ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/FREE
ALEX BURSTON/JEREMY RAFF/ZAK BUYS/STEPHANE MOSSELMANS THE TWILIGHT SAD/DRUMS OF DEATH/HOWLER/KWES
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Contents 05 06 08 10 12 15 16 19 20 24 25 26 27 28 34 38 40 43 44 48 51 52 54 56 59 60 62 63
Bots Slamm Jamm Jojo Jacobi The Twilight Sad Juan Suarez Trivium Nicola Fiorenza Islet Bruno Jubin Five Albums that Changed my Life: Errors Howler Kwes Alter Bridge Jeremy Raff Zak Buys Drums of Death Jon Fromm Jon Ortiz Alex Burston Stephane Mosselmans Cris Grasselli Joey Egan Sam Currie DVD Reviews Album Reviews Fun Page Firsts: Sven Boekhorst
Issue 05 January 2012 (c) Wheel Scene Ltd. Editor David McNamara Sub-Editor Chris Delaney Designers Gareth Lindsay Graham Patrick Web Design Ewan McDonald Stuart Chown Words Nina Glencross, Andy McDonald, Saul Ayton, Fiona Slimmon, Louis Flood, Jeanie Rogers, David McNamara, Al Morris, Nick Lomax, Henry Wilkinson Photos Sam Cooper, Duncan Clarke, Aaron Polhill, Tim Hailwood, Felix Strosetzki, Lino Adriano, Thomz Negrat, Jon-Paul Douglass, Pietro Firrincieli, Steven Kielhorn, Ashley Maile, Fabiola Molina, Damien Garcia, Zach Flynn, Megan Peterson, Kyle Strauss and Edwin Omar, Jeremy Stephenson, Mathieu Hennebert, Felipe Zambardino, Donal Glackin, Dominic Swagemakers
Cover photo: Sam Cooper
Wheel Scene is the UKâ€™s largest rollerblading and music publication, and offers a wide range of advertising packages and affordable ways to promote your business. Get in touch to find out more. Online www.wheelscene.co.uk www.facebook.com/wheelsceneblading Email firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Wheel Scene 54U Wyndford Road Glasgow Scotland G20 8ES All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit permission of the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the printer or publisher. Printed by Mortons Print Limited, Horncastle.
Introduction Issue 5 of Wheel Scene proved something that I have known for a very long time: rollerbladers have a tendency to be extremely unreliable. We intended to feature 16 interviews with some of the best skaters from across the world but some got injured during photo missions, some had issues with their photographers and others were just downright lazy. Two skaters in particular tried to convince us to use photos that had already featured in other publications and hand-me-downs that have been on their Facebook accounts for months. Apparently it is just too much trouble for some people to drag their unmotivated arses out of bed and collect a few shots with their local photographer. Oh well, we still managed to secure nine full-length interviews and collect some great visual aids. Plus, there are a few cheeky columns in there for good measure. As always, we have endeavoured to find the best independent musicians from across the globe and significantly decrease their will to live to subjecting them to lengthy, and often tedious, bouts of interrogation. This issue’s detainees include London-based techno villain Drums of Death, teenage punk rock duo The Bots, Scottish indie outfit The Twilight Sad and Warp’s latest signing, Kwes. There are a few more, but we will leave you to find out who for yourselves.
2012 is shaping up to be a great year. Next month the first ever Laced event will take place at Rampworx in Liverpool and the biggest rollerblading event in the world, Winterclash, will kick-off a week later in Eindhoven. In addition to the plethora of competitions that will take place throughout the course of the year, we will also see the introduction of a new boot company from the Netherlands. Adapt have been teasing us with a few intriguing product shots over the past few months and apparently they are almost ready to unleash it on the masses. Plus, street skating icon Jon Julio is working on an iPhone-compatible rollerblading game called Jon Julio’s Blading The Game. We admit it is not the most creative of titles, but it looks to be another positive step for the sport.
Anyway, enough with the formalities; firmly affix your buttocks to the lavatory seat and enjoy what we have provided. If you don’t like what you see, use it as toilet paper - ink-soaked, anus-cutting toilet paper. Now, isn’t that a lovely thought?
High Praise for the Hand that Feeds To our advertisers: Loco Skates Laced Unit 23 Skatepark Hedonskate Winterclash Park DX Dirt Box Thank you for allowing us to suckle at your teats. The nourishment you provide allows us to survive.
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Youthful Rebellion Teenage punk rock duo The Bots have won over legions of fans in the US and they are hell bent on doing the same on this side of the Atlantic. Interviewing two teenagers is no easy task. First of all, they are near impossible to get a hold of because when they are not touring the country and performing in front of thousands of people they are in high school trying their best to concentrate on their studies while putting the incredible times they had on tour to the back of their minds. Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei, 18-years-old and 15-years-old respectively, make up The Bots, the teenage punk rock sensations that have taken the US by storm. Despite the fact that the duo only formed a band three years ago, they have already worked with Dave Klein of legendary punk outfit Agent Orange and performed on the Vans Warped Tour two years in a row, making them the youngest band to ever do so. The Bots have shared the stage with Saul Williams, Mos Def and Bad Brains and count Less Than Jake, Dillinger Escape Plan and Gym Class Heroes amongst their rapidly increasingly group of high profile fans. This year will mark the release of How To Make Friends, The Bots’ first EP to be released in the UK and the prelude to their forthcoming debut album which is due out later this year. We decided to catch up with the two brothers that have their whole lives ahead of them and find out about their promising careers as punk rock’s most likeable whipper snappers.
What was it like being the youngest band on the Warped Tour? Anaiah: Pretty awesome!! Mikaiah: It’s like been the youngest band on tour, everybody is a little weary at first because of our age. We were treated differently, only for a minute, until they saw us perform and spent time with us and saw that we were not half bad. What can you tell us about your upcoming album? Do you have a name or theme in mind? Anaiah: Lots of creativity! The music is going to be awesome. We are still working on a name and a theme. Mikaiah: We want to wait until we finish writing to come up with a proper name for the album. The music is going to be very experimental, so I want to wait until it’s finished. Have you signed any acts to your label (Vital Records) or do you just put out your own music? Mikaiah: No, we have not signed anyone yet. It is a vanity label for our music for now. What are your plans for the future? Mikaiah: To continue with creative writing, going to school to further educate myself and what comes along comes along. Anaiah: To continue to do this - to make this a successful career.
Wheel Scene: How did you discover punk music and which bands did you first fall in love with? Mikaiah: That’s a question for Anaiah. I like punk rock but would not say I’m in love with it. It’s one of the genres I enjoy but I also enjoy so many other types of music. Our dad worked for Golden Voice in his younger days. Anaiah: Our dad introduced us to punk music when we were growing up. I love Bad Brains, Black Flag, Circle Jerks and LA’s Wasted Youth. Why did you decide to name the group The Bots? Mikaiah: We believe an acronym for the band’s name was beneficial to the creativity we bring. It was a fun way to name the band. Anaiah: What Mikaiah said. Okay... so how difficult is it to juggle touring commitments with school work? Mikaiah: When I was in school, it was not at all difficult. It sort of just fit. School and touring went hand in hand. It seemed to work well for us. Anaiah: It’s pretty easy. We do what we love, so school and touring, as Mikaiah said, went hand in hand. Words: Louis Flood
Slamm Jamm XIII
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 07 The longest-running rollerblading event in the UK took place once again at Rampworx in Liverpool, and it claimed a few casualties along the way. There are few events in the world that can boast the history of Slamm Jamm. For the past 13 years, Dave Bell’s grass roots event has taken over the city of Liverpool for an entire weekend, as hundreds of skaters descend upon Merseyside for three days of blading and partying. Some of the biggest personalities in the short history of the sport have attended what has come to be known as “The Gathering” and it has provided the platform for launching the careers of some of the UK’s finest blading talent. In recent years, the Richard John Taylor Scholarship Award has sent England’s Joe Atkinson to the 2010 AIL World Finals at Woodward West where he fought off some tough competition to walk away with first place and 2010’s award winner, Rosie O’Donoghue, took a well-earned third place at the 2011 female contest. How many events can you name that have paid for promising young bladers to fly halfway across the world in order to gain more exposure? Exactly. Slamm Jamm XIII carried on the proud tradition of putting on a great event where everyone can get together to celebrate the sport and, aside from the actual competition, there were quite a few additional elements to keep the masses entertained. The industry trade show took place once again, with booths from sponsors Ukskate, Loco Skates, Roll Kings and more. This year was also the first to witness the Loco Skates Box Jam, which culminated in an epic battle between close friends Nick Lomax and Alex Burston. For a while it seemed as if the student was about to become the master, as Burston appeared to have the upper hand after throwing down some quite unusual trick variations. However, Lomax showed why he is one of the country’s few skaters to ever receive a pro skate by clawing his way back to victory. The UK Rolling Awards celebrate the efforts of the industry’s hardest working individuals and it came as no surprise to find that Loco Skates was awarded Shop of the Year once again. After all, this is the third year in a row that they have taken home the award and, after two pretty epic collaboration products and a successful tour of Scotland, they are fully-deserving of such an accolade. Blake Bird received the Legacy Award for all of his years spent representing the London scene and Alex Burston capped off an amazing year by taking home Roller of the Year and AM of the Year. If you have seen his astounding section in the Ground Control team video or kept track of his impressive competition performances in 2011, it is difficult to name another UK blader that has had a more prolific year. Let’s hope it is simply the start of things to come.
Every year, the Newblood event provides the biggest surprises of the weekend due to the fact that infuriatingly-young children come out of the woodwork and skate at an incredible level that leaves the spectators bewildered. This year was no exception, as 14-year-old Matty Lavelle appeared from nowhere and stormed into first place, fending off some serious competition from Scottish bladers Dominic Bruce and Jack McKell. In the Open category, Ukskate’s Andy Gilbert linked together lines that included high airs and flawless spins to overpower Roll Kings rider Jake Ricketts and USD’s James Keyte. However, it was not all fun and games, as Devious Distribution’s latest addition, Aaron Turner, took one hell of a slam during the qualifying round that resulted in his elbow looking like it was in serious need of a skin graft – it looked nasty. Elliot Stevens didn’t escape unscathed either. During an intense battle with Noiya’s Andy Spary for Best Trick, the pair went head-to-head trying to grind-to-gap from the biggest quarter pipe in the park to the flat ground. Stevens looked like he was going to walk away with top honours, almost landing an alley-oop unity full cab out, but on his last attempt he slipped out just before he went to spin and came crashing down on the concrete floor straight onto his hip. If that wasn’t bad enough, Spary went for a soul 540 off immediately afterwards and almost landed on Stevens while he was receiving medical attention. After hearing the horrendous sound that Stevens’ body made when he connected with the floor, there was a worrying moment when it appeared that he wasn’t going to be able to walk away from the scene of the accident. Thankfully, he wasn’t broken; just battered and bruised. Later that night, he was spotted limping around Liverpool city centre with a drunken smile on his face. The anaesthetic power of alcohol never ceases to amaze.
Words: Louis Flood Photos: Duncan Clarke, Tim Hailwood and Aaron Polhill.
Unconquerable Will Winterclash founder Jojo Jacobi talks about the event’s humble beginnings, facing financial ruin and why 2012 will be the best one yet. Sometimes it is better to just sit back, shut up and listen, especially when Jojo Jacobi is holding court. He held the first Winterclash in Aurich, Germany back in 2005 and unwittingly created what is arguably one of the biggest rollerblading events in the world. Over the past six years, thousands of people have travelled from all over the globe to compete, or simply just witness, the incredible spectacle that the annual Winterclash competition provides. Each year, heroes are made and legacies are solidified, as some of our sport’s most respected personalities and promising newcomers take part in an epic battle that inevitably results in never-seen-before tricks being landed and the occasional horrific injury. In true testament to Jacobi’s strength of character and relentless work ethic, when the original venue for Winterclash 2009 in Belgium burned to the ground the day before the event was due to commence after a freak construction accident, he managed to transport the entire event to the Netherlands and it went ahead with minimal disruption at Area 51 Skatepark in Eindhoven. This year marks the seventh anniversary of Winterclash and, throughout tremendous highs and devastating lows, Jacobi has managed to keep the competition running, even when threatened with a financial crisis. As rollerbladers, we are in debt to the talented organiser and his endless efforts to create an event that we can be proud of. The man endlessly strives towards improving every aspect of the sport and his brainchild has become the stage for some spectacular rollerblading over the years. Without further delay, we present Jojo Jacobi. Wheel Scene: Let’s talk about this year’s event. How is everything going so far? Jojo Jacobi: The organisation is running smoother than ever before. Every step takes less thinking but it is just running automatically. It’s still loads of work and also stressful at some times, but it’s totally under control. I recently visited Eindhoven to plan the new obstacles. That was one of my biggest concerns, since a good park is obviously one of the most important factors for a successful competition. The biggest hassle right now is explaining to people that we cannot sell more tickets. How many tickets did you print? 1000 tickets exactly - but there are also staff, volunteers, people working at the tradeshow, industry heads and media guys to consider. So, all-in-all, there will be at around 1,100 people in the park. So all the tickets are gone?
Yes. In only three weeks we were sold out. Last year this took us almost three months. Damn, that’s impressive! Is there anything you can tell us about the new obstacles? The new obstacles might piss some people off in the beginning. There are almost no standard obstacles anymore; no spots for long switch-ups, no spinto-grind disaster spot and stuff like that. The new obstacles will be more difficult to skate and everything is placed for lines. If you’re a good blader with loads of power you will be able to do the most impressive lines ever seen in a park. We have everything from big to small and “play around” obstacles, rail-to-rail transfers, wallrides to gap, wallrides to grind, grinds to gap, up rails and so on. I couldn’t be happier with the new ramps! Thanks to Ralf from the Netherlands for helping with that! It sounds interesting. Why have you decided to keep going back to Area 51 Skatepark? Going back to Eindhoven was an obvious decision. The park is big and fits loads of people, everything is clean, the ramps are good, the whole team from the park is great to work with and it’s located close to Amsterdam, which has a major international airport. What happened to the park in Belgium after the fire in 2009? Did it ever re-open? The park in Belgium is gone forever. The whole building burned down to the ground in only a couple of minutes. It’s unbelievable since this would have been the best rollerblading park ever built. You recently moved to Berlin. Why did you decide to relocate there? I was living in Ignition Valley, a small village in the middle of the mountains - nothing going on apart from skating, drinking and working. When I stopped working for Ignition most of my friends had already moved to Berlin. I was never a fan of the city but after visiting a couple of times I fell in love with the place. Apart from having my close friends around me, there is always something to do; concerts, open air parties, tonnes of great bars, chilling in parks and listening to street musicians. The place is pure inspiration and I couldn’t imagine living somewhere else. Why did you decide to stop working for Ignition? That decision was made by Leo and me. I wanted to concentrate on my own stuff and Leo had his plans too. I was working part-time for a while afterwards and, after moving to Berlin, it stopped totally. What are you doing for work now? During December and January I mostly focus on Winterclash. The rest of the year I work for a market research company. Benny Harmanus got me that
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job when I moved here. Let’s go back to the start of Winterclash. When you first decided to create the event, what were your goals? My only intention in the beginning was to organise an event outside of my hometown. I really liked organising small park and real street comps and I wanted to try something bigger. From the very beginning, the plan was to keep everything very personal, inviting people via letter and answering every e-mail. The plan was to make everybody feel welcome at the event. As a five star World Rolling Series event, what do you think the WRS brings to rollerblading? First of all, it gives people a goal. There aren’t many goals in our sport right now and by creating a world ranking people can collect points, travel to more events to collect more points and so on. It’s also nice for parents to see their kid’s name in such a ranking and it probably helps some kids to get their parents to support what they do. The original intention behind the WRS was to work closer with the media. You can tell your local newspaper that the event in your city is part of the World Series. That makes the event more attractive to media and outside people, but I have to say that isn’t used by many organisers - which is a shame. So you think the WRS is working? We are not even close to using the full potential of the WRS. It’s also a matter of money, but even without much money things could run a bit better. One “negative” thing is that some people now think that the WRS ranking is a list of the world’s best skaters, which is definitely not the case. People tend to think that Chris Farmer isn’t on top of our game just because he is not into park competitions, which is a joke because he is one of our leaders and one of the few people we have pushing the sport in new dimensions with every section. It seems ridiculous that CJ Wellsmore was WRS World Champion in 2010 but competed in hardly any (if any) WRS events in 2011 and wasn’t part of the WRS Uploaded World Finals. Becoming World Champion is pointless if the WRS cannot afford to send the athlete to the same events he won the year before to defend his titles. That’s one of the things I was talking about: It’s a matter of money. The WRS has a lot of potential, but we are far away from using it to the fullest. Another problem is that there is nobody in charge of it full-time. Having somebody running it the whole time and putting the focus on media and outside sponsors would be much better. Right
now, everything is in the hands of the different event organisers and only the structure is given by the guys behind WRS. But again, it’s a matter of money. The guys behind it are all running their own companies and even that is tricky enough nowadays. Let’s talk about Winterclash 2010 in Berlin. It seemed like you put a lot into it but things just didn’t work out. What happened? After the fire in 2009, I felt like it was time to step up our game. I knew from the beginning that it probably would not work out but I wanted to give it a try. I wanted to show what our sport is about to a non-rolling public and involve the media. I wanted to use the power of Winterclash to reach outsiders. We had promotion all over the city on posters, on different radio stations, on TV in the metro and in important Berlin magazines and even postcards all over the city. In the end, nobody cared about a rollerblading event. Also, I didn’t get enough big sponsors. I´m sure we contacted almost every big company in Germany but nobody was interested. It opened my eyes to how rollerblading is not really accepted and nobody wants to put money into it. I knew from the beginning that I would lose money, but I really didn’t expect it to be that much! But I don’t regret it. I learned a lot, because finally it was a professional event without the given structures of an existing skatepark. Besides the money part, we did great and now I´m even more certain of what direction I want to go with future projects outside of rolling. What happened between you and Stephane Alfano at Winterclash 2010? There were a lot of rumours flying around. After getting banned and re-invited to Winterclash twice he came up to me and put out his cigarette on my shoulder. He was pissed off because he felt like he should be in the finales after landing only two or so tricks. I tried to explain the situation to him but he didn’t listen at all. He was swearing at me the whole time, telling me that I´m only doing it for the money, I´m stupid, retarded and what not. He said Winterclash is shit. Being told all of this to my face, knowing that I´m financially fucked for the next few years, was too much. That sounds pretty frustrating. Does that mean he will not be attending Winterclash 2012? Yes, that’s what it means. After the last event, I announced that he will be banned and he wrote somewhere that he is going to fight me, so he made it even worse. I heard that he is planning an anti-Winterclash event at the same weekend, but that could be just rumours. Words: David McNamara Photos: Felix Strosetzki
Breaking New Ground
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 11 Glasgow trio The Twilight Sad are all about progression, even if that means going back to the beginning and starting again. As one of Scotland’s most respected and admired indie bands, The Twilight Sad have always been best known for their penchant for the darker side of music. Since the release of their debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, the Glasgow trio have crafted a dark, dense wall of noise from signature shoegaze guitar distortion and reverb, accompanied by often-macabre lyrics delivered through James Graham’s sinister Scottish accent. But whilst their upcoming album, No One Can Ever Know, is said to drift even closer to the abyss, their wall of noise is now more atmospheric, having swapped crunching guitars for ambient synths. “You can tell it’s The Twilight Sad, but there is a much more stark, colder, motorik feel to this album, mainly because we wanted a lot of sparseness in the sound, which suits the songs,” explains guitarist Andy MacFarlane. “Obviously that is quite a big contrast to our previous records because we used to max out the desk through the amount of layers of guitars and noise going on.” The band have previously expressed their wide variety of influences, musical or otherwise, but with this new synth-driven sound, whatever inspired the band to venture in this new direction? MacFarlane explains that it wasn’t a deliberate decision but a more a natural progression while writing. “My guitar is much more sparse and discordant than before, probably because [I was] listening to stuff along the lines of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Can, Wire, PiL, the Cure, Cabaret Voltaire, Magazine, etc, which might add to that impression,” the guitarist considers. To give fans a taster of what to expect from the new record, the band released final track ‘Kill It In The Morning’ on SoundCloud. A mesh of strong striking guitar, beaming synth and crawling bass, the track showcases the band’s new direction whilst maintaining that signature impenetrable sinister vibe they are known and loved for. “I liked the idea of giving people something that is quite intense to live with for a few months and get their head around it before hearing anything else from the record,” says MacFarlane, explaining the reason behind the release of the song, which has so far received much acclaim from both fans and press alike. Not that Graham gives much thought to this, however. “I don’t go searching on the internet to see what people think of our music to be honest,” he asserts. “First and foremost, we write the songs for ourselves and if we like them then that’s good enough for me.” Fair enough, you might think, but, unlike his band’s new motorik sound, Graham is not completely cold. “I run the band’s twitter account and the reaction from the fans has been really positive,” he says with pride. “Our fans are great, they know
we’re a band that constantly wants to evolve and try new things and they embrace that which is amazing.” The new album was recorded last January at a studio in London called The Pool, further encouraging the band out of their comfort zone. They were rather surprised that the recording came together quicker and was much more straightforward compared to the recording of their previous albums. “With other stuff we’ve done, we’ve had a very specific idea of what we want, and that can be very time consuming if you’re in that mind set, whereas this time, we were very open to try out different ideas, not be too precious and be more spontaneous,” explains MacFarlane. Just like with their previous work, the band produced the record themselves, although they did have some help on the sidelines. “Andrew Weatherall would come in every few days to bounce ideas off and make suggestions. [He] seen himself more as an ‘anti-producer’,” says the guitarist. For the most part, things went well. However, when it got to recording ‘Sick’, the first single released from the new album, MacFarlane remembers it didn’t go as smoothly as he would have liked. “Recording this made me go a bit mental,” he recalls.“I knew it was a strong song but it just wasn’t sitting right for me, even until the point of the last day of mixing and I couldn’t work out what was wrong with it.” So what do you do in such a situation? Destroy and rebuild, of course. “I decided we should take everything out, strip it back and only mix in the basics of the track, and we gradually built it up to how it is now,” he explains. “Thinking back, it might not have been the best idea to do it at that stage because there was the possibility it wouldn’t get finished, but I’m glad we did because it works much better now.” Unlike some bands who try to take a more ‘innovative’ approach to the release of their record, The Twilight Sad are more than happy to stick with the more traditional methods. “I hate all the bullshit that bands come away with before releasing an album these days,” says Graham, with much disdain. “I’m quite happy with the usual forms of promoting an album or single, such as videos, sessions and touring our arses off.” Which is exactly what they have been doing, delivering that incredibly loud and atmospheric show they’re known for, only now with a lot more variation throughout the set, of course, thanks to their newfound sound. And beyond that? “We just want to keep moving forward,” says Graham. “I love being in this band and writing music so I hope we can do it for as long as possible. We always knew we would have to work hard to get ahead in this business and I think we’re just as passionate about it as we’ve ever been before - if not more.”
