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ike anyone with a modicum of interest in the latest social networking, I’ve been glued to Instagram since I first downloaded the app. A little while ago while perusing the day’s posts, I began to come across numerous images tagged as #dustdemons featuring the likes of Bradley Sheppard, Alexis Lacroix, Skylar Kehr, Andrew Wenckstern, Spencer Corbett, Colin Lambert, Daniel “Alien” Nelson and special guest Jamie Tancowny. As I explored the pics my curiosity started to peak; photos of wizard sticks, dinosaurs and passedout dudes made me realize there had to be a story behind such road life chaos. Determined to get to the bottom of it, I contacted my old friend, David Birnie—marketing manager at Timebomb Trading—and he graciously invited me to lunch the following day.
Upon meeting up with him, we made our way into a dimly lit sports bar. I sat down directly across from Dave and knew I was in for a rippin’ good yarn when he casually sipped on his Coke and said: “So, Dust Demons. There are seriously so many memories from that trip; I think it’s probably easiest to go through the pictures.” Pulling out his phone and opening Instagram, he immediately began to laugh as he said, “521 photos in 17 days, that’s just stupid.” Giddily, I leaned forward and hit record as the glow of the iPhone screen began to jog Mr. Birnie’s memories. The result is this account of how the Emerica Canada team’s annual trip became known as the most grassroots yet technologically savvy tours of the summer.
Skylar Kehr 50-50
Skylar Kehr. photo @corebutt
It’s a Big Country
Within the first few days it already became apparent there was going to be some heavy driving. Knowing that most of the crew was from Vancouver, it was clear that getting on the road as soon as possible would be advantageous. On this particular trip, Timebomb Trading’s Emericanadians piled in two vans chauffeured by Mr. Birnie and team manager/photographer Judah Oakes. The crew somehow made its way from Vancouver to Winnipeg and back relatively unscathed. Most assuredly, no small feat! After making their first stop in Edmonton, the crew was determined not to fall behind schedule, but no plan is 100 percent perfect. “We were looking to leave Edmonton bright and early, but I’m sure we didn’t leave until four in the afternoon, which put us a little under the gun,” Birnie mentioned. “We made it to Saskatoon that night, had dinner, and got back in the car to drive all night to Regina. The following morning we then drove to Brandon, Manitoba; all this in a day and a half! That’s pretty much why we called this tour Dust Demons, ‘cause there was so much ground to cover in such a little amount of time.”
Wild in the Streets, Winnipeg. photo @skylarkehr
As Birnie, or anyone who’s traveled across Canada, will tell you: “One thing you have to remember, and I think people forget this, is how fucking big this country is and how easy it is to get ahead of yourselves on a trip.” As far as tours go, the Emerica summer pilgrimage has turned into a legacy in its own right. Taking on a big trek almost every year, of all the brands, Emerica Canada seems to invest the most in getting its riders out there to mingle with the local talent.
Keeping it Roots While many brands like to stick to the big cities, Emerica prefers the road less traveled. The approachable nature of its tours is exemplified in the casual atmosphere it fosters. Instead of creating a demo setup like a traveling circus sideshow, Emerica prefers to keep it mellow. “We don’t like doing demos because they either make or break egos,” Birnie said. “Often you might only get five kids, or maybe 500. You never can tell how it’s going to go. So our whole thing is, we just set a date and time when we’ll be there and ask people to come skate with us.” Emerica’s city choices for its tours still may seem a little unorthodox, but the unbeaten path often garners the most fruit. While many teams would opt for major cities like Toronto, Montreal or Calgary, Emerica chose places like Brandon as one of their stops. Now to the unknowing this may seem like an odd choice, but as pointed out by Mr. Birnie: “I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Brandon, but it’s a pretty rough old city. It was rugged and weathered by history and the harsh winter climate, but when we arrived at
their skate plaza right in the middle of downtown, it was unreal. These kids have to be stoked because it’s got a bit of everything and has good flow. All the people there are rad as well.” Heading further east, after several years of hosting the most anticipated Go Skateboarding Day events in Canada, Emerica decided to bring that show to Winnipeg for 2012. Knowing the city and authorities often frown on a gaggle of skaters taking over the streets, the brand once again used its “come as you are” organic approach to the day. Making use of Facebook and word of mouth, the gang simply sent out a message to meet at the Forks plaza at 2 p.m. With great success and little injury, the Emerica team led skaters throughout the ‘Peg, hitting spots and eventually heading back to the plaza. As we all know, a Go Skate Day without incident with the law is a good one in anybody’s books.
