out the people around me with a little help from my headphones.

You enjoy riding in headphones because I can’t do that?

Yeah, some people freak out and they can’t hear their board, it makes me relax and I can do my own thing.

What do you listen to whilst you skate then?

I like a lot of different music really. I like a lot of classic rock, a lot of hip hop, reggae etc

What are your top 5 artists?

Ok, Jimmy Hendrix, I used a track on my video part for the Almost DVD, er. Nirvana, Wyclef, and ah.RJD2, have you heard that stuff?

Yeah, new instrumental album is about to be released here soon I hear. So what are your fave and worst contests?

European contests are great, they are so different to the US ones, you are free to skate there with no pressure, but Germany Dortmund and Prague were great. The worst is probably the X-Games, you have to wear a helmet and it’s corporate hell you know.

What was it like moving to Huntington Beach?

At first I moved there with 2 of my best friends so that made things easier, but getting used to the freeways and stuff was a bit weird but it’s great. I’m by the beach, amazing skating so all is good.

Is Jan’s Health Bar still there by Huntington Pier?

Yeah man!! It’s such a good place, they do the best smoothies..

And the turkey sandwiches are the best you will ever Wahoo’s still there?

Yeah, that place is a legendary spot for food, that is awesome and for a Brit you know where we eat man!

Well I spent 2 months there skating a while back so I should know where the best smoothies are at! Haha!

Do you ever use that little bottle of lube that comes with your bearings?

Haha! You know what, no I don’t as I change my bearings a lot so I don’t need to but you know what, if you use the lube in the trucks and they move smoother, there’s a tip.

How did you once break three toilets in the space of one night?

Oh man, you know what, maybe, after a drunken session sometime on tour. maybe I just shit myself! Haha! (Chris Haslam is laughing hard at this in the background!)

If you had no choice, would you fight a grizzly bear covered in fish oil, GG Allin covered in shit, or Mike Vallely on Viagra?

Ha-ha! If it was Haslam then I would choose the grizzly bear! Definitely not Mike though!

Any shouts?

Just everyone that supports me, and it’s a pleasure being part of what is going on right now at Almost and everything.thanks everyone and thanks Zac, good luck with Crossfire man, this was fun!

No probs, you are welcome mate, welcome to the UK!

Related Links:

Ed Templeton interview

Ed Templeton has been in the forefront of the skate industry, blood sucking the kids across the planet with his company Toy Machine Skateboards and pushing his own skateboarding through every possible nook and cranny in the process.

He visited London through his wonderful art and photographic skills and met Zac at his recent exhibition in East London for a chit chat. Questions were chucked in from Ralph LD from Crossfire and many other skaters from forums in the UK…this is what went down…

Full name: Edward Albert Templeton (laughs!)

Age: 32

Welcome to London fella, tell us all about why you are here?

I’m over to do an Art Exhibition at Modern Art Gallery here in East London and this is my first official UK exhibition.

Why London?

Well I don’t have any choice over this but it is the 2nd biggest art market the world after New York I guess and the people from here at Modern Art invited me to do a show which was cool. I have not done a show in almost a year, so here we are, right in the winter!

Yeah, it’s cold and wet huh?

Yeah, it’s not too bad, I thought it was gonna be worse, in fact I did not even bring a board with me, but then again I was really working on getting this all up and running which took 5 days so not much time to skate really.

When did the exhibition kick off?

It started in January and will run for 6 weeks until March 6th.

What is the theme to this exhibition?

There isn’t really a theme, I was just given the space and told to do what ever I wanted so if someone gives me this much space then I can usually do something like this which is putting every thing I work on up there on the walls including photographs, drawings, paintings and paint all the walls. It’s nice to be given the chance to have so much space.

There are a lot of different themes within what I do that you could put a track on. I carry a camera all the time and shoot pictures of everyday life and don’t really go out of my way to shoot these photos, as they just happen. Luckily I’m privileged enough to be a pro-skateboarder and an artist now and traveling for both, so I just keep the camera on me and shoot whatever situations that come about. This is youth culture, this is my personal life, someone coming into this exhibition from outside that is not related to skateboarding looking in would have a pretty good idea of what it would be like to be a pro skateboarder. Although it’s not why I do it, but I think you can pull that aside. But as a skater I think you get more out of it as you can recognize guys that you are familiar with from videos and magazines.

After seeing the gallery space, I think that is spot on. There are no photos of people actually skating though right?

No, I don’t shoot skating. If we are all skating then I’m skating to, so I shoot only when we are traveling or partying or just hanging out. I read and study other people’s photography and art and am trying to create works that are as good as those other people. I hope that people see that to.

If you are skater reading this interview right now, what skaters would they recognize at your show?

Well, there’s lots, including Brian Anderson, Brian Sumner, everyone that has been on the Toy Machine over the years and Emerica riders. All the Flip guys that came to stay in Huntington Beach all those years ago like Geoff Rowley and Arto, I get on really well with those guys.

You have a very defined art style and work with an abundance of different media. What do you prefer to work with and in what direction do you think your work is going?
Question by Frontsiderocker:

To me I’m interested in all of them; I don’t feel like have a tendency to go all to one or all to the other. When I’m at home I paint but you can’t take the easel on a tour or when you travel, so that’s when the camera comes out. So there is not one definitive direction so I will keep doing what I am doing here unless someone in art wants me to do a photographic show only or something. I think next year I will do an exhibition in LA with paintings only.

How long would it take you to paint one of your pieces on average?

I’m really quick! I think every painting in the show was done between Thanksgiving and Xmas, so one month basically. There are about 7 or 8 pieces in the show.

You don’t fuck about then?!

(Laughs!) Yeah, I like to do portraits of people, so once I get the drawing and outlines down with a sitter, it starts to be quicker. Getting someone to come over and sit down for a drawing is the hardest part and then once that is done it just takes a bit of work. I spend a lot of time on them, I go megalomania style and work 4-5 hours at a time flat out for 3 days or something.

How come so fast?

I think I had to do them so quick this time as I working on the ‘Good and Evil’ video, so that kind of crunched the time that I probably would have had to work on getting the show prepared. So straight after the Premier I was able to put skateboarding down for a second and work on the show so I kind of rushed stuff. I don’t think it looks rushed, but I had to do it quick. But you know with art, it’s never done but it was good to have a finishing point.

Do you sell your art?

Yeah, it’s all for sale here, it is a commercial gallery so they will try and sell it.

What would someone expect to pay for one of your paintings?

Since my first real official exhibition in LA in a commercial gallery they have become quite pricey. Up until that point it was DIY style, you know.. I show up, put the work up and skaters show up and you meet other skate artists, real mellow stuff and sell a few things. But since then, the prices have gone up and the guy in LA is kinda managing me a little bit which is strange. It’s kinda funny seeing the 2 worlds, you know I have Toy Machine and I am the Team Manager for these guys and the riders always want advice on sponsors and stuff and I feel like I am the same over here. These guys have a team of artists they manage and the art world is a real weird, different thing. They would ask me how much I would sell my pieces for and I’m thinking of skater kids buying the art for what I would call silly figures like $500 and they are like, ‘your name is much bigger now‘, you have had this show and that press etc and saying I should be selling my stuff for nothing less than $1100 to $1500 dollars a piece now!

Wow, that is a big hike? What about the skaters, they don’t have that money sitting around right?

It kind of bums me out as I feel I have a connection to the skaters who would come to see the show and it’s almost like they cannot afford it now. So I’m trying to devise some ways that I can make the prices come down. I wanna do things that are more affordable for the younger fans.

If you had to compare your gallery to a song, what would it be and why?

I actually wrote a lyric on the wall down there in the gallery from a band on Dischord Records called Lungfish, so I would say ‘The Words‘ by Lungfish from the album ‘Necrophones’ as it’s a really weird song and the lyrics are amazing. I was just talking about this to someone to day; I want the show to be like a finely crafted song in a way. Say someone like Dylan for example, who is telling a story, and I am telling a story but he is taking that story and turning it into something that is aesthetically pleasing as a song and I am doing the same that is crafted into an art show.

Are you planning any future books, be it art or photography?
Question by Robbie.

There is one out there right now that came out 2 years ago called ‘The Golden Age of Neglect‘. If you type in Ed Templeton into you will find it.

Yeah but if you visit you will get the Toe Sucking site instead of the Blood Sucking site right!? Does that piss you off? Question from Simie 65

No, I’m not pissed off about it. It’s a weird story. This kid got the URL as a fan site, and I saw it, and I was a little weirded out. So I contacted him and he said that he wanted to do this site as he was a big big fan, so I was sending him stuff for the site and he was putting it up until I felt a bit strange that he owned my URL. So he was supposed to hand it over to me and these people are ‘using’ it. I mean I’m not bummed as I would not want to do a ‘check me out site’ you know, I would rather do something a bit more creative that that. But yeah, it’s there!

Sorry, that was too good to miss! Where were we? Oh yeah, is there a new book in the works?

Yeah, it’s gonna be called ‘Deformer‘ which will be paintings, photo’s and all sorts of other stuff. I don’t know when it will come out but it will be sometime this year.

Let’s talk about the content of your photography. Some of it is quite full on with erections and soft porn etc. When taking photographs at what point would you feel that you had crossed the line in your observations of someone’s private moments?
Question by Monster Network:

There is no crossing the line! (Laughs)

Good lad!

Number one, the people know I’m there and they know I am shooting it and do art shows and stuff, so there is a certain trust there and they know that I wouldn’t do anything that I know they wouldn’t like and if there is something where someone’s nude or something like that, I will show them and ask if it’s ok to use. So far no one has said ‘you can’t use that‘ yet.