Words: Nina Glencross
No End in Sight
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 13 Malaga’s Juan Suarez has been representing the Andalusia region of Spain for over a decade and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. There are certain skaters that, when you meet them for the first time, you just know there is something special about them. In 2004 I visited Malaga for a week with a close friend to check out the skate spots and escape the “supposed” Scottish summer that basically consisted of rain and gale force winds. On the first day we stumbled across some local skaters and, even though my poor Spanish and their limited English made it slightly difficult to communicate, they welcomed us into their group with open arms and we spent the afternoon travelling around the birthplace of Pablo Picasso searching for things to skate. The guys kept talking about a mysterious character called “Uani”. Every spot we visited was met with another story about the incredible feats Uani had accomplished on it. After we were all wiped out from skating in the Spanish sun during the middle of summer, we arranged to meet up with the group again the following day and the excitable bunch promised that they would introduce us to the man they had been talking about all day. The next afternoon, we returned to the ledge spot where we first met the local Malaga bladers and, even though there were a few new faces in the group, I could instantly tell which one was Uani. He was rolling around with an unmistakable level of confidence and every trick he landed looked absolutely perfect. He made truespin alleyoop topsides look like beginner manoeuvres and could balance one foot grinds with infuriating ease. He introduced himself as Juan Suarez and, every night after he finished work as a painter and decorator, he took us to various outdoor parks and skate spots around the Costa del Sol. Every spot turned into a competition between Juan and myself to see who could land the best trick - and I ended up losing the majority of the battles. At the end of one of our adventures, we sat down and he gave me several copies of a Spanish rollerblading publication called Soul Magazine, and in one of the issues he had a massive interview that contained some first-try-or-die hammers. No wonder the guy was kicking my arse at every spot; he was one of Spain’s most talented up-and-coming street skaters. After this trip, Juan and I kept in touch and bumped into each other at several major rollerblading events, including IMYTA Amsterdam in 2005 and Winterclash in 2009. Each time we met, his English had improved significantly while my Spanish has become progressively worse. When I started this publication, I knew that I had to get an interview with the Malaga legend, as he has remained one of the county’s strongest skaters for more than a decade. Suarez was first introduced to rollerblading in the mid-nineties during the
“aggressive inline” boom, when it was all over mainstream media and everyone in the world seemed to own a pair of rollerblades. All the local kids in his area were into it and, as Suarez was already familiar with quad skating, he found it relatively easy to become proficient at the new craze everyone was taking part in. “It was a real fancy youth trend in the hood where I was born,” he begins. “I used to skate on quads that I stole from my female cousin. When I started on aggressive skates it was an easy thing for me and I soon started to learn how to do my first grind. I haven’t left rollerblading since.” Like most skaters that started in the nineties, Suarez was heavily influenced by street skating pioneers like Arlo Eisenberg and TJ Webber, but it was national hero, Alexis Ecija, who the biggest inspiration. Ecija was one of the first Spanish rollerbladers to achieve international prominence in the rollerblading industry by doing well at huge events like Bercy and X Games as part of the TRS Rollerblade team. He also had a huge interview in the nowdefunct UK rollerblading publication, DNA. Over the years Suarez has continued to progress into a well-rounded blader and is now a member of The Conference’s Spanish team. You may recognise his face, or undeniable talent on blades, as he featured heavily in The Conference Spain’s recent online tour video series. However, being sponsored has not always been the most pleasant experience for the talented street skater, as he has had a few problems with Spanish rollerblading distributors in the past. “The first company that believed in me was Razors in 2003,” begins Suarez. “It was Luciano Zurro, a man of the moment in the Spanish scene. The scene was a total disaster before Luciano came along and fixed it. He put me on my way. He saw some tricks on internet and finally we met at a contest in Barcelona.” A couple of years after Suarez got hooked up with Razors, he took a leap of faith and moved to Madrid in order to work for a new rollerblading distribution company that had been set up, thinking that he had finally landed his dream job. He soon discovered that the people in charge did not have the most honourable of intentions, as they were basically trying to profit from rollerblading without any consideration for how to develop the national scene. They wanted to cash in and Suarez was not impressed. “A distribution company called New Order started up in Madrid, it was terrible. I was living in Madrid and seeing how our sport got worse and worse. People were only thinking about how to get money out of rollerblading. This was the time when I moved from Razors to Remz.” Disillusioned by his time spent living in the capital city, Suarez decided to cut his losses and move back home where he could be around his family and skate with friends
that he knew he could trust. Fortunately, he chose to move back home at the perfect time as a new distribution company was being established by someone that actually cared about the sport and its future. Since then, Suarez has been popping up in online edits alongside some of his favourite European bladers and he couldn’t be happier with his new sponsorship deal. “I moved from Madrid back to Malaga a couple of years ago and kept rollerblading. Around this time, Jesus Caravaca set up a Spanish distribution company and did a really good job. He is an awesome person. For the last two years I have been skating for The Conference. We are doing awesome things - some nice edits and a tour. We just keep working.” The 28-year-old may only be riding flow for the conglomerate, but he receives everything he needs to continue rolling and relishes the opportunity to travel to different parts of his country in search of new spots to conquer alongside close friends Martin Benza and Ivan Malvido. “They give me all the parts I need,” he says. “They sent us on one of the most lovely travels of my life, The Spanish Conference Tour. They also give me good promotion because I get footage on The Conference videos. It is awesome for a guy from Malaga to get clips next to Anne Adrien and Roman Abrate.” Now 28-years-old, Suarez is happy to be living in Malaga and working at what he calls “the most awesome job of my life” as a web designer for the University of Malaga. “It’s great,” he says. “I love the schedule because I have time to skate during the week and that is the most important thing. I hope to work there for a long, long time.” Our sport needs more rollerbladers like Juan Suarez. He is humble, friendly and always acts as a positive influence on his local scene. He may not ever become the poster boy of Spanish rollerblading, but to all of his fellow countrymen, Suarez will always be known as one of the finest athletes the country has ever produced.
Words: Louis Flood Photos: Lino Adriano and Thomz Negrat Opposite page: Top: 180 gap Bottom: Truespin top acid
Favourite rollerblading videos: My Daily Routine Hoax 3 TbTv4 The Duke (a Spanish blading video with Javi Bujanda) The best thing about living in Malaga: We get more than 300 sunny days a year, so we can skate all the time and spend long nights near the beach. Most of our spots are kind of hardcore. Forget about soft switchup rails or curbs. Every spot has got a leap of faith or it is really steep - but I donâ€™t care â€˜cause like it.
Bank to fishbrain stall
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Maintaining the Momentum Florida-based metal outfit Trivium may have enjoyed a lot of success with their current album, In Waves, but they are already looking to the next release. “For a lot of the people who came out to the tour, it was their first time seeing us,” says Trivium guitarist Corey Beaulieu, as he reflects on their recent run of shows across the UK. “It’s cool that there’s a constant flow of young, new fans that we get to make an impression on.” If this is the case, Trivium’s future looks set to be as bright as their past. Their 2005 release, Ascendancy, did exactly what it said on the tin and propelled the Floridians from cramped toilet venues to the mainstream metal press. Perhaps most notable was their appearance at Download Festival in the spiritual home of metal, Castle Donington, that same year, in which they were shoehorned onto the main stage bill for what turned out to be one of the most pivotal sets of their lives. An early-risen, near-capacity crowd rubbed the sleep from their eyes just in time to rub them once again in disbelief at the sight of this young band that had come to revitalise metal to the masses. Through the first flushes of success, they were never shy about discussing their heroes and how stoked they were to be playing alongside them, wearing their influences on the sleeves of their Maiden and Metallica shirts. Three albums later, however, Corey believes they’re a band in their own right. “We’ve been around for a good amount of time, so I think we’ve established what we do. We’ve always evolved with every record. With this record especially I think we’ve put a stamp on it as what we do as a band, and it stands on its own. We’ve found our niche: you can tell it’s Trivium.” The record he speaks of is their latest album In Waves, a fifty-minute lesson in crushing chuggery, wailing riffs and uniting anthems that could start a circle pit with several times the intensity of Hurricane Katrina. They stick to their ideals, while at the same time taking a step up from 2008’s ambitious Shogun and travelling a fair distance from the ‘80s metal tribute that was 2006’s The Crusade. “We’re pushing ourselves to keep the creative juices flowing instead of going stagnant and playing the same thing all the time,” says the guitarist of this constant shift in sound. “I think our writing has naturally gotten better. We still do it in the same way; we gather ideas on tour then show them to each other in rehearsal and construct songs from them. We’re just more in tune with how we want to approach the overall vibe of an album now.” While the songwriting remains the same for Trivium, change was thrust upon Corey, singer-shredder Matt Heafy and bassist Paolo Gregoletto when founding
drummer Travis Smith left the band in 2010 due to personal issues. However, when replacement Nick Augusto planked himself on the drum stool, the other members found him to be the shot of adrenaline they needed to go on. “Having a new drummer added a different dynamic,” reveals Corey with a sense of excitement creeping through in his voice. “It changed us for the better. We operated more smoothly while working at a faster pace. We didn’t get stuck and didn’t have to work on a song for a ridiculous amount of time. We had a good momentum and kept rolling with ideas. It was the most fun we’ve had putting an album together.” And as much as they are enjoying the “amazing” experiences that In Waves has blessed them with, the band are already looking to the future. “We’ve already started writing. We want to make an intense but catchy album. There is more seven-string stuff being written, which has instantly brought a different feel to the music. The songs will dictate what we’re feeling as we write. It’s very natural and subconscious; the songs usually present themselves, and a common theme usually connects them and gives the record its character. It will be a mix of the guitar pyrotechnics from Shogun and what we’re doing just now – we’re taking what we established with this album and pushing it to the next level.” The tone of certainty in his voice as he discusses the future speaks volumes more than his description of the music. It’s clear that Trivium have matured as a band, no longer as overwhelmed and star-struck as the four youngsters who began the journey several years ago. “It’s rewarding that our music has reached so many people. Is it surreal? Well, it’s pretty awesome,” he says with a prominent smile on his face. “I’m proud of what we’ve done, but I’m looking forward to getting our music out to new people, playing to new audiences and continuing to grow. We set high goals for ourselves and we always work hard to succeed.” He laughs, and a few stones of his modesty dyke come loose as he quietly relishes his success. “We’ve done a lot of great things,” he concludes, still sounding as passionate as the starry-eyed 22-year-old metalhead who was launched into the big league way back when. “But there are even better things on the horizon.”
Words: Andy McDonald Photo: Jon-Paul Douglass
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Italy’s Nicola Fiorenza finds time between the responsibilities of work and family life to stay on top of his blading game. If you have ever thought that it is too difficult to make time for a rollerblading session with your friends because of a gruelling work schedule or too much studying, spare a thought for Nicola Fiorenza. The Italian blader not only has to handle the mammoth responsibility of raising his two-year-old daughter, but he also gets up at an ungodly hour every day to go and work at his father’s fruit and vegetable company, yet he still makes time to skate on a regular basis and he is currently looking stronger than ever. The most admirable part of it all is that he has no complaints whatsoever. In fact, he seems quite content with his current daily
routine. “I wake up almost every day at three in the morning,” says Fiorenza. “It’s hard work but, if I can sleep well after lunch and it’s sunny, I have time to do everything I want.” When Fiorenza is not working his way through a seemingly never-ending stream of dirty nappies that appear to multiply with startling speed or struggling to fight off the symptoms of sleep deprivation after a long morning spent carrying heavy goods in a warehouse, he makes every effort to attend all of the local and national events he can, but he readily admits that this is not the easiest of tasks as he cannot simply leave his wife, Raffaela, with the responsibility of looking after a toddler on her own whenever he feels like it. However, he does feel that more of his fellow countrymen need to make
an effort to represent Italian rollerblading at an international level. “I don’t wanna miss one single event,” he declares. “If my family and my work let me go, I’ll be there - at least, the Italian events. Maybe we need more Italian names in foreign contests but, for me, it’s very difficult to find the time.” The 28-year-old lives in Jesi, a town situated on the north bank of the Esino river in the centre of Italy and birthplace of famous personalities including Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini and awardwinning actress, Virna Lisi. The town is approximately 400km south of Montebelluna, the town where Ottorino and Lina Cavasin founded influential inline skate manufacturer Roces in 1952 and, strangely enough, produced Fiorenza’s first pair of skates, a set Above: Topside mistrial Opposite: Fishbrain
of Roces Tokyo that he received for his fourteenth birthday back in the summer of 1997. So how did he discover rollerblading in the first place? “I watched a program in Italy where some guys were skating a half pipe on blades, but after watching an episode of Baywatch where people were jumping on some ledges I decided I wanted to try! I used to skateboard but I couldn’t even Ollie – so I thought rollerblading was easier for me.” Who would have guessed that a lifeguard drama series featuring Pamela Anderson could be so influential in producing a dedicated lifelong blader? Approximately ten years after receiving his first pair of skates, Fiorenza gained his first sponsor, Valo, but owner Jon Julio had no idea that he was providing the skater with free blades because when he joined the team Valo was still owned by parent company Roces. Julio only learned of Fiorenza’s involvement with his brand years later. “An old friend of mine used to be sponsored in ‘97 by Roces,” he says. “In 2007 he wanted to create an Italian team and he put me and Maur Moi on the flow team, but at the beginning Jon Julio didn’t know that we were riding for him because this was born directly from Roces.” Fiorenza still represents Valo to this day and has been named as a Valo supporter on the boot company’s official site, although the status of his sponsorship seems uncertain since Roces sold all the rights to Julio. However, the Italian blader remains militant in his support of the influential company owner and his vision, even if he no longer receives free skates from the brand. “Right now the team doesn’t exist anymore but, even if the others bought or started riding different brands, I decided to skate Valo regardless of if I am a member of the team or not because I love the skates. Right know, I think I’m the only one.” Despite the fact that Italy is home to a highly influential inline skate manufacturer and located at the heart of the rapidlyexpanding European rollerblading scene, the country has produced very few icons and there are currently only a handful of skaters representing the nation at international events. In fact, the only name that instantly comes to mind when thinking of the Italian skate scene is Jason Adriani, and that is only because of his dedication to attending European rollerblading events and his regular appearances in Adrien Anne edits. However, Fiorenza advises that he is currently working alongside Adriani and several others in order to increase the profile of Italy’s rollerblading scene and build a stronger community. “Everywhere I go I see new faces. We have some good skaters, especially Jason Adriani, Agostino Polpetta, Nicolo Sabattini and Marco Valera, but what we need is more media on us to create the atmosphere we had seven years ago. This is what me, Jason, Marco and Pedro are trying to do with the
IBC (Italian Bladers Connection).” After spending over 14 years of his life on rollerblades, Fiorenza seems happy with the way the sport and industry is developing. He just wishes other people could see how much it has transformed since he first got involved during the height of the sport’s popularity. “I like how it’s going. People are more mature now and so is the skating and how it can be exposed to people. Even if I don’t like the Taig Khris thing, I think it can help like the first pipe video I saw that made me decide to start street skating.” He may have a lot on his plate at the moment, but Fiorenza has been showing the world his blading talent through several recent online edits, specifically the E Z Goezy video that was filmed for United World Rolling. Apparently we can expect more blading from the Italian stallion as soon as he has fully recovered from an ankle injury that he sustained while filming for Be-Mag, and quite a few of the spots featured in this interview will receive the Fiorenza treatment. “I hurt it a little during filming one minute one spot for Be-Mag,” he says. “I’ll go filming street again soon! I have found a lot of cool spots while getting photos for this interview. With my new fisheye we can also put out some park edits, too!”
