Exposed: Richard West

The South Coast has always produced a variety of interesting degenerates within the skateboard scene. Some say that it must be the sea air that assists the extraordinary to achieve such valuable creativity, or maybe there’s some sort of phytogenetic seed that is carried through each generation that stimulates the next batch of skateboarders to be as extrovert as the last.

Brighton’s scene is full of said personalities, so who better to discuss them with other than local skate photographer Richard West. Rich is 24, an email buddy of Beyonce’s and would tell you himself that he is one of life’s ‘failed skateboarders’. Somehow, Rich was nominated to capture Brighton’s vibrant skateboard scene because he loves taking photographs, and he does it very well.

“I started shooting photos at about the age of 19 but I have no idea how I got sucked into it. Something made me want to start though, so I spent a few years studying at Brighton, which was rad. I guess it was a standard situation where I didn’t do enough work, even though and I now wished I had, but that’s hindsight for you.”

Most photographers would admit to waking up daily with a desire to push forward. Rich is no different. There’s always another spot to find, and even a new angle on an old one too.

“If I was to describe my style of shooting I would say OTT, verging on obsessive compulsive. If I see something that I feel is wrong, I will go insane. I won’t show anyone anything until I feel it’s to a standard where I feel it might be OK for the human eye to see. Usually it isn’t, but sometimes it’s borderline.”

Is this behaviour what makes skateboarding exciting though? Is it natural for us to aspire to new levels of creativity? Of course it is. The best skateboard photographers out there all face this outlook. Striving to return from a trip knowing that the goods could arrive once soaked in water to swell the gelatin layer.

Thesedays, once the card is inserted into the computer and the download bar reachs completion, the goods are there to see much faster than yesteryear. Rich currently shoots on a Nikon D700. His flash setup “looks like something from a 90s skate video and it’s all tucked into a bag that looks like i’m going on holiday everytime I go out! I keep forcing myself to shoot film so I recently bought a Pentax 6×7. It’s a rad camera but a bit of a nightmare to take around.”

Speaking about the snappers that have inspired this notion of perfection, Rich believes there are actually: “far, far, far too many amazing skateboarding photographers out there! Far too many!” But the names that are mentioned include the work of Alex Burrell, Sam Muller, Brian Gaberman, Lex Kembery, Scott Pommier, Percy Dean, Wig and Rich Gilligan, to name a few. “They are all amazing, especially for their love and continual persistence to shoot film- something I wish I did a lot more.” And as the wind blows, Brighton’s finest will not make any plans and roll with the program. He certainly will not feel like a failure if they don’t work out.

Enjoy the view through Richard West’s lens in our first of many Exposed features we have lined up, where skateboard photography or film are explained by those in and around the action.

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“This spot is notorious to Brighton. It’s one of the only hubba’s around the south and it’s also one of the worst things to skate. As soon as you and your board connect with its crusty haggard edge, you are almost automatically thrown straight to the floor like a sack of organs. You will be able to see this clip in an up and coming Andy Evans video which is sure to be filled with skateboarding puns and terrible 80s music.”

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“Stevie Thompson officially makes the best shapes around! This Hurricane was a shot from a recent trip to Bristol and after seeing the DIY spot in footage we had to give it a go! I can’t describe how hard it was to skate! To be honest, I didn’t even bother trying, but Stevie came through. Not bad for a 37 year old! Haha!”

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“This is one of the best ramps in the world (or far from it). This was shot at a place called Crowhurst. A small, pointless, uncounted-for village in the middle of nowhere, that is graced with a 11 foot rusty vert ramp bowl thing. It’s owned by a metal worker who built it for a local BMX rider that he noticed, who needed a place to ride many moons ago. It’s made from a number of rusty steel sheets of metal that have now started to come up. Just under the coping, the ramp has started to corrode away, leaving a nice hole that you have to avoid of risk falling to your rusty death! If for some reason you are in the area. you must check this thing out! It’s like nothing you will ever skate, but don’t go there on a Sunday as you will be shouted at. Oh and this is Ewen doing a trick, but who cares.”

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“I recently went on a trip to Berlin with the Drawing Boards lot and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. Living in a gypsy wagon surrounded by hippies is essentially my worst nightmare. That said, it was a really good trip with many a trick landed. This is Jak Tonge. Watch out for the new video ‘Draw the Line’ this December, it’s sure to be good!”

