ISSUE 10/FEBRUARY 2014/FREE MIKEY BLAIR/DOMINIC BRUCE/ GEOFF PHILLIP/RIK VAN HUIK/ SEAN DARST/MATT SMITH
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Boldy James Ben Schwab Russell Day Dominic Bruce Mikey Blair Dem Atlas Rik van Huik Geoff Phillip Sean Darst Matt Smith Dano Gorman 5 Ugliest Skates Ryan Steel Tyler Hester Fun Page
Issue 10 February 2014 (c) Wheel Scene Ltd. Editor David McNamara Sub-Editor Chris Delaney Designers Graham Patrick Gareth Lindsay Web Design Ewan McDonald Stuart Chown Words David McNamara, Tom Laflin, Cal Watt Photos Greg King, David Andrew, Sean Macgowan, Thijis Tel, Bojd Vredevoogd, Luke Bender, Haitian Magazine, Sam Cooper, Donal Glackin, Jonathan Labez Cover Photo Mikey Blair by Sean Macgowan
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.
Hello, strangers! It has been a considerable amount of time since the release of issue nine and our latest beautiful creation. It is crazy to think that we have already produced ten print issues of Wheel Scene. Time flies when you are begging and pleading with companies to advertise so that you can bring your vision to life!
Despite our prolonged break from print publishing we can guarantee you that we have not been slacking. In addition to updating the website on a daily basis, we have been funding various video projects, including Shredweiser’s forthcoming Americana Tour, which will be out next month, and Lonnie Gallegos’ F33t, which is due to be released this summer. We have also been filming various in-house videos, including Scott Quinn’s street section, which we can promise you is going to amaze a lot of people. In addition to that, we are working on some other videos with lesser-known Scottish talent to show what our country has to offer. Anyway, this is becoming a rambling mess. We have crammed so many features into this issue. If worst comes to worst and it’s another six months before we can produce a new print issue, hopefully this will tide you over until then. Just ready it VERY SLOWLY! Show these companies some love because without them Wheel Scene Issue 10 would not have been possible: Unit 23 Skatepark Loco Skates Slaptap Kaltik Fenfanix Sic Urethane Bulletprufe Demin DemonXtreme First & Lexington
Detroit is the perfect example of the American dream gone wrong. Once a hub for automobile manufacturing, Detroit is now home to tens of thousands of abandoned homes and has the sixth highest crime rate in the United States. In 2011, 38 people were shot on the first day of summer and in 2012 Forbes Magazine cited Detroit as the most dangerous city in America. It makes perfect sense that such a grim reality would produce a no nonsense gangster rapper like Boldy James. Boldy James, real name James Clay Jones III, grew up on a strict diet of NWA, Ice T and Easy E, so it comes as little surprise that he favours the grittier aspect of ghetto narrative. Grand Quarters, an EP produced with the help of cousin and co-founder of The Cool Kids Chuck Inglish, features tales of hustling, street corner dealing and murder all told through blunt, deadpan delivery with a backdrop of cold, minimal beats.
Boldy James’ debut album My 1st Chemistry Set is produced by Alchemist, who has previously worked with Dilated Peoples, Nas and Ghostface Killah, and confirms the Detroit native as a unique underground rapper with an infinite amount of potential. His ability to utilise a vast amount of localised street slang in his odes to some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the USA is rapidly making him a valued underdog within the independent rap world and his relentless work ethic has led to a plethora of collaborations with some of the most hyped up and coming rappers. His city may be struggling, but the future looks bright for Boldy James.
Drugs and violence have featured prominently in Boldy James’ life. One of his closest friends James Oldsley III, who inspired his stage name, was murdered and prompted James to pursue a career in music. As a child, James watched as a friend was killed right in front of him and a girl that lived next door was strangled to death by her own brother during a drugfuelled psychosis. James is no angel either. He openly admits that he has been “arrested over 100 fucking times” and claims in one of his raps to have once “shot a man for 100 bucks.”
“I hope I can show people that there’s other things we can do than put ourselves in harm’s way.”
Things Fall Apart
As Detroit continues its steady economic decline, Boldy James emerges as an unlikely street prophet giving a voice to some of the most impoverished neighbourhoods in North America..
Wheel Scene: What was it like working with The Alchemist on your debut album? Boldy James: It’s a gift and a curse. I got to work with him on a whole album and I was like, “How the hell did this happen?” It’s like it fell out the sky. I don’t believe in miracles, but that’s what it feels like. How did you two meet? Alchemist has a relationship with my cousin Chuck Inglish. Chuck played him some of my music and he thought it would be a good idea to get some work done together. He put out the word, put the hit out. They didn’t kill me; they just brought me back to the studio! It only took, like, 20 days to make. 19 Cali days is like one day in Detroit. I heard that, one time when you were in Los Angeles, you managed to make ten songs in just two days. Is that true? It was 25 songs in five days. Sorry, 25 songs in ten days.
That is a lot! Before the release of your debut album you already had eight music videos. It seems like you have been putting in a lot of work. It doesn’t take me too long to get it clicking. Once I get it clicking, I got it. I’ve got to make sure I make solid songs. It ain’t hard to come up with the shit I rap about because I’m from Detroit and that’s the world it is around here. I just try to explain what’s going on around my way. There’s a lot going on around here, so there is a lot to write about. In the music video for JIMBO there is graffiti that reads “at least Katrina was quick” in reference to the instant pain of Hurricane Katrina juxtaposed with the constant struggle of poor people living in Detroit. How tough would you say it to grow up in the impoverished areas of Detroit? Detroit is definitely one of the toughest places to grow up in America. At least Katrina was quick, what that represented was they got their ghetto wiped out in one storm. Our city is dying a slow, cancerous death. It’s agonising. There is no work here and they need to turn the real estate game around. There are turf wars with niggas fighting over territory. The city is just getting run down. You have mentioned before that families and friends have suffered violent deaths while you were growing up. What are your views on gang violence? Everyone else tries to make it look good, pulling guns out on camera and having 100 people standing around their block. Rappers are being boastful with it. Niggas are lying about their business, talking about guns when they don’t even own a slingshot. I know I’m blessed to make it to my age, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. My music is a therapeutic release that allows me to keep my mind on something positive. I don’t get caught up in these ghetto antics that I see a lot of people getting lost to around my way. Your videos do seem to steer away from showing off material wealth and generally just feature you rapping in front of various locations from your youth. Also, the way you depict drug dealing and gang violence is refreshingly blunt. That’s because I don’t glorify none of that nonsense. My music is about me and the life I have led. I don’t have a million dollars or lots of gold; it’s just me. You go to jail, you get stripped of all that shit anyway. I don’t need niggas like that. Mo’ niggas, mo’ problems.
Detroit doesn’t seem like the kind of place that would tolerate bragging. If you’re eating and other people aren’t eating, and you’re letting mother fuckers know that you’re eating and you’re waving that shit in their face. If you are dangling steaks in niggas’ faces, the only way you can get away with that shit is if you’re really strong enough to stand your ground. Around Detroit, if you stand your ground and don’t try to be nothing you’re not then you’re going to be all right. If you’re a loud mouth, fake big Willy type nigga, niggas are going to deal with your ass. Your songs sound more like stories of survival than anything else. I just want to get over the hump. That’s the whole M.O. to this shit. I’m just trying to make it. I ain’t rich. I’m not where I want to be in life, so I’ll just keep working ‘til I get to that point. What tracks on your debut album are you most proud of? My favourite tracks are with Action Bronson on Traction and Reform School with Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis and Da$h. I am guessing that you enjoyed the collaborative process of both these songs? I like working with people that I think are cool people, if I am a fan of their music. I’m not much of a people person, but if you are my type of people I can be. I just like running with people that I feel comfortable being around. I want to see these people at the top with me. Those guys are talented and their music is not getting dated, so they’re going to be around for a while. I like people that show respect and have common courtesy. If music did bring you wealth, would you try and distance yourself from your previous life? I’ll always have street feet, no matter how hard I try to get away from it. You’ve got to choose different friends and surround yourself with people that want to see you make something of your life. You need to stay away from people that are praying for your downfall. My people are go-getters. I feel like I am a good judge of character, so I don’t run with nobody that means me no good. What do your friends and family think about your debut album? Man, they’re proud of me. Where I come from, ain’t nobody in my family ever did shit special. I represent someone that broke the mould. I think I could be rich at 10 or 20 things. It’s just trial and error. People told me that this was a craft I needed to hone. I’m just trying to find my niche. I hope I can show people that there’s other things we can do than put ourselves in harm’s way. You recently mentioned that you are working on a movie. Can you tell us more about that? I’ve got the movie in my head, but I’ve got to find someone to write the script. There ain’t much to it. I just got to think of a couple of people that I want to work with. I don’t even need a script. I could probably freestyle it out my head. Words: Cal Watt
Ben Schwab is an inspiration both on and off blades. He has suffered the loss of two close friends, a pain that no-one should have to suffer, but it hasn’t affected his unwavering optimistic outlook. His relentless positivity also extends to his rollerblading career. Schwab was one of the last skaters to be selected by Shane Coburn and Dustin Latimer to join the illustrious Xsjado professional team before it was sold to Powerslide, budgets were cut and being a pro no longer meant receiving an adequate income. His groundbreaking performance in Mindgame’s last team video Bang! should have set him on the fast track to rollerblading stardom, but instead it just symbolised a generation of skaters
10 that are more progressive than ever but stand very little chance of making a living from blading. Believing in quality not quantity, Schwab provides us with approximately one blading edit a year, although last year he did provide two, and he assures us that it won’t be long before we enjoy some fresh footage from the LA-based blader. As soon as he agreed to the interview, we instantly got in touch with Rod Short, father to fallen blader James Short, to write a few words about one of his son’s closest friends.
