Once we started interviewing Blueprint pro and UK legend Mark Baines we soon realised that there was no other way we could finish off 2010 than by publishing our conversation with the globe-trotting lad from Worksop who has had a pretty spectacular year to say the very least. Bouncing back from business fallouts and Blueprint’s distribution scare not so long ago, Baines has spent the year focussing hard on the positives in skateboarding and it paid off big. He had the amazing last section in what could be one of the last great DVDs of the new era, Make Friends With The Colour Blue, he’s been building street spots with Jerome Campbell in Sheffield and working on the UK WESC Camp with Benny Fairfax to list just a fraction of his very respectable 2010. Even Sheffield Wednesday have been on form for once.
Read on for an extensive look into one of our all-time favourites, the illustrious and inspirational Mark Baines, with pictures from none other than Oliver Whitehead Chris Haslam and Alex Foley.
Interview: Joe Moynihan
How’s it going Mr. Baines? What you got going on this week?
I’m good thanks. We’ve been snowed in here in Sheffield so it’s been tough to get anything going. Played some 5-aside yesterday, the back of the goals were filled with snow but it was good to get out and do something. Other than that keeping warm and shovelling snow.
Let’s get a feel for your environment, name three things within arms reach where you are right now.
A cup of tea, a TV remote and a curled up black cat.
As a cat expert, could you advise us on the raddest name to give a feline?
Is it good to be back in the UK? I can imagine Berlin must have been a total killer in the winter…
It is nice to be back in the UK and Sheffield in particular for sure. Berlin is so amazing but in the winter it is so cold that there’s not much to do. I am hoping to move back there for a little while next year. I miss a lot about Berlin.
Berlin has a totally different atmosphere and vibe from most places I’ve been to. How did life there differ from life at home in Sheffield?
Berlin is mellow, you can do what you want but people respect this fact and don’t abuse it. Being able to skate everyday at different spots pretty much hassle free is amazing. There’s so much other stuff going on… art if you’re into that, nice bars, nice places to eat and generally loads of cool stuff to see, but it’s not pretentious; it’s just a place that naturally seems to have cool shit going on. Sheffield doesn’t really have that much going on when you compare the two. Berlin has everything you need for skating and the bonus is it has everything you would want outside of skating too.
When did you make the decision to live in Berlin and how did it come about?
Basically just from going out there a couple times on some Blueprint trips and then a DVS tour. We were there when the World Cup was going on in 2006; it was a good place to be for that. I got speaking to Mark Nickels who films out there and he thought it would be good for me to move out there for skating. I was dealing with a fall out with my business partners at Story and the whole Blueprint thing happened and I just wanted to get away and skate and try and forget all the negative stuff that was going on. It worked but you always have to come back and face that stuff which I did.
Baines pulls a switch frontside noseslide out of the ‘rarely seen’ bag. (Photo: Oliver Whitehead)
We’ll talk about the Story/Blueprint troubles a little later but tell us about Huntington Beach… That must have been a little bonkers compared with both Berlin and the good ol’ Steel City…
That place is the worst, but it was a good time to be out there when I was. I was pretty young when I went out there. We stayed with Dave Carney when we first got to LA. We were with Billy Pepper and Kenny Hughes for a week or so at first which was amazing. They took us to some spots to some parties and it was pretty cool hanging out with them; Kenny is massive and Billy is pretty small so they looked funny together.
I ended up staying with Alex Moul and Ali Boulala which was madness. A lot of drinking and partying but a lot of skating too. Seeing some of the stuff Reynolds was doing and how he was going about it was pretty crazy. Dustin too, he would just charge at stuff. Great times but I don’t think I could do that whole thing again now. Mouly was the best dude to spend my time with out there; he helped me out a lot so cheers Alex. Alex had this van he called ‘The Breather’. This massive van that sounded worse for wear to say the least. We would hit a lot of spots up every day, drive to Furnace to collect incentive money and go to the park to sell stuff. That van was amazing, and needed as you can’t walk anywhere out there.
Comparing that to Sheffield is impossible; for one some of the shit Greco was wearing back then wouldn’t have gone down too well around these parts haha…
In Sheffield I guess there are a lot of stories, my favourite times were when everyone still lived here before everyone went to London and other places, we all lived close to each other and everyone was tight, skating all the time going to parties and obviously Sumo was there too. I miss those days and those friends but time moves on. We all had a lot of fun though. S11 Crew.
