10 Life Lessons I learnt from the Wu-Tang Clan

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Back in 1997, the summer I turned 18, I was finishing school and I had no idea where I was heading. What I did know was that I loved Hip Hop and in particular the Wu-Tang Clan. The rap super group had just released their sophomore album ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ and it was a double disc extravaganza of stanzas that solidified their legend status and tore away any of the glitz and glamour that was rapidly infecting the culture. ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ dropped at exactly the right moment to shine a light for all the fans who were finding it hard to associate themselves with vinyl suits, blowing wads of cash on fizzy wine and sing-a-long hooks. RZA said it best as he closed off ‘Bells of war’ (Track 8, Disc 2) “Pick up the Wu-Tang double CD and you’ll get all the education you need this year”. So, what has the Wu-Tang Clan taught me? Here are 10 important life lessons from the Clan. – Ralph Lloyd-Davis

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The first lesson I learnt from studying Wu lyrics was the economic reality of living in a low budget environment. ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ is probably the most infamous track off their debut album ‘Enter the 36 Chambers’ where Raekwon the Chef and the Rebel INS Inspectah Deck recount their struggles coming up in the ghetto as Method Man chants the acronym of truth “Cash Rules Everything Around Me – CREAM! Get the money, Dollar Dollar bill yo!” This chorus was a wake up call to say that if you’re not earning a living in this world, it won’t stop for you. In today’s economic climate with an already massive and steadily growing divide between rich and poor and a shrinking middle class, I’m surprised the Clan hasn’t been invited to talk at more political rallies or market forums.

The second lesson was delivered on Method Man’s debut album ‘Tical’, the second album to come from the Staten Island-based stronghold. It wasn’t a lesson in street smarts or how to spend thousands of dollars frivolously. It was a lesson in love. ‘All I Need’ featuring R & B royalty Mary J. Blige, is a love song between a man and a woman where their steadfast support of one another has helped them surpass any obstacle in their path. The duet is inspired by the famous soul duet between Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell of the same name, and is given a modern day twist with Method Man’s slang and a sample of Notorious BIG’s ‘Me & my Bitch’ (“Cry together, lie together, I swear to God I hope we fucking die together”), which in itself is a melancholic tale of a turbulent love affair. Method Man’s promise of “mad love to give” his girl and his admiration for her having a “mind of her own” are testament to a mutual respect for the opposite sex that is often missing from rap lyrics. In any case it taught me to look for a strong independent woman to love and not just a pretty face.

Lesson number three (also known as Rule 4080) was taught to me by the GZA a.k.a. the Genius, a name that already inspires enlightenment. The GZA is probably perceived as a wiser member of the Clan due to his prior experience with the music industry. Before the Wu-Tang Clan stormed onto the scene, the GZA had already released a solo album on Cold Chillin Records entitled ‘Words from the Genius’. Needless to say his solo career under Cold Chillin didn’t bear fruit, so when he had a second opportunity to drop a debut album (thanks to some clever deal brokering by the RZA that ensured each member of the Clan could sign with a second label and release solo material independent of their group contract), he let rip on the shady side of the record business with his song ‘Labels’. In just under 3 minutes, the GZA taught me all about how the record executives, A&Rs and other nefarious characters will try and screw over the recording artist and neglect their talent. The most impressive part is that GZA fires shots at virtually all of the existing labels by using their monikers as double-entendres, for example “We’ll all emerge off your set, now you know God damn / I show living large niggas how to flip a def jam / And rough up the motherfuckin’ house cause I smother / You cold chillin’ motherfuckers, I still warn a brother / I’m ruthless my clan don’t have to act wild / That shit is jive, an old sleeping bag profile”. Thanks to the GZA I understood fairly fast that there would be snakes and sharks in business – A fact that proved true in later life.

The fourth lesson wasn’t actually from one of the 9 emcees but instead from one of their close affiliates, Poppa Wu. On Ghostface Killah’s debut album ‘Ironman’, the subject of faith and religion was introduced quite frankly in several of the featuring songs. On track 13 ‘Black Jesus’, Poppa Wu preached openly about the knowledge of self, (Black) Man being God and time being infinite thus debunking the fable of Adam and Eve and the dawn of creation. These views are foundations for the Five Percent Nation, a faith that separated itself from the Nation of Islam during the 1960’s. The Wu-Tang Clan often refers to man as God and woman as Earth which is direct use of the Five Percent lexicon. I am not a religious person, if anything I’m an atheist, but it’s always good to get another perspective on what this life is all about. Something that always stays with me is when Poppa Wu says “Don’t you know if a man could take and flip himself inside out, God, He’ll fall out and die if he sees the shit that goes on…inside?” Conscious observations such as these are food for thought when you think about how complex the human body is and how much we take it for granted.

Lesson five was a hidden jewel that I didn’t find for quite sometime. Listening to Raekwon’s stellar debut album ‘Only Built for Cuban Linx’, there’s a skit before ‘Spot Rusherz’ (track 14) where Raekwon and Ghostface are procrastinating about the heat in their car and an unreleased Wu-Tang song is playing in the background. I finally tracked this song down to a mixtape by DJ Format promoting the American beer St. Ides. The St. Ides track endorses the beverage but more importantly it serves a cautionary warning against drink driving. Raekwon explains how it’s alright to carry on drinking as long as you catch a ride home and don’t get behind the wheel yourself: “With St. Ides in my system / Crack another I’m blessed, let’s go get the next one / And get over, the object is to stay sober / Lay on the sofa, better yet, dial my chauffeur”. Don’t drink and drive kids.

Lesson six is about sex. Safe sex. At the height of their popularity the Wu-Tang Clan were dropping solo albums, mixtape and radio verses and featuring on just about every compilation CD being burnt. One of these compilations was ‘America Is Dying Slowly’ which set out to promote safe sex amongst the youth. The Clan got the title track ‘America’ with each Clan member recounting their experiences and knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent catching them. I guess this song went to my head and my heart because I lost my older brother to AIDS and I know for a fact that it’s easier to get caught up in the heat of the moment and skip that simple gesture of protecting yourself and others.

The seventh thing I learnt from the Wu – and they actually mentioned this on two occasions, first by honorary member Cappadonna (‘The Pillage’ track 3) and then by Ghostface Killah and featuring artists Jadakiss (‘Pretty Toney’ track 17) – was don’t get caught. Run! ‘Run’ paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to escape the Police and the risks you face if you get caught. As an 18 year old Hip Hop fan, I was getting up on walls with my marker pens regularly and smoking a lot of weed in the street, so I always had my eyes scanning the horizon for undercover detectives and have-a-go heroes looking to spoil my fun. After a few run ins with the law and other unsavoury characters I eventually relinquished these pastimes. In fact, I do remember distinctly pulling up my baggy jeans and tying my shoe laces properly after getting chased through the wrong neighbourhood late at night by some stick up kids. Swag isn’t going to save you from getting stabbed. Lesson learnt.

A step away from the abstraction of Five Percent Nation philosophy, the RZA has a penchant for conspiracy theories notably with his verse on ‘School’, track 14 of Masta Killa’s solo album ‘No Said Date’. My eighth lesson was all about not accepting everything you’re taught in school and questioning history. The song starts off with Masta Killa rapping about his introduction to the rap culture which is nice enough but the real main course of knowledge is delivered by the RZA as the beat speeds up to accommodate his feverish flow. As a child, RZA questions his teachers lessons and is quickly asked to leave and reprimanded for disrupting the class. The facts RZA speaks about aren’t necessarily true, but they do shed like on a few questionable moments in the history of the human race and possible cover ups. Here’s an example of RZA’s outburst: “I stood like a man then I questioned my teacher / Why don’t we speak about the wisdom of the sages? / And how did Europe black out in the dark ages?/ And when they got light did they white-wash the pages? / And the inquisition, why was Christian’s thrown in cages? / And why would they try to destroy the nation? / With their birth control and bring control fluoridation? / And why it seems that half the school is racist? :She said “Diggs, to the office!” We about faces…”

For their ninth lesson, the Clan taught me about life in the ghetto, something a lot of rappers could claim responsibility for but Raekwon, Ghostface, Cappadonna and U-God broke it down into easy to understand verses. the self-titled ‘Ghetto’ (track 11 of Ghostface Killah’s ‘Apollo Kids’ album) is a soulful stroll through the tougher side of town. With the soulful prompts of Marlena Shaw sampled from ‘Woman of the Ghetto’ each of the rappers covers a select theme: the scene in the ghetto (Raekwon), making money (Cappadonna), dealing with snitches (Ghostface) and raising kids (U-God). Obviously the picture painted by each rapper is pretty stark and unglorified but it’s cool to hear U-God talk about the solidarity of a community that the rest of society tries to forget. For someone who’s never lived in the ghetto, this is a eye opening composition.