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“Matt Ransom is one of the biggest hippies I know. I was fed up with seeing fisheye shots of Shoreham skatepark. Yes, I know anyone who is reading this that knows me will think what a hypocrite, as I am a fisheye fiend, but that’s not the point. This was my attempt to do something different, that is actually, not that different.”

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“Interesting story with this. We visited a spot before this just down the road. We had previously been warned that day of the sketchiness of the area but Ewen assured me it would be find. On arrival we took ourselves down to the spot and had a little look. Not even setting foot on out boards we hear a loud “YOU MUST BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” We look aside to see a huge dude coming towards us squaring up to Ewen. He obviously didn’t like skateboarders, so we left. Ewen did the 5050 in about 4 goes. He’s pretty good.”

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“Contradicting what I said earlier, I’m a sucker for coping fisheye photos! Haha! Well to be honest, I hate them, but hanging out with people like Craig and Jake you pretty much won’t ever be able to escape them. They are far too consumed by 80s skating which is funny and also sometimes really annoying.”

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“I hate Ewen, but he does have some good tricks. Not bad for a cowboy.”

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“Same here!”

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“Polejams are one of the best things to skate and a rare treat! Pat is also sick at skating even if half the time he doesn’t know what’s actually going on in front of him.”

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“Jamie is an interesting dude. You can never tell where he is going to be the next day. He has a Grubb’s burger tattooed to his leg in the hope they would give him free burgers for life. Sadly they did not.”

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“Joe Sandand, AKA Hastings off the forum (sorry for naming you out) is a horrible person. Not really, but he does look like the lost member of Right Said Fred! This photo was shot not too long ago, at a legendary spot called Bottle Alley, shown on ‘Britain’s Toughest Seaside Towns’. It’s a horrible place that smells of piss, filled with all sorts of nasty Hastings characters throughout the day selling drugs and having sex on the steps (no joke). It’s a rad spot though and well worth a visit!”

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“More from Stevie Thompson. He is always rad to shoot. His knowledge of skateboarding is far beyond anything that any skateboarder could ever dream of too and that. All you need to do is give him a can of cider and stick him in Stockwell and you will see just how competent he is on his skateboard. He’s also a violent drunk. Haha!”

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“Finally, Zak (Isaac Miller) is sick at skating and it’s a rare sight to see him out of the Level haha! When he skates, he waits for no one and just goes for it straight away. It’s kind of the situation where you either get it or you don’t, because he would have probably nailed it in the first 5 attempts. Switch ollie.”

Crossfire Halloween Massacre 2012 Skate Jam feature

crossfirehalloweenmassacre_skatejamPhotos: Ben Larthe
Filmed by Al Hodgson, filmed and edited by Sirus F Gahan

Insane skateboarding went down at Saturday’s Massacre jam at BaySixty6. This session will not be forgotten due to the amount of NBD’s that were on show during the day. It was ridiculous stuff! Here’s a recap of what went down.

The day kicked off with a rail and stair session on the lower right Bay set with Adam Moss (who should take notable props) and many others getting stuck in. As the seconds counted down to zero, it was Alex DeCunha who stole the reddies at the final honk, with a tailslide shuv and then a tailslide flip-out on the rail amongst more during the sesh.

Luke Jarvis was one of the first to discover that a frontside boneless off the wall hole was actually possible. There’s not much space between coping and the Westway, so this jam session steadily brought the new wall to the ground. Death Skateboards’ Rob Smith made sure he was the first person ever to heel block the steel and nose block the wood in legendary style. His signature classic was followed with dog pisser’s, a blunt fakie pulled in off the nose and a fastplant fakie attempt that most would have passed on. Savageness from the Dogger was unleashed.

Some of the Carve Wicked crew were present today, led by Director General Sam Pulley, whose fs smith bash to fakie attempts on the coping were the catalyst for Lee Blackwell to pull in a handplant, Ewan Bower to fully tweak a sick extended fakie rock, a fakie one-foot dogpisser. Whilst others rocked the coping and fell to the flat, Salar Kooshki took a tre flip fakie, Jake Snelling dipped his nose in off the coping, Alex DeCuhna had an airwalk fakie and Tom Steele ended the proceedings with a perfect blunt fakie right on 0.01 on the clock. Other stuff went down, names evade us. It was ‘kin ridiculous!

