NORTH SKATEBOARD MAGAZINE
THE 868, ITâ€™S A SKATE SHOE UNAPOLOGETICALLY TECHNICAL
TYLER SURREY | SWITCH KICKFLIP BACK TAIL
This is Dr Geerlings. He‘s a ‘business up front, party in the back’ type of deal. Most people know him as their dentist and are pretty surprised when they find out that he‘s a skateboarder. To us that have known him since the early nineties it’s quite unbelievable that the never-spoke-to-anyone-skinhead-punker-kid became a dentist riding around in his Jaguar. One night he surprised us yet again by pulling out layback wallies from deep deep down in his trickbag. Nobody even knew it was in that bag and ever since that night I wanted to shoot a photo of that beautiful trick. One day on a family trip out of town I found the perfect spot. As always, perfect photo spots don‘t necessarily make good skatespots. To get this photo we had to get up around five o’clock on a Sunday morning last summer. We headed over to the spot to find out that there were already a lot of cars on the road. In between dodging traffic, Dr. G came through with the layback wallie and we were back in time for a family breakfast. So listen kids: being over forty can still be fun. Sometimes. Jan Vollmann
Cover: Dr Christoph Geerlings - Layback Wallie
Photographer: Jan Vollmann
WWW.CARHARTT-WIP.COM RÉMY TAVEIRA – FRONTSIDE 50-50 • PHOTO: ALEXANDRE PIRES
Photography by Graham Tait Portraits by Adam Thirtle
The weather has been terrible the past few months, what have you been doing with yourself? The weather has been terrible. Other than skating Bridges when that’s actually dry, I’ve just been hanging out with friends and eating beef dips. Keeping it fairly mellow. Been playing quite a lot of pool too. What the hell is a beef dip? It’s a fat slab of beef from a slow cooked joint that melts in your mouth. It’s served in a white bun with perfect roasties and liquid gold gravy. Micky the chef used to work in The Ritz, he knows what he’s doing. If you’re ever in Whitley Bay you have to check out Cottage Kitchen. Damn that sounds so good! Do you live in Whitley Bay? I do, I’ve lived here all my life. When I was younger I moved around quite a bit with my mam but it was always close by. My gran has always had a house in Whitley where I currently live, so yeah it’s always been home. You live with your gran? With my grandad. My gran got moved into a home a couple of years ago; it’s only like four streets away from our house though which is great. How come you live there? All my friends live here and my high school was here. It made more sense than travelling back and forward from my mams which is a few Metro stops away. I’ve been here for seven years now so it’s just normal.
What’s the skate scene like there? I wouldn’t say there is one to be honest. All my friends from Whitley are just part of the Newcastle scene as there’s not really any spots here other than a shitty skate park but it’s just full of scooters so I tend to just pass on it. How did you get in to skating if there wasn’t really a scene? Ironically I came across one of the old Tony Hawk games when I was around 10 then my grandad got me a board. I then met a girl called Sarah who lived two streets away from me who had a board then we just skated together. It wasn’t until about a year that we met someone else that skated and that turned out to be Blind Johnny who I work with now. Then my mam started letting me go up to town with him and a few of his mates as they were a bit older, then it just sprung from there really. What was that like, going from a small seaside town to a relatively big city? Great, man. More spots, more skaters, more friends. It’s overwhelming when you’re a kid and you don’t know the city. Were you intimidated at all? Kind of, at first. We would meet at Haymarket and there could be like 20 people there so you were a little nervous. Johnny and his pals were older so made the connection with everyone pretty quickly and everyone was sound, there wasn’t any cliques, everyone rolled together.
Did Sarah go with you? Unfortunately not mate, she ending up getting epilepsy around that time and started having seizures which is a real shame. So her mum stopped her from coming out all the time. I reckon she would’ve blown up by now too, she had nollie flips when she was like 12. I’m still trying them now. Haha! That is a shame. Going back, what board did your grandad get you? Ah that one was just a toy shop board from Fenwicks. It was probably a United Skates one or something wack like that. What was your first real skateboard? If I remember correctly it was a Flip Geoff Rowley deck with a bullseye on it, raw Ventures, Ricta Cores PJ Ladds... They were 49.5mm. I remember that for certain and probably just Bones Reds - they’re compulsory right? It was NMBs in my day! What came first, the new set-up or travelling to Newcastle to skate? The new set-up definitely. I was still using that with the Argos rail and Rampage ramp combo! When were you first aware that skateboarding was more than something you could do around your street? Was there a key moment? Probably when I watched What If and Round 3 at Sarah’s. After that we took her family’s mini cam and started venturing out the street to film stuff. We made a video called Creation Skate Team on Windows Movie Maker. Well, she did. I wasn’t very familiar with the PC back then. Surprised you haven’t seen it! Haha! BS 50-50
How did you get the job at Native?
It makes sense though, you’re putting the work in, literally! Native have a pretty big online presence, the internet orders must
I just walked in at the right time. My friend Lewis who was full
be pretty crazy?
time there was going back to uni and said I should ask for it. Things thankfully worked out, I owe it all to Jackie [David
Yeah the online side definitely goes off! It’s crazy man, you’ll
Whitelaw] for giving it to me. He’s been looking after me for
get someone from America ordering a Thrasher hoodie and a
one way or another for the last decade. Big up boss man!
sticker. Don’t you have a shopping mall close with four skate shops in it? Then you’ve got others who spend over £100
How long have you worked there?
on just socks. I like a fresh pair of socks as much as the next guy, but you know how many beef dips I could get out of
Jesus... Three years in July. Time flies when you’re having
fun. Everyone in Newcastle has a nickname, who’s got the best one? Were you riding for Fabric before you got the job? Haha! God, that’s a hard one, there’s been so many over the Yeah, way before that. It must be coming on to six years now.
years. The Howdon Hotdog is a good one. For sibling
shredders there was the Kiwi & The Peewee which changed to the BNPeewee because he made a racist joke once. The
So you already knew Jackie from riding for Fabric.