The final lesson from hours upon hours of listening to the Wu-Tang is an odd one and if you had to pick the oddball of the group, most fingers point in the direction of Ason Unique a.k.a. Ol’ Dirty Bastard. ODB, God bless his soul in Heaven, had an acute knack for coming out with some the funniest yet scariest lyrics of the entire Clan. On his debut album ‘Return to the 36 Chambers’, ODB touched upon the topic of young love and all the craziness hormones can induce between people of the opposite sex. In ‘Don’t u Know’ ODB begins by rapping about flirting with girls in his school and how his emotions make him feel rather horny. Featured artist Killah Priest recounts his tale of his teenage sweetheart before ODB takes us back into the classroom. The teacher tells the children to open up their text books and read the first paragraph on oral sex. Naturally ODB is taken aback (“I said ‘Oral sex! What kinda class is this?’ The girl next to me said ‘What’s wrong with you Miss?'”) so the teacher decides to skip the theory part and jump into a practical demonstration on the unassuming rapper. As the teacher begins to perform fellatio on ODB, the story cuts with the promise of a sequel. I think the main lesson I got from this track is to be weary of horny cougars in the classroom.

2015 And What?

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With the time now upon us to gather in the great mead halls of our forefathers and rowdily toast another year gone by, celebrating 2015 whilst speculating on the fate the Norns weave for skateboarding in 2016, huddled beneath the world-tree Yggdrasil (whilst a grafter busily ‘cretes the other side of its ancient trunk in an attempt to out-Daewon Daewon. That boy don’t need no ‘crete to skate a tree, fool).

It’s tough to drink to 2015 – a good year certainly – without noting that things moved less rapidly than in 2014. ‘Cherry’ came out in spring that year, and almost immediately switched styles of skating and dressing across our younger brethren. Pontus had been urging us to ‘charge’ and, in doing so, add no-complies, wall rides and pole jams to our repertoire for a few years previously. But ‘Cherry’ really cemented that vocabulary in the imagination of the masses whilst encouraging kids to refresh wardrobes to an extent not seen since the Baker rock-star-come-pirate switch-up of the early noughts.

2014 also saw the indie brands square up to the skater-owned giants like plucky dwarven warriors, chopping a few heads off and doing a few things differently, whilst the strangle-hold of the global sportswear mega corps tightened inexorably. 2015 has seen a continuation of these trends. Magenta celebrated 5 years with red wine and screeching urethane, whilst Polar and Palace became legitimately two of the most popular core skate brands on earth – sought after by salon-fresh hipsters and scabrous street rats alike. All done with frequent collaborations with the sportswear giants – demonstrating how Harvard-trained boardroom strategists currently prefer to buy-in their grassroots cool through timeshare rather than take over.

officespaceThis leads us to the other development that has become clearer in 2015 – the schism in skateboarding as a professional career trajectory. From the mid-90s to the noughts, there were just two paths for the talented hopeful: to succeed at skateboarding as a full time job then either have a 20-30 year career or, more likely, move behind-the-scenes, reaping any good will accrued through stunts and video parts; or fail to get a break, live in shitty accommodation on sub-minimum wage through your 20s and maybe 30s, then resign to mundane adult life bereft of marketable skills. Both outcomes rested on the belief that, in order to excel at skating, it must be pursued full time, to the exclusion of all else. This was encouraged by industry heads as well as the natural tendency of young skaters to think of nothing else. Although skating is huge in 2015, the route to the Big Time has puckered tighter than an arsehole.

Quadrants of the internet throughout 2015 have lamented the demise of the ‘middle class’ pro skater, respected style icons but not stadium fillers like many of the OG Chocolate team (Mike York, Richard Mulder, Scott Johnston etc.). Being other skateboarders’ favourite skateboarder don’t pay the bills no mo’. Only a tiny minority of Street League-consistent superstars will emerge from a horde of really, really good kids. Those few, counted in 10s rather than 100s, will have their names embroidered next to Swooshes and will retire to Hollywood condos.

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“Fuck those guys, I’m not interested” says almost every active skateboarder over 14. Especially if they’ve tried to sit through ‘We Are Blood’. But 2015 sees an alternative to poverty pay and perma-adolescence, which any skateboarder of whatever age or talent level can attain. A route that brings about opportunities to bask in the occasional esteem of our peers through independent videos, photo zines, regional websites and bro companies – as long as one has a creative eye to bring something notable to the right time and place. 2015’s grassroots skateboarder, sponsored or unsponsored, super-talented or regular Joe, is a multi-tasker. They do a regular job that they may or may not hate – from New Jersey, NYC and New England skaters’ stated preference for set building, to Europeans who might be Uber cab drivers, teachers, writers or bin men. Then at night or on their days off, they pitch into the running of a company, contribute to media – printing, blogging, archiving and sharing – and spend time ‘creting some disused local space, campaigning for public facilities, or learning about architecture, urban planning or public action. Left-leaning economists call this the ‘gigging economy’, a phenomena in which human creativity and ingenuity exploits the cracks that splinter across late capitalism, refusing to let meaningless jobs in the service sector define who we are, whilst taking their pay cheques to pay our spiralling living costs.

Gif: Brophy in Obtuse Moments by our Tumblr bud, BetterSkateThanNever.

brophyThe internet enabled the ‘sharing economy’, but 2015’s skateboarders are working out how to turn this into a balanced, life-enhancing portfolio of cool stuff – that sacks off dreams of Street League without resigning one’s self to a damp apartment and a mournful, regret-filled adulthood.

Channel 4’s economics editor, top dude and keen surfer, Paul Mason, argued in a recent interview about his book ‘Post-capitalism: A guide to our Future’ that late capitalism, in its failure to adapt to technological change or to do away with the inefficient, unjust hegemony of the old elites, has created space for its successor. He advises us to do the jobs we hate, but “take another percentage of yourself and you put it into the emerging post-capitalist world”. This will be a world that trades on skills, knowledge, social connections and the well-being we can get from the things that have genuine meaning to us. Because we cannot, and probably should not, make a living from the ‘true’ version of skateboarding that we love so much, a thing that creates great meaning but little profit, we should do other things on the side – for the time being. In 2015 we have seen that we don’t need to forlornly push back real life, Canute-like against the rising tide. We can embrace it whilst bending it to our will, filling our time with advancing skateboarding as it should be.

So this ‘here’s to 2015’ tribute is themed: My ram’s horn full of mead is tipped frothily to the multi-taskers, the odd-jobbers, the night-time rippers and filmers, the bedroom entrepreneurs. You guys are the future for the kind of skateboarding that I care about. It’s a future that you and I can be part of without handing over $100 to sit in some air conditioned stadium and stare as one tiny, distant Swoosh guy outscore another, in an endless loop or pearly teeth and breathable sports fabric.

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And now, to 2015’s Finest Footage in my personal opinion, feel free to post your own at the end of this article:

The unanticipated breakthrough for 2015 were Budapest’s Rios Crew. These unknown, mainly unsponsored dudes deal out relatable but fucking raw skating across a variety of former Eastern-bloc architecture and their own DIY spot, capturing the imagination of tastemakers like Jenkem and Quartersnacks. Their last video offering, Jönnek – a rough edit set to music put together by their mates – made a great impression at the Vladimir Film Festival. A big, enthusiastic crew, a work ethic and an eye for spots are the only ingredients that matter for skate videos that stoke other skaters out. The Rios boys’ output is unlikely to win new converts in Ty Evans’ current target market of MILFs and pre-teens, but that’s not the point. Thousands of dollars’ worth of RED camera kit and editing suites, airplane tickets and fashion-forward wardrobes be damned: get your buddies out of the skate-park and point a cheap DSLR at them and you too can be the belle of the ball. But don’t expect to make any money out of it. This output is entirely without the endorsement of the Swoosh, the arrow and a star, or three stripes.

Dudes who have taken the Swoosh’s patronage are Quartersnacks, but one cannot begrudge them for this. Big brand attention is the consequence of wide ranging yet locally anchored commentary on the state of skateboarding, with an unashamed appreciation of the fashion, night life and skateboarding’s other extra-curricular perks and sidelines – Paul Mason’s economic and quasi-economic together.

QS celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2015 – with main man Konstantin ‘Kosta’ Satcheck still safely in his 20s, meaning that a crew blog that became a globally respected #trendwatch and #thinktank (and proliferator of entertainingly official sounding hashtags) started in his teens. Think on that, all you who passively complain about your weak local scene whilst lazily scrolling through Instagram. With more frequent collaborations with ‘New York’s Most Productive’ filmer Johnny Wilson, 2015 is a tricky year to pick just one (or in this case a co-joined selection) from the stream of skate trip, themed and scheduled start of/end of summer and best of the year edits that QS churn out. Although the transition-themed series chronicling a trip through New England is a departure from the site’s usual preoccupation with ‘low impact’ street skating, it captures many of this article’s themes: normal dudes, battling adversity, lack of investment and official disinterest to populate their own scenes with good parks and clever re-working of dilapidated street spots.

