Ali Boulala: The Return Interview

Please note that this interview was issued July 21, 2006 and is a return interview for Crossfire, Ali’s second interview with us over the years. Please do not get this confused with his release from prison, we wish him and his family all the best. – Posted March 8th 2010 due to the amount of traffic coming to this page.

18 months ago, Ralph Lloyd Davis met Ali Boulala in his home in Lyon and had a good old natter for this very website, if you missed it and want to do that one first, then click here.

Last month, Ali and Ralph crossed swords once again, but this time in Paris for the Etnies 20th Anniversary on June 12th 2006, it was a riot of a party that saw a huge gathering of pro skaters in one of the most amazing venue of the party of the year so far.

Now, it’s not often we run interviews with the same riders twice, but Ali is one of those skaters that has nothing to prove but still nonchalantly impresses when he steps on a board. Has much changed since the last interview? Well Ali left Osiris Shoes and headed over to Etnies and the rest of the story can be picked up from here…

Arto! Arto! … Have you seen my new shoe?

Is that your first pro model?

Yeah, the new Etnies one.

Oh! Nice. I see you weren’t inspired by the Old Muska then?

(Laughs) No!

So, what have you been up to since we last spoke? I know you’re licenced to drive just about anything with wheels now, aren’t you?

Yeah, motorbikes are the new toy.

Motorbikes? I thought you just bought a Cadillac?

Yeah, I’ve got the car too, but that wasn’t enough… I needed a motorbike, plus Arto has got a bike too.

So are you going to start up a biker crew? I know everyone in Lyon is rolling around on them.

Sure, Steve (Forstner) has got a bike also.

Did you have the Cadillac before your license?

I’ve had 2 cars. First, I had an old BMW to get some practice driving, then right before I got the license, I bought this Cadillac.

Did you know you wanted a Cadillac?

No. I was just looking for a better car because the Beemer was over with, and I accidentally found the Caddy.

Since you bought the Cadillac, have you been getting any funny looks?

Oh yeah! People are screaming after it, but it’s not like it’s one of those old Elvis style ones. It’s more like a newer version, but people are still like, “What the fuck?!?” (Laughs) Even in Spain, Barcelona…

Have you made some new ‘friends’?

(Laughs) Yeah…

So, here’s your new model out on Etnies- Have you been following the design process from A to Z?

Well, not really… (Etnies) already had the shape and everything already, so I just had to add all the finishing touches.

The lace?

Yeah, all that shit. When I first saw the shoe without everything else, I thought, “Ooh! That’s a pretty good shoe!”

When can we expect it to come out?

Shit! They are making them so fast! Hopefully in a couple of months…?

Can you remember what your first pair of Etnies were?

I don’t know…

I remember mine being grey suede mid-tops with those lace cover things on top.

Oh yeah, yeah yeah! I think those came out around the same time as some Visions… I know that I definitely had some of those fucking lace-saver ones!

I don’t know what happened to lace-savers… Why did they stop making them..? Were you tempted to put them on your shoe?

(Laughs) I don’t know…

How are things with Flip at the moment? I guess if you’re going on an Etnies tour, you’re also going on a Flip tour of some sort, right?

Yeah yeah! That gets fucking confusing sometimes! (Laughs) because you don’t know which tour it is???

Is Flip working on a new video?

Yeah, I guess that’s the deal. We’re just been going places and film. We just got off the Canada tour, but that was mostly just demos.

You’re going to the UK soon, aren’t you?

Yeah! There are going to be some demos there too.

Have you seen the parks you’ll be skating- Stoke and Prissick? They are amazing! Street plazas…

Oh no… What, they’re plazas?!


Fuck! That’s amazing…

You’ll see, it’s sick. You can come around it goes down gradually. It’s not like the DC Plaza with nothing but stairs and rails. This place has got banks and ledges and stairs and rails…

Sick! Which town is that again?

Stoke on Trent. It’s up North. I’m pretty sure you’ll pass through there…

Is it brand new?

Click here to see the footage from this trip at the Prissick Plaza.

Yeah, well almost brand new. So, working on videos, do you ever get tired of filming or do you get used to it?

No, I’m pretty used to it because everyday you go skating you’re filming it. It’s cool that you can capture something and watch it afterwards. I mean, I don’t mind…

What’s a good filming mission for you?

I don’t know… Driving the Caddy and finding some new spots.

I’ve noticed a lot of your stuff is filmed at weird and quirky spots- Is that spur of the moment skating?