Nicola Fiorenza’s thoughts on the future of rollerblading: “It would be nice to see a comeback of the media on us, like X Games or competitions in Italy with big sponsors - something else to motivate people to go to an event. It was cool for me watching Aaron Feinberg on TV when I was younger.”
Words: David McNamara Photos: Pietro Firrincieli Above: Makio Below: Royale
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If You Want Something Done Right Mark Thomas, lead singer of Cardiff-based rock outfit Islet, explains why DIY is the only way. For a band with such an unhinged sound, Islet seem incredibly grounded. Playing sprawling uninhibited noise rock on a grand scale, building up a reputation for equally raucous live performances, possessing a fierce sense of autonomy and acquiring a suitable amount of mystique along the way, guitarist, drummer, keyboardist and singer Mark Thomas (this is not a band that is restricted to roles) is keen to play down their individuality and explain a few misconceptions. First came the band’s decision to not, heaven forbid, open a Myspace account, a decision that caused endless misapprehensions about Islet being antiinternet or worse, techno phobic. “It’s always quite funny for me personally because I’m a bit of an internet geek,” explains Mark. “Myspace is a big firm so it’s kind of like asking ‘why don’t you eat in Macdonald’s? A lot of people set up a Myspace or a blog before they’ve got anything to say and just put photos up of themselves. We just wanted to take our time and not be in people’s faces all the time.” Instead the band favour more of a D.I.Y approach; self-recording, self-releasing on Thomas’ independent Shape Records, and handling much of their own press through a series of self-made magazines called The Isness. However, once again this is not something the band sees as unusual. “I see it as the only option really. We’re not doing a political movement, we just like to do certain things ourselves and have control over it. It just feels like the natural way to do things. We’ve got an agent and a manager but we just like to do as much of it as we physically can.” An “independent” band in the true sense of the word, their hands on, personal approach is certainly refreshing. However, not closed to outside input and considering themselves more of a collective than a group, Islet chose to work with a producer for the first time in the recording of their debut full length album. “Our two previous EPs we recorded with approximately five mics so the main difference is we’ve got a producer - and we recorded it in an actual studio rather than our bedrooms. It certainly meant we did a lot more takes of each thing.” As a result, Illuminated People sees the band achieve their most liberated and varied sound to date: It is an album of pounding rhythms, ritualistic chants and cathartic crescendos and as such lends itself perfectly to performance. Their live shows are chaotic and unpredictable, noted for band members swapping instruments and delivering some of their parts from the depths of the crowd, but this is another aspect of Islet’s reputation that
Mark makes light of. “They’re never meant to particularly be chaotic but sometimes one of us will trip over a wire or something and it goes from there. When we started the band we said to ourselves ‘let’s practice in the style that we would perform’. We practice exactly the same when there’s no one there as we do when we play live.” Despite their efforts to persuade us otherwise, Islet are a unique band; Unique in their sound, in their approach to making and performing music, and in their characteristic modesty. But what about the future? “Our aspiration is basically to be able to do it more.” With an album as ambitious as Illuminated People, they surely will.
Words: Henry Wilkinson
The Other Jubin
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His brother may have had one of the best sections in the Razors team video, Game Theory, but Bruno Jubin is no slouch on a pair of rollerblades either. Have you heard of Max Jubin? Of course you have. He is the psychopath in the latest Razors team video, Game Theory, that performs terrifying stunts including zero spin mute backflips down stair sets, disaster 450 royales on double sets and possesses a ridiculously-technical rail vocabulary. Well, just like the Kelso brothers and the Raser twins, Max has a brother that is equally talented and he goes by the name of Bruno. He may not be as well-known as his brass balls brother, but he certainly knows how to shock and astound on a pair of rollerblades. Both brothers got into the sport after the council built an outdoor skate facility in their local area and they pestered their parents into getting them skates for Christmas so they could make use of it. Little did the duo know that it would be the catalyst for a love affair with a sport that they would dedicate the next
seven years of their lives to and travel across the world in search of new spots to test their skills. “They put up ramps in my village when I was a kid and for Christmas my brother and I asked for skates because we wanted to skate the new ramps. After that, we couldn´t put our skates down! We spent a summer in Marseille and skated the famous bowls for eight hours every day. I improved a lot there and skating became like a drug to me after that summer.” Bruno Jubin first came to our attention through various online edits that he created to promote sponsors Remz, In-Gravity Skate Shop and One Love Rolling, and it was instantly obvious that the guy had something special. His brother may be the stuntman of the family but Bruno brings the style, finessing every aspect of his tricks in order to make them look visually-stunning. Plus, as you can see from the photos in this profile, he is not afraid to take some big risks. After all, how many people do you know that are willing to grind off roofs these days? The 19-year-old is currently living in
Berlin, the epicentre for European culture due to the vast number of art galleries, museums and historical landmarks, not to mention the incredible music scene. Bruno recently completed a two-year cinema course at a private university in Madrid, so he has decided to take some time off and focus on having fun with his friends before figuring out what the next step of his adult life will consist of. “After finishing my studies I wanted to move and I had a really good opportunity in Berlin because I have a lot of really good friends here. Also, I wanted to learn English and German, so Berlin is the best place to go. I really like it here. We have such nice places to skate and the skaters are really cool.” He may be surrounded by culture and history as far the eye can see but, when asked what he liked most about his current city of residence, Bruno inexplicably cited the weather as one of his favourite aspects of life in Berlin. Considering the city was suffering the effects of a harsh winter at the time of this interview, we could not help but think that he Above: 540 over the fence Opposite: Backside royale
must either be drunk or insane. Surely no one can like walking around in the freezing cold? “I really enjoy living with my good friend,” he begins. “I also like the weather at the moment. I know it is strange to say that but, for the moment, the weather has been really good and I especially like when it is freezing. I love the culture here a lot, too.” Perhaps he is just enjoying the fact that, for once in his life, he is living in a country where it is not hot and humid for the majority of the year. After all, Bruno is of French and Spanish descent and lived in Mallorca until he was 15. Maybe he is simply enjoying some much needed respite from the sun and the sea? Bruno has been living in Berlin for approximately four months and has chosen to make the most of this commitment-free period by skating as much as possible. During his time spent in Germany’s capital city, he has noticed certain differences between the skate scene in his new home and the one he left behind in Madrid. “The skaters here are more technical,” he says. “In Madrid, the skaters normally love to skate more dangerous spots. In Berlin, I think they love more technical slides on nice coping.” The promising filmmaker is currently taking a short sabbatical from further education and work for the time being, but considering he is still a teenager, Bruno has managed to squeeze quite a lot of stuff into the short time he has spent on this earth and some might argue that he has earned a break. After all, he has been filming and editing videos since his early teens and has even managed to produce a short film, with assistance from his brother. “I’m still not sure about what I want to do with my future. Everything started when I was 14 and I made my first inline profile, then I realised that making videos was what I wanted to do. Two years later, my brother and I decided to make our first narrative short film. The film was well-received, so I decided to specialise in this format.” The “well-received” short film he is referring to premiered at the 2011 Miami Film Festival to critical acclaim and led to the brothers being invited to Cannes Film Festival later that year. This is quite an achievement considering it was their first ever production and it was made when most people are studying for their high school exams. Apparently this is only the start of things to come, as Bruno has quite a few projects planned for the next twelve months. “I am making an online comic web series called Nelson and Harry. I am going to put all my attention on skating and work on all the projects I’ve always wanted to make because for the moment I have money and free time, but I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next year. In one month I go to BCN with my brother, Max Jubin, for a lot of skating and filming. I will also be working on our first feature film that will be shot in Morocco in February 2012. That is a really exciting project for me.” Topside acid
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Words: David McNamara Photos: Steven Kielhorn Soul
Five Albums that Changed my Life: Errors
This month will mark the release of Error’s third full-length release, Have Some Faith In Magic, the follow-up to their exceptional 2010 album, Come Down With Me. Wheel Scene managed to steal some time with one of the Glasgow-based post-electro outfit’s founding members, Stephen Livingstone, to find out about some of the albums that have had a massive influence on his creative output.
Pavement – Shady Lane Admittedly, this isn’t actually an album, but it was one of the first collections of songs that I owned by any band that I was obsessed about and within the three tracks on this CD I got more mileage than a lot of full-length albums since. The track, ‘Shady Lane’, would probably have to be in the imaginary film about my childhood, soundtracking the carefree days of early adolescence, just before the heartache of girls and alcoholism. My English teacher in first year at high school recommended that I listen to Pavement, which led me to buying the ‘Shady Lane’ CD single. In those days I was really into buying CD singles rather than full albums, mainly as a money-related issue, but also because I loved B-sides. This has led to me realising the importance of B-sides. It opened me up to a world where singers didn’t have to be very good, guitars didn’t necessarily have to be tuned; a world where three note guitar solos were better than complicated ones. Nick Drake – An Introduction For my 15th birthday I got a Partick Thistle football top and a copy of An Introduction to Nick Drake. I hadn’t heard his music before, which made it a mysterious, exciting experience as I listened to the opening cello part in ‘Cello Song’, not knowing what was going to happen. Then his beautiful, delicate, distinctive voice purred over the music. It’s an experience I know I can never have again but it has remained with me ever since. Again, this album felt very personal to me and it felt like I had tapped into a world that people who were listening to, what I considered to be more obvious folk music, like Bob Dylan, were missing out on. I was so taken by Nick Drake’s music that I started a band named after one of his tunes (I’m not going to mention which one in case anyone should ever find that music). Learning of his tragic death after hearing his music added even more depth to it. Kraftwerk – Radio Activity This was the first Kraftwerk album I ever bought. It’s probably not the most obvious place to start with them as it doesn’t feature any of the more widely popular Kraftwerk tunes such as ‘The Model’ or ‘Autobahn’, the former of which I had previously heard from the Driving Music cassette given away free in 1995 with Q Magazine. The thing I always liked about Kraftwerk was the fact that, even though I was listening to music that was made 30 years ago, it still seemed very futuristic
to me and opened me up to the exciting results that were possible with synthesisers. Particular highlights on this record for me were ‘Antenna’ and ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’, which I remember putting at the end of a mixtape and listening to it on the balcony on my last family holiday in Spain. ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’ is a classic that should sit along ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Hotel California’ on top songs of all time lists, if there was any justice in the world. Various – We Call It Acieeed! A mix of “36 Of The Maddest Acid Tracks Ever”, so says the sticker on the front of this collection of essential acid house tracks of the 80s/ early 90s. This was as a result of buying Ceephax Acid Crew’s self-titled album of 2003 (also considered for this list) that introduced me to the world of acid house. It helped me put my finger on what acid house was, having not previously known what the phrase meant. It also led me to reading a few books on the scene/ genre and partly writing my dissertation on the subject of acid house and rave culture. I was immediately drawn to the squelchy sound of the sequenced sounds and the repetitive, unrelenting drum machine beats. The effect of this record was so much that we named the first Errors EP How Clean is Your Acid House? in honour of the genre, featuring a lot of the sounds I had picked up from listening to this record. A particular stand out for me on this record is ‘Baby Wants to Ride’ by Frankie Knuckles featuring Jamie Principle, it’s a very sinister, sexy piece of music with pitched down vocals that I still like to play whenever I DJ. Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 I bought this after hearing Radiohead’s Kid A (which almost made this list) and discovering that Aphex Twin was an influence, though I had no idea where to start and for most this might not seem like an obvious place to start given that even at the time it was a collection of works from more than a decade ago. This record introduced me to the idea that something could be both ambient and danceable and that dance music wasn’t necessarily just for people who took drugs and fought each other; it could also be enjoyed by intelligent people (not sure which category I actually fall into now). It was also entirely instrumental, which, for me, seemed pretty unique as most dance music that I had heard had either a sped-up child voice singing on it or a wailing Body Form advert diva moaning and showing off her vocal-range over the top of it. For people who suggested that electronic or dance music lacked emotion, this record single-handedly disproved that.
Photo: Fiona Slimmon
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A Moment in Time Minneapolis indie outfit Howler have no intentions of outstaying their welcome in the music industry, according to frontman Jordan Gatesmith. There is arguably nothing more ego-boosting than being included in NME’s Cool List 2011 only a mere few months after signing to Rough Trade Records, releasing a debut EP and being invited to tour the UK in support of indie superstars The Vaccines. But it’s all in a year’s work for young Jordan Gatesmith, the 19-year-old brainchild of Minneapolis’ latest offering, a surf gaze five piece by the name of Howler. With their debut LP due for release this month, they’ve already achieved what many young bands could only dream of. However, Gatesmith seems truly amazed by Howler’s success so far. There’s a sense that it’s all part of a very well thought out game plan which he reveals towards the end of our discussion. Understandably, touring with The Vaccines was a huge step up for Howler. Not only did it give them exposure to a British audience, but it was also the band’s first time outside of their native US and, needless to say, they loved it. “We were out at some bars in Glasgow and this guy was like ‘Dude, you’ve got to try some Buckfast!’” laughs Gatesmith in his slick American accent. Shortly after the release of their debut LP, America Give Up, the band will be returning to the UK for some headline shows to deliver their noise. What can British fans expect from a live Howler set? “We just want our shows to be quite intense,” explains Gatesmith. “Well, not intense, but really loud.” And with a mightily fuzzy wall of sound and Gatesmith’s gruff vocals and onstage swagger that Julian Casablancas would envy, Howler are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their live shows. From stage to studio, Wheel Scene asked how the recording of America Give Up went. “It went great,” Gatesmith exclaims. “My favourite track to record was probably ‘Pythagorean Fearem’. You see, on our MySpace page, under the genre part we had put ‘surf gaze’ as a sort of joke or whatever. Then Zane Lowe played one of our songs on his radio show and afterwards he was like ‘Aw check out these guys, they’ve made up this completely new genre called surf gaze. I wonder what ocean they think they live near’, so, in protest, I decided to write the ultimate surf gaze song which became ‘Pythagorean Fearem’.” Besides being inspired to stick it to the man (or, in this case, Zane Lowe) the band also cited ‘8 bit Weezer’ as an influence on their Facebook page. When asked to explain, Gatesmith said, “Aw yeah, that was just a joke, I was listening to a load of 8 bit Weezer on YouTube at the time,” before breaking into his own rendition of
an 8-bitted ‘Buddy Holly’. All joking aside, however, their thrashy retro sound takes its inspiration from bands of a similar style. “I’d say our top three influences are Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground and this 80s punk band from Minneapolis called The Replacements,” explains Gatesmith, with a tone of admiration in his voice. With such an exciting year behind them, Howler are by no means taking things slow in 2012. With the album’s release and their first UK headline tour (with some EU dates thrown in), even the first two months of the New Year are already packed with adventure. “After that,” explains Gatesmith, “it’ll just be more touring. We want to play as much as we can to as many people as we can.” For NME’s 3rd Best New Band of 2011, that doesn’t seem too ambitious. Aside from touring commitments, Gatesmith’s plans are rather interesting. He does not adhere to the usual “I want to take this band as far as it can go, be as big as it can be” spaff. No, Gatesmith has got other ideas. He is only 19 after all, and the world, so to speak, is his oyster. “Basically, I don’t want to be doing Howler forever,” he asserts. “I hate those bands who’ve been together for decades and keep releasing records. Well, I don’t hate them, I actually love some of those bands. But yeah, I’d want to just release maybe two or three Howler records then move onto something different, another project, just to keep things fresh, you know?” And, with that, Gatesmith’s game plan is cracked wide open. Enjoy Howler while you can because, as young as he may be, this is a guy who knows what he wants from life and, at least, gives the impression that he knows how to go about making it happen.