Sweatstance 360 into bank
Catching up with Ben Schwab
Following his brief-but-brilliant appearance in The Xsjado Video, Ben Schwab brings us up to date on what he’s been doing with himself recently.
Rod Short’s view on Ben Schwab When Wheel Scene asked me to write an introduction for Ben Schwab’s interview, my first thought was “Why me? No-one will even know who I am.” First off, I’m not a skater, but my son James Short was a skater for most of his life. I always supported James, his blading, this industry and all the people involved in it. Along with my wife and a bunch of dedicated volunteers, we put on the James Short Memorial Session each year. Ben Schwab is our host and lead judge of the skate competition. Why is Ben always here for us? Ben was James’ best friend in the blading industry. See, that’s the kind of person Ben Schwab is – loyal, honest, caring, and real – these traits help define his skating style. Oh, and Ben is always the epitome of cool, too, and all the girls I know think he’s hot! (Sorry, Ben, I had to get that in there!) Over time, I’ve watched Ben develop his style into this special, awesome thing, unlike anybody else. His skating is quirky, but with a certain grace and flow. Ben is always Ben, never a poser, always who he is. His edits are always on fire, always unique, and always pushing the boundaries. See, that’s who Ben Schwab is; a great skater and a great guy.
Wheel Scene: What have you been doing with yourself recently? Ben Schwab: Well, I was living in Portland, Oregon for a bit, and just moved back down to LA five months ago. Since then, just mostly skating, working as a freelance musician, rehearsing and playing a lot with my band Golden Days. Are you working or studying at the moment? I graduated college a couple years ago, so no studying anymore. Your section in The Xsjado Video was incredible. That fishbrain-tofishbrain at the end was a complete surprise! Are you happy with how it turned out? Thanks. Yes and no. There was a period of time where we worked really hard on that video, which was mostly the period in time where Negrete was filming for it. We were having a fucking blast during that time. Me, Lee and Vic especially were on a roll. And then there was a shift when PJ started filming for it instead of Brandon, and the direction of the video changed a lot. I’m still happy with how it turned out to some degree, but you know... It was surprisingly short. Did you get injured or were the time constraints just too tight? Well, like I was saying before, when Brandon stopped filming for it there was a huge loss in motivation to really keep pushing as hard as we could have. So, in other words, we stopped filming at that calibre. What the hell happened with that huck to wall roll at the start? That looked brutal. I am guessing you didn’t feel like trying again? Haha! Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, actually, with that one. No, I didn’t want to go back and go through it again.
There have been quite a few changes to the Xsjado team recently. What do you make of it all? Well, yes, there have but it seems like it’s really been changing ever since I started skating for the brand back in 2007. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. I have a lot of hope for what we can do still. The team is consolidated and we are focussing in a tighter direction now. What does life consist of for you outside of skating? Well, I kind of have a whole other life, in a way, with my music. My friends and culture from that part of my life are a lot different in a way. I really like having both to balance between. A lot of my friends, or the musicians I play with, can’t believe that I skate because I guess they met me under different circumstances. It’s a trip when those worlds combine. Like, for example, I was at a party with all my music friends and Adam Exline just happened to be there, and so we got to talking about skating culture, like talking about a fishbrain, and all my friends are just looking at us like, “What?” There’s a whole other side to me they don’t know about. A good friend of yours, Brandon Negrete, sadly passed away last year. What was he like? Do you have any particular memories from the time you spent with him that you will cherish? It’s really hard to describe how unique and special his personality is. If you’ve ever spent time with him, you see right away why so many people are drawn to him. He was really funny and sarcastic most of the time, very light-hearted. I’m so glad I moved back to LA and got to spend the last couple of months of his life with him. We were filming for a Xsjado edit and hanging a lot. I cherish every memory I’ve had with him. I wrote this song called ‘Livin’ all the Time’ about him and we played it for the first time recently. How has his loss impacted on your life? It’s hard to say right now. For me, when I lose someone that close to me, their presence doesn’t leave. I try to keep them alive in my own way, whether it’s writing songs. Or sometimes something they said to me will just hit me at the right moment and it will make sense, then it leaves and comes back again. It’s an ongoing thing. How do you feel about blading at the moment? The rollerblading internet era that we’re in now is a little annoying. There are a lot of great things, too. Those Haitian kids have their own way of skating, which is exciting. Skating with Lonnie Gallegos and Victor Galicia is exciting. Rollerblading is at a really weird point. Professionals aren’t really professionals and doing it as a career just isn’t sustainable at the moment. What do you think about it all? I came from the generation that got the last little bit of that. It doesn’t bother me personally anymore. Sometimes I just feel really bad for all the new kids who are coming up; I wish there were more opportunities for them. Are you filming for anything at the moment? I just finished filming an edit with Victor Galicia and Lonnie Gallegos for the Avant III. I’m also filming with the Haitian guys off and on. Photo: Jonathan Labez
“Sometimes I just feel really bad for all the new kids who are coming up; I wish there were more opportunities for them.”
Expect the Unexpected: Russell Day
Day has been making a name for himself through regular appearances at events and releasing strong online edits for sponsors Circolo Wheels and Adapt. The San Diego native has got a strong trick vocabulary that is constantly expanding and the control he displays on skates is undeniable. After all, there are not many people that can stomp a grabbed truespin fishbrain along a 15-foot ledge AND make it look stylish. If you don’t believe us, check out his Summer Edit for Circolo Wheels and you will understand what we are talking about. 2014 promises to be an interesting year for Day, as he has a few projects up his sleeve and, who knows, he might even pick up another sponsor or two. Only time will tell. In the meantime, we caught up with him for a brief chat to find out some basics about the new generation of San Diego street skater that aims to make a big impact on the US national scene in the upcoming 12 months. Wheel Scene: How old are you and where are you from? Russell Day: 27. I was born June 1st. I was born and raised in San Diego, California. How did you get into blading and what year was that? I saw a rollerblading video being played at a local sports shop when I was 12 and thought it was way too cool - that was early 1998. I started doing curbs and this really low rail in the back of a middle school down the street from my house that doesn’t exist anymore when I was around 15. What were the first pair of skates you had? I started to skate around the neighbourhood in some CCM junior hockey skates, all plastic with the middle two wheels taken out, then that Christmas my dad got me some oversized Rollerblade Daytona 6. You know, the blue ones with the flames - too sick. Who are your current sponsors? Right now, I ride for Adapt Brand, Circolo Wheels and Damascus Apparel. Are you working or studying at the moment? I work part-time at a glass door and window distributor - it’s a family-run business. I work at the local hardcore/metal venue as a bouncer, believe it or not. How did you end up becoming a bouncer? I grew up going to the venue and one of my buddies that I grew up skating with started working there, and one day they needed me for a festival. On my first day working there, I was rigged up and had to climb up a 25-foot tower and adjust lights by hand while Black Dahlia Murder played. The whole stage was shaking – it was crazy. When can we expect another Russell Day video section? Oh, you will be seeing one very soon, and two others not too far off. I’m fortunate enough to be working with three different filmers/editors right now, so just keep them peepers peeled. Photo: Greg King Alleyoop top porn
Russell Day is a little bit of an enigma. Over the past few years he has been showing up to real street contests throughout California, as well as making an appearance at the Texas Skate Series, and killing it every time. Sometimes he shows up dressed head-to-toe in shredded clothes like the guy from the Lion bar advert that has just been mauled by a vicious big cat that somehow managed to savage his clothes but spare his flesh. He looks like your average Californian youngster – a skinny kid complete with floppy sunbleached hair and tanned skin – and then you discover that he is actually a bouncer at his local heavy metal club. Based on his appearance, we did not see that one coming!
14 WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK Makio to fishbrain
Make Way for the New Generation
Dominic Bruce is barely out of school, but heâ€™s got a better understanding of the blading industry than many of his peers.
Dominic Bruce’s rise to becoming one of the most exciting amateur bladers in Europe is almost as rapid as his growth spurt since hitting puberty. Less than five years ago, I stumbled upon a short, skinny kid with worryingly proficient skatepark skills. He could lace more variations switch and natural than many of the skaters within the local scene in Aberdeen, Scotland, which is no easy task considering most of the group were over ten years his elder at the time and consisted of local hero Graeme Forbes. In just a few years, Dominic has made a name for himself on the national and international scene by placing well at various competitions, including the first Winterclash junior competition in 2013 when he romped to victory against some of the best youngsters in Europe. Since then, Bruce has accumulated an impressive line-up of sponsors including SSM, Hedonskate, The Blackjack Project and The Chimera Conspiracy. Hell, the only endorsement he hasn’t secured so far is a frame sponsor and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before that slot is filled.