Cougar & The Cub is pretty solid, but my all time favourite has to be Switch Flip Small Head, that’s gold.
Well I knew him from before that from coming in the shop as a bairn mainly blagging his head, asking for bin boards.
Haha! Amazing. What’s yours?
Haha! It’s varied over the years from different people in the scene. How did that actually come about?
It’s been Little Donner, Kony, Konyè West and Corn Wallace. It’s been Bob over the last two years which I’m most
Quite organically really. Some old friends of mine were filming
happy with. There’s an inside joke with two of my good
for a welcome clip as Fabric was a new brand then. Josh
friends Adam Thirtle and Glen Harpin. We all work together,
[Paxton] being the filmer and Jamie [Errington] was one of
we are all the Bobbys, people are catching on. We’ve got a
the first riders. I would just go out with them every day in the
pretty good sticker pack we can send you which is jokes.
school holidays and get clips on the side and before I new it I
“Have you seen fake Bobby”?
had a part too. Josh gave it to Jackie, then Jackie called me me up a couple of weeks after.
Nicknames seem to be a dying art, I’m glad you guys are keeping it alive. We’ve had some bad luck with this interview; the weather
That’s rad. Are you on the shop team too?
has been dog shit for the last three months.
No. I’ve never been! Lots of people have just assumed that
Tell me about it man. Driving up to Scotland for two hours to
though. If I had a pound for every time someone asked…
get rained off at first spot is peak.
Then you hurt your knee on the only dry day in weeks!
What’s going out in Newcastle like? I only know what it’s like from ‘Street Crime U.K’.
I actually hurt it a couple of days before that. The day you were going to come down but two of your trains got
Haha, standard! I think it’s a good laugh personally, it’s got a
cancelled, that morning.
bit of something for everyone. You do get the whole Geordie Shore type characters about, but you get them in every city
You’ve had problems in the past, what happened originally?
don’t you? It’s cheap, friendly and everything is in walking distance. It’s renowned for a good night out, come try it mate
I’m not 100% sure how it actually happened. I was on a staff
I’ll take you down the Bigg Market for some cheap trebles.
night out had too much sauce. I can’t remember even getting home, woke up in the middle of night and my knee was like
Have you ever rocked the deep-V on a night out?
a melon. Gutted. I have no recollection, it could’ve been a gnarly slam. Fucked it on two more occasions trying to skate
I can gladly say I have never rocked the dreaded V-neck.
before realising I definitely need to get it seen to. I got a scan and had torn my ACL. I feel like it was pay back for how slack
Not sure I believe you. You’ve been sponsored for six years,
I’d been before that, I was going through a pretty heavy party
where’s all the footage?
phase, it definitely brought the hype back. After the intro clip Jamie stopped skating and Josh moved Every time we’ve linked up to shoot photos you seem to have been
away for uni, by then I had just left school and got introduced
out the night before and lost either your bank card or your phone,
to drink, drugs, and girls. I started working crazy hours in a
or both! What’s that all about?
restaurant around that time so was always doing unsociable hours. I got really good at partying and really bad at going
This makes me look so bad! To be fair, the first time I came
skating the next day. I basically took the piss for four years
up it was my mam’s birthday the night before otherwise I
then fucked my knee, so that was another year out. It wasn’t
wouldn’t have went out. The second time I came up I thought
till around autumn ‘16 when I got back on the board and
I’d lost my card but when I got home I actually found it in a
started sorting my shit out around the time I met you.
different pair of pants. I did leave my phone in a taxi the night
Working all day in Native over summer watching all your
before I was suppose to come up last time though. Fuck, I
mates go out while your sat there injured was definitely a
never usually lose my phone and stuff I swear this was all a
wake up call. Now when I go out I feel like I’m 13 again it’s
bad coincidence. Tying in nicely with the shit weather and
definitely brought my spark back.
cancelled trains. I’m not that much of a wasteman Graham I promise. Haha!
What kind of drugs did you get into? Just a lot of uppers really. Pills, mandy and coke. Me and a friend of mine got our hands on a lot pills at the end of school and that’s when the party faze started. None of my friends I went to school with kept at skating or never skated to start with so they would just get fucked at the weekend. That’s when skating became less and less. It would come to Sunday and I’d just be a write off or if I did get out it wouldn’t be anything productive, I’d skate Bridges for a couple of hours which was never to a good standard. Do you still take a lot of drugs? Nah mate, not really at all any more. That shit gets boring and you just feel stinking all the time. I even packed in the smoke this year. Just a nice Guinness these days for old man me, haha! What’s your plans for 2018? Can we expect some footage from you? Try to travel more this year and have a good time. I just need a few final clips for a part that I have ready to go but it’s snowing outside right now, but yeah, that should be out soon.
