Ben Raemers interview

ben_raemers_skateThere was never any question that Ben Raemers would not go on to travel the world on a deck following the day he turned up aged 15 at one of our jams. He has repped every event, always left with dough, and also left most people’s jaws on the floor with his amazing skateboarding and his ability to see things differently to others.

Thrown in the back of the van and taught the hard way by his Essex buddies Mark Munson and Carl Wilson, the then miniature Raemers was taken to every jam, comp, bowl, vert ramp, bank, curb and pool that the trio could find – and flourished fast. Backed by the grit and determination of Munson’s take-no-prisoner’s personality, Ben grew into one of the finest skateboarders in the UK and graced the front cover of Thrasher in March 2011 (the first of his generation from the UK to do so), but his stupendous bag of tricks on all terrain has also been featured in many others, including that incredible Kingpin cover from Victoria Park. (Footage at the end of this)

Aside from his ability to skate everything like a fucking champ, his character is one of a kind. Kind being the operative word here too, as he is certainly one of the most caring, thoughtful and intrigueing skateboarders you are ever likely to meet – one who lives somewhat in his own world. This unique approach to life has made his whizzplanking skills something of a luxury to watch, and has gained him friends worldwide, so we are proud after all of these years, to finally catch up with him to chat about his life in what could possibly be his most memorable skateboarding year yet. – Zac

You living back in the UK now?

I’m not living anywhere really. I have just been injured so I was chilling in the UK whilst I healed up and now i’m back in the USA!

I guess it can be tempting to party when you have downtime right?

I stopped myself from partying a lot. If you drink on an injury it doesn’t heal good. I was taking it easy just hanging with my Mum and family. Getting surgery back then was so scary!

Did you see much of Mark Munson back in Essex?

Not as much as I would like to as he is very busy at the moment! I see home every now and then so it’s all good!

What was the most valuable piece of advice he gave you?

Have a good time and travel as much as possible!

Before we go any further, is there a particular song that defines the moment for you right now?

Probably ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet. Classic stuff right there!

Ha! Good choice mate. Hold on, let’s ask the viewers to listen to that song whilst they read the rest of this.

What countries did you see last year on the road then?

I visited America, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Paris, Poland, Spain and Germany! Good times!!

Does your Mum get postcards or emails?

I try to send postcards, she doesn’t have the internet so I just email my sister and she shows my Mum!

Any particular country that inspires you the most?

China is my favourite place! Just has the best time there and I can’t wait to go back! I went on a trip to Taiwan at the beginning of the year with enjoi which was the best trip of last year. Was amazing. Taiwan is just such a crazy place was such a great experience! And every trip with the enjoi geezers is a laugh!

Which country (outside the UK) has the tightest scene from your experiences so far?

Got to say America. San Jose is a really fun city. I’m happy I have a lot of friends there so I spend a lot of time there!

With so much traveling going on, you must get tired and confused. Tell us about the shark you saw from the plane on the way to Marseille?!

I was looking out of the plane window and the reflection literally looked like a shark! When I found out it was the shadow of the plane I felt like a right fool!! Hahahah!

That’s next levs Ben. What about skate flicks, do you watch much skating? Any that stood out for you recently?

I really liked the emerica ‘Made’ video! Brandon Westgate is beast! He is literally the definition of next level!!! I’m a massive fan!

Photo: Backside wallride anytime, shot by Dave Chami.

Any particular trick or a line that you saw that blew you away the most last year?

Cairo Foster did a trick in Taiwan that was insane, but you’ll have to wait for the enjoi video to see it!

What was the most satisfying battle you personally won lately?

It was in Taiwan again. It took ages and I broke my board! Then me and filmer and photographer went back there at 6am a few days later and it worked out!

Is there a trick that got away?

A lipslide down this rail! I slammed like a sack of potatoes on the ground that ended up wrecking my ankle for ages!! That was the worst slam from last year.

What was the best time hanging with Barney Page of late?

Probably the time we both got drunk and then got tattoos in San Jose! Was a funny time.

Photo: Stylin’ a sweet sugarcane shot by Seu Trinh.

ben_raemersSugarcane_photo_Seu_Trinh

And the best part of being on enjoi?

The team are literally like my family!

Are you living with Jerry again now you are back in the US?

I am staying at Jerry’s apartment, but he lives in LA now. Me and my mate Carson rented his room.

Now Jerry has left enjoi, does this mean the brand will go through big changes?

I’m not too sure, we will have to wait and see! I’m gutted that Jerry left as he’s one of the funniest people in the world and one of the world’s most talented skateboarders, but I’m super excited to see his new footage as he is the best!

