Words by James Brewer
Photos shot in New Zealand thanks to David Read from Manual Magazine
I first met Kris 6 years ago at the opening of Stourbridge’s ‘Ramparts’ skate park. Back then he was a kid on the ‘come-up’ being shoved into the limelight thanks to Channel 5’s ‘Rad’. I remember being amazed at how easily he seemed to find skateboarding and 6 years later I still feel the same.
He started to move up in the world of skateboarding by picking up coverage from the many trips he makes across the world. Birmingham may be his home but he’s no stranger to traveling and it’s a rare sight to actually catch him in Brum which has led to him recently becoming more of a ‘myth’ than real person. Whispers of what tricks Kris made at certain spots are rife round here and then usually backed up by footage and photos to tell the tale.
Kris is not only enjoying his life to the full, but he also works it to make it the best. His most recent section featured as the illustrious ‘last part’ in the new Vans Europe video ‘1966’ proved just how hard this guy pushes his skateboarding, but whether he’s filming for local scene videos or going on tour with team mates Mr Vile is always down for a session and is ever the optimist.
A long line of respectable sponsors grace his CV starting with his introduction at A Third Foot, where his skating lead him to Blind Europe before hooking with Santa Cruz (as a direct international am) but these days he currently finds himself on the newly launched ‘CLAN 010‘ team alongside European skaters such as Danny Wainwright, Alain Goikoetxea, Florentin Marfaing, Manuel Palacios, Alex Carolino and Cristian Vannella, certainly a team that should be more than capable to produce a video worth waiting for.
I finally pinned Kris down in Birmingham and got an update with what’s going on in the life of a ‘skateboarding gypsy’.
So how many years have you clocked up now in life?
21 years in now.
Who is hooking you up?
Vans, Volcom, Red Bull, Clan010, Krux and Type-S wheels.
Where did all of this begin?
My brother got a skateboard for his birthday, then about 6 months later I asked for one and finally got it at Christmas. That’s where it all began!
You’ve been sponsored for a long time now, how did that all come together?
I’d been skating for about 18 months and got to know the people at Ideal Skate Shop in town. I was just a little kid, overly excitable and stoked on skating haha! I was progressing pretty quickly though and one day I went into the shop and told Bob (Sanderson) that I had managed to boardslide the WH Smiths rail in the City centre- it was a well known spot at the time. There was a smaller handrail and a big one there and he told me to go and try the big one! I went back that evening and made it! When I went into the shop the next day I told Bob and he gave me an A Third Foot board and said that if I kept on skating he’d give me one of them every so often, 18 months later I was placed on the Vans Junior team- I guess the rest is history.
Would you say that ‘Rad: The Groms Tour’ helped out with your rise in skateboarding?!
I wouldn’t say it helped! But yeah it was cool as a kid to get to travel around with some mates and skate some different stuff, seeing a bit of the world etc.
Since working with Andy Evans on that show you’ve appeared in his videos This ‘n’ That and Heel Toe Magic. How do you go about filming for those when your traveling around the other side of the world
Well Andy is amazing! So even though i’m not around much to film with him, whatever footage I get I always tell Andy he can have it if he’s making another project. He’s always stoked to receive it and I can’t actually wait for the next one!
You dropped out of college to pursue a career in skateboarding, big decision?
I enjoyed my time in education but it came to a point where I wasn’t able to do my best. I always had to be away on trips, tours etc. When someone wants to send you somewhere to help you get by for something you love doing it made me have no need to stay in college. Most people go to college to try and get exactly that so I guess I’ve been pretty lucky.
Vans have sponsored your feet for sometime now, how far back does that go in your life and what has made you stick with them?
I think I got on Vans when I was 13, so it’s been 7 or 8 years now. They have always taken care of me and I really like the shoes! I can’t really imagine skating for anyone else now, and you know, in this business, the more stoked you are to do things with a company, the more stoked they are to hook you up. So if you enjoy going to an event and going on trips then you can get support to do so and I always have.
The ‘Vans Europe: 1966’ video is currently premiering around the world, how was filming for that?
It was cool but it was pretty intense. We didn’t have long to film a part and it was mostly filmed on trips with the rest of the team which was heaps of fun but when you’ve got 5 people that all want to skate one spot but all differently then it can be a challenge. All in all though it was a fun experience and considering other companies can spend up to 4 years to film a video then I think the end product in this one is pretty amazing. So keep your eye’s peeled, it will be in stores near you!
Did you know you were going to have last part when filming for the project?
Not at the start but maybe about mid way through filming I was informed…
You’ve recently found yourself alongside a list of illustrious European skaters on Clan 010 right?
I’m really stoked to be a part of the CLAN project from the beginning. All the riders have been good friends of mine for years. I ride alongside Danny and Flo on the Vans team, Alain with Volcom and so on. That sold the company to me even more plus Manuel Palacios who is running the team is rad so we all are part of something special!
How was the ‘break-up’ with Santa Cruz?
Wasn’t bad at all, we left it on good times. But to ride for a company like Santa Cruz, I suppose you have to spend a little more time in the States! I travel a lot within Europe so it just didn’t work out for us, big thanks to Mouly for all the support though!
With all the traveling and coverage you get surely it’s not long until a Kris Vile pro board or shoe colourway is released, have there been talks of either of these?
Well it’s funny you should say that. Keep your eyes peeled in your local shop!
With the skateboarding industry primarily being based in California do you feel any pressure to go over there and ‘take over’ the States?
Haha! Well I don’t know about a take over and no there’s no pressure, but I would like to go out there a couple of times a year and maybe get a big more coverage in US mags and so on. Plus I have loads of friends out there who I don’t get to see very often so I’m looking forward to going out there in July and working with Vans and Volcom- go on some trips and get some footage!
Let’s head back into Birmingham for a bit. The scene took a bit of a battering over the past 10 years thanks to a lot tighter rules on skateboarding on the City, did that make growing up as a skater hard there and is it any different now to when you were younger?
Yeah, like any City, the scene fluctuates up and down, but the heart has always been there and will always remain! Big ups to Ideal for staying strong, and growing stronger!
Your known to travel up and down to events all round the country as well as representing the Red Bull UK skate program in the Red Bull ‘Manny Mania’ contest. How do you think events like this affect the scene in the country?
I think events like this do great things not just for British skateboarding but skateboarding all around the world. Without companies like Red Bull there would be no events like this. They have the mind and money to come up with the ideas and fun the events too and I hope they can inspire more people and other companies to do this too.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not a sponsored skateboarder?
I have no idea but I would like to think having just as much fun and living life to the full!
Lets get a few Top 3’s.
Top trips you have been on…
1. Australia/NZ skate missions
2. Spain in general
3. Then the rest! haha!
1 Good skateboarding
2 Good music
3 Good vibes!
People from Birmingham…
That’s way to hard to narrow down to 3 singular people but…
1. Ideal Skateshop
2. Birmingham posse…you know who you are!
3. The fam of course!
Top 3 events…
1. Slam Trick, Italy
2. Bondi Bowlarama, Sydney
3. Damn Am, Amsterdam
What’s coming up for you over the next few months- anything you are working on?
I’ve just been to Portugal, Latvia and Bilboa then off to the States in July and back to the UK for a few events in August…then there’s more ha!
Right lets wrap this up with the obligatory thank you’s…
Cheers to all my Sponsors: Vans, Redbull, Volcom, Clan010, Krux, Type S, Ideal and then to everybody else! All the homies, brother and sisters! You know who you are!!! Peace.