Jim Phillips Interview

If you were lucky enough to be skateboarding during the heyday of the 1980’s then there’s every chance you would have skated, admired or talked about the wonderful graphics of Jim Phillips. His ability to draw explosive characters and bring them to life is a gift only few are handed in life.

To this day his work still carries respect worldwide. His skateboard art inspired generations and set a benchmark for other brands who watched the phenomenon of Santa Cruz Skateboards take off to become one of the most successful skate companies of all time. It’s a long time coming but Phil Procter finally caught up with Jim in his studio as he goes back to the drawing board to team up with Santa Cruz once again!

How’s it going Jim?

Everything’s been great, thanks for having me on board.

Still living in sun soaked Santa Cruz?

Sun’s shining as usual! I’ll never leave this town for sure, whether the sun’s out or the fog’s in.

Are you still drawing as much as you used to?

If you mean in my “treadmill” years, when I would only interrupt drawing to grab a bite, six hours of sleep and then get back on it and power on, the answer is no. But I’m enjoying drawing more now, because I’m more relaxed and just do it when I feel inspired. I’m a little more secure in my older age and have floated past the need to grind out dozens of graphics each week just to keep even. And I don’t assume the hectic deadlines anymore, it’s just finished when it’s finished.

What about surfing? Getting many waves in?

We’re having our usual summer flat spell, so any kind of wave that pops up somewhere gets gang-banged. The serious surfers resort to traveling around and that’s often the same story except more expensive. In fact it’s getting so that it’s hard to find the peace that used to result from being in the water. But the quiver is hanging in my studio, and like art, I’ll go when I go. I’m just waiting for surfing to become uncool so I can have it like it used to be.

If you didn’t have the surf influence, do you think your style would have been the same?

My earliest paying art was hot rod pin-striping and monster-on-the-dashboard painting. Hot rods were big in those days, and I was somewhat influenced by Pete Millar, the cartoonist for Hot Rod Magazine. A few years later, my first published work was a 1961 woody drawing, a winner in a surf-car cartoon contest held by Surfer Magazine. In that drawing you can see Millar’s style incorporated into my work with those little shaky lines running around his outlines. At that time, Rick Griffin was doing Murphy in Surfer and you can see the same type of wiggly lines around his drawings, I think he must have been influenced by Millar too. If that’s true then surfing art’s roots extend deeply from hot rodding.

How important was music when you were growing up and your style evolving?

Music was so important that I don’t think anything would have happened without it. I was fortunate enough to witness the very beginning of rock & roll. I was only ten years old in 1954 but it was like a new day then. It was a new day, and as rock has evolved it has changed everything else along the way. The most personal influence in my art was in the listening, of course. Art means long and usually lonely hours at the drawing board, and music helps immensely to keep at it, and it inspires greatly when you hear hot stuff. I can’t play or sing but I’m a good listener.

Any major influences? Artists, musicians etc

There are so many influences in art and music that I couldn’t even cover all of them in my three books. I would probably need a thick book just to give a general outline. I believe that the formative years are monumental in an artist’s development, like when you are just a dorky kid in your bedroom screwing around. I grew up mostly before television, but I was inspired by comic books. Some were very influential, such as Disney’s Donald Duck, written and drawn by Carl Barks. You can still see that kind of cleanly drawn lines in my own work. I wrote him a few fan letters but he was kind and humble enough to deflect any credit for my style.

Later I was inspired by the amazing Disney animated features like Pinocchio, and soon enough graduated on to more subversive material like EC’s MAD Comics. I say subversive because EC was one target of the 1950s McCarthy hearings in Congress, an inquisition which resulted in the Comics Code Authority under which mainstream comics abide. As far as music, I’ve swam with much of the flow of popular music over the years, and whatever comes to me from one of our local non-commercial radio stations, which tend to be eclectic and diverse. I like classical music for drawing because it’s soothing and meditative. Loud rock or reggae is best for late at night, it works better than coffee.

How supportive were your art teachers at the time, were they into your stuff?

I’ve had some amazing teachers starting at age eleven when my mom enrolled me in Ralph Gray‘s free children’s art classes. Gray was a local institution, and you could see his logos and hand-lettered advertising all over town. He was then doing work for the Santa’s Village amusement park, so there were large wooden-cut-out fairies and elves around the paint spattered studio. He was a major influence, especially in later years because his was the kind of art you could make a living on, and I patterned myself after him in many ways doing advertising logos and hand lettering.

Art at school was mostly detached from the real world, and I was already drawing my way through all of my classes. They give you a pencil and paper and want you to be quiet, so it was a great time to draw hot rods, surfers and skateboarders. Of course that meant I flunked every class, but it was because I repeated my senior year twice that finally one of my art teachers, Don Thompson at Cabrillo College, helped me win a scholarship to art school by talking me into submitting a portfolio to California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Ca. I did well in art school but after the first year they found out I didn’t have a high school diploma and canceled my scholarship.

Your son adopted your legendary skills, I guess you are dead proud like any parent would be, do you work together on a lot of projects at all?

Jimbo knocks my sock off with his over-the-top approach to surf, skate and rock art, so you know I’m a proud dad. We keep talking about doing some collaborations, but he’s so busy with commissions to have the space. I could say with a fair amount of certainty that you can expect a father and son Santa Cruz skateboard deck sometime in the future, Jimbo’s been working for them quite a while, and I have just come back aboard.

What does your son work on that is different to your era?

Jimbo rips in the punk rock sector, whereas I’m mostly a child of the 60’s. You can see the difference in our rock posters. He’s been a member of several punk rock bands over the years so he’s had an inside view of that genre. I really dig the dark humor that Jimbo incorporates as sight gags into his punk posters and art, like the grim reaper showing up for a date or the peeing Calvin getting peed on himself, just barfing vicious midget type stuff. And Jimbo’s pretty much taken over the local surf art demand, partly because no one else can draw gnarly grinding waves like he can.

I never really saw too many of the skulls and things in your artwork, I mean the actual “Skull” deck was a classic, but given what Powell Peralta were doing in that era, was it a conscious decision to leave them to it and do your own thing?

It’s obvious that Powell was all over the skull and bones imagery as soon as the doors opened for full deck graphics, and VC Johnson rendered them as well as anyone could expect. So I definitely made a conscious decision to focus on fleshy monsters. After bones and flesh are cornered, what else is left, trees? Eventually, after what I thought was a respectable amount of time for their exclusivity, probably years, I came up with the Skull graphic for a generic no rider model.

I’ve got the Jason Jesse “Neptune” deck proudly on my wall, any favourite decks from that late 80s era that stand out for you? If not which one?

It’s an honor to be part of your space, and that is such a great residual of the toil, and all the particular circumstances that have to line up for that to happen. I greatly enjoy most of the decks that we produced during that time, although there were more than a few that were beyond my complete control because of the huge volume of graphics at hand. I tend be partial to the ones where I was free to do my own thing, such as the RR 5, the RR Eye, Slasher, and the Skull to name a few.

The art on the Cruz decks suited the pro skaters pretty well, did they share your vision on their graphics? or did you have to battle with them?

I always tried to do my best for them, and I’ve read plenty of crabbing despite making some of them rich. But most of them were great to work with, and I enjoyed that part of my job, because it presented a fairly dynamic challenge. Plenty of great art has come out of constraint, because out of constraint comes the opportunity for exposure. It then becomes a matter of compromise, which is inescapable on one level or another if not just because art has to deal with physics and thus must operate somewhere in conjunction with the laws of nature. Relatively, subject-matter compromise becomes insignificant.

Santa Cruz still use your art, it’s like they never passed the benchmark you set for them – do you ever work on any more projects over at NHS since you all fell out publicly?

Thanks for your assessment of my past efforts, I worked hard enough. And yes, I’m proud to announce, that I’m working on a deck for Santa Cruz! I’m actually doing a new Slasher model with Keith Meek. Amazing! I’ve been emailing sketch ideas to him all week. It’ll be my first board with Santa Cruz in 18 years…and it’s great to be back home. There’s more decks planned for me, and a whole lot of new products.

Would you agree that the Screaming Hand is probably one of the most classic graphics of all time in our scene?

The worldwide popularity of the Screaming Hand is amazing. I think it expresses the inexpressible, much like Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ conveys existential angst. It symbolizes, or registers, declaration of a myriad of dysfunctions in a fragmented society, much of it attributable to man’s inhumanity to man. The vehicle of it’s form, the sticker, provides the perfect medium of it’s expression. I’m sure Edwardian era buggies in Norway would carry Munch stickers if they were invented back then. And notice how the iconic power of a static image like Screaming Hand, done with “old world” graphic art techniques, simple pen & ink line art with flat color, can not only compete, but excel in a world of animated full-color mega-virtuality.

We were surprised to see a deck being promoted this month with the Screaming Hand on. There’s even a shoe with a screaming hand graphic on it now….

Yeah, obviously the Screaming Hand certainly has caught a raw nerve in skateboarding, but it doesn’t stop there. I’ve seen it painted it on custom motorcycles, hot rod trucks and dry-lakes racers. I’ve seen about a hundred million tattoos of it, and Jimbo’s wife Jenni took a photo of a cantina in Mexico with two giant Screaming hands guzzling cerveza painted on each side of the entrance. And you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, because, after more than twenty years “that thing” has finally made it onto those skateboard decks! And the line now includes vinyl toys, there’s even a Screaming Hand two-gigabyte USB drive, and sculptor Kim Ito is working on a S-Hand Christmas tree ornament for Santa Cruz. I think the Screaming Hand space shuttle is coming up next.

Have you had any new graphics out in skateboarding lately?

Until just recently, over the last few years I’ve done quite a few decks for Pocket Pistols Skates, working with Matt French PPS art director. We spent hours on the phone and emailed sketches back and forth, collaborated on a few projects, and had a lot of art fun. I was able to do a new design for Claus Grabke, and several up-and-coming skaters. I also worked with a few overseas companies on vinyl toys, doing some of my iconic skate characters like Screaming Hand and Screaming Foot in blue, glow-in-the-dark and fuzzy orange.

What artists are you enjoying at the moment?

Besides Matt, and Ito, I’ve been hanging with ‘big-car’ designer Mike Leeds a lot lately, we just rode up together to the Minna Gallery in San Francisco as featured artists at an exhibition reception for Garage Magazine. Mike is so amazing, his creations include Big Bertha, a hot-rod roadster made from a Seagraves hook-and-ladder tractor, a chopped and channeled bio-deisel Peterbuilt semi-truck, and several custom built trikes with full-blown V8 Hemi motors. As one of the Blastolene Brothers with Randy Grubb, Mike co-created the Blastolene Special, a large-scale car for Jay Leno’s collection, with a 1800 cubic inch V-12, 900 horsepower tank engine from a 1950’s Patten M47 tank. Google: B-702, and see the latest.

Anyone to look out for?

Yeah, watch out for Colby James Phillips, my grandson. Sure he’s only six, but he already has a t-shirt in Japan with his own rendition of Screaming Hand, and he was just interviewed for SK8FACE, Matt Bass’s skateboard art history documentary. Colby’s already a good little skater, has a deck collection on his wall including a signed Tony Hawk, and wants to be a skateboard artist when he grows up, just like his dad! …and grand-dad I might add!

You have books out there and most obviously the latest one that covers your skate graphic career only. How long does it take to layout such a big task and what factors decide on what goes in?

It was just a deep tunnel. Imagine five months of psycho-therapy, where you lie on the virtual couch and decide on which parts of your life have greater priority for exposure. Except instead of a couch – it’s a chair – and that’s like taking a five-month plane ride in coach. The autobiography alone was a monumental task for me, and then add in tracking down and soliciting art and decent quotes from others, the archiving of images, the scanning and adjusting of each image in high quality resolution, and you get a sampling of this complicated and lengthy ordeal. Oh, and since I like to be able to control the display of my art, I have done the complete book layouts and typesetting myself.

Are they sold in lots of countries?