One of the first things you notice about this kid, apart from his obvious ability on skates, is the way he handles himself. He is only 16, but he can hold his own against a group of contemporaries that are many years his senior. He is quick witted, a little bit cheeky, and he knows when to voice his opinions and use diplomacy. There are skaters within the UK scene that are pushing 30 and struggle to master these personality traits. “I’d say I was pretty grown up because I’ve been skating with older guys since I was about ten. I’ve been skating with guys like Lewis Bowden and Graeme Forbes since I was really young, and hanging around with older guys at competitions.” A shining example of his ability to handle himself with grace and poise presented itself when he was offered a sponsorship with Hedonskate last year. At the time, Bruce was riding for UK-based shop Roll Kings. The online blading retailer was the first company to take a chance on the promising youngster and he didn’t forget this when the opportunity arose to skate for one of the world’s leading shops. Bruce was mature enough to contact Roll Kings owner Stuart Kinghorn and explain that he appreciated everything the shop had done for him in the past, but he felt that Poland’s premier outlet was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. Kinghorn was so impressed with the way in which he dealt with the situation that he gave the young blader his blessing and thanked him for being gracious enough to let him know. There are professional bladers out there who have handled similar situations in a much less dignified manner in recent years. “It was pretty good”, says Bruce. “We weren’t on bad terms of anything. Hedonskate offered to sponsor whoever won the junior contest, so I got contacted by Mirek and had some chats with him. I decided I was going to skate for them, so I called up Stu and it was all cool.” Upon discussing his sponsorship deal, it becomes clear why Bruce chose Hedonskate over Roll Kings. The polish blading giants have the financial power to send him to more European events, which is something Bruce is determined to attend more in order to build a name for himself within the international community. “Hedonskate are helping me out with flights and stuff”, he advises. “We’re setting out some plans for what will happen with travel this year. They also send me gear and help me out with skates because they’ve got a link with SSM.”
Bruce’s good decision making doesn’t end there. Feeling dissatisfied with the way things were going in secondary school, he decided to enrol in a college course that better suited his interests and allowed him to remain engaged in education. Despite performing well at his standard grade exams, he chose to take a gamble by leaving at the start of fifth year and it seems to be working out well for him so far. “I went to college because I wasn’t really enjoying school. After my standard grades, I went back to school for a few weeks of fifth year, but then an art and design college course came up and I decided to take that. I thought it would be the better option for me because school wasn’t for me. I’m enjoying it.” Bruce comes across as a chilled out kid that takes everything in his stride, but there’s an obvious determination in him whenever he appears at competitions. He will laugh and joke with the guys, but the moment his heat starts that playful smile is replaced with a look of total concentration. You can see him purposefully scanning the park, looking for the most interesting way to approach an obstacle or a line that no-one else has thought of in order to stand out from the rest of the competitors, and he rarely fails. If you require any proof, just look at how well he has done at local, national and international events over the past twelve months. “After Winterclash I went to the Never Winter Jam in Poland that was in early April - but I ended up twisting my ankle really bad, so I was out of skating for about four months. I started again in summer and won a box jam in Dundee. I got third in the open contest at Slamm Jamm. I went to Summerclash, but I still had a bad ankle, so I got into the finals but I couldn’t skate because of my ankle. I also won a competition in Livingston but I got banned!” The Livingston competition Bruce is referring to was a locally organised event held by a staggeringly awful skatepark on the east coast of Scotland. This might sounds like a harsh criticism, but if you have ever witnessed the baffling layout or poorly crafted obstacles you would come to the same conclusion; there is a rotating metal disk in the middle of the park. Bruce dominated the under 16 event but was thrown out of the park when the short-tempered owner wrongly accused him of throwing a chip at his head. Various spectators came to his aid and advised that he wasn’t to blame, but the owner refused to back down, forcing the teenager to stand outside in freezing conditions while he waited for his dad to collect him. Looking back on the experience, Bruce can’t help but show his obvious amusement at the absurdity of the situation. “It was over a chip!” he exclaims. “I don’t know what happened there. The owner got in a bit of a fuss, but I still haven’t received my prizes.” There is a rumour floating around the industry that Bruce was head hunted by Razors owner Andy Wagner, but turned him down as he felt that brand wasn’t the right fit. Actually, it’s not a rumour at all. Razors pro Scott Quinn confirmed that he had in fact contacted Bruce directly on several occasions to persuade him to skate for the company but was unsuccessful. Considering there are literally thousands of skaters across the world that would jump at the chance to ride for the highly influential boot brand, it says a lot about Bruce’s maturity and strength of conviction that he has the foresight to turn down such an opportunity. “At Winterclash, Dre Powell had seen me skating and went back
and talked to Andy at Razors. He contacted Quinny then Quinny gave me a call and asked. I thought about it and I didn’t know. I just don’t think it’s what I want. I used to skate them, but I’m just not that into them anymore.” It seems like things are going pretty well for the teenage blading sensation. In fact, the only hiccup in an otherwise perfect 2013 was a freak accident that put him out of commission for six months. “Skating around a skatepark in Wrocław, Poland, somebody was coming towards me and I swerved out the way without looking, and my foot went up a ledge and started grinding without me noticing and just twisted over.” Aside from systematically taking apart every aspect of blading and morphing it into his vision of what it should be, and putting in the hours at college to create some kind of future for himself, the Stonehaven native can be found searching YouTube and foraging through stacks of vinyl at his local record shops. His dad, and blading videos, might have inspired his second greatest passion but, like everything else in his life, it looks like Bruce is taking off in another direction with that as well. “A lot of it came from my dad”, he begins “but I tend to pick up on a lot of artists on my own. He likes Paul Weller and stuff like that. My dad’s a bit of a mod. We went to see Roger Waters Pink Floyd The Wall, which was amazing. The visual experience with the light show and the music from the film - that was really good. I’m more into ‘60s psychedelic and ‘70s prog rock stuff. I like to find new stuff by searching through YouTube, going to record shops, talking to people about different bands. A key factor in Dominic Bruce’s success to date has been the support of his parents. For years, they would transport him to events all over the country and patiently sit around crowded, noisy skateparks while he went off and had fun with his friends. His father even accompanied him to Winterclash last year so that he could attend the biggest event in the international rollerblading calendar. Now that Bruce is a little older, and has built a strong network of friends within the community, he now feels confident to attend events on his own. He seems to genuinely appreciate everything they have done for him so far, but he struggles to hide his excitement about embarking upon new adventures and enjoying his newfound independence. “It’s generally my dad that comes with me, just because my mum doesn’t want to sit around skateparks. I don’t think he’ll be coming to as many places next year. I’ll probably start doing more things on my own, but he likes coming with me. I get to go to competitions and he gets to see a new city.” Dominic Bruce is wise beyond his years, exceptionally creative on skates and boasts a strong set of sponsors that will provide valuable support in his endeavours to develop his reputation even further over the next twelve months. Providing he can stay injury free, there is little doubt that he will take home top honours at a few more competitions this year. If all goes well, he might also find time to film a couple of video sections as well. Photos: David Andrew
Travelling Bucket List 1. Spain 2. India 3. South America 4. Scandinavia 5. Australia Favourite Albums 1 – Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) This creative masterpiece was Pink Floyd’s debut album, the only album produced with the band’s founding member Syd Barrett before he was kicked out the band in 1968. Its Spacey vibe keeps your eyes to the ceiling in a constant daze. 2 – Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967) In a two-year period from 1966 to 1968, Cream produced some of the best music to ever come out of the psychedelic scene. Heavy riffs, angel-like vocals and solid drumming from the world’s first super group.
Fast tap mistrail
3 – The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow (1968) One of the first rock operas, much like The Who’s Tommy, it tells the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow from birth through love, war, madness, and the disillusionment of old age. 4 – The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request (1996) In homage to and influenced by The Stones’ 1967 album, Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request reveals vast experimentation with Indian drones, sitars, mellotrons, didgeridoos, tablas, congas and glockenspiels. Brain Jonestown Massacre capture and explore the psychedelic rock sound of the late 1960s in great detail. 5 – Jefferson Airplane – Takes off (1966) The debut album from San Francisco’s pioneers of psychedelia. It explores a more folk-influenced sound to the heavier sound in what they later became famous for. It is the first album before they introduced Grace Slick to the band and produced many more great albums such as Surrealistic Pillow and Crown of Creation.
6 – July – July (1968) This absolute mind-expanding trance through time and space falls through various dimensions of psychedelic rock and ‘60s pop, much like The Beatles’ later albums Revolver and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. The band was sadly only professionally active for two years during 1968 and 1969. Every song on this album is pure gold. July have recently reformed and are making a new album as we speak.
“2014 is going to be the year everyone finds out who I am.”
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You
Michigan’s Mikey Blair just received his first ever pro wheel and you’ve probably never heard of him, but all of that is about to change.