Andrew Wenckstern Backside Tailslide
Andrew Wenckstern. photo @skylarkehr
Real-Time Road Shenanigans Technology can be considered either friend or foe. It seems not too long ago that the only real-time info you could gather from a tour was the odd text message and a bit of imagination. Yet now, with the emergence of smartphones, any couch potato can follow along with all the tour antics as they happen. For the first time on an Emerica Canada tour, the crew made use of Instagram to chronicle their various nefarious activities. From shooting guns to Old Man Birnie’s various selfies, it was all available for the viewing public to check out at a moment’s notice. But nothing, and I mean nothing, could be more hilarious or frightening than the dreaded #instapiss photos that began to show up. Making a game out of catching each other pissing in odd locations, no one was safe from lurking teammates holding iPhones. Smartphones and social media aside, while on the road a crew of skaters will do anything to entertain themselves. Creating road trip games is not a new thing, therefore it would hardly come as a surprise that the theme game for this trip was adapted on Alien’s belief in an impending apocalypse. So, as it goes—assuming that the world has turned to proverbial shit and all that’s left are the people in the tour van— what would be your plan and who do you think would be the most immediate threat to your apocalypse survival? Filmer Benny Stoddard believed in gathering everyone and beginning a new community while Skylar seemed to be a quick target for everyone else in the van to eliminate as a liability. The greatest threat seemed to come from Alien, who planned on building a fortress on a hill, while fellow White Rock alumni Bradley Sheppard would silently disappear into the woods and become an “observer” to the whole cataclysmic, world-ending event. As you could imagine, this “game” led to some fairly interesting conversations.
could be more “Nothing hilarious or
than the dreaded
top to bottom:
Wizard status, Alien and Skylar Kehr. photo @dontsleepben Bradley Sheppard. photo @alieneh Jamie Tancowny, #instapiss. photo @oldmanbirnie Daniel â€œAlienâ€? Nelson. photo @alieneh
Boardslide to Feeble Grind
Young Blood and Heavy Hitters Over the past few years, the Emerica Canada team has remained solid as a rock with familiar names littering the roster. This year, in a conscious choice to reinvigorate the tour, the decision was made to bring along some of the team’s new additions to join the veterans. One of the newbies was Montreal’s Alexis Lacroix. Making his impression felt on the team, Birnie reminisced: “He’s got a really original bag of tricks for someone that young.” But being a new addition isn’t without its growing pains. “Alexis was driving Benny and Judah crazy, ‘cause he would go for a trick and midway to his next try he would change his mind on what he was going to do. Suddenly, Benny and Judah are shooting on the wrong side [laughs]. I’m sure he does a fair amount of amazing stuff
that never gets documented because of that. Alexis was just doing his thing though, which you’ve gotta respect.” Backing up his statements, Benny similarly noted: “Where he gets the skills to pull off those insane tricks is beyond me! He reminds me of a young Chris Haslam.” Unfortunately, Alexis had to leave the trip part way through in order to join his band Shindig on tour. But not before tagging in Jamie Tancowny, who met the crew in Winnipeg. Eagerly working on a Zero video, several other web edits and without sleeping in two days, Jamie is a regular workhorse who was primed and ready for some Saskatoon street skating.
Spencer Corbett Frontside Feeble
Spencer Corbett. photo @skylarkehr
below: Spencer Corbett, Skylar Kehr, Alexis Lacroix, Andrew Wenckstern. photo @judahoakes
Andrew Wenckstern Back Smith
Andrew Wenckstern. photo @corebutt
Jamie Tancowny. photo @corebutt
from the strange smells â€œAside coming from the back of the van, everything was good!â€œ 52
Jamie Tancowny 50-50
LesSons LEarned It’s a fact that on any trip, whether it be with your family or closest friends, spend 17 days on the road together and someone is bound to get annoyed with someone else. Or at least I thought this was a given. “You know, it’s true,” added Birnie. “On most trips this long people will get tired of each other or there may be the odd ego conflict, but on this one there was none of that. It was really just a bunch of guys who love to skate. Aside from the strange smells coming from the back of the van, everything was good!” Needless to say, after hearing how this summer’s tour went down, I’m anxious to see what Timebomb Trading has in store for its Emerica team next year. And while I can only speculate where they may go or who they might bring, one thing can be said for certain: like salmon swimming upstream to spawn every fall, you can fully expect to see the Emericanadians once again on the road next summer. Watch for Timebomb Trading’s Dust Demons video at concreteskateboarding.com