I was very fortunate to fall into the hands of Schiffer Books, they do a great job of distributing around the world. Rich Novak was actually the one who mailed them the manuscript for my first book. Peter and Nancy Schiffer often come out from Pennsylvania to visit our home. In fact, a few weeks ago the whole Schiffer family including son Pete, came out and took Dolly and me, along with Mike Leeds, out to dinner on the wharf. The Schiffer’s will soon be publishing a book on Mike’s fantastic leaded glass art.

Do you get people coming through your site asking about your work all over the world?

Quite often, as today, I get offers to “fix-up” my website. It is twelve years old, and in kind of disrepair, but back when it was working smoother I was inundated with email. I’m afraid if I spruced it up I would get flooded with more attention. As it is, I do an hour or two every day keeping current with my inbox. I try to answer everyone, and do a lot of interviews. Sometimes connections grow in depth from mutual interests or some kind of project or offer. Many are requests for images for tattoos. The internet is amazing as a connection to others, and so much has happened to me with friends around the world, stuff that could never be imagined twelve years ago.

Have your techniques moved with the times, or are you resisting graphic software?

I was among the first to get digital art programs back when it hardly worked. It was super expensive, and there was only a very limited ability to store or remove data. It was like the computer cave-man days, our first Mac had 128 KB of memory! Ugh, Grogg get floppy! Along the way of the “Bleeding Edge”, plenty of money got thrown out the window, endlessly upgrading on a treadmill of equipment going rapidly obsolete, but overall the computer is a completely astounding tool, which could only have come from space aliens.

Any thoughts on the commercial success skating is having right now with the likes of the X-Games, Nike etc?

Think Olympics, and just wait. Already skateboarding is routinely used in broad-based advertising to show coolness, and modernity. And it ain’t goin’ away folks, it’s been around in a consistent way too long to ever die. It’s the ultimate “every-kid” device, a cure for boredom, cheap, do-it-anywhere, loads of fun and good exercise.

Is it the same with surfing?

Almost every restaurant in this town has surfboards hanging. Surfers used to be considered bad boys in this town, surf bums! But all that changed when these small businesses smelled tourist money. Now the bad boys are skateboarders.

What’s in the pipeline for Phillips Studios in the future?

There’s a lot going on with my art, but I’ve been able to control it so that I’m not just on a big treadmill. It was hard to get there but that’s what I have managed. I can start the day and decide what ever it is that I want to work on, instead of some big list with a schedule, and that awful word, “dead”-line. I would like to expand the toy line, and I’m working closely with Ito on that, and paying attention to licensing new products, but I like so be open and see what comes next.

Famous last words….

“Civilizations crumble, granite towers collapse, generations pass, only the art remains.”

Want to thank anyone etc?

My thanks to you, Zac and all at Crossfire to feature my story and work. View the Jim Phillips website at www.jimphillips.com My 3 books are available from my publisher at www.schifferbooks.com

Todd Bratrud interview

07.10.08

Photos and art by Todd
Interview by Kyle Green

OK Todd. It’s two in the afternoon in Los Angeles what exactly are you doing right now?

Good question, I’m drawing some beefy muscle dudes for this band. Spending a lot of time on it, I want the muscles to be JUST right you know?

Yeah of course man, you want it to be true to real life hot man muscles..

Well yeah, I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to men and how their muscles look.

I’ve noticed you don’t usually draw or paint too many men, it’s usually just curvy women right?

This is the new chapter in my life, I’ve spent years drawing girls and I’m moving on.

So no more curvy lizard girls?

Never again…well, never again for today, that’s probably a better way to put it.

I can’t believe how far that whole lizard girl thing went, I mean you managed a World tour out of it. Did you plan on it going that far?

Nope. I didn’t even plan on them making a t-shirt out of it and that’s all i was pushing for.

One shirt graphic turning into an entire line of Volcom clothing ain’t bad is it?

I didn’t think anyone over there would like it at all, so it worked out great, for me anyhow. Who knows if the stuff sold, or if it was worth it to send me around the globe but I’m happy about it.

Who’s idea was it to take it that far? Did you have to really think it over or did you jump at the chance?

I jumped, it was all Volcom. I just wanted one shirt and they decided to turn it into a full line of clothes, then a calendar, then as the theme. They asked me to pick 2 stateside locations and one over sea spot for art shows. I just handed them my dream list and told them to pick from that. They picked all of them and even tacked on a few.

What a result…

Yeah can’t beat that. Got to drag some friends along for the ride, eat some good food, swim in different bodies of water. From all the photos I saw of the tour it looked amazing.

If you had to pick one location and one show which stood out as the best spots?

Oh man tough call. Tokyo was dope. But oz was insane. Each was rad for a different reason really. Toy shopping in Tokyo with my friend Shingo was as good as it gets, and massive amounts of tofu, I cant pick a fave.

That’s OK I understand…

Sorry, I know I just ruined this interview, but that’s how it goes man.

It’s OK Todd, I don’t think I’d be able to pick either. One thing I have noticed over all the years I’ve known you is it seems like your constantly working on way to many different projects almost to the point where I feel sorry for you. What kind of affect does being such a workhorse have on you? Do you ever sleep or eat?

The affects are mostly negative because I usually am doing things for friends as well so I’m not even getting paid, and I never sleep. I’m awake from about 8 or 9 am till about 5 or 6 am. I think I get to eat pretty well because there are so many rad places to nosh in the OC. But really I work 24/7 because I love what I get to do and if I wasn’t doing it for a job I would probably still just be doing it for fun.

Is it still as rewarding as it used to be when you see a skateboard or a t-shirt or whatever it is with something you have drawn on it?

Kinda. Getting the work is rewarding enough. Seeing people skating or wearing my stuff is cool but a little weird, but really I’m just psyched people are giving me a shot. Before I was doing any of this for a job I was doing just as much on my own, it just didn’t have a home or any place to go. But now to have the skaters I looked up to my whole life be the people I’m sitting here working with that are on the same page feels pretty good.

I have seen a few people with tattoos of your work, Mark Appleyard for instance…is that the ultimate weird out or does it get you hyped?

It’s a little crazy, I mean I’m not a huge fan of my art, I do have fun doing it and i hope people dig it, but yeah I go either way on it. I have a pretty big file of photos of tattoos people have got of my stuff. I think I’m about to make Appleyard draw me one in trade for the one he has!

Oh man I bet that will be amazing.

Yeah his art is amazing.

Do you still love the freelance artist life or do you ever wish you just had a normal 9-5 life?

Both, I miss knowing I had a cheque in the mail every 2 weeks that I could count on. The business side of being freelance usually eats up most of my day but it is nice being able to pick what I wanna do and when is nice. I can bolt and go on a skate trip anytime I want. But yeah trying to count on people paying you is next to impossible. Never knowing if you can pay rent or eat isn’t too fun but whatever I guess its all worth it.

Yeah it seems like working entirely freelance would afford you some great freedoms like going skating or riding bikes whenever you want. Does it really work out that way or do you find yourself scrambling just to pay rent?

Nah, I don’t let myself work too hard. I make sure I get on my bike, go skating or swimming at least once a day. If there is a deadline, I meet it, I don’t like to let people down. But I do make sure I don’t go 100% crazy – again I would do this stuff even if it wasn’t my job.

Speaking of bikes you’ve got a pretty sweet collection going now, you recently added my bike to it. How many do you have in the quiver now and how many miles do you usually clock a day?

However far it is to The Wedge and back.

That’s ten miles..

Yeah it’s far, but lately I’ve been going even further, all along the river past Skips Ditch and into Santa Ana.

That’s dope I really miss having my bike out here.

Yeah, well if you come back there are 8 bikes now to answer your question.

8 now!

Yeah, Brian Heck found one a while back and left it here. Its called “The Princess Pearl”.

So, what art made you get into skateboard graphics in the first place?

Pushead, VCJ, and Jim Phillips. Yeah. the Corey O’Brien one that did it for me. The skeleton with the fireball. I just liked the grosser stuff, the raw stuff.

Jim Phillips has an interview on this site very soon, it’s a good one.

I’m looking forward to reading that.

A lot of people don’t know that you started out working at a design firm, designing cracker boxes and things like that, how important was that for you getting here today?

It was huge. At that point I knew I wanted to be doing skateboard related stuff but skateboarding was still kinda small and every company had an art guy. So there was no room, not like today when everybody is looking for something new and different. When I was coming up there was no room at all because a company had there look and they stuck to it forever.
So I got a job at this design place and at that point I just liked to draw, just nothing, just doodle in sketch books and I painted a lot of graffiti then. So I got this interview at this really well respected design firm, but the interview was just to scan stuff and cut foam core, nothing about art at all. But during the interview we got to talking about how I liked to make art and they asked me to come back with a portfolio. But I didn’t have one so I just brought a sketch book full of scribbles and they hired me off that.

Oh man that’s great!

I had no idea what I was doing or what I was there for. It was all 40 years old and up people and I was 21. I had never used a computer before really or ever done art for anyone but myself. But they were so rad. Gave me my own work station and a computer to work with and told me to just play with it for 2 months. So I got paid to play around with photoshop and illustrator for 2 months, ended up doing work for most of what you see these days in the cookie and cracker isle at the food store, Nabisco, Coke, Pillsbury – anything under those names I had my hands on.

Was it a bit nerve racking like you were expected to produce after the 2 months was up?

No it was really mellow. I was actually kinda high stress for me but always a good time, they were cool people. I was just a filthy skate rat working from 6 am till 9 pm, living in a skate house leaving work then going out skating all night. I would show up all gross and dirty but they liked it that way. Everyone there wore suit and tie but they asked me not to dress up, I think they liked having a grubby kid there, its funny because they were a really big firm, probably top of the list.

Do you think they were living vicariously through you just a little bit?

Maybe, because huge clients would show up and I’m covered in dirt and blood smelling like shit, but they were proud of it, gave them this little edge maybe.

How long did you put in there?

2 years.

Was it straight to Consolidated after that?

Well kinda. There was about a year in between. I quit that job and hit the road with my friend Billy Kahn. We lived in my van for a few months and just skated around, then from there the Consolidated stuff kinda fell into place.

Was it hard for you to pick up and leave home or did you jump at the offer to move to Santa Cruz?

I jumped. I didn’t really want to leave Minneapolis. But I knew that I had the chance to do what I wanted to do for years and years and I couldn’t pass it up. I moved in about 2 weeks time…not even that. Thinking back it was cool but kinda sad, just up-rooted and left the place I loved, left everyone I knew and all my friends and family. But it is what I wanted to do, what I had been dreaming of.

What are some of your fondest memories from living in Santa Cruz? what do you miss the most?

All of it kinda, that place is really good. Small town feel but near so much. Some of the best nature ever. I mean the skateboarding was a little bogus but we still had our little spots and did it every day. West cliff was dope, cliff jumping, bike rides for days, the Saturn cafe.

Do you wanna die in Santa Cruz? I’m pretty sure I do.

Yeah I wanna die in Santa Cruz…on Walnut Avenue.

So you were in Santa Cruz doing your thing working for Consolidated. I feel like this is well tread territory but can you basically sum up what happened and why you needed to split?

I did a shoe for Nike that got all blown out of proportion, things got weird and in a weeks time I was packed and heading to Orange County.

Did it feel good to escape from all the drama? I personally cannot believe that people are still moaning about all this anti Nike don’t do it stuff. Shouldn’t people just go out and skate instead of worrying about all the politics?

Yeah it was weird. I’d been there and was so deep in that place that it hurt to see it going a direction that I personally didn’t agree with. So as hard as it was it did feel good to get out of that place and into the real world. It seems like everywhere I have been people don’t care or they do care. But they know it doesn’t matter, we are all just out there skateboarding and nothing will stop any of us from doing that. I will build a ghetto board and skate barefoot if I have to. Also I doubt Nike being in skateboarding is really gonna kill anything. We have all seen skateboarding die a few times, its no biggie, unless you work in the industry you probably don’t care at all.

it just seems like people would rather hold debates and press conferences then actually go out and skateboard. Do you miss the good old days?

Yeah man, but these are the good old days you know? I still get on my skateboard every day and it’s the same as it ever was. When your out doing it, that’s all that matters.

Is having a key to the Volcom skatepark the best thing to ever happen in your life?