Words: Nina Glencross
Time to Shine South London producer Kwes reflects on visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo with Damon Albarn and fulfilling a childhood dream by signing to Warp. Until this year, Kwesi Sey aka Kwes was the kind of guy that lurked around in the background, using his talents to provide the perfect backdrop for some of the UK’s most promising acts. He first gained recognition from Kwesachu Mixtape Vol. 1, a collaborative effort with Micachu, which earned him the opportunity to work with The xx and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. In July of last year, Kwes was invited by Damon Albarn to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo for five days and make an album with contemporary Congolese performers, alongside XL founder Richard Russell, Dan The Automator and several other highlyrespected producers. According to Kwes, it was one of the highlights of his career so far. “It was incredible, but it passed so quickly,” he says. “We got so much done in such a short period of time. I will never forget that experience. There were no egos; we were all there to make music for Oxfam. I would love to work with all of them again.” In addition to his involvement in the Blur frontman’s charitable endeavours, Kews has provided simple-yet-effective beats for Speech Debelle on Freedom of Speech, the follow-up to her Mercury-winning debut album, Speech Therapy. He also created an old school videogame hip hop canvas for a handful of tracks on Gob, the debut album from Debelle’s Big Dada labelmate Dels. It came as quite a surprise when, after frequent collaborations with several Big Dada artists, the 22-year old signed to Warp at the end of 2011. Why didn’t he join the ranks of Will Ashon’s hip hop imprint? “It’s interesting that you should say that because a few people have said they were surprised that I didn’t sign with XL after working with The xx and other artists on the label. I ended up with Warp because they just seemed to get what I was trying to do more. Plus, they have the Warp Films arm, which is something that will offer me more opportunities.” According to the 22-year-old, signing with Warp is the realisation of a childhood dream that started when his first began making music as a teenager. “I remember Warp from my childhood. I was making music when I was in school and one of my friends said I should send a demo to them. I was trying to get work experience at the time and I sent my CV to all the labels except Warp because I thought they were an untouchable label and, ten years later, now I am signed to them.” Until now, Kwes has been the man behind the mixing desk, perfecting every element for the benefit of other artist’s work. However, this year will see the
multi-talented musician step out from the shadows with a sound that might surprise followers of his output to date. Aside from obvious influences like The Neptunes, Kwes also cites prolific songwriters Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Prince as major sources of inspiration and if ‘Get Up’, the futuristic soul ballad from Meantime, his forthcoming debut EP on Warp is anything to go by, the world can expect to see a whole new side to the producer - and some candid storytelling for good measure. “I think it’s my first real attempt at making a pop record,” says Kwes when asked about the EP. “It didn’t come out exactly how I wanted but I think it’s great when things don’t come out how you expect because you surprise yourself with what you can do. It’s controlled chaos.” According to the producer, Meantime will feature songs that were written as far back as six years ago, although some have been re-worked in the past twelve months in order to provide a more accurate reflection of where he currently stands as an artist. Apparently, some familiar themes will be covered and several influences will be instantly recognisable. “A lot of the songs are about love and my experiences growing up,” he begins. “One song is directly inspired by Brian Wilson’s ‘Vegetables’. I won’t tell you which one, but it will become apparent when you hear it.” In addition to the release of Meantime EP, which will be out at the end of April, Kwes is also working on a new Mixtape with Micachu and will be helping singersongwriter Elan Tamara record her debut album. However, more exciting is the news that Kwes is currently working on his debut album and the writing process is almost complete. Now that it is finally his turn to step out from behind the production suite and stand up as a performer in his own right, does he feel a certain degree of pressure? After all, The Telegraph recently named him as one to watch in 2012. That’s a lot of hype for someone that has only released one official track as a solo performer. “I haven’t had much time to reflect on everything that has happened,” he advises. “I am just going to keep doing what I am doing. Even if I didn’t get signed, I wouldn’t do anything differently. If it falls on deaf ears I would have to reconsider my career options, but I would be doing this regardless.”
Words: Jeanie Rogers Photo: Omar Sherriff
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Friends with Benefits Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips reflects on an incredible twelve months that included a headline performance at Wembley Arena and a little help from a rock icon. Alter Bridge got game. Your average female rock fan is likely to swoon at the mention of singer Myles Kennedy, with his lovely hair and sweet voice, while guitarist Mark Tremonti is a renowned influence on the YouTube masses of bedroom shredders. But there is, of course, more to them than what this writer words as abhorrent sexism and disdain for the online generation. A phoenix rising from the ashes of post-grunge stars Creed in 2004, it is only now that Alter Bridge have fully-stretched their wings and began to burn at their brightest. Their latest album, AB III, sent them on a virtually non-stop journey across the Northern Hemisphere, lighting up the stages of major festivals and culminating in a headline show at Wembley Arena that will see a DVD release in the coming months. Yes, it’s fair to say the last year has been a good one for the Florida natives. “The touring cycle for the album couldn’t have ended in any better way,” confirms drummer Scott Phillips. “The crowds were incredible. It was a real validation that we’re doing the right thing and that people appreciate the music we make.” As the title suggests, AB III is the group’s third full-length release, and, while they stick with their grungy melodic rock stylings, a large part of it sees a departure from the theme of hope woven through debut One Day Remains and sophomore effort Blackbird. Shadows are cast across the record, lending a more sinister feel to everything from the whispers of ‘Slip To The Void’ to the jagged riffs of ‘Coeur d’Alene’. ‘Isolation’ is classic if less upbeat Alter Bridge, while ‘All Hope Is Gone’ lives up to its name through a palpable melancholy. It’s the honesty of the songs that rings truest of all, and it saves AB III from becoming a carnival of depression. The more confident moments, ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Life Must Go On’, prove to be the light at the end of the tunnel, effectively turning the collection of songs into a coherent concept album about getting yourself back on track, which the band also do in a sonic sense by its final curtain. The ability to flirt with a more negative approach is a trait that Scott credits to the band’s coming of age. “We’ve matured as songwriters, and I think the new record solidifies that progression,” he beams. “Myles was going through some personal things at the time, but I feel that it brought a tonne to our sound, as did having him as a guitarist as well as a singer.” Will they continue down this new path on album number four? “I honestly don’t know if we can get any darker!” jokes the sticksman.
The exploration of darker territory is not only an exorcism of the frontman’s personal demons, but part of the new liberty bestowed upon the band by Roadrunner Records, with whom they inked a deal prior to the album’s release. Home to many of Alter Bridge’s hard rock peers, the union unburdened them of the stifling expectation to write hit singles that they had faced with other labels. “We were signed to Universal Records, but we felt they expected us to turn into something else,” reveals Scott. “A company that big is always looking for the next radio smash. As soon as a new thing came along and caught their attention, we fell by the wayside. Roadrunner understands us for who we are and who we want to be, and we couldn’t be happier.” And it’s partly thanks to one of their labelmates that Alter Bridge have enjoyed such success in the last year – none other than top hat-sporting guitar legend Slash. After contributing vocals to a track on the Guns N’ Roses icon’s 2010 solo record, Myles was invited to join his band as permanent singer. They embarked on a world tour on which his powerful pipes satiated the hunger of Slash fans living in the cold, harsh world of Axl Rose’s travelling circus and an indecisive, vocal-less Velvet Revolver. The relationship had the blessing of Kennedy’s other bandmates. “There were people who didn’t know much about Alter Bridge who took notice when they saw Myles with Slash. From the first tour they did, people were like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Slash was very public in his praise of us. The whole thing was nothing but a positive force.” At the time of publication, Alter Bridge will be gearing up to head south, where they’ll be taking part in Australia’s touring Soundwave Festival before Myles resumes his affair with Slash and the others rekindle things with their former Creed bandmates. Wherever they may be, and whoever they might be with, however, this positive force is something that Scott wants to keep constant. “Being able to give back a certain something means a lot to us. The ability to help others through our music is amazing.” That’s a hell of a lot of good fortune to repay.
Words: Andy McDonald Photo: Ashley Maile
Mamma Knows Best
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 29 Conscientious filmmaker Jeremy Raff discusses community work in New Mexico and how his mum got him into blading. Jeremy Raff may just have the coolest mum on the face of this planet. While most parents actively discourage their kids from the type of rollerblading activities that involve handrails, big sets of stairs and, inevitably, a few trips to the hospital to treat broken bones, Mrs. Raff guided her son towards the sport and located his first street spot so he could learn the basics. She even helped him find a crew to skate with, go mum! “I started blading ten years ago when my mum bought me some blue Chris Edwards blades and took me to a school yard so I could try frontsiding the tipped-over tether ball poles. I was 12, and intimidated to find a posse of 22-year-old bladers sessioning the handicap rails there. My mum convinced me to talk to them, however, and we’ve been friends ever since - they brought me up.”
Raff grew up in McAllen, a city located at the most southern point of Texas where the state borders with Mexico. It must have been pretty strange growing up in an area that has experienced a substantial economic growth over the past 20 years while, just five miles away on the other side of the border, the city of Reynosa is notorious for cheap labour and violence between drug cartels. The geographical location of McAllen, and its subsequent isolation from the blading hubs of Dallas and Houston, also explains why few people on this side of the world had heard of Raff until he started popping up in online edits a couple of years ago. You will no doubt have seen him skating a beaten up, homemade wooden skatepark that appears to be situated in someone’s front garden or his lengthy online montage, Cornbread, which documents a year of travelling and blading with close friends Zach Flynn and Tobias Holden. The 22-year-old is currently living in Davis, California where he is in his final
year at the University of California studying for a degree in Community and Regional Development. In other words, he is learning how to make the world a better place to live by working towards finding solutions for social issues, like hunger and homelessness, and bringing communities closer together. It is not very often that you encounter a rollerblader that so openly discusses his intentions to improve living conditions for others, but Raff is already doing his part by creating media for a non-profit organisation called Rural Community Assistance Corporation and it has taken him on some pretty interesting adventures. “I just got back from a trip to southern New Mexico where I interviewed residents from five colonias (unincorporated rural villages in close proximity to the US-Mexico border). Several years ago, they merged their water-treatment facilities into a regional unit, and I’m working on a video and photo essay documenting that process.”
Above: Safety grab gap to backside royale Opposite: Topside mistrial
Aside from the attempting to improve life in New Mexico, one rural settlement at a time, and studying for a degree, Raff is enjoying life in California and takes regular trips to Sacramento to skate with the likes of Casey Bagozzi. You may have seen him appearing in quite a few Roller Warehouse edits, too, as he seems to be pretty tight with Sean Keane and the rest of the team. According to Raff, living in California has completely transformed the way he approaches rollerblading and this is due to the fact that there are so many skateparks within close proximity of his new home. “My skating has definitely changed since moving to California,” he begins. “First of all, I learned how to skate park. Spinning, grinding coping and pumping bowls was all brand new territory for me in 2008.” Living in California has also offered the filmmaker the chance to work with a certain Sacramento blading legend on the latest instalment of his video series and apparently we can expect to see a fair amount of Raff clips that display his new approach to rollerblading. “I have the privilege of helping Casey Bagozzi and Fist (Paul Oliveira) edit their new video, In Motion Vol. 3, and my new footage is all gaps, wallrides and lines. I now go for simple, fast stuff, as opposed to more technical grind-oriented deals in the past.” The international rollerblading community seems divided regarding the recent WRS Uploaded World Finals, the online video competition that controversially replaced the annual WRS World Finals contest, denying certain athletes the opportunity to compete due to their inability to meet the strict one month deadline for video entries. However, Raff didn’t really take much notice of the proceedings and indicates that he is pretty sceptical of the whole thing. “I didn’t really follow WRS Uploaded,” he says. “I don’t know the rules or who ended up winning. At first glance, an online contest seems like a gimmick to me, but at the same time it’s a solid attempt to give the relentless flood of online content a goal or organising principle. As for the edits themselves, Broskow’s and Bailey’s were definitely the most memorable.” As for the industry as a whole, while many people take to the internet to vent their frustrations and offer suggestions on how things can be improved, Raff does his best to promote the sport by taking the hands-on approach that his university course promotes. Instead of waiting for things to change for the better on their own, he is helping strengthen the community from within every time he straps on a pair of blades of socialises with younger bladers at his local skatepark to keep them excited about the sport.
Alleyoop topside pornstar
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“Most blading pundits overstate the role of the “industry”, like if only we could design the coolest jeans, wrist guards and hoodies, flocks of children would buy rollerblades. My participation in the local blading scene occupies the energy that could otherwise be anxiety about the “state of blading”. I skate regularly, talk to people at skateparks and keep in touch with bladers I know. Cool products and television presence may gain interest, but a cool group of people to hang out and skate with keeps you coming back for more.” Further education is coming to an end for Raff and, although he is already working for an organisation that reflects his moral principles and utilising his passion for film, he is eager to enjoy his youth and see some more of the world before he decides to settle down.
“I’m graduating in June and taking a trip with my girlfriend - we’re not sure where. We might go to Ecuador. I’ve been pretty inspired by travelling bladers I’ve hosted, like Gav (Drumm) from Australia and Robbie Calvert from Scotland, who’ve saved up money to take long-term trips, so something like that is in the back of my mind. I’m pretty stoked on my job at the moment, making media and telling stories, so I’m not sure what to pursue first.”
Words: David McNamara Photos: Fabiola Molina, Damien Garcia, Zach Flynn, Megan Peterson Fishbrain
Someone Elseâ€™s Words
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Legendary east coast blader Zak Buys may have mutinied against Scotland when he moved to Norwich to complete a PhD, but we don’t hold any grudges. We’ll leave that down to his friend, Saul. Zak buys is a prick. Anyone who expects a friend, a fellow blader at that, to be responsible and driven enough to condense his skating and personality into words while they’re also struggling to write a university thesis, is an idiot. But wait, hang on, I said I would be complimentary and not make this piece about me and my feelings during the creative direction phone call we had. You know, that call people always pretend they don’t have when writing these kinds of things. Accordingly, this should be about the dazzling skating and technically-honed photographs of the Buys-Cooper team, not the opinions of an ageing “aggressive skater” who still hasn’t got over Arlo leaving Senate. Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t already descended into a rant about how I mostly like Zak’s style because he does sweatstances on his unnatural side like John Starr or how the photo set would be hugely improved by inclusion of a boardwalk. Anyway, with all that in mind, I’ll continue on
with good intentions. Zak Buys is a prick. Anyone who has witnessed one of his mighty hissy fits, which I’m in no doubt shooting one of these tricks inspired, knows how much of a drama queen he can be. All jokes aside, when you’re asked to write a piece like this, it’s often the person’s worst moments that pop into your head. As I write this, I can only imagine (with fear) what Zak would write about me. Yet, conversely, it’s really hard to stop yourself writing a generic, loved up profile introduction and especially annoying catching yourself doing it (as I really fucking hate reading them). “X is a great guy. I remember when he was younger - really modest - you’d know that if you met him. He’s struggled through so much to get here and that trick in that photo is way more difficult than you think it is - wah, wah, wah.” You’re not gonna get that. I’ve been listening to way too much Slayer and Norwegian black metal as the winter months have been closing in up here in Scotland, depriving me of daylight. That could also explain why I’m being so angry towards Zak, or maybe it’s the subliminal messages hidden in the vocal stylings of Tom Araya? Perhaps it’s because he’s such a wholesome
and God-fearing chap and I’m a closet Satanist. He is a nice guy, though, but there is something about the eternally-optimistic, happy clapper demeanour he has that makes you love and hate him in equal measure. It was even worse when he was younger. I was reminded of this recently when we had the rare pleasure of delving into the Enigma/ Chris Doughty DV tape archives (a man who’s spent that long injured has spent a lot of time filming) as part of the build up to Zak’s wedding. It was hilarious even then how angelic he was in comparison to the young Fife team he grew up with. It’s always someone’s first skate crew that are the unsung heroes when they get some light, and Jam, Sidge, and Willie T are Zak’s. Yet, as Zak’s mum fretted that night about how the next day’s ceremony would unfold, we joked about how Doughty’s DV tape case was stacked with evidence that it was through skating that he had already lost his innocence. It’s funny how recalling a person’s skating past reveals memories about life, I guess that’s the relevance of the clichéd statement that skating is a lifestyle not a sport. At one point Zak referred to this article Above: Zerospin alleyoop fishbrain wallride Opposite: Topside soul
as a swan song, his last proper piece of coverage. I think he was worried that the demands of growing up will prevent him from “proper skating”. Yet, I think that, while life goes on, so does skating. They’re the same thing to me, it seems. For us, skating Winterclash is also dodging getting arrested in Mulhausen, skating Livingston is throwing up in the car park and sleeping in the car, skating Fife is arguing with jakey kids about what a skatepark is for. When Zak comes to thank everyone at the end of this, it will annoy me a bit if he thanks God. I know he will, he’s a good boy and I know his faith has got him through a lot, God’s reality as an inspiration to him is one I can’t deny, even if the Dark Lord compels me to. However, it will still annoy me, not only because I hate it when faux gangsta skaters do it, professing piety, reefer in hand, more convincingly worshiping vice. But, for me, I want him to acknowledge his own achievements. He worked hard to keep his skating fresh while growing up in Fife, completing a Geophysics and Meteorology
Degree at Edinburgh University, then a Masters in Atmospheric Science in Norwich, and now working on his PhD at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge along with his lovely wife, Gwen. He somehow convinced her to marry him, making them the only couple I know who actually believe in the institution of marriage and somehow also embody it. Through all of this, he has lived up and down the country, affiliated with two of the UK’s most notorious skate crews, Skull Fuck and WSM (quite a feat considering Zak has a genetically-deficient liver that hinders stunt drinking) and all the while found time to skate. Undeniably, I think this is where faith comes into it: Watching him skate, it is easy to see there is a conviction in his style. He’ll find the line, make that transition kick him up and the grind will slide. The bank to sweaty is a prime example: A long time ago, I spent ages figuring out how get the run up on that spot and Zak, years later, skates it without thought. Side-stepping the side of the bank and using the bank pocket to get onto the
rail. Like most of these photos, the spots do need to be skated to be understood. Hang on, shit, I guess I have gone and broken every convention I said I wouldn’t. Somehow, rather than tell you about Zak, I’ve used this as a forum to moan about skate interviews and conversely suggest the existence of a God whilst claiming to be a heathen. Ah well, I never said I wouldn’t be hypocritical or confusing. Anyway, enjoy the photos. This won’t be the end of Zak; there just might be some lonely snow stormed nights with nothing but penguins to keep him warm in between. Saul Ayton
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 37 Epilogue What were you doing in 1995? 17 years is a long time to ask anyone to look back, but I remember clear as day what I was doing: Rollerblading. 17-years-ago, my uncle bought me my first pair of blades and it only took me about a year before I realised the potential they can unleash in you. Without the support of my parents and sister from day one, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today (old and broken). My mum and dad have travelled the country, taking me to skateparks and competitions since I was about 13-years-old. I discovered unknown skate spots on travels through France with my family. I remember being awakened by my dad saying, “Grab your skates, you’ve got to see this!” Behind a random gypsy campsite in the middle of France somewhere, he had found the worst, most terrifying vert ramp I have ever seen. The transitions came down about three quarters of the way then it just went to flat, missing out the lower part of the curve. Still, I got up there and was rocking it on my yellow K2 Fatty skates at 8am, watching the sunrise in the middle of France with my mum looking on proudly. My sister even tried to take part by getting a pair of Oxygen Argon low tops back in the day (baby blue, of course) so we could spend more time together! That is awesome, knowing that your sister believes in you and your lifestyle (the cliché term Saul already mentioned) so much that she is willing to cut and bruise her delicate ballerina shins in order to “be cool”. Anyway, this was meant to be a short thanks to my friends and family, and I have rambled slightly… Shout outs to: ECC, Scottish Rolling, WSM, everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting through rollerblading, and mostof-all my family. Big up to Lynn, Eric, Roxan and my wife Gwen. Many of you will have met them all at some point over the years, so you know how legendary they are! I would also like to thank Route One for their support. Finally, I’ve got to give a shout out to the big man himself, God, for giving me the opportunities to do so much with my life and helping me get back up when I hit the ground (which is usually hard, and often). Peace. Zak Buys
Photos: Sam Cooper Mute wallride
Taking it to the Next Level
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 39 Lone protagonist Drums of Death has finally conceded to his ambitious nature and set his sights on the big time. The past couple of years have been pretty eventful for Colin Bailey. Under the moniker Drums of Death, the Scottish electronic producer has toured extensively through the US and Canada with Hot Chip and controversial performer Peaches, as well as co-writing and producing the title track for the Berlin-based electronic artist’s latest album, I Feel Cream. According to Bailey, this was one of the most eye-opening experiences of his career to date. “It was amazing,” he begins. “Seeing bits of the US I have never seen before, like Missouri and Idaho, as well as playing two nights in LA. Plus, because she is one of these cultural icons, I met Debbie Harry and one of the guys from The Beastie Boys just because they came to the show. I was constantly trying to not pull the “fan boy” face, you know?” Having a conversation with Bailey is a delightfully-pleasant experience. His typically Scottish, self-deprecating sense of humour and ability to see the absurdities of the situations he regularly finds himself in make for some hilarious anecdotes. Then again, he is the man who produced the exceptional 2010 debut Generation Hexed, an unashamedly fun party album that fuses feverish techno and old school house to create a backdrop for absurd tales that depict him as a pantomime villain – all delivered through slightly camp falsetto vocals. However, the album is relatively tame compared to his live performances. On stage, Bailey thrashes and jerks like the frontman of a teenage Goth punk outfit, dressed head-to-toe in black and adorned by spooky face paint that makes him look like a deranged reveller at a Dia de Muertos celebration. His on-stage antics resulted in some pretty bizarre gig bookings when he started out. “In the first year I was playing tonnes of weird parties,” he says. “It started off really rock and roll, where I played crazy east end parties with people taking tonnes of drugs in an underground room and all this wild stuff, like naked people and blood everywhere. Now it’s more people in Supreme hoodies (laughs) and people who write for Fact.” Despite winning over legions of his fans with his energetic live shows and creating a sub genre with his playfully-menacing techno ballads, Bailey seems to be turning his back on his previous work in favour of more conventional techno and house productions. Over the past year, he has parted company with Joe Goddard’s GrecoRoman imprint and released two EPs, Black Waves and Red Waves, through Londonbased independent Civil Music and has plans to complete the trilogy in April before starting work on his sophomore album. The question is: What happened with GrecoRoman?