Is there anywhere else in particular you’d love to live for a while?
I would like to live in Lyon maybe. I stayed there with Sylvain a lot and I like the place a lot. It’s pretty mellow and looks nice; the buildings, the rivers… and there’s a lot to skate. There seems to be a strong scene out there.
Directing your attention to frame 8… heelflip caught proper. (Seq: Chris Haslam)
You’ve had quite a busy couple of years but let’s start with Make Friends With The Colour Blue. Who has your favourite part in it?
I like Kevin’s part a lot. I also like Paul’s part a lot because so many people have talked shit on Paul and after the crook pop in I hope they all changed their minds, he put a lot into that part as well as all his other parts he has had. Kevin and Paul’s for sure but I like everyone’s stuff.
One thing that stood out for me was the video as a whole welcoming the two American riders into the Blueprint family, both Kevin and Marty seemed to belong on t’Print from the beginning. Are you stoked to have these guys involved and has the positive reaction to Blueprint worldwide been a surprise at all?
Kevin and Marty being on has been positive for sure. The thing is it’s not like we could just put any American skater on; we are not an American brand so we want to stay different from every other brand out there. Having one of the ‘hot’ up and coming skaters on isn’t really going to fit in with what we are about. Kevin and Marty are both really cool, they know about the history of Blueprint and they are down for the company and on top of that they’re both amazing skaters.
As for the positive reaction we have generally always had positivity from people. We have had some negative stuff but that as usually been from within the UK to be fair, which sucks because we all remember the days when convincing skaters it was ok to buy a British brand was very difficult. We took a lot of flack then but eventually people started to believe you could have a British company that could be as legit as an American brand. Generally I am stoked how people seem to be into Blueprint, it means a lot to all of us who are part of it.
I was so stoked on Mackey getting a section in before the intro. Tell us a story about our mate Mackey…
We were in China on a trip and Mackey was trying to ollie this gap. It was a bank to bank gap that was actually the roof of a building that came down to the ground. It was made from shitty tiles and Mackey pushed so fast to ollie it, then hung up at the bottom of the first bank and wedged himself on the edge of the other bank. I actually thought he might be dead it was so bad.
I have only ever seen a genuine look of caring for someone on Magee’s face once and that was then.
Are you proud of your section? You can see how much work was put in and I don’t think anyone can disagree that you fully deserved the last part…
I am proud, but it is weird because I never really know if I have put out good stuff or not. I go from being stoked to thinking my stuff is crap and I need to put something better out. I suppose am proud though because I did put a lot into this part and I had a lot of bullshit going on, people telling me I need to do something else because my knee will blow out or some other crap, just bullshit that wasn’t anything to do with being on a skateboard but for some reason part of skateboarding.
I basically looked at what I wanted to do for the video, set myself a goal if you like and almost reached it. I say almost because I don’t think you can ever be fully satisfied with your stuff, I’m not anyway.
Below: Switch Pop Shove It (Photo: Chris Haslam)
Do you think that the skate video can survive? For me Lost and Found was an embrace of DVD technology and it’s creative capabilities but even the DVD seems to have been a short-lived method of releasing videos.
I thought the skate video died after Mouse! Haha, no but seriously… it is so hard now to put something out people are going to be hyped on. There’s no saving your pocket money to buy the next board company’s dvd. I remember when Questionable came out it cost £30 and we had a premiere at the youth club in Worksop, that was one way everyone could see it together and get hyped on it. Now you just have to wait a day after it comes out and click a few buttons and sit in your room on your own and watch it on a small screen. There’s no fun in that and no reward either, it’s too easy to get hold of stuff now and too easy for people to put any old stuff out. It should be quality over quantity, like Gino, but it’s not, it has become more to do with internet presence and how much you are out there.
It’s insane how quickly it all turns around; one week a DVD is out the next week it’s forgotten. It’s the way it is I suppose and I can’t see that changing. I don’t watch all the clips online because there are too many; if there’s someone I want to watch I will watch them but everyone is putting throwaway edits online. There was talk of our video being free but that would have sucked; the money and effort that went into it to just give it away like it’s not worth anything, I don’t know, it just feels weird to do that. Not that we will make money fromt that video or even break even but still to just give it away is weird to me.