One of the best. you can’t beat it. Middle of the night with one or two close friends, Belle & Sebastian cranked to the max, doesn’t get much better.

Yeah man I wouldn’t wanna beat that. So apart from all the art your doing for these companies do you still find time to paint for yourself?

No and yes. Like I said it’s all stuff i would do for fun anyway. I do prefer drawing more than painting. I do sit and water color a lot… to “relax” hahaha!

Who is making art that you like to look at right now?

Your brother Devon Green. Not that I shouldn’t like it but i have some sick attraction to it, I cant get enough. Also Kelly Tunstall, your stuff is pretty on point, Patrick Jilbert. I think I’m just attracted to stuff that is the real deal, where I know who’s doing it and how and why they are doing it.

Apart from all the illustration work your doing, most people don’t know about all the skate photos you shoot. How did you start getting involved in that? do you have a massive kit or a minimal set up?

Well I got a camera as a kid, always thought photos were cool, and I just started shooting my friends skating for fun. I don’t know what I’m doing at all, but sometimes I get lucky and something works out. As for gear I just have a hand full of point and shoot and toy cameras. If I had the time and the reason I’d almost rather be shooting photos than drawing…all though I’m not good at photos and I’d never find work…not to say I’m good at drawing. But people seem to holler at me for work so I’m going with it.

What are some of your favorite photos you have taken over the years?

Not sure about favorites but a few I like is a photo of Brian Heck doing a backside ollie over this bank gap in Portland, Horsey doing a wall-ride over this hole in a ditch in Las Vegas, Olu doing 360 flip from bank to bank in Minneapolis, and Seth McCallum doing a pivot fakie in the weird metal tranny thing we found in Portland.

Who are some of your all time favorite skaters? who lately makes you wanna go out and shred?

Seth Mccallum, Mark Appleyard, David Gravette, people like them. I guess what I’m saying is, the higher the better in my eyes.

Does a skater have to smoke weed for you to like them?

Well, I didn’t think so until I listed them just there, and all of them are as high as a person can get!

What about your wheel company Teenage Runaway, how did you decide to start your own company?

I just had/have more art than I could find a home for. And usually the worst stuff to everyone else is the best stuff to me. So I figured to make a little home for all of my orphan art. I figured I would do a wheel company because if I were to get a team i knew all the people that I wanted all had board sponsors already. It may have been a bad choice after all because as far as getting my art used, wheels are like the worst thing ever. It’s not like a board or shirt where you have all the room in the world, plus sometimes they end up printing like ass.

You have a pretty eclectic team going on, who exactly is on right now and how do you go about picking them? do you just make sure they can smoke mad weed?

(As I formulate this answer i think it’s best for the readers to know that Seth McCallum is behind me doing some sort of Indian dance!) OK the team right now is: Jesse Erickson, Kris Markovich, Devon Green, Clark Hassler, Richard Paez, Todd Congeleire, Steve Fauser, Brian Heck, Nate Compher, Horsey and Fos. I don’t know really how I pick them. I just picked the people that have always been my favorites and it’s largely based on who they are aside from skateboarding. Not to discount their skateboarding but that isn’t all that matters to me.

Are the wheels selling at all? You must be rich now owning your own company and all?

Filthy rich! umm they sell I think, i mean I don’t run ad’s, the website is dead and errrrr…MySpace? People don’t care man – but I have big plans…HUGE plans.

Are they secret plans or can you indulge us?

TOP SECRET…actually I can tell you. The plan is to pretend to care about the company, because I think that if the owner appears to give a shit the rest of the free world will soon follow. And as it stands right now I would rather go to the beach.

I think you should just start putting non skateboarders on the team to generate some sales. If you could add 5 people throughout history who would you put on the team?

Jeff Goldblum, Jerry Blank, Jimmy Tickles, Paddy Costello, and Snickerdoodles McPoppycock… Jimmy Tickles I might switch out for Chris Nieratko but I think Nieratko might be considered a skateboarder.

Yeah I think Chris is too much of a skater for the team. So your going with Jeff Goldblum, two fictional characters, a guy from a band and one of your friends nicknames?

Yeah

Works for me, So apart from all the illustration work, the wheel company skateboarding and riding your bike what else do you have coming up in the future?

Wow nothing…nothing at all that’s my life in a nutshell.

Yes nailed it! What kind of advice would you give to somebody that wanted to start making skateboard graphics?

Just do it. Just go for it. There are a million companies today and everyone wants that new shit. So just do what makes you happy and then sell out by selling those things that make you happy to people for loads of money.

That’s some nice advice Todd.

Yeah it really is. But really that’s the bottom line make what you like and make other people like it somehow then you are set.

What’s making you most happy right now?

Wainy days, ummm I haven’t been happy in a long ass time. It’s the little things though, like when something bumps your leg in the ocean and its just a Maco shark and not a Great White shark. Or when Sam Maguire blows the sand off your feet at the beach (Malto you know what I’m talking about). or like Boba, honeydew Boba drinks.

What’s making you most unhappy right now?

My life as a whole is pretty shit, but I mean not to say I don’t like it. I’m trying to fix my life one Boba drink at a time.

what would you describe as your perfect Sunday?

Hahahahahhaha!

You have to answer this one.

A bottomless cup of Boba, a lightning fast wireless connection and the entire Frogs music collection.

Jesus Christ!

That’s totally a joke…but at the same time mega true. OK perfect Sunday would be in Santa Cruz. A bike ride on West Cliff. Going hiking in big basin to hunt for newts, eat Chinese food at “Golden City”, skate the ledge spot and go for a walk up pacific avenue to Lulu Carpenters to order a “french Kiss”…

If you could leave a message of inspiration and hope to all the children of the UK what would it be?

Whoa! ummmmmmm…

Your searching the internet for inspirational quotes aren’t you?

Haha yeah! I live in the OC man, any advice or inspirational info coming from my mouth is gonna sound like BS.

Ahhh c’mon man!

I don’t know. I guess just look at Fos, he’s got it all figured out! I guess I would say spend as much time as you can doing dumb things. Or wait no… just get a beach cruiser and ride it till life is OK…wait no, a skateboard – get a skateboard.

is there anybody out there you would like to thank or say hi to?

Not that anyone would care but thanks to all the people in skateboarding land for asking me to put my dumb ass shit on your skateboards, it has meant the world to me, it’s the only thing that matters.

God this is depressing I think were done here.

Just tell Enjoi I said “what up”.

OK will do, thanks for doing this interview Todd and thanks for making it as hard as possible on me.

No problem.

Chad Bartie Interview

Sequence and skate photo’s courtesy of Chris Ortiz

This is the last of a series of interviews from this years Bones European tour.

We first met Chad Bartie in France where beers and shredding go hand in hand. Chad’s one of those guys you want to hang out with as he never forgets a face and loves his skateboarding.

Crossfire recorded these words off the cuff in 15 mins outside Bay 66 on a fine summers day whilst a bird shat on our car.

Straight off the plane, introduce yourself monsieur..

My name is Chad Bartie from Australia originally, but I just flew in from Los Angeles.

How’s Los Angeles been treating you?

Got a little apartment just south of Los Angeles, living there with my wife for about six years now but go home to Australia probably about twice a year.

Do you miss it?

Yeah of course. You’ve gotta miss that land man, it’s beautiful.

What makes up for it?

Well, where I live is a bit of a hippy town, way more mellow than LA, kind of a beach town. It’s easier being in America for skateboarding, though can move back to Australia and do it, it’s becoming easier than it was. But I’ve got a lot of good friends there [LA] now, it’s like my second home.

So who are you skating with at the moment?

I’m skating with Joe Pease from an Australian board company that we ride for called Kewday, he’s staying with me right now. Also Dennis Durrant and Matt Mumford, but anyone who is around really.

And how many Aussies are in your hood, out in California?

There’s a few actually, me, Dennis Durrant, Mumford, Dolan’s always back and forward, Jake Duncombe is always back and forward, Shane Cross was there for a while before he passed away, he was a good close friend. But yeah, it’s a good place, a lot of Aussie kids come out there.

It was terrible news and our thoughts go out to his family and friends. It definitely shocked skateboarding.

It shocked skateboarding worldwide. Everyone who knew Shane knew how rad a kid he was. To me and my wife, he was like our little son. When he first came to America, my wife picked him up from the airport and looked after him for the first week because me and Matt were on tour and every time he came over to America, he’d stay with us. So it was like losing a family member to be honest.

Does that send a big message out to skaters to calm down a little bit?

It’s up to skaters to choose that message, but I hope it does yeah. You can make skateboarding a long career if you want and Shane is proof that it can also be cut short from doing silly things. Mistakes happen though.

So, you’re on the Bones tour and have just joined us here in London, bring us up to date with your happenings.

I’ve been based in California for the last year and a half really just taking a break from traveling and contests but I’m back into it now, getting Kewday pushed.

Have you been on the road all summer, is this one of many stops?

No, this is first trip I’ve done in a year and half. I took that break because I got burnt out. Before the break I was on the road for two months and saw my wife for about four days so I knew I need to chill for a bit. I went back and forth to Australia a couple of times. It’s good to be back in London though. Shit, the last visit was for a Billabong clothing trip so I have not been here for about five or six years! There’s some good spots around the hotel too so I want to spend tomorrow around the hotel hitting them up and it helps to have this sunshine too!

Have you been putting footage down for any particular video?

Yeah, we’re putting together a little Kewday promo, a 10 minute promo which should be out soon and then we’re going to work on a full length for a year and a half’s time.

Is there a website we can go on to check it out?

Yep, www.kewday.com and we have a MySpace page as well which is at, wait a minute, let me get my stickers out here – www.myspace.com/kewday .

So you’re still rocking it for the Globe team as well?

Yeah, I still rock the shoes, they’re looking after me, they send me a lot of shit. I’m not on their roster as such, but I can’t complain!

How was the Slaughter At The Opera then?

Oh man, that was gnarly. Half the people got there and saw it and said “I’m not skating that!” but a few of the young guys got up on it and killed it, Lutzka of course, you saw the results.

Adam Dyet did well too…

Dyet’s a machine!

Do you skate much with him back at home?

No I never do, I wish I could though. But he’s always traveling and we manage to miss each other all the time. But he’s a rad guy, I like Dyet.

What music can you not leave home without on one of these trips?

You know what, this is the first trip where I haven’t brought my iPod. I don’t have any music with me, I just wanted to bring my clothes and my skateboard and that’s it. Nice and simple trip for me this time around.

Well you’ve got some weed and beer killers in Gravette and Dyet so I’m sure there will be some singing going on.

This is the first time I’m the oldest dude on the tour. I’m used to being a young guy but now I’m the old dude, it’s kinda weird!

How different is it now compared to when you were youngest?

Skateboarding in general is in really good shape right now, every style of skating is accepted. Everyone respects everyone else for what they do and know that whatever is being done is a difficult thing so it’s a respect thing which I think is great. There’s just a lot of young rippers out there now, I guess that’s what we were to the pros back then but now it seems like there’s a mass of kids ripping and coming through.

Do you think the internet has changed things?

For publicity yes, especially when you’re starting a company, it helps spread it like wildfire. But in terms of chat rooms, I think they’re bullshit. There’s just too much bullshit talking, but if you don’t get caught up in it, you’re fine.

Do you snoop? Have a quick read of what’s written?

No, don’t even do that, I don’t bother. Things don’t get said about me anyway. I’m sure if there was, my friends would let me know, I’ve got some that are on them all the time.

Don’t worry, we’ll slag you off on our site as soon as we’re done here!

Awesome, thanks!

So, setting up your own company is commendable and is obviously something you’re extremely passionate about but how difficult is it to do and what do we expect to see in skate shops?

I had a pro board in Australia on Kewday before I went to America and turned pro there. My brother wanted to focus on it and really start pushing it so when I left World I said ‘let’s do this’ and wanted to really do it properly. He’s been doing the business and technical side of it, and I’ve been trying to help the team and push the young guys to get them coverage – It’s a good little partnership we’ve got going.

You mentioned World and I remember meeting you with Carl Berard and rocking World Industries in Marseilles, but what was life like directly afterwards? Was there a gap for you and the guys after it just folded?