“Joe (Goddard) and I are still good friends, but the album took a year and half and by the end of it I wasn’t happy with it. My manager set up this label and it’s good because they don’t do one type of thing and they put out stuff all the time. Red Waves was the 32nd release and it’s all vinyl, which is quite rare. Plus, it’s good having my manager co-run the label because there are fewer cooks in the kitchen.” Cooking analogies aside, Bailey seems content with the working relationship that he has with his new label, as it allows him to increase the rate of his output and avoid the frustration of sitting on material for months on end. After all, he is the first to admit that he has a very short attention span and becomes bored with music quite quickly, including his own. “It’s good for me because I don’t get the chance to over-analyse every track,” says Bailey. “It feels good because it’s very in the moment, which is what I think club music is.” Bailey may have made a name for himself as an eccentric performer with an undeniable ability to write catchy hooks, but the recent Waves EPs have proved that, beyond the songs and darkly humorous imagery on Generation Hexed, he is a gifted producer with a point to prove. However, that is not to say that he does not stand by his previous work – it’s just that the live shows were all becoming a bit too much of a burden for one person to carry. “For almost a year I did a Drums of Death live band and, because I was the most electronic savvy person in the band, I had to show them everything about production. It was good but I just wanted to get back to making house music. With Drums of Death I tried to include too much stuff and create this thing where all these influences collided together - I just wanted to strip it all back. I have been listening to a lot of old school house and the simplicity of it all appeals to me.” In addition to his musical output, the Drums of Death live show is about to undergo a serious transformation, too. The producer has enlisted the services of the visual artist responsible for providing stunning projections for some of the world’s biggest electronic acts, including Deadmau5 and Chase and Status, which he plans to debut at when festival season commences. Bailey is keen to assert that all the fun and excitement of his previous live shows will remain in-tact, but it is time to take things up a level if he wants to appeal to a wider audience. “It will retain the same energy but there will be a better visual element to go with the music,” he advises. “It won’t just be some nutter doing his thing: it will be a nutter and some awesome visuals!” Apparently this is all part of the master plan. Although he enjoys the underground element of playing in small clubs and warehouse raves, Bailey is also extremely ambitious and eager to see how far he can take Drums of Death. It has taken him almost
six years to confess to this aspiration. “I have admitted to myself that I do want to play in Ibiza and those kinds of places,” states the producer. “I think, originally, I didn’t admit to myself that I love house and techno and that’s what I want to do.” In addition to his plans to take club land by storm with his new audio-visual extravaganza, Drums of Death has also been collaborating with Harlem rapper Azealia Banks on her forthcoming debut album. This provided Bailey with the opportunity to work alongside Paul Epworth, the production genius behind Adele’s phenomenally successful sophomore album, 21. “It’s just a wicked time to be working with Epworth,” begins Bailey. “We were talking about meeting up again in January because he said he had the Grammys in February and I was like, ‘I know, five Grammy award nominations for the Adele album - that is so cool!’” 2012 could be the year that sees Drums of Death become a global dance music phenomenon and he is receiving a little help towards that end. Radio One DJs Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw have been championing his latest track, ‘The Jerk’, and it seems to be garnering the producer quite a lot of attention. However, he is the first to admit that he has no intentions of being the facepainted “nutter” jumping around on stage forever. “Drums of Death will not go on forever because I am fantastically-hard to keep interested in things. Plus, I think things should have a natural end. There is stuff that I do outside of Drums of Death that are more long-term, but I don’t want to talk about them. This is much more immediate, fun and, basically, it’s house music - wildly obtuse house music.” If Alice Cooper is reading this, he will no doubt be breathing a sigh of relief.
Drums of Death on Glasgow: Glasgow is like Detroit: it’s a post industrial city that fell on hard times and out of that came a lot of music. I am going back to Orange Juice and awesome 80s/90s indie stuff, like Franz Ferdinand. It’s got a huge electronic scene, like Soma records. I don’t think there is a collective Scottish feeling; it’s just a bunch of different people doing their thing.
Words: Louis Flood
Look Out World
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Ahead of his appearance in the forthcoming Razors amateur team video, we catch up with Jon Fromm to find out how he plans to see everything there is to see. 2012 is gearing up to be a big year for Jon Fromm. At the time of this interview, he had just finished filming for his section in the asyet-untitled Razors amateur team video and he seems pretty happy with the footage he has collected. Considering the Florida native has build a reputation for making hurricane and 360 grind variations on handrails look worryingly simple through various online edits, it is quite exciting to consider the kind of jaw-dropping feats he must have accomplished in order to satisfy his selfadministered high standards. In addition to his section in the follow-up to Steal This Video, which is arguably one of the best amateur team videos to date, the 22-year-old will be making several more appearances in the next twelve months, as he is currently filming for profiles in two independent
videos. Plus, the year is still young â€“ he could get more offers. Over the past four years, Fromm has gradually progressed through the ranks of the US scene, delivering consistent performances at national competitions, and he is now widely-considered one of the most talented amateurs the country has to offer. Until a couple of years ago, he was representing Valo through regular online edits but, after sensing that the company was beginning to go in a new direction that did not include him, Fromm made the decision to part ways with Jon Julio and took the opportunity to join the Razors flow team. It looks like things have worked out for the best, as the company seems to appreciate Frommâ€™s strong work ethic and ability to put out high quality online videos with alarming regularity. Could this be the year Jon Fromm breaks free from his amateur status and proves his worth a world-class street skater? It looks like we will soon find out.
Above: Sweatstance Opposite: Fastslide
Wheel Scene: Hi Jon. Let’s start off with a few easy ones. How old are you, where are you from and how did you get into blading? Jon Fromm: I am 22-years-old and I’m from Boca Raton, Florida. I got into skating at around 11-years-old. I had already been rollerblading, playing street hockey, and my friends told me about some skatepark near my house. I went and checked it out one day, and saw these kids with aggressive skates. I was immediately hooked, and it’s been history ever since. So you have been at it for a while now? Who are you riding for at the moment? I am currently riding for Razors, Create Originals, Scribe, Jug and Asphalt Beach Skateshop. That is quite a selection. I know that you were on the Valo flow team for a while. Why did you decide to move from Valo to Razors? I knew one day somebody would ask me! Well, here it goes: Let me just say my time with Valo was amazing. I can’t thank Jon enough for the opportunity to ride for his company. It was my first real shot in blading. About two and half years ago, skating began to go through a little change and it seemed as if Valo was changing their image. Their image was important to them, and I felt that I wasn’t really the “Valo” type. Over time, I started to feel more excluded from the team and I even emailed Jon about it to see if he really wanted me to ride for his company. I assumed he was just super busy because he never got back to me, so I really didn’t know what was going to happen. About two weeks later, Mac from Razors hit me up. I was riding for Ground Control through my shop sponsor at the time and he asked me how things were going with Valo. I told him that it was not going as well as I would have liked and he said if I ever wanted to try Razors he would send me a pair. I thought about it and, finally, I just decided to go for it. I wrote a long “thank you” letter to Jon and parted with Valo. Within a few months, Geoff Acers started getting me skates and more exposure came with them. I haven’t looked back since, and I can’t thank Razors enough for what they have given me. Did Jon Julio ever get back to you after you sent him the “thank you” letter? Unfortunately, he never did. Jon is a busy guy, so I’m sure it got mixed up with things. We still always say “what’s up” to each other at events, so it’s all good. I can’t thank him enough for giving me my initial start. I understand that you are filming for the Razors amateur video at the moment - how is that going? Yeah, I’ve been out to Cali twice to film for it. It’s been going really good. My part is about wrapped up. The video is going to be incredible - so much
diversity throughout our team. I think everyone will really enjoy it! So you’re going to have a section in the video? Yes, and I’m super stoked about it! Who is making it? Do you think it will match up to Steal This Video? Phillip Long is making the amateur video. He has done an amazing job so far - super professional and an awesome dude to be around. Steal This Video was a classic - it’s always hard to compare a video to a classic! But I think this video will open a lot of people’s eyes and showcase something new and exciting! Are you filming for any other projects at the moment? Yeah, I just finished a section with my long-time friend Alex Beaupre. I have a section in his video, Hope Dies Last the teaser can be found on Vimeo. The video is set to come out at the end of January. Also, I’m filming a section for my friend Frankie Terranova of Central Florida Rolling for his video Feel Good Feel. It should be out sometime this spring. Are you working or studying at the moment? Currently I’m studying here in Florida. I am going for my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. A degree in electrical engineering? That sounds pretty interesting. How much longer have you got to go and what would you like to do after you graduate? I took after my dad; He got both a Masters in computer-science engineering and electrical engineering. Technology fields are what I enjoy, so I went that route. I have about three semesters left until I graduate. I’m not really sure what I will do. I want to skate as long as possible and live out this dream. It’s a once in a lifetime thing but you always have to prepare for the future, which is why I go to school. I would love to do something with planes, though, work with Boeing or Airbus. I’m always so interested in new planes and their technology, so I think I would work well at a company like that. What other interests do you have apart from rollerblading and planes? I’m really into travelling. I know it comes with blading sometimes, but I love going places, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and just being away from home. The world is a big place and I plan to see the whole thing - or as much as I can! What is your local scene like in Florida? Are there any other bladers down there that we should be looking out for? The scene is really tight down here. We have our ups and downs for sure, but the scene has been coming together recently with Wednesday and Thursday night skates. As far as up-and-comers, there are a lot of real good young
kids popping up at the skateparks. I’m starting to see a few of them have that drive, the drive I had when I was young. No one specifically yet, but I think you will be seeing some new young faces in the coming years! Do you want to give any shout-outs? I would like to thank all my sponsors, Andy, Geoff, Mac and Matt from Razors and Sunshine - thanks for giving me my opportunity this year! Thanks to Dan Fabiano for making the best wheels (Scribe) and being a great friend! Hakeem and Brian from Create Originals - I can’t thank you guys enough for the support. Steve from Asphalt Beach, thanks for helping me with whatever I need. To all my friends, there’s too many to name! Thanks for the good times! To the two photographers that shot this, Kyle Strauss and my main homie Edwin Omar, thanks for coming out and putting in work! To Phillip Long, Alex Beaupre, and Frankie Terranova for giving me sections this year and for putting in all the hard work! To my parents, Fred and Charlene Fromm, thanks for putting up with me all these years - love you guys! I’ll hopefully make you proud some day!
“The world is a big place and I plan to see the whole thing.”
Words: David McNamara Photos: Kyle Strauss and Edwin Omar
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Where Are They Now? Jon Ortiz New York City has been a hub for street skating since the birth of the sport and early videos like The Hoax showed the strong scene that existed there from the very beginning. Jon Ortiz knows about the city’s proud blading history more than most people. Alongside the first generation of street skaters that included Rawlinson Rivera, Ryan Jacklone, Joe Dedentro and Dave Ortega, Ortiz helped establish the city’s legacy and paved the way for future icons of the spots, like Mike “Murda” Johnson and Billy O’Neill. During the rapid rise in rollerblading’s popularity in the early nineties, Ortiz competed regularly at the NISS and ASA events that received a lot of prime time television coverage at the time and he could be seen in the majority of skate videos that were being released with rapid succession. He was also one of the first skaters to receive a pro wheel from Medium, the notorious wheel company owned by Shane Coburn before he went on to found Mindgame. Despite the fact that Ortiz has been rollerblading for over two decades, he is still skating hard and can be seen in many of Denial’s recent edits. He is one of the few professionals from that era that remain involved in the industry and he has managed to carve a career for himself out of the sport by organising rollerblading lessons in his home city and judging major blading events including The Bittercold Showdown and WRS Finals. There are only a handful of personalities that have witnessed the birth of street skating and stuck around to see it develop into its current state, so we decided
to gain a little wisdom from one of the original New York icons. Wheel Scene: For the kids that don’t remember, remind us of your previous sponsors and video appearances. Jon Ortiz: Oh boy, I’ve honestly had more sponsors than I can remember. My old favourites were definitely Medium, 976, Oxygen, Bones, Triple Eight and so many others. Videos? Wow! Any video between 1995 and 2000 I’m sure I was in, including nearly every VG, T-Bone Films (Hoax 2 was my first video!), Blizzard Productions (No Limits, Nickel n’ Dime, Uncommon Ground, Lost Cities), every yearly Camp Woodward video and team video. Also, all the crazy TV coverage we used to get on MTV and ESPN. How did you get into rollerblading all those years ago? I was first attracted by my friends in my neighbourhood in NYC. Every summer we all played a new sport like football or baseball - in 1991 it was rollerblading. There were no real tricks yet, but we spent our time grabbing onto cars and jumping off stairs. We also built our first quarter pipe. Nobody knew what they were doing. Then Dare to Air came out in 1993 and we went nuts. Slowly, over the years, my friends quit and got into other things. Many of them fell into drugs or jail or died. I’m glad I kept skating ‘cause that could have been me. The others see me and always ask what I’m up to. Some of them were ahead of their time and I wish they stuck with it. Why did you decide to stop skating professionally? I never made a conscious decision to stop being a pro; I just got tired of the competing aspect. It was frustrating sometimes to have to perform at a certain level because a major sponsor was paying you to do so, kind of took the fun out of it after a while. The competition scene changed into more of an underground street style series with IMYTA, after ESPN dropped us from the X-Games and NBC cancelled the Gravity Games. By then I had nothing left to prove in terms of establishing who I was as a pro and focused more on travelling to as many places as I could. So, in reality, I never stopped living the pro skater lifestyle. I enhanced it by going everywhere I could ever want to go and not having to worry about filming or competing for anybody. I was doing it all for myself with the help of sponsors who support me to this day without asking me to fulfil any of the obligations of
a competing pro. I’ll always get good clips and photos as long as someone is there to capture it, and I’ll always spread rollerblading wherever I go. So, in that aspect, I still get the respect of an old pro skater, although it’s amazing to watch the younger generations of skaters that can kick my ass! Do you still keep up-to-date with all of the industry happenings? I do still keep up-to-date. I’m always in the know about the industry and I’m deeply rooted behind the scenes in NYC. I still go to the big events sometimes but I’m not competing anymore. Instead I’m head judging most of the majors like The Bittercold Showdown and the WRS finals. I’m just happy I can show up and enjoy myself skating instead of worrying about performance. What do you think about the current state of the industry? When it comes to where we are, I always have and do believe that the state of rolling is perfectly fine. We needed to shed the major corporations in order to grow the way we wanted to. That’s an old story now, and the future holds no bounds for us. We can stay underground like we have for the past ten years and be fine or, having paid our dues, we can garner mainstream support again and grow into an established culture the way skateboarding and biking has. Either way, I’m still going to be skating simply because I have found my niche in life and I am able to still support myself through skating. That’s a selfish thought, but it would be great to establish ourselves in the mainstream again. Now that we have our own identity, a good money boost would be awesome to support our brightest stars and oldest legends, so they can continue to participate and lead us in the direction we need to be going. Do people recognise you when you go out skating? Anyone that recognizes me nowadays has to have been skating for a long time. Hahah! I’m just kidding. I love the fact that now I can go skate with a bunch of young kids and they won’t know who I am until an older person goes, “Don’t you know who that is?” Up until that point it’s really fun being anonymous and having a good time pushing each other like when I was a kid. After that it’s usually “show me a trick” or “how old are you?” It’s much mellower than the craziness of being a big pro back then. We were treated like rock stars back then and there were
many perks. I have so many insane stories, but that’s for another time. Now I can enjoy skating for what it is without the ego and status, which makes me happy. What are you doing for a living these days? Nowadays I still skate for a living. I run my own private lessons business in NYC. I also teach hundreds of kids skating in after school programs all over the city. I just recently started a social network for skaters with my partners. It’s called www. UnitedWorldRolling.com. I encourage every skater on earth to check it out and connect with each other. I also still have a few sponsors, like Denial and Create Originals, and I support my great friend Brian Shima with SSM Skates. I can’t forget Camp Woodward: I’ve been going there for 17 years and they are family. Skating is my life and, with the help of my friends and sponsors, I can support myself to this day. You still seem pretty close with the Denial guys. I’ve known Adam Killgore since he was a little dish dog at Camp Woodward. We have been close friends ever since and travelled all over the world together. He fully supports me with Denial wheels and clothing. Him and Chris Majette do great things for Philadelphia. Shout out to them for sure. Be on the lookout for my old man pro wheel from Denial - it’ll be great! Any last words? Lastly, I wanna say that skating is my life and I would be nothing without it. I hope to give back as much as it has given me. Thanks to all of my family and friends for their support over the years, and be on the lookout ‘cause you never know where in the world I’m gonna pop up, and you better be ready to skate!
