He’s always been there doing his thing, keeping everything moving. He does and says things some people find it hard to. More recently, he’s been working on a lot of dope projects like Camp WESC and Story Clothing, as well as skating and producing more than the masses. He is and always will be really inspirational not just to me but to a ton of skaters that are still to come. WFTW is no joke and neither is every part he’s put out since. (Jerome Campbell).
After all these years you are still skating, pushing and getting involved with skateboarding. Did you ever think: “I’m over it, I need something else, something new or safer for my future”? What are your feelings about that?
Yeah, I have been involved in skating for a long time now. I have often thought to myself that I need to get out and do something else. At times you become depressed at some of the politics and the industry side of skateboarding. We all start skating because it’s an enjoyable thing to do, so to see the other side to it can cloud your vision of skateboarding. Ultimately though, I love skating and I have always found a little corner where I can feel comfortable within skateboarding, so I am happy to be involved and hope to be involved for many more years to come.
Do you like the state of skateboarding today?
The act of skating is always the same. The industry is a mix of bullshit and people trying to do good things but struggling. There’s so much of it I do dislike but I don’t really focus on it too much anymore. I focus on what I am trying to do and ignore what everyone else is doing unless I’m into it. Things have obviously changed a lot with the internet, in a way it has taken a lot of the romance out of skateboarding, but I feel fortunate to have grown up skating when I did. I feel like I got to see some of the best eras of skateboarding, when it was still underground.
What aspect of today’s skateboarding would you have liked to have had back when you were 16, and what do you think the new generations are missing from the back in the days?
The only thing I would take is some of the Plazas kids have nowadays. I liked it when as a skateboarder you weren’t accepted by people at school and girls thought you were weird. You knew you were part of something that was Underground and far from the norm. Over here in the UK if you skated in the 90’s then you got a lot of stick. In the States it’s normal. Every kid in California has a board like we had a football. I think kids nowadays miss out on a lot, even though they have more, if that makes sense. Things such as videos were valued more back then. Now it’s just all throw-away. Skaters are starting to look like everyone else now, which is a shame I think. Before, the popular brands for skaters were proper skate brands. No matter what, you can not tell me Nike, or Adidas, or Levis are skate brands. I’m not against these brands as such… by the way, it’s just a big part of the shift that has taken place within skateboarding, and I am not 100% convinced it’s all a good thing, but time will tell. Back in the days, if you saw someone in another city walk past you wearing some Vision boots, you would know they were a skater. That was a rad thing.
Switch fs noseslide_photo Davide Biondani_
Some big skateboard brands cut their national teams and team managers to invest their budgets on a few big names in the States… something so distant from what skateboarding is and what skateboarders want… what do you think?
It feels a bit like it’s going back to the time when America didn’t give a shit about Europe and the rest of the world maybe? Europe was the place to be seen for a while but now it’s drying up or something? Which isn’t the case obviously, Europe is amazing, the skaters, the spots, the cities, all amazing. I’ve been on the receiving end of these cuts, as well as many others, and it’s harsh. It’s your livelihood and you get no warning, you get no redundancy pay. It’s been a case of one month you have an income, then suddenly you don’t any longer. No more trips, no more travel budgets even if you’ve been working hard and doing everything you’re meant to be doing. So many of my friends have had the same treatment as well and it’s always the same thing, “There’s no money… we need to make cuts.” But they expect you to carry on doing the same thing with no pay all of a sudden. It’s crazy really. It’s like telling someone who’s building your new house that you have no money to pay him anymore but if he could just finish the building work off then that would be great. Thanks.
Skateboarding in the States is taken (by the people in the industry and the skaters too) more seriously compared to Europe. Why, in your opinion?
Money. Most probably the fact it’s big money over there. You have sports companies offering up big wages so dudes are driven now. It’s probably seen as a career choice now. You have to take it somewhat more seriously if you are being paid, but it’s probably gone up a level or 2 for a select few so there’s more at stake maybe. If you can win 250k then that’s life-changing money. I guess the bottom line is the money side, there’s a lot to gain and lose.
I do remember the Panic/Blueprint days around the mid 90’s. Panic was the main brand and Blueprint was its little sister… You were on from the beginning… and you were one of the first to leave the company before everything changed. After all those years spent on Blueprint, what was it like to leave?