I’m always trying to think positively, so for every door that closes, there’s another one that opens. There were a few things I could have done but I knew if I concentrated on Kewday, it’d give me way more drive to get it done. Which it has, I’m skating harder, I’m looking after my body and trying to get stronger and focusing on improving my skating again.

Talking of your body, we all get older so do you put the hours in? What helps?

Well I’m not big on getting muscly because I think that restricts you from skating but I’ve really got into Yoga and I’ve just taken up Kung Fu. Not for the fighting side, but just for the stamina and movement and improving my reflexes. I’m 31 now but I’m learning tricks every week which is awesome, I’m impressing myself!

What’s the latest?

Top secret mate! Just check the Kewday video out, you’ll see it! Nah, it just feels good to learn new shit and be creative and motivated.

Wicked, well good luck with everything, it’s a pleasure to have you in London.

Thank you!

David Gravette Interview

Sequence: Chris Ortiz

This year has seen more ams than ever making that huge switch to pro status. David Gravette is one of them, proving his worth in a style that was impossible to ignore. His section in the latest Transworld flick, ‘And Now’ saw speedy gonzales-esque (only with a better hat collection) attacks on every terrain imaginable; not to mention that now-infamous 50-50 documented at the close of his Creature part that was on par with Pat Duffy’s ‘dude, rewind that shit!’ kinked rail pisstake in Questionable. David chomps through rails like an urban pac-man. Some things you just can’t argue with.

We caught up with him on the Bones tour of the UK to get the low down on the Baby Lamb. Watch out for this kid…

Straight off the plane?

The Eurostar actually. I got completely annihilated on the train yesterday and it kept going through the night and so now I’m pretty hungover.

Plastered?

Pretty much to the floor…

You guys don’t really have the same amount of alcohol in your beer as us Brits, so how does it change once you come to Europe?

Well in America I’m not quite drinking age yet. I’ve got my friend’s ID which says I’m 26 and is expired and doesn’t look like me but it works most of the time.

So you’re from Seattle?

Yep, Seattle, Washington.

Is that where you live now?

I pretty much just float around, I’m always traveling but I go back to Seattle for a week or two every couple of months.

Does it rain a lot up there?

Oh yeah, during the winter it rains every day. In the summer it’s really nice.

Similar to the UK then…

Yeah, basically the same weather pattern.

Were you stoked to see that it wasn’t pissing down when you got off the train?

Well, I can’t even skateboard properly because I had ankle surgery about 15 days ago and it’s been torture going to watch people skate every day and I’m just sitting there like “Yeah guys, do you wanna high five?”

How did you do the ankle?

I broke my ankle two years ago and got it x-rayed twice but they missed the break because they’re dumb asses so it’s been bothering me. I had this bone that kept breaking off the end of my talus bone so I got that removed.

So you reckon it’s cleared up?

It should be better in about a week so I hope to start skating then. It’s been about a month and a half, but I hurt my ankle again so I had to go see the doctor to see if the bone had moved because it felt a little bit worse than before. He said I should get it taken out before it went up into the joint. That meant I’d wasted two weeks letting it heal when I had to have another surgery anyway and start all over again.

There’s been quite a spotlight on you in mags as a skateboarder over the last six months. How have you found all of the attention, are you enjoying it?

It’s good for the bank but it’s pretty good considering what you have to do. Well, actually, it can be hard. It’s easy and it’s hard, it goes back and forth.

And how’s it with Creature?

The fucking best. I love it on Creature.

How did you got hooked up there originally?

I was skating a park in Washington and they were on their first Creature trip, since it got re-started and I saw them all there skating. I was riding rep flow for Independent and my rep was with NHS and he told me Creature wanted to sponsor me because they liked that I could skate street and tranny. I was riding for another small company called Santa Fe and it sucked because the owner was a super cool dude but I had to call him and quit. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done but was definitely worth it, that’s for sure.

In terms of the whole team, it’s full of slayers. Have you ripped with Stu Graham yet?

I have been on a couple of trips with Stu and he’s fucking insane, don’t ever give him Vodka Red Bulls!

Who else on the team absolutely slays it for you?

My homie Devin Appelo, he’s one of the new Ams, he’s a fucking good dude. He’s from Portland, so I’ve been skating with him for about three years.

Has he got the Portland gnarl?

Oh man, he’s the gnarliest – chug a whole six-pack and jump the biggest gap you’ve ever seen first try. He doesn’t give a shit – toes through the shoe, board soaked in water, broken – Tre flip footplant 10 stairs, doesn’t give a fuck…

What about the legendary side of the crew, what do you take from those guys?

I like street skating with them, that’s a lot of fun because when we go on trips, they like to go out and fuck around. I don’t know how to explain it – drink some beers and shred a park!

Been logging much footage?

I filmed for the Transworld video ‘And Now..’ for the last eight months.

And what about Creature – is that coming soon?

Creature’s video is going to called Hesh Law. I believe that’s coming out in 2009 so I have about six months to complete my part.

You tend to rip in all sorts of places, but what’s your favourite terrain?

I like transition, just flowing through bowls or long mellow rails, that are low. But they go on for a while so you get on, they’re not too scary to get on, and you just try to hold it.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to do skateboard-wise since you stepped up?

It’s been pretty hard filming for the Transworld video, lots of stress because it was a bit like “here are eight months to film the best footage of your life” and I dealt with a lot of injuries and kept hurting my ankle during the filming. But I got some things…

Which trick out of that particular video were you most psyched on?

Nose blunt 3 up 3 down in San Francisco. I didn’t think I’d be able to get it, I tried it for about half an hour or 40 minutes. It was a really long ledge and had to hold it for a long time, that was the scary bit.

Does music play a part in your daily life?

Oh yeah, I listen to music all the time. All sorts of different metals, mostly Iron Maiden. I don’t really like rap at all except Andre Nickatina and Lil Wayne. I pretty much listen to those guys all the time, and Hendrix. That’s the playlist.

If there was a record you couldn’t leave home without?

I’d probably have to go with my flower power mix on with all these stoner songs.

You on the road a lot?

Yeah. I went to Australia and China on the Transworld trip. Australia was really good except we did so much skating that we didn’t even go to the beach for weeks. I went to the beach once to pick up herbals, but that was it.

Who was on the list?

All the Transworld guys – Nick Trepasso, Kenny Hoyle, Sean Malto, Richie Jackson, Matt Miller and me. They’re all going to be so good and it’s too hard to pick just one but I’m really psyched on Richie Jackson’s approach to skateboarding.

What about China?

China was a bit of a bitch, I hurt my ankle the second day of the trip so I couldn’t skate. China is just a trip, there are people everywhere and the pollution is horrible, I didn’t see a blue sky for about two weeks. I actually puked for the first three days in a row, waking up early in the morning. Not because of drinking either, it’s just dirty everywhere, you breath in mildew all the time and you see horrible shit everywhere, like people begging with their feet rotting off. It’s really hard getting past the language barrier too, ordering food and stuff. Without our guide we’d have been lost! I’ve been to places where they don’t speak English but you can get by with body language and hand gestures but in China it’s much harder, they just look at you so confused and nod. And you don’t know what you’re getting! It’s also hard to skate out there because it feels like you’re skating at really high altitude and can’t take deep breaths.

So I take it that you repping the United States in Olympic skateboarding is out of the question then?!

Um, probably never. They won’t let me smoke weed everywhere and I don’t want to do anything for them. Fuck.

How about launching a new Gravette spot cream?

I can do, if they really want it. Sheckler’s fucking blown it. I don’t understand why if you have that much money, you don’t just take a step back and try and be a real skateboarder. Why do you want to be on MTV and be into Ultimate Fighting and what not?

There are a lot of young Ams that are looking at the skateboard industry now and trying to move forward and keep skating but when it comes to that side of it, what’s the general attitude?

The worst thing is when you’re talking to a girl and it comes out that you’re a skater and they say “Oh you know Ryan Sheckler?!”, it’s the worst thing to hear. Because you’re like “yeah, but I don’t want to!”. He’ll just come up and try to ultimate fight you. You don’t wanna be the guy that gets his ass kicked by Sheckler, that’ll be the worst thing ever!

You’ve been riding with what looks like a rad Bones Wheels team, everyone stoked on the tour?

Yeah it was a lot of fun, everyone got along really well. I’ve been riding for Bones longer than any other sponsor. I have been rep flow for Bones since I was about 14, getting them through my local shop. One pair of wheels every two weeks!

What’s your preferred set?

51s 3 type formula. Power slides all day and no flat spots.

What countries have you been to on this Bones tour?

They’ve been to more than I have because I showed up late. They’d been on the road for a couple of weeks, but I got there in Brussels, Belgium and then we went to Hamburg and Munich in Germany, then Amsterdam and now onto here in London.

Amsterdam huh…

Well, I spent a lot of money! I could have used more coffee shop time but went to some pretty crazy parties and clubs!

How’s the club scene there compared to the US?

It’s good! I don’t go out too much in the States. But the girls are nice here, I was impressed by London’s bird action last night!

Did you see some tight units?

Ridiculous! I was freaking out because I didn’t have any weed yesterday so I was antsed up and there were all these beautiful women everywhere, it was bullshit!

Did you get some?

Pretty much no. I stayed up til 4 or 5 in the morning at some house. It was pretty stupid. They told me they didn’t smoke weed and asked if I wanted to sniff some glue and huff some paint. I was just telling them to roll a joint, instead of passing around some fucking glue! (laughs)

Sounds like a vortex into the 1980s!

They seemed normal, but I guess they were down for glue and paint instead of weed and beer!

Last words…

I want to say thanks to Crossfire and Bay Sixty 6 for having us and Bones Wheels for doing the trip. Vox Shoes, Independent Trucks and thanks to Shiner, our distribution company. I went to Shiner a few years ago on the Creature trip and everyone got some old school boards and I was stuck carrying them on my shoulder. Spiff life!

David Gravette’s pro model on Creature is out now. Transworld’s ‘And Now’ is available from your local SOS. Click here for the review.

Adam Dyet Interview

Adam Dyet is large as life itself. In fact he could be documented as one of life’s steamrollers – usually the first in and the first out.

His burly approach to skateboarding has taken him around the planet with various skate teams but this particular trip saw the Bones Wheels Team split into 2 groups throughout Europe this summer with Dyet landing in London for a demo and to collect some street footage..

Zac asks the questions outside Bay Sixty 6 with thanks to Chris Ortiz for photography ..

So then, Mr Dyet’s back in London…

The return of Mr Dyet, in London, here I am!

The last time I saw you, you were taking money out of my hand at the Southbank Jam.

It was such a good time, the whole contest and everything turned out to be really, really good, there were a lot of good kids there, a lot of good skateboarding and the whole spot itself is legendary; I was excited to just go out there and rip it.

How different was the event compared to those sorts of things back at home?

It was so much different because it was much more like a party you know? A bunch of kids just getting together and having one big party, a skate party, rather than just a simple contest with runs and everything, this was just all-out, best tricks everywhere and that’s what I like.

Since then you’ve been travelling quite a bit, I’ve seen you popping up in Thrasher and generally getting about and laying the hammers down. You won $15 grand and the Slaughter at the Opera event as well…

Australia was pretty much the best time ever, I love that place. It was a good come up too; last year I got first place and this year me and Greg switched and he got first while I got second. I’m not going to complain, the whole set up of the contest is just so good, and well, I won $15 grand!

I heard the rail was a beast.

Dude the rail was so fucking big. I couldn’t believe that they were having a contest on this thing, let alone the tricks that people were sticking down it. Sean Malto killed it!

So where else have you been? Did you go through Europe on this Bones tour?

Yeah, these guys went to Spain and France and I ended up meeting them in Paris and from there we hit up Berlin, Holland and now here I am.

Let’s hear THE tour story then…

Oh god man, so many stories! On this tour, Jordan Hoffat just opened a door and walked into Jared Lucas, the team manager from Bones, well, just straight up jerking off! Straight on, side profile, jerk off man! Hand on his penis. Haha, and this is with the European style side shower so this was a full frontal show!

OMG..

This was in Berlin. Surprisingly the girls were really harsh man, not cool at all!

