Benji Galloway

It’s not often you meet people on the road that have their own thing going on and they encapsulate you, so it’s always a pleasure and never a chore.

This hillbilly outcast is as tough as nails and will skate you into the bar every session, he is also one of the coolest guys you will ever meet when he has a cool head on. Zac did the interview in the coach house on the 25th June 2005. Welcome to the mental world of Benji Galloway…

Ok…are you Benji Galloway?

Yup …

You’re finally Caught in the Crossfire!

This is a year and a half in the making!

It’s taken a little while hasn’t it? Welcome to the coach house!

Thank you for your open door and hospitality sir!

That’s ok mate, I hope my eggs were cooked enough for you!

They were wonderful… fantastic even!

Getting sick of tobacco, tea and eggs yet?

Erm not the tea and eggs! (laughs)

Getting sick of the tobacco though?

Yeah!

Let’s start at the very beginning…What’s your age sir?

I just turned 21 last week!

21?

Actually, i’m 28 years young as of June 13th…

Err of course! I’m brain damaged from Marseille! You had your birthday in England?

Yes actually in this very coach house!

So what’s your full name any middle names?

My full name is Benjamin Lanier Galloway

Where did that middle name come from?

It’s my biological Grandfather’s middle name….

Where were you born?

I was born in Augusta, Georgia from South Carolina in the United States in the south. In the Bible belt.

Do you Bash?

Bible bash? Na no not at all. I’m a Christian and I’ve been brought up a Christian and it’s something that i will never turn back from..

How does it affect your lifestyle?

By letting him open the doors that I’m supposed to walk through and close the doors that I’m not, that’s where I am today. I’m able to travel the world and skateboard and erm …and make money through it and go through europe and come home without a big hole in my pocket! It’s kinda the thing where I don’t feel like I’m the person giving myself a talent and I feel it’s something that will be still in me, So I feel that I should use it and if somebody sees a personality in me which they like and they enquire about it and you know we can talk there. But I’m definitely not one to wave the flag at anybody.

Wow that was a new thing for me that’s pretty cool though there are quite a few skaters like that, that have a similar attitude….

There is a buzz happening in California. Christian Hosoi has a church that he’s a member of called Sanctuary. Pastor Jay is a pastor and he’s a skateboarder. They’re on fire.

What the churches?!

Yeah! They have a youth group called ‘the uprising’ and uh their pretty much taking skateboard ramps to churches and have a pretty much like a youth revival in the United States.

Wow! So do you think this is a way the church can recruit new people by giving them a place to skate legally rather than them being on the streets?

I don’t know as far as their church providing skate parks or skate spots but more or less using skateboarders to spread the word of Christ yeah.

I wonder if it’s going to reach here (laughs) I might have to put my Deicide album cover on the door and say we’re not in! (laughs)

First album of course!

Yeah definitely so erm when did you first start skateboarding?

I first started when I was about 9 years old I cut the grass and borrowed a couple of coins from my brother and rolled them all up and went to the local department store and bought a Variflex board. It barely rolled but that’s alright. I skated that for a while and went into debt like 9 bucks to my dad to buy… he made me wear elbow pads and knee pads in the driveway coz he told me I was gonna skin up my elbows and knees!

Fuck, if I skinned up my elbows and knees no one would smoke it! (laughs)

Haha!

So what was your first pro board, do you remember your first graphic?

Yeah it was for Scum Skateboards it’s a mud black girl graphic. Oh yeah, and there’s a sticker I saw at the first NASS car race I went to in Virginia, I was doing a vert demo there and saw a guy in a truck with a bunch of trinkets and he had a really cool sticker that said Southern Style and we just changed it around a little bit to Southern Scum.

Southern Scum?

I had 2 models with the hot rod chick and another skateboard with a motor on it with a Harley motor with some flames and some gasoline!

So trucks are big where you come from aren’t they?

Trucks? Oh yeah.

Trucks and big vehicles and truckers?

Yeah definitely!

Hamburgers, whiskey, and bourbon all that shit?

Yeah It’s all in there yep with er… grits!

What are grits?

Grits are a wheat product. It’s like instead of cornmeal or wheat meal.

Do you fry it up?

No you boil it in water.

Boil it in water? Grits sounds like couscous to me…

Something like that.

That’s mad so what does everyone else eat hickory ribs? (Laughs)

Barbeque ribs! Yeah barbeque pork… steak, dogs (Zac’s dog barks in background!) (laughs)

So, you have been riding a while and obviously your doing the European circuit. We met in Marseille a couple of years ago right?

Yeah.

How did you get out to Europe? Did people pay you to get out to Europe how did you hook up with all the world cup people?