Is there a new enjoi video in the works to follow ‘Tweak The Beef’?

We are working on a full length video now! I’m super-stoked as it’s my first major project I have been involved in! The deadline is late August so until then I am just going to be traveling around and skating every day! I am super motivated and want to make it as good as I can. I feel so privileged to be in the same video as my favourite skaters!!

How is your part looking so far?

I am quite happy with how it’s looking but it still needs a lot of work!

Have you seen footage of other team riders for this so far?

I know a lot of the guys have some mind blowing footage!

Who do you think will blow everyone away?

Zack Wallin!

Who do you think should have the last part?

Hard to say, but I know Wieger has some ridiculous footage, so probably him!!

When is it likely to drop?

Not 100% sure, but at the earliest it will be at the end of this year.

If you had to pick one person, who would be your MVP of last year?

Caswell Berry should get it every year! He’s the best!

Did you conquer any new tricks for the bag lately?

Back in December I finally figured out the technique for straight no-complys on flat! They are so hard! After watching Pontus Alv skate it inspired me to learn them!

Photo: Louie Barletta & Ben Raemers ­Doubles (Backside Crailslide & Frontside Melongrab) by Dave Chami.

What skaters should we look out for, any upcomers on your radar?

Blue Turner is a beast! He’s been rolling with the enjoi crew recently! And in the England I’m going to have to say Tom Tanner from Liverpool and Sam heelflip from Mile End.

Are you looking forward to having a pro deck in the future?

That would be crazy!! I haven’t really thought about that to be honest as it doesn’t seem real! If that happened I would be the happiest geezer in the world!!!

Any ideas on what you would choose for your ideal first graphic if it happened?

Not really! I would love to have a bird of some sort! A penguin perhaps?!

Lastly, we hear you have a new video part filmed in the UK coming out soon, spill the beans.

Yeah, I have a shared part with Horsey that is going to be in a new video made by Ryan Gray and Kevin Parrott! Stoked! Always fun skating with Horsey. It will be out soon!

Thanks Ben, enjoi life geezer.

Ben rides for Indy, Ricta, Enjoi, Converse, Volcom and Lost Art skate shop.

Photo: Boneless of death! Shot by Dave Chami.

Watch Malmo get Conversed with Grund, Taveira and more

The Converse team hit up in Malmö in Sweden and came back with some great footy. Watch this edit featuring Paul Grund, Remy Taveira, Kevin Rrodrigues and Michel Mahringer by Ludovic Azemar.

TOUR CONVERSE MALMO from Ludovic Azemar on Vimeo.

Patrik Wallner’s ‘Far East, Up North’ Russian edit

Patrik Wallner is back with a brand new travel documentary to add to his Visual Travelling experiences, this time with the Chinese Converse team visiting the freezing cold winds of Russia. Watch this 9 minute ‘Far East, Up North’ edit and open your eyes to more cultural creativity that is going on out there.

Converse China – ‘Far East, Up North’ from Patrik Wallner on Vimeo.

Overkill live at 100 Club, London

Overkill
100 Club, London

9th August 2012

Tonight’s odd ‘metal’ bill is part of Converse’s ‘Represent’ series of gigs at the legendary birthplace of punk, the 100 Club which it saved from closure last year. The venue is hotter than Satan’s armpit and a misty haze of perspiration hangs in the air as the Skill Wizzard DJ’s drop some of the finest metallic tuneage to wash away the sour taste of the indie rock bands that have preceded them. The throng gathers around the elongated 100 Club in anticipation of the headlining appearance of veteran power thrashers Overkill. When they take to the stage the volume is so earth shatteringly loud it could dislodge fillings and is riddled with painful distortion.

It takes a couple of songs for the quintet to hit their stride and for the sound to level out but by the time ‘Wrecking Crew’ tears past they are an unstoppable powerhouse.

Playing in the confines of a sixty minute slot tonight they crank through a greatest hits set from the rousing sing-a-long of ‘Hello From The Gutter’ to the anthemic stomp of ‘In Union We Stand’ and ‘Elimination’. Vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s sinewy frame contorts like a sort of metal Iggy Pop as he bellows forth his trademark baritone howl then darts stage right during instrumental breaks and gasps on oxygen in the oppressive humidity.

Overkill climax with their cover of Subhumans ‘Fuck You!’ as the crowd’s last drop of energy is rinsed from them, shouting profanity with their middle fingers held aloft. As they rumble to a close Ellsworth has a shit eating grin and is drenched in sweat. Despite Overkill being over thirty years old they ably prove they can still hammer it hard and it’s a testament to their longevity that a venue as small as this simply cannot contain them, awesome.