Mute 540 gap
Back in 2008, SixWonSix released their second team video Blood, Pride and True, which featured sections from respected professionals Don Bambrick, JC Rowe, Cameron Card, a selection of local heroes and a young up and comer by the name of Mikey Blair. Card put in a solid performance, Bambrick’s section was pretty tame by all accounts and Rowe’s appearance was so minimal it was infuriating. However, Blair came through with a solid four minutes of technical rail skating, big gaps and a selection of stunts that were all perfectly accentuated by the fact that he held impeccable control over every one of his tricks. It seemed like this appearance was going to be the catalyst for another Midwest champion to take centre stage in the blading industry, but SixWonSix gradually fizzled out and we never heard from Mikey Blair again. That all changed at the start of 2013 when Blair emerged once again to produce a solid street edit for upstart indie company Haunted Wheels. Over five years had passed since his last notable section and, for all intents and purposes, the blading community had forgotten about him. After all, people drop out of our sport with every passing year, never to be heard from again, so it was not unreasonable to assume that Blair had followed suit. It turns out he was just nurturing his talent. The Haunted edit displayed a more mature, slickly dressed Blair dominating makio variations of all descriptions, coming up with some interesting grind combinations and piecing together well-considered lines on the streets of Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan. It became rapidly evident that he hadn’t gone anywhere; he was simply a tiger waiting for his opportunity to pounce.
“When the industry took a downhill turn, I still liked skating, but I just focused on having fun instead of trying to push myself. Plus I was heavily involved with school, so I was just trying to focus on that. Now I feel like it’s the perfect time. I have been skating great and I feel like I am ready to skate better.” It turns out that, in addition to strengthening his ability as an allround skater, Blair has also been completing higher education. He recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in psychology, which he plans to put to good use in the future. Regarding his post-education career, plans, Blair advises: “Hopefully I will be able to work with troubled youth or stuff like that.” In the meantime, Blair has decided that he will simply enjoy the intermittent period between completing further education and striving towards his chosen career path by taking his skating as far as he can. Alongside Don Bambrick and Brian Weis, the guy that appeared alongside him in the exceptional Not Cereal park edit a while back, the trio have spoken at length about filming each other in order to create some high quality video content. If all goes to plan, it could be the year that Blair becomes a household name in the blading community. Who knows? It could also be the year the Bambrick raises a defiant middle finger to the companies that tossed him on the scrap heap. “I see Don all the time actually”, says Blair. “I skate with him every Wednesday at Modern Skate Park. I always see Don and Brian Weis. A bunch of skaters always come out to that. Me
“A buddy of mine started the company and he just put out that first wheel”, he begins. “I didn’t even consider the idea of having a wheel, but he brought it to my attention because I’ve been in the public eye with rollerblading before. I don’t know if he thought it might be a good fit. We just kind of talked about it and got the design going, and it ended up happening. I’m pretty happy with everything. I had to fight for that design!” In addition to making up the ranks of the Haunted team alongside amateur rippers Gabe Talamantes and Cody Lampman, Blair has recently been added to the Xsjado roster. It looks like things are finally starting to fall into place for the Michigan native and his excitement about having the backing of a major skate sponsor is palpable. “I just got on the Xsjado team, so I should be doing a lot with them. They’ve been sharing pictures of me online, so I’m going to keep sending them material. Hopefully things will get bigger with them and just keep growing.”
As he looks towards what promises to be an eventful 2014, Blair asserts that he has never felt more motivated to push his blading as far as he can. Recently picking up a new sponsor has strengthened his motivation further and he teasingly hints that a new edit can be expected in the near future. “I’ve got this wheel that I’m excited about, which I’ve got an edit coming for. It’s pretty much already done. I feel the most motivated ever, so I’m really excited about it. All the clips from this interview will be in it and more. Since it’s winter here in Michigan, it put skating on hold apart from park skating. When the winter clears, I’m going to put something out that I’m super proud of.” It doesn’t end there. Apparently this is just the first of several edits we can expect from Blair in the next six months, including a further promotional edit for his wheel, a park edit, and support edit for his new boot sponsor. “I’m planning to release a couple of edits for this wheel, I’m filming a park edit at the moment and I want to do another summer edit for Xsjado because most of my clips are on Valo skates at the moment.”
Despite the fact that Blair has been out of the blading limelight for quite some time, 2014 marks the release of his first ever pro wheel for Haunted, which is currently stocked in every major blading retailer in the USA at this moment in time. Many will undoubtedly question if it was a wise move to put a relatively unknown skater’s name on a product, and Blair seems just as surprised as anyone about the honour, but the company owner was pretty confident about the decision.
Blair is currently working part-time doing what he refers to as “simple, mundane work” for a local bread company. The good news, both for him and ourselves, is that it frees up a lot of his time to skate and film. It also doesn’t hurt that one of the strongest scenes in the Midwest is just a couple of hours away. “Detroit has a great scene”, he advises with a tone of obvious pride. “There are always people skating all the time and there’s a great community, so it’s almost like family.”
and Don and Brian are trying to work together and start filming together, and start doing a bunch of stuff, which I think is going to be great for all three of us.”
In addition to a plethora of edits that will quickly be making their way onto the internet, Blair will be striving to make a name for himself at local events Motor City Classic and Delta City Open, as well as this year’s Blading Cup. You may also find him at Pow Wow. After all, he is adamant that 2014 is going to be his year. “2014 is going to be the year everyone finds out who I am. I feel like I’m ready. My skating is at the point where I feel like I can only keep progressing. I’m excited to show people what I have to offer. “ Words: David McNamara Photos: Sean Macgowan
Fans of ‘90s hip-hop are going to go crazy for this guy because he wears the influence of iconic acts The Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief firmly on his sleeve and references The Fugees’ The Score and The Roots’ Do You Want More? like they were learning materials rather than exceptional pieces of entertainment. Dem Atlas, real name Joshua Evans, came out of nowhere last year to release the highly impressive Charle Brwn EP. Inspired by the beloved cartoon protagonist, this five-track collection features samples from Peanuts cartoon series that assists in a narrative concerning an outsider that constantly feels inadequate but maintains an outlook of optimism. The tale is conveyed via rapid fire delivery that encompasses clever hooks, pokes fun at hip-hop stereotypes and nods to jazz rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest. Regarding the origins of his onstage moniker, Evans advises: “It’s sort of like there’s two of us. Dem is the unenlightened and ignorant side, whereas Atlas is the mythic, holy figure in control. He is all-powerful, allknowing and all-seeing.” 2014 will see Dem Atlas take to the stage on a North American tour and, with any luck, provide the world with a debut full-length album. Standout track: Charlie Brown
Listen Up: Dem Atlas Rhymesayers’ latest signing combines the nostalgia of ‘90s hiphop and clever narratives to create rap that makes you want to snap your neck and pause for reflection.
Minneapolis currently has one of the strongest independent hip-hop scenes in the world. It kicked off in the mid-‘90s with trailblazing indie rap outfit Atmosphere and the formation of their label Rhymesayers Entertainment. Almost a decade has passed since the formation of the imprint and while every year brings with it the demise of another beloved independent label, Rhymesayers just seem to be going from strength to strength. After all, this is the collective that introduced the world to the likes of progressive artists such Brother Ali and P.O.S., and it looks like they could have struck gold once again in the form of latest signing Dem Atlas.
Not Your Average Blader
Rik van Huik discusses abnormalities in the blading industry, the strength of the Dutch scene and his impending masterâ€™s degree.
Back in 2011, the year Wheel Scene was first launched, I was scouring the internet for quality content to put on the publication’s website when I stumbled upon a random street edit that was simply titled RikRolling! The cringeworthy name instantly sent shivers of apprehension down my spine, but I decided to give the video the benefit of the doubt. After all, what difference does a couple of minutes out of my life make?
rail transfer to conclude proceedings. Each trick possessed a level of control that is quite rare outside the upper echelon of professional skaters and the speed with which they were executed made them even more impressive. The only fault I could find with the edit was the horrendous music provided by Dutch alternative band De Staat, who kind of sound like a poor man’s Electric Six. Yes, they are that bad.
Almost instantly, a sense of relief washed over me as I watched the opening few tricks. A young, skinny skater with blonde hair styled out some nice spins into a steep bank before lacing a flawless X-grind down the infamous wooden stair ledge in Amsterdam. From this point onwards, the brief online gem featured impeccable spot selection to showcase precision rail skating, technical switch-ups and some pretty serious hammers, including a triple
Later that year, Adapt, the first ever Dutch skate brand was announced. The company, founded by Olga Bouwhuis and Pieter Wijnant, promised high end handmade carbon/Kevlar skates and announced that their first team rider would be none other than Rik van Huik. The local hero seemed like an obvious choice for an independent skate company coming out of the Netherlands, but it seems that his transition onto the team from previous sponsor Valo was actually much more organic than previously thought. It turns out that Rik knew Olga well previous to her venture into the blading industry. “I was already friends with Olga before Adapt started”, he begins. “Olga met Pieter and he started coming to the Netherlands, and then I became friends with him and got involved. They wanted me to help with the development of the new skate and then I became their first team rider.” Along with Adapt, Rik is also sponsored by Holland’s premier blader-run skate shop Thisissoul. Rik was approached by Ivo Vegter after he witnessed his undeniable street skills and respected the way he always pushed himself at competitions. Ivo once referred to his team rider as “one of the most professional and organised individuals” he had met in blading. Rik was also a rider for Benny Harmanus’ wheel company The Chimera Conspiracy for a brief period, but it turns out that a lack of communication ultimately led to the end of that endorsement agreement. “I don’t ride for Chimera anymore. Ben, the owner, has a family. He has a son now and we kind of lost contact. I wasn’t kicked out and there wasn’t any fight between us; it just kind of ended silently.” Keen observationalists may notice that Rik van Huik possesses a few glaring similarities to Randy Spizer during his golden era in the mid-‘90s. Just like the Senate and Roces posterboy, Rik is flawlessly consistent during competitions and knows what it takes to win. Then, just when you think you’ve simply stumbled upon another talented park rat that wouldn’t know what to do if he ever came face-to-face with a handrail, he drops an online edit that proves his street skills are of professional calibre. Oh, and Rik also rocks a mean almost bowl cut that bears more than a passing resemblance to a young mop-headed Roadhouse in his prime. Over the past 12 months, Rik has been almost unstoppable on the European competition circuit. He placed first at the Dutch Championships at the start of the year, took home joint first at Real Street Amsterdam last summer and came in second at Shred Cologne in Germany. Remarking on an undeniably impressive string of top two finishes, he simply comments, “Those are results to be proud of for sure.” As the 2014 competition season kicks into action with Winterclash later this month, Rik advises that he will be attending several events in the Netherlands and may even venture to nearby countries such as Germany, but travelling abroad for events is not one
decade and they are still finding ways to innovate the sport and inspire younger generations it’s hard to find fault with anyone who recognises their efforts. “My favourite international skater?” he asks. “That would be Alex Broskow. I know it’s not original, but he is just the master of control. I’d put Richie Eisler as a very close second.” When it comes to his national scene, Rik is brimming with enthusiasm for the point it has reached and the direction it is heading in the future. He believes that the Netherlands has a strong group of individuals dedicated to maintaining the community that has been gradually developing since aggressive rollerblading first appeared on Holland’s shores back in the ‘90s.