Trick: top mistrail Photo: Jeremy Stephenson
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Stockport’s blading superstar in waiting, Alex Burston, talks about his impressive section in the Ground Control team video and urinating on the Great Wall of China. You could be forgiven for thinking Alex Burston is a bit of a waster. After appearing in various online edits over the past few years and producing an incredible section in Ben Shelbourne’s 2008 UK blade flick Let It Never End, there was no denying that Burston had a promising future as a professional rollerblader, but it was difficult to overlook the fact that he always seemed to be drunk or stoned. In every video he has a ghostly complexion that hints at many late nights spent smoking it up, and the permanent goofy grin on his face seems to suggest the same. Then there is the fact that he regularly sports hilarious headwear that makes him look like a ‘90s raver that has somehow stumbled upon rollerblading by accident. At times, it seems like Burston is rollerblading’s answer to Bez from Happy Mondays and his penchant for using words such as “buzzing” with alarming regularity during conversation only serves to support this theory. However, it turns out we could not have been more wrong. Over the past two years, Burston has worked diligently to prove himself at skate competitions all over the UK and abroad, and was a strong presence during the 2010 USD Show of Force tour that saw him travel across Spain with Nick Lomax and Brett Dasovic amongst others. After releasing regular online edits that showed his ability to skate street and park with staggering precision, the 22-year-old was head-hunted by Razors and produced one of the best sections in the debut Ground Control team video video GC.1. Burston also picked up a few accolades along the way, taking first place at the amateur event at NASS 2011 and cleaning up at Slamm Jamm 13, winning AM of the year and Roller of the Year at the 2011 UK Rolling Awards.
When we approached Burston to do an interview for this issue, he instantly arranged a suitable weekend for staff photographer Sam Cooper to accompany him on a photo mission in Manchester. The moment our snapper touched down on Mancunian soil, the blader guided him around the city with surprising focus, militantly seeking out the perfect spots to get the best images. He was so professional in his approach to the feature that he even tried to set up a second photo shoot to ensure there was a suitable amount of great shots to choose from, but unfortunately conflicting schedules and Burston’s touring responsibilities with Razors meant that it simply was not possible. Normally it is a complete nightmare getting a skater to sit down and conduct an interview. Bladers, by nature, tend to be difficult to track down at the best of times and maintaining their attention for more than five minutes can sometimes seem like a futile endeavour. With Burston, this was not the case. He went to the trouble of arranging the text himself, by enlisting the services of his two close friends, Nick Lomax and Al Morris, to quiz him for this feature. You may be wondering why the first few questions read like a horrendous speed dating dialogue between two pissed-up middle-aged loners. Well, that’s because Lomax decided to pose his questions to Burston when he was completely hammered - and people say there is no professionalism in rollerblading!
Nick Lomax: What’s ya name and where the fuck ya from? My full name is Alexander James Burston and I popped out in Manchester and grew up in a town called Stockport, which is kind of on the border of greater Manchester and Cheshire. NL: How old are you? I was born in ’89. I’m 22 but still a big kid really. NL: What’s your favourite colour? It’s probably green or red - not to wear though. I don’t really like wearing colours. NL: What Mancunian trademark did you leave on the Great Wall of China? I had a piss on it. Not many people can say they have pissed on the Great Wall of China! I did a BHC carving, too. There were loads of carvings - I’m not that much of a vandal. NL: How would you compare Stockport to the rest of the world? Eh, it’s alright, I guess. If it was sunny more it’d be great. I like it because my family are there and it’s always good to bump into old friends. Yeah, Stockport is sick! NL: Do you exercise your ankles to get them true topsouls so good? I never used to exercise but I have started doing all sorts of exercise to help my skating. NL: You’ve been to enough places this year and last. Which was your best trip and why? Wow, that’s a hard question. I love every place I go to. California is the bee’s knees. It’s even sunny near Christmas time, haha! I don’t know, honestly. Each place has good and bad things. I think Barcelona is sick, it’s like you’re in a game when you’re there everything you need and more! I like the world, haha! Al Morris: What’s your fondest memory from skating? There are too many good times - I’ve
Opposite: Allyeoop soul
got too many to pick just one. My earliest memory is when I got my Fisher Price skates when I was about two or three, the ones that you put over your shoes. I’d say that’s my fondest memory, or maybe when I got a phone call from Mark Trebble from BHC asking if I wanted to skate for the team - I was buzzing. But, all-in-all, every memory is sick. I have made so many friends that I now class as family and so many life lessons, too. It’s madness. It opens your eyes! AM: Over the years you’ve had quite a few sponsors but one company has been constant; BHC. With companies fighting over you, what made you continue skating for them? BHC is not just a skate brand to me; it’s family. That was my first sponsor. They took me in and took me skating. I went on a tour around the UK when I was around 15 or 16 and I had one pair of clothes for about ten days - it was grimey! I washed my clothes in the sea. BHC is family. It goes deeper than just wheels and T-shirts - gotta be a little bit black hearted! AM: In the past 18 months you’ve been across the world. How was that? Did you ever think you’d see so much just from skating? The world is crazy! So many different cultures and places, it’s amazing! I always knew I wanted to become a professional blader because I love doing it. I never knew how far I could push it. Sometimes it gets really surreal. I’ll be in another country chillin’ then, all of a sudden, I’ll remember I’m
in another country thousands of miles away from home. That gets me so juiced! AM: While watching your Ground Control section, I cannot help but notice that there are hardly any local clips, which really gives your section an amazing vibe. California in one clip, Russia in the next, what was it like filming for the video? It was the best. I met so many sick people and seen the sickest things. It’s always sick to skate in different countries with different crews of people, seeing how everyone else does it. I feel so lucky: Some people don’t get to leave their home town or country. I am so lucky to be doing something I love and getting sent around the world. AM: Were you happy with your section? Yeah man, I buzzed off it. There were a couple tricks I didn’t really like, but it’s all good. I had fun, and if people like it and it makes people want to skate, then I am even more buzzing! I want my skating to make people want to skate and have fun. So, yeah, I was dead pleased with it. NL: Your favourite trick? I think everyone knows it is true topsoul, haha! Or backslides, I love a bit of a backslide. NL: What are you doing when you’re not blading? I’m usually just chilling out. I do some exercise, like I’ve started going running a little bit to make my stamina better. I used to do a lot of art, drawing, spray painting and loads of stuff like that. I like going on mad missions in the woods, too. I like to get lost. I think I’m
Bear Grylls sometimes! I love music, which means I love to party. I mostly listen to dubstep or drum and bass when it’s a night out - I love crazy sounds! I love putting my head in the speakers. I can’t get enough of the mad sounds! I’m also quite a family man, my family means a lot to me. I spend a lot of time seeing my cousins and nanas and grandads. Sometimes it’s like a big soap opera. I’m sure they love drama sometimes but it’s always worth it. Oh, and I like to do a bit of gardening! NL: Where and what was your best meal? Beans on toast doesn’t count! It’s probably chips and gravy from my local when I was a child, called Bredbury Fish Bar, or Redges Chippy. It is so disgustingly greasy but awesomely delicious! NL: And last words or shout outs? Yeah, I’d like to thank everyone who believed in me. I’d also like to thank those that didn’t, too. Without the lovers and the haters, I may not be where I am today. Big up to all the Manchester lads, you know who you are. I’m not naming everyone in case I forget anyone! All the UK heads, just thank you, everyone. Without everyone, I may not be here! Big up and keep rolling people! We only get this body once, right? Have a laugh and live life. I hope this comes out ok, I’m a bit drunk! Much love to everyone.
Frontside farv. 270 off
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Words: Nick Lomax and Al Morris Introduction: David McNamara Photos: Sam Cooper Truespin fishbrain
Night Blading with Stephane Mosselmans
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Belgium’s resident Xsjado representative dominates four skate spots in one evening and discusses his views on the current state of the sport. Rollerblading at night is no easy task: It is harder to judge distance and trajectory without the benefit of daylight, making it much more difficult to coordinate your body and spot your landing on technical tricks involving spins. You also have to worry about the certain degree of visual impairment that nocturnal blading excursions bring, as small hazards on the run-up to an obstacle become less visible and then there are the passing pedestrians that seem to appear out on nowhere and suddenly you find yourself coming off a ledge or rail at high speed and hurtling towards a middle-aged women laden with shopping and frozen to the spot like a rabbit in the headlights. Fortunately, Belgian street skating stalwart Stephane Mosselmans is so talented that such complications may be necessary, because when he straps on a pair of rollerblades and gets in his zone, he makes it look far too easy. If you witnessed Mosselmans’ recent online edit for boot sponsor Xsjado, you will be aware that he can link together some incredibly complicated lines, possesses the balance of a yoga teacher and performs truespin alley-oop topsides on obstacles higher than his waist with frustrating
consistency. In short, the guy is a street skating wunderkind. All of the photos in this interview were taken during a single winter evening after a long day at work on a pair of skates equipped with a set of Kizer powerblading frames. That’s right, even a flat set-up of huge wheels can’t stop Mosselmans from lacing back farvs and topside pornstars on high-as-hell ledges. Imagine how good this guy would be if he didn’t have a career in education to focus on. Scary, isn’t it? Wheel Scene: How old are you, where do you live and how long have you been rollerblading? Stephane Mosselmans: I’m 28-yearsold. I live in Anderlecht, a city near Brussels. I have been skating for about 15 years now and I think I am gonna skate until I can’t even walk! How did you get into rollerblading? My cousin introduced me to it. He took me to the local skate park in Anderlecht. It was a very big indoor park, which doesn’t exist anymore. There was everything you could dream of to skate in this place. On my first visit I mostly looked at the skaters there, looking to see what they were doing to see what was possible to do. I started by doing jumps and stuff. I made some friends, bought aggressive skates, some second hand destroyed Oxygens, and that is
how everything started. What is the scene like in your local city? There are not so many rollerbladers any more, but the ones who are still skating always try to get in touch. I think here we’re kinda friendly to everyone who wants to skate with us. We’re always complaining about our spots, saying that we’d like to get new ones that look like the ones in Barcelona and get the Spanish weather, too. But, in fact, we’re happy to skate the spots of our city. So the scene is small but tight? There may not be so many rollerbladers but, for us, I think it’s an advantage. It’s easier to move around and skate other cities with a few cars and not many people here actually realise what we are doing. We don’t often get kicked out of the spots we skate. In fact, the scene here is mainly some old guys that have been skating for more than ten years. They are not easy to get hold of when the winter comes but there is no competition between us, just people who like to skate and party. Are you working or studying at the moment? I am an educator. I work with children between two and half a years and twelve years. I love my job because it’s doesn’t really feel like a job. You’ve got responsibilities, of course, but most of the time you can act the clown with the Above: Sweatstance Oppsite: Truespin topside soul
children. I often play football with them. They call me Beckham! You meet a lot of people, too. Talking with the parents makes me feel like my job is useful. What do you think about the new powerblading craze? Honestly, when I first tried them (the Kizer frames) I wasn’t sure it was possible to do grinds, but I rediscovered blading again - just like when I was a child. I wasn’t used to skating flat. I was mostly skating freestyle Xsjado frames and the difference is huge. You can skate really fast and you can skate on rough floors. It’s just like normal skates, but faster, and you can grind with them too. Plus, there’s no brake! It could become a new kind of blading. What do you think about the current state of the sport? I don’t know, I have no internet! No, I am kidding. From what I’ve seen, the internet brings too many daily edits. Every day there are new edits, lots of them are just boring and the good ones are forgotten. I miss the times of VHS when every release was an event. What do you think about the WRS? I think that all the WRS stuff is kinda weird. I mean, the part of the competition with the stars and the rankings and points, I don’t think it can bring people to our sport. It’s more like a video game like Sonic where you try
to get all the rings. The best skaters are not always the one who are doing every single competition. Some just don’t like competitions. What about the recent WRS Uploaded competition? I think the WRS Uploaded thing was really cool! I don’t really care that we’re not so much in the media, like TV or stuff. I prefer it to rollerblading that looks like what Taig Khris is doing with his face on a cereal box. The bad part is that we complain that there’s no money in the game and nothing is going on, but when there’s an event everyone should go support and make people want to go the next year. I love Winterclash, but I’d prefer a great jam with big tricks and less competition. How would you like to see the sport change? I don’t care! I like rollerblading like it is. I just would like the kids that are getting into skating in the future to know their roots. I’d like more people to get involved without doing stuff like Taig, like washing a car on blades or jumping from the Eiffel Tower and not landing it. If it can bring people to true rollerblading then it’s fine, otherwise just stop!
360 mute transfer Words and photos: Mathieu Hennebert
Fishbrain to fakie
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 53 Ten years ago, Maria Cristina Grasselli left her native Brazil with dreams of becoming a professional rollerblader and the journey is not over yet. It takes a lot of courage to leave everything you know and follow your ambition to a different country but, at the tender age of 20years-old, that is exactly what Maria Cristina Grasselli did. Born in Caxias do Sul in the south of Brazil, the aspiring professional rollerblader took the opportunity to relocate to another country in order to pursue her dream when her parents moved to Sao Paulo Guruja and she had the option to follow them or go and stay with her brother, who had recently relocated to London to attend college. Needless to say, Grasselli chose the more interesting option and went to stay with her brother on the other side of the world, which must have been a drastic lifestyle shock as the weather is slightly less pleasant in England than it is in Brazil. Little did she know this would simply be the start of an 11-year adventure that would lead her to the west coast of North America. “In 2000, I moved to London because my brother used to go to college there,” begins Grasselli. “I was there for five years. In 2005, I got a job at Woodward West and moved to California. Fabiola da Silva has been my best friend since we were little, so I went to live with her in Costa Mesa ‘til she moved back to Brazil in 2007. I went pro for ASA in America and just kept skating.” Since Grasselli embarked on her globe-trotting mission to make a career out of rollerblading, a lot of things have changed. The ASA, which helped her turn pro, no longer exists along with events like Gravity Games and NISS, which also fell by the wayside when mainstream media’s fascination with rollerblading abruptly ended without warning. Despite leaving her family and friends to pursue a career that never worked out, she couldn’t be happier with the choices she has made and seems adamant that, if she had the option to do it all over again, she would make the exact same decisions. “I don’t regret the move,” she states firmly. “Rollerblading is my lifestyle, it is not about money. I had a dream and I went after it so I’m happy. I have met so many good people and skated so many beautiful places, so money doesn’t really matter. Blading is a very new sport, if you think about it. It started in the ‘80s and just needs time to grow big again.” Grasselli may say that money does not matter but, at the end of the day, there is not a pro skater on this earth that would not like to be earning more money for their talents and the numerous physical sacrifices they have made for the sake of helping the sport progress. However, she does have an admirable list of sponsors that include Fifty-50, Roller Warehouse and Gost and she has recently gained more exposure through online edits that show she is one of the most
capable female bladers on street and park. This is probably due to the fact that she was first inspired to pick up a pair of rollerblades by one of the sport’s best all-round female athletes. “I got into rollerblading in 1994 after I saw a rollerblading magazine and it showed Fabiola da Silva winning first place at the X Games, so I decided to give it a try!” Now 31-years-old, Grasselli is currently back in Brazil doing seasonal work as a lifeguard, but for the past few years she has been living in Long Beach, California, a hub for street skating that many of the country’s most respected athletes choose to call home. When she has finished her temporary contract, she plans to return to Long Beach and find work as a lifeguard because, in her words: “Long Beach is the best skate scene in America right now with the best parks and spots.” The recent WRS Uploaded World Finals have been a huge talking point in the rollerblading industry over the past few months. Some people believe it is a new and interesting format that could expose our sport to a wider audience whilst putting some money in the pockets of the skaters that deserve it the most, while others believe that it is a flawed format that alienates certain skaters, as those with close ties to talented videographers are at an unfair advantage. Grasselli thinks it is a positive step forward for the sport and it may allow the general public to see that the sport has grown up a lot in the past ten years, although she is slightly biased when it comes to voting. “I think it is really cool,” she states. “It is good for the sport to show how good blading is these days. I voted is for Chris Haffey. He’s one of my friends and he lives in Long Beach, too. Plus, he’s the best!” Past moving back to Long Beach and continuing her work as a lifeguard, Grasselli has some very specific plans for her future, but she is adamant that it will always include rollerblading. She also believes that the sport has a bright future; it will just take time for everything to fall into place. “I really wanna have a baby,” she says. “I’m 31 now and I want to have a child before I’m 35. I’ll rollerblade forever but not the way I skate now. I still wanna go to Winterclash and I believe X games is gonna let blading in again. I’m filming a profile in Brazil and I’m going back to England and Barcelona. I need to film profiles there, too! For the next five years I want to skate, skate, skate!” If all else fails, at least we can look forward to some new footage from Brazil’s second best female blading export. Let’s just hope she doesn’t decide to go for a roll with Haffey while she is pregnant. I don’t know if mothers-to-be should be skating handrails!