Skaters don’t think anything of spending a fiver on crap in Subway but a tenner for a video became expensive all of a sudden. Skaters buy a pack of smokes and a pint and it costs a tenner but a video for the same price is expensive. I just wish skaters realised they were putting money back into skateboarding so that pros can exist and cool companies who try to do the right think in skateboarding can exist. Why moan about spending money on a pro deck for example when you wouldn’t think twice about buying a pack of smokes when you know those tobacco companies don’t need it… Skate companies definitely need the support of skaters is all I am saying. I used to have kids come in the store moaning about the prices of decks or shoes and then see what they would spend there money on, like I’ve already said: Subway, cigs, a pair of Vans from a cool guy shop, it just makes no sense to me is all. If we all love skateboarding then support it. You may say it is easy for me to say this as I don’t pay for stuff but I will support where I can, if it’s buying independent vidoes like Pontus’ film or someone else I will do that because I know the work they are putting into it and I want to see more from them in the future. It’s like a band, if you are into what they put out you will buy it to support them.
The work put into MFWTCB by the entire team really shows. What trick gave you the most torture?
Oh man, the nollie switch crook rick flip out. We filmed it one day, it took me four goes but Percy was in the shot, Magee was saying it should be my last trick but it was filmed so badly so we tried to get it again weeks later and I couldn’t get it like before. Total pain but I don’t think it looks too bad when I see it.
You also knocked out a full section in the Rockers video ‘This Was Sketchy Man!’ which featured footage from all over the place. You must have only had a year or so to film that… how much time did you actually spend off the board in the last few years?
I spent hardly any time off my board; we were on trip after trip after trip. I would love to do that all the time but it costs money to do these things. I could do that though as it is the time I feel most productive, waking up early ready to go and coming home with some footage or just having had a good skate is the best feeling. I was stoked on the Rockers part, it came out ok and Thomas who owns it is fully down for skateboarding.
Get a chance to kick a ball around at all?
Yeah, twice a week at the minute. I always played with some friend in Sheffield who doesn’t skate every Wednesday evening. Now the skaters in Sheffield started playing so it’s cool and I get to play with them now. I always loved football and never understand why skaters hate on it; that is surely a jock mentality right there. My friend always says you can’t trust a guy who never played football, his reasoning being what were they doing then? Playing with dolls? I kind of agree but I am someone who thinks if something is positive and brings you joy then it doesn’t matter what it is, it can give you the same feeling as skating gives to us, it’s having the passion about something.
I saw your tweets on the 2018 world cup nightmare that happened the other week… what has the tendency to nark you off more: stupid shit happening in football or stupid shit happening in skateboarding?
When stupid shit happens in skating I hate it, although I have tried to distance myself from it all as I became really down about a lot to do with skating. I love skating and I want what is best for skating and when you see how people go about some things it gets to you because you question why they are doing what they’re doing. I try and stay out of things now because skaters seem to shaft skateboarding on a daily basis and everyone believes they’re doing the best thing. It’s what happens I guess when you have so many people who are passionate about something but have different views on how things should be, and it is obviously a good thing that there are different ways people do stuff in skateboarding.
The world cup thing sucks though, corruption for sure. I see how these things happen like that in the skate industry, obviously on a much smaller scale with less at stake, and have been on the receiving end, so when so much is at stake, financially especially, people will do whatever they need to do to get theirs. I would have been stoked to have the World Cup here. I can’t understand when people say otherwise. The money coming into the country, the jobs it creates and the Samba would all be amazing positives for the country. GUTTED. Hopefully it will be a good thing for the people in Russia though, the world will be watching so they will want to put on a good World Cup. I just hope I get to witness a World Cup in England one day.
On a more positive note, Sheffield Wednesday have been doing alright this season… are you on it all the time? Like what would come first… a skate session or a Wednesday game?
Well put it this way, Rye asked me if I wanted to go to the UKSA contest in Corby and it was on the same day I had planned to go to Hillsborough. I won’t tell you what I did but put it this way, I didn’t win any comp. I always check the scores and general football news, probably more so than skate news. I get to a few games at Hillsborough too but usually it wouldn’t interfere with my skating. Skating is my priority, most of the time anyway.