So, you are not missing Salt Lake City then?

Well there are bits and pieces. Obviously I miss my family. I miss my Mum a lot and try to go and see her whenever I get any spare time but it’s really hard with my schedule. I miss my friends and knowing the whole tale you know? California is just like a blur to me. It’s literally skate, skate, skate. Utah is still my home.

So you are residing in California?

Yeah, I live in Huntington Beach, and it’s good, but you know… it’s California. I know a lot of people say that California is great but myself, it’s ok but I think it’s not so good.

Why’s that?

Well the skate spots are amazing, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the skating. But having to drive for hours and only hit two skate spots isn’t all that. Sitting in traffic ain’t fun. Everyone who lives there thinks that they’re number one and it’s just overrated. California is totally overrated.

Is Wahoo’s still there in HB?

Yeah, Wahoo’s Fish Taco is still here.

The best tacos in Cali..

Oh it’s definitely good. I’m starting to know more people and through them trying to make this feel like my home and it is getting better.

But Salt Lake City is always going be your home?

Oh for sure. unless it’s snowing…

So what’s a typical day for you now?

I wake up late, get myself some food and coffee and just skate, skate, skate. If I’m not skating I’ll just chill at my house, maybe ride my bike or cruise around on my scooter, pretty much just hang out. And fishing! I love fishing! Fishing is seriously the best thing in my life. When I grow up I wanna be a pro fisherman.

I was checking out your myspace and saw a few pictures of you with some pretty huge Marlin and Tuna; do you like going out into the ocean and fish for hours?

Yes! Yeah yeah! I love it. Today I was actually supposed to be going shark fishing in Costa Rica.

Have you ever been there before?

No, never been there…

I’ve been and seriously it’s a contender for the best country in the world, you’re not going to want to come home…

I’m leaving right now….

In the Northwest of the country they have some of the best Marlin fishing in the planet, apparently.

Damn dude, I want to do that so fucking bad. That’s why I want to go out there. It’s good to have a break, these guys I’m with are trooping it up for the whole 46 days or something. I’ve been here – what? – 15, maybe 18 days now and I’m just ready to go fishing. I’ve had a lot of fun over here but now it’s just time to hang out.

Let’s talk Darkstar. You have your boards out now; you’ve got a tattoo of your board graphic right?

Yeah, yeah I’ve got an armpit to hip of my first pro graphic. It’s not finished yet, it’s had about 8 hours work on it. It looks really gnarly! With Darkstar, we have a really good crew going on right now. We’re filming a video that will probably be out within a year or so. Everyone is ripping it man, Paul Decenzo, Ryan … Paul Machnau always kills it obviously! Same with Gailea Momolu. We’ve definitely got a solid, diverse team. Mick jumps down so much crazy shit it’s unbelievable. Seriously man, this Darkstar video is going to be some mad shit.

So how much stuff have you put away for that as opposed to other projects?

Everything man. Literally everything I film, everywhere I go, I send it all to Darkstar.

So what’s being on the team like?

We have a totally solid team right now. I mean, we could need one more pro soon. Terrell Robinson is going to turn pro soon, we might get one more am, but I’m totally psyched on the team right now. Everyone gets on really well, and that’s always the best thing about a team – just getting together, that feeling of unity without any bitching or fighting.

If Creature and Darkstar went head to head over the colour green who would win?

Personally I think I would win with Darkstar because green rules our shit, my shit. With Creature, it’s a big battle royale. It’s stupid man, people are saying “oh Dyet, so you’re making a Creature board.” And why, because it’s fucking green? No, not happening. Green is just my colour man.

So you moved from Globe to Dekline?

Yeah, got on Dekline around 5 months ago. With Globe, Greg Lutzka is getting a shoe, David Gonzales is going pro so they didn’t really have enough room for another new pro. I could have waited another couple of years but I wanted to get my career started you know? No diss to Globe at all, but I had to do what I had to do.

So how’s life over there?

It’s going good. We had a little road trip and I hurt my ankle at a demo and had to leave half way through it which was a shame. Team is great though, everyone gets along and we got some crazy variety going. There are some handrail kids, obviously Patrick Melcher has got that innovative approach, Jason Adams doing his unique shit. Matt Ball rips so yeah Dekline is definitely on the come up.

Obviously you’ve got a mixed bag of tricks…

As always it depends on the day. Some days things go really well and you land stuff you’d never imagine doing while some you’d be struggling to do things you do all the time. It’s always up to that moment in time.

What’s the Satan trick?

Blunt to fakie. On anything. No matter what size the quarter pipe is, I’m just going to get wrecked. Everyone can do a blunt to fakie, not me!

Do you watch skate videos to get inspired to learn new things?

I don’t like skate videos! I go skateboarding, but then I don’t want to go home and watch skateboarding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a skateboarder and I love skateboarding with all my heart, but I just don’t watch them. I’m not a skate nerd, I know absolutely no skate trivia what-so-ever, the who-did-what-and-where, I just love going skateboarding. I have my favourite parts, Guy Mariano in Mouse, Arto and Mark in Sorry, Danny Way in DC, anything that’s put a mark on skateboarding, but as for new videos, I don’t try and keep up.

So when you’re kicking back and having a smoke, does music come into this chill time?

Oh for sure, I like music a lot. Admittedly I don’t know much, but I just love to hear music. I’m not much of a band guy or record label guy, just someone who likes to jam out. I don’t know much, but I know what I like. AC/DC, Slayer, Bob Marley, David Bowie, whatever.

So if you had the choice of soundtrack for your video part in the upcoming Darkstar video what would you choose?

I’m trying to get AC/DC. Maybe Problem Child or Shoot To Thrill if no one’s used it. I think Matt Hensley might have though… Actually, I’ll tell you what I might want to use – not sure if you’ve heard of them – The Sword?

Oh, yeah, The Sword rock…

I used them on one of my local Utah video parts and it was so sick. They’re an incredible live band. I saw them not so long back, so fucking awesome.

So is there anything else you want to cover here in this hot car?

Just to say thank you to all my sponsors, especially Bones Wheels for this trip, Crossfire for doing what it does and thank you to skateboarding and having a smoke!

Ollie Tyreman Interview

Photo credits: Jim Walker

Ollie Tyreman has been shredding for a long time now, ever since the Vans Grom days stuck in a smelly bus travelling to wherever his wheels would take him. Since then, he’s grown up a bit and can be spotted frequenting almost every skate spot across our fair isle and further afield, as well as giving bouncers some lip and getting hocked out of Crossfire parties. This is also his first interview since leaving Consolidated on good terms and hooking up with Heroin Skateboards, so he took a moment to chat to our Zombie over in his Manchester hometown.

What are you doing right now?

I am at home and it’s 2:20am up answering these questions whilst listening to Jefferson Airplane and eating apple after apple.

Regulation question first me thinks- how long you been skating for and how’d you get into it?

I have been skating for about 9 or 10 years now I guess. Got into it through riding off a jump ramp in the cemetery opposite my house with some mates on our arses. Strictly plastic Argos boards. Then a mate took the ramp stood up! It was more epic at the time I suppose then hill bombing started because there’s shit loads of hills near me but since that day that’s all I have had a passion and love to do.

What’s the best thing about skating?

Having genuinely good friends who you have a common interest with. Traveling to all the different places in the world and the way you be who ever you want to be without any social stigma attached.

Did you ever think skating would take you to all the crazy places it’s took you?

Not at all, I was just skating around my town with a powerful crew of people trying to learn new tricks and getting hyped on just generally having something to do. Never for one second did I think, “this might even end up taking me to…etc”. I didn’t even know you could get sponsored for like 2 years or something or even what tricks were. We just watched the older lads skate and copied them.

What’s your favourite trip/place you’ve skated? Got any plans to go anywhere in the near future?

I really liked skating in India. It’s almost like a hidden treasure out there man. i was out there with a lot of friends riding our motorbikes to different beaches everyday, doing what we pretty much wanted really for no more than a quid. ha! I made some good mates over there too. It’s a massive shame the skate park is no longer there though. Props to India Nick for sorting that whole thing out! Near future travel plans involve a trip out to Barcelona to stay at a mates house with some Mancunion lads. That should be a good one. Other than that I guess I’ll just see what Vans/Powley has up his sleeve this year.

Who you riding for at the moment?

Right now I am riding for Vans, Momentum wheels, 2 skate shop in Manchester, Nueu and Carhartt clothing. Like to say a massive thanks to all of them for supporting me over the years.

How’s it been riding for Heroin Skateboards over the last few months?

Yeah sweet!… really good boards and regular packages! Can’t say a bad word at all man! Got me own advert after like a month of being on which was nice too…feel part of the family I guess, without sounding too gay.

What’s Fos’ secret of eternal youth?

I think not drinking/taking drugs defiantly helps on that tip! I got a lot of respect for him on that front man. Takes a strong character to keep that up. I’m really against drugs myself to a certain extent. Especially class A’s and stuff. Seeing my some of my closest friends fall victim to the addictiveness of certain drugs especially cocaine is a pretty sad thing to see. I have no problem or worries for people who use it in moderation but when people priority’s change to get “another one” then it’s fucking weak to say the least. Hopefully it’s a passing phase anyways! ha ha sorry rant on!

Have you managed to skate with all Heroin team members yet?

Yeah, well I skate with Rogie all the time and have done for like 3 years or so…getting to skate with Howard is always a treat – pretty rare occurrence but definitely sick. Ault rips and have had some sick sessions with him. I skate with Fos usually when I am in London down Stockwell or something…so yeah in general get to see most people who are on with exceptions of the Japanese and American.

Is there a new vid in the works?

Yeah well me and Rogie have just finished some little web clip thing for this very web site and the Heroin/Vans sites too then it’s time to get a good start on the new video as the weather has finally arrived! Stoked i’m finally getting to film a full proper video part without sending random bits of footage around the world. Rogie is a sick filmer too so works out good!

Do you enjoy filming?

Yeah it’s sick! It helps motivate you, as you know when you avit, it’s documented forever.

Last skate video watched?

Toy Machine

Best video part ever?

My opinion changes on this on a regular basis but for now “Alex Olson” Lakai, Fully Flared.

What rig from the Heroin vault is your selected skate tool?

The 8 inch Swirls are making a come back to anyone that knows of that or remembers it. Best shaped board ever!

OK, you had this one coming, what’s with that k’in hair cut lad?!

I realise it’s not that cool in skateboarding to get any kind of hair cut that might associate you with something else but yeah….heavily influenced by a lot of the Manchester music and that so thought I’d project that through my hair! ha! Girls seem to dig it too which is cool! Haha!

At what stage did you start modeling yourself on Lisa Stansfield?

When I realised I look like her….apparently! Ha!

You and Grove should start a band and we will do the press…

Yeah ok….that would be amazing! Not! He would either punch me to death or the fact that neither of us have any musical talent what so ever might stop play. Ha! Groves a good lad though when he’s not bezzin.

What music drives you home every night?

The same bloody CD’s in my car for the last 6 months!! Anything from the likes of Bowie, The Charlatans, Ian Brown, Shy FX, The Rev,( local radio station) Van Morrison, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, Madness, The Specials….Pretty much the Manchester super groups go down well! Psychedelic 60’s music is a must too.

Is the Manc scene rocking some new bands that we should know about?

Yeah as always! “The Thrust” mate! For those that are un familiar with The Thrust it’s a modern day punk band consisting of all my mates who skate….Eddie Belvedere is the singer which is always entertainment! Also a band called Exit State from Burnley are on the up! The Hideways are also coming up fast with strong Manc beats. My girlfriends Mum’s band too are good…Presinct they’re called. She sounds a bit like Souixie and the Banshees….Loads of local DJ’s smashing it too like Gez Curren and Ben Perry (Contort). Keep it up everyone!

You’ve been working at Central now for a while, how’s that working out? Do you actually do any work there, or just skate?