“I’ve got the Rotterdam Invitational in two weeks, the week after is Winterclash in Eindhoven, and then in March there will be a smaller competition in the north. I will compete if the competition is nearby but I’m not that competitive, so I won’t travel all over the world to compete. I’d rather spend my money on going on holiday to street skate.” The Netherlands has a habit of producing incredible skaters. Despite the dreadful weather that is almost on a par with the UK during the winter, Holland has witnessed the meteoric rise of all-round blading icon Sven Boekhorst and, in recent years, seen Tyron Ballantine make a name for himself as one of the most fearless and stylish street skaters on the continent. Pro skater Benny Harmanus was also born in the Netherlands, which is why he appeared in the national scene video Lomp. Rik van Huik is rapidly proving that he is the perfect candidate to continue the nation’s proud tradition of producing skaters than can dominate the top three at events and also gather impressive street footage with startling efficiency. Standing at the forefront of blading in his native country, Rik is excited to see that his homeland is producing other exciting talent. When asked to name his favourite Dutch blader at the moment, he advises: “I would have to say Robin Bosgra, just because he is so stylish. When he lands a trick it’s just perfect. He’s a bit underground, but he’s so good.” However, when he begins to discuss international skaters he most enjoys watching, his answers include names that crop up time and time again. There are very few skaters that don’t name Alex Broskow and Richie Eisler as their favourite bladers, but when someone has been at the top of the industry for approximately a
“I don’t like all the depressing talk about rollerblading dying. Rollerblading isn’t dying; it just isn’t growing much at the moment. There are still enough people that are passionate about the sport. I’m not afraid of the sport dying, too many people quitting or companies leaving.” However, Rik does believe there are certain aspects of the blading industry that must change in order for things to improve. He is particularly sceptical of brands that are attempting to enter in the sport when it’s at its most vulnerable and don’t actually produce original goods; they simply buy items from other manufacturers, put their logo on them, and pass them off as their products. “If you run a rollerblading company you do it because you love skating, and I think that’s really great, but I don’t see the point in starting a company if you just put your print on generic products. If you make hardware you have to bring something new. I don’t see the point of wheel companies that just print their logo on wheels when there are already two other companies that use the same wheel because the market is already saturated.” Rik’s strong views extend to rollerblading media and the way it is adapting to technological advances. Over the past 12 months, rollerblading has witnessed the release of two pay-to-view online releases in the form of Scumpire’s EL_CHVPO and Sean Kelso’s KCMO. He sees this as a positive indication that blading is trying to keep up with the times and thinks that anything that can help improve the profit margins for individuals creating such content is only a good thing.
of his main priorities. It would be wise to gamble on Rik making it to the podium at the majority of these events.
His optimism extends to the industry as a whole. Despite the fact that it has been in a fairly turbulent state for quite some time now and major companies are reluctant to invest more money into a sport that they are seeing less returns from with each passing year, Rik believes that blading is in a relatively stable position and thinks people need to gain a little perspective before making absurd claims about the death of the sport.
“It seems to me that the Dutch scene has actually gotten stronger and more active in the last decade”, he says. “This is supported by great new initiatives, like Thisissoul organising Soulsessions with the team in indoor and outdoor skateparks around the country and [MAG] online magazine publishing not only photos of experienced skaters, but also giving beginning younger skaters exposure. We’ve got a Facebook group for the Dutch blading scene that is always growing. In winter, we get together for a weekly Wednesday night session at the Utrecht indoor skatepark. In summer, there’s a weekly session at an outdoor skatepark in Amsterdam. These things still keep many bladers juiced on the sport.
Mute 180 over the gap
“I think producing online skate videos is just adapting to the times. Who needs a DVD if you can save a file to your computer and watch it through your media player or Apple TV? If you can find a reliable way to spread your content over the internet, I think that’s just more efficient. Online videos can be sold for less because there are less overhead costs. I see it as a good development. KCMO had a few problems, but it worked out in the end.” Another matter that has been playing on his mind a lot recently is the controversial topic of scooters, their rapid rise to mainstream popularity, and the influx of children wielding them like weapons at skateparks across the globe. Many rollerbladers tend to have a negative view on these novice extreme sports enthusiasts, forgetting that most skaters were viewed with the same disdain when they began to infest skateparks during the 1990s. Rik sees them as a golden opportunity to introduce more young people to rollerblading and recognises that they help keep facilities open for other sports. “The scooter hype is actually a good thing for rollerblading”, he offers. “Through its accessibility, it brings kids to skateparks where they come into contact with rollerblading as well. They might try it when they get bored on their scooter, so be friendly to them and give them a positive first impression of rollerblading. If they are in your way, don’t lower yourself to their mental age by getting angry and yelling at them, just explain some skatepark etiquette to them.” Rik van Huik is not like most skaters. To get to his current level of proficiency, many sacrifice academic opportunities, career prospects, and in some cases personal relationships, to dedicate as much time as possible to mastering their craft and, hopefully, making a living from it. Rik is the exception to the rule. He may well be one of the most impressive skaters in Europe at the moment, but he certainly doesn’t let it monopolise his time. In fact, he has juggled his various responsibilities so well that he has suc-
cessfully managed to obtain a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at the Utrecht University, but this is simply a stepping stone to the next part of his plan. “I just finished university at the end of January, so right now I am just in-between my bachelor’s and my master’s. In September I will start a course in sustainable business and innovation. The course teaches you how to guide companies to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.” Despite the sub-zero temperatures that are hitting Holland at the moment, Rik has been out on a regular basis, sometimes up to three times per week, stacking clips for upcoming projects. He is keen to release a new edit because he hasn’t had a solo section in quite some time, and he is not content with just contributing to team sections alone. “I want to finish a new edit as soon as possible because I haven’t in almost one and a half years now. I’ve had clips in some team edits, but I want to make a new street edit for myself. I’m also looking for an internship to fill up the gap between my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “ Rik van Huik is young, smart and possesses the drive needed to become successful in whatever he chooses to pursue. There is little doubt that he is talented enough, in addition to carrying himself in a professional manner at all times, so he could easily develop into one of the leaders of the European blading scene. However, he may decide to focus all of his attention on his education and strive towards the job of his dreams. Then again, he is organised enough to achieve both. Words: David McNamara Photos: Thijis Tel and Bojd Vredevoogd
Rik van Huik: Frontside
Fishbrain to fakie
Zero spin wallride to drop
In the past 12 months, Geoff Phillip has seen more of North America than most US citizens. While many have rarely ventured outside of their home state, the relentless traveller has taken in over seven of the 50 that make up the federal republic and he’s not finished yet. It all started at the end of 2012, when Phillip decided to leave his job and home in Denver, Colorado and embark on what he calls the Quit Your Life Tour. So far he has visited Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada, California and Utah for no reason other than to experience new surroundings, make new friends and blade some fresh terrain. Without a single sponsor to his name, Phillip has relied upon savings, an optimistic attitude and the kindness of others to see more of his native country. He has collaborated with various filmers and editors, and the result has been a collection of staggeringly impressive online edits that include, but are by no means limited to, War On Wichita, Two Weeks in Portland and a Wheel Scene Profile. Despite a prolific 12 months spent producing online videos, he still managed to film a full part for the debut Scumpire release EL_CHVPO. We’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s brilliant, too. Phillip is on an unstoppable run at the moment and, despite an injury that took him out of action for a brief period, he seems relentless in his plans to clock up more miles and destroy more spots. Here is a brief insight into some of the places he has taken in so far. “I left Denver on Christmas 2012”, he begins. “Since then, I have been through Boise, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Wichita, then a couple weeks back in Denver before leaving on a ten-day trip through Las Vegas, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, then a quick trip to Salt Lake City to catch my flight back to Denver for the Colorado Road Trip.”