NBD time. Rob Smith blocks out his nose on the wall hole.

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By this stage of the day, the bowl was roasting hot and an hour of intense skating followed. The new bowl, lauded by many who rode it today, was the sterling work of Croyde Mirandon and Michael Groenewegen, who had flown in from Holland to touch up the park in prepapration for today’s sesh. Sadly, they were not present at the opening jam after their hard graft on the new park, so it was an honour to have them present today.

Adam Moss brought crooks to the party early doors.

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As you can imagine, the fight to get into the bowl sesh was pretty fierce – two at a time, head to head. It’s pretty amazing that we didn’t have any serious injuries considering the speed most were hucking tricks at. Heroin’s Craig Questions dropped one of the very best lines of the day with back to back tricks that had every tail smacking the frozen coping as he crawled out of the woodwork after a somersault! Amazing handwork, footwork and 80s steez work to match. Talking of steez, Sox rocked the bowl on the day, but the footage was frozen on the tape and too glitched to run. Kill City have an am on their team who has unique flair on a deck and a smile for miles when he is popping cheeky one-foots, tail blocks, alley-oop shit and fun-filled runs that have Blender appeal. Both Sox and Craig Questions’ Scott are pure entertainment on urethane and a joy to watch.

Jesus (aka Matt Dinnadge) assisted every NBD with his special powers. This fs smith was laid down for his followers.

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The ‘asleep at the wheel’ skills of Dannie Carlsen graced this session today. Riding for Alis and coming in from Copenhagen, the Dane took the overall ‘Ripper of the Day’ award with some absolutely insane skateboarding. It was one of those sessions where every time he dropped in, you just wondered what else was about to drop, due to the stupendous amount of tricks in his bag! Blunt tre flips, flip fakie’s – I could go on and on. Watch the footage, it ws non-stop.

Rob Smith hand assists a blunt fakie on the all new vert wall. First one ever.

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Superdead’s Dennis Lynn flew in to show us that his technical lines at mach 10 deserve some serious praise. His fs smith grinds are not to be messed with pushed everything for the longest grind. Again, sorry Denis, but the deep freeze mangled your footage!. Creature’s Carl ‘Potter’ Wilson and Witchcraft’s Mikey Joyce both threw stalefish, frontside airs, boneless moves and smith’s into the pot. Ewan Bower treated us to his incredible pop and admirational style with fakie hip action and much more, Camden upcomer Salar Kooshki was pushing his weight up amongst the big boys as were the Waterton Brothers, Keiran (age 10) and Callum (12) who both had tail cracks from the entire platform for their consummate performances. Both have no fear and can provide back d’s, smiths, handplants and airs on request. Abrook brothers revisited? Time will certainly tell.

Ewen Bower sports more style than grey hair. Fully extended fakie rock into space.

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Lovenskate’s team are made up by some killer skaters at the moment. ‘Chav Dan’ Hill took his speed demons out on the bowl. He took home some dough in the Longest Grind comp with a frontside 5050 that took the shallow end apart with over 25ft of coping destruction. This frenzied session aided by the sound of trucks gnashing included Lynn, Smith, Potter, Salar and more. Brendan Ryall is said to the be the only other person who has fs 5050’d the shallow end to date (only last week) so props to the Chav Dan for holding it down when it counted the most.

You will not find a more laid back slayer than Dannie Carlsen.

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What a day. Thanks so much if you came down and big ups if you dressed up for a day of Halloween hammers. Massive thanks to Ben Larthe (photographer), Sirus F Gahan and Al Hodgson (filmers), all BaySixty6 staff, and of course, all of the guest riders from Witchcraft, Creature (UK), Lovenskate, Kill City, Heroin, Death Skateboards and Stand Up skate shop.

Zac

Potter takes a stale in the bowl.

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The next skate event at the Bay will be on Saturday 15th Decemberfor the 10th Anniversary Crossfire Xmas Jam. Put that in your dairy as one not to miss and expect a huge day out for all.

Pulley hucks one in for Kill City.

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Denis Lynn praises ‘Chav’ Dan Hill who took longest grind with a lengthy fs 5050.

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CRV WKD.

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Mitch Wheeler slings a backslide heel flip down the lower set.