Words: Louis Flood Photos: Felipe Zambardino Above: Mistrial Opposite: Alleyoop makio
No Fixed Abode
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 55 The Irish vagabond discusses his nomadic lifestyle and the numerous opportunities rollerblading has presented him with. It seems that Joey Egan has been travelling his entire life. Approximately 20 years ago, at the tender age of seven, he moved from his home in Killucan, Ireland to west London with the rest of his family so that his father could pursue a career and he has been on the move ever since. Despite calling London home for most of his life, Egan has always been travelling around the world, competing at as many rollerblading events as possible and sleeping on sofas, floors and hallways in order to extend his sabbaticals for as long as humanly possible. For five years he lived and worked in Germany as part of Starlight Express’s rollerblading crew, touring from city to city like a glittered-up glam rock superstar and performing in front of thousands of spectators each night. For someone with Egan’s natural showmanship, this was a dream job. However, he never intended to stay away for quite so long. “Matt King was on the London tour of Starlight Express and put my name forward for the German show. I went for one day to sign the contract for one year and ended up staying for five.” During this time, Egan almost disappeared from the UK rollerblading scene, making infrequent appearances at random events like Slamm Jamm in order to show that he was still alive before flying back to Germany to get back on the stage, but after five years of hard work, Egan’s employment at Starlight Express abruptly came to an end. “I stopped working there because they were not into my aggressive skating any more. Now I’m working at Baysixty6, where I used to work before Starlight Express.” The 27-year-old was first introduced to rollerblading when one of his neighbours got him a pair of rollerblades so that he could spend time with her son and, before he knew it, a whole new world opened up in front of him and Egan found himself becoming a part of the rapidly-developing London skate scene, which centred around Playstation Skatepark in Ladbroke Grove, west London. “A kid’s mum on our estate gave me a pair of skates so I skated with her son and soon after Playstation Skatepark opened up. At the time I used to clean the skate shop to get free entry into the park. This is where I met Jason Ode, Anthony Mackie and Paul O’Toole. Those were the OGs of London blood. They taught me what I know today.” That was 17 years ago and Egan is still going strong today. He is now one of the older members of the London skate scene and can regularly be found at international gatherings including Winterclash, the Lausanne Bowl Contest and AIL World Finals. The veteran competition blader
currently represents Kaltik, BHC, Remz and Devious Distribution and if there is a major international rollerblading event that he has not attended, you can pretty much guarantee it will be next on his list of travel plans. Despite travelling all over the world, it was a European tour that worked its way from the west of Europe, through the Mediterranean and back to the UK that holds the most significance for Egan. “The GTK Tour we did with 32 Gitans,” he says. “That was the best skating tour I have ever done. We did 7,500 km in ten days. Belgium, France, Spain, Morocco, Switzerland, then to London for NASS.” Few people know that Egan is also a gifted skateboarder. If rumours are to be believed, the crafty Irishman won an inline competition and skateboarding competition on the same day. According to close friend Russell McIntyre, there was an infamous occasion at Playstation Skatepark a few years ago when Egan was hanging out with a visiting professional skateboarding team and briefly put on a pair of rollerblades to quickly clean the park. Apparently the skateboarders started blanking him for wearing “fruit boots” so he kicked them out of the park for being so narrow-minded and impolite. There are also the numerous stories that have been thrown around concerning his missing front tooth. One tale involves the blader knocking it out with a pendant hanging from the end of his gold chain whilst doing a flatspin during a competition. If you want to know the truth about any of these events, you will have to ask the man himself. That is, if you can get him to sit still long enough.
Regrets Eating spiders and worms at the past two Paddy’s Day comps in Ireland for bets. What do your friends and family think about rollerblading? My dad didn’t like it at first because he wanted me to be a goalkeeper, but everyone else in my family was happy that I was skating because it was keeping me busy. Most of my friends are involved in and around skating and the ones that are not really appreciate the sport. Does anyone else in your family skate? My little brother, Patrick, and sister, Teresa, have been skating the past year and are really progressing. What would you like to do after skating? I would like to work with skating, put all my time, effort and ideas into helping the new up-and-coming generation of skaters.
Words: Conhuir Manweiler Photos: Donal Glackin Opposite page: Gap to makio stall
A Labour of Love
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 57 The devious mastermind behind Dirt Box reveals his inner-grommet and shows that he is pretty good on a pair of blades, too. For several years, Dirt Box has been a large part of the UK rollerblading community. Founded by Sam Currie and Anthony Zinonos in 2007, the company was conceived after someone randomly enquired if they had any T-shirts to accompany Monotypes, a film that was created to expose a lesserknown region of the national scene. Six years later, Dirt Box has developed into an internationally-respected brand that boasts a team featuring Lee Mainland, Umberto Toselli, Anthony Zinonos, Neil Ingall, Elliot Stevens and Erik Bailey, and has close ties with respected blading cinematographers Brandon Negrete and Jon Jenkins, as well as photographer Adam Kola. Many people within the rollerblading industry are familiar with Sam Currie and his renegade approach to business, but few people are aware that he is perhaps one of the biggest grommets that has ever lived, and he readily admits it. “I am essentially a skate rat,” he says. “Everything I do and everything I think about is related to rollerblading. I always try to find other side projects but nothing ever really sticks. Rollerblading is the only thing I am truly passionate about.” Humble Beginnings The 26-year-old first got into rollerblading in 2000 through a childhood friend and he hasn’t looked back since. “I had a friend called Daniel and he had a skateboard. Him and his brother used to share a skateboard and use it on their patio, but that was a bit much for three people. There used to be an aggressive night at a local club called Funky Monkeys - they would put out ramps and rails. I got annoyed with sharing the skateboard so I started using his old rollerblades.” After his introduction the sport, there was no stopping Currie. He got conned into buying a pair of white Roces Majestic 12 skates from a local shop, even though everyone was now rolling around on USD Throne and Psirus skates by this point, and began soaking up every piece of rollerblading media he could find. Unfortunately, for his credibility and trick choices, the first video he stumbled upon was the 1993 film, Airborne. “I watched Airborne with my mate Dean and he would jump down a four set of stairs and people would think he was amazing. After watching the film, all I wanted to do was the one-knee pad slide, so I would go really fast and do that all the time.” Once Currie got over his man crush for leading actor Shane McDermott, he moved on to idolise legitimate rollerblading personalities on both sides of the Atlantic, one of whom was one of the founding fathers of the New York City street skating scene.
“I got Unity magazine and there was this page that had videos on there, but I saw this one that had an eight ball on it and I thought it was cool. It was called Uncommon Ground and had a bloke called Joe Dedentro in it and I wanted to be him! He was doing things I didn’t think were possible. After that, I bought a copy of Summer in the City off Tom Portas and I ended up really liking Guy Crawford’s skating. As far as the UK goes, he was my favourite for a long time.” Currie was raised in rural Norfolk and still lives there, using the low-lying country in the east of England as a base for his steadily expanding clothing company. While there is no question that it is a pleasant place to grow up, it surely must have been a frustrating location for a teenage rollerblading fanatic that dreams of a bustling metropolis filled with skate spots on every corner? “When I was younger I wanted to be where the magazines were and when I went a few places with Frazer (Watson) I wanted to stay there and be where everyone skated. Now that I am older and have been loads of places skating, I am happy to come back here. You have to hunt for stuff.” The Birth of Dirt Box Over the past five years, you may have unwittingly stumbled across Currie’s handy work in video editing, as he is the man responsible for several Elliot Stevens online edits, as well as the Dirt Box One Euro Breakfast Club online video that documented the team’s trip to Paris in 2008. Avid rollerblading enthusiasts with a keen attention to detail may have noticed that Dirt Box is credited in the Brandon Negrete and Lonnie Gallegos blade flick, Too Faded, as some of the footage from the aforementioned visit to Paris was used in the final version of the video. It’s quite funny to find out that it all began with Currie being jealous of his friend’s video camera. “Dirt Box is like a natural progression from a video we made back in 2005 which was my first real creative outlet. My friend Will had a video camera so I got one and used internet tutorials to learn how to use it.” After his first encounter with the numerous creative opportunities that rollerblading offered in terms of presenting the sport to an outside audience, Currie was hooked and began exploring other ways to get involved in the cultural aspect of the sport. Alongside close friend Anthony Zinonos, Currie saw a gap in the rollerblading industry when he realised that none of the clothing brands made items that he wanted to wear. “Anthony and I were always skating together and hanging out, so we decided we needed another project. Anthony got into screen printing at art school. Someone asked if we had a t-shirt for Monotypes and it went from there. At the time, no one was making T-shirts or clothes that we were interested in
wearing. We would just wear blank T-shirts or band T-shirts. We came up with an idea to make a scribble line and have everything done by hand. Anthony made handmade T-shirts with fabric paint and we went to a skate competition at Y2SK8 in Peterborough and a few people were into it. Then we just started coming up with our own little funny designs.” After releasing a few clothing lines that consisted of T-shirts, hooded sweaters and accessories, the pair decided to try and turn Dirt Box into a profitable business that they could devote all of their time and efforts to, but the volatile nature of the rollerblading industry prevented such dreams from becoming a reality at the time. “In 2009 Anthony and I attempted to do it full-time but we couldn’t pull enough money off it to live. We couldn’t face doing our old jobs again, so Anthony started doing freelance artwork. We were getting our embroidery done locally and the chap that did that set up a screen print shop where we could print our shirts. I was hoping to screen print stuff for other people and make money there but it was just a nightmare.” The Robin Hood of Rollerblading Despite the fact that Dirt Box didn’t turn into a lucrative business venture, the duo have managed to keep the company going for over half a decade and each year the brand continues to expand. However, this is mainly due to the fact that Currie now funds the company by taking a small chunk out of the skateboarding industry goldmine and using it to produce his rollerblading-inspired clothing. Little do the skateboarders know, that every time they buy one of Currie’s screen-printed shirts they are helping fund an independent rollerblading company. “I managed to get some money together and bought a DTG printer and that is currently what I do. I print stuff for local skateboard and clothing companies and make enough to live off, and anything else goes into Dirt Box. Now we are just starting to do cut and sew stuff, which is expensive, but it’s what I have always wanted to do.” Despite the fact that Currie has been running Dirt Box for a large portion of his adult life, he is keen to assert that it is in no way to be considered a business. In fact, it seems to be the complete opposite, as it ruptures money rather than generating it. “It’s not a business, it’s a hobby,” he says. “It costs me more than what I make, but I like working with the people that are involved with Dirt Box. If I can inspire just one person, then I will be happy. There is no quick buck in rollerblading.” A Blessing and a Curse The Internet has had a massive influence over the rollerblading industry. Skaters from some of the most remote parts of the world have become rollerblading icons through online videos and now the World Rolling Series are using online edits as a
basis for deciding who will be crowned the number one rollerblader in the world with the WRS Uploaded World Finals. Sam Currie welcomes the global platform as a much needed way for skaters all over the world to connect and share ideas, but he is more than aware of the shortcomings involved. “It has been the best and worst thing for skating, and everything else. It’s great that everyone can make something and put it online for everyone to see, but the whole torrent of abuse that comes with it is completely unnecessary. I think the internet is great because anyone can showcase what they are doing. There are loads of things I would not have been able to do with Dirt Box without the internet, I’m about to try and start a DIY radio show for one!” With over a decade of rollerblading under his belt, Currie has travelled the world and spent time with some of the most influential figures in the sport. He was heartbroken when he spent time with Jeff Stockwell in California, as he discovered that one of rollerblading’s leading figures could barely afford to support himself financially at the time and was having to find time to work at a machine shop in between regular international touring commitments and filming for video parts. However, he has also witnessed the incredible power and sense of community that the sport brings too, as he now has a group of friends spread all over the globe that he can regularly call upon when he needs a place to stay. Currie may have been burned by the industry, but he is in no way jaded about the sport. In fact, he is the first to admit that discovering rollerblading has been the best thing to happen to him. “I wouldn’t have done a moving image course at college if it wasn’t for rollerblading and all of the places I have travelled have been through skating. I am really passionate about photography and that is, again, through rollerblading. It’s a bit sad, really. Most of the best stuff I have done in my life so far is due to skating.” As far as Currie is concerned, the future is a blank canvas and the options are limitless. At the moment, he is happy with his life and will continue to make Dirt Box the brand that he always wanted as a young blader. Beyond that, he is perfectly at ease taking each day as it comes and working towards a better future for our sport. Who knows? We may even see a full section from the man with the dodgy tattoos. “I am really content at the moment. I get up in the morning and do what I want every day. I am not massively successful but I work on what I want to work on and I get to skate quite a lot. I would like to film a full part. I have had a few shots in videos but I would like to film a full section. I would also love to make a Dirt Box video, but I could talk all day about things I want to do. You’ll have to wait and see.”