I originally met Don Bostick and his crew of folks working for Tenpin building ramps and setting up sites for the X games and the B3 events four years ago, five years ago and I was on the work crew and the only way that I could skate was during practice for the pros. The second stop I went to in St Petersburg in Florida, Bostick came by with me to ride in the contest and I told him that I was an amateur and I was just there working he said that he felt I had earned it and that I should be able to ride in the contest if I wanted to.So I did, and I ended up getting like 27th out of 31 people or something so I felt pretty good that I didn’t get like dead last but I ended up doing some ripples in the water with Sonia from the Warp Tour contest and I ended getting kicked out of the following Warp tour that I had qualified for because some unmentioned professional skateboarders were a bit bummed that I had skated in a pro contest and told them that I was a amateur and totally said that I was trying to be a professional athlete and go to amateur contests which weren’t true. I was just skateboarding but it ended up working out that later on the following year I went to a contest in Colorado called the Concrete Challenge. It was the first pro event that I entered and won and so I figured well if I could do that then I might as well start walking the line.

So how about Europe as a whole do you enjoy coming over here?

Yeah! Europe is amazing definitely a different tempo, a different lifestyle and just the vibes are completely different. I like how in Europe all the different communities of people that are around for the skateboard events are all in a brotherhood, they all eat together, and they all hang out together, they sleep together. The guys from the United States are a little bit different they’re all jealous of each other and feel like it there’s no room for anyone else.

There’s room for everyone, it’s skateboarding!

Yeah there is.

That’s Europe though yeah that’s how it’s seen. Everyone shares beds come all over come crash at ours.

Yep That’s how it should be take some photos, shoot some footage, have a session. Have a good time yeah!

So you were just at the Donnington festival what did you make of the Snickers Bowl? Is it similar to the Soul Bowl that they have in the States?

Yeah its pretty much the same thing. It might have a little smaller transition though. They had the hip this year and the 5th corner sort of shaped like a boomerang, plus they put a new skatelite surface instead of just one layer of wood so it’s way faster, way more solid. Super good event, super fun! I even got to see Black Sabbath with all the original members playing so that was properly one of the highlights of my whole year Europe trip this time!

It was a good gig!

Oh yeah it was amazing but the contest was pretty relaxed and laid back as the jam format got pretty good. I ended up coming 4th but Jeurgon Horrworth is stepping it up with the big dogs for sure this year. The guys got his program going on pretty well. He ended up winning the contest and that was pretty much hands down everybody’s idea of that. I went to the Donnington event and then my Birthday was the day after that and I came back to the UK to get ready to go to the next event which was in Brixlegg Austria at the Etnies bowl riders. So I went to that and there was another big party and I ended up in 2nd overall in that contest and felt really good. It was a close call between me and Omar Hassan but he got a 540′ and a frontside heelflip and that’s a tough one to beat!

You gonna be working on those?

Oh yeah! (laughs)

So Brixlegg is a much bigger park on the circuit then?

Yeah that place is huge! It’s a dreamland park (thank you Red the place is amazing!) It’s just so rare to shout it out. They got hand grinders and ground that whole park on hands and knees and went back and painted it so it’s smooth and ready to go slide on your jeans!

So what about terrain overall? You skate anything don’t you there’s nothing that you don’t skate apart from roller-skates?

Yeah, I inline…haha!

You gave up didn’t you?haha!

Yeah! (laughs) Basically I ride whatever. Put on some knee pads and ride a vert ramp, ride a concrete park or you know just go hit some other crazy stuff on the side of the road, you never know.

You like sussing out new street spots?

Yeah I just recently got my licence back after a couple of years so I’ve been doing the renegade drive thing so when ever I was driving out just going some where so as far as sorting out new spots while on the road I’ve been kind of reluctant to do that as of late. But now the licensing stuff is squared away we’re going definitely be more out and about.

So who do you ride with back home where are you living actually at the mo?

I live at ocean side California I skate a lot with my girlfriend Calyn and a fella named Billy Green. A lot of the long board guys there seek the pools and definitely provide a renegade sneak in and sneak out for pool sessions.

Whole attitude!

Oh yeah Old school style! Yeah so been doing that and in Billie’s backyard we are building a vert ramp and got all the foundations laid in right before I left to come to Europe the ramp is strained up and ready to go. So we will see where those guys have gotten while I’ve been gone. I’m going to put up a fun box on the end of it that rolls from one side ramp so you can actually skate from both sides regardless of what foot you are. So it will be pretty fun to go play with the backyard scene rather than being at YMCA all the time.

Do you ever get out skating Tony hawks or Danny Way’s ramps? Coz they’re quite near there aren’t they?

No I’m still rocking with the Southern class I haven’t quite been invited to go to those places yet.

Would you like to there and session?

Oh yeah of course for sure – that’s the gold mine!

What about music? Who is in your top 5?