Another big birthday was celebrated by Magenta over the summer. Although they’ve just released the full length ‘Just Cruise’, the edit of their UK tour, sound-tracked with Aldous Huxley’s prophetic voice-over, stood out as a highlight of the year. Brand owners Vivien and Soy have full-time jobs, Vivien has two kids and Soy recently beat cancer, and Magenta is not making either of them rich. But the spirit of the thing: keeping your local scene lit, supporting your friends, and linking like-minded crews worldwide. Surely this is what skateboarding’s really about – whatever your personal view of powerslides and all flat-land lines. Magenta are the ultimate multi-taskers.

If Thrasher’s Skater of the Year could be bestowed on a truer epitome of the blue-collar, skateboarders’ skateboarder, charging through full-sections switch-stance as much as regular like a burly freight train, I’m unable to think of one. Anthony Van Engelen – the Bruce Springsteen of skateboarding in his earthiness and longevity – is surely a SOTY choice that only the most curmudgeonly below-the-line commentator could complain about. Even his Vans ‘Propeller’ out-takes stand as one of the year’s best edits, without even starting on the A-roll stuff that found their way into the final cut.

If AVE is the grizzled master of grown-up, burl and finesse, Gilbert Crockett is the spiritual successor – vying with AVE for best section in Propeller and cementing his place towards the top of the list of skateboarders’ favourite skateboarders with ‘Salt Life’ for Quasi.

Straight across the Atlantic, but staying within the Vans team, Chris Oliver’s ‘Excursion’ from our pals at Sidewalk adds to pantheon of lifers and grafters who combine incredible talent with a sense of being consistently over-looked. Many of my friends cite Chris Oliver as “the best skater I’ve ever seen in real life”. He continues to place high in competitions (against a majority of competitors ten years his junior), kills all variety of transition, and can put out banging, raw and good-humoured street sections like this one. Incredible board control and seemingly little fear of eating shit, but with a variety of interests including DJing and carpentry that add to the personality that comes through in his skating.

Turning it down a notch, one of my personal favourite edits of the year was Long Island’s The Northern Company’s ‘Portland Excursion’. It encapsulated the feeling of a trip with friends in a gentle, nostalgic hue of oranges and browns – lost in time, a blue grass Goonies or Stand by Me (complete with rustbelt imagery of clattering trains and industry reclaimed by nature). No single trick stood out, but it leaves me feeling content and keen to skate every time I’ve watched it – and it’s been one of the few repeat viewings in a stacked year. While you’re at it, read founders Mike Gigante and Steve Fletschinger’s interview for the Palomino for all the right reasons to start a skate company.

As we’ve mentioned in our review of the video premier, Isle’s maiden full-length ‘Vase’ stood out as DVD of the year for all these reasons.

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Finally, it would be a disservice not to mention one of this last year’s most prolific, popping up in edits across Europe and both the East and West Coasts of capitalism’s Promised Land, from QS/Nike and Transworld respectively. Like many skaters the world over, I spent a lump of my summer in Copenhagen and would give my front teeth to repeat that every year. Hjalte Hjalberg personifies all that is best in Denmark – a big, powerful, smiling bastard, annoyingly skilled but coming over as likeably down to earth, taking on the mantle of international power tech forged by fellow Copenhagen export, the late Kristian Bomhalt (RIP). As well as being pro for Polar, he’s a trained teacher and not afraid to jump into a boat and sail into the chill northern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. 2015’s power combo of grafter, multi-tasker and champion nose-slider.

Words: Chris Lawton.

Fat White Family UK tour dates February 2016

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Fat White Family will be hitting the road next February across the UK to support their new album ‘Songs For Our Mothers’.

Head here to read our feature on why they are the best thing to happen in British music for yonks.

Dates:
20 Feb: Birmingham, Institute 2
21 Feb: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
22 Feb: Sheffield, Plug
23 Feb: Dublin, Whelans
25 Feb: Belfast, Limelight
26 Feb: Glasgow, Garage
27 Feb: Manchester, Academy 2
28 Feb: Oxford, Academy 2
29 Feb: Bristol, Bierkeller
8 Mar: Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
9 Mar: London, The Coronet

A visit to ‘The Seaside’ again with Cardiacs

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I was once a Little Man aged 11 looking out of my Little House through my parents Whole World Window. It was a beautifully innocent time hanging out in the burbs of Surrey, riding my BMX after homework through wet leaves and spiky conkers, not giving a hoot about anything. The stereo in my bedroom played 7″ records from Adam Ant, The Jam, The Specials and Madness, slabs of vinyl bought on a Saturday afternoon in the little independent record shop in our hometown of Sutton. Chick-a-Boom, was owned by an overweight biker who sat behind the counter with a huge beard. Aside from his overwhelming presence I loved the smell of the vinyl there, as opposed to the big store on the high street they called Woolworth’s, where my Mum preferred visiting for her records. Collecting music weekly became something special but as you know, the Whole World Window is a very special and endless space – where discovery, is everything.

Somewhere hidden in the suburbs of the same county in 1984, Cardiacs were preparing the release of their original cassette of The Seaside. They were only a few miles down the road. Their off-the-wall, psychedelic punk rock was being distributed to the ears of the chosen few throughout Kingston Uni and the suburban alternative pubs like The Mill and in other small towns nearby in Surbiton, Teddington and beyond. Little did I know that a few years later just one sniff of Cardiacs’ musical drug would change my entire life, forever.

Trying to explain Cardiacs’ sound to those who have never heard them before was always difficult. Like Victorian funfair music in a knife fight with John Carpenter; an horrific, terrifyingly exciting sound that should be used for torture purposes, they said. It wasn’t for everyone, but I wasn’t everyone, I fell in love on first play and made it the soundtrack to my life. We had a crew of us at school who worshipped the band but most people thought we were weirdos. This was a local band, one that our brothers had past down the line to us and we totally enjoyed being those weirdos. It was an honour to wear that badge…with the flower on it.

Cardiacs’ live shows were like anti-theatrical minefields that detonated every single explosive part of your brain. They left you in tiny pieces, excelling you to the verge of heart attack with excitement whilst every breath of air around you (and a huge fan) pushed tiny pieces of confetti into the air creating a dream-like scenario – kinda like the best acid trip of all time but without the strychnine come-down. And so it began, my Cardiacs virginity was taken at NESCOT college on February 10th, 1989 and it left me turned completely inside out. I remember leaving that room feeling like a lost dog, confused, horny and wreckless, with my lipstick hanging out. Only Cardiacs fans are going to read these words so you know exactly what I’m talking about. The question is: Where did you lose yours? Tell us in the comments at the end of this waffle.

Ph: Steve Payne

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William D. Drake’s keyboard prowess, Dominic’s incredible precision drumming, percussionist Tim Quy’s vital inclusion, Sarah’s huge smile and her mighty presence on sax all made the shows shine like nothing else. Jim Smith’s bass playing, down trodden persona and incessant bullying, dished out by brother Tim, made the show the most unnerving experience I’d ever seen. Tim’s ranting, swinging of his guitar and insane facial expressions was pure madness, but oh so controlled and delivered like a pro. All other bands playing live at that time in Ewell seemed boring and pointless, so finally I had found Armageddon in music form and it became an instant obsession. I hit the road to as many Cardiacs shows that I could get to with my new driving license and crappy brown Ford Fiesta. It made for a decent bed after the gigs finished too.

The biggest problem with my new found addiction was that their Seaside album, released on cassette, seemed to be some sort of myth. Kind of like what Animal Chin was for skateboarders; you couldn’t find it anywhere but it left inspiration with everyone who came in contact with it. The internet and mobile phones didn’t exist of course – just fanzines, the fan club and record fairs, so I searched far and wide for The Seaside (The Obvious Identity and Toy World) until a friend’s friend of a friend came good with a blank TDK D60 copy. All I ever wanted were the originals though and to this day they still evade me. The CD re-issue in 1995 (and 1990) were must-haves but a few of my favourite tracks from the live shows didn’t make the pressings.

Hearing ‘Dinner Time’ on the new re-issue today made me bounce off the walls. It was like discovering Cardiacs for the very first time again. Similarly, the mesmerising riff of ‘Nurses Whispering Verses’ was always a favourite live (alongside the chaotic punk rock assault of To Go Off and Things). These were rare gems in between the epic singles, ‘Is This the Life?’ and ‘A Little Man and a House’ – both legendary works from the amazing songwriting and production skills of Tim Smith. It’s very rare to find talent like this man was blessed with. Tim created another planet through his own World Window that we could all see, feel and touch – like nothing we had ever discovered before, or have been close to discovering since.