So you have not been sued yet then?

No, but Toy Machine got sued recently. There was a Toy Machine advert where we had a photo of 2 girls on a bed smoking with shirts on that said ‘mullet‘ on them and it cost us $40,000! Skateboarding is a lot bigger now so it’s harder to get away with things, you can use something and people will run a cease and desist order on you. For the new video ‘Good and Evil’ we had to clear all of the songs on it, we couldn’t just punk a song like the old videos like Welcome to Hell when we would use Pink Floyd etc but we got away with that then, now its different but our distributor sells mainly to skate shops and not the bigger cheesier stores, because that is when you run into problems. But of course we wanted to be able to be available anywhere so the rights were important to sort out.

And art content?

Well, I have had the luxury to take a subject and go after it that I really enjoy and like. I hope that when I retire from pro-skateboarding I can just go pick some subjects to go and shoot like a war or riding motorbikes or something as it just happens naturally at the moment because I’m just shooting my personal life as I have this access that a lot of other people don’t have as I am a pro skateboarder hanging out and working with other pro skateboarders.

It’s a very good litmus test of youth culture as these kids are young, earning a lot of money to do what they do, and here I am driving the van taking them to what they are doing and partaking in what they are doing, so I’m lucky in that respect. I’m taking my story and documenting it, putting it out there and when other people come in they see the connection with their own life, so they can relate, as these are trials and tribulations that everyone goes through in life. Hopefully there is a conversation or a relationship that people get out of it and it’s interesting to see my life and my friends photographed then placed on a piece of paper and put on a wall, it’s like a celebration of life and dicks and pussies are part of that life. Like everybody I’m not gonna censure myself. If there is a beautiful sunset or a beautiful naked woman or some sort of scene going on, then I want to capture it.

You like shooting your wife quite a lot in the nude right?

Yeah, that is the personal side. I shoot whatever is happening you know, like anyone else who is like enjoying sex, you could look down and think ‘wow, this is beautiful, let’s shoot it‘. Like right now, I’m away from my home in a cool country, where there is a cool setting and it’s 100% just for personal things and then it comes down to selecting things for an art show and I know that I’m definitely gonna put them on a wall. So I use an editing process as I know there will be a lot of people seeing these shots. I have seen photos where it just come off as ‘check me out, I’m fucking my wife’ or something and there is a line between that and putting it on a wall and I’m sure everyone would have a different opinion on it and I’m sure a lot of people would think that it’s completely fucked!

The Taschen books are like that?

Yeah, you are right, the Taschen books are really into the erotic side of things and that is why I probably wouldn’t want to do a book with him because I wouldn’t want to be lumped into that Terry Richardson world. I really don’t feel like I’m doing that. Just because you are doing shots with sex in them, people are very quick to lump you in different categories. So I get kinda bummed when I get compared to Terry Richardson’s shoots as he is doing photos of himself having sex with people exclusively and they see me having sex and it’s so NOT what I am doing. Sex is part of life and I’m doing that as well, but it’s part of life and there’s a lot of things I shoot that don’t involve that.

Do many people bring up the issue?

Yeah! Loads of people have mentioned it, but look at the show, you will see there are 160 pieces on the wall and you can count about 20 nude photos. But as far as actual sex or something like that it is a real small number. Whatever I am shooting, you have seen before at some stage in your life. This is really normal stuff. I have been married for the last 14 years to my wife Deanna, completely monogamous, regular relationship. I am a married regular guy with a regular cat, who lives in a regular house and I go on these skate trips with these kids and shoot it all. So I’m not trying to deliver you deviant, crazy people, it’s just real life. Something in those shots tell a story, they are not meant to be lewd at all, a lot of them are funny and document suburban life. The mega sprawl of Southern California is a subject that I cover as I have lived there all my life.

What introduced you to the European scene and how did it affect you?

In 1990 when I first turned pro for New Deal, I took my first trip to Europe for contests with Steve Douglas and others, I was 18 years old and have never really left HB. Experiencing Europe changed my view on a lot of things, its was all new to me, like the way the walls are and the history and the art, so these guys are hanging in the bar every night and I’m off in the streets checking out all of this stuff, it was amazing. You have been to Orange County Zac, so you know we have no statues really or squares designed for populists to come and hang out and meet like in Europe and you know that the US is all about Malls and strips, it’s so different. Seeing all these things like museums and stuff really hit me. Everything about me changed, I saw things differently. I have always been a really big fan of David Hockney, he came from a small school in Bradford, England and when he came to California he took his own perceptions of what we do here, immersed himself in the gay culture and did these paintings. He was amazed by the different light that this country gets and it was interesting reading about him before I went to Europe. It made me think how much of a weird place this really is. From an outsiders point of view. Americans are really weird; I think we come off as really strange people!

You were instrumental in building up New Deal when it first started, which in many ways helped kick start the rise of the skater owned company. Was it hard to leave after all that time? Question by Ciaran.

Yeah, it was a tearful departure, in a lot of ways I cannot look back and say that I regret it but at the time, I really left because of Mike Vallely. He rode for New Deal at the end and came from World Industries where his board was one of the best sellers. He was making about $10,000 a month which was amazing back then. It was a whole different world with New Deal though as he was making like $2000 dollars a month and he wanted to start our own company at a time when skating was changing. The industry was smaller and it was hard to have a company and make money. So it all happened at the weirdest time and looking back I’m glad we did do it, as it lead to Toy Machine.

Do you still hang out with Mike now?

Yeah, we had a falling out during that period and money was real tight and stuff, but after a couple of years we decided to bury the hatchet as we knew each other for so long it wasn’t worth it. I met Deanna through Anne (who is Mike’s wife), and she was going out with Jason Lee at the time and he was going out with Anne. She would drive us round to skate spots and one time we went to a concert in LA and Anne brought her friend Deanna, we met and that is how we hooked up. Deanna and Anne have known each other longer than I have known Mike so yeah we hang out.

Has Deanna ever skated?

Yeah, she did try to skate at one point, we actually still have her mini-Gator set up but the first time she skinned her knee she was off it!

How is it going with Emerica, do you have a new shoe coming out this year?

Yeah those guys are ready to release a Templeton 4 shoe that I am wearing a sample of right now, and they are really cool about everything. I work with Justin and we went to school together which is kinda rad. He was like the little runt when we where skate kids at High School and now he’s my boss! Shoe companies can look a bit mercenary sometimes and whoever looks good they will sign up, but Emerica are different and have a really strong team and everyone gets on really well. I have been riding for them since the beginning. I have no idea what year that was but it’s cool.

What criteria are you looking for when you hook up a new rider to Toy Machine?

Over the years I feel like a psychologist! I have to pick somebody on so many different levels. I suppose I have a track record that is pretty good but I can’t pick someone just for talent alone, there has to be personalities and every level of that person gets kind of studied to decide. Lately we have been taking kids on tours that we flow product to. We wanna make it hard to get on the team and wanna get someone dedicated to ride for Toy Machine.

It’s important to get a kid that wants to ride for us and not just to get sponsored. So if they want that, then we will put them through a trial and if they are dedicated they will go through with it. We have had flow riders on tours and demos and even that level is hard to get. I have to see that rider in the van with the rest of the team, and ask the team what they think as they have full say of who is in here. Everybody has to have a say, we vote. But sometimes before there have been problems and some members of the team have been a bit biased when a new rider comes into the mix especially if the other members of the team have been kinda threatened by a new rider because he is so good!

With Johnny Layton, the consensus was strange as people where like ‘er.I don’t know‘ and I was like, this kid is really cool, he likes cool music, can skate really well, and he is good. So that is when the psychology comes in because I have to ask people one on one about why they feel like they do about a certain person as you are dealing with a bunch of young kids who skate well, get coverage, make a lot of money and are really strong willed with big personalities so it’s important top get it right.

But you have signed up some serious players out there over the years.that track record is pretty good huh?

I can’t say I knew they were gonna be as big they have all become, but if they get past the things I was just talking about with the potential and the drive to get to a certain level then that is what I am looking for primarily. For example Brian Anderson did not have that when we first met him. He was amazing and a real cool guy as he was friends with Donny and others and he was coming from this angle of ‘hey yeah, I just skate and maybe I will just quit and become a chef or something‘ so he did not have these aspirations until a certain point and that is why I lead by example with these things. Not because I am a strict, driven guy or anything but I run my side of it that can lead by example to the guys on the team. Toy Machine demos are known for being really good because that is how I want them to be, I set the example you know. There is no coming through a town and hang out and be cool and saying, ‘no I’m not skating that course because I will kill myself and I may suck the whole time‘, it’s a case of skating everything and getting on with it. This is the key.

If every skate company had that ethic, then I think they would be more successful huh?

Yeah, this is how it has always been; this is how we run our ship.

How do you keep all of this together?

I think a Chinese proverb said once that ‘A man with many talents is a master of none‘ and I really truly feel that if I had only focused on skateboarding all this time and not started the company or have started doing these art shows I would be killing it. I don’t think I am ultimately talented, but I know that when you put effort into something, you get something out of it and I feel that I have dropped levels, which is fine with my age, that is normal, but I feel like I could hang with the best up until maybe when I broke my neck in 2000 and then all this stuff has been getting bigger, better and busier so the athletic side of things is something I do think about.