Yeah, pretty much! (Laughs) “Oh! Maybe you can ride down that thing and jump over there..? Let’s see what we can do here…” Like, I never plan things like I know I’m going to film this trick today or something. No way. If I ever did that, I know it wouldn’t work out. (Laughs).

So, what about heading back to the 25 set?

Ummm… Maybe when we’re done filming, at the end. See what happens…

What happened to that kid, Danny Cerezini, no longer riding for Flip?

I don’t know. I guess they just kicked him off, but I don’t really know why. I mean, someone said he was buying too much jewellery and getting blinged up..?

With Flip, is it a team decision as to who gets on or kicked off?

I don’t know, I have no idea really because just now with Rodrigo TX getting on the team I didn’t know anything about it! It’s supposed to be a team ordeal, but I don’t know…

You’re an honouree member of Baker- Do you get to hang out with those guys much?

Well, just recently… When was it? April for Dustin (Dollin)’s wedding everyone got together for that and hung out.

Yeah, Dustin just got married, Ellington has got a kid and so does Reynolds- What about you dude?

(Laughs) Oh! The whole girlfriend situation for me is over with at the moment… No kids soon! One day maybe…

Last time I saw you, I remember you telling me you were really pissed at that dude who rides for Death, Ritchie Jackson, because he stole your style or something…

Oh that dude! One of my friends in Australia is always fighting with him. Anyway, he’s over there in Australia and I don’t want to see him. I don’t care (Laughs) It was just something fun to say!

So what comes next after the Hippie look? Are you going to take tips from Don Magic Juan?

(Laughs) Yeah! Maybe some John Curtis Holmes shit..? Legendary porn star style!

News just broke that Muska left Shortys- Would you try and give Jeremy (Fox) a call to get him on Flip?

Yeah! (Laughs) We’re like ten people on the team right now, so one more won’t matter! I didn’t know he’d quit Shortys…?

Yeah, he just left.

But fuck! It would be rad to have the Muska! It’s rad with Rodrigo too.

Yeah, at least you’ve hung out with Rodrigo already in Spain and stuff. How has your life changed since the Flip videos dropped? Any bad return or was it all good with the mass coverage?

Oh yeah! Everybody and their mother have seen the Flip video now! (Laughs) Sometimes you’ll be walking in the street and someone will be like “Hey! You! My son made me watch your part so many times!” And that’s kind of cool, like “wow!” I don’t mind.

Who would you like to see make a comeback, skater-wise?

Ummm… I’ve got to think about that one for a minute… Well, who’s there that has gone?

You know, some of these skaters that peaked too soon and then disappeared… Like Lavar McBride for example.

Yeah, for sure! It’s weird because skating goes up and down, and sometimes you just go down and never come back.

Since the video came out, has Flip ever asked to send you around the world and do the contest circuit? Or demos?

We’ve been doing demos all the time anyway- during the filming, after the filming… Contests? Flip always go to the contests, but that has nothing to do with the video.

Do you think we’ll ever see you at one of those world tour WCS events?

Well, we’re already on some wild tour right now! (Laughs)

Did you ever realize skating would take you down this road?

No way, no way! When I got my first board for free, I thought that was so crazy how someone could just give a board away, you know?

I just saw Andy Scott at Donnington last weekend for the Download Snickers comp. I hadn’t seen him in a long time…

(Andy) should have a comeback! (Laughs) he’s so fucking rad!

Yeah, “asleep at the wheel”! What was the last concert you went to?

In Australia I went to a lot of small concerts of friend’s bands and stuff. No bands anyone would know of though…

Are you still keeping up with your guitar playing?

Yeah! Everyday fucking all the time!

Do you think you might drop a little exclusive album in the future?

Maybe I could do something for a video part..? I can’t play a whole album yet! (Laughs) Maybe soon…

When was the last time you went back to Sweden?

Not that long ago, like when I had to sort out my driving licence. Actually, that was a year ago…

Have you seen the new skatepark they built out there- Malmö?

No, not yet! I guess me and Arto are going to go there. We’re going to drive through Sweden, then Arto will fly to Finland so he can pick up his motorbike. Then we’ll drive to Barcelona.

Fuck! That’s a long way! You might be pretty tired of motorbikes by then!

(Laughs) Yeah, but the first day I bought my bike in Germany, I drove up to Finland. The first day of owning the bike! I think it’s possible. (Laughs)

What kind of bike are you riding at the moment?

A Moto Guzzi- It’s an Italian brand. I’m sure I’ll get another one, and another one and so on… Collecting all different styles.

Where do you stock pile all your stuff!?!