How do you feel about Beall being a Leeds fan?
There’s him and another guy Paul, they love Leeds. Scum. To be fair though Leeds are a big club and it could be worse he could support Sheffield United.
Baines opts to leave the K’nex dream spot the hard way. Straight Nollie. (Seq: Chris Haslam)
Back to the plank now, so one of the most controversial and interesting topics in UK skateboarding right now is the situation of how many new companies there are and how many skateboarders are being made pro. And because of recession and other financial restraints, many that deserve a pro deck can’t (Smithy is the first name that comes to mind). What are your views on this and can you see the situation changing any time soon?
My views will probably upset some people but like I said before I do love skateboarding and want to see it progress. There’s too many companies and too many undeserving pros in the UK, simple as that. I heard Barney Page turned down a board and Nicky Howells too… I was actually stoked to hear this. They are amazing skaters but they haven’t done nearly enough yet to warrant a pro board, and that is not having a go at all because I rate them both highly and I would say they have potential to be Pros, not just UK Pros, being Pro should mean something again, not just a given thing. The board company thing is a joke, look at the size of the UK and how many companies there are. It will get to the point soon where every shop as its own company and they wont buy from anyone else or there will be more companies than shops to stock them, then everyone loses out. It’s cool people are trying to do something but a lot of it is like those TV shows, Stars in their Eyes, talentless people believing they can do something and it’s so easy to make it happen nowadays and appear to be proper. I have an email in my inbox someone sent to a Chinese manafacturer saying they have UK riders on their board company who have had a Lakai shoe colourway, it’s so easy to get boards printed and make it look like you’re an established brand nowadays without actually having to do the hard work. The hardest thing is getting a website knocked together or a blog but even then you can just use Facebook or something. Imagine if it becomes so easy to produce shoes as it is boards, the industry would be screwed then.
Was Chewy’s move to Palace amicable?
Yeah for sure it was. Chewys is so talented, natural talent and he is a rad guy. It was harsh when I heard he had left for that company in particular and Chewy knows why I would say that but at the same time he has to do what he has to do. He needed to have a board out with his name on it. I think he is probably happier there so fair play to him. Personally I was gutted to see him go but to his credit he hit me up about it before hand and I really respect him doing that.
More and more skateparks are cropping up over the UK which comes equipped with just as many pros as it does cons… how do you feel about the new concrete parks?
A lot of them at first glance look amazing, but then you actually skate them and there’s things that aren’t as good as they look. The one in Cardiff looks amazing. There’s a few small ones near Sheffield that are fun. It’s positive in a lot of ways but I just hope street skating is still there. Nothing can beat street skating, I guess nowadays kids will grow up skating parks where as for me and people who grew up skating in the early 90’s it was car parks and whatever street spots your town or city, or even better you would go and find stuff to skate. To me that is part of the fun, finding new stuff, a skatepark never changes but when you’re out skating street looking for new stuff it’s always new stuff or different stuff.
I found it interesting how Magee put aside his aversion to skateparks when you guys hit up The Berrics last year. Did he need convincing from Shier at all?
Magee has an aversion to everything doesn’t he? I don’t think he had any choice, we were doing it regardless of Magees thought on the matter. He loved it as it turned out, he wasn’t used to someone else having control of the footage though, that was funny to see. But he enjoyed it all i think.
Seeing how much positive stuff came from that (deservedly, the edit was one of the best to ever come from The Berrics) and how well the MFWTCB UK tour went down at street spots could the UK be seeing more in the form of Blueprint demos/events/tours next year?
I would think so yes. We did the video tour this year and that was amazing. Kids seemed to enjoy the demos and responded well to us. I am sure we will be doing all that stuff this year.
Switch crooks as legit as they come. (Photo: Oliver Whitehead)
Tell us about the spots you’ve been building in Sheffield… who else is involved and when can we expect to see some footage? Will you be doing a Pontus at all?
