What comes to mind when you think of Manchester? Joy Division? The Stone Roses? Football? Urbis? Note Skateshop? One name that should always come to mind amongst those is Joe Gavin, a skater who knows his city inside and out, as if he had been unofficially granted the role of being the Mancunian CEO of street skateboarding or something. It’s a role he kind of subconsciously does already, regardless of any formal title. He has the keys, he knows every alley, every waxed curb and every gap… treat him to a bacon butty and he’ll be more than happy to show you around. As pro rider for The Harmony he has spread the Mancunian love around the UK and has achieved spectacular things for the scene.
This is Joe Gavin and Manchester is his city. Read on to learn more about his town, the still-forthcoming ‘Pusherman‘ video with Sean Lomax, his time spent with Willow, memories from Radlands and more.
Interview: Joe Moynihan
Portrait: Joel Peck
Let’s start with the usual gubbins, where in the world are you and what’s going on?
I’m in Manchester. Just skating… the usual stuff really. Filming, working and that…
Tell us a little about your Pusherman project you’ve been working on for the past couple of years now… Things went a little quiet after the trailer dropped last year but the UK is still hyped for it. When are we going to see the finished product and who is going to have full sections?
OK, better make this clear… ‘Pusherman’ is on its way, but its Sean Lomax’s project really so I guess he should answer that.
Expect to see full parts from Eddie, Bell, Barrett, Da Silva, Dom Henry, Jed Coldwell, Bruce Pouncey, Grove, Tyrone O’Hanrahan, Kendrick errrrrrrr Stannerz! And myself…
Is the film connected with the Curtis Mayfield song of the same name? What’s the story behind the name?
In no way do we promote drug dealing. Dan Cintra has to get props for this actually he was singing away trying to think up a name and was like “what about a song with push in it, then people pushing loads” then we instantly were singing “I’m your Pushermayn!”
I remember telling Sean later at the pumpcage and he was like “keen… yeah.” And that was it! Obviously we use that track! And pinch the name!
Switch F/S Crooks – Photo: Jim Walker
The relationship between skateboarder and filmer has always been a bit awkward that can sometimes see a lot of disagreement. Have you ever encountered any of this trouble and do you find the filming process easier having had experience on both sides of the camera?
It all depends on who you skate or film with. I’ve been lucky enough to have some good friends that film and edit pretty damn well, so it gets you hyped to skate knowing what you’re doing is gonna look all nice! It’s good filming with Sean because he really knows his stuff and can make Manchester look amazing, even when maybe it’s not so pretty. We both have ideas or angles that may work also so it usually turns out sick.
What advice would you give to people wanting to document their local skate scene and put together a scene video?
Go for it! Pick up a camera and go out and have at it! No hess! It’s fun.
Where do you stand on the internet edit taking over and making everyone desensitised to skating and to some extent de-motivating people? What’s changed since you first started getting coverage and filming videos?
I’m kinda feeling it actually. The internet has just made it easier for skateboarding to progress and for kids to get noticed. In many ways it’s way more motivating knowing you can just bang out a part on the internet if you want and it’s only a good thing for you, your sponsors and your mates who get a couple bonelesses in there. The bad thing is it’s made skateboarding less special with too much to choose from.
Not much has changed really filming wise; people still use the the same cameras, film the same style… fisheye lines, it’s a classic style that you can’t really fuck with.
Although I’ve been well impressed by the 550d,7d’s there pretty amazing.
Manchester has always come across as one of the strongest skate scenes in the UK, what skaters in particular have you encountered in your career that have made Manchester so special to you?
Ahh too many to mention… just all my mates that trek around backstreets for time and skate a 1 foot bank like we just found MACBA! Eddie’s daily morning texts are pretty inspirational!
Name three spots that are essential sessions for a visitor to Manchester…
Urbis (still skateable)
The slappy metal curb!
Crooks – Photo: Joel Peck
Who amongst the younger skaters in Manchester have caught your eye lately?
There’s always loads of good kids killin’ it, I’m feelin Bruce Pouncey’s footage and his brother Max is getting good. Jay Stone has a really good style and bag of tricks. It’s been cool to watch him progress over the years. Nev’s a beast. There’s loads.
Tell us how your new Etnies shoe embodies the essence of Manchester… we’re really digging the cloudy colorway!
It’s black with different materials like gortex and leather to kind of represent a jacket that most people wear beacause it rains so much. Then yeah, the grey tongue is the clouds and then there’s a bee symbol on the tongue which is Manchester’s sign of working industry. Then I’m a City fan so there’s some sky blue on there too.
Did you enjoy hanging with Willow when making those edits? We interviewed him a while back and not only is he funny, he also rips…were there any funny moments?
Oh yeah for sure, that dude is hilarious, just had me laughing the whole time. Plus he’s a powerful skateboarder and a rad dad!
I thought it was cool that Etnies chose two of the most notoriously rainy cities in Europe to focus on. Did it rain more in Berlin than over here?
Yeah, it was snowing in berlin so we didn’t skate any street which I was so gutted about. But the skatepark there is amazing so it was all good.
You recently come back from another Berlin tour with The Harmony, what were the highs and lows?
Jed Coldwell was the highs and rain was the lows! It ended up with us buying flame hats, drying up spots and generally brits on piss type behaviour. Loads of German booze!
The Skatehalle park is always mentioned when people list their favourite indoor parks in Europe. The UK is kind of going through a plaza trend right now but given Mother Nature’s tendency to smother us with rain the indoor park will always be a staple for us Brits. What are the best memories for you when skating UK indoor parks?
My Dad was pretty cool when I was a kid and would try and take me to one skate park a month. When I was about 11 years old and I didn’t wanna play footy anymore so we used to go to Wakefield and even Radlands with like nine other lads in the back of my Dad’s furniture van keen to shred … it was amazing!
Nollie F/S 360 – Sequence: Joel Peck
What session comes to mind when thinking of the ultimate good vibe at Projekts?
Reggae Vibes ‘Trailer Load’. Just all the homies going for it slamming and shit. We had a – 6 session the other day.
There’s more deck companies than ever in the UK right now, is this a good thing?
I guess it is yeah. It’s all good, the shit ones make the good ones look better!
Tell us a little about your Big Push experience last year… you came out trumps with being allocated Manchester. What was it like seeing people like Barney Page skate your local turf?
Yeah that was a fun time for sure, Barney ripped so hard! He’s fucking amazing.
What other projects have you got in store after Pusherman?
SHRED. SHRED. SHRED…. chill. SHRED! Gonna be having stuff in Kendrick’s ‘Shads’ and maybe the Sidewalk vid and a few edits that I’ve filmed or am in coming out soon. Nearly finished an interview for Sidewalk too.
My girlfriend’s moved to London also so I will be down there skating, doing the edits for the Harmony site. Keeping busy really, that’s the plan.
Any final words of wisdom?
Keep the fire burning in your heart, for the key to perfect tres lies deep within you my friend.