JOEY PEPPER, WALLRIDE
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Graham Tait / Ross Zajac / FS Flip
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Graham Tait / Mark Stern / Ollie
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Josh Narvaez / Wallride
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Joe Brook Interview by Neil Macdonald
So you’re just back from a Thrasher trip to Ecuador, right? What
Trips to places nobody really skates is a big thing just now,
were you doing there?
especially for Thrasher. How is that for a photographer? It’s not like you’re just going to Wallenberg and you know where to be to
We went out there on a Hellride trip. One of the trips Jake
get the best photo of whatever it is. Do you ever kinda panic when
does, and he invited me to go. Basically Raven wanted to do
you’re in some weird place? Is it more fun?
a trip, and everybody wanted to go to Quito, and Jake hadn’t been in 20 years, and Peter Hewitt hadn’t been in 20 years,
When you’re in your home town, and you know the spots -
so it was something that had been talked about for the last
like in SF - and you go to them as a local, you know you get
few years and Jake just pulled the trigger on it, so we went
kicked out all the time, but then when random dudes come
to Quito for ten days.
to town you’re like, “How the hell did they get to skate that?” and I kinda like that feeling of going somewhere that I don’t
When will we see the results?
really know and it being a really cool spot to shoot but being out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to go to the same spot
We’re on deadline today actually, so it’ll be April 2018. There’s
and shoot the same thing. I mean I’ve been to Wallenberg
three articles in the mag; there’s the Skater Of The Year trip
so many times to shoot photos, and it’s cool, and it’s right in
with Jamie Foy and a bunch of dudes in Australia, then Rhino
my backyard, but it’s nice to go somewhere where the light
went to Arizona, with all girl skaters - Lizzie Armanto, Lacey
might be different or the architecture’s different. Being with
Baker, they all did a trip - and then we did our trip. So there’s
skaters when they’re in the moment, and they find something
the girls, the Skater Of The Year bros, and then the Hellride
that they’re really stoked on is rad but sometimes it can be
crew which was Grant, Raven, Rémy, Ronnie Sandoval,
so tangible that they can be like, “Oh cool, we’ll do it next
Frank Gerwer and Peter Hewitt. It was a really cool trip.
weekend! We’ll come back and do it!” But being somewhere and having ten days, and knowing you catch the bus home in ten days, I feel that people are just more willing to fuckin’ get gnarly. You can’t shoot a photo at a famous spot unless it’s better than the last photo that was shot there. Exactly. I find that SF is quite a hard city to shoot in because the standard of tricks that have been done on the spots is so high. They’ve been skated for so long, and you’ve had Brian Anderson, you’ve had Peter Ramondetta, you’ve all these dudes skating the spots and then you go there and dudes are all, “Damn, so-and-so did that?! So-and-so did this?!” so it’s kinda hard. Going to a different spot is great for the skaters because they don’t have to worry about ABDs and anything’s good at this point. That makes it easier for sure.
So you moved to SF from Detroit, right?
We were having the best time of our lives when Eric’s sister’s boyfriend told us we’d overstayed our welcome. So we were
tripping out, wondering what we were going to do, and it was super stressful because none of us had credit so no-
A good time to go to SF...
one could rent an apartment and we didn’t really have much money either, so nothing for a deposit. So we looked for the
Well, I graduated from High School, then went and did one
worst neighbourhood. We looked at this apartment in the
year at a community college when I was 19 years old, and I
hood, which belonged to a couple who had just got
was working construction and skating. Now nothing against
married. He was an ambulance driver and he really liked us.
the trades, or nothing against working construction, but I
We didn’t have money, or credentials or anything, but he said
was building houses and stuff and I was 19. I was really just
he’d go talk to his wife. We told him we would pay our rent
like, “Damn, I just want to enjoy my life and do what I wanna
on time, and pay the deposit over time. So we met her, and
do.” I was working really hard and I had a lot of money but
she said we could move in! We gave them a wad of cash for
I wasn’t happy. I always had a brand new board and brand
the first month’s rent right there, and they asked if we had
new shoes but I was too tired to skate. I’d be working
anything we wanted to bring inside, so we said, ‘Yeah!”, and
sometimes from six in the morning to nine at night and I was
went to our friend’s car and each brought in a sleeping bag,
getting paid well for it, but at the same time, I’m thinking,
a skateboard and a duffel bag. They were looking at us, like,
“Damn, this is not living. This is not what I want to do. I want
“Is this everything you own?!” and we’re just, “Yeah. This is
to skateboard.” So I’d saved some money, and me and a
everything we own”. They thought we were joking, but we
bunch of friends from Michigan just started talking about
moving to California. So we each dumped a bunch of money into our friend’s car and got new brakes, a tune-up, new tyres and we drove it to California. We kinda knew that we wanted to live in SF just because of the fact that we wouldn’t need a car there because there was really good public transportation So we went to SF, skated for about ten days, then drove to LA and skated for a week, then we drove to San Diego and skated for a week. We just couch surfed, and met skaters and stayed with them, and slept in tents, then we decided that SF was where we really wanted to be. We just liked the city and it felt right so we drove all the way back to SF, but we already spent our money by then. We all stayed at my friend Eric’s sister’s house in Marin County, and we slept in tents but we could use the house to cook food and take showers. We did that and worked shitty jobs for a couple months and we just skated all the time.