It breaks my heart to be reminiscing all of this right now knowing that Tim is unwell and has suffered through illness. Even though Cardiacs’ music is played weekly in these parts it always leaves me praying for his health – and I’m no religious man. He changed people’s lives forever and we are here right now to give it all back. I doff my hat to Tim Smith. Sir, you are a true musical legend.

Ph: Sarah Maher

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These words were written ten minutes after the album finished from hitting my email account today. The fingers did not stop, the memories came too fast and I just had to spit everything out. The re-issued record will be coming out via the Alphabet Business Concern on November 30th this year with those 4 tracks mentioned above and the original running order on CD, double gate-fold vinyl – both cut from the original 1984 1/4″ master reel. There’s also a tasty boxset coming, with the inclusion of replica newsletters, (YOUsletters) a cassette, poster, Walker prints, lyric booklet and a beautiful photo book containing previously unseen photography.

Prepare space in your wonderful record collection next month to re-own some magical musical history and enjoy listening to ‘Dinner Time’ from this release that we have been lucky enough to unleash for you today. It’s a marvellous tune that has been missing from the Cardiacs catalogue since the cassette release of The Seaside. Pre-order the box set here.

Big love to all Cardiacs followers worldwide.

Zac

A visit to Banksy’s Dismaland with Sleaford Mods

Words: Steve Cotton from Art of the State and Zac
Photos: Nice ones by Steve, shit phone snaps by Zac

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The hype on Banksy’s latest art project Dismaland became justified before we even managed to get through security. The woman’s smile in front of us was deemed to be too wide so she was sent to face the wall until the happiness drained enough for entry. “Who are you here with?!”, the security woman demanded, looking at my wristband. “Sleaford Mods”, I replied, trying not to smile as my pockets were frisked with a make shift cardboard bomb detector. “They’re shit”, she barked from her taut face and I was finally let through to the next check point – leaving the poor womans’ happiness, still draining against the wall.

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There was not a smile in sight on entry from the staff apart from the one on Steve Cotton’s face, owner of Art of the State, promoter of many infamous hardcore punk shows who has managed to get close to Banksy’s work for over a decade now. Luckily we were about to get an inside tour of Dismaland with someone in the know.

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Featuring work by more than 50 artists from 17 different nations Bristol’s finest street artist has assembled a mass of thought provoking, topical and challenging art at Dismaland. The exhibition occupies the site of the disused and derelict Tropicana Lido on the sea front in Weston Super Mare. Through a clever piece of deception, its existence was kept quiet right up to just a few days before the show by claiming that a film entitled ‘Grey Fox’ was going to be shot there. A perfect excuse to explain all the construction work and to have security stop prying eyes.

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One of the pieces that gave the game away was when Mike Ross’s Big Rig Jig piece loomed above the walls of the Tropicana. It’s an eye catching sculpture, born out of “reckless optimism”, that required a fairly hard to conceal crane to put it in place.

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Another colossal vehicle is this security forces truck from Northern Ireland repurposed as a fountain and with a a children’s slide sticking out the other side. It appears beached in the Lido pool which is full of weeds and worse. Definitely not a place for a dip.

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Dismaland installations often relate to animal themes. On the fairground carousel one of the horses has been hoisted by its hind legs while a slaughterhouse worker takes a break underneath from preparing lasagne – a clear reference to the horse meat scandal of recent years. Round the other side a marauding bunch of anarchists who seem to be part of the show jump on the ride waving banners whilst standing on the backs of their steeds.

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Near the back of the venue where the arched diving boards structure used to stand an orca whale jumps from the confines of a toilet through a hoop into an unfeasibly small paddling pool full of dark liquid. A personal view on these beautiful creatures being trapped performing tricks in pools that are microscopic in comparison to their natural habitats.

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Again from Banksy, is this over the top illustration of seagulls attacking humans. Seemingly referencing recent media stories about the “menace of seagulls” but taking it to extremes it also provides a photo opportunity for anyone who cares to sit on the bench. A miserable member of staff obviously reminds you not to get close to this savage pecking of human flesh.

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Animals aside, tonight is Friday, which means there’s more than just art to admire. With Portishead’s production master Geoff Barrow taking care of the artist invitations to play live, his inclusion of Sleaford Mods proved triumphant who played alongside The Pop Group and Savages on the back of a truck.

The Nottingham duo have moved from strength to strength over the last two years with their unique brutal attack on the greed that has seen this country fall apart at the seams and they were in no mood for apathy once again tonight. Stage right hung a huge billboard poster of David Cameron’s smug face holding a glass of wine, parading like a red rag for frontman Jason Williamson’s bullish outbursts. He ripped into Piglet (as he’s always named him) with a butchers knife throughout the set whilst the crowd bayed for more. Monday morning’s pig fucking scandal only made this part of their set more legit, as if the band knew that the Mail was about to drop a bomb on his reputation well in advance.

As red flare smoke filled the skies and the smell of skunk wafted around the crowd in Bisto-like trails, the Mods steamed through an hour-long assault. Williamson’s anger raged into the mic as Andrew Fearn stood smiling, nodding, double fisting two bottles of lager, admiring the carnage from his laptop. Dad dancing was encouraged throughout that aided at least five new tracks from their Key Markets album, barked out so aggressively that Williamson’s throat clearing job almost became part of the show.

You could not have picked a more fitting band to play this exhibition, they speak for so many people with belly laugh humour and shocking truths that none of today’s culture would dare to get involved in. In your face, savage punk rock, rapped, poetic and proud. Fucking exemplary too, get on it.

Of course this show is not all about Banksy (more from him later) – there are around 50 odd international artists who have either contributed work or are actively engaged on site during the show. Time for a whistle stop tour around some of the other works.

Nettie Wakefield was working on site producing portraits in pencil of the back of guests heads. This really gives her the opportunity to show off her stunning technique in capturing every last detail including the way the light falls on each strand.

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Wasted Rita from Portugal has a wall of her dark advice at the rear of the castle. The power of the simple written word.

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Dotted around the site are a series of yellow signs to make you think about the your stay in Dismaland.

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More direct thought provocation is provided in the form of these bus billboard take overs. A nearby stall provides instruction leaflets on how you can open these ubitiquous advert stands and place in your own posters. We were even given a demonstration of how to break in. A selection of special spanners were on offer, all made to fit the various corperate companies’ bolts that bring you the dogshit you don’t need in advertising form.

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Ben Long’s scaffolding pole horse dominated early pictures of the exhibition and it’s easy to see why. Now dwarfed by the nearby big wheel it has plenty of competitors for the most iconic image of the show.

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Vying for ‘best in show’ in its scale and detail is Jimmy Cauty’s (ex KLF member) simply breathtaking ‘Aftermath Displacement Principle’. 23 crates worth of riot torn city featuring around 3000 1/87th scale police officers all uniquely made from modified model railway workers. It’s an exhibit you can stare at for a very long time and still find something new. Can you find one of the royals making an official visit?

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Moving inside for a bit you enter what is essentially a gallery space but first you walk past illuminated display boards from Jenny Holzer and Banksy’s reaper bumper car installation. Every so often disco music pumps out, the lights come on and Death attempts to escape the confines of his electric prison by slamming into the edge of the arena all to no avail.

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Entering the main hall there’s a plethora of different style on show. Damien Hirst’s standout piece ‘The History Of Pain’ has a beach ball held constantly aloft over a bed of blades by the push from air being blown upwards. If it ever stops, the balloon will surely drop and burst.

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Some of the painting technique on show is exquisite. From a distance Lee Madgwick’s paintings of urban buildings in idyllic countryside settings look like photoshop creations. A closer inspection reveals their intricate detail.

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Paco Pomet’s Cookie Monster painting should win an award.

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The message within this bleeding trees painting also hits home with a jagged nail.

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Nearby is the embroidery of Severija Inciraauskaite-Kriauneviciene. Instead of being encased in wooden samplers, her cross stitched work has been punched into the bonnet for the threads to go through. Incredible detail.

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Banksy has an almost unnoticed piece near ground level, and to the left of it is his tribute to Russian graffiti artist P183.

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Outside again there are yet many more highlights to see. The Cruel bus has an exhibition showing how design is used to maintain power and control over us all whilst a large tent contains a mass of both beautifully painted and hurriedly scrawled protest banners and signs. Of particular note are the ones by Ed Hall who has a long history of providing trade union groups and others with memorable protest art and the much publicised anti Arms Fair posters that were found on the London Underground last week.

