Joe Howard is one of those people whose skateboarding makes you sit up and take notice. An angry and powerful style which makes everything he does look like he is acting out a personal vendetta against coping; grinds as long as you like, and any air to truck or tail smack at will.
Joe specializes in skateboarding that looks like a bar fight!
Coming from someone as chilled out as he is just makes it seem even gnarlier (ignoring the time he tried to fight the whole of Hastings town centre, that’s another story), and his brand of transition destruction is fuelled as much by roots reggae and dancehall as it is by hardcore punk.
Jono Coote caught up with Joe to talk about The Ripped, Yorkshire, Copenhagen and badly timed ankle injuries but before you get stuck in, enjoy his fast-as-fuck footage put together by Ross Brunton shot down at the HOV and Brixton Beach.
Ph above: Melon to rock at Stockwell’s crack house. All photos courtesy of Paul Graham.
When did you start skating, and what was your first set up?
Coming up to 10 years strong I reckon now. As far as I remember I got my first board from the local car boot – some fishtail biscuit with pink rails. I remember learning my first trick on that number, dead stop shuv-it’s in the pub car park because it wouldn’t roll right! Good you know it had probably been melting away in some bloke’s damp cellar since 1989. After that short lived introduction to the useless wooden toy I can’t really remember being stoked on a particular set up for a long time. I had a few no branders for a while, you know, I couldn’t afford a ‘pro’ deck for a long time, I was just happy to be skating. I guess I just used to buy what was cheapest at the time, saving up all my paper round money and heading over to Wisdom skate shop at the time; usually something British like Blueprint, Death or Heroin – mostly Death. They had the best team growing up. I think the first video I bought was Escape from Boredom, that got me hyped.
I first met you skating the legendary Ripped skatepark (RIP) in Dewsbury – explain that spot for those who didn’t manage to get to skate there?
It was the real crust, heart and soul of northern skateboarding growing up for me and my pals. Situated on the outskirts of one of West Yorkshire’s finest shite’ole towns, Dewsbury. The ‘crete coping was loud, Sex Pistols played on repeat, the bonfires were high and the death matches went all night! Everything that was edible was deep fat fried, no one knew who paid in and all nine cats that lived there were addicted to cali. Skinnyman played there once wearing nowt but denim, rapping away in the middle of the park, that was pretty raw. You would leave sleepless with graffiti in your lungs covered in cat shit but they were always nights to remember, hands down, every time. Snoz is the business!
Fakie thruster in Tottenham’s scum hole.
Do you have any good stories from those times? The Listerine moonshine night always stands out for me…
The moonshine was gnarly. Instant headache gear and you aren’t tasting shit for days, that stuff was battery acid for sure. I remember when place first opened, it was a right dust fest. The transition was a real slip n’ slide, so Mad Snoz decided to mix up a portion of paint and sand giving the ramps a real good seeing to! You can only imagine the scabby aftermath.
It seems like once the Ripped closed and all you guys got older, most people moved to Leeds – who still skates in the area now?
I think I’m the last man standing to be honest, I’ve been a lone rider for some time in this town now. But like you said, most of the fam live in Leeds now so I spend a lot of time over there. You know it’s pretty sweet to know there’s always a couch to crash on when you’re rolling with the boys, holla for the hospitality fellas!
I spent the last 3 years traveling up and down from London too, as my piece of fluff moved there for uni. It would be rad to move to London or some city with a strong scene one day but got too much love for Yorkshire still. RWTB!
If in doubt just throw yourself at it…
As someone who appreciates a good transition, give us a top 5 list of skate parks you’ve been too?
1) Brixton Beach, (Stockwell) UK
2) Faelledparken, the Hullet, Christiana bowl: can’t beat Copenhagen turf.
3) La Cantera, Bilbao
4) Mechelen DIY, Belgium
5) Tottenham DIY, UK
How about the top five destinations you’d like to visit to skate?
4) West Indies
Staying with the travel hype, you’ve done Copenhagen a few times now – how would you describe it for those who haven’t been?
A comfortable hell ride every time. Everyone should go there and get a slice.
You’ve recently got hooked up with Anti-Hero, Independent and Spitfire through Shiner..
Yeah, I feel blessed to be getting flowed my all-time favourite companies off them, so stoked! 18 has been my fuel since I was younger watching all the old videos round Lee Rozee’s house, there ain’t no other company that emits so much energy and never will be.
You can add this photo to that Tumblr of skaters not wearing Nike’s.
Did you manage to skate at all after fucking your ankle on the first day of the most recent trip?
The Indy trip was a total wipe out for me on the first stop. I was just getting into the session and I just chicken footed down the tranny and my trotter bust; you know I snapped it before when I was young, so it’s real weak and that. It’s been a few months now tip-toeing about. Luckily I didn’t break it this time, just messed up the ligaments real good and that, but I am back on my board now. Besides from that shit all the guys smashed it! Seeing Colin Adam skate up there was rad. I remember seeing him do eggs in Faelledparken deep a few years ago all pissed up, they don’t call him a cannibal for nothing!
I know you’re into vinyl, especially reggae and dancehall, have you picked up anything good recently or is there any good shit you want posted up with this interview?
Yer for sure. I get bits now and again but wax is expensive especially with riddim there’s not that many record shops around west Yorkshire for that kind of stuff. I like to go rooting in London sometimes and I guess a lot of the new stuff is digital nowadays but you can’t beat that reggae turntable sound. I like lots of music, it all depends what mood I’m in to what I buy or listen to like I’m sure most folk do. At the moment I’ve been digging this new album my good friend Sam Barrett just brought out. Check it! These are my homies and my inspiration.
How did you get into reggae? I know Huddersfield has a legendary background in reggae sound systems, but you’re also into punk music which is what got me into reggae?
Yeah I guess when I was younger I used to listen to a lot of old British punk which got me well into the roots and early skinhead stuff, like all the Trojan releases and that which got me hyped. I guess everything I’ve listened to stems from rooting through my dad’s music pulling stuff out like Killing Joke, Bauhaus, Yellowman and even N.W.A when I was younger lived through all the genres. I remember him telling me to get hold of a Burning Spear album when he knew I was into that stuff telling that reggae don’t get better than that so I guess he has always introduced good music to me growing up. Huddersfield still has a little reggae scene going on, I used to go to the carnival there as a young whipper snapper to stand as close as I could get to the sound systems until my bones rattled and my ear drums burst.
Let’s sign this off with your top five Yorkshire skaters?
Let’s have a couple extra:
-Ben Lister (AKA Bruce)
Joe rides the lightning for Anti Hero, Spitfire, Independent, Hoax MFG and Rip Ride Skateshop.
He loves Madonna too… to fakie.