So you didn’t go to SF to start shooting photos, it was purely to
I don’t think Jeff got the credit he deserved.
skateboard? He did get credit. He was behind the scenes. He was so I really loved looking at photos in Thrasher and Transworld
prolific. I remember going to his house and seeing his
and Poweredge, but I had no interest in photography
artwork, and just going, “Wow!” I mean he did the Hensley
whatsoever. I didn’t care about taking photos, and I moved
stained-glass graphic and the Salman Agah timekeeper
to SF to skateboard every day and work as little as possible
graphic, so it was cool just being around him. But through
I was skating all the time and I ended up meeting Gabe
him, I met Jim [Thiebaud] and Tommy [Guerrero]. So I just
[Morford], Tobin [Yelland], Luke [Ogden] and Bryce [Kanights]
carried on skating for a few years until I hurt my back pretty
from skating in the city with my friends. I lived with Greg Hunt
bad and I couldn’t really do much. I was seeing this girl who
when he was amateur for Stereo. I knew Greg, and Dave
told me I was depressed because I couldn’t skateboard, and
Metty the DLX team manager, from Michigan. Greg was
I was like, “Fuck, I AM depressed because I can’t skateboard
going to college in SF and he hung out with Aaron Meza all
all the time”. She told me I had to think about my future and
the time. Dave was the team manager at Real when Real was
go to school, and I actually took her advice. I went to City
new, so all these dudes like Kelly Bird and Tony Ferguson
College in San Francisco and started taking black and white
would always be staying at our apartment, and when they
photography - and black and white darkroom - classes.
started Stereo, Jason Lee and Chris Pastras would be
Once I developed and printed my first roll of film that was all I
staying at our house. We lived like six blocks from Union
wanted to do. I had a shitty camera and I would shoot really
Square, so we’d always just skate there, and I ended up
shitty photos of my friends, but I thought developing and
hanging out with these guys, just from them staying at the
printing them was so cool. A lot of my friends hung out with
house. Jeff Klindt, who was part owner of DLX, would always
Gabe Morford and he would give me a lot of photography
tell me he wanted me to work there. I worked in shipping for
a clothing store so I didn’t want to work in skateboarding. I didn’t want to sell skateboards, I didn’t want to ship
Gabe probably had a lot of people showing him photos then, so
skateboards, I wanted to ride a skateboard. Jeff always
that’s rad that he took the time with you.
tripped out on that - he was a really talented musician, his music was always in H-Street videos through his band
For sure. It was weird because even though it was my friends
Wonderful Broken Thing, and he was a really amazing artist
who were friends with him, it was me that he’d give this
too. He went to art school at UC Davis, and he ended up
constructive criticism to. I never felt like I was trying to step on
working for Thrasher, before DLX. He really wanted me to
anyone’s toes, like I wasn’t even trying to be ‘the next dude’
work there so I would go in and fold Forties clothing, and cut
or anything. Then I met Lance Dawes, and I’d send him
strings off Forties clothing, and pack mounting hardware. I
photos and he’d use one every once in a while in Slap. I sent
would go in at night to do stuff like that and he would pay me,
Transworld and Skateboarder photos but I was mostly
but I just really didn’t want to work in skateboarding. I didn’t
getting stuff in Slap. I would ride my bike to Slap - I had this
want working in skateboarding to ruin skateboarding for me.
shitty bike I bought from a crackhead for $20 - with like three rolls of film and Lance would just be like, “Soft”. “Get closer with your fisheye.” “This sucks.” “This lens sucks.” “This sucks.” “This sucks.” And I would be so bummed.
But he still wanted to see your photos. What was the first photo
So if you’re shooting for High Speed, were there people you were
you shot that ran?
maybe ‘expected’ to shoot?
It was a contents page in Slap. I think it was a Salman Agah
I feel like back then, in the ‘90s, there were pros and
photo. But Lance was really harsh. He was from the school
amateurs, but there were always people coming up and Slap
of MoFo, he’d interned under MoFo, and MoFo was a tough
was always very welcoming, and always happy to put new
customer too. They were just more assertive, more gnarly.
dudes in the magazine. As long as it was a cool photo. As
They would say, “This fuckin’ sucks”, rather than “Oh, you’ll
long as it was a cool angle, or cool lighting, or something
get better over time”, and they’d tell you why it sucked. But
different. Those guys were very open to put anybody in the
with that being said, every time I’d leave he’d give me three
magazine. The wanted names and stuff, but I never
more rolls of film. And I’d shoot with my friends, random
cold-called anybody, like, “Hey, I’m Joe Brook and I shoot
dudes, amateurs and sometimes pros. Every time Lance
photos. Do you want to go out today?” I just skated as much
would give me film there was a glimmer of hope... Like he
as the guys skated, and I wasn’t as good but I skated avidly.
had faith in me. And for me, it was like, “Do I buy groceries
I remember the first trip I went on, and I was skating, and the
or do I get this film developed... Fuck it, I’ll get the film
team manger was all, “Dude, you know what you’re here to
developed”. I kept a little notebook, and it’d be like, “Frame
do, right? You’re here to shoot photos. You can skate when
one, 250th, shot at f8, half power”, and I would keep notes,
the guys aren’t skating but you need to shoot photos”. That
so that when I got the photos back I’d be, “Oh, this looks
was a weird one, realising that it was kinda like a job.