Sometimes I think it would be really cool to be a 32 or 35 year old dude, doing big rails with kids but I would get injured more. Between the years of 2000 and 2003 I had 6 concussions and I have never had any before that, so I’m on 6 right now and after 3 you gotta start to think about it. I feel as though sometimes if I keep falling on my head or tweaking my wrists it could ruin a lot in my life. I feel though in Good and Evil, I kept it pretty low key, but it’s me you know and I have got a lot of good responses from it from various people which makes me happy. There’s maybe not a 17 stair lipslide in there but there is lots of other stuff.

How come you did not have Sonic Youth in your video part?
Question from Londonskater

Ah, well, I just spoke to Kim from the band recently on email and I wanted to use a song on the video but it had to go through the label with all the bureaucracy so it did not happen. I always have these songs as back up but I always wanna use Sonic Youth.

Top 5 Fave bands ever?

Well, Sonic Youth and Fugazi for sure, after that it gets all over the place, er.Rites of Spring, Breeders, Pixies and all that sound stuff on the punk and metal side etc.

What are your Top 5 Skaters Ever?

Let me see, The Gonz, Geoff Rowley, Marc Johnson, and I guess Hawk would be legally on this list, he has to be and I reckon John Cardiel, he deserves it.

So what does the future hold for Ed Templeton? Will you retire as a pro? Is this on your mind?

More of the same, i guess. i have been doing the same thing since 1990 and I’m constantly looking at myself going when should i retire and it comes back to the same point where i can’t retire, I’m a lifer, there is nothing i can do about it. I keep having fun, i keep skating, I keep managing to produce video parts out of nowhere, I don’t know how. I actually sat down with Lance Mountain as he is a wiser, older man and asked him what he thinks of me retiring and he just said ‘Ed I don’t know how you see yourself but you have gained that sort of status where you don’t really retire, you are just a lifer, and there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t quit, you can’t stop, and people like to see what you are doing so you are never gonna be milking it’.

Any plugs, thanks etc?

Yeah, to Modern Art, what’s up to Ben Powell and thanks for the interview Zac!

Associated Links:

Heroin Skate Massacre

Interact Skate Park

Burnley Saturday 26th February 2005

It has snowed all fucking week and the North is apparently hit worse than the South as per usual, but screw the reports, we wanna skate that bowl that everyone has talked about for the last 6 months. It’s called the Mantub and we want some of it! It’s 1o”clock, Saturday 26th February and we are all waiting in a freezing van whilst Zorlac lays a cable that would have put BT out of business. It’s a much lighter drive for the van with this mission completed and thankfully now underweight, 8 skaters are on the M1 in search for Heroin, addicted to the smell of freshly burnt urethane and shaved wood. Passenger list: Driver: Zorlac Shotgun DJ: Zac Filmer: Alan Christensen Punks: Louie & Brandon Steeze: Seth Leathers: Damian Fartbox: Stu Cantellow. I didn’t get wood on this trip as I was up front manning the stereo, but I bet the younger punks in the back of the wagon had to move coats to get rid of the evidence, as this was getting exciting and with a soundtrack of The Hunns, Dead Boys, Ramones, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Adolescents, Spandau Ballet, T”Pau, Devo, and a million odds and sods 80’s artists, we were fucking motoring!!

Why is motorway food so expensive? Why does it taste like crap? Why do they only offer you the worst food you could possibly find? I dunno but we all fell for it, but one thing was clear, the vegetarian food is always cheaper.add a fat filled sausage for an extra £3.cunts! Dying for a drink and ushered into the park entrance by Wingy who rolled up alongside us in his van, we could hear the Dead Pets on the side of the bowl destroying vocal chords and fingernails by the second. Apart from the Punk rock, it was much quieter than we thought. Had we missed the event? Was it over or just beginning? Where was Howard Cooke? In fact, fuck asking questions, look at that bowl! It is called Mantub for a reason, a stupid one but here it is: One day a local was so pissed looking into the deep wooden hole with metal round the rims that he shouted “Mental” “Mental!” but it sounded like Mantub cos he was so pissed, and it stuck, so there!

Now you know some facts you can win cigars and fluffy bunnies everywhere…. This bowl is big, it’s beautiful and when you skate it, you are lost in carve heaven not knowing where the fuck you are going and always trying to wipe the water from your eyes because it is so fast. This is not the sort of bowl that you can find in the UK. This is the sort of bowl you find in Europe or America. Burnley has a beast! Div won all the honours on the night. The Scottish, red haired fire ball went hell for leather in this bowl and managed everything he tried by the end of the night. His younger brother Colin can huck them out as fast speeds too. HIs Madonna’s at the high end of the bowl where massive. Slap that tail bitch! It was also good to see Napalm Jeff going off, even without a board, this Dad rocks!

Howard Byrom and Lee Blackwell fought out the snake award. Lee won in height, and Howard won in carve style. These boys rocked it until they couldn’t move. Mark Munson and the Essex monkeys made sure they were noticed as usual. Mark was seen with his hands on the coping, Ben Raemers stuck his oar in and Potter was seen in the street section transferring to hell and back. Andy Scott and Woody ripped the place a new arsehole alongside Rogie who can command this bowl like a puppeteer just like Tez who runs the Bolton Park, amazing to watch

The Kill City team where loving it to with Dainton carving it up, Little Nicky and Cashman flying everywhere. It was a good session. So what did we get up to. We just skated with all of this lot and drank into the night until it was time to rock up and get the hell out of there. Louie pulled the best tricks out of all of us. Foz seemed over the moon, Heroin product filled the skies whilst kids gathered bag fulls of stickers, boards and t-shirts and no one had to be carted off to the hospital! Even pizza’s were delivered by bike. Come on!

Big thanks to Foz and Anthony for organising a good get together. Big thanks to Nick Zorlac who drove us to Nottingham and then to Derby after the trip until 5am! Thanks to Ian Rees and Harry the Bastard for putting everyone up at 4am and taking us all to the bowl in Nottingham on the hill and watching me kill myself in front of everyone and big thanks to the pub who served us guiness and roast dinners….

No Thanks for reading this if you read the whole thing without being tempted to watch the video! Go on then, watch the video on this page now, oh…..and by the way, get in the van soon as there is nothing like a road trip once you get going!


Think – iThink

I think you can pretty much bank on the fact that the I-pod has become a major fashion accessory and skaters were not shy to the trend at all. Well, our friends over at Think put the final nail in the coffin and entitled their latest DVD release ‘I-Think’ in celebration of this oh-so-useful musical appliance. Basically, the DVD takes every aspect of the original I-pod from the on-screen menu display to the brightly coloured advert edits. In fact I’m pretty sure a few of the tunes in ‘I-Think’ can be found on several peoples tracklists… So, that’s all fine and dandy, but what’s the skating like? Afterall, that’s what we all want to know, right? Ok. The kid that starts things off ( I forgot his name, sorry!!!) comes with some interesting lines, but nothing too shocking. Well, that is until about halfway through his part where he turns the heat up and starts dishing out banger after banger. Ummm… Jake Palu has a slightly obscure approach to skating that some of us will find hard to appreciate but there is still some oddball spots worth looking out for. Jake didn’t keep my gaze as long as his other amateur mate, Adam Dyet. Bloody Hell! Adam goes all hellbent for leather when it comes to getting tricks: huge switch backside 180s, bone snapping backsmiths and a pretty smooth nollie frontside noseslide at Clipper. Sweet.

Now, one skate giant that has serious pop and snap is Jake Nunn. I hardly see anything of Jake but when I do it’s always proper, so confronted with a whole part and there’s very little chance of disappointment. Honestly, Jake’s part is the only thing that would make me part with money for this DVD. The other heavy hitter from Think is Danny Fuenzalida from Chile. Danny is a real ‘hit or miss’ type of fellow on his skateboard. I here people complaining about his bland style at the back of the room, but when things come this smooth for you, what do you care? Right..?

There’s also footage from other riders in there, but honestly it comes and goes quite fast so I can’t quite remember any of it. ‘I-Think’ only clocks in at 18 minutes, with no real bonus footage, so keep this in mind. Short and sweet or long and hard (to swallow)? Your call. If you like I-pods and footage from lesser-knowns, you know what to do- Get a copy!

Globe – Skateboarding Street Riot

Okay, this is Globe’s World Cup of Skateboarding 2004 comp in DVD format with a Dave Duncan commentary, snippets of interviews with most of the pros there, the Gallaz Street Jam, and a couple of edits with just the tricks, no blah blah. ‘Street Riot’ is a neat product that you could watch with your parents and ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Ah!’ in unison as skaters leap and tumble around a huge skate course that only real professionals can handle. Competions are usually quite boring affairs, but the Globe World Cup is one event that even the guys taking part in enjoy. One of the reasons for this appreciation is the Jam format that it entails. Skaters whiz around together in groups of 2 or 3, in designated areas of the course, so nobody feels lonely and grilled as they race across the flatbanks and down the rails. Speaking of rails, this course has one serious beast of a rail that gets served as well as serving out some punishment too. Here’s the reason why this DVD is worth watching: Ronnie Creager. That’s right, Ronnie Creager came out of hiding and ended his non competitive hiatus by killing the course with mad switch skills and big balls to take his first ever major comp win (can you believe that???). Well done, Ronnie! In fact, Ronnie looks so shocked by his win that he could cry…

The one other part that put a smile on my face, but also made me want to cry, was watching the bonus interview skits. Between McCrank’s inaudible head nods and Sheckler’s agent-prepared answers, sometimes you really see why people say, “actions speak louder than words”. Oh, and even Muska gets a word in!