Did you get all that? Didn’t think so. At the time of this interview, Phillip was visiting We Are One Skatepark in Salt Lake City, Utah and planning to go back to Las Vegas for some more blading and good times. Even though it appears that his adventures have barely begun, it seems only necessary to find out what some of the highlights have been so far. “Getting to see Shop Task Seattle and Rollerwarehouse stands out”, says Phillip. “I hadn’t been in a blade shop in about ten years. Skating Lincoln City Skatepark on the Oregon coast was amazing; that park is overwhelming. Throughout the entirety of filming the Boise edit it never got above freezing, and then when I went to Seattle in the heart of the rainy season it stayed dry as a bone almost the whole time. The biggest highlight was getting a stack of Mindgame T-shirts from Travis Steenslid.” Phillip has a lot of nostalgia for Mindgame; their second team video Words was the first full-length skate video he ever watched. It’s not a bad starting point for someone wanting to learn as much about the sport and culture around it as possible, as the video was masterminded by blading industry visionary Shane Coburn and featured groundbreaking sections from Dustin Latimer, Aaron Feinberg and a ferociously hungry Chris Farmer, who put in two of the strongest sections of all time in one video. The influence of such a seminal piece of blading history is evident in the way Phillip approaches blading. Each video he releases brings with it a plethora of new elements to his already impressive arsenal of manoeuvres. He can tap dance on a rail with the best of them, stomp a huge gap with complete control and throw a fakie 720 down a stair set even with a security guard blocking his run-up. Evidence of this can be found in any of the afore-mentioned edits stated above.
Negative acid to fakie
Despite the fact that he is easily one of the most inspiring and hard-working up and comers in the United States at the moment, Phillip still does not have the backing of a single sponsor. This lone fact speaks volumes about the current state of the blading industry. Instead, Phillip receives all the product he needs to keep him on a pair of blades thanks to a strong network of friends that are always more than willing to help him out with fresh parts when he inevitably breaks something or wears it down to the point where it is beyond functional. “I have some really great friends that have helped keep my skates and my body from disintegrating into nothing over the past couple years. Carter LeBlanc, James Merrills, Chris Bray, Frank Rinard and way too many others that have spent their own money on my blading - big thank you to all those guys.” With a new year brings a fresh set of possibilities and, for Phillip, another chance to expand upon his checklist of destinations he would like to visit. It comes as no surprise that he already has a number of things lined up, including filming for a fresh section with some of Boise, Idaho’s finest. We may also be able to look forward to a visual treat that involves him taking control of the production side in the not-too-distant future.
Words: David McNamara Photos: Luke Bender
“I’ll be back in Boise filming for Erik Bill’s next video, Snake River Special 2”, he advises. “Other than that, I’m just going to keep trying to travel and skate as much as I can before I have to get a real life again. I want to start filming a lot more as well, doing the same sort of thing I’ve been doing for the Quit Your Life Tour except I’d be behind the lens instead of in front of it.”
Where Did This Guy Come From?
Sean Darst skates for two of the most respected companies in the industry and he’s friends with many of America’s most well-known bladers, and he only has two online edits to his name.
Alleyoop top soul
Sean Darst has been a pillar of the Chicago blading scene for some time, but it wasn’t until he released an online edit for boot sponsor Valo back in 2010 that anyone outside of the United States began to take notice of his skating. Two minutes of footage is all it took to convey that Darst is a stone cold killer on skates. This one profile contains such a wide variety of spots, all of which he manipulates beautifully to show that he can stomp gaps, throw himself at ballsy stunts and link together lines with the control of someone that just stinks of natural talent. That was over three years ago and despite cameos in various Haitian Magazine montages, a brief appearance in Malcolm Heard’s online video Two Times and and taking a few slams while filming for Sean Kelso’s KCMO, there wasn’t much fresh footage of Darst kicking around. He did have a brief section in Abstract Art II, but very few people outside of the USA have actually seen it. That all changed when Create Originals announced that he was the latest member of their amateur team with a fierce introduction edit that dropped last September. The video features Darst charging at everything, including disaster rails and full cab truespins, like he has no doubt in his mind that he’s going to land them. His raw style is fascinating to watch, and this edit proves that he thinks long and hard about the obstacles he chooses to skate and the way he approaches them. He is one of the core members of the always engaging Haitian crew and currently lives in Kansas City, which is sporting one of the strongest blade scenes in North America at the moment. With a couple of edits in the works, a solid network of industry connections and an impressively unique approach to street skating, there is little doubt that 2014 could be a big year for Sean Darst. If his past performances are anything to by, we can expect some high quality sections from him over the next 12 months, so take a
moment and get to know a thoughtful blading protagonist that is brimming with promise. Wheel Scene: The first edit many people have seen of you is your Create Originals section. How did you get hooked up with them? Sean Darst: Billy O’Neill was taking trips back and forth from Oakland to LA to film for his Haitian part. In that time we had been talking back and forth about the whole idea. I owe a lot to Bill. He has always looked out for me since I met him back in 2011 in Chicago. You are on Valo as well, right? Yeah, I’ve been skating for Valo for a while now. Jon Julio is another person who has been looking out for me for a long time, and I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other skate company. What have you been up to recently? Well, right now, I’m currently living at the KCMO compound. I’ve just been skating with all the dudes out here and hanging out with my girlfriend. I’m going to be going back to Chicago for a couple of weeks to help the boss man Brian Bina with printing for the new Haitian line, so be on the lookout for that. It seems like Haitian are making a big impact on the blading scene at the moment. What is daily life like hanging in that group? Living with six-to-seven other people can get pretty out of control. Every morning you would be woken up to loud music and the smell of tik in the air. Me and Khonsu had the attic space, so in the summertime it would be over 100 degrees in the morning (laughs). Once everyone was up, we would all get together in the living room, play some jams and talk about where we wanted to skate for the day.
When we would go out and skate and film it felt like nothing else mattered, like the city was there for us to capture, and thatâ€™s what we did. Some of the greatest times Iâ€™ve ever had were definitely riding around in that van. Thatâ€™s the greatest thing because the ideas we had, or Haitian had, were from all of us just riding around the streets of LA, skating and swapping ideas back and forth. Then when we got back to the Gime, some people would play more music, Malcolm and Davis would start capturing and editing, and people would collaborate on some really good meals in our tiny ass kitchen. After that we would maybe hit the streets again, this time to party, or smoke a foot-long and watch one of the 1,000 VHSs we had and call it a night.
Fishbrain to fakie
What have been some of the most memorable moments from hanging and travelling with that crew? There have honestly been enough things that happened I could write a whole book. Some things that come to mind are seeing the house for the first time and wondering how we got so damn lucky. Building two rooms, walls and everything in the attic with Bina. Printing the first line of shirts in our own backyard. Finding quarter pipes in the trash while looking for a skate spot and creating the compound in our front yard. Getting boxes and boxes of the first issue delivered to our doorstep. Doing the local hill bomb with Rob G and all the homies. Our trip to SF, which was decided the night before. Playing music through the night; you could literally hear it from blocks away. Getting chased on the freeway by some hood rats at 7am. Picking up Otto for the first time then taking him downtown the very next morning. Me and Bina running a cafe. Just being in the van six-to-eight hours a day, skating and having a great time, not thinking about anything else. The creativity and vibes were on another level. Getting in
270 backside savannah
a deadly car accident with all the homies and all of us surviving. Meeting and getting to know Brandon Negrete. You opened my eyes to many things. RIP, brother. Am I right in thinking you are from Chicago? What prompted your move to LA and how is life different there? I am from Chicago. I guess what prompted me to move there was just a change in skating and scenery. I had moved to LA when I was 21 and skated Chicago since I was 13. Also the whole plan had developed while we were filming Two Times. There are good and bad things about both cities though. It’s really hard to skate Chicago in the winter, so that was a big thing. In LA it is really easy to take advantage of what you have because everything is the same every day and you can lose sight of why you went there in the first place. Looking back, I would definitely like to live in LA again and Chicago. They are both really beautiful places. Have you been filming for anything recently? I have some things in the works right now as far as footage with both Haitian and Valo. I was trying to get some pieces with Sean Kelso for KCMO a little while back, but I fell and tore my knee open, so I couldn’t skate for a bit. I’m going to be dropping something new soon. Are you working at the moment? I’m working at a restaurant here in KCMO at the moment. I’d like to do some travelling in the spring, so I’m just saving for that. What interests do you have outside of blading? Outside of blading, I like to play guitar and the piano. I also like to write a lot and keep a journal; it’s nice to look back on. You would be amazed how many things you forget. Other than that, just hanging with my girl and the homies. Photos courtesy of Haitian Magazine
Through the Eyes of a Friend Topacid 180 gap into the road
Devon-based street killer Matt Smith described via the words of close friend Tom Laflinâ€Ś who may or may not be using Wheel Scene like an online dating website.
