Interview by Craig Questions
Portrait by Richard West
There are so many things I could write about Jake Snelling. I’ve known him for a while now and I’ve experienced pure energy and also the madness that is Jake. I remember first meeting him at Stockwell but I never really thought anything of him, he was just some kid with a shaved head and pulled-up socks. When I got to know Jake I realised how real he is and how determined he is with everything he does. You can’t ask for a better friend, always giving you half or everything he has and always down for anything, and I mean anything. Whether it be climbing into the sewers of Paris, going on skate missions with no sense of direction at all, or just plain mayhem in any form of the word.
I feel Jake and I get along so well because we are both passionately obsessed with 80’s skateboarding, collecting old memorabilia, fictional characters, and we also have a rare sense of humour. Most days Jake will call me up and will spend hours talking about skateboarding, old films, and situations that will never happen making him one of the funniest people I know.
I’ve seen him do a lot of crazy things, Every story you will hear is true which just adds to his legacy. I know that he does not give a fuck about what any of you think and he will always stay so true to what he thinks is real. I envy his ability to learn tricks at the click of a finger, he’s modest, he has the biggest film collection I have ever seen, he’s a live wire and he’s one of the best skateboarders ever.
Every interview starts with the usual who are you. we know all that and we know you’re from Worthing so let’s ask what’s the skate history of Worthing and why did you start skateboarding?
When I was fourteen I used to be a little shit hanging round the skatepark doing nothing. I could already skate along on my Dad’s old beaten Santa Cruz board, and two Brothers who are skateboarders called Jack and Harry moved around the corner from me. They said I should just start properly, so I have been skating since then.
I think Worthing’s always had a good skate scene. I don’t know too much about its history of skateboarding, but what I have been told by Bram Weeks and Alan Glass is that it used to have a really strong street skateboarding scene. Bram has showed me a couple of issues of RAD magazine with Worthing in it, one has a sick photo of Colin Pope boardsliding the Guildbourne rail which is really fuckin’ gnarly.
When I first met you I would of never thought of you as being such a skate nerd. Why 80’s skateboarding? What’s so influential about that era of time?
Everything man. It’s the best time. The boards, the tricks, the skateboarders. Everything seems so much better back then. Maybe it wasn’t. I don’t know because I was not around, but just stuff like old street comps were amazing. They were so sick that everyone would just invent tricks, do streetplants and fuck about. People like Neil Blender, who looked like he never took it seriously, would just fuck about and have fun. Then you have Jesse Martinez, who would fuckin’ attack shit, like frontside wall-walks whilst smashin’ through the wall! Phat methods off jump-ramps! It’s just dope. That’s what I mean about those times, there were so many rad characters in skateboarding, most of them for me were at their peak in the 80’s.
There didn’t seem to be any downers during the 80’s skateboard scene. The 90’s vert scene died and street was in, whereas in the 80’s, vert was booming, people were ripping pools, street skateboarding was happening but hadn’t yet been labeled. I also think the best graphics came from that era too. People are still stoked on the Screaming Hand, Roskopp graphics and all that shit.
What do you think about skateboarding now and who gets you stoked to skate?
I like skateboarding now. I think you and I are in our own little world so it’s good. I just watch all the old Santa Cruz videos like ‘Reason for Living’ and ‘Risk It’ to get stoked. The old Consolidated videos are rad too. Any Andy Roy footage gets me hyped. He screams really loud and has a sick energy about him. I love his aggressive style as well, that’s how I ‘try’ to skate.
I always rate a skateboarder on how many tricks they can do that I’ve never seen before. So what is the most unseen trick of today? Like for an example ‘Frankie Goes Fakie’, invented by Lester Kasai in the early 80’s (a tweaked backside air-to-fakie like a method) – who have you seen do them?
‘Wallwalks’, like ‘Hella Spins and shit. Jess the Mess is the man at them. ‘Woolly Mammoth’s’ which Todd Swank and Neil Blender had down – nobody really does them today. I want to learn a ‘Poliki’. It’s a layback air, but you grab it on the outside rail. Lester Kasai invented that one too, I think. It would be good if more vert skaters did HO HO plants.
I’ve seen you do a lot of stupid stuff like when you got arrested in Paris. What’s the story with the girl at the Hastings Jam?
I’ll keep it short. We were at the Hastings Jam after-party at the Source. I got really drunk and couldn’t really skate so we were fuckin’ with people. It was full of faggots anyway and you got annoyed at some dickhead punk girl because she was talking about sucking boys off to try and be cool. You told me to get the knife from the hog roast and scare her, so I got it and screamed at her whilst holding the knife and she thought she was the shit and grabbed the knife and it cut all her hand. Her mate said she was gonna punch me and shit. She didn’t in the end because I kicked all the shit off the table and made a mess. It was good tho! We did have a right laugh. I always get in to trouble because you tell me to do things.
I know your dad skated in the late 70s what’s the deal with that bank in Brighton?
There’s some bank behind Churchill Square in Brighton. My Dad and his friends used to hit it up from the top and carve down. When they hit the curb they’d try and carve back up. It’s really gnarly.
Top 5 skateboarders of all time and why?
I can’t choose, I have too many…for sure Andy Roy because he’s gnarly as fuck! Jesse Martinez, Rob Mertz, Craig Johnson, Neil Blender, Tim Jackson
What’s the biggest influence in your life?
Skateboarding as a whole, and my Dad is a big influence.
In the future what do you want to do in terms of life do you still want to be part of the British skateboard scene?
Yeah that would be rad. I don’t know how my knees will hold up as they’re pretty fucked. I would love to get a job in the skateboard industry when I’m older, or me and you are gonna make the best British skateboard company ever.
Top 5 people to skate with?
Craig Scott, Joe Howard, Cates, Stevie Thompson, Dan Singer
Why are you so good on a skateboard?
I’m not, I’m shit.
Any last comments?
Thanks to Gee at Rollaway skate shop for sorting me out, Jonathan Hay who does HOAX, well stoked, Joe Howard, Dan Cates and Craig Scott.
Thanks to Craig Questions, Matthew Bromley, Jerome Loughran and Richard West.