FKD Bearings Video

Here’s a quick lesson in the hierarchy of sick footage:

Your best footage goes to your board sponsor or your shoe sponsor. Then, the second best tricks get dished out to the magazine videos and montage videos. Now, whatever is left over on the cutting room floor finds itself stuck together and edited into a hardware goods video.

With this information in mind, it isn’t a very good premise to get hyped about a video being released by a bearing company… Well FKD bearings aren’t your average bearings and they definitely don’t have your average team. Here’s the little line up of guys that are lucky enough to receive high quality, no nonsense rolling aides: Paul Rodriguez, Brandon Biebel, Kyle Leeper, Stefan Janoski, Joey Brezinski, Paul Zitzer, Kenny Anderson, James Aitkins and Daewon Song. That’s a whole load of heavy hitters if you ask me.

Alright, so 90% of the footage is the stuff that didn’t make it into the big productions, but it’s still right up there. In fact, Joey Brezinski has very little footage out there, so his part is a definite treat! The only real shocker in this video is a horrendous pair of cherry pink trousers James Aitkins tries to rock on the d-lo. Ummm?

Try and check this video out because of the sick team FKD boasts and the fact that it shouldn’t leave you out of wallet.

Ali Boulala

When I first met Ali Boulala, the first thing to hit me was that his reputation preceeds him. Ali wasn’t pissed out of his head or breaking boards every five minutes. Ali was having fun skating. Over the years, this flame of youth burns strongly within the young Swede and his desire to do something or have something are stronger than your average person’s, that’s sure.

This interview took place at Ali’s apartment in Lyon over a couple of beers. Ali was trying to learn new riffs on his guitar whilst giving advice to his mate, Steve Forstner, on purchasing a scooter, and trying to tame his crazy dog.

Oh, and Ali was wearing tracksuit bottoms, grandpa slippers, a theatrical shirt and a bandana. True Ali, the Ali that’s always been and always will be.

Alright Ali, man, tell me about how you discovered skating?

I don’t know, fuck. I guess, just seeing people in the street skating, and its like, ‘Wow! That looks fun!’

How long ago was this?

Oh, a fucking long time ago! The first time I ever rode a board, I don’t know, but maybe I was 10 years old with a blue banana board.

Can you remember what your first proper board was?

Yeah, I think I was in Mallorca and it was some Toxic board- that was the name of the company. My brother bought a Dogtown deck and I had the Toxic. Those were like the first proper boards or whatever.

Was your brother already skating before you?

No- that was like how we both got into it, just in Mallorca seeing kids there skating. All we had was the banana board, but it was mainly my brother’s idea, like ‘I’m going to buy a skateboard’, so I’m just like, ‘Fuck yeah, me too!’

Does your brother still skate?

Yeah, sometimes. He was into vert skating later on, but he doesn’t really skate that much anymore. I’m sure he would just cruise around.

Did you grow up in Sweden?

Yeah, pretty much! I was there till I was 15 or something, then I went to the States and England. (Phone rings- It’s the WE clothing guys who are about to pass by)

What was it like growing up and skating in Sweden?

It was fun, but there was never that much to skate. I mean, there still isn’t anything to skate there, but somehow there’s a scene, I guess.

What about the skateparks out there?

Oh, there are some indoor parks, but no that many. Maybe like one in every town.

So, how did sponsorship come about? Who were your first sponsors?

This skateshop called ‘G-Spot’, which is now owned by the same guy who owns WE Clothing. That was probably the first skateshop in Sweden- G-Spot.

So, how did you go from a small skateshop in Sweden to Flip?

It was mostly Rune (Glifberg), because he would come to Sweden, and I don’t know. I guess he told Jeremy (Fox) about me. Then, I went to the States with some Swedish friends and met up with Rune again there. All of a sudden they (Flip) said that I was on the team, basically. (laughter).

What’s it like at Flip? It seems pretty laid back with everybody free to do whatever they want.

For sure! They don’t send people wherever, they know that we’re gnarly! (Laughter) No pressure!

Who inspired you in the beginning?

I don’t know. I guess it was different people on different days. When I was younger, I definitely used to like Mike Carroll and all the Girl skaters, I don’t know about anymore. But, I mean of course I’m still amped to see skating, but it isn’t the same as it was before. But definitely, different days and psyches mean different people.

Now that you are pro and you have grown up in skating, has your perception of it all changed, or are you still young at heart like the kid you were when you started?

Yeah! It’s always like that, I just want to skate. It’s different now though because we have to film and capture everything on film!

How do you feel about that? Back in the day videos dropped once a year, maybe 6 months, but now it’s two every week.

Yeah, it’s too much. Like, you can’t just make a video to make a video- it has got to be something that someone will actually remember and see for a while. Filming wise though, I used to film myself all the time anyway, just for the hell of it and the fun.

Are there any moments when filming that stick out in your head as memorable? For example filming for ‘Sorry’, or with your friends in Huntington Beach, or back in Sweden at the local spot.

I don’t know really. It’s always just been filming for nothing in particular, just seeing what you have done on tape. Sometimes the process can be good and sometimes its shit.

When you moved out to the States to join the other Flip guys, did the country live up to your expectations?

The first thing that I remember is that I just laughed at how small all the spots were! I just couldn’t believe it. Like as a kid, the first thing was like. ‘Yeah, I want to go to Embarcadero (Legendary San Francisco spot) and skate all the ledges!’ But, you get there and it’s like, ‘What?! This is it? Holy shit!’ (Laughter) You just think that it’s more than it really is, but that was just like a typical thing. It is smaller, the rails are built lower. It’s better for skating though! (Laughter)

With California being the hub of skateboarding, was it ever hard to deal with all the industry bullshit?

No. I never even thought anything about the ‘industry’ or that there was anything like California being the heart of the industry or anything. I didn’t really care all that much or worry about there being a center for all the industry.

One of the things that you are most recognised for is your transition from baggy trousers to tight ass jeans and leather jackets with the punk rock attitude to kick. What happened there? Do you feel like the instigator to the whole ‘Piss Drunx’ phenomena?

I don’t know. Whatever, it’s just clothing basically! Whatever you want to wear that day, or year. Whatever! (Laughter) It’s just clothes basically, it doesn’t really matter. Whatever ideas, I guess, like new style or something. I mean, sure, it created some whole new ‘thing’ in skating with this style shit like ‘Hesh’ and ‘Fresh’, whatever! (Jim) Greco definitely had a lot to do with it, too!

But, don’t you feel like you have given guidance to some of the kids because before, when things were ‘Fresh’ so to speak, rock kids were left on the side unable to truly express themselves. Today it’s the rapper

that gets laughed at.

Yeah. It’s all skating, you know? I don’t care.

Now, your situation with the States is a bit difficult today. Do you want to talk about it?

Yeah, I don’t mind. I mean, they want me to go back and I really want to go, but. Flip paid for the work visa to prove my status. I have to go to the embassy to get questioned, but who knows? Even if I get it, once you’re at the US border you are alone with no help. The visa doesn’t really matter because they can still say ‘No’. I’m not sure. You never know. Loads of people fucking over stayed and got back in whilst others didn’t. Some people can never go back! It’s like a gamble, basically.

Have you got ay crazy stories from your visits to the States?

Well, I don’t know what’s ‘crazy’ as such, but Huntington is so crazy, like somebody is always looking at you! If you step over that line, then they stop you and take you away to jail or whatever. It’s just so ridiculous and that’s why I don’t really want to go back. You feel like you have to be careful where you step, if you step there then that’s wrong! I just don’t like it.

After leaving the States, you have been travelling around Europe, you spent some time in England, and you ended up in Lyon. Why Lyon, of all places?

I don’t know. It was like, ‘Fuck!’ I was just going all over the place, just travelling all the time anyway, I came to Lyon a few times and decided to stay. It’s so easy here- you can just be skating down the street and there are spots. However, it feels like there are less and less spots now! (Laughter) Lyon isn’t huge and massive like Paris or London. You can get to Barcelona, London, Paris etcetera really fast from here- It’s a ‘middle point’, if you want to call it that. (Laughter)

Since you live in France, have you learnt how to speak the language?

Well, I guess I could if I wanted to speak, but I don’t know. I understand when people talk and shit, but I just don’t want to speak it for some reason. I don’t know why. (Laughter) I understand, but I won’t talk.

What do you do when you aren’t skating? I see you like to collect scooters, guitars, remote control planes.

Oh yeah! The whole broken hobby dream! Fuck man. (Laughter) I mean, it was fun, but the remote control things are only good for a few minutes, or days even. But, the guitar, I guess, is the thing that is going to stay. Somehow, I’ll keep doing that, I don’t know. The other toys are just impulse purchase. It’s fun for a few minutes, but then its hell! (Laughter)

Which was your favourite toy?

Well. (Hesitates) The helicopter is the best thing, but it’s also the most impossible to fly! So, I guess that makes it the best and the worst thing. It would be good if I knew how to fucking fly the thing! But, I think the guitar is probably more fun. (Laughter)

Do you play any other instruments apart from the guitar?

No, not really.

If you could play something else, what would it be?

There are loads of things I’d like to play, like a one man band. (Laughter) I don’t know, just the guitar. I like the guitar.

Are you thinking of starting up your own remote control toy shop?

Start a band?

(Laughter) No. I just want to play for myself, like with my skating, just learn tricks on the guitar basically.

What’s your axe then?

A Les Paul. Gibson Les Paul. But I have many guitars now! But, this has to be my favourite one.

What are your musical influences? What do like to listen to or play?

Oh, like play? I just try and play anything I can! (Laughter) I can make my own songs, and it’s all inspired by the different things I listen to all mixed up.