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Creature’s Salar Kooshki warms up over the hip frontside, before doors.

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Matt Ransom places BaySixty6 on terrorist alert.

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Potter finds himself feeble in the hole.

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Louis Antoine tail slides the abyss.

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Trojan Skateboards’ Jonathan Shepperd rocked the wall jam.

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Ewen pops another for the hell of it.

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Alex Pasquini and Adam Moss on the lookout for a Miracle.

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Talk of the Devil…here’s Jesus!

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Yes Dan!

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A fast plant fakie in motion by Rob Smith.

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Mr Knight back smith’s the Bay rail during the day.

Sox killed it. Get well soon Jake, we missed you ripping the park today.

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Free stuff!

No apologies for the outfit kids but thanks for slaying it all day.

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Jake Snelling Fresh Blood

Interview by Craig Questions
Portrait by Richard West

jake_snellingThere are so many things I could write about Jake Snelling. I’ve known him for a while now and I’ve experienced pure energy and also the madness that is Jake. I remember first meeting him at Stockwell but I never really thought anything of him, he was just some kid with a shaved head and pulled-up socks. When I got to know Jake I realised how real he is and how determined he is with everything he does. You can’t ask for a better friend, always giving you half or everything he has and always down for anything, and I mean anything. Whether it be climbing into the sewers of Paris, going on skate missions with no sense of direction at all, or just plain mayhem in any form of the word.

I feel Jake and I get along so well because we are both passionately obsessed with 80’s skateboarding, collecting old memorabilia, fictional characters, and we also have a rare sense of humour. Most days Jake will call me up and will spend hours talking about skateboarding, old films, and situations that will never happen making him one of the funniest people I know.

I’ve seen him do a lot of crazy things, Every story you will hear is true which just adds to his legacy. I know that he does not give a fuck about what any of you think and he will always stay so true to what he thinks is real. I envy his ability to learn tricks at the click of a finger, he’s modest, he has the biggest film collection I have ever seen, he’s a live wire and he’s one of the best skateboarders ever.

Every interview starts with the usual who are you. we know all that and we know you’re from Worthing so let’s ask what’s the skate history of Worthing and why did you start skateboarding?

When I was fourteen I used to be a little shit hanging round the skatepark doing nothing. I could already skate along on my Dad’s old beaten Santa Cruz board, and two Brothers who are skateboarders called Jack and Harry moved around the corner from me. They said I should just start properly, so I have been skating since then.

I think Worthing’s always had a good skate scene. I don’t know too much about its history of skateboarding, but what I have been told by Bram Weeks and Alan Glass is that it used to have a really strong street skateboarding scene. Bram has showed me a couple of issues of RAD magazine with Worthing in it, one has a sick photo of Colin Pope boardsliding the Guildbourne rail which is really fuckin’ gnarly.

jakesnelling_photorichardwestWhen I first met you I would of never thought of you as being such a skate nerd. Why 80’s skateboarding? What’s so influential about that era of time?

Everything man. It’s the best time. The boards, the tricks, the skateboarders. Everything seems so much better back then. Maybe it wasn’t. I don’t know because I was not around, but just stuff like old street comps were amazing. They were so sick that everyone would just invent tricks, do streetplants and fuck about. People like Neil Blender, who looked like he never took it seriously, would just fuck about and have fun. Then you have Jesse Martinez, who would fuckin’ attack shit, like frontside wall-walks whilst smashin’ through the wall! Phat methods off jump-ramps! It’s just dope. That’s what I mean about those times, there were so many rad characters in skateboarding, most of them for me were at their peak in the 80’s.

There didn’t seem to be any downers during the 80’s skateboard scene. The 90’s vert scene died and street was in, whereas in the 80’s, vert was booming, people were ripping pools, street skateboarding was happening but hadn’t yet been labeled. I also think the best graphics came from that era too. People are still stoked on the Screaming Hand, Roskopp graphics and all that shit.

What do you think about skateboarding now and who gets you stoked to skate?

I like skateboarding now. I think you and I are in our own little world so it’s good. I just watch all the old Santa Cruz videos like ‘Reason for Living’ and ‘Risk It’ to get stoked. The old Consolidated videos are rad too. Any Andy Roy footage gets me hyped. He screams really loud and has a sick energy about him. I love his aggressive style as well, that’s how I ‘try’ to skate.

