Sam Bruce, one of those names you’ve probably heard knocking around the block for many a year now.
Sam shot to screen fame a few years back on the Vans Groms Tour but many of the London locals will simply know her as that Meanwhile local ripper, the girl who by her own admission would spend many an hour, day, week at the outdoor bowls just honing her skating. She placed 1st in the under 18’s comp at the Meanwhile Jam a few years back beating off stiff competition from the guys.
Never one to shirk the party scene, you are always sure to find her at all of the skate premiers and the most exclusive parties – you could almost liken her to an IT girl of skateboarding, however she has the added bonus of having real talent. Jenna Selby recently grabbed some time with her to find out how she’s been keeping.
Easy Sam, I would say let’s start by you introducing yourself but I think if people don’t know you by now they should be struck on the head by a rubber mallet! Well, ok, better do it anyway: Full name, Hamster’s name etc etc:
Tee hee… ok. My name is Samantha Bruce aka Trouble.
Actually I reckon your opening line should be: ‘Hi. I’m Sam Bruce. You may remember me from such skate programmes as ‘The Vans Groms Tour’ and RAD, Stupid!‘
Ha ha… nah, I wouldn’t want to come across as a dick, it would just be, hi, I’m Sam, I’ve lost my mojo, can you help me find it?!
Did the fame from your on screen appearances go to your head and you began to demand your own separate dressing room, little sandwiches with the crust cut off , amps that went up to number 11 and skate parks only to be used by yourself?
Ha, jeez no. I mean on tour I got my own room and tent, but that’s only because I was the only girl on tour, and a girl needs her space. To be honest I was quiet thankful to be elected to go on tour. There are a lot of better skaters out there, so I guess I was the fortunate one.
Which countries did you visit with the Groms again?
Well the first one was to America, where we toured 4 states, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Oregon. Then the second trip was to Australia, we went to Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Queensland.
You must have seen some pretty amazing places along the way though, can you share your most memorable and tell us why?
Well all of it was pretty amazing, but I have a memory like a fish, so I’ve probably forgotten a lot of things. With both countries, just driving through uninhibited land was quiet cool, just seeing everything in its natural state. Scuba diving in Oz was amazing, getting to see all the fish and coral and seeing a massive turtle just chilling on the sea bed.
What was it like to experience something like the tours you went on with Christian and the others on the team?
It’s a once in a life experience to have done what I did at such a young age. I’ll be traveling again in the future, but to do what we did was immense. I liked everyone on tour including the media crew and it was a lot of fun to skate and to watch others skate. It was like a fun packed adventure week, all this adventure was crammed in to such a short amount of time, and to venture away from skating and trying other things like surfing and snowboarding was amazing! Bad thing about it though was that we’d always have a schedule of waking up super early and going to bed late and of course there were always little disagreements on both tours amongst people as would happen on any other trip.
What’s the funniest thing that happened?
Having Ben Raemers on tour was always a laugh; he’d be the comedian on tour. In Oz when we went whale watching, I was the first to feel ill so I went out to put my head down for a bit, woke up and everyone else was feeling a bit ill too. Christian was the first to be sick and the smell from that was the catalyst for everyone else. It was like a comedy sketch.
Everyone was running over to the same side of the boat to be sick and when they thought they had chucked it all up, someone would be sick and set the next person off besides them. I even remember hearing someone say ‘urgh, you’re being sick in my face!’ then seeing Ben try to take of his jumper, fall over and be sick again. It cracked me up, especially when Wayne was the only one filming and was trying to catch everyone being sick, and there’s me and Kingy, our photographer, buckling with laughter watching it all.
Do you have the yearning to go on one again?
The next tour after that was the Baltics tour, and I decided to sit that one out. I had my studies to focus on and also I thought I’d give up that place for someone that was a better skater and deserved it. The tours were amazing and I love to travel again, but I’m a lazy bum when it comes to skating, and its time to make way for those who are really passionate about it.
After the honeymoon was over did it become a bit difficult to go to skate parks for a chilled session when people were always expecting you to perform like they had seen on TV?
Well, people had seen what I could do on TV, the expectations came more from knowing that I’m sponsored and seeing me on TV. People expect you to be able to do all the same tricks as everyone else. Kickflip, Tre flip… that kinda thing, which I have to admit street is not my forte, but I’m working on it. All I ever like to do is chill and have fun on my board, so what other people think doesn’t matter. I mean it’s cool, when I get props from people; I appreciate it a lot, so if I’ve made them happy, I’m happy.
How many times did you get asked ‘Can you kickflip?’
Loads of times. Not just from kids who have seen me off TV. I get it from all the chavvy kids and the rude boys who play Tony Hawk.
Grrr…why do people always ask that, or did you get ‘How good are you?’ like there’s some special spectrometer to assess your ability!
Ha yeah. Do people expect me to say I’m really amazing, watch me do a back flip! I suppose its people making conversation or people who are interested but don’t have a clue. When I see they’re really interested then I have time for them, if not and they’re being arses… I run.
Ha ha anyway enough of the teenage angst, how did you get hooked up with Vans in the first place?
I used to skate with a bunch of girls and one of them got hired by Vans to become a scout and start up a girls team for vans UK, she’d seen me skate at comps and place in the top 3 so she thought I was worth putting on flow. A year later I got a call from her and was told I was on the official team. I was so stoked! Thanks Emma.
There’s a pretty strong Vans girl’s team growing in the UK now – do you ever get a chance to skate with the others?