better if I shoot at a 1/30th of a second at 5.6 at quarter power” so I’d know how to shoot at different light. “Dusk - try
Did you ever shoot a great photo that didn’t run because of
these shutter speeds”. And I’d shoot something at 1/60th,
at 1/30th, at 1/15th, and move the camera around, and find out what works. I feel like shooting skateboarding then was
No, I never felt like that was an issue. I guess you could say
easier because the tricks weren’t as gnarly, and the guys
that there was a lot of competition in SF because there was
could do ‘em. I shot a photo of Grant in Quito, grinding this
a lot of people living there! There was Bryce, Tobin, Morford,
rail, and it took me longer to set up my flashes than it took
Pete Thompson, me, Jon Humphries... There were a lot of
him to grind it. I set up the flashes, and I shot a photo of
dudes living in SF. I think Transworld was kinda like the cool
him standing next to it to check the exposure, to check the
magazine, in a way, the glossy magazine, and Pete
focus, and he literally grinded it first try. I got it, but he looked
Thompson who shot for them had like a Hasselblad fisheye
and me, like, “Did you get it?” and I had, and I showed it to
and he drove a BMW. It was like, if you worked for Transworld,
him and he was super stoked. You have to be as good with
you’d be driving a car like that. I think the only time photos
your camera as Grant Taylor is with a skateboard, because
wouldn’t run is if the spot was burnout. Like if Pete got a
he’s gonna do it first fuckin’ try, and he doesn’t want to do
photo in Transworld, they [Slap] wouldn’t run a shot of the
it again. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure sometimes. You
same skater at the same spot, even if it was a different trick,
have to have everything right so you don’t miss that photo.
if Transworld had already run it. If there was a new spot in SF
It’s scary. It’s a trip.
it was a case of seeing who would get a photo published first.
These Detroit photos are amazing. Do you go back there much?
Do you think growing up in Detroit helped you deal with somewhere like Hunters Point?
Well my mom and my brother still live there, so I go back every summer, and my friends there will always take me
Oh for sure. When I lived in the Tenderloin - I lived there for
around, and show me empty buildings and stuff. I bring my
15 years in the same apartment - people would come stay
kids; I have a five and a seven-year-old - Archer and Abilene.
at my house and I’d have to tell them not to leave anything in
and my brothers have kids so we get all the kids together and
their car. People leaving anything in their car would just get it
have fun. I was just on a New Balance trip to Detroit, and I
stolen. It was like, “Take off your earrings, take off your fresh
stayed two days extra to hang out with my mom and shoot
clothes and don’t look like you want to get robbed”. Like a
photos around Detroit. I was born there, then we moved
dude would be “I got mugged for my Rolex!” but it was like,
away and moved back, but it was rough, man. It was crazy.
“Just look at you man, look at your big gold chain, you look
As a kid, you knew you had to watch your back. You got
like a mark!” My dad grew up in the Depression, and he knew
street smarts real quick. It’s fucking gnarly. Detroit ends at
Detroit inside-out. There’s this abandoned train station in
Eight Mile, then it’s the suburbs where we moved back to. It’s
Detroit, and my dad used to sell Polish, Russian and Italian
just so different there. A couple of years ago me and my mom
newspapers there for a penny back then. I remember we’d
drove over to look at our old house, and I got out the car
drive to baseball games when I was a kid, and being aware
to photograph it, and these guys appeared like, “Yo, what’s
that we were parking in really gnarly neighbourhoods when
up? Why are you photographing that house?” and I thought
I was seven or eight years old and my dad would be talking
I was going to get fucking robbed photographing the house
to all these dudes; he was just comfortable doing that
that I grew up in. My mom was so scared. So these dudes
because he grew up there, and when we’d get back they’d
are flexing on me and this old guy appears, and is all, “Is your
be all, “Yeah, we watched your car! Nobody messed with
dad Raymond?”, and I said yeah, and he called off the kids
it!” and he’d give them five bucks or a six-pack of beer or
that were fucking with me, and said, “Your dad was always
whatever. Growing up skating there was awesome too. We
very kind to us. You were the last white people on the block
built a skatepark in Detroit; we built a park called the Ride It
but your dad was always very kind to us”. Detroit’s a cool city.
Sculpture Park six years ago. My friend Mitch has this
I like it because there’s nowhere else like it in the world. It’s
not-for-profit, he and his wife were doing all this cool stuff,
really turning around now too, but there was a point where
but he didn’t have a skatepark, so we raised a ton of money
it was like the Wild West and you could do whatever you
doing art boards - about $35,000 - and Spitfire, Indy and
wanted. You could do anything.
Thrasher all gave us money so we ended up with $49,000 to build a park. It was really cool. I just want something for the kids, something that might change some kid’s life. They might pick up a camera, they might pick up a video camera, they might become the best skater, they might get inspired by graphic design or anything. I was always inspired by people like Neil Blender and Lance Mountain, pro skaters who made there own graphics and take photos and play music. I love that. You can do anything you want.
Skateboarding basically got me out of mainstream, generic
So when did it change? When did it change from you being able to
America... ‘Go to school, get married, have kids, buy a
go wherever and shoot whoever?
house’. Skateboarding showed me that there was a different way to live life, and it was like, “OK, I don’t want
It kinda changed at that point. I wasn’t really working for
this version of life. I want something else, and I don’t care
anybody and I was just contributing to every magazine, and I
about a house and cars and bank accounts”. I just want to
met Skin at Radlands, and he said he wanted to have me do
do what I want to do and enjoy it and see things and meet
more stuff for Transworld. Thomas Campbell was really
people. It was never about having a fat pay cheque, It was
instrumental in helping me too. When he started
about friends and doing cool stuff! you know? I just want to
Skateboarder up again, nobody wanted to work for them,
because everybody was already with Slap, Thrasher and Transworld. Thomas asked me to shoot, but I could never
I’m stoked you sent over that McCrank photo, the Edinburgh one.
afford to get film developed, so Thomas started shipping me
What good international trips have you been on?