Well, for instance, what CD is in your machine right now?

Uhhh. Maybe it was some Pink Floyd that I tried to learn the song. Led Zeppelin songs I try to learn because it’s so complicated! I feel that if I can play one Led Zeppelin song , then I can come out and say it like, ‘Yeah, I can do that!’

All their songs are so gnarly. There’s so much random shit, like ever since I picked up the guitar, I have become receptive to any songs with guitars playing in them, like, ‘Yeah, that’s good!’

Alright.. Another thing that stands out in your career is the jump to Osiris. Osiris was so Hip-Hop based that you were probably the last person we’d expect to see wearing D3s. Tell me about that?

I didn’t have a shoe sponsor for a long time. It was through Dune (Pastras), without him I don’t think I would have ridden for anyone. He doesn’t work for them anymore, but he was the contact there. I tried to ride for Vans, and they just didn’t want to give me a good deal. I don’t know.

How is it with Osiris because they like to do really big tours and stuff?

Yeah, it’s cool! It’s good that they do that. All of a sudden they changed their team, and they’re still changing the team, making it better. We’ve got John Rattray and stuff now!

Do you get together with the other team members much?

Well, whenever there are those huge tours, then yeah, I guess we all get on and go. Apart from the tours, though, not really because everyone else lives in the States.

Do you have any crazy tour stories? Brandon Turner already told me about stripping for girls in England once.

(Laughter) Yeah! There was some funny shit going down in South Africa and New Zealand with that crazy huge tour. There are always stories, but you can’t really go into them here. (Laughter) (The recording stops and then picks up again.) Uhhh. No particular stories right now! (Laughter)

Now that you have travelled around most of the globe, what has been your favourite place to visit?

I must say Australia. I always like it when I go back to Australia. It’s so fucking far away, but it’s worth it, for sure! Every time I go there, I just want to stay there forever, I guess.

What would be your dream session? In Australia perhaps.

What… skating wise or just hanging out?

Well, if you had to choose between a session anywhere in the world for a day, or a trip with friends and no board?

No board?! Definitely without my board! I must say, no boards, Dustin (Dollin) and his homies around there maybe.

Do you miss not being able to go back to the States and chilling with your homies? Do you still keep in contact with them?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure! I mean, I talk to them, and if it was guaranteed that I could get back into the country, then I’m sure I would think about going there more often. It’s too much of a gamble, I don’t know. That’s the only reason I would ever go back is to hang out with all my friends there. Then, I guess they come over here, or to Australia..?

How would you define a professional seeing as today the definition is hazy between super ams and lazy pros?

I don’t know, it’s hard. Ok, I mean it was so obvious before, like you’re a professional, you get money. Now all the ams get fucking more money than I do! (Laughter) For fucks sake! (Laughter) I don’t know.

Well, looking at today’s pros, who do you think applies best to the definition of a pro?

Well, I don’t really think there should be such a thing like that really! Everybody is all different in their own way, or whatever. It’s just skateboarding, there are no rules!

Who isn’t pro and deserves to be?

Steve Forstner: That’s a good question! Me..?

Yeah Steve, but you’re pro already for Antiz!

But, what do you mean? Like a dude with his name on a board? I can’t really say.

Ok, how about inversing the question then? Who is pro and doesn’t deserve it?

Oh. I think there are a lot! (Laughter) But, I don’t think it’s my liberty to really say!

I heard that some skaters claimed to have landed the 25 set.

No, no, no! Nobody tried that. I’m the only one to try the 25 set (Ali speaks clearly

straight into the mic).

Tell me about it. What was going through your mind?

I still think it’s possible to do, not that it’s so much fun to fly through the air and land on the cement ground! (Laughter) I just saw it and was like, ‘That’s one of the gnarliest, shocking things you could do!’ If you can.

Did you have to hype yourself up to do the jump? You left it till the very last minute, didn’t you?

Yeah, of course! I waited till the end because I wanted to film other stuff first because I knew that that if you don’t make it then that’s it, you won’t be able to skate for a while.

You had some badly bruised heels after that, huh?

Oh yeah, both! I had blue heels for like a month at least. I basically waited for the last possible moment to do it. Of course it was raining on the last, last day of filming, Fred (Mortagne-the filmer) was leaving and the video was now over like no more filming, it’s raining. Still, I don’t know, I just tried it anyway. It wasn’t pissing down with rain, but it was wet.

Didn’t you make any calls beforehand to make sure you’d be insured in case anything went wrong?

I don’t know, but there was money on the line! It was after I had already tried it and failed, that money came into the equation. They were like, ‘If you do it, you’ll get however much money!’ There was talk of thousands being put down if I did it again. Then it all kind of died down, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t want to jump down there for money!’ Like, I’m not going to pay somebody to jump out of that window to the flat, just to see someone get hurt, just because it’s shocking! Whatever. Of course I want to do it because it’s shocking, too, but not for the money.

Ok Ali thanks for your time, let’s go skate!

Thanks Ralph…bye bye people!

Ali Boulala rides for Flip Skateboards, Etnies Shoes, WE Clothing and Wall Street Skateshop.

Rodney Mullen interview

Rodney is a pioneer of skateboarding. So much so, that the majority of skaters would say he was the single most important skater of all time, and they would not be wrong. Whilst on tour to promote the new Almost video, Zac managed to spend an hour with Rodney in a shop in Soho whilst the rest of the team sat quietly next to us and homed in on the occasion. It is a pleasure to have such an innovative skateboarder in our zine with big thanks to New Deal and Dwindle…welcome Rodney Mullen.

How are ya Rodney?

I’m OK, good to be here in London.

Superb, welcome to our City mate. I was introduced to you when you first appeared in skate videos and saw you on Powell Peralta videos. Freestyle skateboarding was almost sneered at back then, did you ever think that you would one day look back and realise how much of an influence you were going to be to street skating?

No. No idea.

Are you glad that you did not become a vert rider at all like so many other pro riders back then, was there pressure?

There wasn’t any real ‘pressure’. I’m pretty glad I didn’t abandon what I did. If I had turned to vert, at least I would have had some of those skills built in by now.

You visited the UK back then with a demo at Southbank, do you remember that clearly?

I remember everything about that trip. The first international trip I ever took was to London and I remember cruising by Southbank. It’s pretty etched in my mind.

Did being on Powell Peralta set you up as being more organized as a pro skater?

Maybe. Stacy is an amazing person and he had a long-lasting influence on all of us. Being from the East Coast and also being as freakish as I was as a kid, I wasn’t as exposed to Stacy like some of the other guys. But I think even that little bit of influence carried me a long way.

I read somewhere that you had to wear braces to straighten out your pigeon-toed feet? Did these (er) feet have something to do with your success for flipping the board?

Maybe. I notice similarities in a couple of other pro’s. A doctor once told me it was like having a built-in tripod for each leg. Not sure I believe him!

If you found out that kids were having surgery to have these kinds of feet would you feel uncomfortable?!

As long as they could put up with tripping over them from time to time and maybe a little ridicule, things might still work out! Haha!

You grew up and went to the University of Florida. What did you study there? Was it all just a waste of time now? This question comes from a skater who is about to start there in January.

Biomedical engineering and math was where I was headed. I started with Industrial engineering. I have good memories of UF. Lots of anonymity and the atmosphere is good.

Did your studies pay off?

Not literally, but it helped me. Good experience.

Are you gonna start working for al-Qaeda now?!!

Scary. Once you get some basics down you realise you know enough to learn how to do some bad things if you wanted. It’s as though they should give some sort of psychological evaluation before letting you take certain classes, especially in chemistry.

In your autobiography The Mutt, you seem to bare your soul, has this been a long time coming? Do you feel as though you have lifted a weight off your shoulders?

Not really. It was hard to sort of go back into some dark stuff I went through as a kid, then try to write about it in a way that didn’t lose the point of what is important as well as to be fair and as lighthearted as I could. I wanted to back out of it a number of times. If it weren’t for my wife, I probably would have. By now, I’m glad I didn’t quit. But when people tell me they read the book, my first instinct is honestly to apologize to them!

You talk about your Dad and relatives not understanding skateboarding, do they understand now since your fame has reached huge heights?

Maybe, in a way, but the ‘fame’ part is almost a distraction from the real point. He’s happy skateboarding gave me so much, for sure.

What advice would you give to kids who are in the same position now?

I understood my dad wanted the best for me, but it was hard to reconcile with how gnarly things got. There isn’t one little tidbit of advice someone could give that would have really made things better for me, mostly because you’re not in control of anything when you are a kid. The only thing I can say is to do your best and never give up, no matter how dark it seems. If your folks are the hard, confrontational type, just try to suck it up, so you never have to feel shame for words you can’t take back. They’ll know what that means and it makes it easier to live with yourself.

How did the FBI drop into your personal life?

It all started with a girl!

You mention on the Almost website that the first thing that you think of in the morning is to pray, how much has religion driven you in your career from day one?

It’s a real personal thing for me. It’s between me and God. I always pray a lot when I skate and I think it’s driven me a lot to be what I have become. I’ve skated alone since I was a kid, aside from obvious stuff like tours and hooking up and skating with friends sometimes, which is a lot of fun too, but I always go back to the same thing: Fortress of Solitude.

Are there rules for this? Does this mean that Slayer just cannot appear in your record collection?

Nope, no real rules. I’ve got my healthy share of Bad Religion, too! Haha!

What other music do you like to listen to?