On one of our rollerblading trips, a friend and I were discussing what separates people who are good at something from those who are exceptional at it. We decided that to reach the upper percentile of your chosen field you need to be obsessed with it, not the type of obsession that you may have with your favourite chocolate bar but a mindset that is so dedicated to your occupation that everything else in your life has to work alongside that one activity. Matt Smith is obsessed with rollerblading. History Smith started skating about 15 years ago in a small town called Aveton Gifford. He skated with his friends Nick and Jamie and like a lot of us growing up in small towns, he soon realised that he needed to get to the cities to actually have something to skate. At the start of the millennium a big group of us began to meet up in Plymouth to skate. My first memories of him are of a young, Sonic-haired kid who could 270 back royale the handrails at the front of the Theatre Royal, not bad for a 12-year-old who had skates that appeared to be a couple of sizes too big for him. Skill Set Since those early days, his trick arsenal has multiplied numerous times and is readily dispensable on any number of varying obstacles. Smith’s skating has been pretty consistent over the years. He has always had the ability to perform full-cab and truespin variations with ease on obstacles that most of us might back royale, and is able to use a switch trick when an obstacle lies on his unnatural side. Having said that, his skating did have an Achilles’ heel, which presented itself through his park skating. It has only been in the past few years that he has managed to do anything beyond backside stall coping. Both mine and Smith’s coping ability were piss poor. However, whilst mine stayed at the lowest level of ramp skating you might achieve from 20 years on blades, something finally clicked with Smith. And on a random weekend in 2008, his technical rail skating was finally able to be utilised in the park. Where you will see Matt Smith’s skating really shine is on rails and ledges; he just has the heels for it. Alley-oop topsides are always cleanly locked and without a doubt the kid has got mad hops. I remember back in 2006, the look on some guy’s face in New York as Smith laced a truespin topside pornstar on a chesthigh ledge, heels down, like it was nothing. Sponsors Past and Present Smith’s skating was noticed a few years ago by Slaptap Skate Shop and he has been happily on their team from the shop’s creation. Not only was he noticed by Mike Gogerty at Slaptap, but he also caught the attention of Adam Kola at The Conference UK, who flowed him Xsjado skates until just over a year ago when Kola and The Conference parted ways. Single Male with GSOH Looking for Miss Right Aside from his skating, I guess there are a few things you should know about Matt Smith. He is an approachable guy. I guess it would be cooler to some if I said he was a badass who gets into fights and sleeps with loose women every weekend, but it wouldn’t be the truth. And anyway, surely it’s better to be someone that anyone can talk to. However, his luck with women could
Zerospin alleyoop top soul
be better. A smattering of relationships over the years has never quite turned up the “one”, and we are continually waiting for him to find a girl that is his female equivalent. Other Interests Off blades you will find Smith in and around the South Hams, breakfasting at the Winking Prawn, drinking in the Fisherman’s Rest and dancing in his beloved Coast nightclub. If you can get him to do anything different on a Saturday night, let me know how you achieved it. I imagine the only way you might entice him would be with a return ticket to San Diego. Through the week you will find him working as a decorator. It’s not his chosen trade but it’s something he has leant on when his chosen career proved a little stressful. Apparently working as an edit assistant on scripted reality television shows is not as fulfilling as throwing around a bit of white emulsion. I can’t fully understand this decision, but then I have never had to sit watching Joey Essex repeat something vacuous until 4am. And Finally… Smith currently works a four-day week and dedicates every Friday to his Picture South Hams website, a home for photography and articles about the Devonshire district in which he resides. Was that a subtle enough plug for his site? I guess a lot of people reading this will already know Matt or have seen him in one of Mark Worner’s edits. If you don’t know him, go and chat to him next time you see him out, challenge him to a game of SKATE and feel free to introduce him to any single lovely ladies. Matthew thanks Slaptap and Adam Kola for the support, as well as Rollernews for its hugely positive influence on rollerblading culture.
Words: Tom Laflin Photos: Sam Cooper
Where Has Dano Gorman Been Hiding? Dublinâ€™s most promising new school blader is ready to go for broke in 2014 with various videos in the works and competition appearances planned... when heâ€™s not flipping burgers at his McJob.
We feared that blading might have lost another talented skater to the pressures of adult life, but it turns out that Gorman has just been hibernating, waiting to throw all his efforts into making 2014 the most productive year ever. When he is not working at McDonald’s, the teenager is constantly out on his blades, adding to an already impressive trick arsenal. In fact, the only reason noone has seen any new footage of Gorman in a while is because he managed to break his fisheye lens while filming for Green Grows. Thankfully, one edit is already finished and ready to go online, and we can expect several more high quality videos in the next six months. Oh, and he’s ready to head back out on the competition circuit as well. Wheel Scene: What have you been up to recently? Dano Gorman: I have been skating a lot lately, getting back into the swing of things, booking trips, filming and getting some photos. I’m feeling great. We haven’t seen much footage of you in a while. Have you been injured? No, fortunately, I haven’t been injured. There has just been a lack of cameras really. The fisheye for my camera broke, as seen in the Kaltik DVD Green Grows. I missed a trick and kicked the lens, so that’s the main reason you haven’t seen much from me, but a lot is going to come out over the next few months. I’ve got an edit from my trip to London that’s just about to drop. Can we expect any other edits from you in the near future? Yes. Well, the day edit with Tom Sharman that was shot in London is finished and ready for upload. Also, check the new BHC DVD End of the Line. I’ve been filming with Mark Trebble and Albert Hooi for that one, so got some clips in there. I’m also working on an online edit with Donal Glackin at the moment; it should be finished over the next month or so. What’s the skate scene like in Dublin at the moment? Pretty up and down. It can be amazing at times and can be so shit at others. I guess it’s the same everywhere. The problem is mainly the bad weather we get, and then when we get good weather people tend to make other plans outside of skating; most of the time it is boozing. One thing most rollerblades love to do outside skating is drink, here in Ireland anyways. Are you working at the moment? I am working in Maccy D’s, trying to make that cheddar so I can hit up as many events and cities this year as possible. It’s looking good so far. I’m going to be at Winterclash and Laced, as well as a random trip to Amsterdam and Mallorca. I really want to go back out to Barcelona, too.
Ireland’s Daniel Gorman first featured in Wheel Scene back in 2011 and it documented an exciting year for him. He was 16 years old at the time, boasting a healthy stack of sponsors, and romped to third place in the amateur division at the AIL Finals at Woodward West, California. He followed this up with an impressive performance in the Kaltik team video Green Grows and a couple of enjoyable online edits. However, we have heard very little from the Dubliner over the past 12 months.
How are things going with Kaltik? Kaltik’s awesome. Everyone should get some Kaltik frames, even if you don’t like riding flat. I’m currently rocking Joey Egan’s Orange pro frame with anti-rockers and loving it. There are big things happening in 2014! Photos: Donal Glackin
54 WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK Sweatstance over the bumps
“One thing most rollerblades love to do outside skating is drink.”
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USD has proven themselves as pioneers time and time again. The Throne was a truly original skate at the time of its release and continues to be one of the most popular skate designs. However, there have been a few instances when skate designs simply slipped through the quality control net; one of those occasions was the Josh Petty Grycon. Admittedly, this was released at the end of Petty’s professional blading career, so he probably didn’t care too much about its success, but he must have consumed a lot of Jack Daniel’s and marijuana the day he thought that purple, white and yellow would be a good colour way for a skate. We get it; the LA Lakers are his favourite basketball team. Still, that is hardly an excuse for unleashing this monstrosity upon us. In Petty’s defence, no colour way could make this piece of crap look good. Robert Leivanos’s Fade Hurricane model, and every other Grycon model, is glaring evidence of that.
However, it has not been an entirely seamless process. Despite all of this evident progress, there have been times when our favourite companies, and our favourite professionals, have had extreme lapses in judgement and unleashed upon the blading community what can only be described as an assault on the retinas. Below is a shortlist, in no particular order, of what we consider to be some the ugliest aggressive inline skates ever produced.
Based on the original snowboard boot design, Oxygen Argon skates were impossibly heavy, ugly as sin and most people that skated in the ‘90s owned a pair at one point or another. The team consisted of highly influential figures such as Manuel Billiris and TJ Webber, but with cuffs and liners that reached halfway up your shins, soul plates that were either made of metal that didn’t slide on anything other than coping, or plastic that broke after two ledge sessions, these were just an ergonomic nightmare. So how do you make one of the ugliest skates ever created even worse? You bring them out in a range of horrendous colours that allow people to see them coming a mile off. All time lows included the red Scott Bentley pro model and the gold AR Stock. The only saving grace about these skates is that all of the pro models came with Senate pro wheels.
5 of the Ugliest Skates Ever Made USD Josh Petty Grycon
In a quarter of a century, aggressive rollerblading has made significant advancements in terms of skate technology. Our industry experts have introduced the UFS Frame System, carbon fibre technology and created skates that allow almost every part to be customised. The result is an incredible selection of choice within the market and skates that are lighter, more comfortable and stylish than ever before.
Xsjado Dustin Latimer 1
Valo JJ.1 Velcro
When Shane Coburn and Dustin Latimer first unleashed Xsjado on the world back in 2002, no-one knew what they hell to think. Sure, the team consisted of Dustin Latimer, Chris Farmer and Jeff Stockwell, but there was no denying that the aesthetic of the skates left a lot to be desired. Yes, they were functional in that the various straps allowed the skate to fit closer to the foot, but that was A LOT of straps for one skate! It led to a couple of nicknames cropping up, our personal favourites including Jesus Sandals and Fisherprice My First Skates. Over the years we have managed to get used to their unique design and Xsjado have assisted with this process by introducing better colour ways, but the first time we witnessed those black and brown creations will be forever etched in our memories as a point when we went, “What the...?”