Leaving sucked. I hated it but I hated what Blueprint had become pretty much. From the start of the new ownership the only people who were allowed to know who the new owner was were Magee and Shier. I wasn’t into that from the beginning, it just felt weird to be excluded from pretty important information like that. We found out eventually and it was no big deal to me, I just wanted to know. Then it just got worse and worse, distributors stopped buying as much because of the way things were set up and how they were being dealt with. That frustrated me a lot. We worked with the distributors in Europe to build up good friendships, both personal and business, then suddenly because Blueprint was based in the States, the new owner didn’t seem to care about what had gone on before. Logistically it was always going to be a lot tougher because the bulk of the business was done in the UK and the rest of Europe, not in the States, so it just made no sense being based there, shipping goods from there, etc. The cost for shipping 100 decks, say from the States to Italy would be way more than from the UK, plus the time it takes, etc. I was sad about it all to be honest, because I felt decisions weren’t being made in the best interests of the majority involved with Blueprint. But having said all that, to have been part of it for so many years was amazing, we did a lot together to help put the UK and Europe on the map as far as legit skate brands go. I didn’t want to leave the team really. They were all like family and we had all been through and done a lot together, but it had to happen and soon afterwards, more people left and rightly so. Now when I think of Blueprint I am stoked on a lot of things we did.
Switch crooks_photo Davide Biondani_
Blueprint has been important for the growth of the UK scene, at least in pushing people to start board companies. In the last 3 or 4 years many brands have popped up all over the country… How many local skateboard brands are there in the UK? What do you think about the proliferation of all these companies?
There’s so many board companies here now. Fifty, or maybe more. It’s crazy really because we are a small country so I can’t see how all these companies can grow. I guess the good ones will survive and some of the lesser ones may struggle. There are probably just 6 or 7 that are seen as being legit, but there are a lot more out there. I guess people are giving it a go, so fair play to them… but it is a struggle.
What about Fabric? What is the company about and how much are you involved in the project? How do you feel about being the experienced guy on the team? Do you force the younger guys to bring you coffees while on tour? ahhaha
Fabric is cool. It’s going well. We just need to put a video out so people know what we are about. We’re working on that now, so hopefully this year we will have something out whether it’s a promo or full video, I am not sure yet but definitely something is coming. It’s ok being one of the older guys. I have always been the youngest one so it’s cool I suppose. Stepping up to the responsible table. I’ve not done any bullying yet but maybe on tour this year I’ll be getting a coffee slave.
You organize the WESC skate-camp every year. What’s the best part of organizing and working with the kids at the skateboard school? How many talents have you discovered over the years?
The best part is the actual weeks of camp. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of responsibility as well, but mostly fun. The kids all love it and that can’t help but make you smile. We’ve seen a lot of progress in the 3 years we’ve done them. They come back a year later and they’ve improved a lot. Thats rad to see. Some of them were 11 years old when they first came, so now they’re a bit older and their board control and their styles are developing so it’s really rad to witness. It’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, especially in skating. I have people who have come along to help and they love it too, they love helping out and just being around the kids skating. It brings a smile to your face when you see 30 kids just loving life and riding their skateboard with everyone else.
Nollie lipslide to switch crooks_photo Davide Biondani_
Are you still into cycling a lot? What bike do you have and what is “the bike of your dreams”?
Yeah, I love it. I go a few times a week. I try and go in the early morning so I have the rest of the day to work and go skate. I have 2 bikes right now, a steel one that is an Edison which is my grandfather’s and uncle’s bike company. My uncle still builds frames, so he built this one for me, it has Campagnolo on there, so a little Italian flavour as well. I also just bought a Carbon LOOK frame which I have only ridden once because the weather is so bad. It’s pretty nice though, that’s got Campagnolo on there as well of course. The bike of my dreams? I dunno really, steel bikes look better I think. More classic looking.
How is Sheff Wednesday doing?
Wednesdays are doing ok. Not brilliant but better than 2 months ago. We got a new manager so hopefully we won’t get relegated now, haha.
We have been on tour with Jerome and Smithy, it’s always a pleasure to go around with you guys. What do you think about going on tour with them and what they are doing inside and outside of skateboarding nowadays?
I enjoy it. Those 2 have a funny competitive friendship and I’m like the bystander watching it all go down. I don’t get to see them much so it’s nice to go on trips and hang out. Italy trips are always fun with them because we’ve been there so many times now it’s like a little home away from home. Smithy is working a bit now which is cool, but hopefully we can get on another trip this year. Jerome is away a lot with his sponsors, doing his photography and a bunch of other stuff. Regarding Smithy, I can not see him for a year, and then I see him and it feels like I saw him just last week haha.
When are we leaving for the next trip?
We should start planning one. Either after or before summer I reckon. Let’s get on it.
Check abg issue _23.