It is the best job I have ever had! I’ve been working there for just over a year now and I am glad to say I enjoy every day as all the work we do is skate related…In terms of actual work. It’s really “relaxed” I guess but there are the odd days where a graft is needed. I’m usually running errands for the boss as I am the only one that can drive out of the employees so I am out quite a lot through the day. It’s going good though for sure! We’re just getting off the ground with our distribution company “2 dist”. It’s owned by Harry who runs the park and currently it’s me and Eddie working for it too. Were getting a few brands behind us now so it’s getting good! We have big plans for this year so hopefully work out good! We do sneak in the odd “power minute” skate at work here and there too. It’s hard not too when you work in a skatepark.

What as-yet unknown shredding talent is on the up and up in MCR?

There is a lot! Since Central opened it’s like a breading ground. I’d say Nick Stands-field but he’s kind of well known. Maybe these lads called, Rikk, Seb and Louie B. Both got some moves in em and can bust a shape or two as well. Look out for those names.

Where the locals after skate hang?

Our Local is a bar called Fringe near the skatepark in the center of Manchester and hosts some amazing ciders. Good meeting point and has a good duke box! Rob Smith enjoys it in there a bit too much for my liking though! haha…avit Joe!

Tight Units?

Well the bar consists generally of old men but theres the odd “tight unit” knocking about if I may say so myself. One of the bar maids is pretty “on it” as well!

You married off or cruising the streets for action?

Yeah I’m “married off” as you put it and in a stable relationship with my girlfriend Mercedes. She’s rad! When you work at a skatepark and skate every night after work it’s good to have something else to direct your thoughts towards and take your mind off the “over load” of skateboarding. Keeps me on my toes and helps me behave so yeah all good! Good motivation to skate too.

You must be stoked that Powley has now left MCR?!

I’m pretty gutted actually! It was amazing having him around when he lived in his flat in the center…we had some good times up there and definItely have great stories from times we would crash there for like 2 weeks solid. He never minded though as long as we cleaned up and shit. I think at one point Warren moved in without anyone noticing! Sessions on the ramp down stairs too were sick although I guess he figured “Wakefield” was better!? In the words of Warren “What the hell were you thinking?!

What Vans you rocking?

All black era’s. So sick!

How can the Vans UK team take over the world?

Easy! Just give Powley another bus and 20 grand then that should do the trick….

What’s your prediction for skate fashions this year? I reckon it’s going to be “Urban” D.I.Y protective gear made out of tissue paper and duct tape.

Ha ha, my predictions are Morrissey style hair cuts, lots of tie dye tee shirts. Over print hoods, small wheels, big pants, tight tee’s, basic looking shoes and more lumber jacks. Even the fresh dudes will give into owning one. Or maybe what ever anyone on Lakai is doing?

Kebab or fish and chips?

Fish and Chips any day…

What’s the shittest thing about skating?

The way it dictates a shit diet and how it creates O.C.D.

Explain your OCD…

It’s not as bad as it used to be! It was pretty epic at one point to a degree where I was really going a bit mad. It’s totally skate related and it’s more common than I first thought. I think everyone has it to a certain level but I think I was a bit more open and less obvious about it. It’s chilled a bit now though. It’s mainly numbers for me….Like I have lucky numbers….Such as 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 27, 22, 37 and 55. Ermmm maybe leave that one there? ha!

How can the new Crossfire site better itself?

Obvious! Put more Northerners on it! Northerners are generally better than Southerners at everything! ha!

Big ups, yo?

Just like to thanks all my mates for being fucking sick and Harry at Central for employing me and keeping the flame alive! Nice one!

Baghead Flats – The Interview

When the teasers for Baghead Flats hit the internet no one could have predicted that the movie itself was going to be so imaginitive, well thought out, filmed and edited.

Now that the movie has hit Skater Owned Shops all over the UK and people have started adding the title to their collections, the wow factor has started and seems to be on continuous applause due to the magical filming of Yorkshire’s finest rippers. Zac threw the questions to the the 2 people behind camera and mouse, Ben Powell and Ryan Gray to find out more about how this little beauty was put together. Uncredited shots by BP and RG.

Baghead Flats is one of the best scene videos to drop in years, how did it all come about?

Ben: Cheers! I’m glad you liked it. Well, as we all know filming for skate videos is a good laugh, as is repping your ‘endz’ so to speak, plus as your knees start to crumble (speaking for myself here – Geggs is only 24) filming is a way to extend your time on the board without failing to land tricks that you could’ve done ten years ago with your eyes shut. Rye and I had talked about doing a Yorkshire video for a while as at the time he was working at The Works in Leeds and spending most of his time off work filming and I film all the time as a matter of course. On a biased tip – it seemed to me that there were a whole group of local skaters killing it with nothing specific to film for. The plan was laid, I gave my house keys to Rye and a box of 200 DV tapes and fucked off on holiday – when I came back he’d logged it all and we started filming seriously. Plus, despite being involved in various skate videos over the last 15 years I’d never actually made ‘a scene video’, nor one that concentrated on my local area that I grew up skating in – so it was a no-brainer really.

Ryan: The line up came about through filming whoever we were out skating with. Lynskey had a full part already filmed before me and Ben went in on this thing, and Doug had only ever had one section when he was a kid so we set out to purposefully document his skating as an adult before he turned into the full time musician he is already becoming. As we went on, I’d been skating loads with Beall and was excited by what we’d managed to get without even trying, Manhead grew up over the course of this video, with most of his section coming together over the final few months, Grove couldn’t stop producing footage if he wanted to, and Jase has such an interesting view on things that we couldn’t not include him. Scotty came on a load of missions with us here and there so getting his footage together was fairly effortless. Then there were Liam and Lois who we wanted to be involved, but due to their uni commitments, it was impossible to get full sections from them. They really went out of their way to get what they could for the DVD, so we gave them short interlude sections, so to speak.

Ben, you have been filming for years and must have a cupboard full of footage, how come you decided to focus on a scene video rather than spending time on another Sidewalk production?

Lack of time/resources really. We didn’t have the time or the inclination to do a Sidewalk vid proper so rather than let all the footage go to waste we pooled our resources. When we started filming Baghead Flats I did all the editing/writing for the mag plus all the online content on my own – when ‘In Motion‘ was made Chez was working for Sidewalk too so it was feasible to make a mag video. Since then Ryan has joined the staff at the mag so the next Sidewalk video should start in earnest soon. Plus, like I said there were a bunch of skaters in West Yorks killing it who weren’t getting the attention they deserved so I felt that giving them the exposure I thought they should have was more important than a Sidewalk video for the short term.

Has the Yorkshire scene been documented before in such a unique way?

Ben: Not really – the nearest thing previously was probably the Wisdom video ‘Pulling Teeth‘ or any of the various Leeds videos ‘Yorkshire Puddings‘, ‘Things I Don’t Remember‘ etc or even Wayne Rataj’s classic Barnsley vid ‘Brain Damage‘. All of these vids were sick but kind of concentrated on one city or a shop team whereas we wanted to concentrate on the whole county. Plus, none of them had enough Wakey footage in ’em…

Ryan: I wouldn’t say we’ve documented the Yorkshire scene in a unique way at all, to be honest. All we’ve done is make a video with our mates, though it’s worth noting Grove and Andy probably wouldn’t like been put under the ‘Yorkshire‘ banner! Rory McKenzie has put out a few Leeds releases over the years, from ‘Memowrex‘ back around 2002 to ‘Yorkshire Puddings‘ last year. He’s currently working on a project called ‘Friday the 13th‘ which is due out any time now, keep an eye out for that, it’s going to be banging!

Rye, you have been working with Ben on various edits for the last couple of years, did you ever think this would come out as good as it did?

Not sure to be honest. I didn’t really think about what I was agreeing to at the time, we just hatched this plan and got on with it. As for the end product, I think I’ve been around it too much to have a valid opinion on it at the moment. The week after it premiered, I did the master copy of the DVD with Magee, sent it to the duplicators then flew out to Barcelona for a week to start on the next thing. There are always bits you’re unhappy with, bits you’d do differently, tricks you wish you had chance to film, things you wish you’d filmed differently and so on. Ask me again after the next project is done and I’ll let you know!

You also seem to have a reputation for being the fastest editor in the West for online skateboarding, do you have time to wash, eat and do basic things?

Washings not an issue, the eating part is somewhat of a work in progress. I’ve got good people looking out for me, though. Nordberg always checks up on me to make sure I’m coping and Ben feeds me from time to time so I’m doing good.

Do you get recognized when you leave the house now that Baghead-mania has set in?

Ben: Dude, I already get recognized in Wakefield on the regular – “Hey aren’t you that guy who wrote ‘Danger Wank‘ on the wall at Carpetworld?” Ha ha…. In fact, my face was used on a local Bigot’s Party leaflet recently as an example of a ‘local resident stealing your taxes to fund a skateboarding park”. They had my face with a red line through it – claiming I was bringing crime and drug use into the city. Haha!. How’s that for infamy?

Ryan: Yeah, all the time. The neighbours say hello from time to time, the women at the post office up the road recognize our faces, always have a smile for us! And we’re on friendly terms with the TNT guy. So long as the Wakefield Express doesn’t get hold of a copy of the DVD cover I reckon we’ll be alright.

Does ‘Baghead Flats’ really exist?

Ben: Of course – the flats on the cover are in the centre of Wakefield, about 5 minutes from where Ryan and I live. And yes, they are full of smackheads.

What was the fascination/history of this place?

Ryan: One of the main draws to the title was imagining how people unfamiliar with local slang terms would deal with the name. Ian Reid got it straight away though ‘I guess that’s Junkie Apartments, then?’

Ben: Ha, this is where we get poncey. We were trying to come up with a title that related to the local area and also one that shied away from all the Emo titles everyone seems so fond of these days – fucking ‘dark flowers in the canal’ and all that pseudo-poetic crap. We considered calling it ‘Tek rod outta yer arse’ (local expression) until one night after two bottles of Miguel and one too many funny fags I had an epiphany and came up with the title. We wanted it to sound grim, because Wakefield is pretty grim really. Also – if you want to get ‘clever’ about it – the title is kind of a parody of all the inner-city developments popping up round here at the moment – you know, build all these swanky flats that nobody can afford to live in, in an attempt to jazz up the area only for them to sit empty for 10 years and then end up full of smackheads again. Postmodernism bitch!

What other names for the video did you have in mind at the beginning?

Ben: ‘Tek rod outta yer arse”. “Go fuck yersen”. “Ay up” and “Triumph of the Will”.

Ryan: An early joke me and Manhead had was calling it ‘fuck nose’ and having a picture of Manhead on the cover with a dildo for a nose, ala A Clockwork Orange. I don’t think that was ever a serious contender, though, it just gave us an amusing answer to the question ‘what’s your video called?’ when we genuinely didn’t have a clue. I wanted to stay out of the naming process as much as possible, I’m fucking terrible at naming videos. ‘Things I Don’t Remember’ anyone?

Whose section was the hardest to film and why?

Ben: To be perfectly honest – none of the sections were hard to film as we are all really good friends and hang out/skate together the whole time so it was a pretty natural process. Dougy was hard at times as he’s always away on tour with his band Gentleman’s Pistols. Mike wasn’t even supposed to have a part as when we started filming properly for it he was still ill but he came round and is so talented it’s just a case of turn the camera on and stand there. Lynskey went on a few benders, which curtailed filming his part for a while but he got back on track and came through. It was pretty easy to tell you the truth. They all rip – it’s not hard to get good footage with people that good.

Ryan: I know Doug had a few things he wanted to do to finish his part off that he never got round to, but he’s got nothing to prove to anyone, has he? We went through a period of about six months where all Manhead would do is replace tricks he wasn’t happy with, leaving the same length gap in his part, but we bullied him into filming some new stuff right before the deadline, so that worked out fine.

Which skater had the most consistent skating on lock when it came to filming?

Ben: Probably Mike I guess – just because he’s always on, regardless of what you’re skating and will get three or four mental things in a day usually. Manhead was easy too because he was young and had never really filmed before and he’s naive and easy to manipulate, ha ha…

Ryan: All of them are consistent in their own ways, really. Obviously Mike has some shockers that stick out in my mind, such as the flip back lip on the Tech rail and switch frontside flip down the Playhouse 10 in Leeds. Both second try, both perfect. Take any of them to the right sort of spots and you’re generally laughing, though, epecially with Manhead, because you can talk him into trying anything. Literally. I’ve almost had him in hospital a couple of times due to unreasonable demands that he couldn’t refuse. Sorry Manhead!