Words: Miles Hackett

UK Subs Live at 100 Club, London

UK Subs/Anti-Nowhere League/Discharge
100 Club, London
31st July

Part of a series of gigs that Converse are promoting at the 100 Club (the tickets are free to those who could grab them first online), tonight was the brand’s homage to all things spiky and snotty, bringing together three UK punk legends under one roof. And not just any roof at that – seen by many as the birthplace of UK punk (the 100 Club hosted the first punk festival in 1976) this is, as Captain Sensible put it whilst having a beer outside – ‘the scene of the crime, this is where it all began.’ He explains as the doorman tries to move him away from the entrance with a shove. “Can’t believe I’m still getting into trouble here all these years on,” laughs Captain.

Inside the venue is a funny old mix of gnarled old punks mixed with guests and staff of Converse, but there’s a great atmosphere and energy in the room at odds with what some more cynical types may refer to as ‘penshioner punk’. But as Charlie Harper once said, ‘born a rocker die a rocker’ and nothing is going to stop these old punk bands from continuing to play, not even nuclear war – something that Discharge have been shouting about since the early eighties when everyone thought the bomb was about to drop at any second. Discharge’s paranoid anthems of war, death and destruction inspired a whole new generation of punks (as well as many metal heads too, their then ultra-raw and fast punk was a big influence on the likes of Metallica, Anthrax etc). These days, Discharge are fronted by The Varukers frontman Rat, original singer Cal having parted with the band long ago. And considering the dodgy metal direction Cal took the band in before, this is probably no bad thing. Discharge are a harsh, bellowing, distorted mess of noise. Bones’ guitar tone makes your teeth rattle and all in all, they make a horrendous noise, that somewhere underneath lurks classic punk anthems like ‘Protest And Survive,’ ‘Fight Back’ and ‘Never Again.’ All good fun!

Next up, Anti-Nowhere League (made most famous for Metallica’s cover of their filthy-anthem ‘So What’), take the stage, fronted by the snarling, towering biker-punk monster that is Animal, an apt nickname if ever there was one! He stalks and prowls that stage like a caged lion (he has quite a mane of hair to boot!), spewing obscenities out of his mouth to songs, mainly drawn from their early eighties debut album ‘We Are The League’. Tracks like ‘Streets Of London’, ‘Woman’, and of course, the revolting ‘So What’ all provide dumb, drunk, moronic punk fun that’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.

Tonight the UK Subs are a revelation. So many musicians, both good and bad, have passed through the bands ranks over the years that their live shows can sometimes be a hit and miss affair, depending on who is in the band at the time. The band that frontman Charlie Harper can proudly call UK Subs in 2012 is shit hot. With original member Alvin Gibbs on bass, Charlie is joined by drummer Jamie Oliver and guitarist Jet who both inject a massive dose of energy into the barrage of classics that pile from the stage.

It’s a complete mystery how Charlie, now well into his sixties, keeps going with such rampant energy and enthusiasm. The man is an absolute inspiration for those that never want to give up, and just keep on going. And it tonight’s gig is anything to go by, let’s hope there’s many more years left in the UK Subs yet. The set is back to back absolute classics – ‘Warhead,’ ‘C.I.D.’ ‘I Live In A Car,’ and many more are all played with total conviction and passion from a band who deserve far more respect than they get. The UK Subs are the kings of UK punk and long may they reign over us!

WORDS: James Sherry

Kennington Skatepark refurbishment first photo

The work to bring Kennington Skatepark to life has started. Converse just tweeted this image from the site. Get hyped on the developments as they are leaked. More info about what is proposed for this legendary park from their Fix To Ride program can be found here but the opening date is Saturday 26th May. There will be a jam, put it in your dairy.

Leave your feedback in the comments below.

kenningtonskatepark

Proposed Kennington Skatepark refurbishment info

Information regarding redevelopment taking place at Kennington Skatepark in Lambeth this month has come to light this morning. This legendary London spot built back in 1978 is part of London’s prestigious skateboard history. It has seen sessions throughout the 80’s, 90’s and noughties that will never be forgotten. In fact if I think of Stockwell from the very first times I skated here, the likes of American Steve Wiltshire, Ged Wells, Ricky, Crispin, Aaron Bleasdale, Reuben Goodyear, Wurzel and many other names spring to mind as people who ripped this place apart and used every line in there. It also had a terrible reputation in the late 80s for skaters getting their teeth smashed out with baseball bats. We still went there every weekend though before skating up to Stockwell, undeterred.