Lots of stuff. I’m really into music, like a lot of skaters. I go through phases, so it’s hard to just say a name that sort of ‘means everything’ to me. I like a lot of Nina Simone, Clash, Johnny Cash, Stiff Little Fingers, Dixie Hummingbirds, BB King, Metallica, Beethoven, IZ, Leonard Cohen, Dvorak, Tom Waits, Shostakovich.

Top 5 records ever, stuff you would have to have on a tour like this?

Right now I’m in a Nick Cave phase. Blind Boys of Alabama: Spirit of the Century. Angelic Upstarts: Teenage Warning. New Model Army: Thunder & Consolation. Beethoven: 2and movement, 3rd Symphony.

What happened between you and Converse shoes?

They were good to me.

How much input do you have in making your own shoes models for Globe Shoes?

As much as you want, really. I have a good amount of say in most of my shoes.

Where did the name Almost Skateboards come from?

Daewon. The name is the last thing we came up with everything else was pretty obvious from the very first time we talked about doing it together. Names are hard, even if you have a good one, it’s hard to trademark so you can actually work with it. We’d gone through lists, and nothing great, then Daewon just called me and said, “what do you think of ‘almost?” Right away, it felt good.

How does it feel to travel together with kids like Greg Lutzka and Ryan Sheckler? i.e. Old legend with young ripper and vice versa.

It’s embarrassing skating with these guys. They are so good, and they’re so good to me. They’ll goof around with me and try my goofy crap. Then they’ll walk me up to a little handrail and try to coax me along. Obviously that’s not going too well so far. But I’m on my way. Ryan’s dad made me a flatbar. Such good people.

Have you ever helped each other learn tricks?

That’s what it’s all about.

Is it true that Chris Haslam beat yourself and Daewon at a game of skate?

Not ‘formally’, but it could happen if we tried. Could be a long game.

Have you ever felt jealous of Ryan Sheckler? Ever felt the urge to lock him in a cupboard?

All the time. Seriously, I cannot say enough about Ryan. The other day on the plane, Ryan and I were talking, then when he went back to his seat, the lady next to me thought he was my son. That was the first time I really thought about it, and I couldn’t imagine anything making me more proud than having that kid be my son. On top of being as gnarly as he is, he’s the coolest, most clearheaded and humble kid I may have ever met. He’s got a rotten sense of humour, too. Ryan Sheckler rules!

What is your fave part in the Almost Video?

Hard to say. Maybe Greg’s part. I wish I could fly like that. Even the way he stands on a skateboard looks so good and unique. Chris’ part is fun, too. I don’t know.

Who do you think is the best technical skater, that isn’t on Almost Skateboards. Who would you poach if you could?

I don’t personally know PJ, but I admire his skating a lot. I’ve met Paul Rodriguez a number of times and I really like how he is and the way he skates. It has to be someone who’s not just a good skater; they have to be a certain way and add something to the team, as well. Hard to say right now. Couldn’t be happier with how it is right now.

What is your best demo?

I have done every form of demo you can imagine. The Pork Rib Cook offs in Ohio, it was two 4×8’s laid on and I did a full demo on an 8×8 and all these guy are walking about eating ribs looking at me like I was from out of space and it was funny! Haha!

Wow, I can’t wait to ask you what the worst one was!

Yeah, that was back in the rotten 80’s. I had an agent at the time, I don’t have one now, but I did something with these rock and roll guys. That era was just weird, we all did random crap stuff back then. These guys were all drugged up with roadies and the girls. It was the worst.

Let’s talk tricks. You invented the flat ground ollie and Tony Hawk has been quoted to say: ‘“Every time you ollie you should get on your knees and thank Rodney.” How did you feel about that high accolade then?

Yeah, I guess I did. As for Tony, I write him monthly cheques!

What is the trick that gets you mad the most?

The way I skate there is not a trick really like that. I just try to reach out from what I’ve done, rather than focusing on doing a single type of trick further or higher that I have to practice all the time. I suppose that is why I suck so much when it comes down to doing demo’s as I never just roll around and do generic sort of things. I just try to focus on single types of tricks or movements, try to take them someplace new, then redo the same procedure.

No routines like you used to do in freestyle then?

Nope. There will be periods where I will not do a 360 flip in months, just so I focus on new movements and I don’t get stuck in doing things I’ve already done, unless of course I just have a really good time doing them. That’s where a lot of the joy I have skating comes from, how it stays fresh for me.

What tricks are you working on right now?

The video has just ended and before that I was practicing loads of primo moves but now that is finished I am starting from scratch and learning how to stand on my board different and just cruise around and do things. Switch helps you a lot to learn how to re-establish shoulder settings and stuff so that is what I do after any big thing I am done with. I try to start from scratch and see where that takes me, so I’m now looking at goofing around with a lot of nollie impossibles and seeing if I can grab it really high and turning it and seeing where that takes me. At the end of any video it is always a big stop point in my life where I try to look at things from a newer perspective, starting over.

What is your personal favourite trick that you have invented?

Er….haha! It’s a goofy trick that does not even have a name. It’s just based the freestyle days but the way you catch it has a fun feel and the board just does it’s thing. I will try and explain. You do like a noseblunt on the ground, front wheels and nose touching, and with your back foot you throw the board 180, so it cracks the rail. Your back foot will be standing sort of one-footed primo and you continue the motion behind you, so it’s almost like a 360 and it just goes back to the wheels, or nose wheelie or to whatever.

Is there a trick you have never been able to learn? Was there one that got away?

There are always a couple that got away. In the video I do a casper to nose wheelie and I really wanted to do a casper 360 flip to nose wheelie. That one got away. Another heartbreaker.

Yeah, I have had problems with that trick too!


Was the Casper slide an accident?

That was not me, that was Mike Ternasky. I still think of him all the time. He was forcing me to skate for Plan B and do the video and I was like, ‘nah, Mike, you don’t need a part from me,’ so he basically stood by me filming all the way through and it was at the end of the video and I was going, ‘Mike you should not even show this part, what are doing.’ This is for Questionable, and he was like, “Rodney, we are not done yet,” and he took my board and said, “this is what you are going to do.” He slid across like a casper with his hands and said “you are gonna do this…” and he sat there and he made me do it and we did it over and over again. I remember being at the premiere and throughout my part it was so silent – until that trick, you could hear crickets and he grabbed me by the neck, which was a great feeling, and he said, “wait until they see your next video.”

Explain a monkey flip out?

Haha! It’s just a stupid thing you write down, like you grab the rail, you know, like a frontside air and hop out of a trick and flip your board. Haha!

How do find switch primo slides?

Yeah, there is one on the video. Not a big deal, just goes by.

Do you ever ride transition now and again?

I wished. When I was a kid I used to skate parks a lot until I lost my teeth and my Dad had me no more than that and nowadays it’s like a never did it! I’m absolutely retarded on transitions, so that is one thing I wanna learn again.

So I could take you at a mini ramp comp?

You sure could! Haha!

Ok, let’s step outside!


You have appeared in Tony Hawk’s video games, have you ever been disappointed with your image on a video game?

Those guys who put those things together are always so funny, I always bring boards to try to bribe them into making me look younger!

What is it like to play yourself?

I never have!


I have never played one single video game! They always ask me how I think about the last game and I’m always like, ‘hey I loved it!’ Haha!

It must be strange playing yourself, if you did?

People probably use it like a voodoo doll, my wife does when she is pissed with me!

After this Tony Hawk boom, do you think that kids who play these games expect to pick up a skateboard and skate just like their idols?

Maybe they will, but I know a lot of those kids drop out pretty quickly. If people discover skateboarding through a video game even if it is 2% of the people who get into it and find a love for it, then it’s good. Skateboarding has given me everything, and maybe it can do the same for one of these kids that just started by playing video games. Videos themselves are like the game a little, to an extent they are make believe, you go out there and try all day for one single trick.

There is a barrier of disbelief, and if you see one person do it and get through that barrier it becomes believable. Take Pat Duffy as an example, then you get kids everywhere flying down rails and they can do it. These video games are virtual reality, it’s not real but they make kids believe and it raises that bar of skateboarding. Seeing is believing.

What are 3 fave spots in the world?

I’m such a hermit, I just like a few things around LA that I skate but no particular spots.

If a deceased spot was resurrected tomorrow, which one would you like it to be?

I only went to Love Park in Philly a few times on tour but it had the best vibe. I know it meant a lot to the locals there. It would be super cool if people could skate there again.

Did you enjoy your time in London?

Yeah, like always. It was a little wet, though.

I really want to know if you can do a hang-ten nollie back foot impossible, cos i know someone who can. I would like to see Meanwhile Darren and yourself in a game of skate. Are you man enough for a sesh with him at our local Tesco’s car park?

Hah! I wished I could meet him, that would be awesome..

Any plugs, shouts or links?

Er..I hate these little one liners as they always sound cheap, but I suppose what you see in the videos, it takes over a year to get those things out. Don’t be disillusioned about your own skating and don’t feel you have to skate a certain way by what you see by what is popular. Just skate from what is inside you and this the real thing that will keep you going and that is the beauty of skateboarding. Don’t be dissuaded from what you would otherwise be by what you see and what is promoted so much because it often changes like any other fashion. Just skate from your inside.

Thanks Rodney….