What was the worst day of filming for this video?

Ben: Mmmm, hard one that. Maybe the day that we went to Welshside – I’d passed my test the day before and instantly drove from Wakey to Colwyn Bay after never really being on a motorway before. Also I had Doug, Man and Silent in the car on bad Jason Dill comedowns from the night before so they spent the entire day drinking and skating then all fell asleep leaving me to drive home in silence. That said, it was still a laugh…

Ryan: None were really that bad. There were a couple of days where stuff wasn’t working out, people were hungover, tired, it was bad weather etc, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

…and the best?

Ben: All of em really – we had some pretty epic days out in Harrogate last summer. I can’t really pick one ‘best’ time because this is how Ryan and I spend most of our time – skating with the peeps off the DVD and cruising around God’s county.

Half-cab blunt, full cab in by Manhead shot by Silent Will

Ryan: There are a couple of specific things stick out in my mind. Liams kickflip into the main road outside Matalan was done at 6:30am one Tuesday morning after me, him and Beall had been out in Wakey all night on the vodka red bulls. So pissed, so tired, but knowing that that was going to be the only time we were ever going to be awake early enough to get the trick. Getting a 7am flight to Paris with Beall and skating all day after been out on the piss in Sheffield and having no sleep is one to remember, as was Lynskey filming his opening line at the Playhouse in Leeds on his 19th birthday. Funny how they’re all kind of alcohol related…

What kit did you guys use to film?

VX2000, Century PD150 fisheye, glucosamine sulphate tablets and humour.

Ryan: Same as Ben, except with a vx2100 instead of a vx2000 and no glucosamine sulphate just yet. James Gardner filmed the lion’s share of the Super8 shots, couldn’t tell you what camera he had though.

How long does the full process take to get a skate video to this standard?

Ben: Depends really – we probably could’ve kept on filming but if you do that then there’s no end product is there? I’d say all told it probably took about a year and a half to do.

Ryan: I’d say we first sat down and started shaping the project about a year and half before the premiere, though that was when we’d first pooled our footage together and were trying to figure out what to do with the most part of it. Most of the footage in the actual video was filmed after that point, with a lot of the older footage ending up in the extras. The more random stuff is still sat on my hard drive waiting to be dusted off and thrust into the internet.

What are the steps needed to plan the project ahead of editing and the final result?

Ben: Again, this was easy for us as we were representing a ‘scene’ – not throwing random dudes together in order of ‘hero-ness’. Once we’d worked out who started and who finished, it all fell into place.

Ryan: The editing was a very gradual process really. Through the winter I’d spend pretty much every evening toying about with footage, then show Ben and bounce ideas around. When summer came round and we were out filming all the time, then winter came round again and the video was starting to take shape. We could see where we were with certain peoples section, see what needed taking out and what was missing then aim to fill those gaps. Myself and James went out and filmed all the Super8 stuff around September time, which was a great weight off my mind as I really wanted to get that stuff filmed and integrated into the video early on.

How much did the weather play its part in making the film more difficult to put together?

Ben: Didn’t have too much of an effect really as we’re totally into filming park stuff too – I never understood the censoring of park footage from UK videos, (except from an aesthetic point of view). If it rained, we just went to a park and filmed. The weather’s shitty up here I suppose but you get used to it – it’s part of being a skateboarder isn’t it? You improvise… Funny thing is loads of people seemed to really dig the park montage anyhow so we had the best of both worlds.

Ryan: As Ben said, you work around it. We decided that we were going to go out and specifically film a park section, so whenever it rained we’d go to a different park and see what happened. Parks are important to our scene due to the inevitable shite weather we experience, and park montages on videos like ‘Thru The Eyes of Ruby’ and ‘This N That’ really get across how good park skating can be. We just wanted to carry on that tradition I guess.

Andy Scott has a banging section, not many people have managed to document his skateboarding lifestyle so uniquely…was it hard to get the hits from the bong?

Ben: You know what? Andy isn’t even that bad of a stoner – well not like that track kind of suggested. Filming with Scotty is simple as long as you follow this basic rule – never tell him you’re filming. As far as I’m concerned Andy Scott is a bona fide legend – you can never see too much of Scotty. He reckons that he wants to film a full street part next – watch out!

Ryan: I think Bingo put it best when he said ‘Gino’s put out more footage in the last decade than Andy Scott’. He wasn’t joking, either. Ben had filmed a load of banging stuff of Andy at the Blackpool vert, and I think the original plan was to use that and the Portugal footage and give him a short interlude, similar to Liam’s or Lois’s, but as time went on we’d be on trips or whatever, he’d get into it and we just kept gathering more and more footage.

There’s some banging music on there, a real mixed bag – who chose the tracks?

Ben: Even split between me and Geggs (Ryan) to be honest.

Ryan: Some people wanted more involvement in their music than others, Grove is always amazing to work with because he’s passionate about every aspect of making a section, but he’ll be the first to admit he changes his mind every two seconds, so in that case you have to reach a compromise. The final edit of his section was put together the week before the premiere whilst he was away, and I don’t think we had time to check with him beforehand that it was all good, so hopefully he was into it! Jase and Doug suggested one song each, both of which worked, Beall had a couple of songs in mind but they came in too short, and everyone else put faith in me and Ben.

How has the movie changed Yorkshire? Ha!

Ben: Well everyone on it now drives a Bentley, swims in their indoor pool every night and gets happy-ending massages off all the fit MILFS from Emmerdale. Nah, that’s just me. I guess people’s eyes have maybe been opened a bit as to how good some of the locals up here are – who knows?

Ryan: I didn’t realise that it had, haha! As Ben said, so long as it raised some people’s awareness of the talent currently housed up here then all is well.

Looking forward – Bagheads pt2 or future Sidewalk production for you guys?

Ben: Next thing will be another Sidewalk video. Probably not till 2009. No claims yet though – you’ll know when we do.

Ryan: Sidewalk video for sure. Not 100% on what it will entail at this stage though. Keep you posted!

Baghead Flats is out now on DVD and available at your local SOS, distributed by Power Distribution. Read a review here.

French Interview

Richard Sayer, also known as French is a skateboarder originally from Aldershot, Hampshire here in the UK whose passion for drawing has been documented and sought after worldwide. He wears what could well be a german war helmet when he has to wear a lid and slips and slides around the place as if he is carrying an Excalibur!

This beastly attitude that he applies to his skating can be seen in his incredible illustrations. Although a steady hand is needed to perfect these skills, his knowledge of the history of darkness, war and terror are essentially what make up the striking attitude of his work on record sleeves and skateboard graphics. Zac and Zombie ask the questions in the same month that Real Skateboards launched a limited edition deck titled the Oval Remix doused in French’s artwork.

When was your first drawing?

I dunno, scribbles as an infant? I used to draw soldiers shooting Nazi’s well Germans. I loved all this war as a kid.

Last drawing?

I just drew a t-shirt design for Grim at Freestyle Skateshop in Newport. It’s an Executioner drawing.

Fave skate graphic of all time?

I think it’d have to be the Jim Phillips Santa Cruz graphic, Ross Goodman Grave Digger. It was my 1st ever proper board in 91 from Surrey Skateboards. I wanted it for so long and after my Dad saw that I was serious about skating he bought me it for my birthday. I actually have one again now still in the vinyl rap. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. It’s all things that skate graphics should be. The colours are amazing, it’s kind of simple, runs the whole length of the board and has a top graphic of a skeleton coming out of a coffin.

Worst skate graphic of all time?

God there are so many over the years…. especially now as well. I think may be anything Alien Workshop since about 97…..they just lost it and they look like an organic toothpaste tube design. Also the boards are shaped like banana’s.

No 1 from your personal fave illustrations

1. This is the Freestyle design I’ve just done for Grim. I think this is one of the things that I love best about working with people on the same level. Grim’s a good lad, as are all the Newport skaters and he asked me to draw shop shirt and I did ask what he wanted? He just said you know us, anything. Well I do know them, but I think if I did something like that they’d never sell any and they’d get seized by the Police for obscene publications. So an Executioner and Axes it was and Grim wanted a Creature style green for it. I’m stoked on the way it came out.

Essential Zombie film?

Zombie Nosh!

Texas chainsaw massacre one or two?

One!

Have you ever thought about being a school art teacher?

I started on a Pgce course at ULU to become an art teacher. I lasted about 4 months, I liked teaching , but teachers are hypocritical idiots and I just didn’t feel right telling students to do things I didn’t agree with. Also the problem is that all the things the government and a bunch of funny old art teachers just wanna teach really have no relation to building skills or have anything that is true art. I just thought it was nonsense so I just thought for my morals I had to leave it. So I went and worked in CIDE full time for Badger and Greg and worked on my drawing….

Ah, so that’s why CIDE went bust!?

You cheeky bastard!! The shop fucked up after I left… I guess it’s ‘cos I did work there 6-7 days a week for a year… and I was meant to be working 3 days a week!

OK, try this one, what is THE skateboard company of all time in your opinion?

I would have to say SMA in 91 -93. Mate SMA Debunker video is amazing. Alan Petersen, Karma, Nick Foster and Corey Chrysler made me realise that I wanted to skate forever. They just made it look raw and exciting. Also at the time the video was pretty out there with all the film clips etc It could also be 151? It’s difficult…. i think it’d change over time.

No.2 from your personal favourite illustrations?

2. This a drawing I did a while ago for a Suburban Bliss shirt, as a shirt it’s not coloured and I actually use it as a business card. I just coloured it for a limited Edition “Early Griffin” print that will be on sale at Analogue in Edinburgh. I’m really proud of the line work and detail in this one. I really can’t believe it actually worked out as well as it did. Loads of people had said they find it a little scarey, I don’t see it myself. Each to their own I guess?

Obscure thrash band(has to be before 1990 and can’t be signed to Roadrunner)?

Acid Reign or Re-Animator.

The one and only fruit?

Satsuma!

Fave trick in your box?

Backside 50-50’s on curbs at the underground car park in Farnborough.

and someone else’s?

Craig Questions Heel-blocks.

When are you going to get rid of your girlfriend and start pushing mongo?!

Never, never ever will I push mongo….fuck me Zombie get over the Mongo thing. Shit-footer!

Raddest skater award goes to:

Corey Chrysler.

Worst Skatepark of all time:

All skateparks have something to offer, I don’t think there’s a skatepark that doesn’t have at least one part I enjoy. There’s nowhere I won’t go if I’m near and keen for a skate.

Third fave personal illustration?

3. Paralow This is gonna be a Pointer Footwear shirt. The brief was a child hood hobby. The other people that made drawings for it were a little different. Marcus Oakley made his about climbing trees, Nick Taylor drew this little monster puppet. But for me, I was so into Commando’s, the SAS, Soldiers and playing war when I was a kid. I loved it!! I really wanted to be in the SAS the whole time I was a kid, it used to get comics like “Commando“, “Battle” and “Victor“. “Charlies War” was a favourite of mine for sure. I really wanted this drawing to look like it’s come straight out of one of those publications and I really feel that it has.

Top 5 bands and albums of all time and why?

Ozzy Osbourne – “No Rest for the Wicked” . It’s got loads of amazing riffs and songs on there, ” Breaking all the rules is amazing and it hold a lot of good memories of my friend Pete who past away through solvent abuse, it reminds me of all the fine times we had. It also reminds me of living with Alan Glass, running round the house playing air guitar with badminton rackets.

Bolt Thrower – “IV Crusade” It was the 1st death metal album I ever owned or heard. My brothers friend gave it too me and at the time I’d only heard things like Iron Maiden and Slayer, and then this world of brutal death metal opened up to me with one cassette of wonder. Shit… listening to “this time it’s war”
still makes me remember all the reasons why I love death metal.