Right now, my stuff is spread out all over the place. Hopefully one day I can get a massive garage to put it all in. Right now, the car is in Finland, the bike is in France…

You said you haven’t been to Lyon for a while- Are you hanging out in Barcelona right now?

Not hanging out as such, but we’ve been there for a while filming. Then we’ll go on some tour and back again… It’s like a never ending tour!

What’s it like skating in Barcelona? Is it really a bust?

No. It’s not really a bust. Everyone seems to think it is, but I haven’t seen any difference.

I ask because I have friends who live there saying it is, then others saying the contrary…

Let’s just say it is! (Laughs) Like that people won’t go there!

I recently go a hold of a new DVD called Neighbours – a Scandinavian project. It’s rad. There are actually some sick spots up North, but they are pretty rough.

Yeah for sure! It’s hard…

What was it like growing up skating in Sweden?

Parking garages! (Laughs) that’s it! Maybe a manual pad if you’re lucky. Now they have parks everywhere.

*Steve Forstner turns up and comments on Ali’s new shoe*

Have you seen this?! I suggested lace and they actually did it! (laughs)

It will definitely work with the ladies!

It’s crazy that they did that! Hopefully people won’t say like, “Oh, that’s a bit gay!”

Pfff… The whole ‘gay’ taboo in skateboarding is so lame…

Yeah, that’s why I don’t give a fuck!

Maybe if you replaced that red dot with a heart..?

Yeah! (Laughs) I’m psyched on my shoe though! It’s actually way better than I thought.

Now that this one is about to drop, have you started thinking about what the next shoe will look like?

Oh! I don’t know… (Laughs) It was fucking hard just doing this because I had no idea what to do.

So, did it take a long time to design?

No, no… Once I knew what I was doing everything became clear! Designers were asking me, “What do you want to do???” and I had no idea. But then, I just hooked up with this stripper girl and she gave me her (stocking), and I was like, “That’s it! That’s the shoe!” Then, I always wore this pendant- now it’s a different one, but I always had this one necklace- so I was like, “That’s it! Another item!” I looked at my shoes, like “That’s it too!” It all just came together so nicely.

Well, you seem to have a high fashion sense- Maybe there a career in the fashion business for you later?

Yeah, the world of fashion!

How’s this Etnies tour been going so far?

Great! I don’t know if it’s a Flip tour, or Etnies..? (Laughs) All the tours seem the same with the same people, so that’s cool.

I forgot, when I saw Andy at Donington, Pastey was there too- Justin Ashby.

Oooohhh… Pastey man! What is he doing nowadays?

He’s got his Pig City stuff, taking photos… Would you jump in a van if he turned up now?

Pastey? Fuck yeah man!

So, after living in France, have you brushed up on the language a bit? Can you get yourself out of trouble in post offices..?

(Laughs) Oh That! I guess the best plan was not to speak French because I remember that was the deal, like nobody wanted to talk with me. Everybody was always arguing about who spoke English better like, “No, you can speak English better! You talk to him!” (Laughs)

Remind us of that story Ali…

I don’t understand why, but the guy (behind the counter) called the cops for no reason. I was getting my money, and he thought I was a conman and called the cops! I think my passport was bit broken or something… Anyway, the cops just storm in like someone was trying to rob the place. They take me down to the station and all like, blah blah blah… Then they just let me go- no sorry, nothing! There was nothing wrong and they realised that later.

It’s tough being a travelling skater!

Yeah, they just arrested me because they thought I looked like a scumbag or something! Like I had fake documents, but there’s no way you can fake a Western Union money transfer!

Now you’ve lived the skate lifestyle, is there any other lifestyle that attracts you? Or seems parallel with all the touring and hijinks?

I don’t know. I guess if you were in a band, it might be the same…

Do you jam on your guitar much with Bastien (Salabanzi)? I saw him pass through with his guitar on his back.

He’s always teaching me so much stuff. Like everything I know I got from him because to learn you need to practice with someone better than you. (Bastien) got good so quickly, like we’ve been playing for the same amount of time, but he’s ten times gnarlier! He picked (guitar) up so quick.

That’s pretty much all my questions…

That was good.

Have you had a chance to play SKATE with Ronnie (Creager)?

I saw him play but he wins pretty quickly, you know! (Laughs)

What do you think you could take him out with?

(Laughs) The guy can do pretty much anything!

How about the Indian grab?

Ha! The Indian! That weird shit…

With your feet together, grabbing your toes and board… maybe you should take that to the 25 set?

(Laughs!) Oh shit!

Ali Boulala is sponsored by Flip Skateboards, Independent Trucks, Etnies and rides Sidecuts Wheels.

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