Sheffield has limited spots. I don’t like skating the parks here so much as I find it a little boring so I thought about building some stuff. I started trying to find marble on ebay but then came up with another idea which worked perfectly for making blocks. Now we have two decent spots to skate that are legit street spots too. It took a week to make 3 legit things in one place. Me and Jerome with the help of a few other skaters just went at it and made it happen. So stoked but now we won’t get to skate them for a while but at least they are there and now we know how to work with cement and concreting so we will build some more stuff once the weather gets good again. It was inspried by Pontus for sure, his video in particular was very good I thought. Building stuff to skate is something we all did as kids so it rekindles some of that.
As you mentioned earlier, the rewarding feeling of finding spots (or making them) is lost if young skaters rely only on skate parks. The whole point of skating is getting creative with what you have in front of you… do you think that with creative/fun ideas like what you and Jerome have been upto that we could maybe instill those factors back into the kids that have just started skating in the last couple of years?
Hopefully kids will figure it out for themselves what’s fun in skating. Finding new stuff to skate is fun, skateparks are fun too but for me they aren’t the thing that keeps me going on my skateboard. Skating is about seeing new stuff.
If councils provide parks they have more ammo to ban street skating, keep skating to a designated area which takes away a big part of skating I think. I remember skating a car park one day and seeing the blue shoe box recycle things they have. I saw that as something to skate so we toppled it over, got a bit off wood up to it and had a good skate for an hour or two skating it as a kicker to ledge. Skateboarding is very creative and unfortunately not all the skateparks are creative so you could argue that they may take a lot of the creativity out of skating.
When metal is on sand you get creative. Nollie frontside 270 heelflip. (Seq: Alex Foley)
The Print Here Comp with Bored and Quiet Corners was hugely successful in getting skaters to think creatively and get involved with something positive and fun. What was your favourite photo from the comp?
This one. I don’t know who took it but it made me laugh.
Let’s have your best Shipman story…
We went to Holland for a contest when Carl was on Blueprint and within half hour of being there he had got a new outfit including a new watch from the distributor/shop. So funny, only Carl could get away with that.
He was the best skater to come out of the UK. Obviously I am biased but he never changed even when he had all those people kissing his arse. He was always true to himself and you have to respect that. He had and still has one of the best styles in skateboarding.
So what projects have you got on for 2011, what’s going down with DVS?
I will be filming something for the DVS site again next year, hopefully CPH again and maybe a tour around the same time. DVS have been so supportive and they’re good people over there. Much love.
Enlighten us a little on Camp WESC that you’re starting with Benny… what’s the plan?
Basically we are working on Camp WESC UK. We both have helped out with the Swedish skate camps for the last five years and I spoke to Benny about doing one in the UK so we’re hoping to make it happen in the summer of next year. WESC are super stoked on the idea and hopefully we will make it happen. There will be two five day camps and kids will get to skate everyday hang out with other skaters and we will have a bunch of pros helping us out. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Keep your eyes peeled for more soon, it will be limited how many skaters can attend but it’s something we want to do for years to come. WESC put a lot back into skating in Sweden that maybe other countries don’t get to see or hear about so hopefully skaters will get to see it in the UK.
It seems that you finished the year on more positives than negatives… this must be good for you after Story didn’t work out and all the Blueprint stress in the last few years. Are you stoked on how things have worked out now?
I know it seems like I should be stoked and in many ways I am but I had a hard time with both the things you mentioned. The day I found out about Blueprint my business partner at the time calls me up to tell me he is starting a board company and taking some of our riders. This was hard to take, I was so bummed on that and obviously made things difficult for me, it felt like the vultures were out ready to pounce; they did start a company but they didn’t get the riders they thought they would. Luckily the people they wanted stayed put with Blueprint so when I think about it like that I am stoked but the way these guys went about things seemed so lame. We all pretty much stuck together through a rough patch and put out a good video and a platform to build from and it’s comforting to know that these people were and are loyal. I think all the negative stuff I had going on over the last few years is finally done with now after all the paper work was signed to get me out of the business I was in so maybe now I will be stoked on the video and see the positives out there. I think it was just seeing people you thought were true but were not. That sucks but that’s life.
What lesson have you learnt in the past year that you will take on in 2011?
Loyalty is the most important thing without it things are very difficult. Don’t go into business with friends unless you are prepared to possibly lose that friendship at some point. Never write Sheffield Wednesday off.