Before you jump the gun and think that the park is being knocked down and rebuilt though, it doesn’t seem to be the case. A shoe brand looks to be behind fixing the cracks and adding some welcome features this summer, so watch this space to see if and when this gets done. This image below says it will re-open in May but the weather over the last few weeks may be stopping the work. Who knows. This post has been written solely on the basis of viewing this image, so we do not know for sure if this has even come to fruition or how much work will go into it. Time will tell though but if this is happening, well done to all involved.

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments below and if you have stories of skating this park over the years, share them with us and send them in.

kennington_skatepark_refurbishment

Also, take in this hand drawn Smell of Death flyer (found on MAS) that was made for a jam at Kennington’s banks. These events were arranged by the pipe-smoking US punk, Steve Wilshire back in the 80’s when skateboarding was owned by skateboarders. These events single-handedly inspired Crossfire to launch and roll out events for the London skate scene. Take in the DIY aspect and weep.

smellofdeath_kennington_park_skateboarding

Pontus Alv speaks on Converse and Polar plans

Pontus Alv is officially welcomed to the Converse team today and has been interviewed in his press release that just reached our mailbox:

pontus_alvSo, why Converse?

Converse is a classic brand with a rich history and background. I have always been a fan of classic, timeless stuff that never grows old or out of fashion. I recently ended my relationship with my former shoe sponsor and I started to look around.

I only ride and represent companies that I personally like and believe in, so the list was really short. I chose Converse because they share a lot of the same ideas and visions that I have. A sponsorship is about building a good relationship and platform together where ideas and creativity can become a reality.

Over the last ten years I have been on a personal mission to give back to skateboarding, inspire others and show different angles on what skateboarding can be about. I am still going full-speed in this direction and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Together with Converse and their support I am sure that we can create some radical and inspirational things together for our culture. Giving back to skateboarders will always be at the top of the list and my main drive.

What is your first memory of the brand?

I remember when I first saw Converse, the opening trick of Mariano’s part in ‘Mouse’. He was wearing a pair of navy One Stars doing the switch bigspin flip and the first line at the Venice benches…instant stoke! He was also rocking the navy Dr. J’s (Pro Leather Mid) in that part. These images have been stuck in my head ever since. That classic 90s vibe and look is just too dope to deny. Shortly after that my old shop sponsor hooked me up with some One Stars of my own but I got thesestrange green ones! Ever since then I’ve always wanted the navy ones Mariano rocked.

Polar is all set to be an amazing company with the recent promo going down a storm. Do you see Polar or its visual offerings as an extension to your older films like ‘The Strongest of the Strange’ and ‘In Search of the Miraculous’? Or is it a whole new departure?

Polar Skate Co. is a platform where we can express our ideas and visions on all levels. My two films set the base for this to happen and Polar is simply where the story continues. Everything is still the same but now we also produce products and express our ideas in graphics, adverts, a skate team and so on. The main idea behind it is to inspire others to inspire themselves. I want Polar to set an example on what a skateboard company can be about. We express ourselves on many different levels, artwork, photography and film pieces and much more. It is a wonderful thing to have a place and an output for all of your dreams. I am in charge and we do whatever we believe in. Hopefully we can have an input on the culture and direction of skateboarding and try to invest in cool projects that benefit people in exciting ways.

What drives your inspiration? From concrete to art, to filming, to running a company…why do you do it all?

It started with being frustrated about the skateboard industry and its general direction. That frustration became ‘The Strongest of the Strange’, which then lead into ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. The dark side and the bright side ultimately, but the bottom line is that I don’t always agree with all of the things that go on in skate culture and within the industry. I don’t like what certain people do and how they showcase skateboarding. I just can’t sit and watch our culture turn into rubbish! Although, there is some genuinely cool stuff out there…so I guess my main motivation is to show an alternative vision of what skateboarding can be about, or at the very least what it means for me. This rule kind of goes with all the things in my life – if you lovesomething, believe in it. You also have to be ready to stand up for it when you see things you dislike. So bottom line is that I want to contribute to skateboarding, engaging with the new generations and showing them my vision of skateboard culture.

What can we expect to see in the future from you, Polar and Converse?

We have a lot of plans for Polar and Converse. At the moment we are still waiting for spring to kick in and once it is here, life starts again. We will continue doing what we always do, hit the streets with our boards, capture it on film, travel around, hook up and skate with the locals in spots all around the world. I’d like to build more around Malmö and together with Converse it will be possible to try amazing things all over Europe too. We’ll keep doing rad stuff together and try to keep this skateboard culture as alive, raw and radical as possible.

Work more; sleep less!

Stay inspired,
Pontus Alv