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There’s a wide variety of untypical fairground attractions with loaded outcomes – I tried my hand at both the duck pool (hook the duck from the muck) and Insect and Bast’s bling stand both to no avail, but it was still a lot of fun. Elsewhere there are rotating caravans, rickety big wheels and a children’s sand pit with a sandcastle so large that Dad’s on the nearby Weston beach will struggle to impress their kids in comparison.

Australian Dietrich’s Wegner’s mushroom cloud tree house dominates the central room capturing a moment of beauty borne out of destruction. In that cloud are the debris of peoples lives, the structures they lived in and everything they held dear to them.

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Then you have the finely detailed tattooed ladies by Jessica Harrison. So tiny you need to get up close to take in every single one.

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For me the most haunting exhibit from the exhibition was the boating lake. Looking like it’s set in front of the white cliffs of Dover, you put your pound in the slot and take control of either a boat full of “migrants”, as the Daily Mail like to call them, or a patrol boat. In the water, bodies float by conveying the deadly serious plight of those still breathing on board the boats.

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On the wall of the lido buildings down the left hand side is this ingenious painting of a woman taking a shower while a boy peeps in. Is the other boy on look out duty or is he still more interested in his childhood toys? Either way he is not joining in on the other’s curiosity.

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Of course everyone wants to go into the Castle and here Banksy has a surprise in store. If you are asked to have your photo taken do as instructed and look to the right. Maybe even crouch a little and pretend to take a photo while doing so – you’ll understand why when you exit this scene of a princess in a coach crash being photographed by paparazzi, an obvious reference to the death of Princess Diana.

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Despite the length of this post there is still much more to see in this place, including Banksy’s take on the Little Mermaid.

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Oh and of course, knowing this is hosted in Weston Super Mare, the nightly burning of Jeffrey Archer’s novels is a popular team sport.

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Fireworks, thought-provoking imagery and very talented artists aside, Banksy’s bemusement concept for Dismaland is a truly unique experience, there to remind us of the trappings of a capitalistic and brutal world that unfortunately most people voted for. You have one week left to make it down there and get some for yourself, plan nothing else.

Note that This Friday’s final show with Leftfield, Pussy Riot, Kate Tempest, De La Soul
and DJ Premier (not Massive Attack as they have had to cancel unfortunately) has a dress code. Due to the amount of paparazzi staking out the park in recent weeks Banksy has requested people come masked-up so he can attend the event without being photographed.

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Exposed: ‘French’ Fred Mortagne

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History tells us that you will find only a handful of unique individuals within every culture worldwide. Look across the pond to France and the big book of skateboard history there will reveal that the creative mind found within Fred Mortagne is one of their country’s finest.

His sterling work within film making launched back in 2000 from delivering the wonderful éS ‘Menikmati’ video. The cast featured the likes of Ronnie Creager, Rick McCrank and Eric Koston to name a few but his relationships with the likes of Arto Saari and Tom Penny led him to make one of skateboarding’s most legendary videos ever: Flip Skateboards’ ‘Sorry’. Fred’s work here is unique. Call it the right time, the right team, whatever you want, this film launched an assault on skateboarding in 2002 and left a crater for every other team on the scene to crawl out of. Fred’s film direction continued from there with stunning work alongside Cliché Skateboards. Their relationship blossomed and led to full length productions that have seen the brand become a world-wide force.

The other side of Fred’s talent is documented successfully in photography. Six year’s ago, before the trend of Facebook ‘likes’ and The Berrics, we welcomed his unique photographic skills to our Triple Shot features in 2006, so here’s an overdue sequel to what was one of our most read features back then.

Fred is now a staunch WeActivist and is about to participate in Red Bull’s Illume photo competition.

Postcard stoke:

Easy Fred, great to see that you have unleashed your ‘Hand in Hand’ book online this month. Looking back, what would you change if you were to travel back to Israel  tomorrow?

I would go during summertime, as the days would be longer than when we went in November. I didn’t want to shoot at night or use flashes but it was getting dark at 4:30pm! I had to change my plans a little bit as a result and didn’t come up with as many skate pics than I personally wanted, and in the way I normally shoot them. It was frustrating for sure but going in the summertime would probably be too hot! I’d rather go somewhere new!

Taking us to the present day we have seen that you have passed over duties of film making to Boris Proust for the new Cliché video ‘Bon Voyage’, do you have footage in this forthcoming production?

So so so. the thing is, as crazy as it might sound, considering the history we have together, we completely parted ways with Cliché. I am not doing any work for them anymore, nor will I be involved in anyway with their new video. There may be a few old clips in there that I filmed but that’s all. A chapter has turned. Although, this doesn’t mean I’m not working on other projects with some of Cliché’s riders. I’m of course very close with the riders. I like working with Flo Mirtain who’s has good ideas and motivation. We made a short movie in French making fun of skateboarding, so I’m working on making the English version of it.

What other projects are coming soon?

The biggest project I’ve been working on directly involves Javier Mendizabal and is directed by Thomas Campbell for whom I have the biggest respect. This has been filmed entirely on 16mm film and should drop around summer time and has been a super exciting project to work on. I’m very close with Javier and truly respect his skateboarding. In addition I’m working on couple ‘making of’s’ about that project.

There’s much exciting stuff to come, and you will find out sooner or later but expect some very diverse things. The outcomes will be very different from each other. No routine, no repetition, and of course, no following of formats either, I’m trying to bring new stuff.

Take us through how your ‘burnt’ photo series were put together? Which shot has been most popular?

One day I came across some shitty slides. Nothing interesting on them. Instead of throwing them to the thrash, I figured out I could do some wild experiments. Being a pyromaniac, it didn’t take long for me to realize how good burnt stuff could be. The Mark Appleyard kickflip at the top of this page seems to be a popular one.

What are you shooting on mostly these days?

Still on my good old Nikon FM2, my first reflex camera from 2001. Well, I had to get a new one after accidentally destroying the shutter of the original one. It was a sad moment. So I still shoot mostly with film, but it’s very tough because no one supports this format anymore and magazines pay ridiculous fees these days. This alone has pushed people to use digital only. Economics suck.

We asked Fred to ‘Expose’ some of his most cherished photos over the years. Enjoy the tales behind the shoots.

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This photo above of Alex Gavin was shot in Montreal in 2008. Some force attracted me to the Olympic Stadium. I knew I had to go there. In one day, I shot more epic stuff than in months. There are tons of hyper photogenic spots so I was in heaven and I also had the chance to hook up with great and super motivated skateboarders. All the ingredients were gathered for pure epicness.

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Ali Boulala was living in Lyon for few years. Of course being around Ali, it’s pure comedy almost all the time. Just going out walking the dog might turn into something special. It was the first time in my life, and very probably the last, that I saw a dog doing some wallrides!

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I like shooting with Javier Mendizabal, he always super down for missions. His skating is very photogenic and different. I like the fact he’s into photography too. He shoots really good photos, so he perfectly understands some situations I put him in; very specific and precise ones to create strong images. Sometimes it requires patience and involvement from the “models”, and with Javier, for this fact, it’s always easy to shoot with him.

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If I’d have requested to make this photo happen, it probably would never have come to fruition. Sometimes photography is just magic, without you doing anything. We didn’t even try to attract the flying rats, they would come back on their own and they all flew off at the right time in the right spots. I must say though that those little bastards were annoying Mr Salazar so much that the madness was setting in! Omar Salazar, Fs bluntslide, Lyon, 2006.

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The tricks need to be crazy and amazing in order to make great skateboard pictures from a false idea. Sylvain Tognelli, bs 180 flip, Lyon.

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This is in my neighbourhood. I passed this place for about 20 years until I realised it could be turned into a skate spot with the right people involved such as Steve Forstner (pictured) and Ali Boulala. It’s a very strange and limited spot and the only time it was skated, but I’m stoked we did it.

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The confrontation between different worlds. Some people focus on playing, while some others are into fighting. Not much else to say. This is from my book called “Hand in Hand” that you can watch online down ↓ there. Charles Collet Fs lipslide, Jerusalem 2010.

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I obviously love the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who passed away in 2012 at the age of 105! He never knew but he had a great sense of building such great spots for skateboarders. Ricardo Fonseca in Le Havre, France. 2005.

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Without knowing I started filming for ‘Sorry’ while making éS ‘Menikmati’. This was on the very first Flip trip I had been on back in 1999 in France. The whole team went to visit Tom Penny in the french countryside where he lived with his mum. This picture sums up the general vibe and atmosphere of the trip pretty well; a batch of wild teenagers going crazy all the time. Funny memories!

Flick through Fred’s ‘Hand in Hand’ online book and if you feel like treating yourself to one of his ‘burnt’ series photos or even a pack of 4 postcards featured in this article, they are available now from his Big Cartel site.