I suppose there is. It’s taken a long time too. Personally I’ve seen so many girls get in to skating then drop out just as they’re starting to get really good, which is annoying, but that’s life. I don’t really get to skate with the other girls seeing as I’m a student now, I’m broke and don’t drive yet. I think that when I lived in London it was a lot easier for me to skate with the others because London was the central meeting place and has quiet a few spots. Now I’m down south, there’s nowt. I haven’t even seen a girl skater down this way.
I hear Powley’s running the show now?
Yeah. I think that’s pretty cool. I know he’s done a lot for skateboarding, organising comps, that kind of thing. He’s been moving all around the country too, so I think that’s why I kinda lost contact with him for a while. We used to get on really well, he used to drive me to comps and events, it was amazing. Vans is going to be a lot different now that Christian’s not running the show, but people have different methods and tactics and I can only hope that it goes well for Powley.
I’ve been looking up some of your old interviews on the web. Girls skate interviews done by non skate companies always come across slightly daft when you see them asking questions like:
“Would you only go out with someone into skateboarding?”
What has this to do with skateboarding? What do you think when you are required to answer this sort of question for promotion sake?
Shall I tell you what… I don’t know… it was pretty random. I just remembered her calling me and interviewing me over the phone. I wasn’t thinking about it too much because I was at the pizza place ordering a pizza and trying to walk down the street with a phone in one hand and try to munch on the pizza with the other. Food comes first! When I looked at the interview afterward she had changed some of my words a bit and made me sound like a mong! I suppose she only asked that question because she had the stereotypical view of those girls who hang around skateparks to flirt with boys and don’t skate. Unlike me, who can manage to do both at the same time. It’s a gift.
I think the best one is though: “Do you think there’s anything wrong with grown men still riding around on skateboards?” Surely they should have asked you: “Do you think there’s anything wrong with grown women still riding around on skateboards?” – I guess there is going to be a generation coming through now of the older lady, it’s going to be interesting what do you reckon?
Yeah it’s funny that people still think that skateboarding’s just a fun activity. They don’t even stop to think that people actually make a living out of it. I just read my answer. She so wasn’t listening to a word I was saying! But to be honest I don’t think the generation of old women are going to last too long. You know gravity takes its toll on people and for some reason old people don’t wear bra’s. So I could see a lot of injuries and broken backs from ‘things’ getting snagged in the wheels.
Surely the likes of Sue Hazel have already paved the way?
Well yeah, I remember seeing her at one of the annual St. Albans jams. It was pretty sick. She’s one of the few remaining old school skaters around, and it’s a lot tougher for girls to stick at it then guys. So I give her props.
Now you’re the slightly older lady at university, what’s your favourite daytime TV? Diagnosis Murder should surely be up there.
Of course. I was in to that before Uni! But the funny thing is. I’ve found is that my DVD collection has grown. It was all skate DVD’s and now I find I’ve got about 20 films and series. But TV reception sucks where I live, too many hills!
How’s Winchester bearing up skating, partying wise – what do you study?
I study Psychology and Theology & Religious studies. The skate park here sucks because the council use all their money to hide all the hobo’s away during the day. Winchester is a proper posh place, full of grannies! Partying wise, it’s a bit boring, there’s like 3 places to go out in and it’s the same stuff. I basically live in Southampton, its not too far, I work there, I party there and I skate there. It reminds me of London.
What else are you up to these days?
I’m on the Women’s Basketball team at Uni and we came back from a tournament in Spain not so long ago, we came 3rd! I work in Route One in Southampton to earn money to eat rabbit food. I’m recovering from 2 sprained ankles too, but slowly skating again. Depending on how hard my 2nd year is at Uni, I’m also considering taking up a sign language course to be an interpreter, I’m already pretty good at it, so I should be able to skip the basics.
For many years you were bit of a Meanwhile local it must be quite strange not to be a yokel ‘it’s my park, sod off you strangers” anymore?
I was a Meanwhile local, my mum lives literally round the corner. I remember skating from 10am-10pm without eating on some days, I was that besotted by skating and learning, especially having a mate to skate with too. But I was never territorial about the park whatsoever. In fact I hope I more was inviting about it. I didn’t mind BMXers or inliners as long as they were nice and didn’t snake people and it was always nice to meet new people. I’m a very social person.
Do you miss it?
To be honest, I don’t. It was a lot of fun, but then I grew up and noticed that it was a lot about people’s ego that went down there. The atmosphere changed, and there were a lot of false people, then you’ve got the problem with the bullying and the muggings that happened down there. I still go there occasionally with friends but now there are new parks being built and I look forward to skating them more often.
Yep I did catch up with you at the Cantelowes opening the other day, that park wouldn’t you say has to be the best in London at the moment?
Yeah it was nice to see you briefly. Cantelowes is definitely going to be the hot spot for lots of comps. So far it’s been one of the few good parks built in years, but hot on its tail is a park being built in Saffron Walden which is being built by dreamland which is going to be off the hook!
Ok let’s wrap it up there…any last words for the kids?
Um, let’s see. Don’t smoke. Further you’re education because it will help in the long run, honestly! Skate for fun and not to impress. You can impress as long as you’re having fun and doing it for yourself and not for the wrong reasons.
Ta’s /shout outs to:
My best friends Glenn, Alasdair and John who have helped me a lot in life. Vans and Ortega Skateboards. My mum feeding me and to the people who care about me. Oh and Jenna for this interview!