boxes and boxes of film and told me to get all my receipts from the photo lab and mail them to him so he could get
Well, the first big trip I went on was to Europe. My friend
Skateboarder to pay me back. And he said, “If you need
Anthony Claravall filmed for 411 and he would live in Europe
money for rent, find some receipts from somewhere and
for three months every summer, and I just went to Europe and
send them to me and I’ll get them paid, I’ll reimburse you”.
followed him around. He knew everybody, and we followed
So any time me or my friends ate food, I’d keep the receipts
the contest circuit, going to Radlands and going to Germany
to send to him. It got to the point where I didn’t have to work,
and Marseilles and Barcelona and Prague and all over the
but I wasn’t getting paid a wage by them, I was just a
place. Just seeing how easy it was to get on trains and move
contributor, but being able to shoot as much as I wanted
around and meet up with friends... The world suddenly got
really, really helped me. It was cool getting his feedback
really, really small! I met all these dudes, and couch surfed,
because he’s such an amazing person. He was very
and always said that they could come stay at my place, since
nurturing, and he was kind of coaching me and Benjamin
my house was just a skate house for about ten years. Rattray
Deberdt as well as some other people. I still have the
and his friends stayed, Pete Hellicar, Vaughan Baker, all those
cassette music mixtapes, that he would send me back then.
dudes came and stayed. I actually shot a photo of Vaughan
He was just such a great person, super inspiring, and super
that was on the cover of Slap. But it was great, we were all
influential but so humble. One time we wereout skating and
just friends skateboarding. There was never an agenda.
he said we should go to his friend Barry’s house, and when
Going skateboarding was the most important thing. There
we got there I was like, “Oh my God, this is Twist’s art loft!”
was no, ‘We’re going to take over the world and become
But Thomas was so humble. There was no, “Let’s go to
rich’, we just wanted to skateboard and have fun. I still hang
Twist’s loft!” or anything.
out with Rattray since he lives in Portland, and I speak to
So when I got back from that Europe trip, I shot a Danny
Vaughan and it’s just crazy that he works for Nike... It’s a trip
Wainwright interview for Slap, and I had a big Europe article
to see what everyone is doing, but it was all just about having
with tons of random photos. After submitting like 40 rolls of
fun and getting out there and doing it. I feel so lucky to get to
film I didn’t hear from Lance for a couple of days, and I was
do what I do. I don’t take that for granted.
super nervous, but then Lance told me he was moving to LA and asked if I wanted to be the photo editor of Slap...
After worrying that they weren’t even going to run any of your
Is there a photo you missed?
photos. There’s probably a ton, but more so from the film days. With Yeah, I was so freaked out. I had three job offers, one from
digital, if it doesn’t look right or if the angle doesn’t work,
Transworld, one from Skateboarder and one from Slap. Mark
you can change lenses, you can do this or do that, or even
Whiteley was working at Slap, and I kinda knew him, and I
ask the dude how he wants it shot. I remember Zion doing a
just liked Slap. I liked Lance and I liked the photos, and Brian
540 on Thrash and Burn, and it’s not like I shoot 540s every
Gaberman and Mike O’Meally were there too. I wanted to
day, so I had to ask the filmer, like, “How does he do ‘em?
work with those dudes! I think I’m coming up on or 20 years
Which way does his body go?” When you see your photo
of working at High Speed!
straight away you know what you need to do to make it look right. When I was shooting Cody Lockwood the other day,
How easy is it to still do what you do for Thrasher, living in Portland
at Burnside, I was shooting down from the parking garage
with a family?
and I’d spent so much time getting my flashes set up and hiding them, then after the first shot I was just like, “You can’t
It’s good, it’s the same. I just shot with Cody Lockwood the
even see his face... Son of a bitch.” I’d spent an hour setting
other day. I get more time to spend with my family here, and I
it up and you couldn’t see his face because he was turned
use my time more wisely. I can go on trips, or go down to SF
so much on a front blunt. Sometimes it can work straight
and shoot, but I’m able to spend time with my family when
away though, you can just walk up and know the right angle
I get back, rather than getting back on Friday and having
some dude call me up asking to go shoot on Sunday. There’s a ton of good skateboarding going on in Portland, but I just
What do you think about how easy it is to change how a photo
use my time more wisely. I love shooting every day, but I want
looks in Photoshop, as opposed to actually lighting it and shooting
to be with my kids, and I want to do fun things with my
it right in the first place?
family. I mean skateboarding is always going to progress and it’s always going to get gnarlier, and there’s always something
It is what it is. There are some kids out there who are super
different happening but it’s kinda cool to distance yourself a
talented with Photoshop, and they do that rather than sitting
little bit from it. You get so ‘in it’ from being around it all the
in a darkroom now. It’s interesting, man. I’ll look at people’s
time that I feel you don’t appreciate it as much.
photos and I’ll look where the light trails are, and I’ll think, “Oh, they photoshopped the light trails out. They moved the
What do you think about people reposting pictures you’ve taken
flashes closer”. Like you can kind of see where the light starts
and stuff. It’s a means to an end but this is presently what it’s all about and I totally embrace it. It’s a trip. I think the writing
I’m OK with it. I kinda think that when a company reposts
in a magazine is super important. If you have a magazine
something we maybe should get paid. If it’s a company I’ve
with no words it has no voice, and there needs to be a voice,
been on a trip with and they’re like, “Hey, can we get all your
whether it’s, “Go out with your friends and get wasted” or
photos to post on Instagram?” I don’t care about people
“I went to a museum today and got inspired by this artist”.
posting old stuff but I think companies should pay something.
There needs to be a voice for all that stuff in skateboarding and we need to embrace that.