Xerox and Destroy

When introduced to the concept of the Photocopy Club you cannot really dismiss it due to its simple but effective nature.

What is it then? Essentially it’s all about bringing people together to contribute their photos, whatever the subject, and sharing the tales. Once these submissions are photocopied and stuck to the gallery walls, the doors open, free beer is delivered to fuel the chit chat and the photos are set for sale to help cover the costs of the gallery hire for one evening only. The walls are then stripped by drunk people wanting to wake up with a memory of their favourite shot of the night. It’s a perfect idea.

The beautiful part of all of this is that Xerox and Destroy was open to everybody, so you get to see many different photos that you would never have seen before. These are showcased alongside various stills from skate photographers whose work you may well be familiar with, such as David Hopkins, Ben Larthe, Richie Hopson, Rich West, Jonnie Craig, Sam Hiscox, Jenna Selby and many more, all mixed up together, and all telling their own story. It’s an historic journey from start to finish, so long as you are quick enough to see them all before they are snapped up.

Last night’s gathering at the Doomed Gallery in Dalston was a huge success. Photographs filled the walls, Atticus provided the beer, the gallery was packed with people all night and the rest is now history.

Thanks to Matt Martin and Marc Vallée for making the effort to put this together.

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Exposed: ‘LIKE’

Throughout 2012, Ed Hubert‘s main goal was to complete and release his second scene video on the South Coast. Following his previous production ‘LA’, his latest work ended with a new twist. Looking to add some humour to the project, Ed emailed his childhood legend and children’s TV bod Dave Benson Phillips, to Ed’s surprise he replied saying he would love to be involved. The result was another fantastic scene video from Brighton’s finest, stuffed full of skating and of course, facebook orientated. What’s not to ‘LIKE’?

Enjoy the full film here:

Ed, you have been filming for a while now on the South Coast. Could you enlighten our readers with your history of filming skateboarding?

I was born in Brighton 22 years ago and I’ve spent half of that time at a dodgy little skate park known as The Level. I started out filming my mates (as most people probably do) and luckily they were pretty good at skating, so the edits started to get a little bit noticed. I bought a VX 5’ish years ago and have never looked back. It did me well over the years until a week before the LIKE premiere when it packed in. That camera had been on its last legs for a while, held together with some blu-tac and a sponge!

Did you study film at school, college or Uni or did you learn from watching skate videos?

I was lucky enough to have a really sound teacher at college who let me do my own thing and mess about with cameras and equipment. I’m now at the Arts Uni in Bournemouth studying film production, but mostly I learnt from being out skating and filming everyday, sitting at the bottom of some stairs or crouching in dogshit in a gutter, testing out what worked and what looked wack.

The Bournemouth scene has its characters, do you mingle with such delinquents down there too?

I honestly play no part in the Bournemouth scene; the locals probably just think I’m some chav.

Patch takes the stairs for Hubert’s lens.

The Brighton scene has always been strong, which particular reprobates inspired you to get stuck into representing the locals in film?

Just anyone and everyone that’s ever passed though the Level. So many stories, characters and dodgy situations that mostly go undocumented. Obviously Slim Jim set the standard with ‘Cheese on Tape’ and ‘Brighten’ leaving everyone to play catch up since.

With The Level in transition right now, how are the locals dealing with no central point?

The Level got ripped down the other day so there’s nothing there at the moment. The hardcore locals are a bit lost without it. The good news is a brand new shiny concrete park is set to be built in the summer. It only took the council 15’ish years to sort it out! Obviously this is rad, but personally from a cinematic point of view I would always prefer to see The Level’s knackered old wooden ramps with rats scuttling around than footage of another generic concrete park like all the others in the country.

All hail the old Level. Amir Williams is shot here at home

How does ‘LIKE’ differ from ‘LA’?

‘LA’ was a bit of blur. I don’t really know how that ever got made. It was more a case of film everything and make sure everyone had a trick in it. Those were the job centre years. It was all a lot more raw and unpolished than ‘LIKE’. With ‘LIKE’ I said from the start I wanted to do something a bit different. I kept seeing these scene videos and (even company videos) that try to imitate the same style and production values as say ‘Fully Flared’ or ‘Mindfield’ but can’t, because at the end of the day it’s just Joe Bloggs skating an NCP in the freezing cold somewhere in England mid-January! Why try and glamourise that with slow motion cutaways and overly epic music? I chose the least cool theme I could think of basically. Facebook is the one thing that everyone uses, talks about all the time, and yet still seem to hate. I thought it would be funny to stick in a cheesy soundtrack worthy of any karaoke bar and get DBP (Dave Benson Phillips) involved. For me, that’s a great video!

How long did it take to put ‘LIKE’ together?

A year and a half. I was editing solidly until literally hours before the premiere, I didn’t even have a chance to test playback on the DVD. It was so sketch, thank god it worked fine or I’d have had to deal with 300 pissed up skaters tearing down England’s oldest cinema!

Who took the longest to film their part?

Everyone took ages. And technically there is only 3 full parts in it. I think I could make another full length using footage of just nearly made tricks and attempts.

Dan Emmerson nose the score.

Who had their footage wrapped up instantly?

Dave Benson Phillips. He smashed everything in one day!

What was the worst slam?

Chris’ (Push skate shops owner) ‘stunt’ at Bercy. Hands down. I’ll let Matt Ransom tell you about that one.

Watch Ollie Smith’s full section:

Who do you think managed to film the hardest trick?

There were a few tricks that we ended up going back to several days in a row for. Ollie Smith’s ender in Berlin took at least 3 days but looking back I remember it still being fun times. In reality it was probably both of us sweating out hangovers and getting sunstroke. It’s funny how ‘skate’ holidays are so much different to normal holidays.

Dan takes a tre over the infamous Brighton gap.

Who had the most NBD’s?

I’d like to say every trick is but that’s probably not the case. Especially when you go to the big European cities where you will have to do something really special in order to make it worthwhile. For this reason we avoided the architecturally amazing but rinsed out city that is Barcelona.

How many packets of fags were smoked during the making of ‘LIKE’?

None, everyone smoked rollies because we’re poor.

Ed gets down with the DBP.

MATT RANSOM

“When Ed told me to recall a funny story about filming for the ‘Like’ video it was hard to choose just one. The last day of filming was pretty funny. Ed was getting a bit stressed about the prospect of editing the majority of the video the night before the premiere, nobody was getting any of their last tricks, and then a bird shat all over his shiny new hat! That was funny, but Ed actually made it easy for me and suggested that I should tell you all the story of Chris vs. the grass bank at Bercy, so here it is:

We drove to Paris to spend a few days there and try to get some footage. Most of us wanted to film tricks on our skateboards, but Chris, being the rebel that he is, decided that footage of bum-slides down grass banks is way better, so he set out to do just that. In fact, on the first day of the trip we ended up at Bercy and Chris slid down one of the banks there (a la Flip Sorry) right onto his arse. Everybody found it hilarious and that was that – Chris’ first trick of the trip in the bag. Then as the holiday continued Chris figured that simply sliding down the bank isn’t enough, saying he ‘dragged his hands to slow down’ too much so he wanted to do it better. Plus being an ABD and all that, he wanted to be ‘that dude’ that jumped into the bank off this massive blue rail, about 15ft above, pretty much to certain death. He was claiming it so much, everyday of the trip he was saying things like “I’ve soooo got it”, so on the last day we end up back at Bercy so Chris can be a hero.

Me and Chris are at the top of the grass bank, looking at this blue rail discussing how many ways he could die by doing this. He looks at me and says that he’s just gonna slide down again, as a warm-up for the ‘drop-off-the-rail-in’, but this time he’s not gonna put his hands down. Then, seeing the worried look on my face he says “Matt, how do you feel about the way I live my life?” to which I reply “I think it’s a bit excessive. Please don’t do this mate.” Everyone else at the bottom is saying things like “this will be the best thing I’ve ever seen” and generally egging him on to do it. Then next thing I know Chris has jumped into the bank, fag in one hand, giving the finger to Danny with the other and going so fucking fast on his arse that when he hits the bottom it’s no surprise to me that he breaks his coccyx and two of the vertebrae in his spine. Great. Well done! Bearing in mind we’ve got to catch our ferry back from Calais in about 5 hours time this situation stresses everyone out a bit. Chris screaming in agony doesn’t really help much either! Then in the confusion, 2 ambulances managed to get called instead of just the one. I felt bad for him because obviously he was in a lot of pain, but equally I thought it was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen anybody do and felt really embarrassed and annoyed that the ambulance crew have yet again been called to Bercy, where some retarded English kids have fucked themselves up being idiots abroad.