Deep Purple – “Burn”. I love Deep Purple and for anyone who thinks ” oh! But without Ian Gillan they weren’t that good and Smoke on the water is the best” are dick heads. The best thing about Deep Purple was Jon Lord’s keyboards. I think they rule..up to about ’79 they were amazing. Songs like “Burn” “Sail Away” and “A200” are sick. Burn is a total winner, good blues style, killer riffs and crazy keyboards. Also you have to listen to Deep Purple on vinyl…. this record was made for it and sounds best on it.

Sepultura – “Beneath the Remains”. All Sepultura after “Arise” is pony. I’m not discussing it, it’s a fact. But this is the best album I love it. The drums are just so pounding and the vocals are the best they had I reckon. Also the production was finally not so shit you couldn’t hear it and not over produced. Also the cover artwork is amazing, my brother used to have the poster in his room when I was at school, I was always jealous. “Primitive Future” is brilliant. I’m not explaining it…go buy it. Don’t download it go buy it on cassette or record.

Putrid Pile – “The Pleasure in Suffering.” As a one man death metal band go, this is the best band I know. I love others like Viral Load, but this is really the cream of it. The vocals are sick, and the riffs are cutting. I swear if they were an object they’d be a circular saw cutting through a mass of zombies. Its amazing….so far this year it’s the best thing I’ve bought.

What you hate most about modern art?

Art work without any actual skill. I have a degree in art, I understand the conceptual side. But I think if there’s no actual refined skill involved it can go swivel.

4th fave personal illustration?

4.This Wizard drawing represents a really proud moment for me. I drew it originally for my friends zine, and then Uniqlo asked if they could use it for a t-shirt and paper carrier bags for the shop. I was cool with that, but it didn’t realise how big a company they were until I saw about 5 people in five minutes with the bag in the centre of town. I guess the the fact they made 250 thousand bags and sell the shirts in all their stores in the USA, Japan, France and UK. So to see my work all over like that as a really proud moment.

Best corpse?

The Hell’s angel dude that appears in all the Romero zombie movies.

Best skate travel story?

I don’t just have one, but from about 12 all the guys I grew up skating with were allot older than me. Brow was the closest to my age at 19. Every weekend I used to skate to his house for 11am on the Saturday morning and Grill, Rat, Chas, Munt, and Dunc used to meet up and as they all drove we’d hit up loads of spots, parks all over the country. ‘Cos they were older my Mum would “let them look after me” but we they used to taking me skating all day, punch me and shit ‘cos I was the grom. Force me to learn tricks and them in the evening taking me to pubs and parties…often Brow would tell girls I was his son and they had to guess how old I was.

This happened every weekend and by the time I was 16 I’d skated most city’s and parks in the country and seen most things that other people my age would get until they were at Uni. Munt, Dunc and Brow used to force me to skate stuff, drink till I threw up, spit on my grip tape and punch me ….I used to think it was a little unfair. But Dunc explained “it’s character building”…

OK let’s have your 5th?

5. Nun. I used to really love this drawing, but I kinder hate it now. Its one people either really love or hate. I drew it for Sperm at Terror Skateboards. But I made prints of it, it’s become one of those drawings that people seem to feel I only draw like this and theres not much more to me than horrorm Blasphemy and guts….which obviously I like this kinder thing but I love to draw other things as well and this is just one string to my bow.

Worst thing about skateboarding?

Slams, back pain, getting old and rain.

Best thing about skateboarding?

Friends, Road trips, Frontside grinds.

So, let’s finish on your latest graphics for Real Skateboards. How did you get involved in the project?

I got an email from Jim at Real asking me if I wanted to do an Oval remix board. I know Jim from when I was working at Shiner. He’s a really nice guy, he even let me skate his ramp in San Fran the last time I went out and showed me and my friends around the Deluxe office and warehouse. He’s totally in it for skating and skaters. I think he asked me ‘cos he feels sorry for me? I dunno…. but it’s definately a massive high point in my illustration career.

Have you skated many Real boards before?

Yeah… fucking loads. The 1st one I had was years ago, around ’93 the slick with Salmon Agah dressed as a fairy. All the older guys I grew up skating with were well into deluxe and obviously I got into Real and Deluxe through them. I had this sick Ben Liversedge board and learnt f/s flip outta this curb cut in Farnborough I though I was him or something. They’ve always had the best wood, the best riders and amazing videos. I mean look at the team now?

What made you choose your final choice graphic?

I dunno, I had this idea for the Knight ages ago and I wanted to draw it. I just drew it and then emailed to Jim… who told me to “stop being a fag” and just draw something I was stoked on on. So I finished it off and I am really proud of this one. It works as a board and as a overall drawing before its cropped to the size of a board. But it’s good and bold and I hope it’ll sell. Well, at least I know 2 people that’ll buy it, Munt and Bingo, the 2 people who are so into Real.

How long does a graphic like this take from start to finish and whats the full process from sketch to delivery?

It really depends on the drawing, the company and what its for. I guess with board graphics. Its anything from a day to a month? I usually start with an idea andf I find other references, like images from the internet or in books and then draw the idea together in a very loose pencil sketch way. They I go over the sketch, erasing parts and redrawing the lines with more precition and attention. Often adding allot of detail. I’ll draw the text / logo seperately and then piece the drawing and the text together on the computer and send it over as a rough sketch of what the final design will look like. Often I’lll have changes to make, so when it’s all good, I’ll ink in the drawing and text seperately, adding more detail and shades, scan it and then add colours. Usually piece the text and drawing together and then crop it into a board shape. With the Real board I think the pencil period took like 2 days, inking and colour took another 2 maybe 2 and half? But I’ve had drawings for boards that have taken like a week and a half weeks to draw and the same to ink.

What skateboard company would you like to work with next?

Man, thats really tough? I dunno, I think I’ve done my top 3? I mean Creature was amazing to do work for, Zero were rad as well, no one can say they didnt like Zero when “Thrill of it All” came out. I really loved that video and Real is just the icing on the cake. The one company in skating I really would kill to just draw anything for is Independent, shit the bed, I’ve been 100% indy for so long and have proper Indy pride so it’d be sick to do something for them…

Find French at www.tapedcopies.com

Steve Rodriguez 5Boro Interview

6th May 2008

All around the World you will find various heads that give everything for the cause of skateboarding. If you point your eyeballs over the pond to New York City you will find that one name will be on the lips of most locals and that man is Steve Rodriguez.

Crossfire spoke to Steve about the history, growth and future of 5Boro Skateboards in the build up to the premiere of New York documentary Deathbowl to Downtown this week.

Photos thanks to Bryan Uyeda, Yuri Shibuya, John Engle and Laurel Axen. Footage thanks to Jay Maldonado and Seamus Deegan and special thanks to our friends at Out of Step.

Hey Steve, what’s been going on in NYC of late?

Transformation and rebirth. Spring is here! 75 degrees today, you could say the first real day of spring. The streets are crawling with skaters, the spots are on fire with all that pent up energy from the winter. We really can’t complain too much it only snowed twice this winter so we got off easy.

Your crew have been out in South America recently, how was the trip?

Those bastards! I unfortunately did not get to go, someone has to run this beast we call 5boro. Since we have a very small staff I have to pick and choose my trips wisely, it was rough because I had never been to Chile and of course when the crew got back the first thing they said to me was, “you would have loved Chile, no driving, only skating from spot to spot.” From the photos of skating and the documentation on the 5boro blog and a sneak peek I got of the footy, I can say that the crew had a great time (and got shit done)

Speaking of footy, how’s the new video coming on? Do you have a rough release date yet?

New video is coming… If you saw NEW YORK, NEW YORK you can tell that we are very picky about what gets in and that the 5boro crew is just as much about the spot as the trick. Tombo (our Team Manager) has his work cut out for him to better NEW YORK, NEW YORK, but I know he will get it done. As far as a rough release date we are hoping for this November??? Maybe… Tombo… get to work…

What else is new in the company?

The real “newness” I would have to say would be expanding and just the incredible growth and brotherhood we have with our international teams and distributors. Just today I got the new SUGAR magazine from France and one of our French riders got the cover. Seeing something like that is new to me and to 5boro, it really shows that we are expanding beyond the US. The whole network of the 5boro extended family from France, UK, Greece, Poland, Japan and the rest of the countries where we have riders seems to be exponentially expanding.

It’s a great feeling to have bros all over the world who represent similar values within completely different cultures. Whenever these guys come to the US it’s like they have been in the van on trips the whole time. So to answer the question I would say global growth and an ever tightening crew worldwide, something that to me just happened naturally because of the great people we work with.

Who is on the current team?

Dan Pensyl, Danny Falla, Joe Tookmanian, Jimmy McDonald, Robert Lim, Willy Akers plus the international team and flow trash here in the US.

How does someone go about getting on the 5boro team?

The eternal questions… Everyone is always asking how we get such dedicated unique riders and to tell you the truth I guess it’s not wanting to have any new riders. Since we have our own thing going and the crew is so tight knit it is rare that someone will make that much of an impression on us that we are like “this guy has to be on” it’s more of an natural process where if someone is hanging out with the crew eventually if things work out it will just be a matter of a formality that he rides for 5boro. At that point everyone pretty much knows they are getting flowed by us. The flow program that we have is a pretty rough one but what better way to see if the person is really into the brand and what we are about. Even thought I own the company I’m so “honored” to be amongst the crew at any session or event we go to. I have a lot of pride in what they have accomplished for 5boro. To become one of those guys is no small feat but I’m sure it’s worth every last second of it.

Who do you reckon will turn pro next?

I guess things like this are supposed to be marketing secrets but I’m going to put it out there. Danny Falla. He’s about due. Like Dan Pensyl before him he has been so dedicated to the brand and his skating speaks for itself. Check out his park from NEW YORK, NEW YORK here:

What is the history of the company?

I guess you could say the history of 5Boro is the history of me as a skateboarder, skateboarding in NYC. Now that the company has been around for 12 years, the whole idea behind the company has been developing since I first skated in the great city of New York 25 years ago. In 1983 my Mom managed a store on the corner of 6th Avenue and Downing St. in Greenwich Village. At the time, I lived in New Jersey and my Mom used to always ask my older sister and I if we wanted to help out at the store to get some extra money. I would go in on weekends and my job basically consisted of skating around Greenwich Village running errands. I would deliver things, go out and get lunch for the employees and I got to explore the village on my way to and from place to place. I started to go into the city more often on and was less interested in running errands and more interested in exploring the city. I would skate downtown and uptown, farther and farther every weekend, and I used to get so lost I would just keep going till I saw something I recognized. I discovered so much that summer. Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, the financial district, the L.E.S., Chelsea, pretty much all downtown.

By this time skating had gone mainstream and I had met some kids in my school who skated. On the weekends we would all pile into my mom’s car and head for the city. We skated everywhere we looked for stuff to hit and a whole other world was in front of us. The spring of 1985 came and skateboarding was still going strong. Since my mom came into work every day I would come in with my friends as much as possible and we ventured farther and farther with the help of the subways. We would go up to the Bronx and skate the hills people would tell us about. Go into Brooklyn for these weird contests where kids wore costumes. So many cultures, so much to skate. Each borough offered something new. Even after all these years, I find new things to skate almost every time I go out thanks to the never-ending construction and reconstruction of buildings, streets and plazas all around the city. In 1993 I moved to the city (coincidentally in the same building that my mom’s store was in) and in 1996 I decided to make our crew into a company, the name 5boro fit perfectly because we were a reflection of the streets that we skated all around the boroughs.12 years later here we are still stating true with the help of a dedicated and loyal team.

What inspired you to start the company?

To be honest – the lack of what I considered a “real” company in NYC. After Brooklyn boards went under there was nothing raw in my mind in the city for the “real” skaters. Just to be clear in my mind, a “real” skater is someone who enjoys skating more than anything else in his/her life. Where the physical act of skateboarding is what connects them to the world. At the time the social aspect of skating gave local skaters more credibility within a dying scene and that just helped it collapse that much quicker.

What separates 5boro from other skate companies around at the moment?

The only way to know is know someone on 5boro or to come skate the city. Chances are you will run into one of the crew and you will have one of those sessions that keeps in your mind for a lifetime. For a “marketing” answer I would say that 5boro is a truly independent collective that puts as much effort into marketing great products and riders as it does in supporting s