How long did the Dennis Busenitz kickflip in the wet photo take?
Corey Duffel has asked me to ask you about Jamie Thomas, the
The China Banks one.
rail, and Photoshopping bandanas...
We were working on a project for adidas, and it was just
I’m super good friends with Jamie, and I’m really respectful
raining all the time in SF, so I said to Dennis that we should
of his career. I met Jamie when he was living on the streets
just go out and skate in the rain tomorrow, and he was really
of San Francisco. I met him and Sean Young and a couple of
into it. So the night before, I wrapped up all my flashes in zip
other guys, and they had staph infections. My mom was an
lock bags and made sure it’d be super easy to put them on
x-ray technician so she’d showed me what a staph infection
tripods. Me and Dennis have kids, so we get up super early,
looked like and I knew that if you had it you had to go to the
and I went and picked him up at like ten in the morning. We
hospital. I would see Jamie skating at Embarcadero, and a lot
decided we should call Frank Gerwer, but we were laughing,
of the dudes were really mean to him, but I wasn’t really part
saying that there was no way he would come out with us.
of the crew. I was on my own shit, just skateboarding and
We were skating Black Rock, and it was super slippery, but
working. Just different. Jamie was living there and skating
Dennis was back tailing, doing all his stuff in the rain and
there and those dudes would heckle him all the time. We
we’re just having a blast but we’re absolutely soaking wet.
would skate and it would be me, him, Drake Jones and Sean
Soaked to the skin and fucking freezing. So we went up to
Young. Those guys were my guys! But yeah, one day we
China Banks, not intending to shoot a photo, just to look at it
were skating this rail, and Corey was skating super good. He
in the rain. I had my film camera in my jacket but all my other
could just do anything first try, and Jamie was just coming
camera gear was in the van, parked in the street with the
off an injury and he was having a hard time skating. It wasn’t
hazards on. Dennis was carving around, and he just started
coming as easy. He was still ripping but Corey was on some
trying the kickflip, so I ran to the van and got all my stuff, and
other shit. Jamie was taken aback by how gnarly Corey was
set it all up again. He probably tried it about 30 times, and
skating. So Jamie front boarded and backside 5.0ed the
it was different every time. He’d shoot out in different ways.
rail. Jamie coined the name ‘Duffel-land’ for that rail. I knew
People were bummed we didn’t have a filmer, but my friend
where all Corey’s spots were but I’d never take anybody to
Garrett filmed it super shitty with his DSLR. So Dennis did
one of them without calling him up first, but he was always
it, and we were super stoked but we didn’t really think too
cool about it. I never went to Walnut Creek to shoot without
much of it until I was sending Burnett a bunch of photos a
calling him first, even if he was out of town. He was always
couple of days later, and he sent it straight back specked out
super generous and super humble about that, and I always
as the cover. It was crazy. And it ended up being the cover,
really loved that about Corey. So Jamie did his tricks, then we
and all these filmers are like, “Why didn’t you hit us up?” and I
went back with Corey and he back lipped it and he got the
had to say, “Dude, if I hit you up and you came and sat in the
cover. I just remember Jamie being floored with how good
rain with us and that didn’t happen, you would have hated
Corey was skating, and how gnarly he was skating. Corey,
us!” Dennis is just down for whatever, down for anything fun,
man... He is just so good.
and that was just something fun and different and it ended up being the cover which was awesome. I’m a fan of Dennis and his skateboarding, and he’s such a great guy that I’m just glad he got the cover.
And bandanas? I shot a photo of Jamie frontside flipping a double set in Tijuana, Mexico, and he did have a handkerchief in his back pocket. The graphic design dude that was working there at the time was kind of a dick, just a really weird dude. He was a super fan of skateboarding, and he loved all the gossip and that side of it. Jamie wanted to see every photo that you shot of him, Jamie is a control freak, like “I don’t want to use that because my hand looks a certain way” or whatever. He was doing the frontside flip, and he had this sleeveless button-up shirt with eagles above the breast pocket, Jamie was going through this weird fashion thing, but he liked how the bandana looked in a different photo, so he asked if we could Photoshop it in, and Tim did it. It wasn’t even a big deal until the mag came out and Tim brought it up, like, “Yeah, Jamie wanted the handkerchief in his back pocket” and whoever was in the office at the time - I think it might have been Tim O’Connor - just had more fuel for the fire, like, “Now we’ve got Jamie over a barrel! We’re gonna give him a hard time for this...” Whatever, dude. It’s not that big of a deal. Your van, Big Blue, has seen a lot of pros and a lot of miles. Any especially notable trips? Some of my favourites have been with Arto. Arto is such a great skater, photographer and guy. It was at the point that filming for Mind Field was coming to an end, and I was going through the Midwest a lot, and I knew a lot of spots there and would always meet people. I’d driven from California to Detroit to see my mom, and I called Arto up and asked if he wanted to drive across the country with me, and he had the Gravis credit card at the time... So it was me, Arto, Keegan Sauder, Omar Salazar and Steve Forstner travelling across the country. We went from Detroit to Ohio, to St. Louis, to Kansas City, to Denver, to Salt Lake City, to Reno, and then to Sacramento.