Cue an additional 2 days in Paris for me and Chris in St Antoine Hospital, me bringing him food, helping him go to the toilet, sleeping in a plastic chair next to his bed and generally listening to him moan about how much pain he is in. Chris, if you’re reading this, chill out mate. Take care of your body because it doesn’t matter how hard your dog is, if you’ve got no spine you’re fucked.”

DAN EMMERSON

SUBWAY.

DAY 1: “It was supposed to be summer but it was windy as fuck. I dragged Ed along to a ‘spot’, a subway tunnel which starts at a car park and spits you out on the seafront. It has a handrail against the wall which levels out at the top of the tunnel. We arrive at the spot and are greeted by a stench of piss and general filth. As Ed is setting up his camera, a man who looked like he had just wandered off a pirate ship walks past and chucks his guts onto the floor, right in the middle of the run up. It was fucking disgusting and looked red. We skate around it for a bit, and after a couple of crap slams I’d had enough. We went somewhere else that day.

DAY 2: For some reason (probably due to the weather again), a few days later we decide to go back. Yippee! This time on arrival we see that some one had been nice enough to leave a turd right next to the pile of red vomit, which by now had dried out but was still very visible. The run up had now become a minefield of human waste.

Local Brighton man Nick Tensh was helping us prize the rail away from the wall a little bit, when he managed to wack himself straight in the mush full pelt with an iron bar! It was so gnarly! He insisted he was fine and then spat blood all over the wall right where I was hitting the rail. All of a sudden we were surrounded by every type of bodily fluid.

After having slammed a couple more times I was starting to look like a chimney sweep. It was so shitty that it was starting to get funny until we heard some dude (who had been sleeping on a mattress by the entrance to the car park) shouting at us, slurring “NO PHO..TOS… OF ME,, NO FLASH!”, he was walking towards us trying to look hard repeating the same shit. Eventually he calms down after a few “fuck off’s” and “who are yous?”. Everything about the spot was fucked at this point so we got the fuck out of there.

I felt like I needed to burn the clothes I had on, be put through a car wash and have a tetanus jab after that ‘session’. Can’t wait to go back and make it one day!”

Level memories will live forever.

PATCH SULLIVAN

For me, getting pied in the face by Dave Benson Phillips as the video’s ender has got to be the funniest part of my participation in the making of the video. I never would have imagined that happening in my life. How many people can say they’ve taken a pie to the noggin from the legendary DBP?!

ANDY EVANS

Ed has really put in some seriously hard work on this video and should be virtual high fived for bringing together a cocktail of DBP, some amazing skating and Ollie Smith wearing more pink and shorter shorts than anyone would ever dare! It’s cutting edge!

Get your copy of ‘LIKE’ on DVD now for £6 from PUSH Skate Store, Brighton, Consortium in Bournemouth, or online at www.likevideo.yokaboo.com

Exposed: DGK’s ‘Parental Advisory’

Photos courtesy of Brad Rosado, Matt Daughters and Seu Trinh

The back end of 2012 brought some great skateboard video treats across the globe and as you may well remember, we finished our year by screening the UK premiere of DGK’s first full video production after the 10th Anniversary Xmas Jam.

Pushing skateboard films forward is no easy task, but the DGK crew had their own plans of how their first major flick was to be rolled out. Actors, film crews, special guests, closed-off roads, crazy skits and of course, some absolutely banging skating was meticulously planned over a long period of time. With all of this in the mix and a great reaction worldwide, we spoke to Brad Rosado who filmed about 90% of the video to explain a few facts about how this came to fruition alongside a selection of DGK’s ever-impressive team riders discussing their most memorable days from filming ‘Parental Advisory‘.

Who directed the original plan for the overall production?

“The original plan for the production was a group collaboration between the DGK Team, Troy Morgan, Matt Daughters, and myself. We knew we wanted to make a video that no one would forget. When the skate portion of the film was near completion we started to brainstorm how the intro’s were going to be. There were talks about making it into a documentary but that turned into having skits. I think Daughters had this idea for a few years that the video should be focused around the team as if they were mini versions of people on DGK. One day I remember Baker (our graphic designer) showing a bunch of us a dope music video he found online. Troy saw it and I could tell he saw the vision he wanted for ‘Parental Advisory’ from that video. After that, he contacted Randal Kirk (the director) and we started to plan out the rest of the video.

dgk_parentaladvisoryWhen did the shooting originally start?

All together it took us about 3 years to gather all the footage for the skate sections. Everybody was filming for their parts up until a week before the finished DVD was due. The whole team busted their asses to the very end and it shows in their parts. We started to shoot the narrative part of the film in early Spring of 2012.

How were the actors picked to play the roles between sections?

The actors were found a few different ways. We had a few casting calls and that’s where we found the actual actors for the film. We found the skate kids through Susan Williams”Save A Heart’ program. We did a casting call with her one weekend and were able to find the majority of the younger actors there. They all skated and already had the background that represented the film correctly. A lot of people in the film had no acting experience at all. All they had to do was act natural pretty much. Randal directed everybody well and got the performance he wanted out of them to make this film what it is.

Which celebrities are involved in the cameos?

Some cameos we had in the film were DMX, Beanie Sigel, Kareem Campbell, Fabian Alomar, Vanessa Veasley, Peedi Crakk, and Cappadonna.

With weapons involved in the skits, did you need licenses to shoot in the public domain?

For most locations of the film we had permits and it was closed sets so we could do whatever we wanted. Most of that stuff was shot between 1am-6am so there was barely anybody out on the streets to see what was going on.

How difficult was it to cut HD footage together with VX footage?

That was one of the hardest things to figure out while editing the video. At first we had all the HD footage cropped and the VX stuff kept 4:3. This was probably considered the correct ways to do it. We ran into a problem when we started to add the narrative part of the film. It wasn’t transitioning right between the two sections so we had to make a rough call and stretch the VX footage to 16:9 and kept the HD footage normal. I know a lot of people don’t agree with this decision but we made the best judgement call to make sure the aspect ratios weren’t jumping around. Overall I feel it worked out and most people didn’t even notice. We went through over 25 different aspect ratios to find the right look to make it seamless.

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What are your most memorable days from filming this flick?

There were so many good times with these dudes it’s hard to remember them all. The ones that stick out to me are some of the battles we overcame with the cameras we were using. During the last few months we would hit up Jkwon downtown LA every Sunday. During one of the sessions Marquise was in the zone and started to try halfcab fs nosegrind nollie flip out on the long ledge. We tried for a while and he landed a pretty good one. Quise knew he could do it better so we kept trying. After trying for a while longer he did the best one he could of possibly done. The camera I was using at that time never gave me any problems until we watched back the footage. For some reason on that one try it had an insane glitch from right before he popped until right after he landed. I tried everything I could do to make it playback properly but it wasn’t happening. That try was completely destroyed.

Quise was pretty bummed but he knew he had to do it again. We tried for a while longer and got another one. It wasn’t as good as the glitched version but it was still amazing! I remember people asking why we were doing it again since the last one was so perfect. I didn’t even know what to say. It sucks that no one will ever see how good he really did it but that’s the gamble you take sometimes when using a camera that’s 10+ years old. I don’t even think anybody thinks that the version in the video is less than perfect anyways. To do that trick 3 times is impressive! Thankfully we have upgraded to HD and glitches are a thing of the past.”

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STEVIE WILLIAMS

“ATL has always been a home away from home when we were working on this project. For the majority of the video we had team apartments and the squad would fly in and out filming nonstop. Staying together and going on missions is what helped make this team a real family. The first clip I filmed for the video was in a school yard in East Atlanta. It was first time filming with Brad so I knew we had to break the ice and get it poppin. I was really just cruising around, but ended up getting a dope line on film for my part. I started off the line with a few flat ground tricks and then there was a quick flat gap I was trying to fs flip. On one of the tries I ended up landing in a manual by accident and held it to the end. That day symbolized beginning of the video and after that we just kept stacking clips and made it a reality.”

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MARQUISE HENRY

“We were on a DGK NY trip for like two weeks we had are own apartments right downtown Manhattan. It was dope being in the city waking up hoping out of bed and just hitting the streets. We had a big crew mobbin’ up and down the city blocks, hopping on and off trains going to and from skate spots all day and night. I remember skating down Time Square with Dane, Brad and Seu and we see this random guy that had these dope-ass parrots. Seu shot some dope pics with them on head and on my board. That night we ended up chillin’ in Time Square till 4am and then skated 50+ blocks back to the crib. It was just dope being with the crew in New York having good times skating, chillin’, and livin’ man. Those are some good times I’ll never forget.”