I always rate a skateboarder on how many tricks they can do that I’ve never seen before. So what is the most unseen trick of today? Like for an example ‘Frankie Goes Fakie’, invented by Lester Kasai in the early 80’s (a tweaked backside air-to-fakie like a method) – who have you seen do them?

‘Wallwalks’, like ‘Hella Spins and shit. Jess the Mess is the man at them. ‘Woolly Mammoth’s’ which Todd Swank and Neil Blender had down – nobody really does them today. I want to learn a ‘Poliki’. It’s a layback air, but you grab it on the outside rail. Lester Kasai invented that one too, I think. It would be good if more vert skaters did HO HO plants.

jakesnelling_photorichardwest2I’ve seen you do a lot of stupid stuff like when you got arrested in Paris. What’s the story with the girl at the Hastings Jam?

I’ll keep it short. We were at the Hastings Jam after-party at the Source. I got really drunk and couldn’t really skate so we were fuckin’ with people. It was full of faggots anyway and you got annoyed at some dickhead punk girl because she was talking about sucking boys off to try and be cool. You told me to get the knife from the hog roast and scare her, so I got it and screamed at her whilst holding the knife and she thought she was the shit and grabbed the knife and it cut all her hand. Her mate said she was gonna punch me and shit. She didn’t in the end because I kicked all the shit off the table and made a mess. It was good tho! We did have a right laugh. I always get in to trouble because you tell me to do things.

I know your dad skated in the late 70s what’s the deal with that bank in Brighton?

There’s some bank behind Churchill Square in Brighton. My Dad and his friends used to hit it up from the top and carve down. When they hit the curb they’d try and carve back up. It’s really gnarly.

Top 5 skateboarders of all time and why?

I can’t choose, I have too many…for sure Andy Roy because he’s gnarly as fuck! Jesse Martinez, Rob Mertz, Craig Johnson, Neil Blender, Tim Jackson

What’s the biggest influence in your life?

Skateboarding as a whole, and my Dad is a big influence.

In the future what do you want to do in terms of life do you still want to be part of the British skateboard scene?

Yeah that would be rad. I don’t know how my knees will hold up as they’re pretty fucked. I would love to get a job in the skateboard industry when I’m older, or me and you are gonna make the best British skateboard company ever.

Top 5 people to skate with?

Craig Scott, Joe Howard, Cates, Stevie Thompson, Dan Singer

Why are you so good on a skateboard?

I’m not, I’m shit.

Any last comments?

Thanks to Gee at Rollaway skate shop for sorting me out, Jonathan Hay who does HOAX, well stoked, Joe Howard, Dan Cates and Craig Scott.

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Thanks to Craig Questions, Matthew Bromley, Jerome Loughran and Richard West.

Witchcraft Skateboards Tour 2011 video

The start of the Witchcraft Skateboards tour at the beginning of this month saw the road crew consisting of French, Jake Snelling, Jamie Morley, Mark Tidbury and many friends hit up skateparks around the Herfordshire and Essex areas. With the plan to pick up more team riders and friends along the way, the first stop on the tour was Saffron Walden’s American built paradise. The sun was out, the concrete coping got rinsed and luckily no one was injured on the first day!

On day 2, the team riders met more friends at Hemel Hemstead’s Extreme Connexions park for session on their brand new coping and pool tiles. The sight of tube socks was ridiculous and even the familiar faces of Ben Raemers, Carl Wilson and Mark Munson were there to welcome the lads off the van.

Enjoy this footage put together by Bromley of these 2 packed days of skating on the road. Look out for the full tour video on Sidewalk Mag when it’s ready to roll soon and thanks to Terrathorn for the use of their music.

A Day In The Life with Craig Questions part 2

Craig_Questions_photo_by_Dom_PerkinsFollowing the first webisode in last week’s video feature, Craig Questions’ Day in the Life returns to your screen for part 2 with an insight into the new Heroin Zombie Series via a trip to Mark ‘Fos’ Foster‘s house and some much needed Thrasher worshipping.

Click below to watch the tricks that came from an hour long skate session at Stockwell’s Brixton Beach with Craig, Fos and Jake Snelling before Questions attends art show in London that he didn’t actually want anyone to see.

If you missed part 1, then probably best to watch it first here.