Opposite: top porn
Words: Sam Cooper and David McNamara Photos: Sam Cooper
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 59
DVD Reviews Loco Skates LoveScotland Tour DVD There have been quite a few tour videos unleashed on the blading masses in recent years, with notable efforts including Shred Til You’re Dead, On Top, CHARG!NG and, to a certain extent, Valo 4 Life. Following on from their Valo Roll skates and Loco T-1000 wheels from Undercover, Loco Skates take another stab at world domination with the release of The LoveScotland Tour DVD, which documents a week-long tour that kicks off in Sheffield (England) and hits up some of Scotland’s biggest cities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Loco Skates have already established themselves as the best shop in the UK, winning Shop of the Year at the UK Rolling Awards the past three years in a row, and their team boasts internationally-respected talent that includes Joe Atkinson, Nick Lomax, Leon Humphries and Elliot Stevens to name a few. To strengthen the roster, Loco flew-in Valo professional and concrete skatepark wizard Erik Bailey for the tour - talk about showing off. The action commences with some highlights from Noiya Jam 2011 at The House Skatepark in Sheffield, showing how Nick Lomax dominated the event with technical grinds, flawless lines and big spins. Elliot Stevens proves that he is rapidly becoming a competition machine, with huge spins out of grinds, spin-to-win hammers and creative lines. Leon Humphries, Dan Collins and Sam Tuffnell put in brief but impressive appearances, too. You also get to see the horrendous collision between Alex Burston and James Keyte that left both skaters struggling to walk. The group of renegades then travel to EKPark in East Kilbride, where Dan Ives shows that he can get technical with the best of them, executing some seriously difficult lines on the park’s various ledges. Elliot Stevens owns the grind box with a number of grind-spin-grind transfers on the rail boxes that left the locals stunned, and Joe Atkinson manages to launch his tiny frame onto the biggest obstacle in the park – job done! One of the highlights of the DVD is the Aberdeen street session. Nick Lomax and Elliot Stevens try their best to one-up each other at some of The Granite City’s most popular spots and it makes for some great entertainment. It is also nice to see local blader Graeme Forbes representing the north east at Northfield Academy’s notorious stair rails. However, it is a little disappointing that,
GC.1 apart from a couple of clips from Dan Collins and Sam Tuffnell, none of the other team members appear to take part in the day’s activities. The team’s visit to Saughton Park Bowls in Edinburgh is arguably the pinnacle of the tour, with visitor Erik Bailey paying back his flight costs by dominating the concrete facility. The Idaho native works the over-vert like it’s a knee-high ledge and links some astounding lines together, finishing them off with huge 720s. Joe Atkinson makes a rare appearance in the video with some technical grinds and Dan Ives shows he is no stranger to concrete skateparks with some stylish blading. I could tell you what happened during the two visits to Glasgow, but too much has already been revealed. This is the first full-length rollerblading production from Ed Inglis but it is clear that he has spent many years behind the camera and knows his way around editing software. The footage is clear, the angles are considered and the editing gives the whole video a very relaxed vibe, like you are travelling along with the team. You also get a pretty accurate insight into life on tour, with the partying, injuries and stupid jokes that inevitably transpire. Plus, it’s nice to see some clips from shop owner Jake Eley. He may not be riding for K2 any more, but he’s still got it! However, the video does possess certain shortcomings. At times it feels like the Nick Lomax and Elliot Stevens show, as the footage of both riders far outweighs the clips from any other member of the team. It would have been nice to see more from Joe Atkinson, Leon Humphries and Sam Tuffnell, although, in Tuffnell’s defence, he did get injured very early in the tour. Plus, after several viewings, it appears that Billy Doyle only has two or three clips in the entire video – some might call that laziness. At approximately 20-minutes-long, the DVD is frustratingly short and leaves you wanting more, which could be considered a plus, depending on how you look at it. However, there is a bunch of bonus footage to work through, including a nice little street edit from Leon Humphries. The eagle-eyed viewer will also notice that Inglis spells Sheffield incorrectly (Sheffeld) in the first caption of the video – but it doesn’t really have any effect on the viewing experience. Overall, this is great first effort from the Loco Skates team and it can sustain many repeated viewings for the feel good factor alone. Rating: 3.5/ 5
Considering the fact that Ground Control was founded in 2001 by Jon Elliot and has maintained one of the strongest international teams since the frame company’s inception, their debut team video seems long overdue. The first impression upon viewing this landmark release is that this is not merely another rollerblading DVD, this is a rollerblading film. The footage is of such a high quality that it seems entirely plausible to freeze each frame in order to capture a crisp, clear photo and the editing makes each trick look epic. Upon watching the opening sequence, it becomes evident that this is a piece of work that was intended to be viewed on a huge screen by cinema audiences. The DVD features sections from the company’s strongest riders and restores in faith in some skaters that have been keeping a low profile. Gabriel Hyden has not released a weak section to date, and this is no exception. Some of the tricks require various viewing before you can fully grasp the difficulty of the tricks he is performing or the scale of the objects they are being performed on. Julian Bah returns from a relatively tame section in Game Theory (by his high standards) and a disappointing joint online edit with Erick Rodriguez to produce one of the highlights of the entire video. He lands the kind of stunts that made his sections in Ego and Black Market so memorable, and retains a creative flair that sets him apart from the competition. Resident bruisers Joey Chase and Stefan Horngacher seek out the biggest stunts they can find and conquer them despite taking some serious beatings and Nils Jansons evokes the breakneck-tech skating that was made famous by Chris Haffey and Alex Broskow back when they first rose to prominence. One of the biggest surprises of the video is the Chaz Sands profile. The Scottish blading icon has not produced a street section in a few years and was curiously absent from the last two Razors team DVDs, so it is good to see some fresh footage of him outside a skatepark. Sands turns drain ditches and banks into launch ramps, with furious 900s and 720s a plenty. Just to prove that he can still hold his own on handrails, he stomps a few full cab truespin alleyoop topsides for good measure. Another Brit making a big impression in this video is Alex Burston. He may be a relatively-new addition to the team, but his almost-flawless section, complete with big stunts, technical grinds and solid style, prove that he is rapidly-becoming one of the UK’s
best assets. It comes as little surprise to find that Brian Aragon steals the show. With each video section, including monumental parts in various Mindgame and Razors releases, Aragon raises the bar every time and changes the world’s perception of what is possible on rollerblades. The machine skates up rails with terrifying speed and uses them as a launch to throw a textbook perfect 900 off the end and performs flatspins in drainage ditches with relative ease. The scary part is; this is only a snapshot of the incredible feats he performs in his latest section. GC.1 is British filmmaker Simon Mulvaney’s first full-length rollerblading video and he has easily produced one of the industry’s most aesthetically-professional releases to date. This could be due to the fact that he adopted a communist dictator approach to filming and only allowed tricks to be captured using DSLR equipment, much to the frustration of certain team members when they discovered they had filmed some of their best tricks on a forbidden format. However, the debut Ground Control team video is not without certain pitfalls. The introduction contains so much flashing imagery that it could induce epilepsy in an individual that has never previously displayed symptoms and some of the tricks that received the slow motion treatment seem unjustified, as royales on relatively low flat ledges and backside savannah’s on knee high obstacles don’t really warrant such grandiose portrayal. Also, it is painfully apparent that many of the clips in the montages are filler tricks that could be performed by most competent skaters. In his defence, there are more than enough solid sections in this video to overshadow such lapses in judgement and a load of tasty bonus footage to feast your eyes upon. Plus, any falls edit timed to ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool is bloody hilarious. In short, this is a solid effort that gives a promising indication of what we can expect from future Mulvaney productions. Rating: 4/ 5
Illuminated People is the debut album from this Cardiff-based collective, and what a debut it is, too. Unorthodox, unpredictable and ambitious throughout, the band produce vast canyons of sound evoking imagery of temples, ritualistic chanting and lost civilisations. There is a characteristic emphasis on percussion and head-pounding rhythms, especially on tracks ‘Libra Man’ and ‘Entwined Pines’, which are reminiscent of Prince Rama and Gang Gang Dance. What sets Islet apart however, is their refusal to be pinned down. Amidst the cathartic noise-rock are moments of stillness and contemplation, as in the acoustic gem ‘We Bow’, in addition to playful abandon (‘A Bear on His Own’) and warped optimism (‘Funicular’). This is an album full of twists and turns, one that consistently eludes categorization and successfully seeks to cover a varied and, at first,
Artist: Islet Album: Illuminated People Label: Turnstile
intimidating sonic landscape. (Henry Wilkinson)
Artist: Lamb of God Album: Resolution Label: Roadrunner
Some bands grow stronger with each new musical
Errors’ last album, 2010’s Come Down With Me,
effort, displaying a maturity and songwriting capability
was a skillful hybrid of post rock and electronica that
not present on previous releases. Lamb of God is
recklessly drifted between nervous excitement and
not one of them, at least, not as far as Resolution is
melancholy, with ‘Supertribe’ and ‘Sorry About The
concerned. Instead, the group’s seventh album finds
Mess’ standing out as perfect examples of each
members unspooling more southern grooves from the
disposition. However, it did pose the question: Where
same rusted metal reel of guitar riffs used on former
can the Glaswegian four-piece go from here? Turns
offerings. Though the quintet does appear, at times, to
out, they can simply travel back in time. Their latest
attempt artistic departures, they never fully commit.
effort forgoes dancefloor-friendly post-electro in favour
For example; the seemingly-adventurous 90-second
of dreamy 80s synth-pop with restrained use of acid
instrumental ‘Barbosa’ comes across as confused,
house squelches, most notable on standout track ‘The
self-conscious and safe, while the looped spoken word
Knock’. They even add a new texture to their sound
lyricism recited over the top of lethargic, monotonous
in the form of vocals, which simply act as additional
riffs further echoes Phil Anselmo and his former band,
instruments on ‘Blank Media’ and ‘Barton Spring’.
Pantera. For a band so musically- advanced, Lamb of
There is plenty of suggestion that Errors have only
God’s Resolution does not sound progressive at all.
touched upon their myriad of influences.
Artist: Errors Album: Have Some Faith In Magic Label: Rock Action Rating: 4/5
The Twilight Sad have always been known for their
Having been recently dubbed America’s most hipster
dark, atmospheric sound, filled with fuzzy guitar effects
state, Minnesota is no stranger to producing obscure
and layered with James Graham’s powerfully sinister
indie bands “you’ve probably never heard of”. Having
vocals. So, understandably, it came as quite a surprise
recently been signed to Rough Trade Records, self-
when the band announced a new, more electronic
proclaimed surf-gaze outfit Howler are the latest of
direction, a direction that would see them explore
these bands to have their music touch down on British
kraut rock and a variety of synth effects. Straight away,
soil and, since the release of their debut EP This One’s
opener ‘Alphabet’ introduces this new sound, with
Different last year, it’s no surprise that they’ve had
prominent synths in front as guitars and bass carry the
NME following their every move like a lost puppy. With
song in the distance. ‘Dead City’ has a very industrial
such strong hype built up around them, their debut
feel, coupled with singer James Graham’s dark, sleek
album America Give Up has been hotly anticipated well
vocals, contrasting with the static sounds. ‘Sick’, the
before its release, and with it’s infectious surf pop and
first single from the album, does lend a bit more to
noisy shoegaze, it won’t disappoint. Familiar tracks
their previous material but with the striking synths,
like ‘Told You Once’ and ‘Back Of Your Neck’ stand
still continues this newfound electronic direction. This
out as the more catchy, poppy efforts, while the band
continues through ‘Don’t Move’ and ‘Nil’ whilst ‘Don’t
explore their gloomier Jesus and Mary Chain side on
Look At Me’ and ‘Another Bed’ offer a more Numan-
Artist: The Twilight Sad Album: No One Can Ever Know Label: FatCat
esque, upbeat vibe reminiscent of The Editors In This Light And On This Evening and Depeche Mode’s Violator. Closer ‘Kill It In The Morning’ was one of the
the likes of ‘Back To The Grave’, ‘Too Much Blood’ and
Artist: Howler Album: America Give Up Label: Rough Trade
first tracks we heard from the album and it rounds
things off nicely, bringing together their new electronic
‘Free Drunk’. If you want to know the true sound of ‘surf-gaze’, as defined by frontman Jordan Gatesmith himself, listen to ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ and all will be revealed. All in all, there are highs and lows, fast and
slow but either way, there is one hell of a lot of noise.
sound with the dark, pulsing, distorted noise of their previous material. (Nina Glencross)
ISSUE 05/JANUARY 2012/WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK/PAGE 61
Following on from their massively successful 2011
Retro-soul is big business. If you don’t agree, just ask
album, David Comes to Life, the Ontario-based
Mayer Hawthorne, Plan B and all the other Motown-
hardcore punk outfit return with an EP containing just
influenced acts that are currently raking it in due to the
two tracks, although they both weigh-in at 15 and
resurgence of the genre kick-started by the late Amy
22-minutes long respectively. The group have been
Winehouse. Unlike the afore-mentioned chumps, North
releasing two-track EPs celebrating the Chinese New
Carolina soul veteran Lee Fields toured with influential
Year since 2006, but this is one of their stronger efforts.
funk acts Kool and the Gang back in the 70s and has
‘Year of the Tiger’ starts off as a slow burner until lead
been performing for over four decades. On his latest
singer Damian Abraham’s familiar roar kicks in and
effort, Faithful Man, the singer teams up with backing
all hell breaks loose. They even enlist the services of
band The Expressions, who provided the backdrop
celebrated independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch – now
for Aloe Blacc’s massive single ‘I Need A Dollar’, and
that’s just showing off. ‘ONNO’ is a sprawling space-
Fields pulls off some catchy sing along moments of his
rock odyssey that gradually ascends, getting louder and
own, with title track ‘Faithful Man’ and ‘You’re The Kind
more intense throughout the course of the 22-minute
of Girl’ standing out as particular highlights. However,
track time, although it can become a bit of a chore to
the album has its fair share of non-entities, as ‘I’m Still
get through. Considering this may be the last we hear
Hanging On’ and ‘Intermission’ are as forgettable as
of Fucked Up for a while, as the band have gone on
Artist: Fucked Up EP: Year of the Tiger Label: Matador
hiatus as a result of Abraham’s family responsibilities, it seems to be a fitting swan song.
their titles suggest. Still, it’s good to see an old-timer
Artist: Lee Fields Album: Faithful Man Label: Truth and Soul
staying faithful to the cause. (Jeanie Rogers)
What do you get when you throw together two
London-based math rock outfit Three Trapped Tigers
globe-trotting Australians and an Indonesian vocalist
are a pain in the arse. Their sophomore full-length
with a range of musical influences that stretch as
release, Numbers: 1-13, which consists of tracks that
far and wide as their vagabond tendencies? Young
are not-so-cleverly named after their numerical position,
Magic, an adventurous New York-based outfit with a
is simply a re-issue of the three EPs that they put out
penchant for tribal percussion, experimental hip hop
before their relatively-impressive 2011 debut album,
and harmonies of epic proportions. ‘Slip Time’, ‘You
Route One or Die. Sure, these are the recordings that
With Air’ and ‘Jam Karet’ display hints of the LA beat
first gained the experimental trio a relative amount of
scene mixed with 90s trip hop, which suggests that the
exposure and favourable comparisons with Sheffield
group are followers of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint
experimental post-rock quartet 65daysofstatic, but
and their associated acts. ‘Yalam’ is an, albeit brief,
re-issues from a little-known band seems like a bit of a
stripped-down psychedelic interlude consisting of West
joke. Plus, many might argue that Three Trapped Tigers
African rhythms and vocal exchanges between singers
are simply a poor man’s 65daysofstatic. Here’s a tip:
Isaac Immanuel and Melati Malay, and ‘Night In The
Stop taking the piss, get back in the studio and write
Ocean’ is a satisfying futuristic ballad with a backdrop
some new material. Jesus, kids these days.
of distorted guitars and stuttering drum machines. Young Magic dabble in various sub genres throughout
Artist: Young Magic Album: Melt Label: Carpark
their debut, but they maintain strong harmonies and experimental pop sensibilities throughout.
Artist: Three Trapped Tigers Album: Numbers: 1–13 Label: Blood and Biscuits
Artist: Speech Debelle Album: Freedom of Speech Label: Big Dada
Two years on from her Mercury-winning debut album,
She may look like a moody art school bitch, but Claire
Speech Therapy, Speech Debelle returns with clear
Boucher sure knows how to piece together upbeat,
intentions of showing her versatility as an artist. The
faux futuristic dream pop. Intruigingly, there is always
intimate Tracy Chapman-influenced raps that made
an element of malice in her synth-heavy productions.
her previous effort so endearing have been replaced
Then again, what else would you expect from a female
by more striking hip hop beats and some slightly-
bedroom producer that calls herself Grimes and
uncomfortable political commentary. ‘Collapse’ displays
features gruesome drawings of skulls in her album
Debelle’s mistrust of government and ‘Blaze Up A Fire’
artwork? Despite the fact that it strays very close to
indicates empathy with those involved in last year’s
Donna Summer ‘I Love You Always Forever’ territory,
London riots, both delivered through her undeniable gift
‘Genesis’ skips along with subtle bliss and cute piano
for social observation. The only problem is; it’s tough to
interludes. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Oblivion’
take Debelle serious in the role of political activist, as
features repetition of the line ‘See you on a dark night’,
the dichotomy of her child-like vocals and hard-hitting
delivered in sickly-sweet vocals above menacing
lyrics are slightly cringe-worthy. Imagine listening to
Bladerunner stabs and groaning samples. Grimes’ most
Willow Smith screaming about fighting the power
compelling attribute is the stark contrast between her
and you get the idea. Debelle is at her best when
seemingly-innocent vocals and always atmospheric
discussing relationships and the everyday life. ‘Live For The Message’ is an atmospheric hip hop anthem about clean living and ‘Elephant’, complete with piercing snare punches and admissions of vulnerability,
- sometimes chilling - productions. Lykke Li may be
Artist: Grimes Album: Visions Label: 4AD
is one of the strongest tracks on offer. Debelle makes a valiant attempt at branching out on this release but, unfortunately, she falls a little short. (Fiona Slimmon)
leading the current charge of female indie pop, but Grimes is a contender for people’s champ. (David McNamara)
Firsts: Sven Boekhorst If the term “been there, done that” applies to anyone, it’s Sven Boekhorst. The Dutch legend has won some of the biggest competitions in rollerblading history, including the Gravity Games, ASA World Championships and X Games. Despite the fact that he has been competing at international level for over 16 years and owns more trophies than Usain Bolt, the living legend continues to astound crowds and strike fear in the hearts of his fellow competitors. Over the last 12 months Boekhorst has fought his way to the finals of the world’s biggest events, including Winterclash, FISE and Barcelona Extreme. In addition to his impressive competition record, Boekhorst has been immortalised in the 2002 rollerblading videogame Aggressive Inline and remains one of the longest standing members of the TRS Rollerblade pro team. Not satisfied with simply winning accolades, the athlete has used his entrepreneurial talents and wide network of connections to help create Mind The Gap, a European competition series that sees rollerblading take over some of the biggest cities in the continent to expose the sport to a wider audience. This year will mark the release of Boekhorst’s first pro skate for Rollerblade. To celebrate the release, the iconic skater embarked upon an eight city tour of the Netherlands with a custom built launch ramp in order to turn some of the country’s most popular tourist locations into a platform for him to display his incredible skills. Since Boekhorst is finally about to receive his long overdue debut pro skate, we decided to catch up with the competition juggernaut to find out about some of the most significant moments in his rollerblading career. First time you saw blading: This first time I properly saw rollerblading was some kids in my neighbourhood. The first time I got in contact with blading was through my friend who already bought a pair of skates and told me how much fun it was. I first started blading around the houses and stuff. Soon we got more interested in jumping and grinding. First blades: Roces FCO Romes. First skate video: The Hoax – that was so sick! I still have it at home. I’ve seen it more than a hundred times. First skater you looked up to: Arlo Eisenberg and Chris Edwards; that was because of The Hoax. They were already doing kink rails and McTwists in the halfpipe - next level shit! First blading event you attended: It was not really an event, but a friend
of a friend was having a birthday party in a small village close to my hometown back in 1995. He was having a skate contest as a birthday party. We went there with a group of friends to join them. I remember his mother had put ten Guilders for first place. The contest was a lot of fun and it happens to be that the birthday boy was Randy Abels – a Dutch skater that I still skate with. Now we are older we also organise events together like the Dutch Championships and Mind the Gap contest series. First European event: I already did some halfpipe demos with Jerry Bekkers abroad, but the first real deal was the Rollerblade Camp in Switzerland (Zug) back in 1997. They invited all their riders in Europe for a week to Switzerland for a big skating camp. We did a lot of photo shoots, jam sessions and contests, but we also went swimming and had a lot of time to chill as well. I also remember they invited some international riders as well like Matt Salerno and Eric Schrijn. The whole week was a really cool experience for me! First competition win: The first real contest win was when I took first place at the Dutch Championships Halfpipe in 1997. First sponsor: A local skate shop downtown. It is still in business. First serious injury: That was at the Gravity Games in 2002. Just half an hour before the finals were starting, I fell with a fakie 720 and broke my ankle really bad. I have had two screws in it ever since. It really sucked as I was staying alone in the US because everybody had to leave for the next contest or was going home. Luckily my parents helped me out in Holland and I had good insurance that was taking care of everything. First bit of trouble through blading: I have never really got into any trouble but it was a hard decision to quit school 12 years ago. Looking back on that, it was a good and wise decision. In 2001, I went back to school to finish it.
Photo: Dominic Swagemakers Trick: sweatstance
1. Josh Petty’s liner company
2. Drums of Death debut album
4. Record label owned by Mogwai
3. Last At The Drive-in studio album
6. The name of Arlo Eisenbergs’s daughter
5. Senate slogan
8. Annual NYC street contest
7. Seminal Manchester night club
9. Uk extreme sports festival
10. Mercury-winning london rapper
10. First Razors AM team video
11. Maynard James Keenan’s rock band
drums of death
12. Rollerblader convicted of drug dealing and murder
12. Second Happy Monday’s album
13. Grind invented by Brooke Howard Smith
16. Metal band and Skrillex collaborators
14. Longest running UK rollerblading event
17. French extreme sports festival
15. Randy Spizer’s nickname 18. Home state of Franky Morales
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