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JACK CURTIN

“So Stevie and I tagged along on an Expedition filming trip to China a few years ago. Every morning we would all get breakfast at the cafe downstairs from the hotel. Spencer Hamilton and I would get this super strong ice coffee every morning because it would get us so sparked. So one morning Stevie was at breakfast saying how he felt super tired and jet-lagged or something so I told him to have one of the ice coffee’s cuz it would get him hyped. He never drinks coffee so he was hesitant at first but eventually he got one cuz he wanted to get hyped to go skate.

So like an hour later we’re at the skate spot and Stevie is really hyped on it. He was trying these crazy manual tricks and he had already filmed one banger, but while he was filming the second one, he started freaking out cuz he needed to take a shit super bad. The coffee had messed his stomach up. The skate spot was in the middle of nowhere so there really wasn’t anywhere close to go, plus in China they rarely have toilets or toilet paper at the public bathrooms. Somehow he managed to land his 2nd manual trick while holding everything in, and as soon as he landed the trick, he took off in search of dumping grounds. He was gone for like 45 mins to an hr but I guess he found one because he came back with a look of relief on his face. He blamed me for everything and he swore to me that he would never drink coffee again.”

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DERRICK WILSON

“One time we were heading to las Vegas from Phoenix am. It was Brad, Keelan, Marquise, Dane and myself. When we made it to the hotel, I went to the bathroom. After using the bathroom, I failed to realize that some toilet paper was stuck in my boxers. To my knowledge, Keelan and Dane were the first to know, they broke down in the lobby laughing! We went on day and night sessions, getting as much footage for the video as we could. Afterwards we chilled, gambled some. Minus the drinks and gambling, it was a fun productive trip. We made the best out of what we had!”

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WADE DESARMO

“There were a bunch of situations we got into while filming for this video. One that I will probably never be able to forget was a trip we took to Philly and New York. Being from the east coast I always jump at the chance to skate Philly whenever possible, so when Brad told me about this trip we were going on that had Philly on one of it’s stops I was so hyped. Although if I could of seen what was going to happen I don’t think I would of been so enthusiastic. First day, I don’t even remember how but the VX broke, had to send it off for repairs so we didn’t have a camera anymore. We got lucky and Rasul knew someone who had just got a brand new VX and somehow we managed to borrow it for the last couple days we were in the city.

The first night we got it, we went straight to Love and started skating around and warming up. I had a line I wanted to try so we start going at it, things were feeling good and then one try the board just got away from me and nailed the cam real good. The person who lent us the camera happened to be skating with us at Love so once we knew the camera was jacked I had to try a few more tries and then act like I was over it so she wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong with the camera. Sent that one to the repair shop the next morning and we were once again without a camera. Definitely not the best time I’ve ever had in Philly but I still love it.”

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LENNY RIVAS

“Barcelona was one of my favourite places to travel during this video. When we were there, everyday was a good day skating with my boys. We would skate all day, get tricks, and then go party all night. After my first trip out there I was already thinking about what tricks I would get the next time I went. On my second trip back to Spain I fell asleep on the plane and had a dream that I switch fs 360’d the Macba 4. During the middle of the trip we skated by the set and said fuck it, let’s do it. I warmed up for a bit and just went for it. It was a battle but one of the tries felt right so I put it down. My whole squad was there and that gave me the motivation to stack clips for the rest of the trip. When we put together my part for the video the clip looked a little old and didn’t make the cut. All I know is that I dreamt it and I made it come true. That’s what it’s all about.”

Find DGK on Facebook and Twitter and make sure this video is in your collection today. It’s out on DVD in your local skate shop and on i-Tunes for download. Support it.

Of Mice & Men Interview

Of Mice & Men InterviewThere is one band that is currently taking over metalcore. You don’t have to look very far to find out who it is, flick through any magazines, browse on sites like Tumblr and they are everywhere. ‘They’ are Of Mice & Men. Not only are the band known for their punishingly heavy shows and bouncing riffs, Of Mice & Men have a reputation for being one of the most positive and enthusiastic bands in the scene at the moment.

Crossfire’s Emma Wallace caught up with vocalist Austin Carlile and drummer Val Arteaga ahead of their sold out London show as part of their Autumn/Winter UK & Europe tour. Here’s what went down…

You’ve been massively busy this year, but what’s been the highlight of your recent touring schedule?

Val: Everyday that we get to get on stage is a highlight. We spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour and every single date of that tour was insane. We’ve just finished an August Burns Red tour, and again every single date on that was amazing.

Austin: We’re here ready to start a sold out UK run, how awesome does that sound? That needs to be a highlight. We played New York last night, woke up, flew here, got here and have to play a show tonight. Its hectic but its awesome.

Sounds very intense, but like you say, awesome too. Do you suffer from jet-lag with all the traveling?

Austin: Oh boy yeah! But today I had an English Breakfast… man! £5 but it was massive. That helps sort the jet lag out.

Val: Oh man I’m so jealous. Can’t believe I missed out on that.

You’ve changed the set list around a bit recently, which songs get the pits started?

Austin: All of them! ‘The Depths’, ‘Ohioisonfire’… Oh and ‘The Flood’ is a banger. Anything heavy.

Well your new stuff is particularly heavy, is that the way your looking to go in the future?

Austin: I’d say it’s more like a step for us. We wanted these last tracks to come out as their own piece, we wanted to show our fans this is a direction we can go but not one we may stay with. For the longevity of the band, I think we’ll stay with the melodicore style, we’re a band that includes singing, and that will be something that won’t ever fully disappear.

Does that mean clean vocals will be coming back when you release new material?

Val: Yeah, for sure.

Austin: Yes. 100%.

When is the new album coming out? Everyone is excited for it!

Austin: 2013…!

Val: If the world doesn’t end.

Austin: What?! I don’t want the world to end. Why’s the world ending?

Val: I don’t know it’s just supposed to soon.

Austin: Oh man. Well I don’t care. As long as the world isn’t dead before our third album, it can explode the week after, but it’s something the world needs to hear!

Who do you think are the best acts around at the moment in your scene?

Austin: Our boys in Memphis May Fire who will tear apart the UK. And, well because of their front men, Linkin Park and Slipknot. Corey Taylor, man he’s just awesome, the best front man around.

He is awesome! Who do you think is the best front man of all time then?

Austin: Frank Sinatra! Haha hands down Frank! And I can answer for Val, he’ll say Michael Jackson.

Val: Hell yeah. Michael Jackson is the man!

Austin, so would you say Corey Taylor and Chester Bennington have inspired you?

Austin: Well obviously a bit. They are amazing. But when I started the band I never thought we’d get anywhere near their level, I’m pretty realistic. And still if someone said to me right now that I would be touring with Slipknot, I’d be like ‘Man… So sick!’.

Is your persona on stage different to who you really are?

Austin: For sure! For Val that’s ridiculous, of course he’s different! Emma you’ve seen him beat the shit out of a drum kit and look at him now, he’s like a like a puppy.

Val: True. I feel like our personas will always be a bit different on stage, but they aren’t massivelly different to what we are really like.

Austin: Hey, mine’s different!

Val: How so?

Austin: Well in real life do I walk around growling at people? No! I don’t spit at people in real life either.

Val: I guess not, but you’re pretty weird in real life and on stage!

Austin: It’s a bit like being in a theatre, you are different on stage, you play a character. I’m like Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, a bit like the single Austin and the not single Austin… too completely different people!

Val: Aww…

Austin: Dude that wasn’t meant for an ‘Aww’, it was meant for an ‘Oh. Shit’. I’m dangerous. Actually I’m being stupid, I’m not at all. But single Austin is tastefully playful, like I am on stage.

Val: Dude no one cares…

Before you go on stage, how do you get ready?

Val: It’s a secret.

Austin: No, I’ll break it down for you. Phil and Tino set up and do all the gear and stuff and Alan and I stay on the bus and we get pumped to music, something heavy like Lamb Of God or Korn. We head bang together! Then the tour manager is like ‘Guys come on!’ And we meet up with other guys, have a little huddle, get more pumped. Alan yells at us. He’s a bit mental. And then we shout at each other, go more mental. Then we are ready. I love it.

Last time I spoke to you guys, you felt something was lacking on tour, do you remember?!

Austin: No.. Oh wait. Yeah. A tour kitten. Yeah I caught up with Emma before a show and went on about cats. We wanted a tour kitten to come on the bus with us. A cute kitten to cuddle. Actually last time I spoke to you I was dressed up as a cat, and now I’m all over Tumblr like that, a bit embarrassing…

So my last question is do you have a tour kitten now?

Austin: No, unfortunately not. Although Alan does have a kitty back home, she’s real cute. I moved on from cats, I want a tour puppy now. Man I’m so metal…!

Austin Carlile, Of Mice & Men

Words: Emma Wallace
Portrait Photos: Tim Easton
Live Photos: Emma Wallace