‘Gnarly Bastard’ is a pretty appropriate title for one of Britain’s best exports, Geoff Rowley – even if he does love little furry animals!
Ever since the grainy footage of this kid from Liverpool started circulating under skateshop counters, established pros were shitting themselves with each new tale of this little fella leaping off roofs and down rails. Geoff was the real deal. No bullshit – Just skateboarding.
After an explosion onto the Californian scene when Flip Skateboards uprooted and spread their wings Stateside, Geoff single-handedly kicked skateboarding up the arse and pushed it’s physical limits. Something he hasn’t stopped doing since day one.
Today, Geoff is a gentleman in pursuit of the wild animals he loves, and part-owner of Flip Skateboards. Business man and burly man, Geoff took time out of the wilderness to talk to Crossfire and answer questions from Zac, Ralph and a bunch of worldwide forum geeks.
Full name please sir?
Geoffrey Joseph Rowley Junior.
At what point did you realise skateboarding was your path and chose to follow it?
From the moment I slammed…
If you were still living in Liverpool, do you think you’d have an asbo (anti-social behaviour order) by now? Will you ever move back?
I’d have one wherever I lived, I can’t kick the social issues, I have a hard time with idle banter and wasted words.
Describe how you felt at these different times: Skating with Tom Penny at various Radlands comps back in the day?
Purity, young, alive, aggressive, veggie burgers, Chris Ince, damp floor, with the ocassional too cool for thought attitudes, baggie yellow pants.
Arriving in America straight off the plane?
Shitting it, eyes ablaze at neon lights, otherworldly.
Watching ‘Sorry‘ for the first time?
Relief and pride……yet wishing for more.
Alone in the woods?
Forced to feel ones innermost fears, “when you see only darkness, know that the light will soon return”
Why do you love the great outdoors so much….surely Liverpool had all the fluff you needed right?
I cared more about skating than my balls when I lived in Liverpool, unlike my gash seeking problems of late, nothing beats the smell of an animal!!
Have you ever experienced scarier moments out on the beaten track then riding your skateboard?
Absolutely, two lions rushing past you in the thick bush at close range is enough to make you break down and weep.
Is it wise to focus 100 percent of your attention on skating?
There is more to life than wood and wheels, though you have to ride that thing like there isn’t!! Gather motivation from wherever you like, that is the beautiful diversity that skating allows.
Do you need something else to think outside of the box? What’s yours?
Passion, and a drive for life, ever changing and questioning, be not afraid to look at yourself and judge, listen to people and suck it all in.
Please give me one example of ignorance in regards the arrival of Flip in America, and one example of open-mindedness you perceived at that time.
Ed Templeton and toy machine opened their arms to us, gave us local support, and had our back. Any ignorance was small and only served to make us stronger…..and faster!!!
Are Americans over-competitive? Is this a help or a hindrance?
The average Californian kid is probably a little more competitive than the average European kid, competitive Energy that is positive/friendly can be a good path to fast progression within a skate posse, I would call it a help rather than a hindrance.
Did Jeremy Fox propose for you to take a share of the company? Or, did you ask him? Do you work well together – any bad habits?
Timing was of the essence as far the company stuff went, it was imperative that flip be in the right hands. Jeremy Fox has given me so much guidance and support, we have been there for each other. Any differences we have or trouble working together are all what makes Flip what it is, a free, creative, ever progressive sleepless skateboard company with plenty of issues and bad habits.
Can Flip still be considered a British company?
All the company owners are still British citizens, one runs a large percentage of our workday directly from England for the last five years, I would say that makes us British until death. People can consider us whatever they want but saying untrue negative things regarding these matters is just downright childish. The things Flip/ Deathbox did for England and the English skate scene should not be sneered at.
Which British companies inspire you?
Flip/Death/Heroin/Unabomber are rad, they have the right passion, the rest aren’t my style.
Will there ever be a British company comparable to Deathbox/Flip?
I doubt it, but in order for somebody to do that they have to work from California, there is no other way to get to the level we are at, without first accepting were skateboarding was born from, and respecting that all the mags are driven from here also, it is hard to gain friends if you aren’t visible.
A European based company cannot and will not be accepted across the whole of the USA unless they embrace those areas and live them, Flip is strong worldwide for this reason, plus running a business of this nature isn’t viable based in England, too costly.
Would you agree in saying British skating suffocates itself with its stubborn attitude and pride of independence in regards the global market?
The English scene I grew up in was full of lunatics that roamed the globe in search of rad skateboarding and chaos, whether that be in Germany or some shithole area in Belgium, suffocation should not be an option, I always thought the real British soul was full of confidence and drive to be proud of ones upbringing……and yet want to spread the English way of radness, strength in character and richness in history, across the entire globe. Any other ways of thinking sound a little French to me!!
Is skateboarding really only led by three or four super companies?
Pretty much, though the passion within these brands is so diverse that constant change is inevitable, skateboarding has always been really driven by riders. If the riders demand change, or live change, the industry follows, very hard for other companies to keep up with this level, or compete, without these driving pro’s and amateurs in such strong numbers. I think it is a rad thing teams have clearly emerged again, makes skateboarding look radder.
Where does Flip sit in that picture?
Flying by the seat of its pants!