Hot Sand for 10 Rand

It’s not everyday you get to travel South Africa, but we looked at the flights and decided to ignore the bad publicity the country seems to get and in no time we were on a plane to Cape Town on Christmas Day and up for getting some bloody sunshine! Hire cars are fairly cheap to rent, about £10 per day so we picked one up and drove down to the beach where we had booked a 5 double room house at Milnerton, Table Bay, a wonderful spot where the beach has incredible views of Table Mountain and sunsets to die for. We had landed so next thing was to get to the skate parks. Cape Town has a park called Century City in a shopping centre. The locals there are super friendly and welcomed us in for nothing, but I would have paid 10 Rand for a session if they would have asked for sure! When you have 10 Rand see, you can do anything! There is a guy at who skates this park called Christy (pics) who skates like a Californian pro, he is amazing and seems to land everything in sight. The park is quite small and does get really hot when the sun is peaking, usually about 32′ but it has a mini ramp, loads of street stuff and large BMX stuff to. The scene out there is friendly and wherever we went we would meet people who would wanna talk and hang out, which is great when you are out somewhere you are unfamiliar with. We found a ditch that was fun. It was fucked up and had been there a while but we sessiioned it anyway (below) and then we found a little spot behind the Newlands Cricket ground which was unfinished due to the council being robbed by local builders, and met some locals who were chewing gum and hanging out on BMX bikes. The coping stuck out but was fun, it was much more fun than the snake run we found right near it in the same park, that was hilarious!

The beaches rock! There are no restaurants or bars on the beaches which stops litter so these beaches were beautiful. Llandudno Bay is where we surfed every day and it is simply stunning. Lots of young people and you can hire boards, wetsuits and other stuff there as well for £5 an hour. Be warned though the sea in Cape Town is like swimming in the Baltic, it’s freezing! My feet were so cold that I could barely feel my feet as they got up in my board. Kenny bottled it, his knackers were like cashew nuts after just 10 minutes! The party scene is quite cool to. Somerset Avenue in town is renowned for its bars and clubs. We managed to blag ourselves into every top club saying we knew various DJ’s from back home and it worked a treat, no queues, pure VIP treatment, free booze, just what the doctor ordered! There is a really cool bunch of bars in Camps Bay as well, and no it is not a gay beach, it’s just called that, but if you want to swing your axe in a gay fashion just go to Clifton beach as it will serve you well!

Cape Town overall reminded me of Australia. It is a beautiful setting for a City that really is not that big compared to others. But when you get out of there on the various big roads in your car, you can really feel as though you are cruising around in California with big trees overhanging the winding roads and breezy fresh air. It is so much safer than what you generally hear on the TV. We did not have to make sure our window were closed and the doors where locked, it seemed really safe but as long as you do not sway into the Townships unaware then you should be fine. It was a real shame to see the Townships there. Thousands of black people are shacked up in tin houses and it seems so wrong. With apartheid abolished, new life for Afrikaans is moving slowly in the right direction but it will still take years for the country to be on the same level as others. It’s quite shocking to see.

On a wildlife tip there’s loads to see in the ocean. As the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic it allows many different species to breed on this coast like Whales and Dolphins and especially Seals. Where there are seals there are Great White Sharks and we managed to get on a trip on the day of New Years Eve to cage dive with these beasts in their natural habitat. It was mental as you will see in the video! The week before we got there, news reports had reported that a local old granny had been eaten alive whilst swimming on this beach we were at. We asked a local about it and he said, “She swam there every day for 40 years and did not give a hoot about the warnings”. I asked him “So what made this shark eat her then?” and he said, “Well, you know what, the old bag probably just smelled of fish!” Haha!

I was the first into the water on this trip and I have never felt like bait before like this in my entire life. As soon as we got out to where the cage was moored we saw a 12ft Great White pass the boat…most people decided that going into the cage was not for them, others puked overboard for 4 hours and we had a blast! Kenny go the best of the action as you will see, it simply blew our minds! Seeing the Wildboyz show on Channel 5 recently with Steve-O and Chris Pontius made us think how stupid those geeks really are! It was bad enough in the cage, you shit bricks, nuff said! Get your sorry arse out to Klein Bay for this. It costs £100 from do not go to Cape Town and miss this as it was the highlight of the trip for sure! Did you know that more people die from toasters each year than from Great White Sharks? Me neither!

We flew to Durban where we suddenly realised that the fresh air had been replaced by humidity and it was suddenly really bloody hot! The first day we arrived we went to the Wavehouse skate park which you have to pay about £7 for the full day to get into but it’s well worth it. The park has a snake run which is amazing plus a kidney pool for the concrete riders but also an amazing mini ramp and 2 street courses with all the trimmings you need. It was sick. Tony Hawk actually told me about this park as he designed a lot of it, hence the vert ramp being near perfect too. The Circa Team had been there to demo the month before, shame we missed it as the park rocks. There are other parks in this area of Umhlanga Rocks where we were staying but we only had 4 days to kill here before we went on Safari.

Durban City center is run down and it seems that most folk have moved out of town to Umhlanga. We took a Helicopter ride over the skate park on North Beach and the beaches around the area looking for empty pools and had a great time. This concrete park is the local for DC Shoes and Death Skateboard’s rider Snoopy. It’s a concrete park that looks great from the air and when you get down there it’s not as smooth as you would have thought. The coping gets sticky in the sea air but it was fun to skate for a while, even though the humidity makes you wanna puke! We gave a local kid called “Talent” a full brand new set up at this park and he was stoked! He had just been kicked out of his mothers house at xmas, was 13 years old and ripped at skateboarding with nollie flips and a stylish street prowess. He thought we were gonna kidnap him as we all looked at each other and said “are you thinking what I am thinking?” – you have never seen a kid so happy! To be honest we left the park feeling choked. We were chuffed we could help him and he was over the moon!

The nightlife in Durban was also fun, we got wrecked at a club called “80’s” where they played all the classic cheese from that era and got into a slanging match with a local arsehole who thought it would be funny to take the piss out of one of us not realizing that we were actually 4 people. He went for a gun in his truck and our cab driver who was about to take us home grabbed his gun fro the boot of his car and told the due to piss off! It was mental! The cab driver Russel was a man in his 50’s who looked like a yeti that had just come back from Brighton pier via Vietnam! Russel saved our skin and he turned into our cab driver for the next 3 days. He was hilarious! You could hardly hear what he was saying as it was so muffled but he loved Man Utd and thought Wayne Rooney was the best thing since the 10 Rand coin!!

After partying our asses of here, we then went on Safari with our guide Bert for 3 days and my brother Nathan got sick so he had to get a shot in his arse at the doctors for possible Salmonella poisoning…….of course we all roared with laughter and sang Ring of Fire all day whilst his stomach made more noise than the elephants outside the window!. Hippos and Crocs were scene from the boat trip went on and it was incredible to be that close! These beasts are responsible for the most deaths in the world each year for humans, you would not want to fuck with one, that is for sure. We then hit Umfolozi national park where we spent the entire day looking out of the van window at wildlife that included Rhino, Giraffes (that were like 10 feet away), Impala, Lesbian Zebras, amazing Eagles, Hawks, and those rad looking Warthogs (one chased me in a car park, I shit my pants and ran for the hills!). No Lions or Cheetahs but Buffalo and Wilderbeast were everywhere this time for us so the Big 5 were not seen on this trip but 3 of them were added to the list, better luck next time! A canopy forest tour was also chucked into this trip plus a visit to the Zulu place for some cheesy history before we set off back home with our guts full of South African food and an empty bag of the local Swazi weed which is the best ever! In fact we laughed for days on end!

It will cost you more than 10 Rand to do this trip for sure, but I recommend you go there at some point in your lifetime as it is a wonderful place to be.



Brendan Ryall

Brendan is one of the best skaters around. He has the best attitude and never gets riled (pardon the pun!) like most skaters when things don’t go their way. Skateboarding is fun for him and he makes it look as easy like no other. He is a local London skater who has always come down to Crossfire Jams and supported what we do here so it gives me great pleasure to return the support in my own way. Brendan came into HQ in October to do this one face to face and this is what came of it…..

How are ya fella?

Yeah I’m great, all is good, just about to skate the park here at Bay Sixty6 for a Wednesday night sesh and looking fwd to it as ever.

Lets let people know who you are , where you from?

I grew up in South Africa my whole life and I have been here now for about 5 years now after my entire family moved here. There is more here to skate, better job opportunities, less hijacks etc

So are missing the high jacks?

Well, I managed to escape about 4 of those, being held at gun point and all that.

So what was the worst, if you managed to avoid 4, wanna share it!?

A friend of mine was driving through Johannesburg with his arm hanging out of the window and saw some mad guy running up behind us with a fireman’s axe and he tried to hack of his arm with it to get his watch off him!

Fucking hey!

What else? Er. I opened my front door one day and was confronted by a man holding a gun to my head as he thought I was gonna call the police as he was trying to hang some guy in my front garden was going out one day!

Friendly neighbours huh?

Well, it goes on, we got away from 3 or 4 high jacks, they don’t really want to hurt you, they just want your possessions, but life is worthless, they want your car, watches, cameras etc. Another friend of mine was in a coma when he was attacked by a man who smashed a 4 pound hammer into his head for his camera! So we moved here!

Not much filming goes down in Johannesburg then?

Yeah, but you don’t film or take pics you need to go out with a crew of at least 7 guys to get stuff done. It’s that simple. If you have a flash set up you have a guy standing there. Laughs.

What do you miss about it being here though?

I miss friends for sure, also the weather obviously, but there are also great skate spots like in Pretoria, it’s like the capital, right next to Johannesburg and they have the best spots right there. I miss all of these.

There are loads of SA riders here; did you know many peeps when you arrived?

There is like a South African invasion in London, loads of people here now, but I think that Greg Finch from CIDE, was the first to make the step, he started it; I think he was the first to descend here! When I got over here I tried to find him and once I found him, I found everyone. I knew Greg from growing up back home and we used to skate contests from the age of 10 years old. He is amazing, the same style, and whatever he does he always looks good!