I led quite a sheltered musical upbringing so the music thing and punk/rock thing while I was growing up wasn’t part of what It could have been in the house. I never really acquired the desire to go out and buy new music I usually just had what I had and that was about it. But I guess I need to step up. I just brought a new computer so the I-pod craze is in so I might as well start picking up the new things. But I’m definitely into collecting music and ranging from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to jazz to Slayer and Metallica and some harder stuff like Deicide. I like a lot of different stuff I guess it just depends on the
mood.

If you were to put a soundtrack to your skateboard park of you ripping up a bowl what track would you use?

I would properly use Hayseed Dixie. They are a band that does AC/DC cover songs.

Do they fuck them up?

Oh its hillbilly style! (laughs) The story that I heard was when they were kids, they didn’t have too much music. A guy that lived at the end of their road had a big Camero car and would always be blasting down the street in it. One day they heard a big wreck and ran down there and everyone was gone and the only thing in the car was a AC/DC album so the guys took that home but all they had was a 45 player so they heard it on four times the speed it was supposed to be played! Then they broke out their banjo and started making HAYSEED DIXIE remissions of the AC/DC music so it’s definitely an interesting twist!

They have cds out as well do they?

Yeah they do, go check it out!

So the whole hillbilly thing…..I mean you see it from 50’s films over here but we never get chance to check these places out but is the banjo ripping stuff kicking off ?

Definitely! That’s something that’s in the mountains and blue grass is definitely affected a lot of mainstream music.

Is it still alive and kicking!

Oh definitely

Do you go to live shows and stuff when you are out there?

No not too much.

You don’t like going to a bar listening to a banjo playing getting fucked up?

Oh, there’s not too much of that in California! There’s more of that up in the mountains from the rolling hills in South Carolina near the river which goes to Georgia even that type of music there is a little bit risky I think. Not too many people there are in to the blue grass music.

A lot of bands come from California. Do you ever think of just jumping in a wagon and going to check something out?

I’m usually too busy to running around or too tired in the evening from skating so I don’t know. I’m not much into lurking in a bar or something and if I do it is usually a dive bar and go and have some whisky and a beer!

So what else do you do outside of skateboarding you like playing pool?

I play pool a little bit. I’m a carpenter by trade so I like making things. I just made a set of cabinets for my neighbour out of birch. In the backyard I have a trailer full of woodworking tools and I just try to get my mind off everything else and make something it makes me feel good to put my energy into a stack of wood and create something. So a part of me is still standing in someone else’s house! (laughs) All I did was recycled some off of a fence that I tore down and rebuilt. I made the trim for it asked the guy to just pay for the materials and do some work on my motorcycle for me and get it running.

Wicked so there’s some bartering going on!

Yeah a little bit, a little less money changing hands.

Keeps the world going around?

Yeah!

So what’s coming up next, what happens when Benji Galloway leaves Europe and goes home?

I will properly rest for a little bit and then there’s the Gravity Games contest that’s going to be in Philadelphia and park under the bridge called FDR. That’s going to be in 2 weeks, I’m gonna go home and rest up, go skate a little bit get ready to go to the first Gravity Games event that I’ve been invited to. So that and I have demos to do with my shoe company and more Soul Bowl contests and it’s just a whole summer, winter fall and it starts all over again. It’s like the last 3 years have been a constant skateboard travel….

Which is cool though because there’s a bit of cash to be won and you can just keep going.

Yeah!

What about injuries? I noticed in Marseille that you’re the kind of skater that just wants to skate and you’re out there at 2 in the morning annihilating the vert bowl whilst everybody’s watching going off. You injured yourself pretty bad out there but you were in the finals the next day, so how do you contemplate going out there and not annihilating yourself till you cannot skate?!

Err..Just try to keep your head on and keep your radar going but you know there’s the injury thing is usually kind of a taboo conversation but its like you know something that comes with it and I mean you gotta deal with things as they come basically.

Do you prepare yourself for there sort of slams as in do you take vitamins and look after yourself with good food and stuff?

Yeah definitely. I have to eat good food if I don’t I’ll get cranky (laughs) and get grumpy so we don’t need to much of that. Yeah, I definitely take vitamins and take glucosamine pills to help with the joints and re-grow the tendons and what-not but yeah try to look after myself as much as possible.

What so you’re telling me that if I get some of these glucosamine sulphate is gonna help me roll better joints (laughs)

Yeah something like that! (laughs!)

Do you watch many skate videos?

No not too many.

Is there a particular favourite from the old days or new?

The new Blind video has a Jake Brown part in it that’s absolutely amazing! That’s one of the most recent ones I’ve seen. I have a couple of old Blockhead videos and the Shredding for Heddings event in Washington Street in San Diego so we watched those there’s were pretty interesting. I just kind of do my own thing go along at my own pace and don’t really chase the whole industry or the magazine scene. Just kind of look at it cool alright look what that guy’s doing and then go about my merry way.