What role would you like the company to have?
A worldwide network of diverse pro’s with the spirit to keep progressing and showcasing why skateboarding is one blaster of a ride!!!!
What was your reaction when you saw ‘Spirit of the Blitz’ for the first time?
I was actually surprised to see the level of skating, in Liverpool I never really ever got to see Alex Moul and the rest of those guys around, so it was actually pretty rad, but I still preferred Hensley and the vista locals.
Do you watch it often?
Does it inspire you when you work on another Flip video?
Like nothing else. The whole team loves making these things, months/years travelling with your close friends, having a blast, causing a little carnage and feeling whatever life throws at you drift by so fast, what better time could a man indulge in?
What’s next – Flip or Vans video?
Flip video. “Really Twatting Sorry”
What is the company ethos for an amateur to go from am to pro?
Head down, live breath skateboarding, unrelentless progression and motivation for the future, and a large heart.
Despite mocking Jamie Thomas for his blatant faith, Lance Mountain now rides for Flip – has that changed your attitude?
I have never mocked Jamie’s faith and never will. My beliefs and video jokes were for my amusement only, I have the utmost respect for Lance Mountain, and am proud to have him on the team, he is aware of my beliefs and I of his, we have had nothing but good laughs.
Is there a place for faith in skateboarding, or should it be left at home?
Left at home, though I don’t have a problem either way.
Who decided to incorporate Rodrigo, Bob and Lance into Flip?
They did, it was natural and comfortable for us all, those guys and Flip have always been close.
Who would you like to get on the team, but can’t?
How did it feel to win SOTY?
Fucking weird, though it was flattering!
When is Bastien going to get his?
When he quits the purple haze!
Before leaping a chasm of any sort, do you run through a safety check list?
Yeah! it starts with taking a shit, so i can’t soil my pants. No shit!
When have you over-stepped the mark?
I was unaware there was a mark?!
Is there no ditch too big?
Hoover dam drop-in, Nevada.
Who is your partner in crime when you head off on dangerous mission?
Daniel Sturt, tripods, black clothing, one filmer.
How does it feel to know you can still shock people with your skating and gnarly attitude?
Blessed and thankful.
How does it feel to see yourself on massive billboards?
I actually find it amusing that some old hag is looking at that stuff whilst waiting for the bus, wandering what in God’s name is going on!!
Lots of people seem to be moving about right now. Is it hard to have morals in the skate shoe business?
I am driven by morals, if a company doesn’t have any, including a rider, well they are gonna be fucked, I rarely quit any companies, regardless of what rumours are around.
Internet umours are rife that you could be heading to another shoe company and that is why the new Trujillo has taken a design leap into the Rowley 1 area, could you ever see yourself riding in anything other than Vans shoes?
I will ride for Vans until they quit making the best skate shoes, Tony rides the same kind of shoes as me and so the likeness in design ends there. My first shoe is being redone as we speak; I’m still stuck on it and have been messing with revamping a new version.
Do other shoe companies “tap you up”?
I am untapped, as i said, Vans is the way.
How involved have you been personally in the development of your new Rowley Squares shoe at Vans?
I have designed/drawn/tweaked every single one, also coloured about ninety percent of them, I fucking love it, it’s so rad to see things on paper develop into radical skate shoes, when ideas work out. I have to wear them, and take pride in fucking with them all.
Click here to watch footage of Geoff talk about the new shoe and skating from the early 90’s.
Would you relish another Vans UK trip like the last one?
That Vans tour was ace!! Flip will be in England August time, demo at the Middlesbrough Plaza, then some street rolling all over. Please do come.
You travel a lot. Which country has the harshest security?
United States of America.
Fave country to skate and why?
England, dreams of youth, and dog shit.
Where will you live later in life?
Arizona/England/Colorado/California/and the rest of the world.
If you took part in a speed dating night – what would you describe yourself as?
Fast/rude/honest/short/average length old man/handsome animal man with snaggleteeth awaits shining dark beauty with face of happiness, smiling, passion and dark lust in unfavourable positions a must, bangers need not apply, below 5’5” the smaller the better.
Lemmy tells me you really are a regular at the Blue Oyster Bar with that tash?
If I could grow chop’s like the man I would say that also!
Have you ever set your tache alight by accident?
Three weeks ago burnt my hair/tache/chinny/face on an open bonfire. I was blinking for days!!
If you had to fight one of the following, which one would it be: a) great white with a diving knife – b) bear with a cricket bat – c) giant boar with a meat cleaver
Boar with a meat cleaver…..they are fast but they are also blind bastards!
Crossfire and Sidewalk Mag are organising the UK Skater of the Year awards for this Xmas in London, could this be an excuse for the UK lads in the USA to come back and see Mum and Dad for Xmas?
Absolutely!!! I’ll have a stiff Glenmorangie!
Final three words of wisdom?
Hope and Glory.
To comment on this interview, leave a message here.
Go to the Flip Skateboards site for team info, there is a new one coming…the company are “Really Twatting Sorry” about that!
The new Rowley Squares are about to hit our shores, click through to Vans to check the footage of Geoff over the gap at Meanwhile.
If you want to see footage of the Flip Team at the most recent Prissick Plaza demo in the UK, then click here.