When did you start skating then if you were in contests at 10?

I was about 6 years old when I was bombing hills, and then I started learning to ollie when I saw er.’Thrashin’..haha!

(laughs!) Ok stop right there, that is a first for this website! “Thrashin”!?

Yeah, ha-ha, I saw the stunt double of Mike McGill in that movie when he ollied a car and rewound that scene so many times to try and work out how to Ollie! My first board was a Sergie Ventura, so I was stoked to see him at The Snickers Bowl, we had a few beers and a can of Heinz baked beans.


Yeah, he just pulled them out of his backpack and started eating them at this comp!

So beans aside, you must be about 27 years old now?

Nope, 28.

I was close…So you came over here and what happened?

Well, I was lazy when I first got here in November 99 and the weather shocked me at first so i did not skate for about 3 months, so basically I started to hook up with Greg and the legend Clint Van der Schyffe (Panic/Emerica) who is back in SA now. In fact he ripped, he used to do switch back lip down kinked handrails and stuff, and I got to know the guys at Slam as Greg was working there.

It took about a year before I really started getting into it as SA was full-on all the time as there was only about a handful of really good skaters out there and you would get kids following you all the time. It’s more relaxed here. I’m no Danny Wainwright here, that is for sure!

So let’s talk Ortega Skateboards, what was the hook up?

Well, due to the lovely weather I skated Meanwhile 2 at Royal Oak a lot and then Ricky noticed me skating, I sent him a tape before he set up the company and that is when he started it. He had not pressed any boards then.

So who else is on the team now?

John the Brickie aka Ivan Rodriguez just joined us, Tom Crowe has been there for a while, Trevor Beasley aka Ronaldo, Team Manager Jamie Harrison, Ramon Thackwell and Sam Bruce.

Crowe? Is he still on Ortega, did he not wobble in the summertime?

Yeah, but that is Tom isn’t it!

Yeah, I suppose he flies and never comes down huh! Great skater and good mate..

Yep! That is a good way of putting it. Mike Sutcliffe was in there. Mike is like Willie Nelson man! He is there but nobody really knows what’s going on. He just cruises around loves skateboarding and does not want to be associated with anything. He rode for Ortega for a while and decided he wanted to skate with no pressure. He still represents, he is one of the crew and he is an amazing skater.

Yep, I agree, we love Mike and I know he checks this site weekly so big up yo’self bad man! So back to you. I hear you have a pro board out now, are you proud to have your name on your board?

Yep, here it is right here. As for proud, it’s very cool to be part of a company that you have input in. It would suck if Ricky phoned me up and said hey I wanna do a board and stick your name on it. That is bullshit. So it’s cool to ride for a company where I can ask for concave, shape etc, not just a name on a piece of wood.

So the inevitable question is this. Why are there plug sockets and forks all over your board!?

Well, I stuck one into the other when I was quite small. I grew up in a farm back in SA and I was 2 years old, I watched my parents stick things into the sockets and I decided to plug my fork in there and from the current of the conductor, your muscles contract and was basically frying myself, the lights had dimmed etc and my Mum came flying in and obviously she knocked me away as she could not touch me otherwise she would have been stuck too.

So I went to hospital and I had fried my pigment cells that are connected to my nerve endings and because you nerve endings are under such tension when you have been fried like that it has to be released somewhere the same as when you have a car accident and they get a white patch, it’s the same thing that happens from your body and I got left with a white eyebrow!

That is why you are known as White Lightning then?!(Laughs!)

Haha, Mark Brewster’s a wanker! (laughs!)

Did Brewster make that one up then?

Yeah, it was the first Meanwhile Jam and he was on the mic which is always amusing and he did not have a clue who I was and I was skating quite fast and he saw the white eyebrow and called me that and then it stuck. After that it appeared in Sidewalk and it has gone on from there.

Did you design your own graphic on this board yeah?

Well, the thing with small skateboard companies is that nothing really happens that quickly and Ricky mentioned he wanted to do a pro board and I kept sending him these graphics going ‘this is the one, this is the one’ and time ran out and he said, right, it’s time, which graphic do you want, and I was like, I have changed my mind, I have an idea of forks and plugs and he was like ‘what?’ so 6 months of stuff went waste and here it is. But there is a new series of boards just out for 2005 and they all look fresh.

Ricky is a bit of a legend really, he ripped Meanwhile with Crispin and American Steve and that crew, have you seen any of that footage?

Yeah for sure, I saw some classic footage with him skating with Boma from years ago once. Did you know he skated with Jamiriquai as well?

I didn’t know that but Matt Sanchez told me Jamiroquai used to sell dope to other skaters back in the 80’s. Small world huh?


So, talking of graphics, your love of art and the way things look through a camera is part of your everyday job right?

Yeah, I work freelance as a photographer and I also assist other bigger photographers cos that way I get to travel and see the world on other people’s budgets. I got into photography through taking skate shots of local riders in SA. The mag at the time had crap photography in it and I though I could do a better job and soon became their senior photographer.

So when I moved here to the UK i decided enough of that and just skate. But I think that some people do not actually realize how much hard work it is. It’s unbelievable how much work that goes into one photograph that gets printed.

So what are you working on at the moment?

I’m quite lucky right now. I have been shooting some semi-naked women for lingerie shoots.!!

Hey, do need some assistance with that!?

(laughs!) yeah’s fun, but it is a job that I can do for the rest of my life and as a skater, you cannot expect to be a pro skater for life. A lot of skaters think that and never think about anything else. I think it’s important to have something to fall back on. You need a sideline. Only so many people can start up a new skate company, the market is saturated, and it’s not the only thing in life.

Too true fella, let’s start talking filth it’s far more interesting! (laughs!)

Haha, yeah lingerie shoots are fun. Sometimes it’s classy, sometimes not, it all depends on the client. I just assisted an Anne Summers shoot.

So you are like the Thierry Henry of the lingerie shoot world? He assists in every game! More than Van Nistelhorse!

Yeah, I’m like that! Arsenal are my team to. Not just since I came here either, I actually have supported them since I was about 12, one of my friends was a gooner and brought it back. So I moved to North London!

I agree, there is only one team in London..but let’s talk tricks, you love annihilating a rail, what is you fave trick?

Difficult question..if it’s a rail, currently my fave right now is backside overcrooks.

You love doing 2 tricks at a time as well down a rail huh? Ive seen you do feeble to 50-50’s a lot..

Those are just party tricks! Ed Templeton taught me that trick. He came over with a team once and I was riding for a shop there. I had to do the tour with them and he was the founder of feebles to 50-50, and he showed me the basics and it was easy, all those tricks, feeble to back lip, feeble to front blunt and it’s like riding a bike, you never forget them.

So what is the trick you love most, you love a frontside flip right?

Yeah, but I hate hardflips, they are the bane of my life! Yep, that trick drives me nuts. I suppose that any grinding trick is always good, I love to grind.

What about vert, ever got into that?

I like to warm up on a vert ramp but not to ride one any more. I had an experience where I hooked up once and my knee went sideways and that was the last time. I can do back lips on vert and stuff like that but I prefer street.

If you had to pick 3 spots in the world to skate for a day where would you go?

The first one would be The State Theatre in Preturia in SA and it has the best marble forecourt, that is so huge, in fact if you were to film a line you could include about 15 tricks. There are 9 marble ledges that are a little bit lower than vic benches and twice the length and the water fountain is quite wide, perfect marble, with a 4 set and rails. It’s the best spot in the world for me. Secondly, England is weird, there are good spots but no great spots.I suppose anywhere in Milton Keynes, you can spots everywhere there. Not Southbank, it’s a good spot but not great, in fact I would rather skate the water trough in Aldgate.

What about tunes? I have noticed that whenever I DJ at skate events you are always going through my boxes of records and CD’s to see what I have on offer…

I have been into music my whole life; it’s one of main driving things. I DJ’ed in a club, I played bass in a band that released 4 albums in SA and also go to bury the bass into a Nazi’s head once!


The shows always had nazi punks beating up skaters and one day I was sick of it and I just took him out!

What kind of punk did you play?

Ska punk really. Operation Ivy crossed with Face to Face.

What was the band called?


What, that is my surname!?

No way! That is funny! Yeah we used to play a lot and in front of good sized crowds too.

What was the last CD you bought?

Hmmn.I like to buy from i-tunes, not CD’s, but the last thing I got was something like Led Zepellin b-sides record.

So what track would you use for your part if Ortega put a video out?

Hmnn.probably a track from a friends band who was in Leek, his band is called The Slash Dogs and I would definitely use a track from them. He calles it Monster Trucker Rock, like ska punk meets Motorhead! (laughs!). But I love vintage rock like ACDC, The Stones, I like a lot of Jazz, some hip hop like older Wu Tang, Public Enemy, not all these new MTV faux pas creations and I just appreciate good styles really.

So who is your regular skate session?

Depends on where we are going, but if it’s demo’s etc it’s the OG lot and if it’s a local session probably Irish Steve and Alan Christensen who you know well from his great contributions to this site, let me see… Mike Sutcliffe, the man that can ollie a beer can and look good!

Mike, i f you are reading this, i think you owe us beers! So what is coming up next Brendan, any plans?

I have been lucky. I have a good life and my whole life has revolved around skateboarding but I could never see a career in it.

You should blame Thrashin’ for that mate!


Any last words.

Thank you for this interview, keep Crossfire rocking and big up to everyone i know and rock to Ortega!

I will do. Cheers