Is there any particular trick that you are working on at the moment or is there just a trick that you find particularly difficult and haven’t quite yet mastered?

Backside smith grinds (laughs) they’re my nemesis!

So you just can’t put them down?

I don’t know. Whenever I try the backside smith grind I end up on my ass all the time! Maybe I need to hang out with Mattias Nylen and get him to show me how to
do them right.

Definitely, he has got them down, he stands up for those!

Oh yeah all those English boys got the best backside smith grind going on!

Is there a particular trick that you love, what’s your favourite trick?

I like backside tail slides and as of late I’ve been enjoying putting those in where ever I can.

Do you like reverting them?

I’ve never reverted backside tail slides. The last time I tried that I was in a vert demo and I knocked my self out! I got caught on the coping and woke up seeing stars so I don’t know maybe I just kind of hold off that one for a little bit (laughs) and go in forwards, but yeah, I do a lot of skating, skate park skating. The last year and a half I’ve been travelling around all over California and then making the first editions of a magazine called, the Skate Park Guide and we made a California edition that was published by our first publisher and for some reason they felt that they saw no future in the magazine and decided to drop it after we went from California to Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona!

We went and skated all the parks that were worth going to and found some that weren’t, found some that we didn’t know and compiled them showing places to skate and having a map in it so you can throw it in your backpack and now we have a second one called Best of the West Edition. It’s produced by Concrete Wave and its basically a magazine you can throw in your backpack and have directions and look and see where you want to go, plan road trips. It’s definitely something to check out you can get those from www.tailtap.com and definitely see the fruits of my labour and what I have been doing travelling, skating and trying to make a magazine versus going to the same skate park everyday and training on the same tricks. I’ve been trying to work and document and make something out of it yeah make a good product out of someone’s idea that doesn’t
have the exact follow through.

Would you always say that people if they are haven’t travelled yet and they are thinking about it a getting old enough to let loose. That they should get the fuck out there?

Oh yeah. Just pick up the skate park guide and sit at home and leave it on your coffee table and the more you open it up and look at it the more you are going to be itching to go and take your trip over to the States and ride some concrete skate parks!

What’s the gnarliest thing that happened on that trip?

Err don’t let your dog get skunked! (laughs) Check this…I had four people in my pathfinder with a weeks worth of stuff and my dog. I have a 130lb rottweiler that’s been travelling with me for 7 years and we get out of the skate park in Oregon and skate. Right before we go to leave he decides to chase some vermin into a bush right beside the car! The little vermin ended up being a skunk and sprayed it’s face! We had to give him a bath with tomato sauce (laughs) and he smelt like rotten, dead, burnt tires! (laughs) It was just absolutely ridiculous! Then we had to throw him in the car and deal with that smell for the next 5 days we were on the road. It was pretty intense! (laughs)

That’s a funny story!

I mean you always have people’s feelings getting hurt and being too close to somebody for too long on the road, rubbing elbows too much your gonna have some vibrations like that. But I think the funny things are better!

Superb! So who are you riding for at the moment?

I skate for a shoe company called Nice Skate Shoes and they provide my travel budget. I skate for Random’s hardware and Rockets bearings they have ceramics sets for like $35 so that’s pretty cheap pretty inexpensive for a really good product. They a lot of Motto grip tape and they do stencils with skulls and flowers and chains (sigh) You can go to www.emotto.com and pretty much design your own griptape. They make stencils to. I have a wheel coming out on Cowboy Punk Wheels. It will be a 54mm wheel, like a skate park formula style wheel with a hard core. We are gonna have a special edition Tracker truck made cut here shortly to so I will pretty much have a new board offered.

Cool. You got some hook ups then?

Yeah, so just doing that and I also skate for an energy drink company called Kronik Energy and has nothing to do with the skunk! (laughs) Yeah it’s pretty good stuff. They make energy drinks that taste of grapefruit soda instead of medicine!

Do you want to say thanks to anyone?

Yeah definitely thanks to Mike Genero from Nice skate shoes, Matt Moffett from Random’s, and Rod Rauly from Motto and everyone who’s put efforts into give me travel. It keeps things under my feet it’s pretty good. Bodie from Tracker trucks and I definitely want to thank my girlfriend Caylin because without her I would have been puking on the floor still and I wouldn’t have made my flight to the UK!

For some reason we decided it was a good idea to go to Tijuana the night before we left and I didn’t have anything packed and woke up an hour late feeling sick! Maybe it was the food, maybe it was the booze I don’t know maybe it was both! I don’t know but I was in the hurt locker literally throwing in the cars still puking being driven to the airport. I had no idea what I was bringing, no idea what was packed the only thing that I accomplished that day was to lay on the floor and take my board apart! (laughs) Other than that, thanks to you Zac and your hospitality and hook ups with Crossfire. Caught in the Crossfire! (Woo Hoo!)