It was rad and I just love driving that piece of shit van and
You’ve been in amongst it for so long, and it’s not like you’re
I love photographing people in front of it. We weren’t on a
exactly slowing down or anything.
schedule, it was really cool. Omar wants to get a trick in Denver? OK, let’s stay in Denver another day. We didn’t need
I feel super fortunate to be where I’m at. I speak to Lance
to be anywhere at a certain time, and it wasn’t like we’d
Dawes and Mark Whiteley and they’re like, “Don’t ever stop
decided it’d take ten days. If it took a month, it took a month,
doing what you do!” and I don’t think I want to do anything
and Arto was paying for everything with the Gravis card. I got
else anyway. I don’t feel like I’m milking it, I’m out there
that van for free, from the Birdhouse team, and Big Blue has
shooting photos, trying to find new spots and making shit
opened so many doors for me. It’s like a camera to me, it’s
happen. I wish I could turn back time and be 21 again, I
weird. It’s like a tool. Or a tripod. And it means we have the
really do. I love doing what I’m doing. It’s different every day,
freedom to go do whatever we want. I’ll be driving in SF and
a different place and different people and I really enjoy that.
people will scream, “Big Blue!” and it’s just insane.
I’ve worked jobs where you go to the same place every day and do the same thing every day but I can’t do that. My wife
A celebrity van. Well, thanks for your time and thanks for doing
knows that if I had to get a real job I’d fuckin’ lose my mind.
It’s wandering, dude. I love to wander, mentally and physically. Haha!
Thanks for your patience with the photos! We had a server at Slap and I don’t have access to it here. I really wanted to do
You can’t wander far with boxes of magazines.
this and I realized like, “Damn it, I don’t really have acceptable versions of these photos!” When I moved a year ago I left my
I do cherish that stuff. Old magazines and old videos bring up
stuff in boxes. I have not unboxed any of my stuff at all. I have
so many memories of times and of people. I met Dan Sturt
everything, negatives, proof sheets, stuff like that, but I just
a long time ago, and I was scared of him. I knew he shot
threw everything in boxes and when I got here there was no
photos and I knew he shot my favourite photo, but when I
reason for me to go into those boxes. I don’t need to look
met him I was really intimidated! He’s a really intimidating guy
at that old stuff at this point. When I lived in San Francisco I
and he’s really intense, but after we met a few times and had
would look through binders and stuff, but since I moved here
some phone conversations... I dunno man, skateboarding is
I don’t want to look at that stuff. It was like a changing in my
just such a trip.
life and I just want that stuff to sit in boxes for now. Out of all the stuff I had in life, I only needed like 5% of the stuff that was in front of me. I just need my cameras, my laptop and some t-shirts. I have so much stuff. Bricks from Embarcadero, so much weird stuff. A signed Jamie Thomas’ board from a session, Brian Anderson’s board from that photo shoot... I realised I had accumulated a lot of stuff in life and it was a real eye-opener. What do you really need in this world?
What’s your favourite photo? Hensley on the cowboy hat roof? It is, for sure. It’s funny, Dan started skating again, and I kinda know where he lives, so I asked if he ever skated Bob’s ramp, and he was all, “What are you talking about?!” But then he called me up and said it was my fault that he started skating again. I told him it was his photos that made me want to start shooting photos. All his old photos, photos of Hensley etc., are the reason I wanted to start shooting photos, so it’s his fault that I’m doing this. I feel like I’ve had a lot of support from the people at Thrasher and at High Speed to keep me doing this. When teams call Burnett and say they’re going on a trip and they want to bring Joe, that’s what keeps me going. If people didn’t want to bring me any more I would be done. It’d be over. Skateboarding is like one big family. I’m just super excited to still be here. I’m not here to trash talk anyone, I mean everybody that films a video part is putting their life on the line and put their best foot forward to do these things and you gotta appreciate what everyone is doing in skateboarding. Skateboarding is a melting pot of people, of tricks and of styles. It’s just such a rad thing in general. It’s crazy to think that people get paid to ride a skateboard, and it’s crazy to think that I get paid to shoot photos of people riding skateboards. It was kind of dumb luck to get to where I’m at but this is all that I want to do. I worked crappy jobs and I suffered. I remember Ewan Bowman was coming up as a filmer when I was coming up as a photographer and we’d always talk about how hard it was. “Oh man, $7.50 to get a roll of film processed, and I don’t even have enough money for a burrito!” The hustle of skateboarding. Your friend works at a pizza place? That’s where you go for free pizza. I’m just so glad I sacrificed a lot of stuff to get to be able to enjoy what I’m doing. Even if it ends tomorrow, I wouldn’t be sad. Skateboarding has given me 30 years of freedom. I lived a life I could never have
Featuring: Raney Beres, Alex Olson, Brian Anderson,
imagined! Skateboarding shrank the world to the size of a
Jason Dill, Mark Gonzales, Rick McCrank, Jason Jesse,
tennis ball. It made everything so accessible to me. There’s
Justin Bohl, Corey Duffel, Dennis Busenitz, Dylan Rieder,
nothing like it.
AVE, Grant Taylor, Jamie Thomas, & Nate Jones
Editor & Photographer Graham Tait
Mike @ Keen Dist Josh @ Theories A&M Imaging
Layout & Design Graham Tait
Neil Macdonald [@scienceversuslife] Joe Brook
For all advertising enquiries and film submissions please email:
All the contributing photographers.
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TRUE TO FORM
Featuring: Connor North Film Gallery with: Andreas Satzinger, Balthazar Wyss, Fabien Ponsero, Graham Tait, Jan Vollman, Jeremy Cooper, Pau...
Published on Jun 7, 2018
Featuring: Connor North Film Gallery with: Andreas Satzinger, Balthazar Wyss, Fabien Ponsero, Graham Tait, Jan Vollman, Jeremy Cooper, Pau...