Established in 2003 by street skating icon Jon Julio, Valo have become known as one of the most stylish skates on the market, taking influence from classic sneaker designs. The Erik Bailey and Alex Broskow pro models are arguably some of the best-looking skates ever produced, but they have also dropped a couple of clangers on us.
Bauer Respect Once upon a time, Bauer was relevant in the aggressive skating industry. I know you may not remember it because it was so long ago, but they had a solid team that consisted of AJ Jackson and Welsh blading legend Richard Taylor. They managed to release a couple of passable aggressive skates in the ‘90s, one pair had an anti-rocker set-up of Hyper wheels, but then they hit us with this bombshell. Rich Taylor once affectionately nicknamed them his “green frogs” during an interview with Unity Magazine, but everyone else thought the Respect looked like something you threw up after a night spent binge drinking alcopops and couldn’t help but notice the irony of the name. Needless to say, the lime green moon boots didn’t go down too well with the masses and Bauer disappeared from the aggressive market soon after. It’s sad because Bauer is one of the leading manufacturers of ice skates and inline skates, so they really should have been able to come up with something significantly better.
No self-respecting individual above the age of four would dare be seen caught dead wearing shoes with Velcro straps instead of laces, and I have never seen Jon Julio rocking such laughable attire, so why the hell did he think it would be acceptable to release a skate that mimicked these properties? Seriously, if you see a guy wearing Velcro trainers in public, you assume he has either drunkenly stolen them from a bowling alley for a bet or he has learning difficulties. Thankfully Mr Julio learned his lesson and this design has been discontinued.
Every skatepark has a silent killer, the guy that straps on his skates quietly and ventures onto the street course, not really drawing attention to himself, until he starts warming up with truespin grinds switch and natural and you know that he’s just getting started. Ryan Steel is a pretty quiet guy. He is friendly enough, but he doesn’t have a lot to say for himself. It is probably for this reason that he lets his feet do the talking. Over the past couple of years he has released a few edits here and there that give a brief insight into what he is capable of on blades.
If IMYTA was still going, Steel is the kind of blader that would make some of the biggest names in the industry nervous. He has a huge trick vocabulary and comes with up new switch-ups every time he skates. As a new year’s resolution, he has promised himself he will make the effort to enter a few competitions. Let’s hope he decided to film a few new sections as well.
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Top Five: Ryan Steel
There are few things more exciting for a rollerblader than going to a skatepark and witnessing someone you have never seen before absolutely kill it. Ryan Steel is one of those guys. If you ever visit EKPark in East Kilbride, Scotland, there is a pretty good chance you will enjoy an exhibition of highly technical blading from one of Scotland’s best local heroes.
Lomax for his style, Haffey for his massive gaps and crazy switchups, Jansons for his craziness and next level tricks, Broskow for his creativeness and Keyte for his banging hammer tricks and distinctive style. UK skaters: 1. Nick Lomax. 2. James Keyte 3. Scott Quinn 4, Joe Atkinson 5. Russell Dineen.
Atkinson has to be up there with my favourite UK skaters definitely! He is always doing the maddest tricks at comps. Russell Dineen, when you see him skate, is always doing the biggest sketchiest shit on street! He is always setting the standard at every spot he skates. Skate videos: 1. BHC 2. Valo 4 3. Valo 5 4. Ground Control 5. Skullfuck 2. I love all these skating DVDs, however Valo 4 and 5 have to be my favourite ones. I love the Valo DVDs because, as much as the skating is amazing, it shows the team properly touring and visiting all these amazing places and meeting new people, which to me is as much a part of skating as laying down hammer tricks and winning comps. Skates: 1. Razors Murda 3 2. Razors Aragon 1 3. Remz 03 4. USD Colin Kelso 5. USD Classic Throne 80.
Skaters: 1. Nick Lomax, 2. Chris Haffey. 3. Nils Jansons 4. Alex Broskow 5. James Keyte.
The Remz 03 was a skate that was relatively new when I first started skating and that is the pair I wanted as soon as I saw them. However, I could just never quite afford them which, was a bit of a gutter! It is pretty much the same story for the Aragon 1 – they have to be my favourite Gen boot – I loved the look of them. Films: Well, my favourite has to be all the Fast and the Furious films – I absolutely love those films!! I love all the Marvel films, too. Avengers is up there with my favourite out of them all. The Rocky films are pretty good too, I must say. As cliché as it is for me to say this, I really like Braveheart too. Believe it or not, I only watched that for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I quite enjoy a Bond movie every now and then. I have only seen the newer ones, never seen the originals, as you can probably tell my favourite type of film is action! However, I will literally give anything a watch at least once. Living in Scotland: This is a hard one! I can really only think of one and that is our Highlands! I absolutely love going a big drive away up north to see all the lovely views and scenery. When I do that it genuinely makes me proud to be Scottish big time. I love our Highlands and countryside, and would love to move there at some point. Competitions: When it comes to comps I always seem to get hit with a wall of nerves, which is so frustrating. I have never entered a proper comp before. I don’t know where the nerves come from. I think it’s just the feeling of having a crowd of people watching you and knowing, in a way, that they are judging you. So if I could work on one thing this year it would be to get over those nerves and try to enter some comps to get the feel of what it is like to actually compete. I would also like to try and get out of Glasgow a bit more to try and skate different places, like England, There are a few parks I would love to session down there. Photos: Alan Drummond
2013 was a relatively quiet year for the Moorpark, California resident. We didn’t see as much of him as we would have liked and a broken ankle has recently taken him out of commission for the time being. However, with a new skate sponsor in the form of Razors and, hopefully, a speedy recovery, we are hoping that this year will see a fresh batch of edits from the talented blader. In the meantime, check out some of his firsts. It would seem that he is quite the Chris Cheshire fan! First time you saw someone blading: The first time I saw somebody really blading was my neighbour. We built a launch ramp in front of his house and rollerblading never even crossed my mind
First pair of skates: My first pair of blades were the K2 Backyard Bobs. They were actually my friend’s sister’s skates!
First serious injury: My first serious injury happened when I was 18 and I moved down to San Diego for the summer. It happened the very first night I moved down at Escondido Skatepark, which definitely made it a great way to start my summer. I was trying to launch one of the boxes and didn’t see the cut out in one of the ramps, so going super fast I fell down the cut out and face planted to the cement. I got nine stitches on my chin (you could literally see my chin bone) and fractured my jaw, which ruptured my eardrum, causing blood to come out of my ear for about two weeks. Fun times! First blade video you watched: The first video I ever watched was Underestimated and it is still one of my faves to this day. Chris Cheshire always had one of the best styles in the game. First blade magazine you read: Daily Bread. First time you got into trouble with blading: Honestly, I’ve never really gotten into any trouble skating, no tickets or anything, so I guess that’s pretty lucky. First pro you met in California: I think it was Rachard Johnson at my local skatepark. When it rained everybody went there and I think that’s when. I didn’t formally meet him but I was there! (laughs) First event you entered: I can’t remember the comp’s name but it was a street comp in LA and I was around 16 at the time. I got third place and Demetrios George and Mike Obedoza tied for first. It seemed unreal to me, making it to the finals and placing with two amazing skaters like them, so I was really hyped! First skater you looked up to: Chris Cheshire. I even wore those jeans with the damn hammer holder because that’s what he rocked back in the day. (laughs) Photo Jonathan Labez
First trick you learned: The first trick I ever learned was a soul grind on a waxed curb in front of my house. Curbs were my thing back then.
Don’t act like you don’t know who the hell Tyler Hester is; he is that skinny kid that looks a little bit like a young Eminem and he’s pretty good on blades. Is this starting to ring any bells? OK, let’s try again. He was that young blader from California that entered the M1 Urethane online video contest and won a flow sponsorship thanks to his street skills. Sound familiar? All right, here is all you need to know. For the past few years, Hester has been putting out exceptional online edits that have had people scrambling to their P-rails to learn the stupidly difficult switch-ups and variations he throws down handrails. There’s just one problem; by the time everyone has learned them he can do them switch. He has also been showing up at real street events and holding his own against blading icons such as Iain McLeod.
Firsts: Tyler Hester California’s resident handrail wizard offers an insight into some key moments from his life on blades so far.
until my friend pulled out some old skates and jumped the kicker we made. I tried it and loved it right away, and I still remember trying to soul stall the side of the landing for probably two hours.
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Across 2 Leon Humphries pro skate 4 Daily Bread competitor title in the USA 5 Lil Wayne’s real surname 7 French skate shop 11 The company that owned Senate 12 Music and arts festival in California 14 Video Groove 5 15 Iconic Swiss blading competition
seba torque arlo bauer fiziks winterclash second regime laced truespin switch bulletprufe jethro flatspin imyta pariah dyna shredweiser fade nation fishbrain hardline
Down 1 First profile in KCMO 3 Renee Hulgreen’s nickname 4 Flying Lotus’ record label 6 First female skater to have a pro skate 8 Grind invented in Japan 9 Maker of the Hoax video series 10 Extreme sports camp 13 Wristguard company from the 1990s